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Old 01-15-2021, 06:05 PM   #1
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Essex HVAC ePlex to Dometic Conversion

Greetings,


I've spent my spare time over the last several weeks combing through various threads on how to convert my Essex HVAC system from ePlex to Dometic. I've created a draft "How-To" and attached it to this post. The reason the document is draft is I'm still in the middle of doing this. This draft is really my "Plan" right now and as I go through and execute I'll update it until it becomes the "How I did it" document.


My hope is it will be useful to any who are seeking to do this conversion. ePlex is certainly not out of business but based on the experience of many users in this forum it is a problematic system that is extremely expensive to maintain as it ages. Reminds me of a few cars I've owned

Anyway, I'm new around here and want to personally thank three members that have been extremely helpful, azSkier, bruceisla, and Dave.O. They resolutely answered my interminable questions and guided me through my stupid times.

For those who have already done this if you take a look and see something amiss or something I might add please let me know.

Warmest regards to all,

Wayne
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Essex HVAC ePlex to Dometic Conversion.pdf (255.4 KB, 23 views)
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:27 PM   #2
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Beware the newer CC2 is not compatible with your original AC units. To use that controller will require some upgrades.

The dometic cable is rj11. If the existing cable is too short, then you will need to extend it. If you go to home depot and get an extender cable, it will not work. You will need a null cable, not the data cable. Something about pins 2 and 3 being swapped on one end. You can get the null cable from sellers on Amazon.
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Old 01-16-2021, 11:52 PM   #3
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Actually the e-plex replacement controller is one of the cheapest modules. I am anxious to read your document no doubt you did a great job.
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:09 AM   #4
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Update to ePlex HVAC conversion How-To

Quote:
Originally Posted by azSkier View Post
Beware the newer CC2 is not compatible with your original AC units. To use that controller will require some upgrades.

The dometic cable is rj11. If the existing cable is too short, then you will need to extend it. If you go to home depot and get an extender cable, it will not work. You will need a null cable, not the data cable. Something about pins 2 and 3 being swapped on one end. You can get the null cable from sellers on Amazon.

Thanks for the heads up! I've attached the updated document.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Essex HVAC ePlex to Dometic Conversion v2.pdf (270.9 KB, 21 views)
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:19 AM   #5
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinn View Post
Actually the e-plex replacement controller is one of the cheapest modules. I am anxious to read your document no doubt you did a great job.
Spinn,

As I understand it the 350 ECM controller is no longer available and the 400 ECM controller is $1,341 on NautiMart's website. I believe this price includes programming. Do you have a less expensive source?

Also, and possibly to your point, if I total everything up I'm going to have to purchase and install for a total conversion away from ePlex I can see how it possibly might be worth it to just order a controller and keep it as backup for when my controller finally fails. I haven't seen many ePlex complaints other than the temp sensors, tank monitors, and controller. You've definitely given me something to thing about!

My system is currently working fine. I've already added the See Level tank monitoring system just for our peace of mind. However, as I continue to clean my tanks with Boraxo and Dawn the ePlex Black and Grey tank sensors are coming back online. I did have to replace my Fresh Water sensor at about $950 and the Living Room Temp Sensor at $243. Both of these costs included programming by NautiMart prior to shipment.

I have to think about this and I may consider holding off on any other conversions for now.

I'll be posting a How-To on the Tank Monitoring conversion in the near future.

I hope those of you reading this that have either success or horror stories with ePlex will post them or point us to previous posts on the topic. I do believe the migration away from ePlex had its origins in the specter of ePlex going out of business many years ago. However, it seems they've landed on their feet and are doing fine (albeit a little expensive). Any thoughts on that would also be most helpful.

Thank you,

Wayne
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Old 01-19-2021, 07:31 AM   #7
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Correction, the main controller is the 400 ECM, the auxilliary in the bedroom is the 345 LCD. I've sent the following email to NautiMart and will post the results when received.

********** TEAR LINE ***********
Greetings,

I have a 2008 Newmar Essex, Model 4508, and I've previously purchased the Fresh Water Tank Sensor and the Living Room Temperature sensor from you. The Temp sensor works great! The Tank sensor works okay but only registers up to 75 gallons when full (the tank is 115 gallons). I'm okay with that but I have a couple of questions.

1. Can the tank sensor be re-calibrated? If so, what is that process (using the serial interface either you remotely logging in or me doing it locally)?

2. I've had to replace one of my air conditioners with a new Penguin II model 651816. My installer had to replace the new board with the board from the previous a/c to get it to work (long story but we were in the middle of nowhere and desperate for the a/c to work). Anyway, if I put the new board back in can you remotely configure my ePlex to recognize and operate it correctly? Or should we leave the old board in (the heat pump is not working in this configuration). At the very least I would like to have you check my system and make sure everything is as it should be. Can you do that and what would be the cost estimate?

3. I've read some postings that people with this system have experienced outages of the main clock/controller. I believe mine is the 400 ECM and my question is does the $1,341 (programmed price) include the cost of the overlay? I'm considering buying a "backup" for this part just in case so that, if I lose it I can just replace it. Is that possible or would I need a tech to do it? The reason I ask is the connections on the back of the new one look completely different than my current one.

4. Finally, what are my options if the now obsolete 345 LCD in the bedroom goes out?

Thank you for taking the time to help me out.

Regards,

Wayne

********************************
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Old 01-19-2021, 11:06 AM   #8
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Thanks for your efforts R.E.D. will be adding to the ESSEX thread for Essex Owners.
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Old 01-24-2021, 11:34 AM   #9
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NautiMart ePlex Reply

Greetings everyone,

Here's the reply to my email to NautiMart regarding the ePlex system in my 2008 Newmar Essex 4508. Certainly not "bad" news overall. Basically, things can be fixed, some of them more expensive than others. Also, I added in a few things for clarification in the email (my comments in red).

I also just want to point out that Slav at ePlex has always been quick to answer my emails (this one came within an hour of my email to him), very knowledgeable about ePlex and Newmar's in general, and very helpful. However, in this email he apparently forgot to attach the pictures he references. Not a problem since I have my ECM and there is a clear picture of the newer one on Nautimart's website.

Regards to all,

Wayne

****************Begin Email from Slav at ePlex*****************

Good morning Wayne,

1. Tank sensor can be calibrated via a remote session.
During the remote session, we will need to have the tank filled at 100%, then 50%, and then empty.

For the remote session, you will need an FTDI serial to USB cable ( if you have an older clock with rainbow cable on the back), internet connection,
and TeamViewer on a Windows computer connected to the clock. It is important that USB to serial cable will have an FTDI chipset.
Our fee for the remote session is $125/hr. with a minimum charge of an hour.


Wayne's add: I already have the required cable (bought it when I first bought the coach and discovered the remote access capability of ePlex). As I recall it was less than $100. At the time I also downloaded the TeamViewer software and got it running (free download and straightforward install).

2.Unfortunately, E-PLEX doesn't support the newer HVAC controller boards, in order to work with the system an older HVAC board needs to be retrofitted to the HVAC unit. This is something that Newmar dealers do, from what we heard.

Wayne's add: I spoke with Newmar and your installer can call Newmar when changing the board and a Newmar Technician will walk your installer through the install while on the phone. They suggested calling early in the morning to avoid long wait times. I'm sure that is a bit of a gamble but I have so far experience much shorter wait times in the mornings than in the afternoons with Newmar.

3.400/450ECM clocks are available to purchase at your need and we usually have a few of each in stock. They were redesigned a little a few years back and one of the things that have changed is now they have EP3 connectors on the back ( loot at the attached picture ), all new modules including clocks are sold with EP3 pigtail adaptors (second attached picture ). To replace the clock, you will need a basic crimper tool and wire connectors. If you know how to use a crimper and a multimeter then you will be able to replace the clock.
However, in order to replace the clock, we need to know which logic file compiled into your current clock. This can be done in 2 ways: you send us your clock ($125) or we can do it via a remote session ($125/hr ) . If we will be able to find the matching logic file, then the new clock will be working just like the old clock.

Wayne's add: This 400/450 ECM clock is about $1,400. This is where you will make your decision on whether to stick with ePlex. I'm undecided at this time but leaning toward ordering and configuring an ECM to keep as a spare should the current one crump. However, I'm a little hesitant because I believe I read somewhere on iRV2 that someone tried this and a fault somewhere in the ePlex system was causing the ECM to fail. That could prove costly and very, very inconvenient. I'll search the forums to see if I can find that. If I'm remembering that correctly that is likely a reason sufficient for me to pursue full conversion away from ePlex.

4. Usually we are able to perform a 345LCD repair in our lab. If not, then the replacement will have to be a custom build and cost $4K and up depending on the options.

Wayne's add: Either of these approaches sound expensive for what amounts to a convenience in having a second display in the bedroom. However, DW really likes this display because she can actually use it. She's vertically challenged enough that using the main ECM at the front is almost impossible.


Slav Popov
E-PLEX Support Manager
support@nautimart.com

Nauti-Tech, Inc. prides itself on providing free E-Mail support for all E-Plex products.

*********************End Email*******************
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Old 02-10-2021, 06:15 PM   #10
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Thank you for documenting this. My #2 AC has died and I am trying to decide whether to replace it by itself and replacing the controller internally or going ahead and replacing the 3 as I believe they are soon to go. In any case I feel the best approach is to move to a Dometic thermostat rather than messing with the E-Plex system. My only question, which may prove obvious when I get into the AC units, is how do you attach the temp sensors? I am assuming there will be a jack in the AC units? Is there a jack in the center bath box as well? Easier for me if I can picture this in my head before tearing things apart! Thanks.

Kerry
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Old 02-16-2021, 07:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WA-MEX View Post
Thank you for documenting this. My #2 AC has died and I am trying to decide whether to replace it by itself and replacing the controller internally or going ahead and replacing the 3 as I believe they are soon to go. In any case I feel the best approach is to move to a Dometic thermostat rather than messing with the E-Plex system. My only question, which may prove obvious when I get into the AC units, is how do you attach the temp sensors? I am assuming there will be a jack in the AC units? Is there a jack in the center bath box as well? Easier for me if I can picture this in my head before tearing things apart! Thanks.

Kerry

There is pin on the unit's board where you connect the sensor. I saw another post that highlighted this with a picture but I can't find it right now. When I find it I'll post the link. In the meantime you can just call Dometic. They have been very responsive and helpful. It may also be in the manual for your a/c unit.


Regards,


Wayne
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Old 05-06-2021, 11:22 AM   #12
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Simple Solution for EPLEX AC Convervion

We own a 2008 King Aire (2nd one ever built) and I would like to pass onto other owners the simple conversion we used to run our AC units on a stand alone Dometic controller. No need to rewire or replace AC unit control boards.



In high temp times (like the 95 here in Florida yesterday) the main E-Plex controller in my coach dash overhead over heats and the AC units all turn off.


I purchased a
DOMETIC 3109228.001

on Amazon $95.
It has a plug port on the back that accepts the data wire used in the

Eplex Module

In my coach this eplex module is located in the area directly behind the Main eplex controller in the front overhead cabinet. The data line is grey in color and should be long enough to come out of the over head about 1 to 2 feet when unplugged from the eplex module. Be very careful when removing the main controller as you can crack the glass touch pad (been there, about $100 from Nautitech, easy to replace)

Simply plug the data wire into the back of the Dometic 5 button controller.
The controller may work immediately when you turn it on and you can control all 4 zones just as you have the eplex system was last set. But I like the refresh the remote A/C units by turning off the 5 Button Dometic, then press and holding the ZONE and MODE buttons and turning on the 5 button Dometic the display will show FF. This resets all the A/C units and you simply turn off then on the 5 button dometic controller go to each zone (1 being the front a/c unit and so on, my single bath is unit 3 with just has a heater).


Even if you do not want to make this conversion permanent (I don't ) it is an important spare/emergency part to have.


I just unmounted the Dometic eplex module from the cabinet wall and pulled it and its wireing out of the cabinet then reinstalled the main eplex controller using short spacers so the wires could clear the back of the main controller.
As others have said if you want to extend the data line so you can mount the 5 button to a wall near by ( I just leave it hanging as it is temp use for me) you need to use data line configuration. (making your own is easy to do out of phone extension line, a crimper tool and some replacement connectors).



Hope this helps, let me know if it works for you.


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Old 05-06-2021, 03:10 PM   #13
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Just an fyi.. you now have working ac and heater. But you only have 1 zone which is the domestic controller. You will need 3 temp sensors for zones 2-4.

Search my posting history for details.

And welcome to irv2 and the best newmar support group
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Old 05-07-2021, 05:43 AM   #14
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Arrow

You are correct except on our 2008 King Aire we have temperature sensor inputs on zones 2,4 Penguin AC mounted control boards. This is how it came from the factory. Zone one does not have one and uses the 5 button dometic control for the front zone.

These control board temp probes are separate from the eplex mounted temp probes. Newmar mounted these probe sensor ends under additional funky little temp covers high up on the wall.

Interesting that your coach did not have the additional probes factory installed.


Perhaps this was standard on 2008 Essex. Maybe another owner can verify.
On our 2008 King Aire all lighting, AC-heat, inverter, roof exhaust fans,side window shades are controlled by eplex. 11 key pads! Is this the same for you?
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