Problem with lights while plugged in... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-18-2009, 09:01 PM   #1
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Okay, either I am the luckiest newbie or...

Well, from my topic title, you all can get that I have a light problem. So I had met the guy camped next to me earlier and went and asked if he could help...turned out he is an electrician. He tested all the outlets, they are all fine, but the lights are really dim. He explained enough about the inverter that I understand. When he took the panel off and looked inside, there was an extra (probably an old one) inverter inside the panel and one "plugged in", two in the panel, one loose, just kind of stuck in there. I am going to try and switch them out, but if both are bad, do I have another problem? Is it common for them to go bad so quickly? (One already replaced) If not a larger problem, and I just need a new one, where do I get one (any links would be appreciated) and about how much are they? Any help would be appreciated, thank you all, sorry for all the newbie questions, but you are all my only experts. Thanks again!
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:33 PM   #2
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Monica, We had a similar problem with out last travel trailer. We were on a monthly long trip and after a few days we noticed the lights diming, but everything else worked fine. Turns out that we have experienced a power surge that blew the power converter. We were traveling to a new campground every day or so, making our way down and up the east coast. I was not able to get a replacement during the trip, so I picked up a car battery charger from sears and charged the battery that way. That was a slow charge process and not the best option, at some point we gave up and purchased a few florescent lights that plugged in. At least that way we had lights at night. I think there was a lightning strike that caused our problem. By the way the camper was ten years old at that time, and we did not have a surge protector connected.

Unfortunately these are not cheap, although I am sure there are cheaper options out there, and someone else will let you know. Camping world has charger/converters at this link, Camping World-Power converters . Best of luck, but have you checked every fuse first. It could be the 12Vt from the converter is working and there is a blown fuse?

Mike
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:41 PM   #3
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Converter changes 120VAC shore power into 12VDC for powering lights, fridge, fans, furnace, etc.

Inverter changes 12VDC to 120VAC for running household appliances and stuf that does not generate heat.

The old converter may have been left in place because it was wired in or for parts or whatever. Unless you are hooked up to shore power a lot *and* your converter has multi-stage battery charging, you might seriously consider doing without it and just using a good battery charger instead. Less $$, because good converters start at $250 or so.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:48 AM   #4
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I'm thinking that Monica may have misconstrued what she has installed in her trailer by calling it an inverter. I'd bet it is a converter, like most all of us have installed in our own trailers. A lot of folks think that they are one and the same, but as Pete pointed out, they both perform differently. Inverters change DC to AC. Converters change AC to DC. Unless you have a huge battery bank, as would be found in something like a 45 foot diesel pusher motor home or a large yacht, chances are pretty good that it isnt an inverter. Inverters require a large battery capacity to be worth the trouble and expense, and most small trailers don't have the space, weight capacity, or need for such an installation.

It is fairly common to have a blown converter however, and I think this is probably the case. For about $200 ~ $250 it can be replaced with an aftermarket "drop-in" unit with nothing more than a few basic hand tools and an hour of time.

Here's a link to the drop-in replacement unit I installed to replace my factory Parallax 7300 converter. This WFCO replacement is also a three stage charger, which is why I changed out from the Parallax, which is only a two stage "dumb" charger. A two stage charger will fry your battery if left on too long.

http://www.bestconverter.com/MagnetekParal...FCO_ep_8-1.html
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:56 AM   #5
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Okay, maybe I mixed up a converter and inverter...sorry, mine is really small, like the size of a credit card. I will worry about it when I get to Livingston, there are bound to be lots of places on that lake where I can take it in and show it to someone with more knowledge than me...LOL. Looks like I can definately change it out myself though. I appreciate you all and will update you in a couple of days to post pics (if I can figure out how) and let you know what I found out. Thanks again!
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:38 AM   #6
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Okay, maybe I mixed up a converter and inverter...sorry, mine is really small, like the size of a credit card. I will worry about it when I get to Livingston, there are bound to be lots of places on that lake where I can take it in and show it to someone with more knowledge than me...LOL. Looks like I can definately change it out myself though. I appreciate you all and will update you in a couple of days to post pics (if I can figure out how) and let you know what I found out. Thanks again!
Monica,

I don't know what it might be, but it's [b]not a converter. The converter will be an aluminum box about 8"x10"x5", not credit card size.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:13 AM   #7
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Photos would help if you could post some, Monica.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:43 AM   #8
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I agree with Pete, that's exactly what I did on a 13' Scamp that I use to have. Some converters that don't charge a battery properly can be a real pain and ruin a battery. But with the newer type battery chargers that won't over charge a battery and will maintain one are much better than a older converter. Just my two cents.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:36 PM   #9
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Even the new converters can do that if they haven't been equipped with smart charging, aka multi-stage charging, which is often an option.

I have no idea what it is if it is credit card sized unless it is just a battery maintenance charger.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:59 PM   #10
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...mine is really small, like the size of a credit card...
Monica does the "Credit Card" item look like the attached picture? If so it is the charge wizard that the others are referring too. This picture is also from campingworld.com.

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Old 04-20-2009, 09:02 PM   #11
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Hey all, I made it to Escapees today and they sent me to a really nice fellow named Rick. I explained the problem and he took a look and explained more to me. I am figuring from what he said he is going to hard wire a different kind of 30amp converter, because mine in my trailer is more like a...um...well, don't know how to explain it, just not that little credit card thing I thought it was. So next Monday he is going to do a lot for me. Fix, or install a new, converter. Check my bearings and breaks, put on the WDH and sway bar I should have gotten to begin with. I figure I will be out about a grand, but I need it all done. I thought I had a problem draining the black water, but he pointed out that the drain for that is kinda stuck up under the trailer. Why are they two seperate? So when I have full hook ups I have to choose which to drain, kinda weird, wish that design were a bit different. Anyhow, I like this guy, an ex Marine, and find he is trying to find ways to save me money on what needs to be done. Let me know if you all have any other ideas...thanks for all your help! I am now officially an Escapee...
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:19 PM   #12
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When you have full hookups, you allow the gray water to drain but NOT the black water -- You should allow the black water to fill at least half, if not two-thirds (look down the potty hole with flashlight to gauge the level -- When the black is almost to where you are ready to drain, close the gray valve so that starts building up -- Drain the black, and then close that valve and flush the common pipe with the gray which helps the CG system lines and means that any small drips will be gray, not black.

If you leave the black valve open, all the liquids will drain and the solids will remain, forming the "Dreaded Black Pyramid" under the potty, which is a fuss to get rid of! Also, by having more slush in the black tank, your enzyme additive will be doing its work of breaking down the solids into liquids and reducing odor.

Also, if you are moving between CGs without hookups, it makes more sense to dump at the new CG upon arrival, when the black tank has been sloshing around on the road and sort of cleaning itself.
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:35 PM   #13
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When you have full hookups, you allow the gray water to drain but NOT the black water -- You should allow the black water to fill at least half, if not two-thirds (look down the potty hole with flashlight to gauge the level -- When the black is almost to where you are ready to drain, close the gray valve so that starts building up -- Drain the black, and then close that valve and flush the common pipe with the gray which helps the CG system lines and means that any small drips will be gray, not black.

If you leave the black valve open, all the liquids will drain and the solids will remain, forming the "Dreaded Black Pyramid" under the potty, which is a fuss to get rid of! Also, by having more slush in the black tank, your enzyme additive will be doing its work of breaking down the solids into liquids and reducing odor.

Also, if you are moving between CGs without hookups, it makes more sense to dump at the new CG upon arrival, when the black tank has been sloshing around on the road and sort of cleaning itself.
Thanks soooo much for the great advice, I understand what you are saying about the black water tank and TP etc. I went and closed my valve to let it build up a bit so when I empty it, it all goes down the drain. I am very conservative with water naturally, so my gray tank is not as big a concern. The way this campground is set up (Livingston State Park) is that the sewer part and all hook ups are toward the front of the site, so my trailer is forward of the rear of the site, weird. I am not the only one who thinks it is set up weird either. So I won't be able to drain my grey water except for on the ground as my hose is not long enough. Thanks for the insight, very helpful to a newbie and probably saved me a TP overload hassle.
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