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Old 05-15-2016, 09:16 AM   #1
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1964 24' Tradewind
Lawrence , Kansas
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I Must Be Doing Something Dumb

I have a 64 Tradewind. 2 year old converter with a trickle charger on the battery when on shore power. I have had 2 batteries go bad in two years. The first battery worked fine for the first season. I took it out for the winter but did not keep a trickle charger on it. It of course was bad by the spring. I thought, well dummy, keep a trickle charger on it. I bought a new battery to use for the 2nd season, used a trickle charger during the winter and it was good to go this year. At the start of this season it worked fine but the 2nd battery failed after the 3rd time out this year. Both batteries had to be recharged during the season, so I added a battery monitor during the winter. The 3rd time out this season the battery dropped to 25% (while on shore power) so I recharged it. On three trips this year, during power surges (like the furnace fan) it might drop to 50%, but it jumped back to 75% except for the one time it dropped to 25% and I recharged it. I checked it when I got home from the 3rd trip and it was fully charged. I went out yesterday to work or the trailer and the propane detector was sounding because of low battery. I put the charger on it and sure enough it was bad. So was I:

a. Dumb the first time and unlucky the second?
b. Doing something wrong?
c. Or something strange going on?
d. Or should I sell the trailer and buy a tent?
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Old 05-15-2016, 10:18 AM   #2
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What brand and model of converter are you using?
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Old 05-15-2016, 10:22 AM   #3
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What brand and model of converter are you using?
and what kind of battery monitor?

If it is measuring current in and out of the battery you are not putting as much in as you are taking out. If it is measuring the voltage, there is no way it should show anything but full when on shore power. Either way I'm betting on your converter being bad.

Al
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:56 AM   #4
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1964 24' Tradewind
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Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
and what kind of battery monitor?

If it is measuring current in and out of the battery you are not putting as much in as you are taking out. If it is measuring the voltage, there is no way it should show anything but full when on shore power. Either way I'm betting on your converter being bad.

Al
The converter is a WFCO ULTRA III Deckmount WF-9800 (can not see a model #). Trickle charger is a SureCare with boil out protection. The Monitoring Panel is KIB and it measures voltage seen in the battery. It supplies the following readings:

C - CHARGE 12.7 volts.
G - GOOD 11.9 volts.
F - FAIR 11.2 volts.
L - LOW 6.0 volts.

So this last time out the battery read 11.9 volts most of the time Sometimes dropping to Fair for short periods. I recharged it at one point during 7 day trip because I thought it should be fully charged while the converter was on. The trickle charger was attached the whole time except when I charged it.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:20 AM   #5
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WFCO is, shall we say, not a premium product.

I discarded mine because once it went into "float" the lights were visibly changing brightness every 30 seconds or so. I've had a Powermax Boondocker for 4 years that's served me well, and everyone who owns one seems to like Progressive Dynamics. Iota seems to be either a much smaller installed base, or the sort of things people buy and forget because it just keeps working for them. An unscientific "feel" for the number of posts I read suggests many times more PD than Iota converters among AIRForums members, but I can't remember reading anything negative about Iota units.

Your monitoring panel is just an oversimplified voltage meter. A real voltage indicator will tell you more, so you can see the charge voltage when the converter is running, etc. A real charge monitor goes one step further and measures the amp-hours in and out of the battery. For now I'm just using a voltage meter, but the project trailer is getting a Trimetric.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:38 AM   #6
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The brand of battery can make a huge difference as well. I have a pretty good 3-bank Pro Charger in my bass boat. I had a Delco Voyager as the starting battery for years. It finally went and I put a Wal-Mart special in it's place. It lasted one season, was stone dead in the spring. The boat is garage kept and the Pro Charger monitors each of the 3 batteries individually. I swapped out the Wal-Mart special for a Deka and it's on it's third year now, no problems. Now I keep the charger on a timer, even though the Pro Charger cuts off after the batter is at full charge. I'm a belt and suspenders guy.

I swapped out the OEM converter in my AS last year for a Progressive Dynamics. I looked at IOTA too, never heard anything but good things about the brand, but more people had said the PD was a perfect fit in their AS. I think that installation was the major consideration, can't really remember why I went with PD over IOTA. Price may have been another reason.

The OEM Parallax didn't seem to be charging very well, although I had 12 VDC when on shore power and in Store. I had just dropped a bundle on new Lifelines and didn't want to ruin them. I think the PD took me 30 minutes to install, including removing the old unit. I use the solar cell monitor to check on the battery voltages and I can tell when the PD is charging or not. For the price, I'm very pleased with the performance.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:42 AM   #7
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Another issue with your "meter" is that it will report your battery as being charged LONG before it's fully charged. If you're doing any boondocking then recharging with a generator and relying on that meter to show you when the battery is fully charged, you're probably never getting a full charge.
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Old 05-16-2016, 03:42 PM   #8
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Another issue with your "meter" is that it will report your battery as being charged LONG before it's fully charged. If you're doing any boondocking then recharging with a generator and relying on that meter to show you when the battery is fully charged, you're probably never getting a full charge.
I've run into exactly that. I charge the batteries with my gennie until it shows 12.7, only to be less an hour or 2 later. What's the solution to that?
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:30 PM   #9
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sounds to me like your tow vehicle is charging it and NOT the converter?
have you tested the voltage when plugged in?
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:38 PM   #10
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1964 24' Tradewind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
Another issue with your "meter" is that it will report your battery as being charged LONG before it's fully charged. If you're doing any boondocking then recharging with a generator and relying on that meter to show you when the battery is fully charged, you're probably never getting a full charge.
If I charge the battery with my charger I rely on the charger reading. I just use the battery monitor to give me an idea of the status of my battery while camping. I do not use a generator. In the case talked about from above I was on shore power and monitor was showing less than a full charge. I came home and the battery failed completely.
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:57 PM   #11
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1964 24' Tradewind
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So really there are two things going on that I do not understand. One is that it appears that I am having some battery drain while on shore power which I am not sure I should. The 2nd (which may be related to the first) is why I have had 2 batteries fail in 2 years.
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Old 05-16-2016, 05:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttbikes View Post
So really there are two things going on that I do not understand. One is that it appears that I am having some battery drain while on shore power which I am not sure I should. The 2nd (which may be related to the first) is why I have had 2 batteries fail in 2 years.
So here's a quote from "Battery university"
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/a...d_acid_battery


"Lead acid batteries should be charged in three stages, which are [1] constant-current charge, [2] topping charge and [3] float charge. The constant-current charge applies the bulk of the charge and takes up roughly half of the required charge time; the topping charge continues at a lower charge current and provides saturation, and the float charge compensates for the loss caused by self-discharge.

During the constant-current charge, the battery charges to about 70 percent in 58 hours; the remaining 30 percent is filled with the slower topping charge that lasts another 710 hours. The topping charge is essential for the well-being of the battery and can be compared to a little rest after a good meal. If continually deprived, the battery will eventually lose the ability to accept a full charge and the performance will decrease due to sulfation. The float charge in the third stage maintains the battery at full charge."

The constant current stage terminates when the battery voltage reaches around 2.3 volts per cell, or about 13.8 volts. The voltage is then held at that level and the current is monitored until the charge current declines to a relatively low level, 100-200 mA. At that point the voltage is lowered to float level around 13.2 - 13.5 volts.

Note that all of these voltages are lower than your 12.7 volts that is supposed to indicate charge. You are just barely float charging your batteries and if they are old (or damaged) with high leakage current you may not be charging them at all. Your tow vehicle, however is probably charging them at better rates, but generally can't deliver enough current to effect a timely charge. Some on here have reported about 7 amps which would take 13 hours or so to charge one Group 27 battery.

See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead%E2%80%93acid_battery

and

http://www.progressivedyn.com/battery_basics.html

I think you need a new converter and probably new batteries.

Al


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Old 05-17-2016, 07:47 AM   #13
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1964 24' Tradewind
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Thanks everyone. I have thought that a inadequate converter might be at the root of my problems but lack electrical knowledge.

I some other questions. The guy that installed my converter added a trickle charger. When should that be used? Shouldn't a converter do the same thing?
What converter would you recommend for my 30 amp 64 Tradewind? And since the trailer was changed to a modern converter is the installation of a new one a matter of matching up the plugins?
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