Electrical Systems, Charging and Solar Electrical components and wiring, batteries, charging systems, generators and solar topics.
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:47 PM   #1
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Default Converter Troubleshooting and Repair

Janet and I just returned from a great trip to Crater Lake and Lassen National Parks and except for a problem with the converter in our HiLo, it was without incident.

I discovered, when we were camped at a commercial campground in Nevada so that we could use the Air Conditioner, that our converter was not charging the battery when plugged into shore power. I determined this when I saw the battery voltage around 12.5 after sunset and the solar panels no longer generating power. It should have been somewhat above 13 Volts.

So, after getting home, I investigated and here's what I found: My converter is an Elixir Industries brand, and I understand it is no longer being made. The first picture shows the closed unit, which is mounted to the right of the base of the refrigerator under the couch in my unit. Your location and brand may well be different.

If you unscrew the thumbscrew at the top of the upper hinged panel, it drops down to reveal the DC fuses for the trailer and the AC circuit breakers. That area is covered by a metal plate, held on with three screws that must be removed to gain access to the "innards". This is shown in the second picture.

In the third picture, I removed the plastic, hinged front panel that is held on with four machine screws. I also removed the metal plate I spoke of in the last paragraph. There are two inline 30 Amp fuses in black fuse holders behind the lower edge of the DC fuse panel. They are in the red DC output lines from the converter and they have to be pulled out to inspect their condition.

The last picture shows a more close view of those fuse holders. The fuses themselves are covered by black electrical tape which conceals them even more. They are at the lower right side of the compartment at the lower edge of the fuse panel. I found that both my 30 Amp fuses there were blown, which kills all DC output from the converter. I replaced them and reinstalled everything in reverse order of the disassembly.

So, if your converter suddenly stops charging your batteries, check these fuses before you shell out $100-$200 for a new converter.

In my troubleshooting, I also learned some things about the converter:
1. The AC devices, such as the Air Conditioner, Microwave, Refrigerator and AC outlets are NOT fed through the converter! That power supply DOES go through the circuit breakers, but the converter is there to convert AC to DC only.

2. If the converter is not functioning, the battery will not receive any charging power when plugged into shore power and the DC devices, such as Water Pump, Furnace, and lights will be powered solely by the batteries. If the battery goes dead, you will lose the use of these components.

3. If the converter IS working, then it will deliver charging current to to batteries and will also supply DC power to the trailer's DC components, since its voltage is higher than battery voltage. In fact, you could remove the battery and the converter should still operate the DC components on its own.
I could probably not worry much about a functioning converter since I have an effective solar charging system. But, it's nice to know it's working again. I suspect those fuses may have blown when I raised the top while plugged into shore power at home. If the batteries were low, I think the lifting motor would try to pull the needed current from the converter, and that may have been too much for those fuses.

Hopes this helps someone! I apologize for the shadow at the bottom of all the pictures. My camera has a longish lens, and it shades the flash.

- Jack
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:54 PM   #2
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Default Nice write up and pictures.

That is why we carry the correct size fuse for our converter. I think DH had to change one out while camping. If a new converter is needed I would recomend Best Converter out of California. You are right the original ones in our HiLo are no longer made. The tech Randy is very good at getting the upgraded model of what you need. Be sure to have your old make and model# available. I first learned of this company when lurking on the Airforums website. Think Airstreams.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackandJanet View Post
Janet and I just returned from a great trip to Crater Lake and Lassen National Parks and except for a problem with the converter in our HiLo, it was without incident.

I discovered, when we were camped at a commercial campground in Nevada so that we could use the Air Conditioner, that our converter was not charging the battery when plugged into shore power. I determined this when I saw the battery voltage around 12.5 after sunset and the solar panels no longer generating power. It should have been somewhat above 13 Volts.

So, after getting home, I investigated and here's what I found: My converter is an Elixir Industries brand, and I understand it is no longer being made. The first picture shows the closed unit, which is mounted to the right of the base of the refrigerator under the couch in my unit. Your location and brand may well be different.

If you unscrew the thumbscrew at the top of the upper hinged panel, it drops down to reveal the DC fuses for the trailer and the AC circuit breakers. That area is covered by a metal plate, held on with three screws that must be removed to gain access to the "innards". This is shown in the second picture.

In the third picture, I removed the plastic, hinged front panel that is held on with four machine screws. I also removed the metal plate I spoke of in the last paragraph. There are two inline 30 Amp fuses in black fuse holders behind the lower edge of the DC fuse panel. They are in the red DC output lines from the converter and they have to be pulled out to inspect their condition.

The last picture shows a more close view of those fuse holders. The fuses themselves are covered by black electrical tape which conceals them even more. They are at the lower right side of the compartment at the lower edge of the fuse panel. I found that both my 30 Amp fuses there were blown, which kills all DC output from the converter. I replaced them and reinstalled everything in reverse order of the disassembly.

So, if your converter suddenly stops charging your batteries, check these fuses before you shell out $100-$200 for a new converter.

In my troubleshooting, I also learned some things about the converter:
1. The AC devices, such as the Air Conditioner, Microwave, Refrigerator and AC outlets are NOT fed through the converter! That power supply DOES go through the circuit breakers, but the converter is there to convert AC to DC only.

2. If the converter is not functioning, the battery will not receive any charging power when plugged into shore power and the DC devices, such as Water Pump, Furnace, and lights will be powered solely by the batteries. If the battery goes dead, you will lose the use of these components.

3. If the converter IS working, then it will deliver charging current to to batteries and will also supply DC power to the trailer's DC components, since its voltage is higher than battery voltage. In fact, you could remove the battery and the converter should still operate the DC components on its own.
I could probably not worry much about a functioning converter since I have an effective solar charging system. But, it's nice to know it's working again. I suspect those fuses may have blown when I raised the top while plugged into shore power at home. If the batteries were low, I think the lifting motor would try to pull the needed current from the converter, and that may have been too much for those fuses.

Hopes this helps someone! I apologize for the shadow at the bottom of all the pictures. My camera has a longish lens, and it shades the flash.

- Jack
Hi jack and janet,
I'm having converter problems too ! I tried a converter from a friend same thing.
Can you check between the pos and neg on the converter with a meter set on DC current and shouldn't it read 13 volts when lug into 110 volts ? Here's a little trick i;ve been doing, i carry a small battery charger and hook it up and every thing is good to go , lights are good and battery stays charged! bigbar
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:05 AM   #4
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Just a long shot here. Have you checked your battery condition lately? Something has changed to cause the fuses to go. We raised and lowered the top while plugged into shore power all the time and never had any blown fuses. There is current surge somewhere that shouldn't be happening.
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:36 AM   #5
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Rich, I put new batteries in prior to the trip, and they seem in good shape. The old batteries were weak and had been in the trailer for about three years. I don't know when the fuses blew, but I think it was when the old batteries were still installed.

Yes, I agree - there WAS some sort of current surge at some time. My reason for posting though was to alert members about the hidden fuses and to possibly save someone the cost of buying a new converter.

- Jack
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:48 AM   #6
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bigbar - you are right in saying the voltage between the positive and negative DC output of the converter should be in the range of 13+Volts when you are plugged into shore power. That's what alerted me to the fact that my converter was not producing DC power. My solar power setup constantly monitors battery voltage and I saw that the converter was not sending power to the batteries.

I so rarely use shore power that it's possible the convert has been dead for a couple years or so. When in storage, I use a battery maintainer that has selectable input of 2, 4 or 8 Amps and I take it with me when camping too. If I should ever need to charge the batteries then, I simply plug it into the generator and recharge the batteries that way, so I tend to bypass the shore power input most times.

I DO use the shore power input when preparing to leave for a trip, to cool the refrigerator on AC power, but the batteries are fully charged then, so the converter doesn't have to provide any battery charging power and the rest of the DC load is very minimal.

- Jack
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Old 09-05-2018, 08:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackandJanet View Post
bigbar - you are right in saying the voltage between the positive and negative DC output of the converter should be in the range of 13+Volts when you are plugged into shore power. That's what alerted me to the fact that my converter was not producing DC power. My solar power setup constantly monitors battery voltage and I saw that the converter was not sending power to the batteries.

I so rarely use shore power that it's possible the convert has been dead for a couple years or so. When in storage, I use a battery maintainer that has selectable input of 2, 4 or 8 Amps and I take it with me when camping too. If I should ever need to charge the batteries then, I simply plug it into the generator and recharge the batteries that way, so I tend to bypass the shore power input most times.

I DO use the shore power input when preparing to leave for a trip, to cool the refrigerator on AC power, but the batteries are fully charged then, so the converter doesn't have to provide any battery charging power and the rest of the DC load is very minimal.

- Jack
Hey Jack, I found that my converter works! I think i have a Relay problem, i guess that's what you call it. I traced the pos [hot] blk line from the converter to the post on the relay and on the other post has 2 lines one i think goes to the hydraulic pump and the other Red line goes to my DC FUSES. With the land line plug in to 110 volts and the POS battery cable taken off the battery, if i jump between both post on the relay the lights work. Don't you think its that relay ?
AND where could i get one.
thanks ,bigbar
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:55 AM   #8
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Default Relay

Most any good auto parts store has them. Either the auto or manual reset types will work.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:30 AM   #9
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Most any good auto parts store has them. Either the auto or manual reset types will work.
Thanks JIM L,
bigbar
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Old 09-06-2018, 10:14 AM   #10
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Bigbar, I suspect that's a circuit breaker, not a relay. Just make sure you get one with the same Amperage rating. It's possible the one you have simply needs to be reset?? Can you find a reset button or something similar on it?

- Jack
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