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Old 10-17-2009, 07:35 PM   #1
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1983 34' Excella
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Rivet Univolt Replaced with Inteli-Power 9280

Today I installed a new Inteli-Power 9280 from Randy at Best Converter to replace the 70 amp Univolt in my Excella. It may be a bit of overkill, but I expect it to last for many years if 45 amp Inteli-Power I have in my Trade Wind is any example and will give me plenty of capacity for expansion.

The Univolt is still working (HUMMMMMM!!!), but I have bad memories about the failure of the one in my Trade Wind. The new Inteli-Power is totally silent.

I have included photos of the old Univolt in place and the new Inteli-Power replacing it. I mounted the Remote Pendant just below the window above the covering that snaps into place and behind the curtains so the blinking LED status indicator won’t drive me crazy (ok, crazier ).

The sharp-eyed among you may notice that I mounted the new unit on top of rubber stoppers. This insures that no vibration can be transferred to the floor, not really much of a concern with the Inteli-Power though. It also spaces it up from the floor 15/16 of an inch in case any water were ever to get in. Of course, we all know that will never happen. The rubber stoppers came from Home Depot. The large ones also make good isolation mounts for those 12-volt fans that make so much noise.

You may also notice that the Inteli-Power is plugged into the wall outlet using an adapter. The 80-amp Inteli-Power uses a 20-amp plug instead of a 15-amp one. Randy has discussed this in other threads. Apparently the RV industry commonly uses the 20-amp outlet for larger converters. Interesting choice since the maximum consumption for the Inteli-Power 9280 is 1,300 watts while portable electric heaters, which use a normal 15-amp plug, can consume 1,500 watts. It turned out that this adapter is very unusual. I was only able to find one online at music shops. I got mine locally at the Guitar Center here in Little Rock. It is a Furman ADP-1520.

The 6-gauge battery cable came from a local NAPA auto parts. I bought 6 feet and had about 18 inches left over.

Interestingly, the Inteli-Power weighs 7.67 pounds versus 39.5 for the Univolt.
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:26 AM   #2
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thanks for good info. univolt on 82 limited producing 12.5 volts only and manuals indicate 13.5 or higher. batteries are killed pretty quickly when operating several lights. am i okey or is it univolt replacement time. thanks for your input
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:45 AM   #3
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Univolts

The Univolt that Airstream has used for many years, is 55 amps and weighs 9 pounds.

It is silent, unless the cooling fan comes on.

The failure rate is very close to zero.

We, in fact, have not had one single failure, since the solid state Univolt has been used by Airstream.

Understandably, there are other brands of converters that also do well.

Andy
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:06 AM   #4
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thanks for good info. univolt on 82 limited producing 12.5 volts only and manuals indicate 13.5 or higher. batteries are killed pretty quickly when operating several lights. am i okey or is it univolt replacement time. thanks for your input
That sounds pretty low to me. The short life of the batteries is another hint. If they have only been getting up to 12.5, they can also be affected by long-time undercharging. I'm sure others will check in with authoritative answers.

In my case, this time at least, the Univolt was working properly, just humming loudly. Given my prior experience with Univolt failures boiling batteries in an overcharging failure, I changed this one proactively. (After a couple of years ) This way I get a regulated, clean 12 volt supply, quiet operation, and intelligent charging/maintenance. After the initial replacement and charge (which took place at about 14.4 volts), the system spends almost all its time in maintenance mode maintaining about 13.3-5 volts. Periodically, it switches to boost/desulfication mode for a few minutes, back to 14.4v, to keep the batteries in good shape.

I spend very little time off the grid right now, so I can't give you a good answer about battery life before or after the swap. I suspect that my batteries are not all that great but have no plans to swap them out at this time. I have power in case of failures and switch to conservation mode (only turn on one light at a time if I need lights, etc.) if needed.

The quiet operation is worth the change in itself. The clean 12 volts supply can also, in my opinion, pay for itself. Prior to switching to an Inteli-Power in my Trade Wind, I had a couple of new CD players fail. I detected some amount of alternating current leaking through the Univolt which led me to believe that was causing the failures. I installed a heavy duty diode to eliminate the AC leakage and experience no more problems with the CD players, but the Univolt still failed one night heating the battery to boiling. It was way too hot to touch. You could feel the heat like a pot just off the stove. I am planning to update my music system soon and felt that it was time to go ahead and update the charging system first.

Another advantage to changing to a modern charger system is that you can still use the Univolt as a bench testing power supply. If you have some 12 volt appliance or item out you want to test prior to installation, you can use the Univolt.
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:15 AM   #5
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Hi again,

Andy's post beat mine due to the length of time it took me to compose my reply. It really didn't take me that long, but I made a fresh pot of coffee after I started the reply.

The newer units Andy refers to are perfectly fine I'm sure, and I would have no problem with one of them. As he mentioned, they are smaller, quiet, and reliable. Since your 1982 is a year older than my 1983, I'm fairly sure that you have one of the older behemoths like mine unless someone already swapped it out. You can tell the difference from the photos in my original post.

Again, all my discussion applies to the older Univolts.
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:31 AM   #6
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Hi again,

Andy's post beat mine due to the length of time it took me to compose my reply. It really didn't take me that long, but I made a fresh pot of coffee after I started the reply.
So, .... is the coffee ready yet?

Andy
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
So, .... is the coffee ready yet?

Andy


Hi Andy,

Just poured the last cup.

Been on THEPILL's converter thread (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...ter-59728.html). Funny how a subject doesn't get much discussion for a while and then interest increases all at once.

Hope your Christmas went well, Happy New Year!
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:17 PM   #8
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Univolt change

Is it difficult to wire in a new converter? I have a 65 22' Safari and our restoration is about 90% complete. We are on hold for the winter but I'm thinking that it might be worthwhile to make the switch before leaving us high and dry. Any input is appreciated.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:18 PM   #9
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Is it difficult to wire in a new converter? I have a 65 22' Safari and our restoration is about 90% complete. We are on hold for the winter but I'm thinking that it might be worthwhile to make the switch before leaving us high and dry. Any input is appreciated.
Wiring a Univolt in, is very basic.

What needs greater attention, with the 12 volt DC system, if you can, is create another 2 circuits for a total of 4, instead of just the 2 that you now have.

Andy
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:19 PM   #10
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Univolt Replacement

Andy-thanks for the suggestion. Your expertise is very much appreciated....Tim
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:39 PM   #11
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Andy is right.

I'm not sure how your question slipped by me, but I can't add anything to Andy's response.

Thanks for catching this, Andy.
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:02 PM   #12
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Good Evening Electrical Wizards: Forgive me if this is not the right spot to post this, but vswingfield has described a potential problem I may have. I have the same intel power set up. Every so often, I notice my alt is only outputting 10 on the gauge and the new cd player w/gps kicks in & out. Then, after a few minutes it corrects itself. I do have to jump the start battery with the interior toggle from time to time. Do I have a problem and where do I start looking to solve it?

Thanks, PD
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdallas View Post
Good Evening Electrical Wizards: Forgive me if this is not the right spot to post this, but vswingfield has described a potential problem I may have. I have the same intel power set up. Every so often, I notice my alt is only outputting 10 on the gauge and the new cd player w/gps kicks in & out. Then, after a few minutes it corrects itself. I do have to jump the start battery with the interior toggle from time to time. Do I have a problem and where do I start looking to solve it?

Thanks, PD
Ok, that is a little cryptic.

You have the same Inteli-Power setup I have?

Your profile says Currently Looking, so I was even more confused at first. I checked About Me on the user info section and see that you have a 1984 345 so that helps a little. I explains why you have a CD player with a GPS anyway.

When you say your alt is putting out only 10 on the gauge, are you referring to the alternator on the engine? What gauge? Amps or Volts on this gauge? Or, do you mean that the Inteli-Power is only putting out out 10 volts?

I'm not sure what you mean by jump starting the battery with the interior toggle. Using the Remote Pendant that is wired to the Inteli-Power?

I'm no electrical expert, but I am willing to help out if I can.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:03 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by pdallas View Post
Good Evening Electrical Wizards: Forgive me if this is not the right spot to post this, but vswingfield has described a potential problem I may have. I have the same intel power set up. Every so often, I notice my alt is only outputting 10 on the gauge and the new cd player w/gps kicks in & out. Then, after a few minutes it corrects itself. I do have to jump the start battery with the interior toggle from time to time. Do I have a problem and where do I start looking to solve it?

Thanks, PD
Having to internally jump start the motorhome battery, suggests that possibly the chassis battery is weak, or there is a small drain on the chassis battery.

I would check both of them out. Sometimes, an LPG leak detector, remains on, even though the engine is shut down.

Andy

Your CD player might belong to a strong union, and is simply taking a break, every once in a while????
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:29 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Having to internally jump start the motorhome battery, suggests that possibly the chassis battery is weak, or there is a small drain on the chassis battery.

I would check both of them out. Sometimes, an LPG leak detector, remains on, even though the engine is shut down.

Andy
All good possibilities. Most new CD systems have at least a clock that remains on while the main power is off, too. Many owners put a switch in that line, but the downside is that your clock is not set when you turn it back on. You may also loose your favorite stations, etc., depending on the unit.

A little clarification would help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Your CD player might belong to a strong union, and is simply taking a break, every once in a while????


I'll have to bring that one up at work.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:11 AM   #16
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A little clarification would help.
Clarification? On what part?

Andy
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:21 AM   #17
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Clarification? On what part?

Andy
Oops, clarification on my post I guess.

Your post was perfectly clear. I had intended to refer back to PD's original question where he referred to

Quote:
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... Every so often, I notice my alt is only outputting 10 on the gauge and the new cd player w/gps kicks in & out. Then, after a few minutes it corrects itself. I do have to jump the start battery with the interior toggle from time to time...
, but I didn't get that part in.

I meant 10 what on what gauge? Amps, Volts? I also am not sure what "jump the start battery with the interior toggle" really means either. I'm just trying to make sure I understand what PD's problem is.

An Inteli-Power, or any converter for that matter, would have nothing to do with a start battery would it?

I suppose that a circuit to the start battery could be there if a battery isolater was used between the start battery and the other(s). Like the one used when I added a deep cycle battery for interior lights in my old Dodge van so I could camp without running down the start battery. (Airstreams are vastly superior to camping in a '77 Dodge Tradesman, trust me! ) Seems unnecessarily complex to me if the motorhome charging system and battery are in good shape. Is this done in motorhomes?

I guess I was still laughing about your reason for the CD player taking a break.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:11 PM   #18
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Vaughan: Sorry for the cryptic nature of my post. I promise I have nothing to hide!

Andy may be on to something. The gauge I was referring to is the dash gauge and at times it will read just under 10 volts. That is when the radio cuts in & out. and then; out of the blue, it will bounce up to a more normal reading around 12+.

I think my next move will be to get the battery checked.

There is a switch in the battery tray that (if I understand the literature) is supposed to totally isolate the chassis battery from the others. If this is true, Do most people choose to isolate the chassis battery from the interior batteries.

Thanks again for excellent info,

PD

PS: INRV Where is the LPG leak detector located?
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:20 PM   #19
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Vaughan: Sorry for the cryptic nature of my post. I promise I have nothing to hide!

Andy may be on to something. The gauge I was referring to is the dash gauge and at times it will read just under 10 volts. That is when the radio cuts in & out. and then; out of the blue, it will bounce up to a more normal reading around 12+.

I think my next move will be to get the battery checked.
Ok, we are talking about the vehicle charging system and not the Inteli-Power. (Or whatever converter you have. The original would be a Univolt like in my first photo.) I have never had a motorhome, so there are some systems in them that are different. However, I was a mechanic (industrial engines, farm equipment, and trucks) for a while.

You will not go wrong checking the battery. However, from your description I think you should also do a through cleaning and check of your connections. Not only can connectors loosen, they can corrode leading to intermittent voltage/charging drops. If any connections are not factory molded, that is crimped or replacement connections of any kind, the looseness and/or corrosion may be out of sight where the wire leads into the replacement connector. This includes replacement ends on battery cables.

Remember to check the connections at the alternator too. Even connections to an amp gauge can contribute since the current flows through the amp gauge. A volt gauge with bad connections should not contribute to the problem, just read incorrectly. The CD cutting out means that you really have a problem, not just a bad connection to a voltage gauge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdallas View Post
There is a switch in the battery tray that (if I understand the literature) is supposed to totally isolate the chassis battery from the others. If this is true, Do most people choose to isolate the chassis battery from the interior batteries.

Thanks again for excellent info,

PD
This is one of those areas where motorhomes differ from trailers. The isolation systems I am familiar with (see the reference to my old Dodge van in my previous post) are diode based systems that automatically isolate the systems without any user interaction. The diodes are basically electrical check valves in this type of system. The current can flow from the alternator to either battery, but the current cannot flow forward from either battery. This way you can use the deep cycle battery for lights, or in my case for watching a small TV too, without the charge being drained from the start battery. See Victron Argo Diode Battery Isolators for photos of this type of system. They are usually available locally too. I think I got mine at an auto parts store, but that was a long time ago.

Check and clean these connections too! More stuff, more places to look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdallas View Post
PS: INRV Where is the LPG leak detector located?
I'm not sure when they started intalling LPG detectors in RVs. My 1983 Excella did not come with one and I don't remember one in my brother's 1984 Excella, but I wasn't looking. It may be something you will have to add yourself.

If you look here: http://www.airforums.com/photos/show...0&userid=17830 you can see an area below the radio and cassette deck with a couple of wires and a shelf sitting askew. Right next to the phone. My propane detector is there, still in its original packaging where I put it when I got home from the local Camping World, waiting for me to hook it up. That's not where I plan to install it, I just put it there so I wouldn't forget. A lot of good that has done.

Good luck, and keep us informed about what you learn.

By the way, there is a neighborhood in SE Little Rock named College Station near the airport. When I moved to LR and heard people talking about College Station I knew something was up. The only one I knew about was in TX and I could tell that wasn't what they were talking about.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:49 PM   #20
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Vaughan: Sorry for the cryptic nature of my post. I promise I have nothing to hide!

Andy may be on to something. The gauge I was referring to is the dash gauge and at times it will read just under 10 volts. That is when the radio cuts in & out. and then; out of the blue, it will bounce up to a more normal reading around 12+.

I think my next move will be to get the battery checked.

There is a switch in the battery tray that (if I understand the literature) is supposed to totally isolate the chassis battery from the others. If this is true, Do most people choose to isolate the chassis battery from the interior batteries.

Thanks again for excellent info,

PD

PS: INRV Where is the LPG leak detector located?
Typically the LPG leak detector, would be mounted very near the bottom of a cabinet, very close to the entrance door.

Andy
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