A teardrop trailer being towed by a Ford Bronco, arriving at a beatuiful campsite surround by pine trees, green grass, and mountains.

Understanding the RV Power System in Your Teardrop Trailer

By Jen HudakJanuary 20, 2023

Okay, we’ll cut to the chase here, power systems for teardrop trailers, camper vans, or any type of RV for that matter, can be confusing.

At Escapod, we get a myriad of questions when customers are trying to decide on power options for their TOPO2. So, we figured it would be helpful to give a comprehensive overview of the system.

Read on to get a better understanding of the power system for the TOPO2 and how it might apply to your camper.

Power System in Your Camper:

To start, the standard electrical system in the TOPO2 teardrop trailer is a 12-Volt DC system. This differs from your house power, which is a 120-volt AC system. These systems not only differ in the number of volts but in the type of current that runs through them. A 12V DC system (common in most campers, motorhomes, or teardrop trailers) utilizes direct current (DC power) and a 120V system utilizes alternating current (AC power). The TOPO2 system is similar to many.

Here’s a quick explanation from Mr. Electric:

"Your home receives electricity in the form of wave-like AC current, which is capable of changing direction and voltage from higher to lower current with the aid of transformers. In your home, it is eaten by corded appliances small and large, from your HVAC to your TV and dishwasher. The consistent and constant voltage of DC power supplies electronics that use a battery, such as your smartphone. The smooth, steady electrical current of DC power always flows in the same direction, between positive and negative terminals." - Mr. Electric

The 12V system in TOPO2 off-road teardrop trailer powers everything onboard ensuring that all features can be used off-grid while boondocking. From the LED cabin, porch, and galley lights to the 4-speed MaxxAir exhaust fan and even the optional Dometic RTX1000 air conditioner. The TOPO2 also comes standard with USB chargers, wireless charging for your cellphone, and a 12V cigarette outlet-style plug. You can plug in your cell phone, GoPro, and other small electronics into these ports to charge. The water heater, water pump, and other

So, now that you understand the difference between the two systems, what are the implications?

How long will my battery last?

There are many factors at play when trying to determine how long this battery will last (usage, external temperature, add-on combinations, etc.) but we aim to get you a minimum of 3-5 days on a single charge with our standard system. Keep in mind, that the more accessories you add to your build, the more power supply you’ll need.

What supplies the power on the TOPO2?

The power supply for the 12V system in the TOPO2 is provided by a 120 amphour lithium battery (the VPR 4EVER by Expion). Unlike standard rv batteries like deep cycle lead-acid batteries which can only be used to 80% of their capacity, lithium batteries can be fully discharged. Meaning, you can use the entirety of the 120 amp-hour capacity without damaging the battery. They also recharge a lightning speed, making the 140W solar panel an extremely efficient solar system.

Can I use my hairdryer or coffee maker?

Sure, if you want! You can upgrade the electrical system in a TOPO2 to provide standard AC house power. The Xantrex 2000W inverter with 50-amp charger converts the 12V DC power from the onboard power supply into 120V house power. This power is accessible through two (2) GFCI power outlets (3-prong outlets). This allows you to use a toaster, charge a laptop, or cook dinner with your sous vide!

In general, these types of appliances use more power (not just a different type of power) so you may want to consider adding a second battery to your TOPO2 to maintain usability off-grid. The inverter will also come with a circuit breaker in case you trip an outlet.

The TOPO2 also comes with a standard shore power plug. Shore power is a great way to take advantage of an endless power source by simply plugging your trailer into an extension cord (this, of course, requires access to power from a campsite or RV park).

An orange extension cord being plugged into a NOCO shore power port on the side of a teardrop camper.
Behind the modular shelving in a teardrop trailer galley a battery setup with a lithium battery to power the trailer.

Can I increase the power on my trailer?

The only way to “increase” the power supply on a TOPO2 is to upgrade to our double-battery bank. This option provides a secondary lithium-ion battery offering 200 amphours of power.

Some customers also choose to bring an external solar power station like a Goal Zero Yeti 500X or Jackery E1000 to provide backup power for accessories.

What accessory add-ons use power from the system?

Escapod offers 3 add-ons that are reliant on power from our onboard power supply: the fridge/freezer, air conditioning unit, and the inverter.

  1. Many customers opt for the ARB 63 Qt. fridge/freezer upgrade either in replacement of or in addition to the YETI. It’s a great add-on for many reasons but does have a big power draw. We'll cover how to combat this below.
  2. As for cooling, we offer the Dometic RTX 1000 Air Conditioning unit which actually runs off of DC power! This unit draws a significant amount of power and we recommend bringing a portable generator with you to recharge the batteries in between use.
  3. Lastly, the inverter also uses power from the onboard system in the process of inverting the 12V DC power to 120V AC power.
TOPO2, a premium teardrop camper parked with the camp kitchen exposed and ready to cook.
A black air cooling unit mounted into the ceiling of a TOPO2, an offroad teardrop camper.

How do I recharge my battery?

Depending on the trailer that you choose, you’ll likely have a few options. The TOPO2 comes with a standard shore power port as well as a 140W solar panel with a 30 amp solar controller. The shore power port allows you to charge your battery by just plugging your pod into an extension cord when you get home. It’s linked to a smart charger. Smart chargers automatically switch to a trickle charge so as to not over-charge (yes, that’s a thing) your battery. You don’t have to fuss with the batteries at all! If you add the inverter to your build, it will replace the smart charger.

The 140W solar panel from Lightleaf Solar is highly efficient and fully integrated into the hatch so it charges while you drive. It’s also removable and has a 12’ extension cord so you can follow the sun all day at base camp. While it varies greatly from location to location and your unique add-on options, it’s possible that the solar panel could produce enough solar power to run the standard power system indefinitely even without hookups.

A man removing his solar panel off of his teardrop trailer to set it up in the sun.

We’ve done our best to cover the vast majority of customers’ needs with these options. RV electrical systems are simple to use but complex to understand. If you’re still confused or have more questions, send a message to our team. We’d love to hear from you!

If you’re ready for your off-road adventure to begin, you can build your own TOPO2 and see full details and pricing here!

Want to learn more? Read these blogs.

The cabin of a TOPO2 trailer, a teardrop trailer by Escapod Trailers, with a Obsidian door.
Why the TOPO2 is Different
TOPO2 Voyager being towed by a Ford Bronco.
5 Ways the TOPO2 Teardrop Trailer Makes Camping Better
No Spam Here.Just rugged, outdoorsy goodness.
A green TOPO2 fiberglass camping trailer is parked on a rocky outcropping with a backdrop of a red rock mesa in the distance.
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