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Old 09-05-2021, 07:30 PM   #1
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WFCO 8955-LIS converter woes

We picked up our new 5.0 in Sumas about a month ago and have yet to get shore power working all the time.

First it was flickering lights on shore. Not just a little flickering, but like being in Berlin discotheque in the 1980s. The only solution seemed to be to unplug and run off batteries. I reached out to Escape and after several days was finally able to talk with Dustin, who suggested checking all the negative cable and chassis ground for loose connections or bad crimps. Kind of hard to examine for bad crimps when they have like seven or eight wires all stacked on one stud on the back of the WFCO panel - should have a bus bar installed, but that's another issue.

We spent several weeks on the road back and every time we were in a campground with hookups we tried plugging in, but usually with the same results and being forced to unplug. We're running minimal solar at the moment (one GoPower 190W panel) but it got us home and I'm working on adding more.

Eventually I noticed the flickering was related to the charger being in bulk mode (or boost mode as Go Power calls it) by observing the battery voltage was at 14.4V when the lights were flickering but not when the battery showed 13.6V meaning that the converter was then running in absorption mode. I mentioned this to Dustin but he had no other solution to offer other than checking the connections.

While snooping around looking for bad connections (back at home), I finally found one at the pair of 30A breakers connected to the battery. I've enclosed a photo of these breakers. One of these positive terminals was completely loose with one of the red wires just flopping around under the nut. Talk about a safety hazard, and this wasn't the only item that missed QC inspection before they released the trailer to us (the furnace, bath fan, Lagun mount and toilet installation problems are a topic for a different thread). I tightened the loose terminal nut down.

And the plot thickens. I plugged into 115V shore power at home to try to check if tightening the connection had solved the light flickering. Maybe. But after sitting a couple days outside with the DC fridge running, not plugged in and only the one solar panel, my single lithium battery was getting pretty low, so when I plugged in, the converter naturally went into bulk mode and, although the lights weren't flickering, the lower 30A breaker in the pair was tripping constantly, resetting, tripping again, over and over. So I unplugged.

Now, it occurs to me that the WFCO 8955-LIS converter is rated at 55A of charging power. So with a depleted lithium battery in bulk mode, I'm assuming the battery would be asking for all the current it can get from the converter, thus the converter would throwing all 55A at the battery? If someone with more electrical expertise than me wants to jump in and correct me, please do.

Assuming the converter is supplying 55A to the battery through a 8 AWG wire and a 30A breaker, it's no wonder the breaker is blowing! But why would Escape put such a small wire and breaker on that connection in the first place? The only thing I can think of is that, prior to lithium batteries, a 55A converter would never actually provide all 55A to the batteries because lead acid batteries are not as good at accepting charge as lithium. So maybe Escape got away with the small wire and breakers with lead-acid batteries? Or did our trailer get some special wiring treatment?

I've looked at TDF-Texas' wiring diagrams (thank you for those!) and our trailer doesn't seem to have either the 50A thermal breaker or the 40A fuses he shows. All I can find are the pair of 30A fuses in the attached photo with a jumper wire connecting them. The wires connecting to these fuses come from the WFCO panel, the battery, the solar charge controller and I'm assuming from the DC/DC converter, though I haven't traced that last one back, as the DC/DC is mounted in the compartment with the front jack controls). I'm also not crazy about the use of fuses as a common terminal (especially when they don't tighten the nuts down!)

So to sum, the light flickering may have been solved by tightening the loose positive wire on the breaker, but now the breaker blows constantly when the charger is in bulk mode. So we still have no ability to stay plugged into shore long enough to know whether everything works properly.

We have the EMS installed and it has consistently shown no issues with the power coming in.

Any electrical experts want to weigh in with additional debugging suggestions? I'm getting fairly close to just bypassing the converter and installing a Victron inverter/charger if I have to start upgrading the wiring and fuses in this thing.

Thanks for any insights you all can provide!
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Old 09-05-2021, 07:45 PM   #2
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I'd shut down the WFCO converter. It only takes removing the two 20 amp (?) fuses. In our case the WFCO screwed up and put out 21 amps to our battery, according to our Victron 712 battery monitor, causing our two year old AGM's to fail. The WFCO has been disconnected since February and we don't miss it. Prior to June we had 170 watts on the roof and a 100 watt Renogy portable and never ran out of power. In June we added an additional 300 watts to the roof of our 5.0 (I'll be posting the conversion in the next couple of weeks) because in Minnesota we can camp where we're in 100% shade. So far so good.

Again I'd just disconnect your WFCO and see if your problems go away. There are many chargers out today that can charge your lithium batteries.

Hope this helps.

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Old 09-05-2021, 07:56 PM   #3
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Hereís the photo of the breakers I forgot to attach (if I can figure out how to attach it)
Click image for larger version

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Old 09-05-2021, 08:04 PM   #4
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Yes, think that may be the eventual solution. But would would really like to understand how I managed to get a brand new trailer that I can’t charge on shore power. And I can’t imagine I’m the only owner of a 2021 Escape with lithium batteries with this problem. Does that mean my wiring is unique?
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Old 09-05-2021, 10:26 PM   #5
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a PD4655LI is a direct replacement for the WFCO 8955 power module, specifically for LiFePO4 batteries.
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Old 09-05-2021, 11:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mark J View Post
...
And the plot thickens. I plugged into 115V shore power at home to try to check if tightening the connection had solved the light flickering. Maybe. But after sitting a couple days outside with the DC fridge running, not plugged in and only the one solar panel, my single lithium battery was getting pretty low, so when I plugged in, the converter naturally went into bulk mode and, although the lights weren't flickering, the lower 30A breaker in the pair was tripping constantly, resetting, tripping again, over and over. So I unplugged.
...
There are multiple issues here, I won't attempt to address all of them.

With 100 AH at your disposal (1 battery), and the fridge on DC drawing 12-14 amps, you can not realistically expect days of service. As you have determined the battery dropped below the "emergency" cutoff voltage, and trying to recharge results in a massive drain on the charger.

This may be a pain, but try removing the battery and putting it on a small ordinary battery charger. Do the basic math to determine when you are close to full: example for a 10 amp charger run it for a max of 10 hours (= 100 AmpHours). Don't attempt any more charge or you might trip the "emergency" over-voltage cutoff. Once you have put back 80-90% then reinstall and try shore power again.
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Old 09-06-2021, 12:35 AM   #7
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Outside of the loose connections, a single battery is not enough to run the dc fridge for days. Larger wire is always better, but I think the post above maybe is identifying one major issue. Do you have a shunt monitor on your battery negative ? 135 dollars for a victron Bluetooth shunt will give you a precise look at the battery charge and discharge rate. I’ve said for a while ETI should hire a solar and electrical engineer as these systems will get more complicated.
Also are you running the inverter while charging, assuming you have one ?
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Old 09-06-2021, 07:52 AM   #8
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I’m surprised no one is addressing the undersized auto reset breakers. 30A is too low as you have figured out. We got away with the original 30A in our 2010 because (I believe) the WFCO didn’t provide anywhere near 55A to the lead acid batteries. I upgraded all the main wiring to 6AWG and added a 400AH lithium. I know just have a 60A Maxi-fuse at the battery and I put a 40A auto reset breaker on the tow vehicle charge line. As a test you can put all the positives on one terminal of the auto reset breakers and take it out of the equation. See if the charger stays on. You can always replace them with a higher amperage. Double check that your wiring is adequate. 8AWG is pushing it depending on the circuit length.
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:05 AM   #9
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Hereís the photo of the breakers I forgot to attach (if I can figure out how to attach it)
Attachment 58110
Can you label what each wire feeds on the photo? This will help those trying to troubleshoot.
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:22 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
a PD4655LI is a direct replacement for the WFCO 8955 power module, specifically for LiFePO4 batteries.
Thanks, John. At this point, I don’t have any evidence that the WFCO unit is faulty, but it’s good to know a direct replacement option exists.
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:45 AM   #11
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There are multiple issues here, I won't attempt to address all of them.

With 100 AH at your disposal (1 battery), and the fridge on DC drawing 12-14 amps, you can not realistically expect days of service. As you have determined the battery dropped below the "emergency" cutoff voltage, and trying to recharge results in a massive drain on the charger.

This may be a pain, but try removing the battery and putting it on a small ordinary battery charger. Do the basic math to determine when you are close to full: example for a 10 amp charger run it for a max of 10 hours (= 100 AmpHours). Don't attempt any more charge or you might trip the "emergency" over-voltage cutoff. Once you have put back 80-90% then reinstall and try shore power again.
Maybe I wasn’t clear about the fridge. We have the Norcold DC-only option that supposedly draws 3-4A while running. I was assuming the 190W solar would keep up with that, given the panel is in full sun most of the day and I’ve seen 7A coming off the controller for several hours during the day. I think the fact the fridge was quite empty (just some bottled water) was making it run more than 50% of the time, and it’s been hot here in Colorado. Still was surprised to see the batteries indicating around 11V but still able to power things. After turning off the fridge, a day in the sun charged everything back up to 100%, so I did try plugging in again after fully charged and the breakers are still tripping.

I assume your reference to low cutoff and high cutoff are referring to the BMS built into the battery? I don’t think it had in fact gone below the low cutoff because the battery was still powering the lights and fridge at that point. And it recovered quite quickly on solar charging after eliminating the fridge draw. I have a Victron BMV-712 that I’ve been planning to install once I figure out what other electrical upgrades are going to be needed (along with replacing the stock lithium with a Battleborn GC3 (270Ah)).
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:59 AM   #12
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Iím surprised no one is addressing the undersized auto reset breakers. 30A is too low as you have figured out. We got away with the original 30A in our 2010 because (I believe) the WFCO didnít provide anywhere near 55A to the lead acid batteries.
Thatís what I thought might explain the wiring mismatch with the charger and batteries. It would seem Escape doesnít fully understand what the lithium batteries are going to demand from the charger. So they are installing a combination of components that should work together but arenít supported by the wiring and fuses? Thatís how it appears to me.

Iíll try to trace those wires at the breakers so I can label the photo which is which.
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:10 AM   #13
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Also are you running the inverter while charging, assuming you have one ?
No, not running the inverter. Recently Iíve had the Norcold DC fridge running and a few lights, thatís about it. After running the battery down Iíve since turned off the fridge. So very low amp draw at present (I would assume). Still the breaker trips when the shore power is plugged in even with the solar charger indicating 100% battery. I do plan to install the Victron shunt and BMV.
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:25 AM   #14
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As a test you can put all the positives on one terminal of the auto reset breakers and take it out of the equation. See if the charger stays on. You can always replace them with a higher amperage. Double check that your wiring is adequate. 8AWG is pushing it depending on the circuit length.
I may try something like that, although if the WFCO is really pushing 55A, it could fry that 8AWG wire. Probably should just upgrade the wire and fuse as you have done.

Does anyone know of a way to safely measure DC amps that high? My multimeter only goes to 10A. Again, Iím not an electrician, but Iím trying to learn without damaging the rig or myself!
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:39 AM   #15
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...
Does anyone know of a way to safely measure DC amps that high? My multimeter only goes to 10A. Again, Iím not an electrician, but Iím trying to learn without damaging the rig or myself!
Cheap...
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:45 AM   #16
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, and itís been hot here in Colorado. Still was surprised to see the batteries indicating around 11V but still able to power things. After turning off the fridge, a day in the sun charged everything back up to 100%,

...
And more 90's yet to come.

Something just doesn't add up. 11V for a LiFePO4 is near total discharge. Perhaps not low enough for the BMS to disconnect, but darn close to 0% SOC. But you are also saying one day in the Colorado sun (sure wish we had a few cloudy days now and then) - sorry, ranting - is a one day solar charge enough to replace 99AH?

Without more information on your specifics I'm not going to be of much use.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:05 AM   #17
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And more 90's yet to come.

Something just doesn't add up. 11V for a LiFePO4 is near total discharge. Perhaps not low enough for the BMS to disconnect, but darn close to 0% SOC. But you are also saying one day in the Colorado sun (sure wish we had a few cloudy days now and then) - sorry, ranting - is a one day solar charge enough to replace 99AH?

Without more information on your specifics I'm not going to be of much use.
I agree. But less than a day is all it took. The panel is pointed SSW and tilted that direction on the 5.0, so optimal conditions for solar.

I think the 11V readout is the suspect number, but that's what the solar charger was showing. At that level, the BMS should have kicked it, but it hadn't. This is what the Victron shunt will be an important tool, but's it's not in-line yet, as I am trying to get organized for a battery upgrade and clean up some of the lousy Escape wiring. Prefer to do it all at once.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:17 AM   #18
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I may try something like that, although if the WFCO is really pushing 55A, it could fry that 8AWG wire. Probably should just upgrade the wire and fuse as you have done.
Just a quick test to see if that is your issue. Fry an 8AWG wire with 55A? No. Warm up the wire? Maybe.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:42 AM   #19
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You're right. I had in my brain 8AWG requires a 40A fuse, but that's for 3%V drop. So the wire can handle more for a short term test. I'll give it a go.
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Old 09-06-2021, 11:59 AM   #20
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Hereís the photo of the breakers I forgot to attach (if I can figure out how to attach it)
Attachment 58110
It looks like Escape gave no thought about what wiring changes were needed to be made to accommodate the lithium batterie(s). Those thermal breakers are the same ones that are used with lead acid batteries with a solar controller and not apropriate for a lithium installation.

Increasing the wire size and adding properly sized overcurrent protection (breakers/fuses) is not a major job and should be done for your trailer. Below is a pic of my wiring where I increased the wire size to the batteries to 6 awg and added a 60 amp fuse 4" from the batteries.

note: ANSI/RVIA code requires that the 60 amp fuse be installed within 7" of the battery terminal.
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Wiring-TDF-TEXAS.jpg   Battery Cable 1.jpg  
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