Replace "American" converter? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-29-2013, 10:18 PM   #1
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Replace "American" converter?

So our 13' Scamp has the much-maligned "American" battery charger/converter and a battery of fairly small capacity and undetermined age. It seems to be working, so I hesitate to fix something that ain't broke, but I want to avoid getting stranded and I'd like to maximize our possible number of days "off the grid."

Here's the details:

I've read about the value of a multi stage charger, and I would like to know that I am maximizing the life of the battery, and getting the most out of it between charges. Our Link10 monitor is currently flashing green, meaning the battery is at full charge, and it shows about 13.3 - 13.5 volts. When I disconnect the trailer from shore power, that pretty much immediately drops to 12.9 or so, and then stabilizers over a few hours at 12.5 or so.

The battery is an Interstate "SRM 24 deep cycle/starting" battery. The tables on the Interstate website don't make it clear, but it would appear to have a rated amp-hour capacity between 82 and 57.5 amp-hours, depending on how one reads this chart:

Hrs at amp load:
5 amps 16.4 hours
15 amps 4.6 hours
25 amps 2.3 hours

(I multiplied Hrs at Ampere Load by the given parameters to get the 82 to 57.5 amp-hour capacity)

I've managed to nurse the battery along for three days or so, and I've also drained it overnight by leaving the fridge on 12 volt power. I don't know how old this battery is, the punch-outs on the tag weren't punched out to indicate the purchase date.

My amp-hour requirement is right around 50 amp-hours (assuming I run the fridge on propane) and I've read that one should have 3 times the requirement in capacity.

So this setup seems inadequate. Should I replace the not-so-hot converter and/or the battery?

Thanks for any advice!

Chuck
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:31 PM   #2
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If you're unsure of the battery, I would take it to a parts store and have it tested. I don't know about that converter, so I can't speak to anything about it. I put a pd4045 in mine, and love it, for whatever that's worth.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:53 PM   #3
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Check sources for solar panels to keep the battery juiced up. Harbor Freight and Goal Zero are good sources. Solar makes the electric side of the boondocking equation moot. Water is probably going to be your bigger concern.
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beardrum View Post
So our 13' Scamp has the much-maligned "American" battery charger/converter and a battery of fairly small capacity and undetermined age. It seems to be working, so I hesitate to fix something that ain't broke, but I want to avoid getting stranded and I'd like to maximize our possible number of days "off the grid."

Here's the details:

I've read about the value of a multi stage charger, and I would like to know that I am maximizing the life of the battery, and getting the most out of it between charges. Our Link10 monitor is currently flashing green, meaning the battery is at full charge, and it shows about 13.3 - 13.5 volts. When I disconnect the trailer from shore power, that pretty much immediately drops to 12.9 or so, and then stabilizers over a few hours at 12.5 or so.

The battery is an Interstate "SRM 24 deep cycle/starting" battery. The tables on the Interstate website don't make it clear, but it would appear to have a rated amp-hour capacity between 82 and 57.5 amp-hours, depending on how one reads this chart:

Hrs at amp load:
5 amps 16.4 hours
15 amps 4.6 hours
25 amps 2.3 hours

(I multiplied Hrs at Ampere Load by the given parameters to get the 82 to 57.5 amp-hour capacity)

I've managed to nurse the battery along for three days or so, and I've also drained it overnight by leaving the fridge on 12 volt power. I don't know how old this battery is, the punch-outs on the tag weren't punched out to indicate the purchase date.

My amp-hour requirement is right around 50 amp-hours (assuming I run the fridge on propane) and I've read that one should have 3 times the requirement in capacity.

So this setup seems inadequate. Should I replace the not-so-hot converter and/or the battery?

Thanks for any advice!

Chuck
12.5Volts at rest (not charging or discharging) 1/2 hour after charging is about right.
To increase battery discharge life, decrease battery current.
First, replace all those incandescent bulbs with LEDs, that will make the biggest difference. You can increase battery size, but it takes a lot of increase in size compared to switching to LEDs. EXAMPLE All the lights in my trailer turned on draw about 1.5 amps combined. 1 incandescent bulb draws 1.5 amps. (lights. 4 factory fixtures with LED bubls, 2 LED fixtures, 2 Cold Cathode Florescent bulbs. All that combined is about what one incandescent draws)

If your Scamp is like mine the only other thing that draws current from the battery is the furnace.

The length of time between needing to charge the battery depends on the weather and how much the furnace runs. Cold weather about 3 days and I need to recharge. Warm summer weather when the furnace doesn't run, longer than I ever stayed on one spot like that. (the longest in the summer has been 2 weeks in the winter in Death Valley 30 days)

I have a 65 Watt Solar panel that I use when the weather isn't so warm. If looks like it's going to be rainy I keep the solar panel out most of the time, sunny weather every other day for 6 to 7 hours and the battery's all topped off.

Don't get a hurry to make changes, watch things for while and see how it goes. If need to you always connect to the tow, a pair of jumper cables works pretty good here.

FYI I turned off the "American" converter and don't use it. My battery is a 74 amp hour battery.
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
12.5Volts at rest (not charging or discharging) 1/2 hour after charging is about right.
To increase battery discharge life, decrease battery current.
First, replace all those incandescent bulbs with LEDs, that will make the biggest difference. You can increase battery size, but it takes a lot of increase in size compared to switching to LEDs. EXAMPLE All the lights in my trailer turned on draw about 1.5 amps combined. 1 incandescent bulb draws 1.5 amps. (lights. 4 factory fixtures with LED bubls, 2 LED fixtures, 2 Cold Cathode Florescent bulbs. All that combined is about what one incandescent draws)

If your Scamp is like mine the only other thing that draws current from the battery is the furnace.

The length of time between needing to charge the battery depends on the weather and how much the furnace runs. Cold weather about 3 days and I need to recharge. Warm summer weather when the furnace doesn't run, longer than I ever stayed on one spot like that. (the longest in the summer has been 2 weeks in the winter in Death Valley 30 days)

I have a 65 Watt Solar panel that I use when the weather isn't so warm. If looks like it's going to be rainy I keep the solar panel out most of the time, sunny weather every other day for 6 to 7 hours and the battery's all topped off.

Don't get a hurry to make changes, watch things for while and see how it goes. If need to you always connect to the tow, a pair of jumper cables works pretty good here.

FYI I turned off the "American" converter and don't use it. My battery is a 74 amp hour battery.
That all makes good sense.
One point...
Lights which are seldom used are not too much of a burden, so if you are concerned about the expense of LEDs or whether you will even like them.Try one or two in the fixtures which you use most. That will give you the most bang for the buck and will give you the experience needed to see what you think of them.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:03 AM   #6
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Chuck,

We updated our Convertor to a multi stage charging convertor. Our's hummed so I replaced it.

While home for the summer we keep our battery on the convertor. Normally our battery is charge directly from our 80 watt Solar panel, nice because it charges when parked or driving. We also have the ability to charge from the tow vehicle. With our solar panels we would only charge from the tow vehicle on bad weather days while driving.

Like you we have a small battery, group 24, and intend to replace it with a larger battery when it needs replacement. Our approach is to ake the trailer more efficient. Improvements in efficiency will help an even bigger battery as well.

Like most boondockers we use LEDs, I like them better than incandescents because they provide a brighter higher contrast lighting for my old eyes.

We never run our fridge on 12 volts, it truly sucks the battery down. I suppose we could run it while driving if we turned on the tow vehicle's battery charging path but rarely drive long distances in hot weather where it might be necessary to cool the fridge.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by daltenes View Post
Check sources for solar panels to keep the battery juiced up. Harbor Freight and Goal Zero are good sources. Solar makes the electric side of the boondocking equation moot. Water is probably going to be your bigger concern.
Harbor Freight is not a good value for solar panels, even on sale. I'd suggest eBay or Solar Blvd.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:06 AM   #8
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How did you come up with your amp hour requirements.. Was that for three days or one day?
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by beardrum View Post
......... I've also drained it overnight by leaving the fridge on 12 volt power...........

Chuck
Refrigerators draw at least 10 amps on DC power. You will run down a 100 amp hour battery in just 5 hours. The 12 volt option is really for when towing with an adequately wired tow vehicle.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:58 PM   #10
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Chuck,

We updated our Convertor to a multi stage charging convertor. Our's hummed so I replaced it.

While home for the summer we keep our battery on the convertor. Normally our battery is charge directly from our 80 watt Solar panel, nice because it charges when parked or driving. We also have the ability to charge from the tow vehicle. With our solar panels we would only charge from the tow vehicle on bad weather days while driving.

Like you we have a small battery, group 24, and intend to replace it with a larger battery when it needs replacement. Our approach is to ake the trailer more efficient. Improvements in efficiency will help an even bigger battery as well.

Like most boondockers we use LEDs, I like them better than incandescents because they provide a brighter higher contrast lighting for my old eyes.

We never run our fridge on 12 volts, it truly sucks the battery down. I suppose we could run it while driving if we turned on the tow vehicle's battery charging path but rarely drive long distances in hot weather where it might be necessary to cool the fridge.
Norm , what kind of led bulbs did you use ? The led bulbs I got are'nt as bright as the incandescent bulbs ! Wes
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:19 PM   #11
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I'll look it up. My recollection is that they had the same lumens rating as the incandescent. Over the years I have bought a number of LEDs as the technology has improved, generally improvements consisting of brighter, less expensive LEDs. My existing lamps are 3 years old there may be better LEDs that others will post as well. I'll post mine in the morning.
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:58 PM   #12
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Just a few notes:
The Progressive Dynamics PD-4045 is an excellent choice as a replacement converter/power center. It not only gives you more DC power if you need it, but also a 3 stage smart charger, oodles of extra ac circuits if needed and a full dozen DC circuits all pigtailed out and ready to connect. I have installed at least 6 of them with excellent results.

Any time a deep cycle battery is run to dead, marks a reduction in capacity and life. I have seen examples that were little more than dead weight after being run dead 3-4 times.

The word "Starting" in your battery's name suggests that it's not the true deep cycle battery that will serve your needs best. And, if you do replace, try to squeeze in a group 27 battery, it has about 50% more reserve.

With a group 27 we can usually go at east three nights between charges and that's running a 12 volt flat screen and a dvd player at least 3-4 hours a night.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:20 PM   #13
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Norm , what kind of led bulbs did you use ? The led bulbs I got are'nt as bright as the incandescent bulbs ! Wes
I found these to be as bright as the incandescent bulbs they replaced.
LINK

After looking around that site a bit I think it was this one I used.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:31 PM   #14
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A Big Waste

There's nothing wrong with replacing a converter or adding one if there's not one there. However as far as I'm concerned a converter is a huge waste of money and effort.
This or this will do a very nice job of keeping your battery charged.
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