Replacing Old AC/DC Converter Charger? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-20-2017, 03:25 PM   #1
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Replacing Old AC/DC Converter Charger?

I have a 1988 19' Bigfoot Deluxe. I mainly stay at campgrounds where I can plug in to shore power, but I want to increase my battery capacity to 2 batteries and have the ability to hook up to solar panels in the near future, so that I can boondock (max of 5 days or so). I am handy enough to do simple things myself (replacing the roof fans, removing and re-sealing the windows, replacing the exterior light fixtures, 7-pin plug, etc.) but I do not understand complex electrical systems, so would have a mobile mechanic perform any task requiring more technical skill than my limited scope. Also, while I have budgeted for this new equipment, I definitely cannot afford the hefty shop labor rates, so let's not even go there, thank you.

After reading through the forums about the renovations others have done on similar models and hearing how the 30 year-old AC/DC converter/chargers have a tendency to boil batteries, I would really like to replace mine. I found some well-rated 4-stage AC/DC converter/chargers on Amazon.

Franswa (Francois) was kind enough to send me photos of his very streamlined electrical set up, which deletes the AC/DC converter/charger entirely, but I am not clear on exactly how that works when plugged in to shore power and if that would involve a lot of rewiring, which I want to avoid doing. I want to keep things as apples-to-apples as possible, both to avoid having to totally rewire my trailer and to keep things as simple as possible for the mechanic in terms of matching the new set-up to the old set-up. Think upgrade not complete redo (after all, the original wiring is still in good shape).

Attached are some photos of my original 30 AMP Allanson "Power Converter and AC Power Board." Technically, the system still works, but it does not have the 4-stage stepped charging capabilities of the newer systems. I would prefer a system that is shore and solar power compatible, reliable, and will charge the batteries without boiling them.

Many people seem to upgrade to 60 AMP systems when replacing, which seems to have the benefit of recharging the batteries much faster.

Can a 60 AMP upgrade be installed pretty much by matching up the AC and DC wiring to the new system much like they were plugged in to the old, or is it more complicated (and if it is more complicated - in laymen's terms - why and how)?

Below is a link to three 4-stage charging systems which look like possible replacements:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...=AG48EQ3TN25W7

https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B071P7T9BN?psc=1

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Has anyone actually replaced their old 30 AMP with any of the above and if so, was it pretty much plug and play or did you have any issues?

Also, I would like to upgrade to having 2 RV batteries on the tongue instead of one (will get a new tongue storage box to house them both).I read somewhere that the gauge of the wire from the new charger to the battery terminals may need to be changed to match the new charger - does anyone know if that is accurate? The existing wire going from the charger to the battery is Type TEW AWM Style 1015, 600W, 105 degree C. However, I have no idea what gauge it is.

Any guidelines on how I would wire for 2 batteries instead of one and if I need to change the wire gauge or type (or can I just add another set of wires that matches the existing battery wire)?

Detailed discussions of voltage variations, Ohms, and other engineering-level considerations won't be helpful to me , so replies in laymen's terms are much appreciated! Thank you!
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Old 08-21-2017, 07:52 AM   #2
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This spring I updated the converter in my 1999 Casita with a progressive dynamics 4 stage PD4600 updrade with charge wizzard to my old unit. I'm very pleased with the features.
So I'm recommending a Progressive Dynamics converter.
Here's their site, downloads for documentation is in the lower right.
Mighty Mini Compact AC/DC Power Distribution Panel
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Old 08-21-2017, 08:26 AM   #3
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Val,

A couple of things:

- Keep the 110vac and 12vdc capacities separate in your mind.
- AC side: Looking at your photos, you now have a 30 amp 110vac shore power setup. There is a 30 amp main breaker and 4 branch circuits (1 of these feeds the 12vdc transformer).
- DC side: Supplies your 12vdc lights and accessories AND the charger. I can't tell from your photos what the total 12vdc amp capacity is. Maybe its 30 amps??? Your setup has 4 12vdc fused circuits.
- For solar charging, you would need a separate solar charge controller wired to the batteries.
- If you plan to use two 12vdc batteries, they would be wired in parallel. If 6vdc batteries, they would be wired in series.

Anyway, the Progressive Dynamics Mini-Mighty Compact suggested by Joe Romas would use the same 110vac 30 amp shore power connection. It provides up to 7 110vac branch circuits. It provides 12vdc 45 amps or 60 amps, your choice, 12 12vdc fused circuits.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:12 AM   #4
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If you put a bigger converter in you risk fire stay within 5 amps of original specs / i use a progressive dynamics 35 amp unit i purchased off amazon very happy with it ! Also have a ecoworthy 99$ mppt charge controller that performs better than units three times the cost! The charge controller works flawlessly with the prgressive converter, just remember the wiring installed on you bigfoot was rated for that original converter!
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Old 08-21-2017, 12:50 PM   #5
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Thank you, Joe, John and Snoopwagon, for the very helpful responses.

Much appreciate the head's up that it's best to stay within 5 AMPS of the original system.

Yes, I think the DC is also 30 amps (though maybe less because it did not need to power what was the former rooftop AC).

Thank you, John and Snoopwagon, for your clear explanations of how I can add solar later, as well as the tip on a good solar charge controller to use. I am curious why one would get two 6 vdc batteries instead of two 12 vdc batteries - wouldn't two 6 vdc batteries supply the same capacity as one 12 vdc? Is it about the amount of storage space one has? The tongue weight?

I was leaning toward two 12 vdc batteries. I currently have 2 propane bottles and one battery. I wanted to get rid of the fiberglass cover and replace it with a diamond plate aluminum tongue storage box with enough room for the two batteries and the two propane tanks. My friend has a T@B with this kind of tongue box and it stays much cleaner inside and is easier to access. Plus it looks sharp.

I did recently remove the rooftop AC and replace it with a MaxxFan, which saved at least 70 Lbs. of weight off the roof and reduced the amperage needs. Should I decide that I need AC, I wanted to either go with a portable unit that sits on the floor and vents out a window and is completely removable when not needed, or permanently install a wall unit in the back-wall TV cabinet (where the old-style TV used to go (depending on whether I can safely vent it out any part of the back wall without compromising the structural integrity of the trailer)... but I digress.

Definitely looks like the "Mighty Mini" may be all I need, especially as I am not a power-hog.

Thank you again, everyone, for your helpful responses!

I will post an update once I have it installed.
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Old 08-21-2017, 01:07 PM   #6
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Snoopwagon, now I am confused. I looked at the Intellipower Mighty Mini PD 4060 for when I redo my Boler 1300. Although the converter puts out 60 amps of DC power max, that is distributed by up to 2-30 amp and 10-20 amp fused DC circuits. So I thought that meant the most DC power through any one circuit could only be 30 amps which would be what V'sGlassSleeper's wiring would handle or am I mistaken? Did you mean the wiring between the Charger and the Battery would need to be upgraded?
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Old 08-21-2017, 01:23 PM   #7
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Update: I just called Progressive Dynamics and their technical service representative specifically recommended the 35 AMP model, below (which is their smallest-amp unit), for the exact reason that Snoopwagon mentioned - Progressive Dynamics recommends that for safety, you want to stay within 5 AMPS of the original system input/output rating:

4135 Distribution Panel and Power Converter

She confirmed that this model still has the 4-stage charging, so will never "boil" the batteries.

I really like the look of these compact systems.
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Old 08-21-2017, 01:29 PM   #8
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Two six volt golf cart batteries in series gives you 12 volts and the golf carts are more durable because of their intended use.
Additionally when you hook 2 batteries in parallele, no two are exactly the same, the weaker one will drag the stronger one down.
https://www.samsclub.com/sams/durace...-also-viewed:4
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Old 08-21-2017, 02:10 PM   #9
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Sounds like you are on the right track. I did a similar mod, took one propane bottle and the heavy steel dual bottle rack off and added a second (6V) battery. There was a net INCREASE in weight however. The battery was heavier than the propane bottle AND steel rack. That and I added a thin steel framework and aluminum shroud to hold it all. Anyway, think about your tongue weight.
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Old 08-21-2017, 02:39 PM   #10
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Thanks for explaining that, Joe, and for the link to some quality 6vdc. Durable batteries are very important to me, because the 12 vdc batteries I have purchased (at over $100 each) do not last long here in Hades, uhm, I mean Phoenix.

TimberWolf, thank you for the timely reminder... To try to keep the tongue weight about the same, I was also going to remove the original steel propane and battery holding rack, as they don't add anything but weight and a new storage box on the tongue will have its own "floor." My hope is that removing the roof AC, since it was toward the front of the trailer, will also have a mediating effect. Definitely don't want to ignore tongue weight!



Also, wanted to add this cute link from the Progressive Dynamics website, which will be too elementary for yooz guyz, but is poi-fect for an RV electrical newbie like me (it shows a motorcoach, so not all the elements are the same, but it's still a helpful intro): http://www.progressivedyn.com/story_html5.html

Just ordered the PD4135 today - YAY!
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Old 08-22-2017, 05:43 PM   #11
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Ron here. I also just received my PD 4235 converter to replace a centurion 3000 in an older scamp. R there any pitfalls I should b weary of the 4135 has more black wires off converter I need only 2 so I guess I can the cap other two any hints it advice will be really appreciated. Thanks in advance
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:20 AM   #12
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Did you ever consider building your own with a sub panel and battery charger? Then have a line coming back from the battery(ies) to a 12v fuse panel?
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Old 08-27-2017, 09:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimR View Post
Did you ever consider building your own with a sub panel and battery charger? Then have a line coming back from the battery(ies) to a 12v fuse panel?
Why when you can get a UL approved specifically made for an RV compact unit that is basically what you discribe

Joe
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Romas View Post
Why when you can get a UL approved specifically made for an RV compact unit that is basically what you discribe

Joe
Because then you understand each component, replace them if something fails, and it's cheaper. Also the battery charger is better quality that what comes in some of the converters.
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:14 PM   #15
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because....

What TimR discribes when he says:

"Did you ever consider building your own with a sub panel and battery charger? Then have a line coming back from the battery(ies) to a 12v fuse panel"

has come up so often lately that we should give it a name... I did it and it does work, doing the same job as that PD thing.....that is a very compact unit and appears to work real well for/in our little trailers. The specs on the charger look to be as good as any top rated stand alone charger that I have looked at.

the only possible downside I can see is the charger has a fan (we are in a small space, remember?)....how often that fan does/will come on is anybody's guess...but IME (I first used a charger with a fan in my system) the fan noise did become an irritant for me, it might not bother others. (I now have a double insulated charger that does not require/have a fan.)

I re-used the old AC panel and DC panel.....so I'm giving myself a "green" pat on the back for "saving the planet" .........and a few bucks I guess...IF I don't take into account my time figuring/building my system out (time is something I happen to have plenty of anyways...I enjoyed the process)

lots of ways to skin a cat...Happy trails All
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:27 PM   #16
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Did I ever say thanks Francois? Mine has worked all summer. Battery stayed well charged and really had no issues at all. Hmmm What could we call it? A converter conversion? The CC electrical swap? Or the Francois Converter Conversion. That has a good ring to it.
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:05 PM   #17
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I'm a believer in the "KISS" philosophy and one device that has a 4 stage charge wizard, built in AC circuit breakers and DC fuses in one neat box that I understand.

I replaced the charging section section of my old converter several times before I replaced the DC sections with a PD 4635 upgrade to it.

What am I not understanding? And I'm not so sure that your way is cheaper.

UPDATE: I didn't replace the charging section, I repaired and adjusted it.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:21 PM   #18
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there you go Joe....

"I replaced the charging section section of my old converter several times before I replaced the DC sections with a PD 4635 upgrade to it"

you sort of answered your own question....Like you, I was looking at a dead converter/charger....."nice and neat" replacements (fits right into a Magnatek "basement") were available at the RV shop down the street for 300 bucks....

I had a problem with parting with 300 bucks....started "looking into it" and came to the conclusion that in some larger RVs a converter is maybe desirable (big DC loads while plugged in) but that certainly was not the case with me.....I kinda thought that maybe the industry was working from "the top down" in this regard and just "had to have" a converter no matter what....

so I decided to ditch the converter part of the equation....and see what would happen....turns out with my typical use/demand I do not need a converter.....even if my use was 7.2A at dinnertime (a real longshot and my chargers charging rate) if I'm plugged in somewhere I will turn off the lights and go to SLEEP sooner or later.....that 7.2A will recharge my batteries fully while I'm snoring.

my very capable charger (with no fan) cost me a hundred bucks

there you go.....might not be for everybody....at resale, a PD whatever might look better to a prospective purchaser, but personally, I don't care about that aspect...

as for a name....How about "We don't need no stinkin' converter" mod??? (Any Blazing Saddles fans out there?)....

as always, Happy trails
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:54 PM   #19
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I run two golf cart batteries with a CTEC MULTI US 25 amp charger and no converter. Works fine for us.
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:02 PM   #20
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impressive specs....

I take that comment back that in small trailers a charger (only) can work fine....

that CTEC mentioned would power (DC loads) any old big RV...and then some !!!

looks like the top of the heap tech wise.....(and price wise as well)

that's the good thing about money though....."they print more every day"
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