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Old 10-20-2020, 04:43 PM   #1
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Voltage Converter with Smart Charging

I am replacing the batteries on my 3 year old 19' CB.
The dealer is recommending upgrading the factory voltage converter to one with smart charging capabilities so the batteries will not over-charge.
Is this a legitimate and worthwhile upgrade, or just the Airstream store trying to sell more parts?
Thanks!
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Old 10-20-2020, 05:03 PM   #2
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most of go for the Victron Multiplus 3000 converter/inverter. it does far more that the stock OEM unit

https://www.victronenergy.com/
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Old 10-20-2020, 05:30 PM   #3
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To answer your original question, yes you really, really want to upgrade the converter/charger to a modern 3-stage or better unit. If you have a single stage charger they were notorious for destroying batteries. I thought 2018 was the first year Airstream started using 3 stage converters so you may already have one.

The Victron Multiplus 3000 mentioned above is a fantastic, magical unit but it replaces the converter/charger but also the inverter and is way more expensive and would start you down the rabbit hole of battery upgrades, solar, etc. I personally think that's a fascinating journey but it's also an expensive one.
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Old 10-20-2020, 05:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waninae39 View Post
most of go for the Victron Multiplus 3000 converter/inverter. it does far more that the stock OEM unit

https://www.victronenergy.com/
Most?...I doubt it.

It really depends on what other upgrades are in your future and what your tolerance for spending is.

You don't have the break the bank for a quality, dependable upgrade.👍

The first major upgrade we did when 'Cloudsplitter' was new...a 'smart' 3 stage converter/charger. Less than $150.
We upgraded again three years later when we installed Lifeline AGM's, an IOTA DLS IQ4 60a, $170.00
And another 'upgrade' 11 Seasons later when we installed two Battleborn Lithium batteries, Boondocker BD 1260L 60 Amp Adjustable Lithium converter, $210

Bob
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Old 10-20-2020, 06:47 PM   #5
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Ah the rabbit hole of the Victron prison. If you have deep pockets sure. But there are a myriad of more economical options.
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Old 10-20-2020, 06:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice. I am open to going down the electrical system upgrade/lithium battery/solar rabbit hole eventually. We just bought the Airstream, new tow vehicle and built out the side of our house to store it. Time to fill the coffers for a while.
I will check to see if my AS already has the 3 stage converter.
Thanks again.
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Old 10-21-2020, 10:50 AM   #7
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Again, to answer your question: If you have a single stage converter/charger upgrade to a 3 stage. And you don't have to spend BIG bucks to do that... Similar to Robert Cross we started with the factory installed "battery burner" single stage - upgraded to IOTA smart charger - when we moved to lithium batteries all we had to do was change the controller module to lithium on the IOTA for $30.00
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:04 PM   #8
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This is one of the best chargers on the market. It has several standard charging profiles as well as an option for a customizable charging profile

https://www.amazon.com/Sterling-Powe.../dp/B07V6RBYLY
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:28 PM   #9
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I'm upgrading our factory converter right now actually. The stock converter fried my batteries and had to replace those as well. I wish I had made this upgrade sooner, and I'm not sure why a "smart" converter isn't a standard feature. Maybe it is now, but it wasn't on my 2015.
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Old 10-22-2020, 04:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McStreamy_ View Post
I'm upgrading our factory converter right now actually. The stock converter fried my batteries and had to replace those as well. I wish I had made this upgrade sooner, and I'm not sure why a "smart" converter isn't a standard feature. Maybe it is now, but it wasn't on my 2015.
Yes, oddly Airstream didn't make the change until 2018 as best I can determine and that may not have been on all the trailers. Glad you're doing it, it's pretty much essential if you don't want to destroy your batteries while plugged in.
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Old 10-22-2020, 05:04 PM   #11
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A little more research on my converter

This is the converter factory installed in my AS. From the manufacture's website it's telling me it is a 3 stage converter. I am thinking this is OK for now until the solar upgrade. Thanks again.

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Description from WFCO's site:
----------------------------------
WF-8955
(Fully compatible with WF-8955AN, with next generation faceplate design)

The WF-8900 Series has revolutionized RV power centers with its lighter weight, decorative doors and superior features. The WF-8955 model provides 55 Amps and a clean, constant 13.6 VDC nominal output, for reliable operation of electronics and appliances. Automatic three-stage charging extends the life of your battery with output voltage modes of 13.2 VDC range “float” mode, 13.6 VDC range “absorption” mode, and a 14.4 VDC range “bulk” charge mode. The 8900 Series also maintains peace and quiet, as the cooling fan runs only when needed.

FCC Class B compliance for every power center model means that the units are designed not to cause interference with televisions, radios, or other signals. Electronic current limiting automatically shuts down the power during overload or short-circuit conditions, protecting the life of your power center and electrical system.

The 8900 Series models provide AC and DC distribution with innovative features. They can accommodate a 30 Amp main AC circuit breaker and up to five branch circuits. Eleven-branch DC circuits are available with LED lights for each DC circuit to illuminate and identify open circuits.

Part Numbers: WF-8955PEC (Brown), WF-8955PEC-B (Black)
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Old 10-23-2020, 07:38 AM   #12
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The factory 3 stage charger may be ok. I'm not sure what the voltages are that it puts out. I would compare the charging profile that it has to what the battery manufacturer recommends. I know with my Lifeline batteries that the factory charger was not adequate. It also did not offer the 4th stage of "conditioning" or "Equalization". I therefore disconnected the factory charger altogether and am running it off my Morningstar PWM solar charger. This inexpensive charger will do what the factory charger could not. For over 5 years now I have run exclusively on this charger all year. Therefore all of the 12 volt side is charged and run from solar. With 300 watts it is enough for my needs while boondocking never dropping below 84% even camping in shade or during periods of extremely rainy weather. I'm able to manage my usage via the Trimetric battery monitor. Whatever products you use is irrelevant as long as they do the right job. Make sure you know where you are using your power and how the batteries are being charged. The batteries are the singly most expensive portion in the system. You want to maintain them properly. They will take some abuse, but this can affect their longevity.
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Old 10-23-2020, 08:07 AM   #13
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Upgrading to a new charger will be better for your batteries. Also, a new charger should have the lithium battery option so should you decide to go lithium at some point, it is just a settings switch.
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Old 10-23-2020, 09:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirF22 View Post
This is the converter factory installed in my AS. From the manufacture's website it's telling me it is a 3 stage converter. I am thinking this is OK for now until the solar upgrade. Thanks again.
I agree unless you decide to switch to lithium. If you later do a fancy solar install with a Victron Multiplus 3000 you’ll be removing that existing converter anyway.
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Old 11-07-2020, 01:19 PM   #15
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Decided on Progressive Dynamics PD4655 Upgrade

Hello again - so I have settled on upgrading the WFCO 8955 convertor with a PD 4655 system. As I began the swap-out, I found that the number of 12VDC terminals do not match. (See attached photo) I've looked at the Airstream manual wiring schematic and the best I can tell is that the WFCO has a BAT + which is the battery connection and a POS+ in terminal which may be power returning from the battery disconnect switch. If that is true, I am thinking I will just have to re-use the WFCO 12V distribution board. The only caveat is there's a small interface cable for the PD4655 from the converter to the new board. (see attached photo) So. two questions I am hoping to getnswered:
Is there a proper wiring modification to use the new PD 12v board?
If not, is it OK to not have the small interface cable from the new converter to the old board?
Thanks in advance!

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Old 11-07-2020, 05:49 PM   #16
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My best advice is to give Andy at Progressive Dynamics a call. Their customer service number is 269-781-4241. He helped me out with a few questions I had while installing my unit recently.

I'm not an expert on this sort of stuff but I do know that second picture is of the "charge wizard" connection. That's the "smart" bit of the system that monitors the voltage and switches to a float when needed.
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Old 11-07-2020, 05:55 PM   #17
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Voltage Converter with Smart Charging

You definitely want to switch to the PD board. Agree that you should give them a shout.
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Old 11-07-2020, 06:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirF22 View Post
I am replacing the batteries on my 3 year old 19' CB.
The dealer is recommending upgrading the factory voltage converter to one with smart charging capabilities so the batteries will not over-charge.
Is this a legitimate and worthwhile upgrade, or just the Airstream store trying to sell more parts?
Thanks!
.Why...you want to spend more money? We never changed any of ours..the batteries last 5-6 years, no problems
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Old 11-08-2020, 02:53 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdonahoe View Post
.Why...you want to spend more money? We never changed any of ours..the batteries last 5-6 years, no problems
Yeah...no. We were leaving the next day for a week and AS service couldn’t diagnose whether it was the batteries or the converter over the phone. Turns out it was the converter not the batteries. We live and we learn.
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Old 11-09-2020, 04:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McStreamy_ View Post
My best advice is to give Andy at Progressive Dynamics a call. Their customer service number is 269-781-4241. He helped me out with a few questions I had while installing my unit recently.

I'm not an expert on this sort of stuff but I do know that second picture is of the "charge wizard" connection. That's the "smart" bit of the system that monitors the voltage and switches to a float when needed.
Thank you McStreamy for the support number! I spoke to Dennis in customer support. The fix is to use my existing DC distribution board and buy this smart charge pendant for the smart charging functionality. 17 bucks....

https://ltdrvparts.com/PROGRESSIVE-D...-PD9220146.htm

Thanks to all for your input and happy trails!
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