Converter/Charger Shopping - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-20-2010, 07:56 PM   #1
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Converter/Charger Shopping

Having rummaged around in the guts of my trailer, I've decided to replace my converter/charger.

Here are my goals:
I want to be as self-reliant as possible on my own power. In addition to the water pump, fridge and a new Fantastic Fan, I'll want to run an installed stereo with a few speakers, have outlets for my laptop (with special converter), a couple 12v appliances, a couple adjustable halogen task/reading lights and LED lighting (downlights, task lighting). I'm also planning to install a circuit for outdoor use: marine speakers, "porch" light.

I want to allow for the installation of a small inverter at some point, but any A/C stuff will be operated on a 2000-watt portable generator when not connected to shore power.

Finally--in addition to charging from a generator or small solar array (I have 45 watts now, realistically less, in a Harbor Freight kit) I want to make sure my tow vehicle charges the system while in transit.

What I'm doing now:

I'm kicking tires on pumps and converter/chargers. I'm also making myself actually camp in my Casita for a week using battery-operated LED puck lights and Velcro to figure out where I most want to add installed lighting. I'll put little sticker tabs on the "sweet spots" where I want lighting, and I want to figure out the best place in which to install a converter/charger.

I also need to decide if I want to move the battery/batteries to the tongue, or keep them under the port side bench.

Converter/Charger Candidates

I'd love input on the brands/models listed below, or suggested alternatives.

"Mighty Mini" converter/charger with distribution panels for AC/DC circuits
4000 Series

and this pump:
Amazon.com: SHURflo 2088-422-444 Classic 2.8 GPM Pump: Automotive



Thanks in advance for any input or recommendations!
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:24 PM   #2
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For less than the price of a good convertor you can buy an 80W Ramsond solar panel on eBay, mount it on your roof and have an adequate amount of power.
I sold my HF set up at a garage sale and now have a 50 w panel on my roof that has supplied me with enough more than enough light and dvd watching time on 2 short trips . Two weeks ago I took a short trip and ran my Fantastic fan, which I installed over the bed, all night as it was very warm. My deep cycle group 29 battery was fully charged by about noon. I do have all LED lighting in my trailer and I have a charge line from my TV for overcast days.
I have had my 16 ' Scamp almost a year and never used the 110v other than to cool the refer before a trip.
I hope this helps and gives you some food for thought.
John

P.S. I bought my HF solar set up almost 2 years ago and never used it because it was just to much trouble and could be stolen.
John
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:22 PM   #3
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John,

Thanks for your input. Unfortunately, the 80w solar panel is out of my budget; it appears that you are implying that the converter I'm considering does not fall into the "good" category, as the converter is just under $200, and the panel you recommend has a MSRP well over $600. I'm sure I can get it for a bit less on eBay, but still...

I agree that the HF kit is a hassle. However, I've had mine for a couple years (still unused) and I'll use it until I lose it.

It's my understanding that the converter will let me run my 12v system while hooked up to shore power (home office/girl cave mode) or to the Honeywell 2000i (a/c output only) generator I'm tire-kicking.

I'm open to further discussion on why I should 86 the converter, if you are. I'm learning and open to ideas.
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:50 PM   #4
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Install the converter, if you liked roughing it with no electricity, you would be in a tent. 12 volt solar panels are great and environmentaly friendly, but I like A/C when it is 90 degrees and t/v at night when the weather is bad. When it is 90 plus degrees outside, the fantastic fan is only SO fantastic. I also have upgraded my Burro with a new 45 amp converter, installed A/C and have room to add many other features if I desire to later. You can't go wrong with an upgraded converter. If you want to rough it, you can always pull the plug!
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:16 AM   #5
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Just for future reference, if you offer $152.00 for the 50w panel or $253.00 for the 80w they will accept you offer.
John
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Old 08-21-2010, 02:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry J View Post
Just for future reference, if you offer $152.00 for the 50w panel or $253.00 for the 80w they will accept you offer.
John
John: Thanks for the tip! That's a fantastic deal, and well worth looking into.

One thing about solar: Almost all my summer camping is in forested areas; almost all my winter camping will be in an overcast region. This is one of the reasons I'm hesitant to put more $ into solar right now.

Mark, I'm kind of on the same page. The trailer is going to double as a home office, and in the summer, having a/c (there's an older window mount unit) will be awesome.

As for the generator...I'm probably oing to hold out until I can afford the Yamaha or Honda 2000 inverter models. (yep, I've been researching all night!) I think the extra $ over the Honeywell will pay off in time. I only have one likely trip where I'll need the off-grid a/c, and I can tough it out for that...or mooch off my friend's larger genset.

So...any recommendations on converters/3-stage battery chargers?
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Old 08-21-2010, 11:53 AM   #7
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Why buy a converter?
A converter will convert your AC shore power to DC so you can run your 12V system while plugged in, I understand.
Another option is to buy an inverter/3 stage smart charger combo. This effectively does the same thing, 12V runs off of the batteries (just like normal) when plugged into shore power, but the batteries are being charged at the same time. Plus I've got 1000W of inverted AC to use when not plugged in. My system also charges via 130W solar panel, and my tugs alternator. So aside from initial charging I've NEVER had to plug in.
My inverter is a Xantrex Freedom HF 1000. I love it.
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:24 AM   #8
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All of the above advice applies!

I got an e-mail back from Randy at Bestconverter.com (on a Saturday!).
Looks like I'll use my small, existing inverter and an inexpensive charge controller for off-grid solar charging/minimal AC use for the rest of the season, and then I'll install the Mighty Mini 4045 for my shore-power A/C and off-grid DC usage.

As said previously, I'll use the HF kit until I get sick of packing it around (or it breaks) and then I'll check out a single 80-watt solar panel.

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I'll be posting all sorts of pics before and once I get the project underway. But this weekend....

...I'm going to go CAMPING!
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