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Old 06-23-2017, 06:57 AM   #1
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Converter & Battery

Hi,

We've had our 2016 FC23D for a few weeks, and I feel like we've learned a lot already.

I've motivated myself to learn a little more about battery maintenance, and that's when I came across something about converter.

I read that Airstream's stock converter will keep charging the battery, so it's not a good idea to be plugged in (110V at home) all the time. It says that a smarter converter will adjust the voltage while charging, which prolongs the battery life.

But then I came across this in the user manual:

"When the switch is turned to USE (on) and the trailer is plugged into a 110-volt shoreline, the 12-volt distribution panel will receive power from the converter and the batteries will be charged through the converter
charging system.

When the switch is turned to STORE (off) and the trailer is plugged into a 110-volt shoreline, the 12-volt distribution panel will still receive power from the converter, but the batteries are disconnected from the system. The batteries will not be drained with the switch in the store position. The converter will not charge the batteries with the switch in this position."If this is true, I don't think I would need a smart converter as long as I'm conscious about the store switch position.

Am I right?

Thanks in advance,

Atsushi
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:05 AM   #2
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OK, the converter converts 120 vAC to 12 vdc for trailer systems. The charger, in the same box, charges the battery. People on this forum have many different experiences and some insist that just going to the STORE position is good enough, since the battery will not charge in that position. However, the stock charger is not multi-stage and will cook your batteries if left charging them, USE position, for long periods. Many of us simply installed a better converter/charger from www.bestconverters.com. Some just live with the original arrangement.

Larry
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by lsbrodsky View Post
OK, the converter converts 120 vAC to 12 vdc for trailer systems. The charger, in the same box, charges the battery. People on this forum have many different experiences and some insist that just going to the STORE position is good enough, since the battery will not charge in that position. However, the stock charger is not multi-stage and will cook your batteries if left charging them, USE position, for long periods. Many of us simply installed a better converter/charger from www.bestconverters.com. Some just live with the original arrangement.

Larry
Thanks, Larry for your comment. Ours is on our driveway, and we'll keep it there during off season too. So as long as I make sure to keep it at STORE position normally, and be mindful of the battery charge level when I want to charge it (to put it USE position), I think I'll be okay.

It's the first set of batteries for us, so I may change my mind depending on how long this one is going to last.

By the way, does anyone do equalizing as part of battery maintenance?
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:55 AM   #4
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Well, I do not know who does, but it is the correct thing to do for wet cell batteries, per the manufacturers. Your stock charger will not do equalizing, as far as I know, but do some study on that.
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Old 06-23-2017, 08:22 AM   #5
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Equalizing appears to be pretty involved (for a novice like me). So unless there is an easy way, like a smart trickle charger that can do this automatically, I think I'm going to worry about this later.

How long is a well maintained wet deep cycle battery supposed to last anyway, I wonder. 2~3 years?

Would equalizing dramatically extend the life? like 2~3 years --> 10 years? Or is it like additional 1 year of life extension?

Wouldn't it be easier to buy new batteries every 3 years or so?
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Old 06-23-2017, 08:39 AM   #6
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Slight hijack - I have a 2012 Eddie Bauer with 30 amp service, and the factory solar/factory converter. There are two places where a 30 amp cord can be plugged in: the isual one at the back of the road side panel and the second one is on the front panel just over the battery box. I think I vaguely remember being told that the front plug was for a generator.
Well I was recently camping where the power post was located on the wrong side and too far forward to connect the normal way... so I looked at the front plug... thought Hmmmm. And plugged in there then immediately went inside to look around. Everything worked, but the converter was making a LOT more noise than usual. That made me uneasy, so I moved the trailer enough to use the regular outlet. Doesn't seen to have hurt anything, but...
K
Just wondering what IS the real purpose of that plug and when/where to use it?

Paula
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atsushi View Post
Equalizing appears to be pretty involved (for a novice like me). So unless there is an easy way, like a smart trickle charger that can do this automatically, I think I'm going to worry about this later.

How long is a well maintained wet deep cycle battery supposed to last anyway, I wonder. 2~3 years?

Would equalizing dramatically extend the life? like 2~3 years --> 10 years? Or is it like additional 1 year of life extension?

Wouldn't it be easier to buy new batteries every 3 years or so?
Equalizing is often referred to in smart-chargers as desulfation. It's not an exotic thing, though I think some higher-end charging systems may do a better job of recovering batteries that already have some sulfation, most decent ones do an adequate job of preventing it in the first place.

I use a small, water-resistant smart charger at my storage facility where I have 120v power... it maintains the batteries and compensates for the loads you can't shed without disconnecting the battery cables (the propane detector and inverter standby, mostly.)

The Keyline 1.25A maintainer was under $40 on Amazon. Since it uses the standard SAE 12V DC connectors, I'm able to plug it directly into my Zamp charging port (because Airstream hooked that port up in the SAE-standard way on my trailer... if it were hooked up to the Zamp standard I'd need a reverse-polarity adapter.)
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Slight hijack - I have a 2012 Eddie Bauer with 30 amp service, and the factory solar/factory converter. There are two places where a 30 amp cord can be plugged in: the isual one at the back of the road side panel and the second one is on the front panel just over the battery box. I think I vaguely remember being told that the front plug was for a generator.
Well I was recently camping where the power post was located on the wrong side and too far forward to connect the normal way... so I looked at the front plug... thought Hmmmm. And plugged in there then immediately went inside to look around. Everything worked, but the converter was making a LOT more noise than usual. That made me uneasy, so I moved the trailer enough to use the regular outlet. Doesn't seen to have hurt anything, but...
K
Just wondering what IS the real purpose of that plug and when/where to use it?

Paula
That front plug is for convenience in case you have a generator in the cargo area of your tow vehicle. I can't think why it would cause the converter to make any extra noise... if the transfer switch worked properly and you were getting power from the front, you'd just be getting the 30A you'd get from the main inlet. What kind of noise did your converter make? Fan noise, or something else? Maybe it was actually the transfer switch making the noise... some sort of relay buzz or clicking or...?
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:28 AM   #9
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The transfer switch provided by AS is WFCo, Chinese quality, and has a bad reputation on this forum, numerous failures. I replaced mine with a PD unit, robust and reliable, but not a trivial installation. Again, AS had a good concept, but executed it poorly.
As for equalizing charges, a properly maintained wet cell battery can last a long, long time. This means not depleting it too far, charging it correctly, including periodic equalizing. That means a good charger and a good battery monitor, with frequent checking of cell specific gravities. Without that, batteries are only good for a few years at max capacity. One bad event can kill them in less time. It really is going to depend on how you take care of them. The inexpensive route is to take care of them and replace when required with similar wet cells.
The less trouble approach is gel or AGM. Regardless, if you do not discharge your batteries, doing mostly hookup camping, they should last a long time with the right charger.
Larry
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:18 PM   #10
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It's a power inlet same as in back.. Put there for those with generators, but provides the same power hook up capability. It would have no affect on converter in theory. Power goes through a power transfer switch to ensure there is nothing hot at other inlet.
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:29 PM   #11
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Thanks... ok where would I find the power transfer switch? Picture anyone? When I tried to use the front plug-in the converter hummed very loudly.. almost vibrating the bed it's installed under. I've heard large pole transformers male similar noise when they are going bad. Maybe the sound was coming from the transfer switch? Is it in the same area as the comverter?

Paula
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:49 PM   #12
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Hi

By far the most important thing for your batteries is to *not* run them flat. That's what damages them. That's what makes them die an early death. They don't conveniently catch fire immediately. The damage only manifests after they are recharged (possibly after multiple recharges).

None of the setups you see will disconnect a battery before it goes flat. You need to watch the voltage and stop using it when it gets to 12.0 V. That's measured at the battery terminals with a multimeter. That's also at 70F. The voltage is lower when things are hot and higher when things are cold. The various gizmos in the trailer may not be accurate to anything better than a volt. The effects of temperature can be nearly a volt. All of this means there is a bit of learning involved.

Bob
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:09 PM   #13
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The transfer switch is on the back of the converter.
Larry
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:56 PM   #14
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Here's a photo of the circuit breaker panel and DC fuse panel. The converter is below that. The transfer switch is behind the CB panel and outputs AC to the CB panel main breaker. I. Don't have a photo of transfer switch.
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Old 06-23-2017, 02:01 PM   #15
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Sry, here it is
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Old 06-23-2017, 02:09 PM   #16
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Old 09-03-2017, 10:18 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atsushi View Post
Equalizing appears to be pretty involved (for a novice like me). So unless there is an easy way, like a smart trickle charger that can do this automatically, I think I'm going to worry about this later.
The PD4655 multistage controller recommended by bestconverter.com has a built in desulfurization stage. Highly recommended.
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