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Old 11-12-2013, 09:05 PM   #1
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Quick question for electrical wizards

I bought my first Argosy (1973) last year, and spent the better part of last summer and fall renovating it, painting it and repairing all except the axles. Now I am planning to upgrade to solar for battery maintenance and boon-docking capability, as well as replacing the original Univolt with either a WFCO, intellicharger or other convertor in the 55 amp range.

The question I have is can I hook up the positive wire from the convertor to a positive lug that I use in the solar configuration, or does it have to go directly to the positive battery cable for some reason? I also installed a shunt so I can get accurate readings from the separate meter, in the negative (common) side just before the battery. Can I also use the other terminal of that shunt or a bussbar to terminate negative conductors from the convertor or does that have to terminate directly to the battery?

I'm trying not to have more than one cable going to each battery terminal.

I would appreciate your feedback and hope to be able to stay more current as a member and share pics etc of the solar installation as I get closer to completion.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:14 PM   #2
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Mine connects through the fusebox.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:18 PM   #3
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Nothing should be between the shunt and the battery. It only works if all the current goes through it.

There is no difference electrically if something is connected to the battery or to a wire that is connected to the battery.

You should have a fuse or circuit breaker in the positive line at the positive battery terminal or very close (inches) to it.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:37 PM   #4
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The converter cables would then be hooked up (common) to the non-battery side of the shunt (so as not to interfere with the meter readings) and the positive would be hooked up to the lug I have installed on my board to hook the positive cables from the battery output on the charge controller to.

Would that also be the case if I decided to hard wire in an inverter? I have a small one I picked up but it's only good for about 140 watts, and I may need something a bit more robust.

Thanks for the info folks.
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Old 11-13-2013, 10:14 AM   #5
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Would that also be the case if I decided to hard wire in an inverter? I have a small one I picked up but it's only good for about 140 watts, and I may need something a bit more robust..
Yes, neg input to non-battery side of shunt, positive to positive lug of battery.

140 watts isn't much, maybe enough for charging a laptop, cell phone, etc. Even 140 w though is 12 amps at 12 volts, quite a bit of current. Be sure to use heavy enough wire for the current.
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Old 11-13-2013, 10:20 AM   #6
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I realize that this is off the topic of your original question, but I recommend that you do *NOT* buy a WFCO converter-charger. Everyone seems pleased over the long term with Iota and Intelli-Power 3-stage converter-chargers. Thus far in about a year of service I have had no complaints about my Powermax 3-stage unit, but the WFCO that it replaced annoyed me with periodic variations in its voltage that were easily visible in the brightness of the lights in the trailer.
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Old 11-13-2013, 08:22 PM   #7
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Yeah, I have heard good and bad about several brands, and I can get a good deal on an Intellicharger from Best Converter. Have you had any dealings with Randy there? I hear he is a good person to have in your corner.
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Old 11-13-2013, 10:23 PM   #8
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Yeah, I have heard good and bad about several brands, and I can get a good deal on an Intellicharger from Best Converter. Have you had any dealings with Randy there? I hear he is a good person to have in your corner.
I have bought 2 converters from Randy (for 2 different trailers) and a couple of other items. I have only good impressions from the transactions and pre- and post-sale communications from him.
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Old 11-13-2013, 11:16 PM   #9
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Quick question for electrical wizards

Greetings SkooterPop!

Something else that you might want to consider since you are going with a solar installation in your coach is an Inverter/Charger charger. While an Inverter/Charger will initially be somewhat more expensive than a converter/charger the added versatility when boondocking and relying on solar can be a nice feature to have. Part of the solar installation on my Overlander included replacing its converter/charger with an Inverter/Charter, and I have no regrets about the decision . . . after nearly a decade of use it has proven to be a very useful and reliable system.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:31 AM   #10
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Greetings SkooterPop!

Something else that you might want to consider since you are going with a solar installation in your coach is an Inverter/Charger charger. While an Inverter/Charger will initially be somewhat more expensive than a converter/charger the added versatility when boondocking and relying on solar can be a nice feature to have. Part of the solar installation on my Overlander included replacing its converter/charger with an Inverter/Charter, and I have no regrets about the decision . . . after nearly a decade of use it has proven to be a very useful and reliable system.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
I was going to chime in on tis topic, but hesitated for fear of being accused of being too commercial…..but the dam has burst!

If you want the best (and I say this unequivocally) method of charging your batteries, replace your converter/charger with an inverter/charger. Just a few of the benefits:

• Full temperature compensation to properly control the charge voltage in a wide range of ambient temperatures
• Fully adjustable absorption times that are sized to the capacity of your battery bank
• Adjustable charge profiles that match the exact needs of your battery bank
• Full battery monitoring capabilities with the addition of a 500 mV shunt

Plus, you get the extra added feature of being able to produce 120VAC power from your batteries when off-grid.

An inverter/charger is light years ahead of any converter. It is an especially good fit with solar for off-grid use.
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:56 AM   #11
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OK, I'm definitely going to look into inverter/chargers as a combination component and enhancement to my solar install. I appreciate all the feedback. I always ask about down-sides when considering alternative paths...so, are there any downsides or limitations to the inverter/charger combination units, other than an apparently higher cost?

Thanks again for your input!
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:06 AM   #12
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What would really be sweet is to find a way to intelligently switch an inverter/charger combination to the existing outlets in the coach when not plugged into shore power, rather than having to find a place to locate the inverter so as to reach all the appliances. I believe I read about a component that could be added that would recognize I am off grid and then (and only then) energize the inverter. If I remember it was used to control the inputs of wind and gas powered generation units, when used in combination with solar.

I'll have to look into that too.
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:08 AM   #13
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OK, I'm definitely going to look into inverter/chargers as a combination component and enhancement to my solar install. I appreciate all the feedback. I always ask about down-sides when considering alternative paths...so, are there any downsides or limitations to the inverter/charger combination units, other than an apparently higher cost?

Thanks again for your input!
Only down side, aside from cost..........is the need to have it properly installed by someone who is intimately familiar with the interactions between your trailer's AC and DC systems.

I recently finished installing a 900 watt solar charging system on a new Mobile Suites 5th wheel that had a factory installed Magnum MS-2812 inverter charger and I had to re-wire said inverter to NEC and Magnum specifications.....something that the factory had NO CLUE about doing properly.

Choose your installer very carefully!!!!
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Old 11-14-2013, 11:00 AM   #14
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Since I have done everything else on this restoration myself, I guess that would be me. I would like to have someone with your experience level look over my proposed wiring and make sure it is sound before I hook everything up on my solar installation. I have a diagram that I roughed out if you would be willing to take a look.

I'd rather pay you as a consultant and learn to do the work myself, than to just pay someone to install everything. I've always been that way. I figure if I get in trouble down the road, and there's nobody around to help me, I can figure it out myself and get back in business faster.

Let me know if you'd be interested in looking over my diagram as a start.
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