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Old 06-29-2015, 08:21 AM   #1
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Converter/Charger that is safe for lifeline AGMs

I recently sold my chinook RV that had a Tripplite inverter/charger that was 3 stage and, while it does not have temperature compensation, I confirmed from lifeline tech support that it was fine for charging. My "new" RV is a 2008 winnebago view with a Parallax converter/charger 7345RU installed in 2011. I have new lifeline batteries that I am set to install and want to avoid reducing their life or (worse) cooking them.

I also own a CTEK 7002 battery charger that was recommended by Lifeline (8 step charge cycle; can stay plugged in 7x24). Lifeline Batteries - Marine & RV Deep Cycle Batteries.

As far as I can find, it appears that the Parallax is certainly not a 3 stage charger (nor did I expect it to be). They sell a newer version that is also temperature compensated that can be installed as a retrofit but their literature is still a bit unclear as to if it has the stages appropriate to support AGMs. http://d163axztg8am2h.cloudfront.net...cf40a08c32.pdf

Progressive Dynamics sells a retrofit converter charger that is 4 stage, but unfortunately the equalization stage that runs every 21 hours and is designed for flooded cell batteries does not appear to be able to be disabled permanently. (Read the manual) They do have a pendant that can be installed to switch charge wizard modes but it does not mention switching from the equalization mode (only mentions the other 3) and it's not practical to click a button every 21 hours anyway. 4600 Series Upgrade or Replacement Power Converters from Progressive Dynamics

Use case: I am not full time in this RV, so this power situation is of course an issue when I am plugged into shore power. Much of my camping is not dry camping. I purchased AGMs for our other rig that I transferred to this one for the benefit of eliminating corrosion issues, not needing to water, and 1-2% discharge when in storage vs higher amounts for flooded cells.

Here is the gist of what I am hoping to find out from others who have AGM batteries

1. Is the simplest and least expensive solution to hard wire the CTEK 7002 charger that I know works well with the batteries and use the existing Parallax for 12 volt converting when on 110volt? Batteries of course would be used while dry camping. The CTEK includes cabling and mount to be permanently installed. It's not meant to be a replacement for running 12 volt systems. How best would I isolate these systems so that the Parallax serves for 12volt conversion while on 110 and the fused distribution panel is still leveraged when on battery power?

2. Are there any other 12 volt converter chargers out there that folks use that are good for AGMs? It's a bummer that the easy retrofit for Parallax and Progressive dynamics appear to miss the mark, unless I am mistaken. I don't need a 110v inverter on this rig as all systems (including TV, etc) are 12 volt except for AC and the convection/microwave and those would be addressed via the generator when required when off the grid due to their significant power requirements.

3. If I must abandon the parallax converter for an inverter/charger that has the proper charge stage settings for AGMs, what are affordable options that folks have used? For my use here, modified sign wave is fine. The Tripplite inverter is still available but long in the tooth and pretty large for my application.

4. Other suggestions?

References:
Lifeline manual notes
Page 11, 19,20
11 indicates a 23% reduction in life if charge voltage is 1v above the recommended level. This would happen every 21 hours for 15 minutes.

Page 19 recommends 3 stage charging
20 mentions equalization / conditioning stage but only to do it if the battery shows symptoms of capacity loss due to extended time in a partial or low state of charge condition.
http://www.lifelinebatteries.com/manual.pdf
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Old 06-29-2015, 10:06 AM   #2
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Go with Magnum. Mine is a MS 2812 and it is great. Check with LifeLine and Magnum about this inverter. The Magnum has 2 AGM settings.
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Old 06-29-2015, 06:34 PM   #3
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That looks like a good inverter/charger to be sure, albeit a bit expensive for my current use (don't have to have inverter capability) Hmm...!
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderso View Post
That looks like a good inverter/charger to be sure, albeit a bit expensive for my current use (don't have to have inverter capability) Hmm...!
Now I see, from your signature, the Magnum is WAY overkill. I had LifeLine batteries several years ago. Great folks to work with. Give them a call and ask for their recommendations. It is to their best interest that the batteries be matched to a good charging system.

Looking forward to what you find out.

Rick Y
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:38 PM   #5
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I contacted Lifeline, Parallax, and Progressive Dynamics and here were their responses: (long thread).

In summary, for now as I am not doing a lot of dry camping I believe I will continue for with the single stage parallax and top off the batteries with the CTEK charger after coming home. I will also research installing a disconnect switch that allows me to isolate the Parallax from the batteries and use the CTEK for charging while on the road.

Parallax:
The maximum DC voltage provided to charge batteries from the 7345 converter is 13.78 VDC which would be measured after the battery has fully recharged. Voltage from the converter will basically be between 13.00 VDC at full DC output current up to 13.80 VDC at no DC output current.

The TCRU upgrade kits with TempAssure will provide a temperature compensated output voltage with a voltage between 13,00 – 14.5 volts DC dependent on the DC load amperage and the measured temperature at the sensor mounting location. The attached voltage chart will give you an reference of the output voltage at a given temperature.
The TCRU kits have a temperature sensor cable that would need to be run and connected to a battery negative post. The converter output voltage will then be continuously adjusted based on the detected temperature at the sensor. This will provide a more appropriate "float" voltage to the battery system based on the voltage the battery needs for the temperature the batteries are experiencing. Maximum voltage to the 12 volt system and the batteries will be about 14.5 volts DC and minimum voltage will be around 13.0 volts DC making the system voltage safe for use with the other 12 volts loads on the 12 volt system. The TCRU kits also provides a 4 hour timed "boost" mode for faster recharge after each initial power on.

As long as the batteries chosen are compatible with this voltage range, there should be no issues with using AGM’s.

Please note: The TCRU converter section is the same width and height as the original converter system, but is 3 inches deeper front to back when replacing a 7300 series converter section.

Additional Information
The issue we have with "smart or multi stage charger technology" (when used in an RV) lies more with the application of the technology than the technology itself. In a typical RV 12 volt electrical system, the converter/charger and the battery or battery bank is connected in parallel with the rest of the 12 volt distribution system.
As you know,” in parallel" means where the charging source (converter/charger) positive and negative output is electrically connected to both the battery bank positive and negative, and the 12-volt distribution system positive and negative, at the same time.

The voltage output of an RV "smart or multi stage charger" is based on a "detected" battery voltage. The converter "smart charger" claims to "monitor" and respond to battery condition while connected to the entire 12 volt system. Unless the charging source (converter) has an electrically separate or isolated charging output, we do not agree that a converter or charger can effectively differentiate requirements of the batteries from other loads while simultaneously connected to the rest of the 12 volt distribution system in the RV. Detected use or voltage change on the RV 12-volt load system (i.e. lights, pumps, etc. that are on) generally keeps these devices at a 13.6 -13.8 "float" voltage. This raises the question whether any real additional benefit is being provided to the battery bank unless the coach remains in a completely "non-use" storage condition.

If a converter "smart charger" is only connected to the battery bank and can therefore monitor only battery voltage and current, and is not also connected "in parallel" with the 12 volt distribution system, we have no issue with the operation or application of "smart charger technology".

DC, voltages generally recommended by battery manufacturers reference an ambient battery temperature of 70 - 75 degrees F. RV charger manufacturers currently provide the float voltage based at 70 -75 degrees F as an output meant to "generally" cover most locations and conditions. When the battery temperature is above 70 degrees, the "rule of thumb" is for every 20 degrees of temperature rise, the float voltage should be lowered by .5 volts.Inversely, for every 20 degrees of temperature drop below 70 degrees the voltage should be raised by .5 volts. Most RV multi stage chargers do not offer temperature compensated output.

Lifeline: The tech is concerned that the single stage Parallax will never provide a full charge because the battery needs 14.4 volts to be fully charged and the 13.5-13.8 of the non temperature adjusted version that I own will never fully charge the battery and he did not see the timed 4 hour boost mode as sufficient in the upgraded version. He did state that due to it being in this voltage range, the Parallax will not damage the battery in any way and it certainly is fine for the camping trips that I describe, but it will not ever be fully charged of that is the goal. Dry camping and then starting the generator to charge the battery would not result in a full charge. He recommended that after coming home to simply use the CTEK charger I have (which he says is a good one) to properly bring the battery up to full charge voltage. It could also be used with the generator. He mentioned that they have also done testing with the Progressive Dynamics converter/charger and they see that it as imperfect but a decent "affordable" one to get better charging than single stage units. He did not see a concern with the 15 minute “boost mode” that it does on the 21 hour cycle when in storage. He personally has a Jayco trailer with 4 lifeline batteries and the Progressive model. He still recommended using the CTEK charger after coming home to top off the batteries properly and for long term storage if plugged into 110v 7x24

Progressive dynamics: They have tested with Trojan AGMs and have not found any issues in shortened battery life. Have not tested Lifeline. The equalization mode that boosts to 14.4 volts activates only after the unit shifting to storage mode. This is 30 hours following amperage draws dropping enough for the device to detect it is not being used for 12 volt conversion. It then cycles to this equalization mode every 21 hours thereafter when in storage mode. It would be unusual for the converter to go to storage mode when camping due to amp draw. While they have not encountered problems in their AGM tests noted above, an added measure could be to install a battery disconnect switch near the converter at the 12 volt distribution panel if so desired where the house batteries are disconnected while camping and plugged into 110v. While he believed this is unnecessary based on their (limited) AGM tests, this would bypass charging completely and also allow for the CTEK charger to be used if so desired.
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:59 PM   #6
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My Mirada had a 7345RU in it, I replaced it with a PowerMax PM4B-45, 4 stage converter.

There are a number of ways to do this, but I cut the old one out and mounted the new one in its place. You can see the writeup here:

Upgrading converter to 4 stage | 2001 Coachmen Mirada 300QB

..
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Old 06-30-2015, 08:41 PM   #7
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Great write up of your PowerMax install. Thanks for sharing as I ponder the upgrade options!
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:31 AM   #8
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"Lifeline: The tech is concerned that the single stage Parallax will never provide a full charge because the battery needs 14.4 volts to be fully charged and the 13.5-13.8 of the non temperature adjusted version that I own will never fully charge the battery and he did not see the timed 4 hour boost mode as sufficient in the upgraded version. He did state that due to it being in this voltage range, the Parallax will not damage the battery in any way and it certainly is fine for the camping trips that I describe, but it will not ever be fully charged of that is the goal. Dry camping and then starting the generator to charge the battery would not result in a full charge. He recommended that after coming home to simply use the CTEK charger I have (which he says is a good one) to properly bring the battery up to full charge voltage. It could also be used with the generator. He mentioned that they have also done testing with the Progressive Dynamics converter/charger and they see that it as imperfect but a decent "affordable" one to get better charging than single stage units. He did not see a concern with the 15 minute “boost mode” that it does on the 21 hour cycle when in storage. He personally has a Jayco trailer with 4 lifeline batteries and the Progressive model. He still recommended using the CTEK charger after coming home to top off the batteries properly and for long term storage if plugged into 110v 7x24"

I pulled this from your post. Lifeline is the key speaker here. If the batteries are not charged correctly the warranty is effected. But the bigger issue is that the batteries will not go the distance or perform as they should.

Something you said about charging that indicated your doubt: "
Unless the charging source (converter) has an electrically separate or isolated charging output, we do not agree that a converter or charger can effectively differentiate requirements of the batteries from other loads while simultaneously connected to the rest of the 12 volt distribution system in the RV."

This is not the case in charging. I worked in Telco power. Our systems were both series and parallel. The chargers are built to supply the current needed to charge the batteries safely. The voltage and current is regulated in the better chargers. The load takes what it needs based upon pure resistance. Each load is so small that it matters little to the charger. Your total continues load current with all DC loads on at the same time may be to 30A. The charger will simply compensate and the batteries with "float" in this load current.

Personally, Progressive products have never been my favorite but I know many folks who are happy with them.

Consider this. Your lifline batteries are the Provost of the battery world. Would you put a cheap brand of oil in a Provost?

One other suggestion I have that might be considered is to upgrade to a full inverter. You will have to add a service panel for the load distribution but Energy Management System panels are easy to find if you wanted to go the full distance.

See this pdf: http://magnumenergy.com/wp-content/u...sheet_revi.pdf

If you go for the MS2000 with a 15 or 20A breaker option you would not even need an additional service panel.

I hope I am adding light to your situation and not another flock of birds. Looking forward to the outcome of this situation.

Happy trails,
Rick Y
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:06 AM   #9
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It appears you are trying to keep cost down: aren't we all. You seem to have dismissed a combined inverter/charger. So, I would recommend an intelligent charger that allows you to select a charge profile that matches your batteries and one that supports temperature compensation. Lifeline batteries are expensive, as you well know. The total cost of these AGM batteries has to include the cost of the charging system.

I can't imagine any benefit in isolating the DC house loads from the charger. The loads can and should force the charger out of float mode when the DC loads draw the battery voltage down. FWIW, the battery voltage will still drop at the battery if the house loads are isolated.

Here are some other options:

http://promariner.com/products/water...-elite-series/

http://www.charlesindustries.com/mai...chcch_ad4.html

http://www.xantrex.com/power-product...harge-2-2.aspx
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:57 AM   #10
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Thanks for sending these on inverter/chargers, much appreciated. I am certainly open to that route as well while exploring options. My most current concern was to be ready for a 2 week trip and avoiding any potential damage to the batteries from the existing system until selecting the more permanent option.
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Old 07-06-2015, 04:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderso View Post
Thanks for sending these on inverter/chargers, much appreciated. I am certainly open to that route as well while exploring options. My most current concern was to be ready for a 2 week trip and avoiding any potential damage to the batteries from the existing system until selecting the more permanent option.
Just an observation about Xantrex from personal experience. I had one for my Lifeline AGM's on my last coach. The customer support was miserable. I was told that my faulty 1 1/2 year old $1500 inverter was DISPOSABLE . Before they moved to Canada they were a good company. I don't recommend them any more.

Here is a link to Magnum: Home - Magnum Energy, Inc.

Just be aware that Modified Sine Wave Inverters can damage some AC products. Read the caution on the ME series. You would be more likely to be looking for the MS series. I think your 2 week time frame is doable. Simply install the inverter of choice and don't wire the AC side till later. Use it as a charger only.

Happy trails,

Rick Y
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:02 PM   #12
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If you want an inverter charger then I too recommend Magnum products and pure sine wave inverters. There's no reason, except a very minimal cost advantage, to buying a modified sine wave inverter anymore.
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