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Old 10-06-2014, 02:10 PM   #1
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Shore Line Power Battery Charge Controller

Everything I searched on installing a charge controller kept taking me back to solar....I don't want or need solar as we just don't boondock, but I do want to charge my onboard batteries while hooked to shore power. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I turn to my fellow subject matter experts (SME's), one of whom HAS got to have a 38FL with the (4) 6V battery configuration. Ideally, I'd love a plug n play type of scenario.....

Anyone? Thanks
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Old 10-06-2014, 02:12 PM   #2
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Your on board 3 stage converter will handle 4 6 volt batteries just fine.

I am not sure why you think you need another "charge controller."
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Old 10-06-2014, 02:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herk7769 View Post
Your on board 3 stage converter will handle 4 6 volt batteries just fine.

I am not sure why you think you need another "charge controller."
The only time the batteries appear to be charging is when the camper is connected to the TV umbilical. They don't charge on shore power....apparently, the part about having an "on board 3 stage converter" was left out of my PDI and I can't find any reference to such an animal in all the documentation I was given either.

I could really use some help....
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Old 10-06-2014, 03:03 PM   #4
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It may have been referred to as the converter instead.

If it's not charging it is possible there's a fuse or something broken. First, I'd take a look at the distribution panel to see it breaker for the converter has been tripped. They don't 'pop' like a home breaker so you sometimes need to shut it off and then flip back on to make sure it engages.

Next, check the fuse panel. Are there any fuses that are blown?
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Old 10-06-2014, 04:41 PM   #5
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I've read in other posts that the 3 stage converters that come standard do not do a good job getting batteries to full charge. I believe there are options out there for converters that add options for desulfating and equalizing your battery bank. I plan on installing a Trimetric battery monitor to keep a better handle on battery condition to help prolong the life of my batteries.


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Old 10-06-2014, 08:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepMeep View Post
The only time the batteries appear to be charging is when the camper is connected to the TV umbilical. They don't charge on shore power....apparently, the part about having an "on board 3 stage converter" was left out of my PDI and I can't find any reference to such an animal in all the documentation I was given either.

I could really use some help....
Do you own a volt meter? You can measure the voltage at a light bulb when connected to the shore power. Any voltage over 13 volts means you converter is working. Measure the voltage at the battery and if less than 13 volts you have an "open" between the converter and your battery.

There are two "current limiters" between the battery and the converter.
One is very close to the battery (perhaps behind the battery box) and one is located very close to the metal box your umbilical plugs into (mine is right next to box, under the pin box attachment).

They are usually covered with a red rubber "cap." There is a push button reset on one of the short sides as indicated.

I attached the manual for the most common 30 amp WFCO power center with 55 amp DC converter. Your panel may be the 50 amp power center and the converter may be the 70 amp version.

If you have the model number for your power center I most likely have your manual.

Multi stage chargers take "a lot" of time to fully charge a large battery bank due to the deep capacity that has to be replaced and the requirement to "step down" the charging rate to prevent "boiling" the batteries.

Charging faster IS possible with a dedicated battery charger BUT the faster charge rate will damage the battery over time and reduce the number of possible recharge cycles available.
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:04 PM   #7
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Herk7769, can you run an external battery charger while the converter is also charging the batteries without damage?
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deartruc View Post
Herk7769, can you run an external battery charger while the converter is also charging the batteries without damage?
I don't think an external battery charger is even necessary if your on board is working ok.

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Old 10-06-2014, 09:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deartruc View Post
Herk7769, can you run an external battery charger while the converter is also charging the batteries without damage?
Running an external charger will not damage the converter as the converter's output is voltage dependent. It will "see" the higher voltage of the external charger and just not supply charging voltage (stay in Float).

However, whether an external charger damages the batteries will totally depend on the charger.

Single stage chargers will certainly damage the batteries because the charge rate is constant and as the bank fills it becomes less able to accept the higher amperage. This "excess" current is converted to heat and it will rapidly deplete the electrolyte due to evaporation and splashing due to hydrogen generation ("boiling"). This will expose the plates and permanently ruin the batteries.

Newer multi-step chargers use similar circuitry to your converter and will modulate the voltage and current to a rate based on the remaining ability of the batteries to accept charge without damage. They also take "a lot" longer to charge a deep cycle battery bank.

Chargers with a "fourth stage" (called "de-sulphate") can also "flash" the plates with a very high voltage "pulse" every few minutes to force any lead sulphate that is coating the lead plates (preventing full charging) to be blasted back into solution. This can extend the life of batteries that have been abused by being deeply discharged between recharges (cycles).
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:37 PM   #10
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Meep... Don't know whether you already have a converter but chances are you do AND pressing that little black button in Herks picture may be all the trouble shooting you need. In any event...if not... and you DO need a charger/converter:
1. Get one NOT larger than 20-25% of your batterys 12V amp hour rating. With 4, 6V batts that gives you about 400 amp hours so a good size for a charger will be around 100amps. This will save you charging and generator time. LARGER will not go any faster due to wet cell battery charging characteristics. If you have AGM's then you can double that safely. You should always charge with at least 10% of your batteries rating so around 40 amps is the smallest charger you should be using.
2. Three stage chargers are what you need at a minimum....the charge at roughly 14.5V in bulk stage...around 13.8V in absorbtion mode and around 13.3V in float mode. Better yet is a 4 stage module that also has an equalization stage or capability to charge at over 15V briefly to desulphate the batteries occasionally and extend their life. My choice for your battery configuration would be an IOTA DSL90IQ which had all these features and a good price for a well built unit. Progressive also makes some good ones.
If you plan on boondocking a lot...take Rons' advice and get a true battery monitor like the Trimetric or the Victron 700. It will be the thing on board you consult most often...and will pay for itself in short order.

Good luck!
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