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Old 09-05-2022, 09:11 PM   #1
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New Member DC-DC Charger Installation Question

I am a new member to this Forum but not new to the RV world. We have had several fifth Wheel trailers and are on our second Class C. That said I am new to the world of Lithium Batteries, Inverter/Chargers and Orion-TR DC-DC Smart Chargers. I am working on Installation of the DC-DC Charger. I have traced the wiring I have attached a picture and would like to know what the solenoid looking object is in the R/H part of the picture. I suspect it protects the charging system and should be removed and replaced with the DC-DC charger. I should add this is for a 2021 Coachmen Class C.

Any thoughts?

Thank You
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Old 09-06-2022, 07:15 AM   #2
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Old 09-08-2022, 08:27 AM   #3
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That is the solenoid that connects the house batteries to the chassis battery. It allows the alternator to charge the house batteries while the engine is running. Turn the ignition switch to the "on" position and you should hear it click closed.

I have a Coachmen Leprechaun 319MB that I'm planning to convert to lithium also. I'd be interested to hear about how and where you install the DC-DC charger.
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Old 09-08-2022, 10:34 AM   #4
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You can use the 2 solenoid posts as juntion points for your B to B charger and then just remove the white wire to disable it.

If you need a boost start, connect the white wire, and start it up.
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Old 09-08-2022, 11:44 PM   #5
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That is just as thought. At this time I have not installed my Orion Dc-Dc charger. I spoke with Continous Resources about installing it in the old battery box. I am installing the battery in the dinning room bench and might install it there.
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Old 09-08-2022, 11:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
You can use the 2 solenoid posts as juntion points for your B to B charger and then just remove the white wire to disable it.

If you need a boost start, connect the white wire, and start it up.
Can you expand on that? Because I was thinking of just removing it. There is a fuse block that I was thinking I could use. This is a new area for me so any information is greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-09-2022, 11:33 PM   #7
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The 'split charge relay' provides a very necessary function of joining or separating the vehicle starting and house batteries. Even with a B-B charger, it is useful for jump-starting.

Think about; 1) Your B-B charger will likely draw 10-20% more input amperage than output. a) It is only about 93% efficient, b) if you have a variable voltage alternator, that alternator runs a lot of its time 12.4-13.2V, which causes the B-B to boost voltage which draws a lot more amps. A 40A output B-B can draw 50A or more input under these low voltages. Can your alternator handle it?

2) Your alternator's rated' capacity is what it produces at 6000 alternator RPM, into a resistance load bank, on a bench in the factory, cooling with 70F air in a 2-minute test. It will NOT deliver rated capacity for more than single-digit minutes without overheating. Your in-vehicle conditions are now where near similar (higher temperatures, more congested, and other loads to worry about). B-B will draw continuously for a long time. Assume/plan for your alternator will only deliver 1/2 its rated capacity without overheating (120C/248F). Assume your vehicle will draw 30-50A

You can easily burn out your alternator thinking you can draw its rated capacity continuously. A temperature safety to cut out the B-B is a good idea.
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Old 09-11-2022, 11:16 AM   #8
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Thanks for the information. I understand that I can remove the white wire, leave the solenoid in place a use the post to continue installing the Orion DC-DC battery charger to charge the lithium battery. The Orion is designed to protect the alternator from burning up.
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Old 09-11-2022, 12:11 PM   #9
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Leaving but disabling the solenoid keeps the boost function available by connecting the white wire if needed.

If you, like so many others, decide to trade up to a new RV in a few years, it's a simple procedure to remove your components and return it to stock.
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Old 09-12-2022, 12:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weldergary View Post
Thanks for the information. I understand that I can remove the white wire, leave the solenoid in place a use the post to continue installing the Orion DC-DC battery charger to charge the lithium battery. The Orion is designed to protect the alternator from burning up.
On the subject of alternator protection;

1) Be careful with using the statement 'The Orion is designed to protect the alternator from burning up.' The alternator 'protection' Victron is referring to is the B-B charger limits the current draw to a fixed amperage (not exactly but see #2), AS OPPOSED TO COMPLETELY UNREGULATED current draw if wired directly. There is NO ACTIVE ability to safeguard the alternator inherent in their charger OR ANY OTHER to prevent the user from putting a large added load on the vehicle that overloads the alternator. It is incumbent on YOU, the purchaser, to make sure that your vehicle has the capacity to deliver an additional 50A that your 40A charger will demand from your vehicle system.

2) A B-B with a capacity of 40A, means that it can charge the battery at 40A. If charging an LFP battery, with a max charging voltage of around 14.6V, that delivers (40A x 14.6V) 584W. Because the charger is only ~93% efficient, it must draw (584W/.93) 628W to deliver that 40A, HOWEVER, the reason you have a B-B charger is that the engine voltage is often lower than the LFP needs to charge and the B-B will draw more amps at low voltage and boost the voltage to make the 40A output. If you have a 'smart' (better called 'variable voltage') alternator, the vehicle system voltage likes to run around 12.4-13.2V most of the time. IF (and I'm calculating worst case) the vehicle alternator is only putting out 12.4V, the delivery of 628W/12.4V will draw 50.6A from the vehicle. The key question is, does your alternator have that much reserve (capacity above and beyond the vehicle needs) capacity?

3) What is the alternator's reserve capacity? At idle? At highway speed? At high RPM as when climbing a hill? You need to know all of these and they are all different. An alternator performance curve will show output at given RPMs. Rated capacity is at 6000 alternator RPM. This is not CONTINUOUS output.
IDLE: Capacity at idle is around 1/3 of rated capacity and almost all of it is used by the vehicle. If you run your B-B at idle, it will overload your alternator. Your alternator can tolerate the heating for a short period of time IF the engine/alternator is cold. It will tolerate a lot shorter period of hot. It will likely not tolerate it for long enough to charge your battery in almost every case. TBL, don't charge at idle. Have some way to prevent it if you idle for long.
HIGHWAY SPEED: Your CONTINUOUS capacity at 2000 engine RPM/6000 Alternator RPM is about HALF THE RATED CAPACITY. This is where you want to charge. Be careful about getting in a situation where your engine speed is above or below it.
HILL CLIMBING: Not only is your engine RPM and engine heat generation high, but your alternator efficiency drops from ~75% @ engine 1400RPM, to around 60% at highway speed to below 50% at high speed. This loss results in much more heating of your alternator, causing its available capacity to drop from 1/2 rated back to 1/3-1/4 of rated capacity. Just as if idling, the alternator will be overloaded and if left long enough, will burn out.

In the high and low-speed operation, the vehicle should have a manual shut-off to unload the B-B. It's just like you're admonished to shut off your A/C to prevent overheating the engine on a hill climb or passing.
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Old 09-12-2022, 12:20 AM   #11
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I have detailed videos on the capacity of the alternator to perform and explain all of the above in more detail. See 'YouTube.com/WorkingOnExploring' and search for 'alternator charging'. There are 3 or 4 videos plus reverence documents at WorkinOnExploring.com/TechDocs.
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Old 12-05-2022, 04:00 PM   #12
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Does anyone have pictures of the changeover from using the Big Boy to using the Victron dc to dc charger? A picture is worth a thousand words!
Thanks
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