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Old 01-25-2016, 03:50 PM   #1
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Upgrade Battery and Charger and add Inverter Advice Needed

Greeting fellow Forest River RV owners. I am a relative newbie to the RVing world and this is my first post, so be patient with me.

I want to upgrade the 90AH Centennial battery and the battery charger that is built into the WFCO 8955 electric panel that came factory installed in my 2016 Rockwood 8265WS FW. I also want to add a DC to AC inverter.

When I am without shore power, I would like to be able to watch TV in the evenings, make coffee in the AM and run the Microwave for 1-3 minutes at a time as much as two times per day. I would also want to run a couple of laptops for a couple hours a day and charge cell phones. I have done some rough estimates, and believe I would not typically use more that 100AH on any given day.

I am currently thinking about doing the following:

1) add 2 new Lifeline GPL-6CT 6V 300AH batteries connected in series
2) add a stand alone Iota DLS 55 charger to be plugged into my generator or shore power (would switch off breaker to built-in WFCO converter when Iota charger is plugged in)
3) Add a Xantrex PROWatt 2000 - 2000 amp inverter.

I would use 2/0 GA wire for the battery interconnection and from the batteries to the inverter (with a 300amp fuse in line to the inverter). I would then use 4GA wire from the charger to the batteries. I would leave the cabling from the batteries to the WFCO panel the same. Both the charger and inverter would be installed in the pass through compartment just behind the front storage compartment where my batteries will be.

I have a Champion 2000W portable generator that I would run during daylight hours as needed to recharge the battery bank.

My WFCO panel has six breakers in addition to the main breaker.
1) 15Amp breaker providing AC power to the Refrigerator and rear AC
electric sockets.
2) 15 amp breaker providing AC power to the Microwave and Fireplace.
3) 15 amp breaker providing AC power to the front AC electric sockets,
including the GFI sockets.
4), 5) & 6) The HVAC, water heater and converter/charger are on the
remaining three breakers in the WFCO.

I have read numerous threads on this and other forums covering this topic, however I still have not found a solution that I can fully understand.

At first I thought I could simply plug the inverter into my shore power plug
like I do when I fire up my generator. Then I realized that this would fire up my converter/charger and try and charge my batteries in a continuous electrical loop. It would also trigger my refrigerator and water heater to switch to 120AC power, draining my batteries very quickly. The work around this would be to turn off the breakers to the AC, converter and water heater before before turning on my inverter. I would also need to turn my refrigerator to propane only. While this approach works in theory, forgetting to do any of these things could cause issues ranging from rapid battery drainage to fire if I forget to turn off the converter breaker. (any thing I've missed?)

I have read a couple of threads suggesting a N.C. contact relay switch could be used to solve the worst problem, the converter/charger electrical loop. As I understand this approach, you would install a N.C. relay switch between the converter breaker and the converter. The normally connected circuit in the switch would be the power coming from the breaker. The output power from the inverter would then be connected to this relay switch. When the inverter is on, the relay switch opens the circuit and automatically cuts off the power from the breaker to the converter. In theory, this would solve the converter issue, but then I would still need to switch off the breaker to the water heater and turn the Refrigerator to propane only - a non-fool-proof solution. (see method 4 in this link RV Inverter Install: Four Different DIY Methods to Get off the Grid)

I have read other solutions that include installing a sub panel off each circuit I want to power off the inverter. Unfortunately, that would mean I would need to run three sub panels (the refer/rear AC breaker, the microwave breaker and the GFI breaker.) I have not seen any inverters that have more than two outputs, so taking power from these two outputs to power up three sub panels seems daunting.

I am also considering adding some type of solar panel system at a future time.

Has anyone run into the same issues as I have?
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:31 AM   #2
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First of all, you'll need an auto transfer switch that disconnects inverter a/c power when shore power is applied and vice-versua. Very easy to install; just make sure you wire it correctly so shore/generator power has priority over inverter power.

I removed the alternating current (a/c) wiring for the fridge and converter that was connected to the breaker panel output. I put 120v male electrical plugs on the end of romex that feeds alternating current to the fridge and power converter.

I tapped 2 a/c (ROMEX) lines into the 30 amp line before any circuit breakers at the transfer box for dedicated a/c from shore/generator power. I ran the two lines into a Bussmann fused a/c outlet box. http://www.amazon.com/Bussmann-Fuse-.../dp/B003B4L1QY I use re-settable fuses but not necessary since I have never blown a fuse. I plugged the fridge and converter into those lines

The only time the converter and fridge use alternating current is when there is 30 amp shore or generator power. The fridge and converter are physically detached from the circuit breaker panel that carries both inverter and generator a/c power.

Hope this makes sense...my setup is fairly simple. It does not allow a/c from inverter to run your fridge but hey, that is what propane is for.
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Old 01-26-2016, 06:45 AM   #3
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First of all, you are not alone, everybody has these issues and the whole thing can seem insurmountable, but you have been doing your homework.

I like the 2/0 12 volt cabling for the new batteries, as well as the #4 from the new converter as well as the 300 amp fusing.

You will need a Xantrex transfer switch for each 120 volt circuit that you feed. They are idiot proof, easy to install and the two that I have work flawlessly. In fact I never turn off the inverters when we are using the coach (I have 2) since they draw so little in idle that it isn't worth it. When there is no shore power we need them and when there is...insignificant load. They look like this:


Clearly you need one for circuit #2(microwave) and then another for either circuit #1 or circuit #3, depending on which circuit your TV(s) are on. I got lucky in my class A since all the TVs and the left side outlets were on a single circuit. If it turns out that you need to feed circuit #1, you will need to tap into the feed after the reefer and before the outlets. If the reefer is the last feed on the circuit you need to tap in at the beginning and run a new romex line from that point to the reefer. This will insure that the outlets get fed from the inverter, but the reefer will not.

Finally, both transfer switches simply plug into the Prowatt as it has two outlets. Also get the remote switch for the Prowatt and mount it near your panel or wherever you want it so that you can control the inverter from a reasonable place.

Finally some questions.

1) do you think that the pass through bay can handle the more that 200 pounds of weight from the new batteries? 300 amp hour batteries are really heavy and you are using two of them.

2) have I misread your post about the existing batteries? You are adding more that 300 amp hours of 12V and why keep the existing 90 AH and the existing converter? If you just forget about the WFCO and the current batteries, you can simply disconnect the WFCO and wire the new converter to circuit #5 and you are all set.

3) have you considered a slightly bigger converter to shorten your recharge times. I have a Progressive PD9270, which still comes in under the 15 A breaker capacity that you already have.

If you do it this way, you get 2000 watts of AC power when not connected to shore power (or generator) and when you plug in...everything just works and the batteries immediately get 70 amps of recharge current (well for a few minutes till it automatically drops down the 13.6 volts) If you use the PD9270 and get the remote pendant you can manually force the converter into boost mode when you are running the generator to get to 90% charge as rapidly as possible.

Now for the fun part. The microwave always works, as does the TV and selected outlets. Don't worry about overloading the ProWatt, if you do that it will just politely shut down and come back automatically when the load drops to a manageable level.

Good luck
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Old 01-26-2016, 08:06 AM   #4
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Simply remove your convertor.
Install a magnum with built in charger, and transfer switch ( also built in). All in one deal.

Wire a single sub panel with four breakers.

A main in, from the inverter, and a breaker for each circuit you want to energize.

Dead nuts simple. I'm

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Old 01-26-2016, 08:42 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kenny kustom View Post
Simply remove your convertor.
Install a magnum with built in charger, and transfer switch ( also built in). All in one deal.

Wire a single sub panel with four breakers.

A main in, from the inverter, and a breaker for each circuit you want to energize.

Dead nuts simple. I'm

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That will work as well...as long as he removes his existing battery since the standard Magnum doesn't support dual bank charging or look into their smart battery combiners for another $120.00. Replace the current 15 A converter breaker with a 30 amp and use the Magnum 2000 or 2012 and add a subpanel and move the required circuits to the sub panel (leave the reefer on the current breaker.) Gets a 100 amp converter, a 2000 watt inverter, battery temperature sensing and a transfer switch...around $1500.00. Since he needs to replace the converter as well, this is a nice option...if a little pricey. The Xantrex/Progressive Dynamics route is closer to 700, including everything but the Magnum is a bigger and better charger (since it is fed with 30 amps AC) and perhaps a beefier inverter as well.

Pretty clean though!
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Old 01-26-2016, 09:22 AM   #6
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Personally I would not increase the size of the converter without increasing the size of the wires going to the battery bank. Everyone complains about the RV builders cheating out on materials. I bet the wires for the charging circuit are the minimum size needed for the 55 amp charger. Going to a 70 amp increases the amperage to the batteries by about 30%. Of course if this was used as a stand alone charging system that you just plug into your generator, that would eliminate this issue.

You might also want to look up Herk7796, I thought he did a write up about trying to power a coffee maker from an inverter and battery bank. IIRC, the batteries did not hold up that well to the high amp draw.

Just my opinion and we all know what opinions are worth!
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Old 01-26-2016, 09:31 AM   #7
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Right on !

I will have 4/0 running from the magnum to my battery bank.


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Old 01-26-2016, 10:00 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone for the input. I need some time to digest all your great suggestions, but this is my one day of the week I gotta work. I will post my thought tonight or tomorrow
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:07 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the input. I need some time to digest all your great suggestions, but this is my one day of the week I gotta work. I will post my thought tonight or tomorrow
My solution is described in this thread. No need for a sub-panel, no need for a manual transfer switch. Solves the charging loop issue when powered via the inverter. The auto transfer switch and small solid state relay works very well for us. We do a lot of dry camping and use 2 EU2000 Honda generators.

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...dea-70207.html

The Xantrex is well protected and will switch itself off if you draw too much, but, yes, with my installation when you think you will be using the Xantrex inverter, the refrigerator should be on propane and/or AC off, the water heater should be propane and the AC to the water heater off. And the air conditioner AC off or off via the thermostat.

Just ask if you have any questions. GL!
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:32 PM   #10
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I have some big issues with your numbers on how much power you think you need!
A coffee pot take a lot of power, and Microwave also takes a lot of power, you save 1-3 minutes a few times per day alone will use more than 100AH per day?
You need to look at every item you are looking to run, take out the owners manual and find out the "real numbers" and then add at least 10% for line loss.
Now if you are looking to (Upgrade/Replace) the factory "CONVERTER" (WFCO/IOTA) this will be a "complete replacement" , they do not run is serious Your power panel is nothing more than that, just a power distribution panel that your 120 volt and 12 volt come to and from with a fuse in line. And you want to recharge your batteries from the Honda generator, well not going through the Iota converter will it work for charging 2, 6 volt deep cycle batteries, you will need a battery charger if you want to run all the items you are looking to run (ie; TV. microwave, computers etc) the chargers built into the converter will charge the batteries BUT the 55 amp models that this company provides with a smart chargers need a good amount of power and time to equalize the batteries each day, and a 2000 watt generator running through the converter is on the edge.
So i could go on, i feel you need to do much more home work before you plan to spend some money on this plan, people do not realize how much power it takes to run our normal days today with all the goodies we all want to take with us.
Now let me say this you do have a "good start" you just need to work on more realistic numbers of in and out
Good luck and i hope this helps and Happy Camping
P.S. i also upgraded my converter to the model you are looking at and it is far better than the factory model
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Old 01-26-2016, 06:21 PM   #11
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Lets say you have a separate battery bank, not hooked up to anything with a 3,000 watt inverter, with the house battery hooked up to the electric refrigerator and the DC water pump and furnace. How do stop your bank of batteries from trying to charge up the house batteries ?


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Old 01-26-2016, 06:29 PM   #12
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What I would like to do is have 6 6 volt batteries hooked up to a 3,000 watt inverter and hook that inverter up to the 30amp cable going into the camper. I have to have the converter on to convert 120 volts to DC what I don't want is the house batteries to be charged. Is there a way to stop the house batteries from being charged and still have the converter to work


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Old 01-26-2016, 06:39 PM   #13
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This is just a thought and this is for anyone that likes coffee, I love hot coffee, Mr Coffee just does not get hot enough for me. Mr Coffee also takes a lot of amps when you are on inverter power. I have a percolated that you sit on the stove and use propane to heat it up.


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Old 01-27-2016, 10:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by joelminer View Post
Greeting fellow Forest River RV owners. I am a relative newbie to the RVing world and this is my first post, so be patient with me.

I want to upgrade the 90AH Centennial battery and the battery charger that is built into the WFCO 8955 electric panel that came factory installed in my 2016 Rockwood 8265WS FW. I also want to add a DC to AC inverter.

When I am without shore power, I would like to be able to watch TV in the evenings, make coffee in the AM and run the Microwave for 1-3 minutes at a time as much as two times per day. I would also want to run a couple of laptops for a couple hours a day and charge cell phones. I have done some rough estimates, and believe I would not typically use more that 100AH on any given day.

I am currently thinking about doing the following:

1) add 2 new Lifeline GPL-6CT 6V 300AH batteries connected in series
2) add a stand alone Iota DLS 55 charger to be plugged into my generator or shore power (would switch off breaker to built-in WFCO converter when Iota charger is plugged in)
3) Add a Xantrex PROWatt 2000 - 2000 amp inverter.

I would use 2/0 GA wire for the battery interconnection and from the batteries to the inverter (with a 300amp fuse in line to the inverter). I would then use 4GA wire from the charger to the batteries. I would leave the cabling from the batteries to the WFCO panel the same. Both the charger and inverter would be installed in the pass through compartment just behind the front storage compartment where my batteries will be.

I have a Champion 2000W portable generator that I would run during daylight hours as needed to recharge the battery bank.

My WFCO panel has six breakers in addition to the main breaker.
1) 15Amp breaker providing AC power to the Refrigerator and rear AC
electric sockets.
2) 15 amp breaker providing AC power to the Microwave and Fireplace.
3) 15 amp breaker providing AC power to the front AC electric sockets,
including the GFI sockets.
4), 5) & 6) The HVAC, water heater and converter/charger are on the
remaining three breakers in the WFCO.

I have read numerous threads on this and other forums covering this topic, however I still have not found a solution that I can fully understand.

At first I thought I could simply plug the inverter into my shore power plug
like I do when I fire up my generator. Then I realized that this would fire up my converter/charger and try and charge my batteries in a continuous electrical loop. It would also trigger my refrigerator and water heater to switch to 120AC power, draining my batteries very quickly. The work around this would be to turn off the breakers to the AC, converter and water heater before before turning on my inverter. I would also need to turn my refrigerator to propane only. While this approach works in theory, forgetting to do any of these things could cause issues ranging from rapid battery drainage to fire if I forget to turn off the converter breaker. (any thing I've missed?)

I have read a couple of threads suggesting a N.C. contact relay switch could be used to solve the worst problem, the converter/charger electrical loop. As I understand this approach, you would install a N.C. relay switch between the converter breaker and the converter. The normally connected circuit in the switch would be the power coming from the breaker. The output power from the inverter would then be connected to this relay switch. When the inverter is on, the relay switch opens the circuit and automatically cuts off the power from the breaker to the converter. In theory, this would solve the converter issue, but then I would still need to switch off the breaker to the water heater and turn the Refrigerator to propane only - a non-fool-proof solution. (see method 4 in this link RV Inverter Install: Four Different DIY Methods to Get off the Grid)

I have read other solutions that include installing a sub panel off each circuit I want to power off the inverter. Unfortunately, that would mean I would need to run three sub panels (the refer/rear AC breaker, the microwave breaker and the GFI breaker.) I have not seen any inverters that have more than two outputs, so taking power from these two outputs to power up three sub panels seems daunting.

I am also considering adding some type of solar panel system at a future time.

Has anyone run into the same issues as I have?
Many of us have done similar projects. My tv is 12 volt so that was easy. When dry camping I use a percolator on the propane stove. Don't need the microwave, I heat the coffee on the stove. I did install a second battery to run a 1000 watt full sign wave inverter. I use it for my laptop, camera batteries and cell phone. I use a power strip to the inverter and the inverter is remote controlled. Simple solutions for about $1200.00.

Good luck.

Jim
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Old 01-27-2016, 10:38 AM   #15
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First of all, you are not alone, everybody has these issues and the whole thing can seem insurmountable, but you have been doing your homework.

I like the 2/0 12 volt cabling for the new batteries, as well as the #4 from the new converter as well as the 300 amp fusing.

You will need a Xantrex transfer switch for each 120 volt circuit that you feed. They are idiot proof, easy to install and the two that I have work flawlessly. In fact I never turn off the inverters when we are using the coach (I have 2) since they draw so little in idle that it isn't worth it. When there is no shore power we need them and when there is...insignificant load. They look like this:


Clearly you need one for circuit #2(microwave) and then another for either circuit #1 or circuit #3, depending on which circuit your TV(s) are on. I got lucky in my class A since all the TVs and the left side outlets were on a single circuit. If it turns out that you need to feed circuit #1, you will need to tap into the feed after the reefer and before the outlets. If the reefer is the last feed on the circuit you need to tap in at the beginning and run a new romex line from that point to the reefer. This will insure that the outlets get fed from the inverter, but the reefer will not.

Finally, both transfer switches simply plug into the Prowatt as it has two outlets. Also get the remote switch for the Prowatt and mount it near your panel or wherever you want it so that you can control the inverter from a reasonable place.

Finally some questions.

1) do you think that the pass through bay can handle the more that 200 pounds of weight from the new batteries? 300 amp hour batteries are really heavy and you are using two of them.

2) have I misread your post about the existing batteries? You are adding more that 300 amp hours of 12V and why keep the existing 90 AH and the existing converter? If you just forget about the WFCO and the current batteries, you can simply disconnect the WFCO and wire the new converter to circuit #5 and you are all set.

3) have you considered a slightly bigger converter to shorten your recharge times. I have a Progressive PD9270, which still comes in under the 15 A breaker capacity that you already have.

If you do it this way, you get 2000 watts of AC power when not connected to shore power (or generator) and when you plug in...everything just works and the batteries immediately get 70 amps of recharge current (well for a few minutes till it automatically drops down the 13.6 volts) If you use the PD9270 and get the remote pendant you can manually force the converter into boost mode when you are running the generator to get to 90% charge as rapidly as possible.

Now for the fun part. The microwave always works, as does the TV and selected outlets. Don't worry about overloading the ProWatt, if you do that it will just politely shut down and come back automatically when the load drops to a manageable level.

Good luck

1) I plan on the batteries being in the front compartment, not the pass through. The combined batteries weigh 180 pounds. I am planning on getting rid of the existing battery. I don't forsee any issues unless I add another battery set in the future.
2)I am planning on getting rid of the existing battery, so I would have only the 2 batteries at 300AH. Maybe I am being too lazy, but I am trying to avoid replacing the entire 6v distribution panel. I believe the WFCO battery charger is built into the 6v distribution panel of the WFCO, so it seems to me that simply dropping in a new converter plugged into the existing distribution panel will not work. Thus, my plan to purchase a new stand alone Iota converter/charger to be used only when plugged directly into shore power or the generator (if plugged into shore power, I would have to flip off the converter breaker when charging). PD makes a PD 4655 converter charger that is a full replacement module for my WFCO, including the 6v distribution panel. From other posts I've read, it seems to definitely be better than the WFCO, but the Iota would dedicate its entire 55amp capacity to charging and charge in bulk mode at a slightly higher rate than the PD 4655. My hope is that a dedicated 55Amp quality 4 stage charger will be adequate for what I am trying to accomplish.
3)See response #2

If I use your approach, I would need three transfer switches since I want to be able to run both TV's which, of course, are on two separate breakers. Can I run two transfer switches off of one of the outputs from the inverter? This means I would be running all of my AC plugs off of a single output on the inverter. I doubt I would ever be running more than two things at a time.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:36 AM   #16
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1) I plan on the batteries being in the front compartment, not the pass through. The combined batteries weigh 180 pounds. I am planning on getting rid of the existing battery. I don't forsee any issues unless I add another battery set in the future....
OK, now I understand. One of the things that I like about the forum is that it forces me to do some research before responding.

The PD4655 is a direct replacement for your current WFCO, but it doesn't replace the entire panel, only the guts of the WFCO. They have detailed instructions http://www.progressivedyn.com/pdfs/4...tion_guide.pdf

So, your WFCO would disappear the new 4655 would fit into your enclosure, be powered by the existing 120 V breaker and wire directly to the existing 12V distribution panel...and you can get it for less than $200.00. Nice and clean. No plug switching or external 120V wiring. Since that breaker is not powered by your transfer switches there is no worry about the inverter feeding it.

One advantage of the PD line is that you can get a "charge pendant" that will allow you to FORCE the converter into bulk mode manually. This will give you faster charging at 14.4 volts and reduce your generator run times while boondocking. We used to do this by readjusting the voltage regulators on sailboats that only ran their engines to get out to the starting line and never charged enough to last the whole day. The Iota also offers a remote pendant, but it does not let you manually change the charge mode and only indicates what it currently is set to. The pendant less than $20. I see from the 4655 manual that you have to do a slight modification to the pendant since the 4655 has a different connector that the phone connector that comes on the pendant but PD has instructions for that.

Yes you can power all 3 transfer switches off of the Xantrex. All you need to do is make a short extension cord with a male plug at one end and a utility box with another duplex outlet in it. I would plug the circuit with the microwave directly into the Xantrex since it might carry higher currents and plug your TV and outlet transfer switches into the utility box outlets.

If you install this way there is literally nothing special for you to do. It all just works! I always try to do things this way so that somebody else doesn't have to be Thomas Edison to make everything work. When you start the generator you can power the entire rig and the PD will charge things and the inverter will automatically be bypassed by the transfer switches. Same is true for shore power, which in fact the generator actually is. Of course watch your loads when under genny as a converter putting out 55 amps and a microwave and a couple of TVs will add up.
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