Well, my converter is also a battery charger (says so right on the front panel - LOL).  But I left shore power plugged in for 24 hours with no other drain and it's definitely not charging.  I have it on a simple monitor and no love this afternoon when I went to check (12.5 just after turning off loads down to 12.3 per the monitor).

Otherwise the converter is working as expected.  Well, as long as I have it plugged in (yes, that was this week's facepalm).  12v and 110v all work as expected.

House battery also runs 12v as expected when not plugged in and before I popped her back in a couple of weeks ago made sure the water levels were topped up.

I did a little research– and so tomorrow will double check my fuses in the converter (they are those glass tube ones) as well as my battery polarity although I'm pretty sure the latter is not the problem.  Just cover all my bases.

If it's not either of those things then I assume that my converter is bad?  

And more importantly, am I also correct in assuming that I can't trickle charge and leave the house battery connected at the same time?  Currently I'm disconnecting before putting on the charger, but just checking to see if that is perhaps an unnecessary step.

As always, thanks in advance for any thoughts!

Tags: battery, charging, converter

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Good morning, all;

While John "T" Nordhoff and I do have many things in common, there are a few differences.  And I do need to point out that these comments are provided for the more common "lead-acid" type batteries used in our motor homes and other motor vehicles, along with those in many towable RVs.  Also, these comments do not apply to the recently available Li-Ion or Lithium-Ion light weight batteries now being offered.  That is a different and more expensive subject.

My definition of a "three stage" or a "four stage" battery charger is a little more complex.  I feel that all chargers, whether or not they say so, will in some way or to some degree, go through the three (3) basic charging stages; "Bulk," "Absorption," and "Finishing."  Well, actually the battery is doing that anyway, but if you can tailor the charger output so that it matches what the battery wants during each stage, the charging goes much better.  Some of them will also have a fourth stage, the "Float" stage or maintenance stage.  There may also be a selectable, but not necessarily automatic in most cases, fifth (5th) stage for "Equalization" of mainly flooded cell or liquid electrolyte Lead-Acid batteries, such as the common engine starting type battery.  Usually the Equalization stage will be used with a multiple deep cycle liquid electrolyte battery array used as a battery bank.  And that also means that a single battery, such as the engine starting battery, does not need an "equalization" charge.  Most SLA (Sealed Lead Acid), VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid), AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), "Gell Cell," or other "sealed lead acid" batteries will not need an "equalization" charge, and most of them specifically state that they should not be "equalized."

The voltages seen in the three basic charging stages will be in the 13.6 to 14.4 V DC range.  Once the battery is recharged, some of the modern chargers will drop back to the fourth or "Float" stage for battery charge maintenance and long term standby where the voltage is reduced to about 13.2 V DC to reduce or eliminate any bubbling or gassing in the liquid electrolyte that we may notice as a slow reduction or drop in the level of the liquid electrolyte in the battery.  This possible drop in the liquid electrolyte level is why we need to check the "water level" in the battery at regular intervals to see if we need to add some distilled water to bring the electrolyte level back up to the regular specified level, which is at the "fill ring" or the top line on a transparent or translucent plastic case, but you check the "fill" level when the battery is fully recharged, not when it has been in use for a while.

During the discharge process or chemical reaction, the "water level" will go down normally.  This is why you check for the "water level" when the battery is fully recharged and as much of the sulphuric acid part of the electrolyte as possible has been driven back out of the lead plates and into the electrolyte solution during recharging, before you check to see what the "water level" is now.  The "water level" will rise during the recharging process.

However, if the battery has been sitting for a long time, or no one has checked the battery in a long time, take a look at it to be sure that there is liquid above at least the level of the separators inside the battery cells.  The lead plates in the battery must not have the electrolyte level drop down to below the level of the lead plates.  The two lead plates are a different form of lead in the battery, where one is pure Lead, and the other as a Lead-Oxygen or Lead-Oxide combination.  When the pure Lead plate is exposed to the air, it will combine with the Oxygen in the air to form another Lead-Oxide plate in the battery on that part of the pure Lead plate that was exposed to the air.  That part of the plate will no longer be reactive in the electro-chemical equation, and the capacity of the battery will be reduced.  This is why it is so important to keep the water level above the level of the separator plates in your liquid electrolyte battery.

However, do not over-fill your battery. As mentioned, check the "water level" to see that it is above the separators before you recharge a battery.  The "water level" will rise as the battery is being recharged.

If you fill the cells to the top before recharging the battery, you will have the battery electrolyte -- a water and sulphuric acid mixture -- come out of the vents for the regular liquid electrolyte battery, and it will get on things and remove paint and rust parts.  Not good.

Actually, the main reason why I like and recommend the four (4) stage "smart" chargers, is the fourth "Float" stage.  The "Float" or maintenance stage is so effective in reducing water loss over time.  I have not needed to add water to my coach or house batteries for two (2) years now since installing the new "smart" charging RV 12 V DC PD-4655 power supply in my motor home.  Yes, you do still need to open up the battery compartment and check the battery or batteries, but you will not need to add water so much.  The other things that still need to be done with your battery will be done as usual at this time, such as looking at the battery terminal clamps or connections to check for corrosion and that the terminals are still tight on the battery connections, the battery hold-down system is still working, and the other things that are done when checking the battery system.

With the new "smart" chargers and some regular checking and maintenance, you really can expect to get eight (8) years or possibly even longer service out of your batteries in a moderate climate.  But, yes, at some point, all of us will need to replace the batteries in our vehicles.  Just like with our pets, our tires, and many other things in our lives, everything does have a "life expectancy."  We may not enjoy it when it does happen, but if we can say that we did everything we could to make their life longer and more enjoyable, we have done everything we can, and we have done a good job.

Enjoy;

Ralph
Latté Land, Washington

 GREAT, INFORMATIVE AND MORE COMPLEX DISCUSSION RALPH,,,,,,,, I'm long enough winded as it is and didn't go into such good detail as you have.......

 We probably treated Dawn to MORE info then she needs lol but she's a good student and I bet she will end up with some sort of what we call a "Smart 3 or 4 Stage Charger" even if its not the brand we use. 

 I sure enjoy chatting with you

 John T

I LIKE information - it helps me make more informed decisions.  Looks like I am getting a 4-stage charger/35 amp converter from Progressive Dynamics.  For NOW they are piggy backing it and wiring it to use the charger only but when the converter does fail, I'll have the unit in order to be able to replace it.  Looks like they are getting it cheaper than I can find online so overall, I feel confident these guys have my back and are giving me my best solutions.  I hope when the time comes to change out the converter I'll have enough knowledge to do that work myself.  I'm really enjoying the electric aspect of things.

What I really appreciate is understanding the battery fill and how to do it - I'm afraid I did my last check after having it on the trickle charger so it's good to know it should have been at rest (at least 12 hours?) and really appreciate the smart charger as my house battery is in an awkward place - I have to remove a water reservoir in order to pull it out enough to access the water fill.  If I overfill and have to use a turkey baster to pull some of the liquid out - what is a safe container to dispose of it in?

Yesterday I had to mount the weboost antenna - first time running wires and it went well - pulled it down next to the plumbing vent in the closet.  The roof is aluminum so it had a metal plane but I had to JB weld down a large washer for the magnetized little stubby antenna.  I suspect I'm going to have to replace that with a directional mount in Quartzsite one day but I hope it will work for now.  The worst issue was just figuring out best place to mount it and I'm sure by the time it's all said and done I'll have lots of those little washers all over the roof of my RV - LOL.  It's kind of in the way of coming up the ladder now, but I discovered I can reach over and just temporarily move the antenna over to the plumbing vent cap (it has that metal band - so grips it a little).  I thought about just mounting it to the plumbing vent but then wasn't sure if there would be enough metal plane then between the collar and the dicor...?

Oh, wait, I've changed the subject...ignore me!

Woooooooooo Hooooooooooooooo a Progressive Dynamics 4 Stage WISE CHOICE WEEDHOPPER I bet our friend Ralph will agree ????????????

FWIW when I installed my PD charger I left the old Converter/Charger all in place. That way all the 12 VDC Fused Distribution portion was intact no changes required. I just turned off its 120 VAC Input and my PD charger connected direct to my four batteries to charge them and I wired my battery output up to the old existing 12 VDC distribution panel input SO EASY AND A PIECE OF CAKE, works great.

Of course JB weld epoxy is good and strong and a sealant, but in addition I like to cover it all once done with DICOR self leveling lap sealant.  I've NEVER had any of leak when I used it.

I'm considering a We Boost myself. Its good to mount the external receiving antenna up on the roof as far away as possible from the indoor re transmitting antenna. 

Thanks for the feedback

 John T

Weedhopper - snicker - LOL!  

I will take pictures and post here after they do this 'piggyback' as described and have asked questions about what they did exactly - report back and we can see if all you guys approve.

JB Weld - that was just for sealing the washer to the roof to create a magnetic point for the antenna (no hole).  In theory if either antenna or washer become unattached something will stick to something and won't go flying into someone's windshield behind me.  

I ran the wire up through the plumbing vent - once I run the camp pro for wifi I will probably see about sealing that up, but right now the vent seems to be protecting that area anyway (but not to my satisfaction - everything dry, but still, that's the cabinet roof down there).  I may also have to run a third antenna if I get the directional next spring for the weboost.  

I think the BEST solution for the antenna would have been to have affixed a metal plate to the a/c shroud or maybe I could have created some sort of telescoping pole with a plate...but then I would have lost wire and I had just enough for the run I wanted to do.  For now I'm trying it in the space between the ladder, shroud, bathroom vent and the plumbing vent - good 12 inches all the way around each.  And out of the way from the dinette window (where I'm mounting the weboost below the dinette) or solar panels that might go on the side in the future.  I don't have a lot of prime real estate up there!

I can't say yet whether the WeBoost is good or not.  It's my second (refurbished) as the first definitely didn't do anything out of the box.  This one seemed to show me some slight improvement in testing so I installed it and have the extra antennas from the first they didn't want me to ship back (in case either of those were the duds - and now I've mixed up which was which).  Problem is around here, lots of trees so maybe not the best field test.

 Dawn, my question about the We Boost you may be able to answer is this:

  I'm sure it will boost the VOICE signal for my cell phone, BUT will it also boost the DATA signal for my wireless mobile hotspots like the ATT ZTE Mobley and/or My Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack ?????????????????

 That "Weedhoper" reference is the old TV show Kung Fu with David Carradine and his student whom he called Weedhoper if I recall correct ??

 John T 

Hi John - that's exactly why I bought it - for data from cell phone hotspot or mobile hotspot if I get one, so while I can't vouch for it yet, in theory, yes.

Yes, grasshopper!  But I like weedhopper better!!!!  ROFLOL.  Much more appropriate to my skill set!

That and Charlie's Angels - go to evening TV shows with the fam in the day :-)

Hey John -

Today while I was working I went to text a picture via messaging, wouldn't go through after two tries.  Flipped on the WeBoost and it sent right away.  That's promising.

FYI - I picked up the auto one, not the RV one and for my small rig it works - be aware though, according to the directions there's only a small donut ring of usefulness...something like 12 inches from the antenna but not more than 36 inches away.  However, on forums some people swear by just setting their hotspot directly on the antenna.  When my pic went through I was about 8-12 in away.

When I wired my indoor antenna I used those tiny little command hooks for the wire, then the antenna itself will velcro in the "usual" spot by the dinette (it comes ready to do that with the pieces you need).  If the antenna doesn't work as well there, I can pull it from the little hooks and have enough to move it closer to the captain's chair, up into the loft, down into the cab or over onto the table.  That should cover most eventualities, but don't forget my actual living space is like twelve by eight maybe.

Hope that helps!  I bought mine from Amazon refurbished and then when it didn't work they had me contact WeBoost directly for them to replace.  Was pretty smooth for the transaction (they sent me the new one before I'd even returned the old one) and I ended up under $200.

Now, just saying - I am buying my camp wifi pro from technorv.com - and maybe future antennas - pay a little more but they offer a lot of support to get you up and running and I am thinking for the wifi one I could use a little more help and advice.

Good morning Dawn; 

This will address only the question about overfilling a liquid electrolyte battery, and whether or not you would want to use a turkey baster or some other similar utensil to pull out some of the liquid above the maximum level setting. 

If you can, try to avoid doing that.  One of the reasons why is that, while you were putting only water into the battery resulting in a high electrolyte level, trying to remove some of the excess electrolyte will mean that you are also pulling out some of the sulphuric acid that is in the dilute sulphuric acid and water mixture. 

One way to do this is by using an old simple battery charger that is not one of the modern multiple stage "smart" chargers, and let the higher end-of-charge current flow from the old battery charger electrolyze the water into that gassing or bubbling that we will see with the older simple battery chargers.  The water is being separated into the hydrogen and oxygen components that will dissipate safely into the atmosphere, while the suphuric acid remains inside the battery.  This will bring the electrolyte "Specific Gravity" back to the normal 1.260 to 1.280 range.  The only precaution is the old standard thing about not charging the battery in a confined space, but instead do it outside, and do it away from any open flames, sparks, or cigarette smokers.  Connect the battery charger to the battery, before you plug in the charger, and unplug or turn off the battery charger before you disconnect the clamps from the battery terminals.  Yes, the hydrogen gas that evolves can be highly explosive, and can demonstrate once again "The Hindenburg Effect." 

Enjoy; 

Ralph 

Latté Land, Washington 

How creative!!!!  That is really good to know - of course using a turkey baster to fill it I shouldn't overfill but crap happens!!!  

Good morning, John; 

Very close.  John Carradine was the student in Kung Fu, and his Kung Fu Master called him "Grass Hopper." 

The Kung Fu Master did not last very long.  He was good at fending off swords and spears, but he could not "sense" the bullet from the pistol held by the governmental official. 

Enjoy; 

Ralph 

Latté Land, Washington 

Don't you agree weedhopper is more appro?  LOL!

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