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Old 10-28-2019, 06:08 PM   #1
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1974 31' Excella 500
COLUMBUS , Ohio
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Hmmm Fishy "Converter went Bad" Story at shop

Hello! I am going to try to give as many details as possible with this issue because I think its a bogus diagnosis.


I took 1974 Excella 500 Land Yacht to shop to get multiplt things checked out. Most checked out ok or were able to be fixed.



One thing I wanted them to look at was the power usage. All things worked great when plugged into a power source, but battery would not hold a charge. Also, when plugged into power my electric bill for 15 days usage was 70 bucks (thats crazy high I think). Also, I accidentally left umbilical cord plugged in overnight when I visited my dad. no one was in trailer all night and no power was being used. My truck battery was sucked dry by the morning and i had to get a new battery in my truck. (lesson learned). I was surprised though because I thought that with no power usage it wouldnt suck enough energy to even drain the house battery.



I told shop all of this and wanted them to check everything electrical out. They came back and said that my converter (I do not have an inverter) was fine at 13.3. I had them check it again and they said it was fine at 13.6. They did say that the battery was bad and I needed a new one.



They put the new battery in and powered it up to do some other work on it when they noticed a "smell" coming from the battery house. This was 3 weeks after they had installed the battery and it was not the first time they had powered up w the new battery. sidebar: My trailer has been there 6 weeks.



A Tech walking by noticed the smell and they tested the converter and it read 14.7. They have since tested the converter on several diff days and each reading is between 14.5 and 14.7. They say its boiling the battery.


I dont understand how this could have just happened in the shop. What do you all think? Am I getting scammed (replacement converter is over $1200). Thx!
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Old 10-28-2019, 06:21 PM   #2
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Pineahead,


Since you probably have the original univolt, also know as a boat anchor or battery killer. It probably did kill your battery, the univolt is not smart but rather uses brute force charging and does not have enough sense to stop charging. This is one of the reasons that owners of univolt converter trailers either do not leave the trailer plugged in constantly or upgrade to a smart unit. $1,200 sounds high, unless they are also doing some re wiring.


Bill


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Originally Posted by pineahead View Post
Hello! I am going to try to give as many details as possible with this issue because I think its a bogus diagnosis.


I took 1974 Excella 500 Land Yacht to shop to get multiplt things checked out. Most checked out ok or were able to be fixed.



One thing I wanted them to look at was the power usage. All things worked great when plugged into a power source, but battery would not hold a charge. Also, when plugged into power my electric bill for 15 days usage was 70 bucks (thats crazy high I think). Also, I accidentally left umbilical cord plugged in overnight when I visited my dad. no one was in trailer all night and no power was being used. My truck battery was sucked dry by the morning and i had to get a new battery in my truck. (lesson learned). I was surprised though because I thought that with no power usage it wouldnt suck enough energy to even drain the house battery.



I told shop all of this and wanted them to check everything electrical out. They came back and said that my converter (I do not have an inverter) was fine at 13.3. I had them check it again and they said it was fine at 13.6. They did say that the battery was bad and I needed a new one.



They put the new battery in and powered it up to do some other work on it when they noticed a "smell" coming from the battery house. This was 3 weeks after they had installed the battery and it was not the first time they had powered up w the new battery. sidebar: My trailer has been there 6 weeks.



A Tech walking by noticed the smell and they tested the converter and it read 14.7. They have since tested the converter on several diff days and each reading is between 14.5 and 14.7. They say its boiling the battery.


I dont understand how this could have just happened in the shop. What do you all think? Am I getting scammed (replacement converter is over $1200). Thx!
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Old 10-28-2019, 06:34 PM   #3
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1974 31' Excella 500
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Thanks Bill! Is it reasonable that the whole unit all of a sudden goes bad? The new converter is 900 plus labor at 135/hr for 2 hours.
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Old 10-28-2019, 06:52 PM   #4
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Ridiculous price. Check with Randy at BestConverters.Com for what you need. Two hours to install isn’t ridiculous (for example, on mine you have to remove the couch).
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:17 PM   #5
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I've installed converters in my trailer. 2 hours labor is about right.
I purchased at Best Converter, ordered online and they delivered in a few days.
Talk to Randy or one of the other knowledgeable people who work there. They know Airstreams, and which will be the best for your trailer.
http://www.bestconverter.com/
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:25 PM   #6
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I don't believe that the unit is bad, it is probably doing the job it was designed for, mainly overcharging the battery.


Bill


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Originally Posted by pineahead View Post
Thanks Bill! Is it reasonable that the whole unit all of a sudden goes bad? The new converter is 900 plus labor at 135/hr for 2 hours.
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:33 PM   #7
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I have installed several Progressive Dynamics converters, PD9245's and they sell for about $200. Add 2 hours labour at most. Anything more than that you are being "ripped off"!! Last installation in a 1981 Excella took 3/4 hour.
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:52 PM   #8
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It is pretty likely that the converter didn't "just go bad" while in the shop--it was probably bad when it rolled off the assembly line. The shop probably just failed to correctly recognise a battery boiling converter. I would say they owe you a new battery.

The cost of a new converter that they quoted you is the real crime. Order one online for a couple hundred and have someone else install it, just out of spite.

As to your gross energy consumption while plugged in, you are going to have to do some analysis. A very useful thing to have is called a "Kill-a-watt," which is a device you can plug in series with your trailer (AC) umbilical, and it will report the amount of wattage that is being consumed. You can buy one on Amazon for ~$30. Plug the trailer into a 120V outlet with the Kill-a-watt, and make sure everything is turned off/disconnected. Then, over a period of a few days, start adding things to the circuit until you see a big jump in current draw. If you had your refrigerator running on AC, that could be the culprit right there, but a malfunctioning univolt could certainly be drinking watts while it boiled your battery.

The drain/destruction of your tow vehicle battery might have been related to the overcharging activity going on with the univolt, or it could be some other current thief (various smoke/CO/Propane detectors, etc.). Again, this is going to take some hunting with an ammeter. Also, who knows what kind of mods a previous owner may have installed--you could just have a high resistance leak toground that is not only draining your battery, but creating heat that could be the source of a fire one day.

Good luck!
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Old 10-28-2019, 10:47 PM   #9
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1974 31' Excella 500
COLUMBUS , Ohio
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Thanks! My trailer is in Jackson Center at the factory repair shop. Its been quite the fiasco. I will check out the converter place you mentioned.
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Old 10-29-2019, 09:38 AM   #10
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6 weeks!?!? Holy moley! I know that there are plenty of AS owners who wouldn't think of taking their trailer anywhere but Jackson Center, but honestly, I don't get it. In a case like this one, the power systems on your trailer are not AS specific, and I would think any competent RV repair shop could tackle the job. There may be plenty of previous owner installed mods, so your unit has dubious resemblence to the models being manufactured today.

Ask them what model of converter is currently installed in your trailer (and let us know). If it is the original Univolt, then I would have expected them to recommend a modern converter the day you pulled into the shop.
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Old 10-29-2019, 09:54 AM   #11
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$2000 to replace a converter? I will drive to your house and do it for that.... As others have said, a good PD converter is around $200 from anywhere. Depending on access you could conceivably do it yourself in 30-45 minutes. If the couch has to be pulled, longer and it’s a two person job.

If your converter was running full blast for those 15 days it might consume as much as 30-40 kwh. I don’t know your electriciy rates but $70 doesn’t seem reasonable.


Al
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Old 10-29-2019, 11:16 AM   #12
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Hi

Indeed *any* Univolt that still is out there should be replaced. They are way past their "use by" date.

$70 for electric for 15 days would be a bit over $4.50 a day. If you are paying $0.30 a KWH (a wild guess) that comes out to 15 KWH / day. If you pull between 5 and 6A off of a 120V circuit for 24 hours, that's what you get. There are a lot of ways a trailer can pull that kind of current. Obviously a lot depends on the details in the electric bill. ($25 hookup charge and $1 a KWH would result in very different numbers)

Bob
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Old 10-29-2019, 12:30 PM   #13
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I recommend a Progressive Dynamics converter as they are made in the USA. I have had one for 8 years with no problems. As others have said about $200 plus installation.

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Old 10-29-2019, 01:55 PM   #14
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2004 30' Classic
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Well let's see.

2 hours Shop Labor + "shop Supplies" (whatever they are) would be about $400
MSRP (which is what you pay at a shop) for a Converter just might be $500

Unfortunately just the cost of doing business. Similar to auto repairs.

I too replaced my with a PD for about $200
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Old 10-29-2019, 02:58 PM   #15
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1974 31' Excella 500
COLUMBUS , Ohio
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Thanks everyone! I spoke to airstream mgr today and they are going to find me a less expensive converter through a non OEM company. Airstream has really stepped up after what started out as a complete fiasco. My trailer will be in the shop 7 weeks tomorrow and the converter went bad only when hooked up to the new battery they installed. My trailer had been completely refurbed and Airstream said they did not know what kind of converter I had as they had never seen it before. It was not the original univolt. You guys saved me about 650 bucks! My converter is under the bathtub... yikes!
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Old 11-03-2019, 12:43 PM   #16
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Univolts make great wheel chocks. Glad you are getting this solved.
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