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Old 05-07-2016, 11:49 AM   #1
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Converter 101

I'm new to the forum, so I apologize in advance for any newbee-isms.

I have a 1992 Cardinal 8, with a Carson power converter - CP20 FKCR-2.

Although we've had this camper for several years, we've only camped in it perhaps a dozen times or so. In the recent couple of times, we've noticed that the converter has developed a very loud hum. Searching online before joining this forum, I found a post that suggested replacing it with a PD9245. Looking at that, it seems to primarily be focusing on its battery charging capabilities. And that leads me to my need for "converter 101".

We have never used a battery -- never had one connected on the camper. The type of camping we do is not off-grid -- we just always select campsites with electric hook-up. But nearly all the posts I read about converters discuss the battery. So it occurs to me that perhaps I have been doing this wrong -- Do I need to have a battery even if I'm always on-grid? (I saw a comment about electric brakes needing a battery, so I'll clarify that we have surge brakes.) Given that the converter has thus far been working without a battery, my initial guess is that a battery is not required. But perhaps running without a battery has shortened the life of my converter?

Could it be that (1) I really should be using a battery, and (2) perhaps my converter will cease the loud hum when I connect a battery? Or does that loud hum indicate the converter is going bad, and I should get a new one?

Thinking that I needed a new converter, I somewhat expected that the PD9245 (or others that might be recommended) would be similar to my old Carson, other than the new technology. However, my old Carson, for instance, has a front plate that has the DC fuzes and a GCFI AC outlet. Looking at the Amazon link for the PD9245, it appears to be something to be installed hidden away somewhere -- no front-plate, no fuze panel, and no AC outlet. (And, again, a large part of what they discuss is its great battery charging capability -- nothing on simply converting from AC to power DC lights, etc.)

Back to the Carson: Since it has an AC outlet, is that outlet merely wired directly from the shore power connection? If so, then, if I were to put in a battery, that AC outlet would not work when just on battery power, correct? Or, when on battery power, does the Carson invert the battery's DC power to AC to provide power to the AC outlets? (I hope I'm using the terms "invert" and "convert" correctly.)

(I imagine that these are all very much rookie questions -- sorry about that!)

Bottom line, of course, is that we want to get back to camping (on-grid style), and if I need a new converter, I'd be interested in suggestions on the right one for our needs (PD9245 or otherwise). And if I need to add a battery (even though we're always on-grid), I again would be interested in suggestions.

Sorry for the lengthy post, and thanks for your patience!
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:14 PM   #2
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YOU NEED a battery.. if for nothing else but the emergency breakaway switch.. otherwise when the trailer disconnects going down the highway there would be no power to the brakes...
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:17 PM   #3
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YOU NEED a battery.. if for nothing else but the emergency breakaway switch.. otherwise when the trailer disconnects going down the highway there would be no power to the brakes...
X2

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Not to mention, if there is a power failure the CO alarm doesn't work
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:51 PM   #4
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My neighbor has surge brakes on his large utility hauling trailer. It has a BATTERY mounted on the frame with a GREEN test light on it.

I was thinking a battery was not required for surge brakes but his setup certainly has one???

Guess I need to read up on how surge brakes are operate.

I know on my RV Trailer that has Electric Brakes installed it is a SAFETY INSPECTION procedure to test my trailer electric brakes by pulling the breakaway pin and make sure the brakes lock up... They do this procedure on one wheel at any rate...

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Old 05-08-2016, 07:44 AM   #5
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Roy surge brakes don't do a thing for you if your trailer comes off the ball..
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyBraddy View Post
My neighbor has surge brakes on his large utility hauling trailer. It has a BATTERY mounted on the frame with a GREEN test light on it.

I was thinking a battery was not required for surge brakes but his setup certainly has one???

Guess I need to read up on how surge brakes are operate.

I know on my RV Trailer that has Electric Brakes installed it is a SAFETY INSPECTION procedure to test my trailer electric brakes by pulling the breakaway pin and make sure the brakes lock up... They do this procedure on one wheel at any rate...

Roy Ken
Surge brakes are to help with the RV while it is HOOKED to the tow vehicle. Emergency brakes are electric and what stop the trailer if it disconnects while in tow. A battery is required for this system to work and is Mandatory (hence the safety sticker).
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Old 05-08-2016, 03:45 PM   #7
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Surge brakes have a mechanical breakaway mechanism. If the breakaway cable the hydraulic brakes are applied through a plunger on the master cylinder.

Thus, a trailer with surge brakes does not need a battery for emergency braking.

Rick
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:54 PM   #8
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Surge brakes have a mechanical breakaway mechanism. If the breakaway cable the hydraulic brakes are applied through a plunger on the master cylinder.

Thus, a trailer with surge brakes does not need a battery for emergency braking.

Rick
Rick,

I stand corrected on the mechanical surge brake. I just checked my boat trailer and indeed the breakaway is mechanical.
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Old 05-08-2016, 09:17 PM   #9
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Thanks for the great input. Yes, that is true for my surge brakes -- there is a mechanical device activated if the trailer breaks away from the vehicle.

Any thoughts on the converter questions? I believe that, in a car's electrical system, even while the engine is running, the lights, radio, etc. are powered by the battery, and the alternator provides the charge to the battery -- i.e. the alternator doesn't directly power the lights, etc. So, I'm wondering if that is how a camper's DC power is supposed to work. Is it supposed to be that, even while connected to shore power, the battery powers the DC electrical stuff, and the converter charges the battery? Or is it totally fine to not have a battery, and have the converter directly power the DC stuff?

Frankly, when I concluded that I needed to replace my Carson converter, I thought I'd see essentially the same type of unit, providing a set of fuzes for the DC, and providing an AC outlet. (Checking again, my Carson also has a circuit breaker for the AC.) But so far, I haven't found a product like that.

Thanks again.
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Old 07-21-2016, 10:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradski View Post
Thanks for the great input. Yes, that is true for my surge brakes -- there is a mechanical device activated if the trailer breaks away from the vehicle.

Any thoughts on the converter questions? I believe that, in a car's electrical system, even while the engine is running, the lights, radio, etc. are powered by the battery, and the alternator provides the charge to the battery -- i.e. the alternator doesn't directly power the lights, etc. So, I'm wondering if that is how a camper's DC power is supposed to work. Is it supposed to be that, even while connected to shore power, the battery powers the DC electrical stuff, and the converter charges the battery? Or is it totally fine to not have a battery, and have the converter directly power the DC stuff?

Frankly, when I concluded that I needed to replace my Carson converter, I thought I'd see essentially the same type of unit, providing a set of fuzes for the DC, and providing an AC outlet. (Checking again, my Carson also has a circuit breaker for the AC.) But so far, I haven't found a product like that.

Thanks again.

I'd like to know more about the converter as well. We have a '92 Cardinal SD that I have looked into adding AC to. I am assuming I will need a new converter for that alone, considering the 25 year old converter is still operable.
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