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Old 10-25-2015, 11:17 AM   #1
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Battery Charger vs Converter

Newbie question here:

What's the difference between a converter, and a battery charger like this one:

30 Amp 12 Volt Battery Charger *UL Listed* | SEC-1230UL

Can converters usually run your 12 volt system while charging your batteries, but battery chargers can't (although the samlex above appears to be able to do both)?

I get the differences between an inverter and a converter, but the differences between battery charger and converter seem a little more confusing.

Thanks,

DD
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Old 10-25-2015, 03:50 PM   #2
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This statement in the product description.....
"Charge with a battery load or stand alone."

Sez to me that its a 'converter' and will supply 12v with no battery in the loop, something I wouldn't try with a 'battery charger".

Bob
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Old 10-25-2015, 04:33 PM   #3
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Battery Chargers are usually lower output as they have limitations using 120v supply. I have a charger for storage that is 6 amps. It takes up to 30 hours or so to charge up my batteries but that is ok since it is a smart charger and its purpose is to keep the batteries up (I went to solar last spring for this purpose) while the larger charger/converter unit in the trailer charges at a much higher rate. Mine claims to charge the batteries from 50% in 3 hours I believe. Compare that to the 120V model. The conversion part is that it uses power to provide AC and DC power to trailer systems as there are both. My converter is 55 amps. In auto stores, for example, chargers recommended are 1.1 amp to 6 amp for a single battery and will do more if time is not an issue. The intent is small lightweight, etc.

I can use my DC powered accessories while on a battery charger. It will simply charge at whatever rate it charges and my usage will draw whatever. I will not have AC accessory power unless using an inverter.
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Old 10-27-2015, 07:56 AM   #4
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Thanks guys. I think what was throwing me off was that the Samlex in the link was listed as a 'battery charger' but I think it's really more of a converter.
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Old 10-27-2015, 10:30 AM   #5
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The Samlux SEC-1230UL output is only 30 amps according to their specifications - by comparison, the maximum charge output of the Xantrex Freedom 3012 installed in my AS is 150 amps.
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Old 10-27-2015, 10:45 AM   #6
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Looks like they make higher capacity versions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by blkmagikca View Post
The Samlux SEC-1230UL output is only 30 amps according to their specifications - by comparison, the maximum charge output of the Xantrex Freedom 3012 installed in my AS is 150 amps.
50 Amp 12 Volt Battery Charger *UL Listed* | SEC -1250UL
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Old 10-27-2015, 07:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DDOK View Post
Newbie question here:

What's the difference between a converter, and a battery charger like this one:

30 Amp 12 Volt Battery Charger *UL Listed* | SEC-1230UL

Can converters usually run your 12 volt system while charging your batteries, but battery chargers can't (although the samlex above appears to be able to do both)?

I get the differences between an inverter and a converter, but the differences between battery charger and converter seem a little more confusing.

Thanks,

DD
A battery charger puts out a small amount of current, that also does not have a brain, meaning a charger does not know when to back off the charging rate. End result is if you don't disconnect it when the battery is fully charged, it will ruin the battery.

A converter on the other hand, has a brain, and knows when to back off the charging rate, meaning if you leave it on continuously, it will not hurt the battery. RV's never use a battery charger, but they do use a converter.

By definition, a converter changes the city power, which is 120 volts AC, down to a DC voltage that slightly varies around 12 to 14 volts, depending on the battery condition. An inverter, does exactly the opposite of a converter, in that it takes the battery voltage which is pure DC electronically chops it into 60 cycles and with a transformer, step the voltage up to city power, which is 120 volts AC.

The problem with converters, assuming 100 percent efficiency, is the amount of DC current it requires. As an example, if you wanted to have as little as 10 amperes output from a converter, it would require an input current of at least 100 (one hundred) amps, again assuming 100 percent efficiency, but in reality it's closer to 75 percent, therefore the input current draw for those 10 amps @ 120 volts AC would increase to 133.34 amps @ 12 volts DC. That means one fully charged 12 volt battery would last maybe 15 minutes, or so. But that could easily be rectified if you had about 20 or more big batteries in the trailer. NOT

A inverter in an RV, has it's purpose, but only for very small current requirements, and for a very short time.

Household items such as a hair drier, coffee pots, toasters, deep fat fryers, and the like, are all left at home, if your going to operate self contained. If the coach will be pluged into city power, then and only then can you use those heavy wattage demand items.

A 50 amp converter is about the best size converter to use. Anything with a higher current output basically, is a waste of money. Since your camping, "what's the hurry" ?

Andy
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Old 10-27-2015, 08:00 PM   #8
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Hah! BlkMagika - You could run an arc welder off that thing :-) Also, it's $1500 which is a little steep for me.

Seriously though - Point well taken on the Amps. I think I'd probably want to bump it up to at least the 50 amp that BambiTex listed so that I can run my air conditioner and a microwave and maybe a few lights....

--DD
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Old 10-28-2015, 07:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post

The problem with converters, assuming 100 percent efficiency, is the amount of DC current it requires. As an example, if you wanted to have as little as 10 amperes output from a converter, it would require an input current of at least 100 (one hundred) amps, again assuming 100 percent efficiency, but in reality it's closer to 75 percent, therefore the input current draw for those 10 amps @ 120 volts AC would increase to 133.34 amps @ 12 volts DC. That means one fully charged 12 volt battery would last maybe 15 minutes, or so. But that could easily be rectified if you had about 20 or more big batteries in the trailer. [B]NOT[/B

Andy
You are describing an inverter, not a converter.

Dan
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DDOK View Post
Hah! BlkMagika - You could run an arc welder off that thing :-) Also, it's $1500 which is a little steep for me.

Seriously though - Point well taken on the Amps. I think I'd probably want to bump it up to at least the 50 amp that BambiTex listed so that I can run my air conditioner and a microwave and maybe a few lights....

--DD
Actually, no. It's a safety margin you hope never to exceed.

My setup is ine to necessary as I run a CPAP machine for my obstructive sleep apnea - that machine has a heater in it for the humidifyer. I had JC complete my install when I changed my batteries. In the photo you can see the two size 4D AGM batteries (totalling 420 Amp-Hrs) with the Xantrex FS3012 in between.

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Old 10-28-2015, 10:43 AM   #11
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This photo was taken at JC when the work was in progress. The original battery compartments and doors were removed; two stainless steel battery trays for the 4D-size batteries were bolted through the floor into the frame. The outer skin (the "plate") - the panel that runs across the front under the window, was replaced - no cut-outs for any battery doors - and a frame segment was added. The inner skin was patched with insulation between the inner and outer skins. The quality of workmanship is superb at JC.
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Old 10-28-2015, 01:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
Battery Chargers are usually lower output as they have limitations using 120v supply.
On board battery chargers for bass boats are fairly powerful. I have a 3-bank Pro Charger for my 2-trolling motor and ignition batteries. Each bank is independent of the others and does 15 amps with a total shutoff when they are charged.

I got mine back in the 90s, paid about $250 for it, still going strong. They are called Tri (Dual) Pro now and are $350 on Amazon today, down from $450

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