a dumbledore candy favorite

I have mostly convinced myself that the remaining electrical problem with my trailer is the power converter, but it could be a case of the generator not pushing out enough current when it’s idling. I’m going to send an email to the manufacturer of the power converter and see what they think.

Two nights ago is when I purchased the new battery and plugged it in. I had all the built-in lights in the trailer running for a few minutes, and everything was solid as a rock.

Last night, after the trailer had been plugged into the house power for an entire day and in theory was now fully charged, I tried the generator again. The pulse was back.

I have to take a moment out and describe how the power converter works. Some of my readers probably know more about this than I do, but there’ll be some without a clue. It is a three-stage converter. What this means in real terms is that it supplies 14.4 volts when the battery is very low or there is a high power drain, 13.6 volts in nominal mode (low load or normal charging), and 13.2 volts in “float” mode, which is basically a trickle charge. The converter has a fan, which seems to kick in whenever I have AC power connected and three or more lights on. I believe that in addition to running when it senses high temperature, it automatically runs whenever it’s in boost mode as a preventive measure.

After I stood a while under the pulsing lights trying to figure out what to test next, I knelt down next to the power converter and heard a soft click going in time with the pulse in the lights (several times per second). It is my opinion that the converter is bouncing between boost and nominal charge modes while connected to the generator, and the click is likely from the fan relay, assuming it’s relay controlled. If it’s not, then it’s probably the fan itself. The pulse would be explained by the change in voltage level.

Tonight, while we were at K-Mart for other things, I purchased a battery charger. It took about 20 minutes on fast-charge to bring the new battery back up to full. I then repeated my generator test. Solid as a rock, for several minutes. Then it began to pulse again. Also, the fan was running when the lights were steady, but turned off and clicked when the lights went back to pulsing. I turned off a couple of lights, and it was steady for a little while, then it would switch back and forth from steady to pulsing, with the fan running while it was steady. If I plugged the vacuum cleaner in and turned it on, the lights would go steady and the fan would run until I turned it off.

As of right now, I have had the battery charger connected to the original battery for about an hour and a half. When I first plugged it in, it said it was at about 25% charged. Right now, it is still between 25% and 50%. This doesn’t bode well for the status of that battery, but as they say, the night is young. In the morning I’ll know more, and if it says fully charged, I will repeat the generator test with that battery. Because I am over 4000 feet in elevation and will be normally using the generator at even higher altitude, I ordered the high altitude kit for the Kipor generator a few minutes ago, that might help too.

Does anyone local to SLC have any equipment for reliably measuring load current and voltage on both 110V and 12V circuits while they are actively in use? In addition to the converter manufacturer, I’m going to start a dialog with the generator manufacturer. It’ll have to be email, because every single contact number they have is in China. They’re likely to want to have all the parameters measured, but I don’t have the equipment.

5 responses to “a dumbledore candy favorite”

  1. .–+ battery 1 – –.
    | |
    .–+ battery 2 – –.
    | |
    | |
    .–+ converter – -.

    Try that. Both batteries should have an identical charge in parallel, if you do that for a day or so then disconnect them and measure their voltage, any difference indicates one of them is failing to charge properly. That setup doubles your amperage while holding your voltage steady, which is electrically speaking, the same thing as giving you deeper pockets to address power expenditures. From the rapid discharges you’ve described, it sounds like a one battery setup isn’t giving you the depth of charge you need.


  2. Damn proportional fonts. The vertical lines are meant to be separated by a wider gap, at the terminals.

  3. I understood what you were shooting for even though the fonts didn’t cooperate. I will try the parallel charging just to check the batteries.

    It’ll be difficult to permanently add a second battery for a couple of reasons. One is that there isn’t very much available physical space on the tongue. The other is the trailer’s GVWR. It’s only about 350 pounds larger than the dry weight of the trailer itself. The AC unit is around 100 pounds all by itself. A battery weighs around 50 pounds. We have a number of things that we keep in the trailer full-time, and I think we’re already maybe a little bit over the recommend weight limit. When the next big thing in marine battery technology becomes affordable, I’ll do a serious multi-battery upgrade.

    One battery really should be enough. We haven’t added any 12V devices to the trailer – the air conditioner is purely 110V. On the last campout we had last summer, we were plugged into shore power the entire time. When we got the trailer back and had it in our driveway, it was plugged into shore power as well. It spent two months at the dealer while they worked on it, and the power cord was sprawled on the ground when I went to pick it up, so I believe it was plugged in most of the time it was there, too. That battery should have been almost fully charged.

  4. OIC – I had it in mind that this converter you were talking about was a 12VDC -> 110VAC inverter…

    Kind of the classic:

    Wind/solar/transformer 12VDC source -> 12VDC storage battery -> 110VAC inverter -> 110VAC devices.

    If that’s not what you’ve got, or if the 12VDC battery is downstream from the 110V line, then I have no idea.


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