Upgrading an ancient power converter - a few questions - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-28-2007, 10:17 PM   #1
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As it turns out - my existing, rusted, scary looking battery cooker isn't even cooking anymore. I ordered a 9245 to replace it with, whose installation seems pretty straightforward. I have a few specific questions that I hope somebody can help with before I go tearing into things:

My old (existing) converter is wired to a battery/converter selector switch. Do I need to use this with the new converter? How? Is my understanding correct that the Intellipower converter is automatically switched to "battery" already, unless plugged in - thus eliminating the need for the switch?

My trailer's 110v shore power cord (about 20 ft.) is wired directly to a dual 110v outlet w/ circuit breaker inside the trailer, then it has regular interior electrical wire going to the existing converter. Safe bet to just cut the plug end off the intellipower converter 110v wire and run it to the output side of the outlet in place of the existing length of NM shielded wire?

Although there are a half dozen or so wires bolted to the old converter's negative post, the only 12v electrical in the trailer (as far as I can see it ever had) are three interior dome lights and an outside porch light. There is no (and never was) any fuse panel or buss bar anywhere in the camper as far as I can tell. Should I wire one in since I'm tearing into all this anyways? (Yes.) I plan on installing an electric fan/range hood, electric water pump/faucet, a 3 way fridge, and probably a cigarette lighter or two for aux power stuff down the road. Additionally, should the existing inside dome lights and the outside porch light be on separate circuits?

BTW - I have a group 24 85 a/h Nautilus deep cycle battery, if that matters. Thanks in advance for the help. I'm sure I'm plenty capable of tackling the job, it's just a little overwhelming looking at all these wires right now.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:15 AM   #2
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Since the converter is intended to plug into an outlet, I would add an outlet rather than removing the plug. The manual doesn't say anything about hardwiring it in, so I would avoid that option.

I would definitely put in the proposed 12V fuse/distribution panel. When I read the post I was surprised that the converter does not come with one, but apparently that's the case for the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power units.

I don't see a need for interior and exterior lighting on different circuits, since neither is critical and neither is an especially high load or high risk of short circuit. Maybe there's another reason that has not occurred to me...
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
As it turns out - my existing, rusted, scary looking battery cooker isn't even cooking anymore. I ordered a 9245 to replace it with, whose installation seems pretty straightforward. I have a few specific questions that I hope somebody can help with before I go tearing into things:

My old (existing) converter is wired to a battery/converter selector switch. Do I need to use this with the new converter? How? Is my understanding correct that the Intellipower converter is automatically switched to "battery" already, unless plugged in - thus eliminating the need for the switch?

My trailer's 110v shore power cord (about 20 ft.) is wired directly to a dual 110v outlet w/ circuit breaker inside the trailer, then it has regular interior electrical wire going to the existing converter. Safe bet to just cut the plug end off the intellipower converter 110v wire and run it to the output side of the outlet in place of the existing length of NM shielded wire?

Although there are a half dozen or so wires bolted to the old converter's negative post, the only 12v electrical in the trailer (as far as I can see it ever had) are three interior dome lights and an outside porch light. There is no (and never was) any fuse panel or buss bar anywhere in the camper as far as I can tell. Should I wire one in since I'm tearing into all this anyways? (Yes.) I plan on installing an electric fan/range hood, electric water pump/faucet, a 3 way fridge, and probably a cigarette lighter or two for aux power stuff down the road. Additionally, should the existing inside dome lights and the outside porch light be on separate circuits?

BTW - I have a group 24 85 a/h Nautilus deep cycle battery, if that matters. Thanks in advance for the help. I'm sure I'm plenty capable of tackling the job, it's just a little overwhelming looking at all these wires right now.
Angelo;
You do not need a battery/converter switch.
I would, and did, wire a separate 110V outlet for the Intelipower 9260 that I installed to replace my Magnetek unit! I didn't cut the power cord, so it is easily removable, if ever needed.
See my threads further down in this forum and follow some of the URL's that are specified at the end of the thread to see some pictures to give you an idea.
It would be a good idea to get a 110V breaker box and a fused 12V panel, even if it's tucked away under the seats. It gives you the flexibility, and safety to shut off sections, when work is needed.
I've had mine installed, also with a new Nautilus size 24 battery, for a week now and the system seems to be fine. I do have the Converter Status Remote Pendant PD92201 ($17.95 with shipping to Canada) so can monitor what the battery converter/charger is doing. I've now seen it go through ALL of it's 'Intelligent' cycles, and can change it if needed (?)!
Good luck.
Mike.....>
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:35 AM   #4
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Angelo;
You do not need a battery/converter switch.
I would, and did, wire a separate 110V outlet for the Intelipower 9260 that I installed to replace my Magnetek unit! I didn't cut the power cord, so it is easily removable, if ever needed.
See my threads further down in this forum and follow some of the URL's that are specified at the end of the thread to see some pictures to give you an idea.
It would be a good idea to get a 110V breaker box and a fused 12V panel, even if it's tucked away under the seats. It gives you the flexibility, and safety to shut off sections, when work is needed.
I've had mine installed, also with a new Nautilus size 24 battery, for a week now and the system seems to be fine. I do have the Converter Status Remote Pendant PD92201 ($17.95 with shipping to Canada) so can monitor what the battery converter/charger is doing. I've now seen it go through ALL of it's 'Intelligent' cycles, and can change it if needed (?)!
Good luck.
Mike.....>

I'm really curious Mike. You have a converter capable of producing 60 amps, you have a battery that's rated at 80 amp hour over 20 hours. As I understand that means that if you're drawing a continues 4 amps your batter will be run down in 20 hours. Which seems about right to me. It appears that there's a big mismatch here.
So I my curiosity leads me to ask the follow questions;
1. What are you running on the 12volt system when plugged that requires anything close to 60 Amps?
2. Is your wiring large enough to handle 60 amps?
3. Assuming you're running something that requires lots of current how to you manage when not connected to shore power?
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:59 PM   #5
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I'm really curious Mike. You have a converter capable of producing 60 amps, you have a battery that's rated at 80 amp hour over 20 hours. As I understand that means that if you're drawing a continues 4 amps your batter will be run down in 20 hours. Which seems about right to me. It appears that there's a big mismatch here.
So I my curiosity leads me to ask the follow questions;
1. What are you running on the 12volt system when plugged that requires anything close to 60 Amps?
2. Is your wiring large enough to handle 60 amps?
3. Assuming you're running something that requires lots of current how to you manage when not connected to shore power?
Byron;
You are right in that my 9260 is overkill, as I never will need to draw the full 60 Amps. I bought it due to size availability and price.
Remember that this unit does not 'Force' 60 Amps, but can supply that amount if loaded to the max. At my normal rate, the internal fan may rarely come on!
So the answer to Question 1 is - never, even with all lights on, fridge on DC, and furnce fan running, I'd only need about 30 Amps!
Question 2 is - NO, but fuses would blow in several spots if a short circuit or excess of 30 Amps went anywhere. The same as 110V house wiring ratings - there's lot's more than 15A behind those breakers! Usually 200 Amp service to most homes nowadays! You sure can't expect each of the wires to handle that!
Question 3 - I don't know how long I will be off shore power when boondocking, but will find out.
As far as the battery is concerned, if it appears that I will need more power, as I mentioned, I may install a size 27 under the dinette seat.
As far as overcharging, or overheating the battery, even when discharged, I've been advised by PD that the charger doesn't current charge. The 14.4V charging is on for a maximum of 4 hours, then drops to 13.6V. The internal resistance of the battery does have a limiting factor upon the actual current being drawn. A depleted AGM, (with it's very low internal resistance) for instance, would blow 30 A fuses, I'm sure!
If, after a heavy discharge, I find the 14.4V charge rate is heating wires, battery, or blowing fuses, then I can force set the charge voltage to 13.6, OR 13.2 Volts, using the Status Remote Pendant.
While I haven't yet done a deep discharge (50% or 40 AHr would be my max!), I am confident that the charging system won't 'blow up' the trailer, and me!
I hope that clarifies my reasons. If the converter/charger had been one of those 3 stage ones, where the bulk current is dumped into the battery at the maximum rate, I, certainly, would be VERY worried. This one works differently!
We'll see!
Mike.....>
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Byron;
You are right in that my 9260 is overkill, as I never will need to draw the full 60 Amps. I bought it due to size availability and price.
Remember that this unit does not 'Force' 60 Amps, but can supply that amount if loaded to the max. At my normal rate, the internal fan may rarely come on!
So the answer to Question 1 is - never, even with all lights on, fridge on DC, and furnce fan running, I'd only need about 30 Amps!
Question 2 is - NO, but fuses would blow in several spots if a short circuit or excess of 30 Amps went anywhere. The same as 110V house wiring ratings - there's lot's more than 15A behind those breakers! Usually 200 Amp service to most homes nowadays! You sure can't expect each of the wires to handle that!
Question 3 - I don't know how long I will be off shore power when boondocking, but will find out.
As far as the battery is concerned, if it appears that I will need more power, as I mentioned, I may install a size 27 under the dinette seat.
As far as overcharging, or overheating the battery, even when discharged, I've been advised by PD that the charger doesn't current charge. The 14.4V charging is on for a maximum of 4 hours, then drops to 13.6V. The internal resistance of the battery does have a limiting factor upon the actual current being drawn. A depleted AGM, (with it's very low internal resistance) for instance, would blow 30 A fuses, I'm sure!
If, after a heavy discharge, I find the 14.4V charge rate is heating wires, battery, or blowing fuses, then I can force set the charge voltage to 13.6, OR 13.2 Volts, using the Status Remote Pendant.
While I haven't yet done a deep discharge (50% or 40 AHr would be my max!), I am confident that the charging system won't 'blow up' the trailer, and me!
I hope that clarifies my reasons. If the converter/charger had been one of those 3 stage ones, where the bulk current is dumped into the battery at the maximum rate, I, certainly, would be VERY worried. This one works differently!
We'll see!
Mike.....>

I think it does, but, overkill isn't necessarily a good thing. It won't hurt unless somebody bypasses a fuse or two. Many converters, which is mainly a DC power supply, have "fold back" Which means that if you have a converter rated at 30 amps and there's problem it won't deliver more than 30 amps and will shut down with fold back at any attempt to draw more. Same problem comes up with a 60 amp converter, now it can deliver 60 amps. Your wiring could get very very hot. That's what fold back is meant to protect. If you've ever had anything to do with the electrical, electronic industry you'll know that fuses are NOT a reliable protection. If look around your house you'll see lots of stuff with UL marked it. The very first thing UL does when approving a piece of electrical equipment is short out any fuses, that is bypass them. The best protection is something you can't alter, that's why there's circuit breakers instead of fuses in your house.

The battery will, however deliver a few hundred amps, but that's not so bad because it would most likely burn the wire into at battery connector or some other connector first. Which is better than delivering 60 amps forever or until the trailer is crispy crittered.

What I'm saying is that if anybody is about to replace your converter, get the size you need. No bigger, no smaller. It will provide you the best service and the best protection.

I hope this is understandable.
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
What I'm saying is that if anybody is about to replace your converter, get the size you need. [b]No bigger, no smaller. It will provide you the best service and the best protection.
That was my belief, too.
However, trying to put that into practice has become very frustrating.
Camping World has a catalog listing for a 30 amp intellipower converter that I can add the smart charger to. Affordable with the President's Club discount. But not available in any store I've been in, they've only got one 45 amp and two 60 amp units. I went to my semi-local store, showed the catalog, and asked for the 30 amp unit. The person at the order desk noticed a weird bug in their stocking policy that put the 30 amp unit in their catalog, but NOT in the store. She said that there were three 30 amp units in the nearest distribution warehouse. She ordered two if them and said that they'd be on the shelf in 3 days.

I go back to the store 3 days later, and there on the shelf are three 45 amp units and two 60 amp units.
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:50 PM   #8
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I think it does, but, overkill isn't necessarily a good thing. It won't hurt unless somebody bypasses a fuse or two. Many converters, which is mainly a DC power supply, have "fold back" Which means that if you have a converter rated at 30 amps and there's problem it won't deliver more than 30 amps and will shut down with fold back at any attempt to draw more. Same problem comes up with a 60 amp converter, now it can deliver 60 amps. Your wiring could get very very hot. That's what fold back is meant to protect. If you've ever had anything to do with the electrical, electronic industry you'll know that fuses are NOT a reliable protection. If look around your house you'll see lots of stuff with UL marked it. The very first thing UL does when approving a piece of electrical equipment is short out any fuses, that is bypass them. The best protection is something you can't alter, that's why there's circuit breakers instead of fuses in your house.

The battery will, however deliver a few hundred amps, but that's not so bad because it would most likely burn the wire into at battery connector or some other connector first. Which is better than delivering 60 amps forever or until the trailer is crispy crittered.

What I'm saying is that if anybody is about to replace your converter, get the size you need. No bigger, no smaller. It will provide you the best service and the best protection.

I hope this is understandable.
Byron;
Certainly logical, but not really understandable!
In the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-power converter/charger modules specifications, with the Wizard Charging Circuit, they do NOT specify specific battery sizes to use with the different sized units.
<http://www.progressivedyn.com/PD9200_Manual.pdf>
Circuit Breakers can be as reliable, or unreliable as fuses, and yet both are still used, and approved, in house wiring, check your stove!
However, in charging a battery, a source voltage of 14.4V for 4 hours, then 13.6V, into a 'marine' deep cycle battery, such as the CTC Nautilus line should not make much difference if it's provided by a PD9230, 40, 45, 60, 70, or 80! That's from David Watson, of Progressive Dynamics, when I asked the question - Will a PD9260 kill a type 24 deep cycle battery?
As I mentioned in my write-ups, I can rationalize my decisions, but would not force anyone to follow me. They can decide on their own. If you feel more comfortable with a 30 Amp unit - then that's the one for you!
Mike VE3EQP.......>
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Old 08-30-2007, 04:28 PM   #9
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Byron;
Certainly logical, but not really understandable!
In the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-power converter/charger modules specifications, with the Wizard Charging Circuit, they do NOT specify specific battery sizes to use with the different sized units.
<http://www.progressivedyn.com/PD9200_Manual.pdf>
Circuit Breakers can be as reliable, or unreliable as fuses, and yet both are still used, and approved, in house wiring, check your stove!
However, in charging a battery, a source voltage of 14.4V for 4 hours, then 13.6V, into a 'marine' deep cycle battery, such as the CTC Nautilus line should not make much difference if it's provided by a PD9230, 40, 45, 60, 70, or 80! That's from David Watson, of Progressive Dynamics, when I asked the question - Will a PD9260 kill a type 24 deep cycle battery?
As I mentioned in my write-ups, I can rationalize my decisions, but would not force anyone to follow me. They can decide on their own. If you feel more comfortable with a 30 Amp unit - then that's the one for you!
Mike VE3EQP.......>
I don't believe I said anything about a overkill unit doing any damage to your battery. Let me try again. Let's say you end up which a high current situation, i.e. a light fixture with a partial short, a 12 volt motor with a partial short, that type of thing. The failure wants to draw 50 Amps of current. The 60 amp converter will happily supply that 50 amps, the wire won't like it and get very hot. The 30 amp converter will shut down.

Does that make sense?
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:55 PM   #10
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The Intellipower converter is in parallel with the battery. A fully charged battery can supply much more than 30 amps and so you are limited by the battery and NOT the converter.

You need at least four levels of protection:

1. There needs to be a circuit breaker close to the battery and should be sized relative to the wiring and converter. In my case I added a 40 amp converter. Therefore I changed the wiring from the converter to 8 guage and changed the breaker to 50 amps.

2. Each individual circuit must have the appropriate fusing to protect that circuit including the wiring just like your house.

3. The converter must have current limiting and foldback protection as well. The PD9100 series does and I'm sure the PD9200 series does also.

4. The wiring between the converter and the battery must be able to support the maximum expected charger current without over heating. I used very special marine wire for this purpose. It is type 3 stranded which means it is far more flexible than the wire you get at the big box stores. Additionally it is rated to 105 degrees Centigrade so it could get real hot without melting. The downside is it's difficult to locate and expensive.

Hope I didn't add to the confusion.

Ted
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Old 08-31-2007, 05:16 PM   #11
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Thanks for that input Ted; I like to learn something new every day!!

Here's some info from the Crutchfield Audio Site:

Q: What kind of wires should I use to hook up my marine audio system?

A: When choosing wire for any kind of application on your boat, make sure the wire is stranded, at the very least, and tinned, if at all possible. According to the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council), only stranded copper wire is acceptable for marine wiring applications. Other metals, such as aluminum and steel, corrode too quickly and can't withstand the constant vibrations of a boat in motion. A thin coating of tin (or solder) applied to copper can further enhance the copper's resistance to corrosion, creating the longest-lasting wiring material you can put on your boat.

Other things to take into consideration include the necessary gauge of the wire. SAE-rated wire (Society of Automotive Engineers) often has a smaller diameter than AWG-rated wire (American Wire Gauge), even though the two wires may be labeled the same gauge. AWG-size cables better suit marine applications, especially those labeled "boat cable" on the insulation. You'll also find "type" cables, which tell you how many strands are found in each wire. A Type 1 cable, for example, is either a single solid strand or just a few strands. You should not use Type 1 cables for boat applications. Type 2 wires have anywhere from 19 strands to 127 strands, depending on the gauge, in this case running from 16-gauge down to 0-gauge. Type 2 wires can be used for any general purpose wiring job on your boat, such as for wiring speakers. Type 3 cables have considerably more stranding than Type 2. For the same gauge range (16-0), Type 3 wires may include 26-1,064 strands. You should use Type 3 wires for applications that will require a lot of bending, flexing, or jostling, as the more strands a wire has, the longer it will last with frequent flexing.

Check out our Monster marine speaker wire as well as our selection of marine power and ground wires.

END QUOTE

And here's a post from a Marine Forum on a battery cable thread:

Most welding cable is not suitable for marine work for a couple of reasons.

All marine wire should be stranded copper (tinned much preferred) Type 2 and Type 3 (preferred). All suitable cable will have UL 1426 or equivalent certification. The old ABYC standard is ABYC E-9.15.2. It's in E11 now; I'll find it and post it.

Welding cable has a couple of shortcomings. First, the insulation, while thick, isn't traditionally designed for use in hot/moist engine rooms. If the insulation does meet both oil and heat tests it MAY be acceptable.

Welding cable is also made of many more strands and they are much more fragile. While stranding is a good thing and the flexible Type 3 is preferred to the less flexible Type 2 most marine electrical experts believe that the off the shelf welding cable is likely to break at the termination points more easily than high grade boat cable.

So, if the wire meets the standards it can be used but most welding cable doesn't. I use a LOT of marine wire in my electrical business and much prefer brand name (Pacer, Ancor, Dearborn) boat cable for the above reasons. This is from an ABYC Standards FAQ on the abycinc.net website:

"Welding cable is often used for battery cables on boats. However, the welding cable's insulation must be oil and water-resistant. Cable that is not oil and water resistant may become impregnated with the water or oil and reduce the insulation's effectiveness. ABYC E-9.15.2 covers the requirements for the construction of cables and conductors."


Scott Berg

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