How can you make a dumb converter/charger a smart charger? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-01-2014, 06:48 AM   #1
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How can you make a dumb converter/charger a smart charger?

I finally dove into the rear seat of my old Scamp and looked over the converter last night. Looks like it is a B-W unit, probably 26 years old like the trailer. While looking at I had a thought that in this day and age there must be some simple electronic device one could add in the circuit between the converter and battery to "educate" it so that it does not cook the battery. And maybe even boost the charging capability. Is this cheap and easy or expensive and difficult? Is it best to just scrap it all in favor of a new converter and charge wizard? I hate to do that as the old converter is working fine otherwise.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:16 AM   #2
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Hmm cost of new and improved charger to increase battery life span vs. cost of having to replace battery more often. I don't know but I sometimes wonder if "improved" systems really pay for themselves in a reasonable amount of time.

If with old charger I have to purchase a replacement battery every 3 years and with better charger I can get 4 years out of the battery before replacement I'm only out one additional battery in 12 years. If newer system gets me 6 years life span for battery then I am saving the cost of 2 batteries in 12 years.

So I would start with how long your battery life span is with current system and get feed back from owners of other newer systems on how long their battery lasts with that system. Figure out the payback in saved battery money to decide if it is worth it.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:28 AM   #3
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You really can't. Smart chargers incorporate lots of electronics to "Sample" battery condition and control charge levels and have several control circuits that would have to be replicated. Not only that, the higher charging rate needed to desulfate the battery isn't even available from the B-W unit, at least not on purpose. And, as you say, the existing box is already over 25 y.o., you could fabricate some sort of update only to have it smoke in a month from old age.

You can get a basic Converter w/smart charger, such as the Progressive Dynamics PD-9200 series PD9245, that will replace the existing converter/charger section (electrically, not physically), but retain the existing wiring, fuses and breakers.

Or you can just replace the entire boat anchor, I mean B-W converter, with a PD-4045 power chassis/converter/smart charger.

The latter will effectively bring your Scamps electrical system up to current Scamp practice. They did it, why can't you?
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:36 AM   #4
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To reply to Roger....

Sometimes ROI isn't the reason for updating. Yes, you should expect longer life out of your battery, but by updating, say to a PD-4045, you will add reliability, additional capacity, smoother DC power and not be concerned that, any day, that a 25+ y.o. converter will turn either into a monster and fry your battery, or go into retirement and never fully charge the battery.

I have seen numerous examples of this happening with these older converters, not to mention fried change-over replays etc., in the many that I have replaced with PD-4045's.

Security is a significant value added reason to replace the old box. And it's not like it's a total budget buster, Under $175 on-line.
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:09 AM   #5
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What I did not mention (trying to keep the question simple) was that I am looking at this as part of a larger electrical change, to solar ($$$$), a 12V compressor type refrigerator ($$$$) and new (perhaps multiple) batteries ($$$$). A new complete converter system is eventually called for but I was hoping that I could "leapfrog" the old functioning controller with a cheap patch for now and do some of the other stuff and then come back to the controller upgrade. I understand I can't change (or it would be hard to change) the upper end of the charging capabilities of the boat anchor. But I was hoping there was a simple and cheap fix to prevent over charging of my new and expensive battery bank I installed to go with my solar array. It is not as sexy but I suppose the place to start is at the beginning, with a modern controller/charger. Dang but I hate fixing something that ain't completely broke.
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:22 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
To reply to Roger....

Sometimes ROI isn't the reason for updating. Yes, you should expect longer life out of your battery, but by updating, say to a PD-4045, you will add reliability, additional capacity, smoother DC power and not be concerned that, any day, that a 25+ y.o. converter will turn either into a monster and fry your battery, or go into retirement and never fully charge the battery.

I have seen numerous examples of this happening with these older converters, not to mention fried change-over replays etc., in the many that I have replaced with PD-4045's.

Security is a significant value added reason to replace the old box. And it's not like it's a total budget buster, Under $175 on-line.
I agree some updated equipment just performs better, or things such as tires degrade with age so some items are replace on an age basis. I always like to start with ROI and then factor in the failure risk and it's impact to compare with the cost of the upgrade. Don't want to imply that one should neglect value of problems solved or new possibilities offered by expense of upgrade.

But when it comes to replacing something that works I tend to want to know what money does this save for what it costs as a starting point. Have to start evaluation someplace that is just where I tend to start. I'm still using a 30 year old 1/4 inch single speed drill motor for drilling pilot holes because it works for that task. If I built decks that old drill would have been replaced with something more dependable.
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:25 AM   #7
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Who knows Tim you may be able to sell your old one, some of the older campers don't have any charging system built in. And something that works is better than nothing.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:00 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Timber Wolf View Post
Dang but I hate fixing something that ain't completely broke.

It's called "Preventive Maintenance" and it's what keeps our FGRV's lasting as long as they do. That's the opposite of "Deferred Maintenance" which is code for Don't fix it until it breaks.

And yes, you need that new charger to keep that battery bank properly charged when the sun doesn't shine.... which I understand sometimes happens up that way.
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Old 07-02-2014, 01:01 PM   #9
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If you are going to have a multiple battery bank and do dry camping a good charger or solar is a must. If you go solar you could keep that dinosaur you have.

If drycamping/boondocking, and charging from a generator, replace that thing with the best converter/charger you can afford. When charging a bank of batteries from a generator, time is money. Every extra minute that generator runs it is burning more precious fuel.

A quality charger can make your batteries last longer and require less attention from you.

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Originally Posted by RogerDat View Post
...If with old charger I have to purchase a replacement battery every 3 years and with better charger I can get 4 years out of the battery....
If your batteries only last three to four years you should stop abusing your batteries. I figure on a minimum seven years from my batteries. I know climates like Arizona can be hard on a battery but you have virtually the same climate in Michigan as I have in Ohio.

With two vehicles, two trailers, a tractor, and two motorcycles I am maintaining nine batteries. I sure don't want to be replacing them every three years.
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by beemerphile1 View Post
....

If your batteries only last three to four years you should stop abusing your batteries. I figure on a minimum seven years from my batteries. I know climates like Arizona can be hard on a battery but you have virtually the same climate in Michigan as I have in Ohio.
....
I picked battery life sort of off the cuff just as an example that worked to show battery cost vs. purchase of new converter savings from longer battery life.

If it was me I would focus my financial resources on doing my Solar to be top notch. Then come back to upgrading the working converter once I had my solar in a good place. Not to say sometimes I don't just figure while I'm messing with all this might as well do it all and know it's done so I don't have to worry about it in the future.

Good point on generator use making a difference in value of converter efficiency being a factor, fuel it's not only cost but quantity of fuel one has to haul and noise duration. Some folks are very dependent on power for medical equipment or electric powered fridge and would require the generator backup to boondock in the event solar came up short.
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Old 03-09-2016, 12:11 PM   #11
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I have wondered down this path and eventually looked at 12v powered chargers... HYPERION ADVANCED CHARGER - EOS0720I NET3 this is actually a pretty fantastic site with a lot of info on battery’s

the thought was to use the dumb power coming from the converter and use it to power something that would do an excellent job at maintaining the battery

It was a step on my path to figure out a simple, safe, and versatile power management system that does everything, including turn a sandwich into a banquet
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