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Old 07-25-2013, 11:56 PM   #1
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Converter question

Hi all,
I noticed a thread where hotfishtacos said the following:

"Jim, you may also want to consider upgrading the stock converter that comes stock in the WFCO Panel because it does not charge the batteries adequately. Upgrade with a 45 amp Powermax model from BestConverter - Converters, Inverters, Electrical Supplies, Electronics. It will put out the required 14.6 - 14.8 charging voltage for your golf cart batteries and give you 4 stages of charge. I upgraded mine for around $170..."

I am wondering if someone can explain this to me? I've been feeling like our battery isn't getting fully charged, either by the solar panels or when plugged in. I'm wondering if this could explain it? Does the stock converter provide a high enough voltage to fully charge one 12v battery (as opposed to 2 golf carts as mentioned above)? Why wouldn't they put a converter in the trailer that WOULD fully charge the battery/ies?

Any help would be appreciated!

Lisa
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Old 07-26-2013, 04:48 AM   #2
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Converter question

Lisa:

We have a WFCO converter and a single 12 volt battery and have had no problems with it keeping the battery fully charged. The battery is now more than 3 years old.

We have had a 95 watt GoPower solar system since February. Its charge controller also is able to keep the battery fully charged. (When you have a solar system it is the solar charge controller not the converter which looks after charging the battery.)

I installed a Trimetric Battery Monitor TM-2025 which gives an accurate estimate of the true State of Charge of the battery whether the trailer is connected to external power or running on solar.

Why do you think your battery is not charging properly?
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Old 07-26-2013, 06:32 AM   #3
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We were going to upgrade too but after talking with Tammy she told me they have upgraded to the WFCO 65 amp 3 stage charger. It should be more then enough charger to handle any charging needs the camper would have.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:19 AM   #4
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Brian is correct in that the solar charging is separate from the converter installed in the Escape. What I have read about the prior converter that Escape uses(used) is, it was very slow to charge. It was three stage but very difficult to get into stage two or three for fast charging. One poster I read said he would turn on the pump and furnace before starting the charge process, the big draw would force the WFCO to get into the fast charging mode. He would then turn off the devices and the fast charge would continue.

If both chargers, solar and WFCO, are failing to charge the battery (s) I would be concerned about a bad cell in a battery or a bad battery. When using dual six volt, both batteries have to be matched, a slight difference in one could make the difference. Another place to check would be cabling and connectors, particularly between batteries.

Finally, it would be good to have a test instrument on your battery. That would be better than "I've been feeling like our battery isn't getting fully charged". Anything is better than the built in monitor. I use an Equus with a 12 volt connection. With it I can monitor usage by different devices.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:23 AM   #5
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Equus battery monitor, sold at Wal-Mart for under $20US.
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File Type: jpg equus.jpg (46.3 KB, 9 views)
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:49 AM   #6
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We use this

Digital Voltmeter | VoltMinder.com

They just came out with a new style that is very nice. It can be hard wired or just plugged in. New model has adjustable back light.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:29 AM   #7
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If you have a single 12v battery with the stock converter you should be fine. The dual 6v batteries may need a 4 stage converter and that is what Hotfish was saying. I'm sticking with the single 12v so I decided to keep the stock. If you upgrade you system to dual batteries then you may need to upgrade the converter. The stock 50 amp or 65 amp converter, albeit 3 stage is adequate for our needs. The difference in 50 or 65 just means more capacity, but both are 3 stage converters.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:52 AM   #8
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Thanks for the responses and your patience with me while i try to understand all this.

Brian, you said the solar regulator looks after the battery charge and not the converter....is this true even you are plugged in to shore power? If so, then I just need to understand how the solar regulator charges the batteries and I can ignore the converter?

I won't go into the details of why I think our batteries aren't getting fully charged since I did this a couple weeks ago in a thread, except to say that our last four trips started after being plugged in overnight or longer, which I would assume would fully charge the battery. After driving about 4 hours and arriving either in deep shade in the evening or at night (and having absolutely nothing turned on in the trailer), the voltage on the solar regulator showed around 12.5v and the charge percentage was 88%. I would think fully charged batteries would stay fully charged while travelling with no load so I am trying to understand what might be happening. I have checked everything that Reace and all of you suggested, but I haven't had a chance to use a voltmeter yet.

thanks!
Lisa
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:22 PM   #9
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The solar should keep your batteries at 100%, does it say that in the mornings? The converter will also keep your system charged to 100%. The simple plug in should verify this and your solar panel has a screen with % on it. While towing, your tow vehicle may not put out enough excess to charge your battery, it all depends on a lot of variables. Once stopped,unhooked your charge may be anywhere from 100 to 70% and could stay at that point until further discharge takes place or charging kicks in. The % will fluctuate all day long, up and down and as long as your stay above the 11.90 volts or 60% you should be fine. I hope this helps you somewhat!
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyFun View Post
Thanks for the responses and your patience with me while i try to understand all this.

Brian, you said the solar regulator looks after the battery charge and not the converter....is this true even you are plugged in to shore power? If so, then I just need to understand how the solar regulator charges the batteries and I can ignore the converter?

I won't go into the details of why I think our batteries aren't getting fully charged since I did this a couple weeks ago in a thread, except to say that our last four trips started after being plugged in overnight or longer, which I would assume would fully charge the battery. After driving about 4 hours and arriving either in deep shade in the evening or at night (and having absolutely nothing turned on in the trailer), the voltage on the solar regulator showed around 12.5v and the charge percentage was 88%. I would think fully charged batteries would stay fully charged while travelling with no load so I am trying to understand what might be happening. I have checked everything that Reace and all of you suggested, but I haven't had a chance to use a voltmeter yet.

thanks!
Lisa
Lisa:

Here are some things which I have learned which might help you
(1) The WFCO converter/charger will not charge your battery fully unless the trailer is connected to shore power for quite a long time -- we keep ours connected at home all the time, and right now the voltage is about 13.8 volts. This converter will not do a "quick charge" if you connect it for a few hours. This may be a reason that some people have opted to use a different method of charging their battery.
(2) The state of charge shown by the GoPower solar charge controller is based entirely on voltage. It does not take into account whether the battery is being charged or discharged and has no way of knowing the amp-hours in or out of the battery. The state of charge indicated will be approximately correct if the solar panel is not charging and the battery has been at rest without any charge or discharge for several hours. This might happen in the evening or early morning when there is no sun and you are not using any power.
(3) You can get a more accurate estimate of the state of charge of the battery is you check the specific gravity of the battery cells with a hydrometer or if you use a battery monitor such as the Trimetric TM2025 which I use. The monitor measures the amperage between all loads and charging sources and calculates state of charge based on the last fully charged event.
(4) There is quite a bit of mystery about the proper charging voltage for deep cycle batteries. According to Bob (the link you provided) it should be over 14 volts to ensure the battery is fully charged. Neither the WFCO nor the GoPower will normally charge at this voltage. Bob recommends a Morningstar solar controller, and a Trimetric battery monitor. So far I've only followed one of his suggestions.

You said your battery didn't appear to be fully charged when you arrived despite driving for four hours. My guess it was not fully charged when you left home despite what the solar controller told you. The 12 volt connection between your vehicle and your trailer will not fully charge a battery in four hours.

As others have recommended, you can get an Equus battery monitor and make sure your battery is plugged in for a long time before leaving home and that the monitor shows a voltage of 13.7 volts or more.

If this is not possible or convenient (if you don't normally have your trailer parked close to where you live) you could get an intelligent multi-stage battery charger and use it before you leave to get the battery fully charged.
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyFun View Post

Brian, you said the solar regulator looks after the battery charge and not the converter....is this true even you are plugged in to shore power? If so, then I just need to understand how the solar regulator charges the batteries and I can ignore the converter?
thanks!
Lisa
Lisa:

I did not answer the question above.

If you are not on shore power the solar regulator will charge the battery assuming the solar panel is in sunshine. If you are on shore power and it is dark the converter will be charging the battery. If you are on shore power and the sun is out and the solar panel is getting enough light it is possible the solar panel will also help in charging the battery. (If the solar regulator displays a charging current it means it is supplying power to the battery.) This is a bit of a simplification: actually the solar regulator and converter are supplying power to the 12 volt system, which can be a combination of the battery and other DC loads. If you read the GoPower and WFCO manuals you will see that there are several different charging modes depending on the line voltage and other factors, so it is not exactly straight forward. So
  • If not on shore power and in sunshine, solar regulator will control charging of the battery.
  • If not on shore power and dark, no charging will be taking place
  • If on shore power and dark, converter will control battery charging
  • If on shore power and in sunshine, both converter and solar regulator can participate in charging the battery
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:30 PM   #12
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Thank you Brian, for clarifying all of that...it really helps me understand how things are operating. Next time we leave for a trip I'll do as you suggest and plug the trailer in for a longer period than overnight to see if that may the issue in not getting the battery fully charged prior to leaving.

The GoPower regulator manual says its absorption voltage is 14.1/14.4V and its float voltage is 13.7V. Is the float voltage what the battery should stay at until until a load is placed on it? Once it has been dark for awhile (with nothing coming in or going out) I've never seen more than 12.7 V on my regulator monitor, even after a very sunny day.

The manual also lists a monthly equalize option....should I be doing this?

Sorry, I think this is all above my head but for some reason I feel compelled to understand it! I'm sure our minimal needs will be met just fine by our battery as Jim said, and I have nothing to worry about.

Thanks again,
Lisa
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Old 07-27-2013, 01:23 AM   #13
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Lisa:

The GoPower Manual says that it may operate in Absorption mode for 1 to 2 hours a day at 14.1 to 14.4 volts. It will otherwise operate in Float mode at 13.7 volts.

These voltages are when the solar panel is producing power and the solar regulator is operating to charge the battery, not connected to shore power.

When it is dark and some time has elapsed from significant charge or discharge of the battery, the voltage at 100% state of charge will be about 12.7 volts ("no load" voltage), according to this source:
Battery voltage and state of charge - Energy Matters

If you are seeing 12.7 "no load" volts at night the solar regulator should be showing 100% state of charge and the battery is fully charged. This is good news! It would be normal for the voltage to go down during the night if you are operating lights etc. plus normal slow battery discharge. In the morning when there is light on the solar panel the voltage should go up but it would be a mistake to believe the regulator state of charge estimate since the battery is under charge.

As I said before, when you are not connected to shore power and using your solar system, the only time the GoPower regulator gives a reasonable estimate of state of charge is just before dawn or a few hours after dark, provided there is no significant power consumption.

I don't think you need to worry about equalization right now -- the cycle is meant to run about once a month for a few hours and the solar regulator looks after this.
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Old 10-29-2015, 12:32 PM   #14
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Thought this might be useful reading in light of Ellen's current predicament.
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Old 10-29-2015, 02:38 PM   #15
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Thought this might be useful reading in light of Ellen's current predicament.
Good timing !
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