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Old 01-30-2007, 05:37 PM   #1
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Converter failure story

While we attending the recent rally in frigid 29 Palms we suffered a converter failure which I thought I'd tell you all about.

A couple of years ago we installed a Progressive Dynamics converter (PD9180) with charge wizard because occasionally the original Univolt converter would boil our batteries.

The first indication we had a problem occurred when the lights began to dim while we were plugged into shore power. After a bit of diagnosis I determined that if there was no load, the voltage was about 13.2V but if there was a load (turing on a light), the output voltage dropped to a very low value. Seemed pretty clear that the converter was not functioning correctly.

I called Randy (at BestConverter - Inteli-Power Converters, Inverters, Solar Chargers) who posts here. After a discussion I decided to have him send me a WFCO converter. I chose this converter because Randy said he had more trouble with the PD products than he had expected AND I had received a bad PD converter when I ordered my converter a couple of years ago. So, ordered the WFCO and it arrived the next day. Installation was not as easy as I had hoped. On our MH, the converter is under the slide out pantry in the kitchen. The overhead clearance is small and the WFCO converter is taller than the PD converter. So that was a challenge which was eventually worked out. The other issues is that the PD converter has two terminals for ground (-) and two terminals for hot (+) while the WFCO has only one terminal each for ground and hot. Also the ground wire connection is on the 'back' of the PD converter while it is on the 'front' of the WFCO. When the Univolt was replaced the distribution panel with fuses was also replaced. The wires were all cut to fit due to the very limited space. So installing the WFCO required fusing the wires going to the dual ground and hot wires into a single wire and then connecting to the terminals on the WFCO. Since the wiring is heavy gauge (#2 and #4) and carries a lot of energy I needed to be very careful to make good connections and properly insulate everything. Two trips to the hardware and auto parts store and about $60 later (for cable, terminals, wire, connectors, heat shrink, and a heat gun) the device was installed and worked properly.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:53 PM   #2
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Guy,

What a bummer. It sounds like a really tight fit.

Are you sure you have enough air flow for cooling?
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:56 PM   #3
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I am glad that everything is working fine now. It was nice meeting you at 29 Palms. I don't think cooling was an issue at the Palms...
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:56 PM   #4
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so where are you now?
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Old 01-30-2007, 07:17 PM   #5
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Wink

One peculiarity with the WFCO is that they decided to use hex socket head setscrews for the terminals. This makes it awkward to use a standard hex-key because it is easy to hit the case while turning the key and short out the positive terminal (of course one could always disconnect the battery(s)). A nice tool to have is the 5/32" hex "T" handle with a piece of shrink tubing over the key(for insulation) except for the end where it fits the set screw. A proper "t" handle makes it much easier to tighten the connections properly.
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Old 01-30-2007, 07:20 PM   #6
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Excella ...... one hates to ask how you know this
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Old 01-30-2007, 07:29 PM   #7
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Good Judgement! Which comes from experience. Which comes from bad judgement.

Actually, I had a lot of trouble attaching the wires to the converter because, on the Excella, the univolt is down in a hole under the front counter so you have to work from above the unit and , of course, the battery wires are short. I saw this one coming, and bought the wrench first-for once! WFCO works great, and I added a 12VDC wallwart next to it to run the AC on light on the control panel. Satisfied so far...
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excella CM
One peculiarity with the WFCO is that they decided to use hex socket head setscrews for the terminals. This makes it awkward to use a standard hex-key because it is easy to hit the case while turning the key and short out the positive terminal (of course one could always disconnect the battery(s)). A nice tool to have is the 5/32" hex "T" handle with a piece of shrink tubing over the key(for insulation) except for the end where it fits the set screw. A proper "t" handle makes it much easier to tighten the connections properly.
The "T" handle 5/32 was on of my purchases. Didn't think to put the shrink wrap on though.
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by str8strm
so where are you now?
From 29 Plams we went to Salton Sea, then to Quartzsite for a while. Today we're in Gila Bend, heading for Puerto Peņasco today.
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:47 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by markdoane
Guy,

What a bummer. It sounds like a really tight fit.

Are you sure you have enough air flow for cooling?
I think we're OK. The sliding pantry has a large cutout in the bottom of it and there is lots of room to the rear where hot air can escape.
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Old 01-31-2007, 12:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excella CM
One peculiarity with the WFCO is that they decided to use hex socket head setscrews for the terminals. This makes it awkward to use a standard hex-key because it is easy to hit the case while turning the key and short out the positive terminal (of course one could always disconnect the battery(s)). A nice tool to have is the 5/32" hex "T" handle with a piece of shrink tubing over the key(for insulation) except for the end where it fits the set screw. A proper "t" handle makes it much easier to tighten the connections properly.
That's a good point. The terminal setscrews used to be a slotted screw and for some reason they changed to the hex screw. I noticed other brands have too and it really makes no sense other than there are published torque specs for the screw. I'll ask them to go back to the slotted so a flat head screwdriver is all you need.
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