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Old 05-20-2014, 08:12 PM   #1
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1999 Fleetwood Wilderness power converter issues

Hi,

I've got a 1999 Fleetwood Wilderness GL fifth wheel that's new to me and has some electrical (12VDC) issues. (I've never owned a travel trailer before, but I'm a quick study if I can find the right info. )

It's got a Progressive Dynamics Inteli-power PD9140A converter (installed in 2001), and I've since replaced the battery with a deep-cycle marine battery. No fuses are blown on the converter or the DC power distribution panel. The converter has two wires in each post. On the positive side, I've been able to identify one as the charge wire going to the battery, and the other is (or has to be) the wire going to the DC power distribution panel. (This wiring seems odd to me.)

What happens is that if I leave any DC load on overnight, the battery is basically dead by morning, the DC lighting is very, very dim, the CO detector is beeping, and the fridge isn't running.

I've left the battery sitting with a 2 amp battery charger running from the house while I'm trying to figure out what's wrong, but this is not a long-term solution.

Per the converter manual (all 4 pages of it), I disconnected the positive wire (or wires in this case) from the converter's outgoing positive terminal and tested the voltage on the converter's terminals, and it was 13.6V, which is exactly what it should be under no load. If I disconnect the battery completely but keep the converter wired up to the DC distribution panel (and plugged in to AC, of course), the DC lights go dim and DC appliances stop running. If I remember correctly, the converter's voltage reads somewhere between 4 and 6V.

AC power seems to be fine; I believe I'm hooked up to a 120V, 30 amp post we had an electrician install. Last I checked, it read about 124V.

Any ideas as to why the power converter tests as good but then can't or doesn't supply much DC power? I'm basically running off the battery right now, and I don't want it to go bad by being hooked up to this charger for too long.

If I need to replace the converter I can, but I need to be absolutely sure before I spend the $150-$200 to replace it. Any help is appreciated.
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:10 PM   #2
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I don't have the same converter/charger that you do , but the wiring from the C/C to the battery bank and the RV fuse panels are both protected by in-line 12v circuit breakers, if you have a similar set up you would need to check for poor connections there. You could use an ohm meter and test the wire from the C/C to the fuse panel and to the battery. Should test zero ohms.
There is also the possibility that although your C/C is producing 13.6v , it is not putting out the amps necessary to charge the battery and power the RV.
My C/C is rated at 75 amps . You would need to find out the amp rating and how to test it, for your unit.

EDIT, With a dead battery the voltage should go to 14.2 >14.5 v. right away.

Right now it would appear that your C/C is not ramping up, amp output, when the loads increase
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Old 05-21-2014, 03:11 PM   #3
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Hey Skip,

Thanks for the reply. According to the wiring diagram in the trailer's manual, there should be a 40 amp breaker in the charge line between the fuse panel and the battery, but I don't see anything between the C/C and the fuse panel on the diagram:



I haven't been able to find this breaker, but the battery can run my DC power with no problem, so it doesn't seem like that breaker would be the problem, would it?

As for the breaker between the C/C and the fuse panel, I just don't see one. Now the C/C is on one of the AC breakers, of course (though not on a dedicated one, I think), but I don't think that's what you're talking about.

As for the rating, the C/C is rated at 40 amps (including charging and load) on the output. (Input: 105-130VAC, 60Hz, 600 Watts; Output: 13.6VDC 40 amp)

As for the battery connection, should the battery be connected to the power converter itself or to the fuse panel? I've seen several videos on swapping out the power converter, and no one seems to have it wired this way. They seem to have it wired C/C -> battery -> fuse panel or perhaps C/C -> fuse panel -> battery. Here's the front of the fuse panel:



Should the battery charge line be running from one of the other two lugs next to the C/C line?

Here's the C/C itself. You can see it has two wires, one set going to the fuse panel, the other going to the battery:



I'll do those continuity tests as soon as I can. The one from the C/C to the fuse panel won't be hard, but the one from the C/C to the battery will; the C/C and battery are a good 15-20 feet apart. Any suggestions on how to do that except to find a really long wire?

As for testing the current the converter is putting out on its own, unless my memory is failing me, Ohm's Law should do that quite easily. R = V/I, and R is constant on any given circuit, no matter the voltage V or current I. To get resistance on a multimeter as I understand it, I remove all loads from the circuit and then test for resistance (the multimeter applies a tiny current to detect it). Then I use V above (13.6V) and R (which is the same, no matter the voltage or current) to solve for I. Should work, no?
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:36 PM   #4
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Key word on the diagram ; at the bottom is " typical" would appear probably for, shortest wire, the manufacturer went straight to the C/C with the charge wire. The circuit breaker may be somewhere unusual like in an electrical box at the end of the cable from the tow vehicle.
Circuit breaker may have some sort of directional resistance, but that would be weird.
I'm 50 years out on my grade 8 study and use of ohm's law, so enough said. I have a run of 25' of wire that I keep handy for extended distance checks but in a pinch an extension cord has been put to use.
If the charge wire, shows full battery voltage at the C/Charger and the ground for the C/C & battery are good ( 0 ohms , tested to the frame, because I doubt that the wire is direct battery to C/C ) I'm leaning towards internal issues in the convertor charger.

Edit: Did you remove a cover/retainer plate from the 110 breaker side of the panel , or has someone else been in there playing around?
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:29 PM   #5
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Yeah, thanks for pointing out that "typical" in the diagram. Totally passed by me. I'll have a look around where the vehicle electrical line comes in; I read somewhere that this breaker should be less than 18" away from the battery, but it didn't explain why—no idea if it's true.

The continuity test from the C/C to the fuse panel showed good continuity, and a direct resistance test showed about 8.6 Ohms; the instructions on my multimeter say that it will show continuity for anything under 30 Ohms. I'll have to go back and test the grounds; good idea. I also may have found a small gauge wire I can use to get to the battery; will try it tonight or in the morning.
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:36 PM   #6
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The 18" is a safe distance measure , because the wiring is full battery power they want a short distance , preferably away from metal ; any possible grounds ; for fire prevention. In the event of a short the insulation will burn off that wire and ignite any wood it's in contact with. So they try to place the breaker to prevent that.
Going from the C/C to the battery the , C/Cs limited out put wouldn't burn the wire, before tripping internal fuses or shutting down the C/C.
My last 5er , the wire went through the back of the plastic battery box and the circuit breaker was mounted to the back of the plastic.
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Old 05-23-2014, 03:35 PM   #7
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OK, I see some inconsistencies here. Firstly, Check exactly where the wire from the converter goes. Typically they go directly to the batteries, then another wire from batteries to 12 Volt fuse panel through a fuse or circuit breaker. What size wires are used from the converter to batteries and batteries to 12 volt fuse panel and are the negative 12 wires attached to the frame from the -12 volt panel using the frame as a conduit for -12 volts.
My guess is that the second + wire at the converter is to the brakes through the breakaway switch but it needs finding out. If the - 12 volt wires use the frame as a conduit back to the fuse panel, that is poor wiring practices. There should always be an unbroken wire on the negative side between the batteries to the fuse panel and a buss all negative wires attach to and a separate ground that goes directly to the frame. Wire size in my opinion is also critical. It should be large enough to carry the loads without too much voltage drop. 8 ohms is way way too high resistance. Clean all connections and get that resistance down. If the wires are using the frame, fix that too. # 4 wire would be my choice for all wiring between batteries and 12 volt panel on both negative and positive sides. It is commonly available at welding shops. I would use A single # 4/0 wire from batteries to the frame and wire the converter to batteries with #4 wires, and the batteries to 12 volt fuse panel and run a separate -12 volts lead from - 12 batteries to negative buss on the 12 volt fuse panel.

Onto the converter /charger. I'm guessing it's bad based on your questions but it needs bench testing to be sure. Pull it out, put a load across it, and check voltage. No matter how large the load up to the converters capability (in this case 40 amps) it should read 12.8 volts or higher. If its not, then replace the converter.

You also have to find that fuse or breaker in the battery lead between the batteries and the 12 volt fuse panel. Typically its near the batteries in an underfloor space but I don't know your rig. It's a small silver block about 3/4 by 1+1/4 and has two posts coming out of it that the battery leads are attached to. Good luck and keep us posted.
-Paul R. Haller-
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