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Old 08-03-2021, 05:30 AM   #1
D44
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Need suggestions for troubleshooting battery charging from shore power

On our last trip i noticed that the batteries (AGM) were not charging from shore power. We were on full hookups but the batteries were showing levels approx. 12.4 each morning. We have a PD4655 converter/charger.

We also have 4x115w solar on the roof that keeps the batteries fully charged when not on shore power, but this trip was in a shadier spot and the batteries were not charging fully.

Currently at home I am plugged in to shore power, and have full sun all day. The batteries are seeing charging voltages from the solar, but are not keeping full charge overnight. Use/Store is on.

Seems to me that the batteries are not getting charged from shore power / PD4655.

Neither my local shop (September) nor my AS dealer (November) can see me anytime soon. Colonial thought over the phone that maybe the converter is shot and needs replacement but it’s only 4 years old.

Any suggestions on troubleshooting? What should I try to check without electrocuting myself?

Thanks for any tips.

Walt
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:43 AM   #2
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Walt,

ZERO solar expereince here. But if you unplugged shore power during the day hopefully sunny and just get a check, yup solar is charging.

Now go back out well after sunset, solar isn't charging right? Now plug shore power in and see what happens to system voltage.

Changing a convertor isn't hard if you can get your hands on it.

Gary
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:46 AM   #3
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Thanks, Gary - yes - solar charges during the day, shore power isn’t charging overnight. And just for background, I burned up my first attempt at upgrading to the PD4655 by hooking the wires up wrong and then had to pay the dealer to do it for me. I think there is thread around here somewhere about that.

I guess an offshoot of this is “how would i know that the converter needs changing” as opposed to something more basic that I am overlooking.

Walt
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Old 08-03-2021, 06:20 AM   #4
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Walt,

Expect more suggestions but my old go to tool was a simple 12V plug in voltmeter. I plugged it into a 12V plug outlet.

But I recently installed a BMV-712 and it's full of data. Power consumed, charge amps and more.

And if you have a clamp on multimeter with DC Amp function clamp it on and get a live DC Amps reading. The DC Amp function you have to check meter specs for that one getting the DC version is a couple bucks more that just the AC clamp on from my $$ experience.

Gary
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Old 08-03-2021, 06:40 AM   #5
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Have you checked the fuses on the charger?
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:10 AM   #6
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When I plug my shore power, battery level shows 100%, however when my charge converter went out, no change in battery charge status.
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Old 08-03-2021, 09:22 AM   #7
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Converter in 17' and older models, were single stage and do not support proper charging/tending. Many of us had battery issues caused by those converters and have switched to 4 stage converters by Boondocker or Progressive Dynamics. Not difficult to make this switch, and not too expensive. The single stage converters are notorious for overcharging/(boiling the water out). If you call Randy at Bestconverters.com, he can recommend/guide you thru options and also installation.
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Old 08-03-2021, 12:25 PM   #8
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Batteries will charge on Solar but not on Shore Power

I had the same problem last year. Took it to a local RV place and they said inverter was bad. Got new inverter and 3 new Lithium Batteries since my AGMs were 8 years old and still had the same problem. RV place said new inverter was bad as well. A friend who does heating and ac systems checked it out for me and he found a loose wire in the plug where the power cord comes into the trailer (I’d even bought a new power cord). But it was the plug on the trailer that was the problem.
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Old 08-03-2021, 01:03 PM   #9
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Walt: Your PD 4655 is possibly not the original converter and it is a multistage charger (i.e.: it puts out different voltages over time to properly charge lead/acid batteries, then to maintain them without damage at a lower voltage).

There are several possibilities to check:

1. The breaker that feeds shore power to the converter may have tripped. Check the 120 volt section of your electric panel to make sure one hasn’t tripped. There will be a typed list of which breaker feeds what systems. The one that includes the converter should be noted there.
2. Your converter may be good, but your batteries are not holding a charge. With solar and shore power disconnected, check the voltage meter (mine is on the wall above the sink and stove). Note that reading. Plug in the shore power. Check the reading again. If it didn’t jump up to 13.2 or higher then your converter isn’t sending power to the batteries.
3. If no change in step 2, make sure your 12 volt appliances (lights mostly) are working. You would probably have noticed if they were not, but it’s a step to confirm. If they are not working, the batteries are not connected to the 12 volt side of the converter.
4. At this point, you would know that shore power is getting to the breaker and that the batteries are connected to the 12 volt section of the converter. That would isolate the problem to either the wiring from the breaker to the converter, the converter itself or the wiring from the converter to the 12 volt panel. If you are still reading this then you avoided electrocution!

Checking and fixing any of those things requires opening the panel to expose the guts of the converter. Some people draw the line there. The risk of electrocution increases from zero to infinitesimal… higher if you wear a tinfoil hat and matching briefs and the floor is wet. Write back soon…
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Old 08-03-2021, 02:12 PM   #10
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Hi

This seems to be heading a few different ways with a few folks tossing stuff in ...

First up:

An inverter is a device that changes battery power ( 12V DC ) into AC power ( 120V AC ). When it's doing its thing, it discharges the batteries. A converter / charger does exactly the opposite. It changes 120V AC into 12V DC to charge the batteries.

The converter / charger needs to have a working breaker feeding it shore power. First thing to do is to grab your multimeter and make sure this is the case. If the breaker is shot or tripped, the converter charger isn't going to do you much good.

Next the wires from the breaker to the converter / charger need to be there. If one has come loose, no 120V gets to the beast. Again your multimeter is your friend to make sure the shore power *gets* to it.

Depending on exactly what you have, it might have a handy LED on it that tells you it is getting power. If so, that cuts out the steps above. Many converter / chargers lack this useful feature.

Next up, there are fuses on the output of the converter. If they are blown, noting it coming out. Many units have a pair of fuses. They are best checked with the power off.

Now, when you measure voltage at the output of the converter with shore power off, you will read battery voltage on the converter output. You should see something like 12.6V both on the battery posts *and* on the converter output wires.

If you turn on shore power, *both* voltages should go up a bit. If you start from 12.6 they should get up around 13V or so. It is normal for the converter output to be higher than the battery. Both the battery and converter voltages *should* go up when shore power is turned on.

If everything was going fine up to that last step, the converter is likely fried. It happens ....If things went bad somewhere earlier, fix that issue and see how things work.

Fun !!!!

Bob
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Old 08-03-2021, 03:19 PM   #11
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Las time I had a similar problem, the 15A breaker in my converter was shot. Not just tripped, but shot as it looked slightly tripped and wouldn't stay on. Replaced breaker & easy fix. Also, have had to change out the circuit board on converter, in the past, when not it was not charging batteries. The circuit board may be under warranty. A call to converter manufacturer Or Randy at Best converter may help you trouble shoot.
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Old 08-03-2021, 03:52 PM   #12
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Don’t Feel Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by D44 View Post
Thanks, Gary - yes - solar charges during the day, shore power isn’t charging overnight. And just for background, I burned up my first attempt at upgrading to the PD4655 by hooking the wires up wrong and then had to pay the dealer to do it for me. I think there is thread around here somewhere about that.

I guess an offshoot of this is “how would i know that the converter needs changing” as opposed to something more basic that I am overlooking.

Walt
Don’t feel bad! My experience was similar. I ordered a PD4655 from Best Converter to upgrade the 2016 stock converter and had Jackson Center install when I was having warranty punch list addressed at factory. Got halfway home and converter wasn’t charging. Called Best and they directed me to Progressive Dynamics. They were great. One photo and they said JC wired wrong! They helped me over the phone determine this damaged the converter and then I disconnected and shipped it to them while they shipped me a replacement unit. Once received they assisted me again over the phone with photos in installing the replacement with a dedicated circuit breaker correctly. All good since. Sent AS emails from PD confirming they wrecked the converter and they refunded me on the labor to install the first converter. They should of reimbursed PD as well for the cost of the PD4655 as PD charged me nothing for the replacement. Good luck sorting your issues and recommend you contacting PD direct. Great folks!
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Old 08-03-2021, 04:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debrafenton View Post
I had the same problem last year. Took it to a local RV place and they said inverter was bad. Got new inverter and 3 new Lithium Batteries since my AGMs were 8 years old and still had the same problem. RV place said new inverter was bad as well. A friend who does heating and ac systems checked it out for me and he found a loose wire in the plug where the power cord comes into the trailer (I’d even bought a new power cord). But it was the plug on the trailer that was the problem.
I think you meant "converter", not "inverter".
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Old 08-03-2021, 07:05 PM   #14
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Thanks to all who offered assistance - I thought I had described my dilemma clearly but it seems a few responses drifted a little.

- I have had this unit since brand new.
- The PD4655 is an upgrade converter/charger that I had installed.
- The Lifeline AGM batteries are only 3 seasons old.
- Batteries seem to be able to hold a charge and will receive a full charge from the solar panels and will recharge from a night of boondocking with decent sun on the panels
- AC systems run when hooked to shore power - Fridge, outlets, pump, etc.

The big issue that I noticed last week with the shady spot and full hookups is that the batteries showed discharge, and didn’t show to be receiving a charge, while hooked up on shore power (at night, for instance) . They didn’t recharge until daytime when the solar kicked in.

I had checked breakers and fuses but will do so more thoroughly tomorrow.

Is it expected that an upgraded converter/charger could go bad after only 4 years? Or is there a simple connection that I can check to make sure it hasn’t wiggled loose somewhere - without smoking another PD4655 or frying myself?

PS - I confirmed that COlonial did not install a solar cutoff between the panels / charger / batteries. I suppose the only way I could isolate the solar is either to lift the cables from the battery posts or climb up and disconnect the leads from the combiner box?

Thanks,

Walt
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Old 08-04-2021, 06:11 AM   #15
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It seems like the brain trust is converging on an approach to help you diagnose this!

IMO: A converter can certainly go bad in 4 years… or less… it’s function needs to be verified and Uncle Bob described the steps to do that.

I’m not sure why Colonial doesn’t have a removable fuse or cut off switch somewhere between the solar controller and the batteries, but if there isn’t one, I would disconnect the positive solar lead from the battery and cap it (it could come live at any time) to isolate the converter and it’s function while you determine how it is functioning.

If you have never explored what a converter actually looks like physically and electrically, this YouTube video of a person installing a PD4655 might help. It’s not an Airstream, but that doesn’t really matter for this purpose.

https://youtu.be/DKZ9KSX1rno

The circuit breakers and the connection of the 120 volt AC input to the converter are clearly demonstrated (black, white and green wires). So is the connection of the 12 volt DC output from the converter to the circuit board with the blade fuses for the trailer’s 12 volt circuits (lighting, appliance control boards, furnace fan, etc.). Those output wires are red and white in my trailer, but red and black in the video and secure to two specific points on the 12 volt circuit board. There is also a small gauge harness with connectors on each end that connects the converter itself with the 12 volt circuit board. The installation of the PD4655 begins at about the 6:30 mark of the video.

As UB said, you can test voltages at key points with a multimeter. You may also see a loose or disconnected wire on either end. The fuses between the converter and the 12 volt distribution system are the two, green 30 amp blade fuses adjacent to the connection points for the red and white (or black) wires on the circuit board. They are visible in the video.
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Old 08-04-2021, 08:40 AM   #16
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Hi

The stock / typical / normal solar charger wiring has an inline fuse between the output of the charger and the battery post. It's either going to be by the charger or over by the DC bus bar. If you pop out that fuse ... no more solar. This is by far the safest way to disable solar.

In terms of can a new converter charger fail in "only" 4 years .... I had one fail in 3 weeks.

Bob
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Old 08-04-2021, 10:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Hi

The stock / typical / normal solar charger wiring has an inline fuse between the output of the charger and the battery post. It's either going to be by the charger or over by the DC bus bar. If you pop out that fuse ... no more solar. This is by far the safest way to disable solar.

In terms of can a new converter charger fail in "only" 4 years .... I had one fail in 3 weeks.

Bob


Thanks everyone - my troubleshooting looks like it has been pushed back to the weekend due to developments at work - I will work through these suggestions and videos

I appreciate the collected wisdom, support and enthusiasm -

Walt
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Old 08-07-2021, 08:14 AM   #18
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The converter in my 2018 TB19CB went bad earlier this year and might have been part of the cause of the batteries going bad. Solar charging has been problematic too.

I installed a new converter and just replaced the solar charge converter with a Victron MPPT. Very happy with what I'm seeing for solar charging and battery maintaining.

As Bob mentioned, a multimeter is your friend here.
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Old 08-07-2021, 10:03 AM   #19
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D44, at night when your solar is not charging your batteries and your trailer is plugged into shore power press the “Batt” button on your SeeLevel II Tank Monitor. What is the voltage readout?
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Old 08-08-2021, 10:29 AM   #20
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Have the batteries checked first. Just had a similar problem and one battery was good and one was dead.
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