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Old 10-27-2011, 11:52 AM   #1
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Project: Converter Swap–WFCO 9835 for PowerMax Boondocker PM3B-45

Project: Converter Swap–WFCO 9835 for PowerMax Boondocker PM3B-45

Well, I went through all the song and dance and jive doing all that wiring upgrades and relocating the converter in my backlogged projects series only to discover that my original converter, the WFCO 9835 35-amp deckmount, was on its way out.

In the past, the popular unit of choice has been the Progressive Dynamics 9200 series with its remote charging pendant, however, I am not seeing a 35amp model in the line up over at www.BestConverter.com, the lowest amperage rated unit they have is a 45amp model, which is likely overkill for my rig.

So, I fired off an email to Randy over at BestConverter.com inquiring as to the fate of my old converter to verify that my suspicions were indeed true.

My email dialogue went like this:

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:

Howdy folks . Late 2008, I bought a WFCO 9835 deckmount converter from ya guys and been using it without issue up till just recently.
I'm trying to figure out whats going on with it, as I've moved it from where it was originally installed (roughly about 11' away from the batteries) to where it is now, (roughly 2' from the batteries) and now its acting strange.
The unit is making a constant clicking sound when listened to up close. Before, the unit would perpetually stay in 13.6 volt mode, doing the desulfation boost every 24 hours) which I figured was because it was 11' away on 4 gauge wire. So, I moved it to its new location, which is right on the other side of the wall from the batteries.

Once moved, the unit was performing as normal, but now actually going into boost, and staying there (Left it alone for 3 days, it never went out of 14.8 volt bulk). I figured this was due to the fact that my two Group 31 Trojans were at the end of their service life, so I replaced the batteries with two new of the same make and brand and now the unit clicks constantly and the lights pulse. The batteries are connected correctly, and all contacts were cleaned and polished to ensure good connectivity.
Also, the unit can no longer be run on the generator. Before, it worked just fine, but now, whenever it is switched on the generator starts cycling (revving up and down like a load is being added and removed rapidly), something that only happens when the converter is used, nothing else causes this.

Is any of this normal for the unit? I personally think something has gone out in the WFCO unit. I cannot find any articles specific to the 9835 online, most of the problem threads I find are related to the older 8000 series units.

Thanks for any enlightenment you can provide on this bugger. Either way its gonna likely have to be replaced, as I don't want it damaging the $400 in new batteries I just installed!

Randy@BestConverter wrote:

Hi Matt,
While I don't know what, something has failed internally and it will need replaced. Anything or nothing could have caused it to fail.

I would not recommend another WFCO unit however. The Powermax Boondocker is a much better performing unit and has a better warranty. They never come back. Thanks and here is a link if you decide to replace it.
PowerMax Converters
Randy

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:

How does the PowerMax Booster Compare to say the 9200 Series Progressive Dynamics unit?

Randy@BestConverter.com wrote:

Similar except its a constant current based charger, uses a slightly higher voltage (14.6 max) for faster charging and has 3 year warranty. I prefer it. If you are fimiliar with constant current versus constant voltage, there is no questions the job gets dont better and faster with a current limited unit. Both are good units though.

Randy

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:

Oh yes, and I forgot to ask, but what is the AC wattage usage of the 35amp/45amp PMB units? Their detail pages on the website don't list anything in particular.

Randy@BestConverter.com wrote:

I don't have it on the website yet but they are vitrually identical to all of the other is you find another table.

Randy

-------------

Wanting to make certain I didn’t make a repeat of buying the WFCO-grade of converter again, I started up a thread over on RV.net and got folks opinions and in the end, decided to take Randy’s advice and a chance (not too many of these PowerMax Boondockers out there yet amongst the RV community that I can see) and ordered a 45 amp PowerMax Boondocker .

My parcel arrived in fairly short order, this morning 30 minutes after I left for work, in fact .

When I got home from work, I dug into it .

First off, as you can see, the PowerMax, on the right, is almost double the size of the older WFCO unit, on the left, I originally had, but its shorter in overall height compared to the WFCO. The only thing I ‘m not 100% thrilled about is that the PowerMax is completely flush, where as the WFCO was offset a bit to allow air space between the unit and the surface it fastened to.

So far, the PowerMax is running substantially cooler than its predecessor under similar conditions. At the moment, I’m not even generating enough load to cause the cooling fan to cycle on.



Sadly, I had to drill a couple more holes in my dinette seat , but at least they’re hidden underneath a cushion.

Swap out was pretty straight forward and took very little time, I was done in under 45 minutes . Simply disconnect the battery wires (Negative first!) after unplugging the unit and unbolting it from the underside of the dinette seat and doing the reverse (after marking and drilling out the new bolt holes) for installation of the Boondocker.

Original WFCO


PowerMax installed


Once I had everything hooked up, I flipped on the power switch and nothing exploded or caught fire, which to me is always a good thing!

Once it had been on for a couple seconds, I flipped the switch on my voltage meter to check what mode the PowerMax had decided it needed to run in. According to everything I’ve read, the unit starts in 13.6 volt mode, then checks to see if the batteries need more and will go up to the 14.6 Boost mode, or down to the 13.2 float mode if the batteries do not need charging.

Much to my joy, she went down to 13.2 volts, something I don’t think the WFCO ever did, which is why my Trojan’s died an early death as they were being constantly boiled, even with water being added regularly, eventually the plates degraded to the point of no return.

As I sit here, typing my blog entry, the converter is still working just fine and still happily at 13.2 volts. My lights no longer flicker and so far, I’m happy with the PowerMax Boondocker.

I still need to see how she performs in a recharging situation and operating off the generator. I wasn’t able to use my generator with the WFCO on my last two participations on the Fall Colors Rally,

Thanks for following along, I will keep ya’ll posted as things progress!
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:06 PM   #2
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Redneck,
Looks great and should give you many days of feeling good. Only thing I might comment on is the Constant voltage vs constant current statement. 3 stage battery charging is a common process that is the same across devices:

Boost mode: Set constant current at constant voltage until battery voltage reaches set point. For PD thats 14.4 volts. For Powermax thats 14.6 volts. Please understand that charging voltage has to be higher than battery voltage in order for the charging process to happen (charging current flow is in the opposite direction of discharge current flow). To reach 14.6 volts at battery, the charging votage has to be higher than 14.6 volts.

Absorbtion (normal) mode: Maintain constant voltage (13.6VDC for both). A battery will only accept just so much current during this portion of time and as state-of-charge (SOC) increases the current is decreased in order to maintain the 13.6VDC reference point. When the SOC reaches approximately the 95% point the current flow into the battery is minimal. For most 3-stage converters they will stay at this point primarily just supplying enough current to support the normal coach loads. If the converter does not detect additional load requirements for X number of hours (30 for a PD9200), then it converts to float mode.

Float (storage) mode: constant voltage (13.2 for both) with minimal (i.e. 1-2 amps) of current to battery.

Equalization mode (not provided in the Powermax): When in float mode, the PD9200 will bring the voltage up to 14.4 volts for 15 minutes every 21hrs. This is used for desulfication of the battery plates. It is a feature that you would have wanted to have.

Powermax: http://www.bestconverter.com/assets/...B%20Manual.pdf
PD9200: http://www.progressivedyn.com/PD9200_Manual.pdf

Dave
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:46 PM   #3
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I've read alot of things on the subject of Equalization and Desulphation of batteries, including how often the batteries really need it and it seems experiences are all over the spectrum, including premature battery degradation from too frequent of equalization charges.

I think at this point, I'm going to go with the medium of the monthly boosting vs daily, and get a good external charger to do it with (Something I need anyway as my truck by itself sits for roughly a month at a time between uses).

My previous converter, the WFCO 9835 did the boost every 24 hours thing, and my batteries weren't holding a charge very well by the time 5 years rolled around. Even with keeping the water topped up using the battery watering kit I put in.
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Old 10-27-2011, 04:00 PM   #4
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While I am aware of the Equalization/Desulphation and it's purpose, like you, I could only relate what others observations have been. I normally keep my batteries disconnected when not in use and top them off once a month. With a 78 Chieftain, I do not have all of the parasitic loads many of the users here do. I did upgrade to a PD9245 and plan on installing a B.I.R.D controller for when I use the coach. I simply do not boondock enough to warrent a large battery system.

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Old 10-27-2011, 04:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave78Chief View Post
While I am aware of the Equalization/Desulphation and it's purpose, like you, I could only relate what others observations have been. I normally keep my batteries disconnected when not in use and top them off once a month. With a 78 Chieftain, I do not have all of the parasitic loads many of the users here do. I did upgrade to a PD9245 and plan on installing a B.I.R.D controller for when I use the coach. I simply do not boondock enough to warrent a large battery system.

Dave
Whereas alot of my camping is dry camping, and I have 360 amp hours of Deep cycle capacity when the camper and truck are mated (I have a custom 4 gauge heavy-duty charging circuit that links the two together) and 260 when the camper is disconnected (The group 27 stays with the truck as its under the hood).

I tend to go where its a luxury if there's a pit toilet and a working, drinkable fresh water supply, but that's usually where its at its quietest and one can relax without running into too many others while fishing.

Oregon is littered with campgrounds like this, either $0-10 a night.

That b.i.r.d isolator relay sounds neat .
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:55 PM   #6
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red neck and dave im watching this i punished hard 2 trogen 31 series for maybe 14 years now they were wired 24 volts but they were still going strong when i sold the boat. im looking to replace my charging system. ps if redneck gets south on I35 i buy second trogen 31 series for roughly $40 has to be cash one i bought leaked a small amount of acid through positive post easy fix the other was a bad lable its in dallas
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:52 PM   #7
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I would say 14 years speaks for itself about the quality of a 12VDC Group 31 AGM battery. If you are looking to upgrade your coach charging system then first thing is to read this Trojan site document: http://www.trojanbattery.com/pdf/TRJ...UsersGuide.pdf.
Please note that Trojan says DO NOT EQUALIZE AGM Batteries. To some degree that limits your converter/charger selection. The Powermax Redneck selected fits that bill for that requirement as well as charging voltage. My PD9200 does not as it's more oriented towards a wet-cell, not a AGM. As you can see, the devil is in the details but with care, one can work though it.

Dave
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