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Old 12-03-2019, 02:50 AM   #1
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Some power/battery questions (charging, maintenance)

Hi folks,


Located in Bay Area currently, I'm experiencing fun power outages. With that, a few questions:



1. what battery chargers/maintainers do folks recommend/have experience with? How about something like this? And/or a solar one like this?


2. Why would power via inverter (outlets) work yet lights and appliances not? Ok, fair enough, appliances may try to draw too much power but lights?

3. This is probably not for this forum but what was the rationale for not providing circuitry to just charge/maintain batteries from shore power just like from tow vehicle.


TIA!
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:28 AM   #2
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Good morning Greg,
Not sure what you are asking. Your Escape has a built in battery charger with the WFCO converter. Your solar also maintains your batteries. The inverter changs 12v DC to 120v AC for those appliances. Your lights, pump, furnace all operate off 12v battery which your Escape has. There is a master switch which turns 12v off, depending on your Escape model. Your avatar does not provide any detail for your Escape model. Shore power also maintains battery, if you turn on the master switch. It is a silver toggle under the dinette seat.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:39 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by debedb View Post
2. Why would power via inverter (outlets) work yet lights and appliances not? Ok, fair enough, appliances may try to draw too much power but lights?
...
Running large appliances is not totally out of the question, if you are willing to spend a few $$$. This will run your air conditioner, microwave, toaster, etc, all at the same time. Of course you will need 8 to 12 batteries to provide the necessary 1000+ amps of power.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:14 PM   #4
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2. Why would power via inverter (outlets) work yet lights and appliances not? Ok, fair enough, appliances may try to draw too much power but lights?
For the inverter to work, there must be charge in the battery. For other 12 V DC stuff to not work, despite a charge in the battery, there must be something breaking the connection to those circuits. The two possibilities are:
  1. a master fuse blown (location and rating varies), or
  2. the storage switch (which Jim described) is turned to the storage of "off" position, isolating the battery from the power distribution panel (the inverter is wired directly to the battery, bypassing this switch)

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3. This is probably not for this forum but what was the rationale for not providing circuitry to just charge/maintain batteries from shore power just like from tow vehicle.
There is a provision to do that: the converter/charger in the WFCO Power Center does that, as Jim explained, unless it is isolated from the battery by the storage switch.

That switch is probably just turned off.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:41 PM   #5
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That switch is probably just turned off. Yes, that would cause the problems that his questions are trying to resolve....
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:28 PM   #6
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Hi


Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Good morning Greg,
Not sure what you are asking.

Your Escape has a built in battery charger with the WFCO converter.

Thanks for the reply. I suppose I am confused between these two sentences in the manual:


1. "The load center has a built-in converter that automatically converts 120-volt current to 12-volt current for use by those circuits which require it and also recharges your battery"


but then


2. "The trailer battery can be recharged by starting the tow vehicle and reconnecting the power cord"

I guess I read (2) as saying that the only way to recharge is from the tow vehicle.



Quote:
Your solar also maintains your batteries.

Yeah, we never added solar though.


Quote:
Your avatar does not provide any detail for your Escape model.

Sorry, it's Escape 2019 17'.



Quote:
Shore power also maintains battery, if you turn on the master switch. It is a silver toggle under the dinette seat.


Aha, so that's the (1) quote from above. I guess maybe this part is not in the main manual. I'll check other docs.


Thank you!
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:30 PM   #7
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Alan: thanks, I'll save that.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:32 PM   #8
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Brian: Thanks, your explanation plus Jim's make sense and explain what's been happening. I will try finding the switch.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:35 AM   #9
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You will find between the tow vehicle charging while towing, the solar panels charging while in sunlight and your on board converter charging while sitting still, unhooked from tow and plugged in at a campsite at night time will all work together seamlessly to keep your batteries charged. Prudent use of your 12v system, pump, furnace, lights should allow you freedom from having to pay $ to hookup at a campsite at night as the solar and towing should keep the batteries at 100% by noon everyday. Your water heater, furnace and refrigerator operate off propane but use a little 12v for controls. So other than air conditioning, basically you are self contained so to speak with the on board systems.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:36 AM   #10
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Forgot to mention your optional inverter use can impact your charge cycles by use. If you do not have an inverter then ignore this comment.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:29 AM   #11
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Hi all,

Thanks for your help. Few things though:


1. I found the switch, but it turns out to have been ON all this time so this cannot explain power being provided to outlets but not the lights. (I also found that EMS was switched to bypass but that would not matter in the described case as the shore power was out, right?)



2. I am kind of slow, but I haven't been able to find info on that switch in the trailer manual (neither in the electrical section, pp.41-44, nor in storage section, pp.61-63). Nor can I find it in the WFCO manual.



3. To piggyback on 2 - there are different manuals for these different components of the electrical system, but is there a component diagram of how everything fits together?
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:33 AM   #12
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Hi Jim


Quote:
the solar panels charging while in sunlight

I guess I should install solar panels, yes. Didn't opt for those.


Quote:

and your on board converter charging while sitting still, unhooked from tow and plugged in at a campsite at night time will all work together seamlessly to keep your batteries charged.

Yes, I believe I misread the manual. Good to know, and good to know about the switch. But the original impetus behind this question is that none of the above were available: the trailer is unhooked from the towing vehicle, no solar panels, and the shore power was out due to PG&E (CA power utility) outages. For such a case, I wonder, would a maintainer be good -- or just go ahead and get a generator?
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:40 AM   #13
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Hi Jim





I guess I should install solar panels, yes. Didn't opt for those.





Yes, I believe I misread the manual. Good to know, and good to know about the switch. But the original impetus behind this question is that none of the above were available: the trailer is unhooked from the towing vehicle, no solar panels, and the shore power was out due to PG&E (CA power utility) outages. For such a case, I wonder, would a maintainer be good -- or just go ahead and get a generator?
I would opt for solar before generator as it works silently in the back ground, no maintenance, no gas fumes, no noise.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:56 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by debedb View Post
this question is that none of the above were available: the trailer is unhooked from the towing vehicle, no solar panels, and the shore power was out due to PG&E (CA power utility) outages. For such a case, I wonder, would a maintainer be good -- or just go ahead and get a generator?
Shore power being out for hours or even days isn't a factor in the life of the battery. Even if you don't want to go full solar get a smaller panel and use it as a portable panel. The battery will always be charged, shore power or not.

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Old 12-04-2019, 01:46 PM   #15
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Hi all,

Thanks for your help. Few things though:


1. I found the switch, but it turns out to have been ON all this time so this cannot explain power being provided to outlets but not the lights. (I also found that EMS was switched to bypass but that would not matter in the described case as the shore power was out, right?)
The lighting system, along with the refrigerator, furnace, water heater, propane detector, etc are all connected to the 12V system of the trailer. While the furnace & water heater operate on propane, as as well as the refrigerator, they all require a 12V supply to operate. When the trailer is connected to a 120V power pedestal, it feeds the converter, which provides 12V for both battery charging & your 12V appliances (and lights).

When the trailer is disconnected from the power pedestal, the battery provides the 12V power for lights & appliances. While the refrigerator can operate on 12V, it draws a large amount of power, therefore it should be switched to propane when not connected to a 120V power pedestal. If the Battery Disconnect switch is off, and you are not connected to a 120V power source, no power will be available at the 12V appliances (or lights).

The 120V receptacles are also connected to the converter, but rather than through fuses, through 120V circuit breakers, which are entirely separate from the 12V circuits. Unless you have an inverter, they will not have power unless the trailer is connected to a power pedestal.

You noted that the 12V lights do not work with the Battery Disconnect switch on. This indicates a problem. With the Battery Disconnect switch on, both the battery & the converter should supply 12V. If the trailer is not connected to a power pedestal, the source for 12V is the battery. If you don't have lights & the battery is fully charged, something is wrong. Check for an open fuse between the battery & the converter (typically an in line fuse in the battery box), or a loose connection. If you have a multimeter, check the voltage at the battery - it should be between 12.7V - 13.6V, depending on the connection to the converter.

If the trailer is connected to a 120V power pedestal, the 12V lights should work, Battery Disconnect switch on or off, and battery charged, or not. The position of the bypass switch on the EMS will make no difference unless, if not bypassed, there is a power quality problem.

Hope this helps with troubleshooting.
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:18 PM   #16
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Yes, I believe I misread the manual. Good to know, and good to know about the switch. But the original impetus behind this question is that none of the above were available: the trailer is unhooked from the towing vehicle, no solar panels, and the shore power was out due to PG&E (CA power utility) outages. For such a case, I wonder, would a maintainer be good -- or just go ahead and get a generator?
A maintainer needs a 120V AC source to operate.

Your inverter is wired directly to your battery so it could be working fine inverting 12V DC into 120V AC power and providing it to outlets while nothing else is working. The only common element is the battery. I agree with Jon V. If all 12V DC to lights, appliances, cigarette style outlets are dead then you likely have a main fuse that is blown near the batteries. It is not a common problem but also check the two 40A reverse polarity fuses in the WFCO power center. Once you find and replace any blown fuse(s) and confirm your battery has a proper charge you should have power.

Of course over time a battery will deplete with use. Your options for charging are a generator, solar, power grid (if available) or tow vehicle (last resort). A portable solar panel may be the best for you to start with since you have good solar resource in CA and it is clean and quiet with very little to maintain. Maybe something like these...you will need a controller with the panel.
https://www.renogy.com/100-watt-12-v...ge-controller/
https://www.amazon.com/Go-Power-Valt.../dp/B009MIPH4K
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:18 PM   #17
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Ron


Quote:
Shore power being out for hours or even days isn't a factor in the life of the battery

It is a factor in it being used and nothing to charge it.
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:22 PM   #18
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Jon, thanks


Quote:
You noted that the 12V lights do not work with the Battery Disconnect switch on. This indicates a problem. With the Battery Disconnect switch on, both the battery & the converter should supply 12V. If the trailer is not connected to a power pedestal, the source for 12V is the battery. If you don't have lights & the battery is fully charged, something is wrong.

Yes, that's exactly it. The shore line was out, so only the battery should have been supplying power at the time - but only outlets worked and not the lights. So I guess it's time to check your suggestions: fuse and voltage or connection.

Quote:
If the trailer is connected to a 120V power pedestal, the 12V lights should work, Battery Disconnect switch on or off, and battery charged, or not. The position of the bypass switch on the EMS will make no difference unless, if not bypassed, there is a power quality problem.

Yes, that is what I understood. Thanks.
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:26 PM   #19
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rubicon, thanks


Quote:
A maintainer needs a 120V AC source to operate.

Aha, I was wondering if it does or if it goes off its internal battery(?) - I guess that answers that.



Quote:
I agree with Jon V. If all 12V DC to lights, appliances, cigarette style outlets are dead then you likely have a main fuse that is blown near the batteries. It is not a common problem but also check the two 40A reverse polarity fuses in the WFCO power center. Once you find and replace any blown fuse(s) and confirm you battery has a proper charge you will have power.

Thanks, that's the next thing to check then.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:31 PM   #20
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Ron

It is a factor in it being used and nothing to charge it.
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rubicon, thanks

Aha, I was wondering if it does or if it goes off its internal battery(?) - I guess that answers that.
I'm not sure that was clear in your first post or maybe it's the use of the term "maintainer".

A battery "maintainer" is usually called a trickle charger and keeps the battery from running down when in long term storage.

If the trailer is in active use you are using the converter, a battery charger to maintain the battery. Two different cases.

If you could get one to run off it's own internal battery you'd sort of invented perpetual motion.

Ron
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