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Old 06-08-2013, 09:49 AM   #1
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Converter vs Inverter or both

Hello all,

I want to replace my univolt and have read about people installing converters and or inverters. What do I need to do to replace my univolt. Do I need a converter, inverter or would both be helpful.

We like boon docking so the more items to make that helpful the better. Any suggestions to improve our electrical system would greatly be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-08-2013, 09:55 AM   #2
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The Univolt is a converter. 115 volts AC in, 12 volts dc out (actually a little more). It lights the interior lights, runs the furnace fan, the water pump and powers circuit boards in some appliances. It also charges the battery.

If you are going to change it out, get a decent one. Try Best Converters (on the forum somewhere or Google).

Mike
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Old 06-08-2013, 11:08 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by rwessels View Post
Hello all,

I want to replace my univolt and have read about people installing converters and or inverters. What do I need to do to replace my univolt. Do I need a converter, inverter or would both be helpful.

We like boon docking so the more items to make that helpful the better. Any suggestions to improve our electrical system would greatly be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Converters (actually converter/chargers) do an OK job of producing DC voltage from their 120VAC input. They only work when 120VAC is present either in the form of shore power or generator power.

An inverter is connected to your batteries and takes the 12VDC battery voltage and 'inverts' it into 120VAC house voltage, allowing you to run residential appliances, charge laptops, watch TV, and so on.

An inverter/charger is a combination unit that will charge your batteries when 120VAC is present in the trailer from either shore power or generator, but will also produce 120VAC power to whatever outlets you wire it to from your batteries when off-grid.

The best thing about an inverter/charger is the selectivity and accuracy of the charging section. Quality inverter/charger units like Magnum Energy products have fully adjustable charging sections for type of battery, size of the battery bank and most importantly, have full temperature compensation that regulates the charging voltage levels dependent on the temperature of your battery bank.

This is a most important feature that only 1 converter currently on the market will compensate for. The rest of the bunch, while charging with 3 or 4 stage charging, never regulate the voltage according to the battery temperatures, which is MOST important.... especially in high ambient temperature situations.
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Old 06-08-2013, 12:58 PM   #4
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Battery temperature compensation is very important for lead acid batteries but from what I read is not needed nor recommended for charging lithium LiFePo4 batteries.
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Old 06-08-2013, 01:22 PM   #5
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Battery temperature compensation is very important for lead acid batteries but from what I read is not needed nor recommended for charging lithium LiFePo4 batteries.
But who could afford lithium-ion house batteries? Mastervolt makes some good ones, but at $6,000 each…

Safe bet that all of us will have lead acid batteries of some kind, whether wet cell or AGM.
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Old 06-08-2013, 03:25 PM   #6
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Smart Battery makes all sizes and a 100 amp version is much less than $6,000. Plus it provides 80 useful amps compared to 50 useful amps out of a 100 amp AGM. So 4 Lithiums can replace 6 AGMs.

Less weight, more useful amps, no need to fully charge, and more charge cycles are all pluses for the Lithium battery. The only downside is the current price. When prices come down I believe they will replace Lifeline AGMs as the premium battery type.
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Old 06-08-2013, 03:48 PM   #7
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Smart Battery makes all sizes and a 100 amp version is much less than $6,000. Plus it provides 80 useful amps compared to 50 useful amps out of a 100 amp AGM. So 4 Lithiums can replace 6 AGMs.

Less weight, more useful amps, no need to fully charge, and more charge cycles are all pluses for the Lithium battery. The only downside is the current price. When prices come down I believe they will replace Lifeline AGMs as the premium battery type.
I'll take your word for it. I'm only familiar with Mastervolt because a friend of mine bought a couple for his boat.
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Old 06-08-2013, 08:28 PM   #8
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FYI, see anecdotal info on "Smart (lithium) Battery" extracted from "The Hull Truth - Boating and Fishing Forum" site (03/13/12), cut and pasted below.

Note: Other comments on that site questioned whether "drop in replacement" was actually true. Also, one person stated that "...they (lithium batteries) fail in a very bad fashion, with thermo-nuclear heat and toxic fumes. (Not something I would want on my boat.)".

==========

12v 100 amp hour Lithium Ion battery - Marine / RV - Model: Group 31 LFP
12v 100ah DATA SHEET
12 volts
100 amp hours
120 minutes @ 50 amps
60 minutes @ 100 amps
Max continuous amp draw: 200 amps
Automatic built in battery protection - worry free use
Drop in replacement from Lead, Gel or AGM Battery
Connect in series (pos - Neg) to create higher voltage up to 72v

Group 31 Dimensions:
8.8" tall x 6.8" deep x 13" long
Weight: 28 lbs.
12 volts
100 amp hours

MSRP: $1,299.99

==========

Source: Lithium boat batteries - The Hull Truth - Boating and Fishing Forum
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Old 06-08-2013, 08:37 PM   #9
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AM Solar did an extensive test on Lithium-ion batteries last year ..............

The result..............................Not ready for prime time YET!!!

There are many issues with them, least of which is their thermo-explosive potential. Maybe in a few years!
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:14 AM   #10
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In my opinion AM Solar did a very poor job in evaluating Lithium batteries. Greg Holder did not even have an up to date Magnum remote and could not configure properly for Lithium when he did finally understand that some Lifeline AGM settings are not proper for Lithium.

The manufacturer (Lithionics) did not help the situation either.

LiFePo4 chemistry is not thermo-explosive. There are several Lithium chemistries and LiFePo4 is the safe one. Boeing uses the chemistry that has known problems but provides more energy.

I would like someone to point to a scientific paper that shows that a properly constructed LiFePo4 battery with a built-in BMS is inherently unsafe.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:15 AM   #11
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As I recall, this thread was about the OP's confusion relating to converters and inverters. It seems to have been hijacked into a Lithium-Ion battery thread.

While I'm certain that some on these Forums would benefit from an in-depth discussion about this new topic, a separate thread should be started by those wishing to engage, and leave this thread to answer the questions of the OP.
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:32 AM   #12
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I think somebody lost track of the thread and the original posters questions were not answered. Those in the know please respond about inverters/converters as I am interested also.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Converters (actually converter/chargers) do an OK job of producing DC voltage from their 120VAC input. They only work when 120VAC is present either in the form of shore power or generator power.

An inverter is connected to your batteries and takes the 12VDC battery voltage and 'inverts' it into 120VAC house voltage, allowing you to run residential appliances, charge laptops, watch TV, and so on.

An inverter/charger is a combination unit that will charge your batteries when 120VAC is present in the trailer from either shore power or generator, but will also produce 120VAC power to whatever outlets you wire it to from your batteries when off-grid.

The best thing about an inverter/charger is the selectivity and accuracy of the charging section. Quality inverter/charger units like Magnum Energy products have fully adjustable charging sections for type of battery, size of the battery bank and most importantly, have full temperature compensation that regulates the charging voltage levels dependent on the temperature of your battery bank.

This is a most important feature that only 1 converter currently on the market will compensate for. The rest of the bunch, while charging with 3 or 4 stage charging, never regulate the voltage according to the battery temperatures, which is MOST important.... especially in high ambient temperature situations.
If you read the thread, you would have seen this answer to the original post. It clearly delineates the differences between converter, inverter and inverter/charger.

Any other questions?
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