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Old 05-20-2019, 05:44 PM   #1
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Inverter & WFCO question

Iím currently in the process of planning my off grid setup and have run into a head scratcher.

Parts:
3x 12v 125A AGM batteries in parallel
350w Victron power inverter
WFCO WF-8955PEC power converter
No solar charging, gen if needed.

The above setup with batteries and inverter will only be used when boondocking and not permanently installed.
I was planning on hooking up the battery bank to the existing 12v chassis connection using an Anderson connector. I will have a separate connection for the inverter directly to the battery bank. I planned on running an extension cord to the 30A plug (again temporary) to power the 120V off the inverter.
Will this setup attempt to charge the batteries through the WFCO panel because I have the 12v hooked up? I donít see a way to disconnect the ďchargingĒ portion of the WFCO panel. Alternatively, should I NOT hook the 12v battery bank up to the chassis and will the WFCO panel generate the 12v needed for the lights etc for me?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:12 PM   #2
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What do you plan on running with that small 350 watt inverter ?

If you plug the shore cord in, it may trip out, if the converter is on. The converter can draw more the 3 amps.
The converter must be switched off anyway, because you can't charge the batteries its drawing from. It will work them until dead, quickly

350 watts may not be enough for your fridge either.

That size inverter is good for a TV and a phone charger.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natricks1 View Post
Iím currently in the process of planning my off grid setup and have run into a head scratcher.

Parts:
3x 12v 125A AGM batteries in parallel
350w Victron power inverter
WFCO WF-8955PEC power converter
No solar charging, gen if needed.
IMHO ...

A pair of golf cart batteries will take up less room and give you over 200 Ah @ 20 Hr rate. If you really want AGM, Trojan makes one, T105-AGM.

Get rid of the converter. Wire the batteries directly to the 12V distribution panel.

If you have a 30A plug, I assume you have A/C and are only going to use it when on shore power or generator. Wiring this can be a bit tricky.

THIS IS PROBABLY NOT CODE COMPLIANT, BUT THIS IS WHAT I WOULD DO.

Get a 240V fused A/C disconnect box. Run the hot from the shore power plug to one of the fuses. Run two wires from the output of that first fuse. Run first of those two wires to the input of the inverter/charger/transfer box and the second wire to the non-inverter powered circuits in your RV. Run the hot output of the inverter to the second fuse input and then the output of that fuse to all circuits that the inverter is covering. The first circuit can be fused for 30A and the second fused for 15A.

HERE IS THE TRICKY PART ! Do NOT connect the neutral leads from the inverter inside the box to the neutral bar ! The neutral from the inverter covered circuits should connect to the neutral of that circuit. The neutral from the shore power cord should only connect to the non-inverter covered circuit and to the inverter input.

ALL grounds can be bonded inside the box to the neutral. The first outlet on both circuits should be a GFCI.


THEORY OF OPERATION
  • When on shore power (or generator), all power passes through the first fuse before going to both the inverter/charger and the non-inverter covered circuit. The transfer switch passes current from its input to its output and then to the second fuse.
  • When NOT on shore power, everything on the non-inverter covered circuit is dead (including the battery charger). Everything on inverter covered circuit is powered through the second fuse. Bonding is done inside the inverter/charger/transfer switch.


WARNING ! Proceed at your own risk ! I doubt a licensed electrician would install this !!
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:43 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

The entire project is based on batteries I already owned (matched and new) and the wiring interconnects are Anderson sb50 connectors and whips which I had a box of. The limitation at this point would be the wiring between the batteries @40a w/8awg, and the inverter.
I only intend on running small electronics with the inverter anyway. Fridge will be propane.
I had not considered the 120-12v conversion at the converter panel as part of the potential draw on the inverter.
I do have a separate 20a plug and whip i hard wired as an auxiliary circuit which I may use to bring the 120 into the camper and power the electronics off that.
I donít intend on keeping the current camper more than a few years and will be upgrading in the future, so making this non-permanent and removable was in the plans.
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:09 PM   #5
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Just power the inverter with the batteries and use a 120 volt power strip to plug things in.
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Old 05-21-2019, 06:07 AM   #6
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What Twinboat said, that's the way I do it, cheap, quick, easy, easy to remove. KISS is the principle I live by
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Old 05-25-2019, 06:32 PM   #7
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I'm setting up an inverter and solar. I'm also going to do the KISS method and just plug my shore power cord in. On the WFCO (At least mine) there's a breaker for the converter but it's pig tailed to some AC outlets. What I did was buy another 15A breaker. About $6 at Home Depot.
I then put the pig tailed wire for the few AC outlets on that breaker and left the converter/charger on the original breaker. To run the inverter I just switch off the converter breaker. Works perfect. If you need to charge up a bit while camping then simply turn off the inverter, flip the charger breaker and fire up the gen.

The question is though, what are you expecting to run off a 350W inverter? It would only be good for some small items like a TV, laptop charging, etc. In that case you could just run a 12V wire to the batteries and use it like that. Or use a 12V socket. Most 350W inverters have plugs on the end so no need to run power strips.
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:30 AM   #8
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As others have stated, it's not worth much trouble to do a lot of work for just 350W. Smaller inverters are typically not hard-wire capable, so buy a 3-wire extension cord and install a dedicated outlet near the components you want to power, and be done with it. I recently put in a 600W inverter and did just this, adding an outlet right next to the 110v outlet in my entertainment center. Everything is plugged into a 2-to-4 plug adapter, and when I switch to inverter I just move the adapter over to the appropriate outlet.
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Old 06-09-2019, 04:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cumminsfan View Post
On the WFCO (At least mine) there's a breaker for the converter but it's pig tailed to some AC outlets. What I did was buy another 15A breaker. I then put the pig tailed wire for the few AC outlets on that breaker and left the converter/charger on the original breaker. To run the inverter I just switch off the converter breaker. Works perfect. If you need to charge up a bit while camping then simply turn off the inverter, flip the charger breaker and fire up the gen.

For your intended use this, except, your WFCO converter is the worst battery "charger" anywhere. Upgrade your horrible WFCO to a PD4600 and your idea will work.

- Jeff
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Old 06-10-2019, 05:51 AM   #10
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REPEAT : Get rid of the converter and replace it with a combination inverter/charger/transfer switch.
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Old 06-10-2019, 05:54 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by theoldwizard View Post
REPEAT : Get rid of the converter and replace it with a combination inverter/charger/transfer switch.
Yes, an even better solution than upgrading the converter.
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Old 06-10-2019, 09:38 PM   #12
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I am also searching for the the most cost effective way to upgrade my factory electrical system on my Cougar 276 RL 5er. Currently 1 battery with factory converter. RV Solar Electric has recommended the following: Magnum ME-2012 2000 watt inverter/charger, four 6v Golf Cart battteries providing 440 amps, remote control ME-RC50, catastrophe fuse and as an option a built-in circuit breaker. Total cost approx. $ 1,500 plus labor to install. I have a 3500 watt Firman genny as a backup and for when I need to run my AC, and two 100 watt portable solar panels for charging the batteries when needed.
I have the typical power needs: TV, laptop, cell phones, microwave, refrig & coffee maker.

Does this sound like the best way to get what I need to boondock for a couple weeks or so at a time?

Thanks,
Ken
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