Battery recharging? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-01-2013, 06:18 PM   #15
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Byron..........can I overcharge my battery by keeping my camper plugged to my household outlet?
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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
In the field "smart" generally refers to a micro-controller software controlled circuit so yes an analog circuit is considered dumb. There are two solutions to most electrical designs, analog vs digital. Cost usually determines the approach used. Designing a charger without a switching point would be like designing a car with out brakes. Even the old stuff had a shut off. Raz
So the question was
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can I overcharge my battery by keeping my camper plugged to my household outlet?
Yes or no? I say maybe depending on the converter, which neither of us has identified.
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:27 PM   #16
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So the question was Yes or no? I say maybe depending on the converter, which neither of us has identified.
That's not what you said.



........can I overcharge my battery by keeping my camper plugged to my household outlet?


........ the answer is yes - if you have an older "dumb" charger.


Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:39 PM   #17
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That's not what you said.



........can I overcharge my battery by keeping my camper plugged to my household outlet?


........ the answer is yes - if you have an older "dumb" charger.


Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
Are you accusing me of providing misinformation?


Neither of us knows what model of converter the OP has. Some converters, especially older ones, will cook a battery, so I stand by my answer that, yes, a "dumb" charger can damage a battery if left plugged in for long periods.
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:45 AM   #18
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Ummmm.......what does it look like and where would I find it? Would it be by the battery?
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:47 AM   #19
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Ummmm.......what does it look like and where would I find it? Would it be by the battery?
Hi Linda. No, your converter will be located somewhere inside your trailer. Look in a storage area where the power cable enters.

All batteries require maintenance. As they can produce explosive hydrogen gas and contain acid they should be treated with respect. Monitoring the water (electrolyte) level of the battery and keeping it charged are the two most important things to do. If this is new to you then I would suggest you find someone knowledgeable to show you how to do it or have a qualified technician do it for you. Having to frequently add water(distilled), say more than once or twice a year, could indicate a charger issue. Some leave their chargers plugged in all the time, others don't. If working properly, plugged in is fine. A while back a member discovered their "smart" charger had malfunctioned and ruined the battery. A rare event but I does happen so if you leave it plugged in keep an eye on it. Good luck, Raz
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:18 PM   #20
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Linda, did the trailer come with a set of manuals? Usually, there is a very basic one for the trailer, but also a stack of the installation and operation manuals that come with each appliance and major piece of equipment. My Boler was 26 years old when I bought it, and it still had that stack of manuals. If there is one for a "power converter", that should tell you what it is and how it works.


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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
Designing a charger without a switching point would be like designing a car with out brakes.
I think it would be more like designing a car without cruise control: the operator is required to monitor and respond to the speed [voltage]... and many of us seem to be old enough to remember when cruise was a fancy option.

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Even the old stuff had a shut off.
While it is possible for a charger to just shut off at a set voltage - that's how traditional car battery chargers work - that could be annoying for RV use. My Boler's obsolete converter disconnects the battery when the converter gets AC power, so although the battery never gets charged it also never gets overcharged, and the lights and other stuff in the trailer are supplied with a constant 12.4 volts. I believe that the optional charger switches a connection to the battery on and off as required to charge but not overcharge it.

My (not moulded) 2002-vintage fifth-wheel trailer came with a Parallax 7445, which appears to be dumb, by any definition. The truly mediocre 7400 Series Converter/Battery Charger Owners Manual suggests (at least in my reading) that it is simply a constant 13.6 volt power supply which will wander up to 0.2V above that if there is no current flowing. That's high enough to charge a battery (although perhaps not quickly) and we hope low enough to not cook it too badly by overcharging... and higher than normal dumb always-on always-connected "float" chargers. It never shuts off or changes voltage.

I have since replaced this thing with a Progressive Dynamics Intelli-Power PD9260C, just like the one that came in my motorhome. The Intelli-Power series are not "dumb", and are designed in the currently typical fashion for "smart" devices. Although my Boler's converter is built into the same metal cabinet as circuit breakers, both the Parallax and the PD are separate devices, tucked away in a storage compartment; at least the PD is also available integrated with the distribution (circuit breaker and fuse) panel... a trailer of any vintage could have either style.


We could explain how to check battery and branch circuit voltages under various conditions to deduce the converter's operating design... but I'm guessing most people are not interested in doing that.
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:54 AM   #21
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I think it would be more like designing a car without cruise control: the operator is required to monitor and respond to the speed [voltage]... and many of us seem to be old enough to remember when cruise was a fancy option.
A car without brakes crashes. A charger without a switching or trip point cooks the battery. A car without cruise control makes your right foot work harder.

Quote:
While it is possible for a charger to just shut off at a set voltage - that's how traditional car battery chargers work -
My 1980's vintage Napa charger, that I paid $40 for, is pulse width modulated and switches from charging to float at a point adjusted by a potentiometer.


Quote:
My Boler's obsolete converter disconnects the battery when the converter gets AC power, so although the battery never gets charged it also never gets overcharged, and the lights and other stuff in the trailer are supplied with a constant 12.4 volts. I believe that the optional charger switches a connection to the battery on and off as required to charge but not overcharge it.
Nothing boiling here

Quote:
My (not moulded) 2002-vintage fifth-wheel trailer came with a Parallax 7445, which appears to be dumb, by any definition. The truly mediocre 7400 Series Converter/Battery Charger Owners Manual suggests (at least in my reading) that it is simply a constant 13.6 volt power supply which will wander up to 0.2V above that if there is no current flowing. That's high enough to charge a battery (although perhaps not quickly) and we hope low enough to not cook it too badly by overcharging... and higher than normal dumb always-on always-connected "float" chargers. It never shuts off or changes voltage.
Sounds like the charging system in most tow vehicles. Crude, but again nothing boiling here either.

Quote:
I have since replaced this thing with a Progressive Dynamics Intelli-Power PD9260C, just like the one that came in my motorhome. The Intelli-Power series are not "dumb", and are designed in the currently typical fashion for "smart" devices.
This one could boil your battery. That's how it deals with stratification, a "problem" common to solar array storage batteries sitting in an attic but not so common on the tongue of a camper.

These will be really be "smart" when they get the correct input, electrolyte temperature. We're not there yet.

The term "smart" is a misnomer. There is nothing smart about a smart converter. It simply makes decisions based on software rather than hardware. The terms dumb and smart go back to the 1980's when microprocessors were first introduced into circuit design. In most cases adding a software component allowed for the cheapest solution for increasing product levels. Add a couple resistors, change a few lines of code, and charge a hundred dollars more.

Determining whether the battery voltage has reached a certain voltage threshold by a line of code or a comparator circuit is immaterial. To argue that converters that are not software controlled, i.e."dumb", will harm a battery and ones that are software controlled, i.e. "smart"', won't harm a battery without a thorough knowledge of the actual circuit designs is irresponsible and inaccurate.

I am forever seeing folks urged to replace a working, albeit, not state of the art converter (to the tune of several hundred dollars) to get a few extra months out of a $75 battery. Further, people who have never wired anything are urged to install it themselves. It's easy! So to alleviate the perceived risk of battery damage they create a possible fire hazard. Go figure.
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:09 AM   #22
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Linda, did the trailer come with a set of manuals? Usually, there is a very basic one for the trailer, but also a stack of the installation and operation manuals that come with each appliance and major piece of equipment. My Boler was 26 years old when I bought it, and it still had that stack of manuals. If there is one for a "power converter", that should tell you what it is and how it works.
See OP's post #5 in response to your #4. PO did changes to the electrical so not very likely the manuals that came with the trailer are going to help. Your right though if the PO left the manuals for the new stuff he put in the trailer that might help.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:14 PM   #23
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It seems that it really boils down to what "features" does the converter implement. And then how well. The technology used may impact the how well aspect, but does not preclude older technology that may do an acceptable job from the OP perspective.

Only two ways to know. Using a test meter and working through converter output Or the much easier approach. Post the model here or search for it online to find out the features. Seems to me most converters that implement floating or trickle charge will brag it in the manual, and possibly brag about the technology.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:37 PM   #24
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This and many other "electrical" issues have created myths. Once somebody says something that's incorrect it's picked up and repeated, misunderstood, and embellished. A new myth is born and forever will be held dear to those that don't understand the basics. Old myths are carried on forever.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:58 PM   #25
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.......... Post the model here or search for it online to find out the features........... .
That would be too simple.
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:38 PM   #26
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I think I will have to search the storage space under the bed.....that's where the power cord comes in.....if I find it, I'll definitely post the model number and look it up on line. Thanks for all of your comments.
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:32 AM   #27
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My 1980's vintage Napa charger, that I paid $40 for, is pulse width modulated and switches from charging to float at a point adjusted by a potentiometer.
That's nice. As recently discussed in another thread (Schumacher 10/2 amp Dual Rate Battery Charger) not only are these features not shared by all chargers, some chargers are still sold - Donna just bought one - which have no shutoff or mode switching at all in the manual version. Just because someone has a sophisticated converter/charger in an old trailer - or an automatic charger in their garage - does not mean that everyone does, and it would be irresponsible to say otherwise.
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:51 AM   #28
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I am forever seeing folks urged to replace a working, albeit, not state of the art converter (to the tune of several hundred dollars) to get a few extra months out of a $75 battery.
I can only guess that this is a shot at me, as it is in the context of a post which quotes almost all of my post. I did not at any point in this thread urge anyone to replace anything; I reported what I did, and I have no delusion that anyone desires to follow anything I do. For clarification, I replaced that Parallax regulated power supply with a PD converter/charger because the Parallax was running so hot that it caused some fine sawdust (left over from the original construction of the trailer) to smoke; perhaps pushing 13.6 V regardless of battery charge state wasn't working out so well for it.

The Progressive Dynamics Intelli-Power PD9260C costs a couple hundred dollars, not "several" hundred.

I have kept the Parallax, and plan to use it as a bench power supply in my garage, for testing automotive electrical components - its operating characteristics seem well-suited to that use.
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