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Old 11-28-2020, 12:47 PM   #1
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Name: Rick
Trailer: Bigfoot
Arizona
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12 volt converter

Just bought a 1989 Bigfoot 11.5 truck camper in great condition. Don’t understand if I have a converter problem or not. When shore power on and 12 volt converter switched on, get a noisy racket and dimming of camper inside lights. Previous owners son said to shut off 115 volt circuit breaker and then use 12 volt converter breaker because older models have to have it be done this way. Same result. House battery is in truck box, have not inspected yet whether there is a problem with drawdown. Any suggestions?

2nd question....if I bought a 3000 watt generator and used it while camping and had same result so I shut off converter breaker, would I still have lights, heater etc. but still be drawing down battery as converter not doing job.

Thanks for helping.
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:35 AM   #2
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Trailer: Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe (aka: Tweaker's Casita)
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12v Travel Trailer Converter

I just replaced the converter in my 2007 Casita Spirit Deluxe.

The first problem signal I got was when I had no 12v inside the trailer when I had the trailer plugged into “shore power” with the battery disconnected/removed. The second problem signal was that my lights wouldn’t work after I left the outside lights on overnight on the third day of a campout but they did work after I drove 350+ miles home.

Clearly the converter wasn’t “performing”. I confirmed that it was effectively dead by pulling it, plugging it into 110v on my workbench and measuring 0v on the 12v output with my multimeter.

After searching the web, I found a reasonable price for a perfect replacement model at BestConverter - Converters, Inverters, Electrical Supplies, Electronics. Other web hits and local RV sales/service stores were almost double the price and I wasn’t confident that what they were suggesting would be a direct replacement.
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badgolfer View Post
Just bought a 1989 Bigfoot 11.5 truck camper in great condition. Don’t understand if I have a converter problem or not. When shore power on and 12 volt converter switched on, get a noisy racket and dimming of camper inside lights. Previous owners son said to shut off 115 volt circuit breaker and then use 12 volt converter breaker because older models have to have it be done this way. Same result. House battery is in truck box, have not inspected yet whether there is a problem with drawdown. Any suggestions?

2nd question....if I bought a 3000 watt generator and used it while camping and had same result so I shut off converter breaker, would I still have lights, heater etc. but still be drawing down battery as converter not doing job.

Thanks for helping.

Badgolfer, It sounds like your 120Vac to 12Vdc Converter is on the fritz. Assuming your truck camper is electrically similar to a travel trailer, The converter acts just like a battery charger pulggerd into a 120Vac source to keep your battery(s) charged and also provide 12VDC for the lights, fridge controller, water heater controller, and Furnace. If you have a regular automotive battery charger at least 10Amp output, you could use that to keep your battery up and let the battery power the 12V lights and 12V appliances. Whether your 120Vac source is shore power or a generator would make no difference. Caution here, if you remove the battery, I would be hesitant to run the 12V appliances off the battery charger due to the ripple voltage (ac) that comes off a regular charger that may be enough to cause problems on the control circuitry ... possibly even cause damage. Ultimately, you need a new converter. Good luck ...... Jim
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:46 AM   #4
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Sounds like a challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Badgolfer View Post
Don’t understand if I have a converter problem or not. When shore power on and 12 volt converter switched on, get a noisy racket and dimming of camper inside lights. etc. but still be drawing down battery as converter not doing job. Thanks for helping.
And it sounds like something is wrong. The converter should be recharging the house battery and running things both when you are plugged in. It can’t do that if the AC breaker is open. You never know what changes the last owner made. It sounds like it may be wired wrong or defective but if so it should blow fuses. {lease let us know what you find. )
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Old 11-29-2020, 12:50 PM   #5
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Name: Richard
Trailer: Bigfoot
BC
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Thanks for the responses. Being an electrical newbie on campers. Some questions. When I go for a drive with camper and comeback home and use stove light and fan to test battery.....shows green. A day later when vehicle was not driven, repeat and shows yellow. Obviously, a time drain. But does this show battery is o.k.?
Now as l said before, if l use shore power.....do l turn off 115 ac circuit and turn on 12v converter breaker as previous owners son suggested? Or do l leave both on all the time? Have had two conflicting suggestions prior to going on forum. When l took possession rv converter breaker off. I then wanted to charge with shore power, left both on problems started. Then l contacted the son and tried his method same result. He insists battery and converter are fine, l would expect him to say that not because he's trying to placate me, but he actually believes this to be true. Suggestions? ��
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Old 11-29-2020, 12:52 PM   #6
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Stupid question, what do you mean with ac breaker open? On or off? Forgive me!��
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Old 11-29-2020, 01:06 PM   #7
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Richard,

In the electrical world, an "open" switch or circuit breaker means off, the contacts inside the switch are not touching. A "closed" switch is the opposite and means "on". An open electrical circuit has a break in it somewhere. It might be a broken wire, a burned out fuse, or a switch in the off position.
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Old 11-29-2020, 01:11 PM   #8
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It did not blow fuses or trip breakers
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Old 11-29-2020, 01:23 PM   #9
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It did not blow fuses or trip breakers
I was simply and generically answering your question. Not diagnosing the problem.
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Old 11-29-2020, 01:27 PM   #10
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Sorry, was responding to ACOVG s. question if it were doing that. I thought the reply would go back to his comment. Cheers
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Old 11-29-2020, 01:34 PM   #11
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Battery test

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless View Post
Thanks for the responses. Being an electrical newbie on campers. Some questions. When I go for a drive with camper and comeback home and use stove light and fan to test battery.....shows green. A day later when vehicle was not driven, repeat and shows yellow. Obviously, a time drain. But does this show battery is o.k.?
Now as l said before, if l use shore power.....do l turn off 115 ac circuit and turn on 12v converter breaker as previous owners son suggested? Or do l leave both on all the time? Have had two conflicting suggestions prior to going on forum.
The only sure way to test the battery is with a load test at the shop. Modern RVs have some parasitic loads like the CO/LP detector and the remote control fan. Yours will not be the same as everyone else. An amp meter will tell you how much parasitic load yours has. IN normal operation when every thing is correct, it is normal to run the converter and battery in parallel with each other. How old is the battery? Three to five years is a common failure age of many RV batteries. Well cared for they can last much longer.
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Old 11-29-2020, 02:11 PM   #12
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The age of battery never came up. It's located on passenger side at front of truck box. I haven't unloaded camper yet from rear as l have a very steep driveway. Intend to do next week. The son said the battery was ok, but lm guessing more than 2 years old.
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Old 11-29-2020, 04:09 PM   #13
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Hello Richard,

When you are connected to “shore power”, the objective for the converter is to provide 12v within the camper for the lights, refrigerator controls, LP/propane detector and ignition for the gas water heater and furnace. The converter also supplies 12v to the battery to maintain its charge. If you are not connected to “shore power” (or a generator), than your battery supplies the 12v within the camper.

If you turn off the 110/120 main ac circuit breaker, you are disconnecting from “shore power” (or a generator) and also disabling the converter. If you turn off the ac circuit breaker for the converter, you are taking he converter out of the picture and your battery supplies the 12v within the camper.

Not to muddy the water, but note that if you have a (round) 7-pin connector to connect your camper to your tow vehicle, you are connecting your tow vehicle’s battery to the 12v circuits in the camper along with the camper’s battery. Then, when it’s running, your tow vehicle’s alternator can also provide charging voltage for the camper’s battery.

Without the converter (or your tow vehicle’s alternator), your camper’s battery will ultimately lose it’s charge.

Also, not to muddy the water, electric circuit breakers are not designed and intended to be used for off/on switches. They are designed to open (turn off a connection to) a circuit if too much current is flowing on that circuit in order to protect wiring and the connected “appliances”.

If Rick is hearing noise and getting dim lights when the converter is “working” than something isn’t right. In your case, if the lights go dim when you are not connected to “shore power”, then your converter is probably not working. My experience and suggestions (above) along with Kenneth’s and Jim’s posts should help diagnose the situation.
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Old 11-29-2020, 05:15 PM   #14
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+10 do not trust the idiot light panel in your camper. Take the battery out, two minute job, and have it load tested at your favorite auto parts store. They will do for free, and you are not obligated to buy the battery from them, although its good karma since they did the test work.

From your description, I would guess your battery is toast. And a 31 year old power control center is going to be at or near end of life. Replacing those are not a big deal and many of the old ones were considered battery "boilers" and new ones typically have a smart charging circuit.

Use the change out to convert your power cord to a surface mounted plug and eliminate the mouse door if you have one.

Fiberglass trailers can last a long, long time, but the usual parts and appliances in them are no better than what all the other trailer manufacturers use.
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Old 11-29-2020, 06:55 PM   #15
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Name: Richard
Trailer: Bigfoot
BC
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Thanks everyone, l can't tell you how much l appreciate all the suggestions. Will test the battery soon and if it's o.k. will investigate getting a new converter. If you have anymore input will be very thankful to receive it.
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:35 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Clueless View Post
The age of battery never came up. It's located on passenger side at front of truck box. I haven't unloaded camper yet from rear as l have a very steep driveway. Intend to do next week. The son said the battery was ok, but lm guessing more than 2 years old.
Battery could be bad. Maybe it is dry or low on water if it is that type of battery. If there is a converter problem maybe it overcharged the battery causing the water to boil out. When we had a camper you didn't have to turn off anything when plugged into shore power. Sounds like previous owner was covering his backside with his explanation or he didn't know how to use it.
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Old 11-29-2020, 11:12 PM   #17
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Name: Richard
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I know. His response made no sense. Battery seems to charge when l drive truck, so hoping ok. Will try to get at it tomorrow. Everything works in camper off of battery, but goes nuts when shore power and 12 volt converter turned on. Live in cold climate so will be taking battery put anyway. Thanks
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Old 11-29-2020, 11:20 PM   #18
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You don't need to remove the battery, if it is fully charged and there is no load on it. Won't freeze until it hits -67 C.
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Old 11-29-2020, 11:53 PM   #19
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That's the problem, don't know if the battery is ok. Didn't realize a battery could take such cold. Thanks
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Old 11-30-2020, 07:59 AM   #20
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That's the problem, don't know if the battery is ok. Didn't realize a battery could take such cold. Thanks
It can only take that cold if it is fully charged, (maintained at 12.7 vdc,) but if the battery is discharged, (and fwiw, a battery that reads only 12 vdc or less, is basically a dead battery,) which can freeze at much warmer temperatures As you can see, the charge condition makes all the difference, and that difference is really only about one-half a volt between fully charged and dead.

Electrolyte Freezing Point at Various States of Charge:
Specific Gravity / State of Charge / Freezing Temperature
1.280 / 100 / -92.0°F
1.265 / 92 / -71.3°F
1.250 / 85 / -62.0°F
1.200 / 62 / -16.0°F
1.150 / 40 / + 5.0°F
1.100 / 20 / +19.0°F

State of Charge Freezing Temperature (Degrees F.)
100 -92
92 -71.3
85 -62
62 -16
40 5
20 19
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