Power Converter Issues - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-02-2007, 08:49 AM   #1
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Name: Gail
Trailer: 2004 19 ft Scamp 19 5th Wheel (Standard Layout)
Iowa
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Finally got out camping for the first time and I am having issues with the power converter.

Before I went camping I fully charged the battery and then pulled it out to the campgrounds. (2004 19' Scamp)

Plugged into 120V at the pole. Started fantastic fan and it ran through the night.

In the morning I could tell the fan wasn't running right, I shut it off and checked the 12V lights. They were dimmed. Check the fuses and circuit breakers in the converter and everything checked out.

Later in the day had my brother and father (both mehancis) check it out again. They checked the fuses and breakers at the converter, under the front bunk and the battery. Everything checked out. Tested the battery and it was drained.

We have put a charger on the battery to get by but I really need to get this fixed. Too many items run off of 12 V (ie. pump, fan, lights,)

I called Scamp this morning and they said it sounded like the converter wasn't converting. Suggested I try replacing the circuit board ($56.00) vs replacing the converter ($160).

Anyone have any thoughts on if I missed anything? Should I replace the circuit board or the whole converter?

Any ideas, suggestions, etc are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

Gail
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Old 07-02-2007, 09:45 AM   #2
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If I were replacing a converter, I would get one with the great battery charge controller built in. Go to Camping world web site and look at theirs.
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Old 07-02-2007, 11:10 AM   #3
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Gail:

If your converter is shot I'd recommend an IntelliPower, 9200 series. Solves several problems at once. I've gone through struggling with ancient technology boiling out batteries, doing inadequate charging, making noises, and affecting lights and appliances. These have four-stage chargers, are quite light weight, and are quality items. I've noticed several people don't like converters, but I'd bet that this new technology will win you over.
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Old 07-02-2007, 01:18 PM   #4
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Iowa
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I think I am going to try the simple solution first. I am going to unscrew the unit and pull it out and locate the circuit board. Hopefully we will be able to tell it is "fried" or not. Will probably take it to a RV shop and see if they have one. If this doesn't work I will definitely be looking at the previous solutions.

Thanks.

Gail
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Old 07-02-2007, 02:01 PM   #5
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Gail,

What Darwin and Per were trying to tell you is that if you pay to repair the old converter, you'll still have a converter you cannot trust.

You can buy an Intellipower 9200 with the Charge Wizard for around $200 and it will baby your battery.

The first thing I did when I bought my used Casita was to replace the converter even though the old one was still working. It's an easy replacement.
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Old 07-02-2007, 02:17 PM   #6
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I've had minor issues with the converter in my 2000 Scamp. The first time it had issues was a component became unsoldered from the circuit board. Re-soldering the component into place resolved that problem. The second time it had problems an output wire had become loose from its tab on the circuit board. I'm having intermittent issues again, but a good whack to the front of the unit restores operation. I've not had time to open it up again and investigate the current problem.

If I remember, my converter is a MagneTek 20 amp model.

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 07-02-2007, 05:28 PM   #7
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There are less expensive AND more useful ways to get your battery charged.

Leave your old converter in place and get a real battery charger , not an expensive add-on to a converter that was designed primarily as a 120VAC to 12VDC power supply.

Likely, you can buy four suitable Vectors for the price of the card (or one big Vector and one small storage charge maintainer for less than $100 and have $100 left over). In addition, the real battery charger can be used for other batteries (car, boat, garden tractor) and a big enough one can be used for jumpstarting...

Personally, I prefer my tools to be able to do more than one thing.

In my case, I removed my (heavy, old, transformer-based) converter, after salvaging the 12VDC distribution panel, from my Scamp and use the battery charger to recharge when I have 120VAC available. YMMV!
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Old 07-02-2007, 07:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
...Leave your old converter in place...
But it's not working! Regardless of its battery-charging talents (or lack thereof), the converter should have been providing the 12VDC power needed overnight, but instead the fan apparently ran from the battery. With the converter in my Boler, when AC power is connected the battery is disconnected by a relay, while with some other older converters you need to throw a switch manually. If the automatic relay fails, or you forget to switch - depending on type - you run from the battery without intending to.

This is separate from the issue of how the battery gets charged. In my case, the converter does not include a battery charger, so I need to use a separate one (same Vector as Pete uses), or charge from the tug while driving.

Regardless of how the battery gets charged, the converter needs to supply 12VDC power or it's dead weight; fix it, replace it, or live without it.
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Old 07-03-2007, 07:29 AM   #9
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One of the best and easiest mods I did was to replace my old converter with an Intellipower w/ charge wizard. It's quieter, more efficient (runs way less & much cooler), and is just generally a wonderful upgrade. Plus, it has taken excellent care of my AGM battery. .

NOTE: If I can do it, then so can anyone else than can read. I got excellent instructions on line. I must admit it took me WAY longer to worry and stew about it than it actually did doing it.
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Old 07-03-2007, 01:56 PM   #10
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Brian, the reason I said to leave it in place is that some converters form a central part of the wiring system, containing the 12VDC fuse distribution, the 120VAC circuit breakers and wiring, plus the termination for the shore cable.

Removing the converter may be a more than minor project, depending on what it does. Adding a real battery charger is no big deal and solves the immediate problem of battery drain without recharging.
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:43 PM   #11
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I am with Pete on this, and have done exactly that.

I HATE the concept of a converter.. as a battery charger or anything else, however, mine does have a very nice distribution panel.. and I see no need to re-invent the wheel by pulling it out. (I would only have to build a new distribution system) So.. it stays, and the next owner can use it if they want.

I simply flip the breaker off for the converter function, and leave everything else on.. except the battery charger.. which I have disabled and replaced with THIS VECTOR.

a 2a charger may seem whimpy, but it does a great job with my low draw set up and keeps up nicely.

Charger charges battery
12v items run off battery while charging.
No need to convert.
No converter woes.

And if I find myself with battery problems, I can always flip the converter breaker back on if I have AC to power it.

If no AC.. well, I guess it will be a little dark in my rig that nite..
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Old 07-03-2007, 03:53 PM   #12
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Gina & Pete,

The Magnetek converters I'm familiar with are modular; in three parts.

The phot shows the three: at the upper left is the AC distribution panel, at the upper right is the DC distribution panel and at the bottom is the converter/charger module which is easily removeable.

Only the converter/charger module need be removed and the Intellipower fits right in its place.


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Old 07-03-2007, 04:52 PM   #13
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I ripped the converter and distribution panel out of the Fiberstream right after I got it home.
It was just a transformer and battery cooker anyway and hummed and boiled the battery if it was on.

I found a 20 amp Xantrex TrueCharge Marine multi-stage charger on clearance at West Marine and connected it together through an inexpensive 4 switch+fuse Distribution panel also from West Marine.

It was simple and is very effective.

Most good quality Marine chargers can also deliver the full rated output as a power supply when needed and so they act as a converter too.
I am in the camp of rigging the entire trailer for 12volt d.c. operation anyway so everything always runs from battery all the time and they can be charging when plugged into shore power without any intervention. If I need 120volt a.c. when on battery I just invert to create it but I rarely need to.

I will try to get a picture of it soon before I install the solar charge control that is taunting me too.

Ed
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Old 07-03-2007, 05:09 PM   #14
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Morgan, on my 91S13 (and my earlier Jayco), the converter was standalone from the 120VAC and just plugged in to a 120VAC outlet below the circuit breaker box which was totally separate. In fact, the converter on the Jayco even had the 12VDC fuse panel separate so it was very easy to remove! I don't know what it would have taken (besides $200) to have installed an Intellipower module in those cases.

The Vector charger (I use a bigger one than Gina) works fine for me and I have used it to charge or start numerous other batteries. YMMV!
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