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Old 04-04-2016, 09:37 AM   #1
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How Good Is Your Converter?

I have been badmouthing preinstalled converters for a while now but I was always just regurgitating other things I have read and a bit of my own experience as well but I didn't have any real data to back it up.
We were camping this weekend and had shore power and we were in a very shady spot so after our batteries got ran down a fair ways I turned our converter back on and took some notes. Until this trip our converter has been turned off to let the solar maintain the batteries.

We have two 6 volt Rolls Surrette batteries installed with 220Ah of battery capacity for reference.
The batteries were discharged down to 76% when I turned on the converter.

I turned the converter on at 3pm.
17 amps initially and 13.4 volts. Never went into bulk charge. Float voltage right away..... Anyone know how low your batteries have to get for the converter to go into bulk charging mode?

@ 3:08 pm down to 11 amps and up to 77% charge
@3:35 pm 9.8 amps 79% charge
@ 4:31 8.5 amps 83%
@ 7:02 5 amps and 90%
@ 7:55 4.3 amps and 92%
@ 11pm 2.1 amps and 96%
@ 2am 1 amp and 98%
@ 8am 0.2 amps and 99%
@ 8:10am finally reached 100% charge

17 hours to charge the battery while on shore power.

Keep in mind that if your battery is at 90% you are actually down 20% of your usable battery capacity if you follow the 50% rule. And you have more power available from 90-100% than you do at 50-60% as the voltage is higher so you will draw less amps to do the same work.

I also checked the voltage from our tow vehicle and found a dismal 12.9 volts with the truck running. You need volts to charge a battery. The converter float charge of 13.4 to 13.6 took 17 hours to charge. Charging from my tow vehicle would take a lot longer. Comparatively our installed solar that is programmed to charge at 14.7 volts can easily charge our batteries in a day. And that is only 300 watts of panels.

So for those of you who think running a generator for a couple hours a day is keeping your batteries charged it's not. And I used to be one of them as well. Or plugging in and running your tow vehicle for an hour or two. That won't do it either.
Flooded batteries like to be fully charged regularly for best life and capacity. Running them from 50% to 80% is not good for their long term health. And this is probably the range that a lot of people are using from their batteries.

Another side note is that I am using a Trimetric TM 2030 with a current shunt and it keeps track of amps in and out to measure battery levels which is much more accurate than using voltage to measure your state of charge.

Hope this helps someone get a little more life out of their battery.

Cheers
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:53 AM   #2
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Actually, that doesn't look all that bad. I think mine usually ramps to 13.7 for charging and eventually drops to 13.2 for float. However it may take a very long time to reach float.
I would throw out the 0.2A number and say you got to a full charge in about 12hrs. Even high quality battery monitors are only estimates, until someone builds a robotic specific gravity tester
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:58 AM   #3
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Bulk charge on our converter should be 14.4 volts.
It started off at 13.4 and went up to 13.6 as the amps tapered off.

I was surprised it never went into bulk first of all and that the amps tapered off so quickly.

I just looked up the WFCO specs and it looks like I may have been in absorption mode rather than float mode based on the voltage. I never checked if it went to a lower voltage after being fully charged. WFCO states that it should have dropped to 13.2 volts.
I need to get my converter model number so I can Google the actual specs.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:10 AM   #4
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Excellent information! Thank you.

This dovetails nicely with Roy Ken's posting a while back in which he says in part...
"Some WFCO Converter/chargers will not go into boost charge mode. Swaped out WFCO for a PD9260C mounted in the compartment of the WFCO Distribution panel. PD9260C is flawless. Roy Ken" (His posting is edited for my notes.)

Is your preinstalled converter a WFCO?

It should also be very instructive for those wanting the TV to charge their heavily discharged TT battery/batteries. I learned the hard way (actually a cold night) that my TV won't do that.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:24 AM   #5
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Yes I have a WFCO as well. I am not sure on the model number though. I will have to check on that next time out.

Interesting note from Roy Ken. His plan to bulk charge on a generator and then top off with solar is a good one. Although he may find he doesn't need the genny after installing solar.


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Old 04-04-2016, 11:17 AM   #6
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I know WFCO's are not that good of a converter. Plus I went through 2 of them in previous SOB's
Someone mention on here not that long ago (maybe Roy, or Mustang) that getting a WFCO to bulk charge was like pulling teeth.
My Progessive Dynamics goes to 14.6v easily when the batteries are low, and then tapers off. I can see the voltage on my Ground Control controller and the inverter display.
Within seconds of plugging the shore power back in.

Sorry 14.4. Is that bulk?
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:35 AM   #7
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How Good Is Your Converter?

I wondered what type he has?
I never had a rig w/o Progressive. I'm spoiled.
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:52 AM   #8
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Was it in bulk charging mode?

My converter ( don't know type ) has an LED to indicate mode and a select button to force the charging mode....

Very interesting observations....
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Old 04-04-2016, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmooney View Post
Was it in bulk charging mode?

My converter ( don't know type ) has an LED to indicate mode and a select button to force the charging mode....

Very interesting observations....
I believe that's part of the "Charge Wizard" on a Progressive unit. That's what I have, and I have verified voltages at all charge stages at the battery; it's about .2 Amps lower at the battery than the spec in the manual for each stage IIRC.
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmooney View Post
Was it in bulk charging mode?

My converter ( don't know type ) has an LED to indicate mode and a select button to force the charging mode....

Very interesting observations....
I have never noticed an LED on the converter before. Another thing I will have to look for next time we get the trailer out.

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