Switching out the OEM converter in a Trillium - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-08-2016, 11:50 AM   #1
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Switching out the OEM converter in a Trillium

Just out of curiosity, has anyone replaced the original converter in a 4500 Trillium? The thing is "huge" so-to-speak. I don't use the tow vehicle to charge the on-board battery. I use a separate smart charger. It just seemed that most, or all of it's functions were not necessary or could be done better with an updated unit. I was looking at my bench DC power supply (a small, light Chinese-made 10A thing) and began to think "why not"? All the DC runs are a handful of led lights and a vent fan. Anyone swapped one out? BTW I'm not thinking of getting rid of my existing converter as of yet.
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Old 12-08-2016, 12:50 PM   #2
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I just did.
My newer unit is a PD4135.
"Smart" recharge, 35A DC, much more than I need, but then my trailer is a 5500, it's got a water pump, forced air furnace, vent fan, and probably more lights than a 4500.
The new unit is much lighter and smaller, but wouldn't fit the hole. Wiring wasn't hard once I figured which wire was doing what on the trailer side.
The original converter was 15A AC, the new one is a 30A AC unit. To upgrade to 30A, all I had to do was install a 30A main and upgrade the power cord to a 30A rated one. I might never really need the 30A capacity, but it wasn't much more expensive to have it, and one day my wife might decide to dry her hair while the coffee maker and the air conditioner are on, and it'll be all right.
Details on my thread: http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...tml#post617361

I've seen people using smart chargers and/or power supplies. This also works if you use them properly. As for me, I didn't have any power supply or smart charger lying around, so I thought I'd buy the real thing. You also have to think about resale value one day: an upgraded converter might look more interesting to a buyer than some rigged-up power supply, even if it all works perfectly fine.
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Old 12-08-2016, 01:26 PM   #3
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Wow! You're some tinkerer!
I've already gone too far with my electrical service mods to stop now.
I have a 30A cord into the trailer into a service panel with 3 separate 15A circuits. One 15A circuit for either the AC or the macerator). One 15A circuit for the kitchen (microwave, coffee, etc) and one 15A circuit that Goes to the converter and is essentially the original trailer's service (frig, lights, AC outlets, smart charger). That's 45A I know, but I've never had everything running at once and I've got breakers and fuses aplenty. I learned a lot about amps, watts, wire gauges and such some years ago when I caught fire to my previous trailer using a microwave and AC on a 15 circuit with no overload protection (well, the wiring, but that doesn't really count since it just burns)😄
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:10 PM   #4
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I've been thinking of replacing the converter in our '76 Trillium. It is 1970s technology and has a 10 amp output which these days powers LED lights, the occasional cell phone charge and maybe a gas detector, so it mostly idles. I charge my battery separately with a smart charger.
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:09 PM   #5
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Randy. Because I'm retired and it's winter, I've got some time to devote to driving myself crazy with these "projects". I got to thinking about what I call the "house circuit" or the original Trillium setup. It consists of an A.C. Part and a D.C. Part. The D.C. Part (from the converter) basically runs, as you said, the lights. It's a 10A D.C. Circuit. The A.C. Part runs the frig and whatever is plugged into the couple of A.C. outlets. In any case, whether you would run something A.C. Or D.C. it still has to draw it's power from the same 120V, 10/15 Amp A.C. circuit coming into the trailer.
So...if you wanted to up the available D.C. power so-to-speak by changing the original Trillium D.C. converter from a 10A to a 15A power supply might that be problematic with regards to the original wiring for the D.C. Circuit? If the original D.C. wiring is sufficient to handle 15 Amps then I guess there is no problem, but having caught a trailer on fire by running too much current through the existing wires I'm a bit cautious. Just sittin and worryin.
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:52 PM   #6
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done...

quite a few people have done just that....

if your old converter doesn't work anymore you have three choices it seems....either buy a whole new and smaller power center....or buy a replacement converter only that fits right in (by design) into the cavity the old one used to occupy (bottom half of power center)....or you could just go "manual" with a very smart charger/power supply....as I have

I wanted to "play around" with solar so the "manual" option applealed to me....works just fine for a couple of years now
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Old 12-10-2016, 11:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clyle View Post
if you wanted to up the available D.C. power so-to-speak by changing the original Trillium D.C. converter from a 10A to a 15A power supply might that be problematic with regards to the original wiring for the D.C. Circuit?
Lyle,

Each branch of the circuit would draw the same current (amps) and it wouldn't matter if you replaced you 10A converter with an 80A unit. Amp draw depends on the load (the appliance or device being powered), not the source. Thus the original wiring and fuse capacity for the lights, furnace, etc, would still be adequate. Check what size of fuse was protecting theses branches on the original converter, and use the same on the new converter (fuses ratings are selected according to the size of wire). If some devices have been added to the original circuit, just make sure they don't draw more current than the fuse can handle, and that the fuse has the proper rating for the wire used for that circuit.
Also, 30-something years ago converters were commonly rated for 10, 15 or 20 amps. Nowadays it is hard to find a converter rated for less than 30A, so with a new converter you'll probably upgrade your capacity wether you need it or not. In my case, 20A would have been more than sufficient - especially since I'm all LED, but I got this deal on a 35A unit. Compared to the old one, the new one just doesn't have to work as hard, this may increase its longevity and reliability, and it probably runs quieter as the fan barely spins.
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Old 12-10-2016, 07:28 PM   #8
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Franswa, Carl. Thanks to you both for the info. So it might be helpful to think of power being "drawn into" a device through the wiring in the trailer rather than power being "pushed into" a device through the wiring from a power source outside/inside the trailer. I get it! Wires/fuses sized according to the device(s) drawing the power, not the power source.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:35 AM   #9
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my new Trillium 4500 power setup

Lyle, here is how I am modding my power setup this month. I'm using the old converter box as is, except that I'm not using the transformer, but instead separate 12vdc power supply. (in diagram below, either solar charge controller OR smart charger is connected to battery, NOT both)
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:45 AM   #10
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Lyle,

Note: I never used the old transformer inside the original converter. Prior to this month, I instead used a "wall wart" style 12vdc power supply. I'm using very low amperage LED bulbs and CO detector. So existing 12vdc wiring was more than adequate.

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Old 12-11-2016, 09:35 AM   #11
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John. Thanks. What you've done is what I'm thinking. The wall wart thing is cool, cheap and pretty rugged. I notice that your "new" D.C. Circuit is 15 Amps. If memory serves me correct, the original Trillium D.C. Circuit (as indicated on the little fuse button on the converter panel) is 10 Amps. If this is so then am I correct that you see no problem using the original 10 Amp cabin wiring with your 15 Amp power supply?
Or, as mentioned in the previous post, it doesn't matter if the power supply is 10 A or 15 A as long as there is not more than 10 A being pulled through the wires.
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Old 12-11-2016, 11:22 AM   #12
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Lyle,

That's correct. General rules:

- the wiring must be sufficient gauge to accommodate the amperage draw of the load
- circuit breaker or fuse should accommodate the amperage draw of the load, but no higher

Also, since I'm adding USB outlets and these draw up to several amps, this will probably require a separate DC circuit/separate wiring. Thus I'll probably need to add a DC fuse panel, and then wire the DC load circuits (lights, CO detector and USB outlets) into the DC fuse panel.

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Old 12-11-2016, 11:30 AM   #13
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adding a DC fuse panel to the Trillium 4500

Lyle,

To answer your question more directly, the original DC light wiring should be fine. It is relatively heavy gauge and now you and I are using LED bulbs that draw 1/10 of the incandescent bulb current. Putting in a new power supply wouldn't make any difference.

However, if you are adding other DC accessories, you really should add a DC fuse panel and protect the wiring to each accessory or group of accessories separately. The LED lighting circuit for example could be fused with a 2 amp fuse.

John
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Old 12-11-2016, 12:32 PM   #14
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I hard-wired two dual USB outlets in my trailer. They don't draw any significant current when not in use, as my ammeter reads 0.0.
When I plug in my iPad Air, the ammeter reads 0.35A (at 13.45V, voltage from the converter). Still, a very small draw.
So unless a circuit is already loaded close to its max (15A maybe?), USB outlets like these can be added without any upgrade to the existing wiring and fuse.
Motorcycle 1A / 2.1A Dual-USB Charger Adapter for Cellphones - Black - Free Shipping - DealExtreme
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:14 PM   #15
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Yep, Carl's point needs to be considered. Each device draws a different amount of current and chargers provides various amounts of max current.

The bulkhead mount 12V outlet that I purchased has:

- One cigarette lighter type connector that provides up to ??? amps at 12V
- One USB connector that provides up to 1 amp at 5V
- One USB connector that provides up to 2.1 amps at 5V

Some newer cell phones draw 2 amps or more at 5V while charging. These phones can be fully charged in 1 hour.
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:21 PM   #16
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Thanks to all! You've really put my mind a bit more at ease. I haven't and don't intend to significantly add to the existing circuit load and like just about everyone have gone led wherever I could. I'll take the advice and add circuits rather than potentially overload an existing one. When/if the weather warms, I'll check the existing wiring to see if anyone (maybe me?) has used too thin a gage wire anywhere and recheck fusing. I've already put in a smart charger in place of the original equipment battery charger and I think now that I may just keep using the converter/transformer for cabin power till it fails and then look again at doing a refit of the entire system. I guess all I have to do now is shovel snow!
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