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Old 02-09-2009, 06:14 PM   #1
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Should the Univolt always be running?

We're 2 weeks into owning our 1978 22' 6.7 Minuet and slowly fixing things that aren't working. First of all, our univolt is already separate from the fuse panel in case anyone asks. My question though is should the univolt ALWAYS be turned on and running. Sitting in our driveway right now the Minuet is plugged into 110 and the univolt is humming along. We got NO equipment manuals with our camper, so we're relying on info online and from Airstream folks.
Looking forward to answers.
Beth
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:27 PM   #2
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All the systems in the trailer are 12 volts, which is what the univolt provides it is just a big power supply. If you have nothing on it is just running. It also charges the battery but can boil all the water out of the battery. You can shut down the univolt and plug it back in when the battery goes down. Some times owners add a trickle charger.

I have a 2005 trailer with a more modern inverter and I never turn it off, my trailer is always plugged in. It is not the best practice but I am in out my trailer almost daily as I store items in it when not in on the road.
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:33 PM   #3
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If it is an original Univolt, leaving it plugged in for long periods of time may cook your battery. Many owners replace these old units with 3 stage units that regulate better and do not damage the battery
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:21 PM   #4
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I go out to my camper fairly often and if the lights are getting dim I turn it on for a day or so. Gives me an excuse to go visit my baby.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:42 PM   #5
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It isn't a good idea to have the Univolt running if there is no battery connected.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:52 PM   #6
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Our '78 Owners Manual said to leave the trailer plugged into 110 as much as possible to keep things running. Our Univolt has a small toggle switch on its backside which I take as an on/off and we wouldn't need to unplug. Chris and I have had conflicting ideas on whether it should be shut off or not. Today though, he heard gurgling coming from the battery and a battery smell - not good! Hopefully we haven't fried our battery.
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argonaut20 View Post
It isn't a good idea to have the Univolt running if there is no battery connected.
Do you mean the battery in the Argosy or car battery? Our Argosy battery is always connected.
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argonaut20 View Post
It isn't a good idea to have the Univolt running if there is no battery connected.
There are some who would argue it also isn't a good idea to have the Univolt running if there is a battery connected

The gurgling sound and smell probably is your battery "boiling".

If you are not ready yet to chuck the ol Univolt better off getting a small maintainance charger (not a trickle charger). They are inexpensive and will turn themselves on and off as needed to keep the battery charged.

By the way letting the battery voltage fall too low ain't no good for the battery neither.

If the trailer is just sitting there no need to keep it plugged in to shore power 24/7 in fact it will shorten the battery's life if you are using a Univolt.
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:48 PM   #9
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I'm always game for learning new things, but this is a confusing issue for me. Can anyone tell me the straightforward way of using the univolt? First, because we just got the '78 two weeks ago, we are working on things on it almost daily, so this is the reason we have it plugged in - plus it keeps the beer in the refrig nice and cold!

So, while it is sitting in the driveway plugged in to 110, do we need the univolt on?

When we are driving down the highway pulling the Minuet, do we need to have the univolt on?

When we are sitting at a campground with no power, do we need to have the univolt on?

Don't think we're totally dumb, but this is new for us. We had a Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia before with simple 12V/110/propane features.

I think Lumatic's comment about a small maintenance charger will be the way we will end up going. We will probably do less stealth camping in the Argosy than we did in the VW, so running off of battery power very often might be a moot point.

Thanks for ALL of your advice. Keep it coming - this is how us newbies can learn!
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:56 PM   #10
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The converter (univolt) converts the 120 volt shore power to 12 volts. It charges the battery while supplying voltage to all your 12 volt stuff. The only time it is operation is when you are attached to shore (120 volt) power. A trickle charger would work, but some batteries (mine) are not that easy to get to. The best solution for the long term is to get a good 3 stage converter.

You should check the water in your battery, it is most likely low.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:59 PM   #11
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We chucked our old univolt for a new 3 stage converter from Best RV. Best $150 I've spent. It's real quiet, can barely hear it, unlike the constant hum of the univolt. We leave it on all the time -- just check the battery every two or three months -- it rarely needs water.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KAYAKAMPERS View Post

So, while it is sitting in the driveway plugged in to 110, do we need the univolt on?
You say there is a switch to turn the univolt on and off. I have not heard of another Argosy/ AS with a switch. I suspect it was installed by PO for the reasons we are talking about. Unless you need 110 to keep the fridge running you don't need the Argosy plugged in to shore power at all. If you do need to keep your beer cold turning off the univolt would keep you from overcharging your battery. But, you don't want to let your battery go dead either. It sounds like this is a jury rigged anti battery boiling switch to me. Can you post a photo? We love photos.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KAYAKAMPERS View Post
When we are driving down the highway pulling the Minuet, do we need to have the univolt on?
The original wiring of charging the trailer battery when towing was through the univolt fuse panel. If someone changed the wiring around with this disconnect switch it may stop the charging. Hook up the trailer to the car and disconnect the trailer battery, and turn off the univolt. Put a meter on the battery cables and if you get a reading the switch also turns off the charging line from the tow vehicle. No real reason to have it turned off when towing though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KAYAKAMPERS View Post
When we are sitting at a campground with no power, do we need to have the univolt on?
The univolt won't work anyway unless it it hooked up to 110, so no.

The maintainance chargers I mentioned are also called float chargers
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Old 02-10-2009, 05:34 AM   #13
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Beth and Chris,
Replace the univolt with a new three stage converter / charger and most of your concerns and questions go away. Plug it in and pretty much forget it. But check your battery electrolyte level every once in a while.

I replaced the stock converter / charger in our '87 with a 60 amp model 9260 Progressive Dynamics Inteli Power from bestconverter.com. Like somebody said earlier, it was one of the best purchases I made when fixing up the '87. I am also going to replace the stock converter / charger in our '06 with exact same unit. The darned stock converter boiled a 2 year old battery last year.

The replacement is a fairly simple task and can be accomplished by just about anyone.
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Old 02-10-2009, 06:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KAYAKAMPERS View Post
I'm always game for learning new things, but this is a confusing issue for me. Can anyone tell me the straightforward way of using the univolt? First, because we just got the '78 two weeks ago, we are working on things on it almost daily, so this is the reason we have it plugged in - plus it keeps the beer in the refrig nice and cold!

So, while it is sitting in the driveway plugged in to 110, do we need the univolt on?

When we are driving down the highway pulling the Minuet, do we need to have the univolt on?

When we are sitting at a campground with no power, do we need to have the univolt on?

Don't think we're totally dumb, but this is new for us. We had a Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia before with simple 12V/110/propane features.

I think Lumatic's comment about a small maintenance charger will be the way we will end up going. We will probably do less stealth camping in the Argosy than we did in the VW, so running off of battery power very often might be a moot point.

Thanks for ALL of your advice. Keep it coming - this is how us newbies can learn!
Unplug it. Plug it back in when the battery is low, charge the battery then unplug.

Univolt bad. Replace the univolt with modern technology.
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