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Old 09-04-2018, 02:47 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. In the picture, they are the black objects at the heads of the two yellow arrows.

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, but again, I'm pointing to them with the arrows. You have to unwrap the tape to get to the fuses themselves. They are located at the lower right side of the compartment at the lower edge of the visible fuse panel. They are just above the right side of the fan compartment. 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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File Type: jpg Fuses.jpg (169.0 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg Fuses2.jpg (190.9 KB, 22 views)
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Old 09-04-2018, 07:54 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, 08:45 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, 08:05 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, 09:36 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, 09:48 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, 07:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
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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
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, 07:55 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, 08:30 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,
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:14 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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Old 09-13-2018, 03:42 PM   #11
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Nice write-up as usual, Jack. Thank you

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Old 09-13-2018, 04:31 PM   #12
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Thanks, Rick - for what it's worth, the converter is now working normally (I've used it when I cleaned out the holding tanks in the trailer and was pumping water from the fresh water tank), so, the condition that blew the fuses is not "chronic" and the repair worked!

- Jack
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Old 09-17-2018, 12:13 PM   #13
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2004 22T, with original ELX-45 Converter.
Had a symptom where my battery was low and my electric tester read "No ground". Independently charged both batteries (2). Read above information and removed, checked and replaced all fuses. Magic ( what I call electricity). It all works now, even the A/C. Suspect poor ground somewhere, probably some critter enjoyed the taste of my wiring while in storage.
I reply to tell the above writers to keep up the good advice. I understand more about the converter now and what is a good replacement. My wife has always complained about the noise coming from the converter cooling fans. I just put a small clamp on fan next to the converter and all is well. Does anyone have a better solution?
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Old 09-17-2018, 03:42 PM   #14
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Hi Lloyd, I imagine your fan must not have been secured well to the framework and the clamp fixed that? If so, unless you can improve the attachment with bolts or screws, I think you've hit on a good noise reduction solution.

I suspect your diagnosis of a poor ground was correct, especially if multiple DC components were effected. Mice and rats DO like to chew on wires, as I've discovered and taken steps to prevent re-occurrence.

My fans are tight to the frame and are computer grade fans, so they are very quiet. They are arranged in a "push-me pull-you" configuration - the left fan blows into the converter and the right fan sucks the hot air out.
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Old 07-16-2019, 02:09 PM   #15
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Default Update to Converter Fuse Issue

After our recent trip, where we dry camped the entire time (11 days), I discovered, when we got home and had the trailer plugged into house power, that the batteries were not charging again.

So, I pulled off the two panels to the converter/power center and found that one of the internal 30 Amp fuses was again blown. The other was fine, however.

Now, I know the converter was charging the batteries before we left, since I had the trailer plugged into house power to cool the refrigerator on AC power and the batteries stayed up during other preparations. We did not use the converter while on the trip. But, I plugged the trailer back in to house power as soon as we arrived home, before disconnecting the trailer from the tow vehicle.

So, here's my hypothesis concerning why the fuse blew: Before unplugging the trailer from house power to leave, I hooked up the tow vehicle. This involved using the tongue jack to raise both the front of the trailer and the rear of the truck to slip the load equalizing bars of my WDH onto the L-brackets on the tongue. Arriving home, with the trailer again connected to house power, I raised the trailer/truck combination again so that I could slip the equalizing bars off the L-brackets.

Now, this process puts a great deal of strain on the tongue jack motor (rated to 3500#), and as it comes under that load, it HAS to draw more Amps. It is protected by an inline 30 Amp fuse, which has not blown, but I imagine the Amperage is likely above 20 Amps during the high load lift phase. The refrigerator was on too, during this process, still using DC power at the end of the trip.

I believe the combination of a refrigerator running on DC power in addition to the high Amp draw from the tongue jack simply pulled too much power through the converter, which was trying to keep the battery at a fully charged state, and this blew the internal converter fuse.

This feels very much to me like the symptom of a blown charging fuse in the tow vehicle that sometimes occurs when raising the trailer top without disconnecting the trailer cord from the tow vehicle. The combination of the draw from the lift motor and a refrigerator running off the battery exceeds the battery's capacity and the extra current is drawn through the fuse, blowing it.

So, from now on, I'm going to hook up/unhook my trailer with shore power disconnected, the same way that I raise/lower the trailer top with the trailer disconnected from the tow vehicle. This brings ALL power directly from the trailer battery, eliminating any input from the converter or the tow vehicle.

If any of you find the (hidden) 30 Amp converter fuses blowing, you might keep these comments in mind.

- Jack
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Old 09-03-2020, 07:18 PM   #16
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This helped us. Thanks.
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Old 12-13-2020, 07:03 PM   #17
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We are back. We never replaced the convertor.
Instead we Replaced both 30 amp fuses, even though both old fuses tested fine. Plug unit into home power everything was working fine. Check to see how full the battery was fine. All seemed to be working fine.
After sitting for awhile the lights dim and battery went dead. It took it five hours.
Very frustrating.
Is there anything else we should check? Wish we had a mechanic near by we could take this too.
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Old 12-13-2020, 10:18 PM   #18
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It sounds to me like you have something in the trailer that is putting a constant drain on the battery. There are two components that could do this, and drain it that fast.
1. The refrigerator: If it is running on DC power, it will take the battery down quickly, possibly even if the converter is trying to keep it charged. If it is turned on that way, it will ALWAYS be drawing power if the battery is installed.

2. The trailer brakes are being constantly applied: This can happen if the trailer breakaway switch in the tongue has been accidentally activated. If you were towing the trailer under this condition though, the wheels would be locked, unless the brakes were so worn that they were ineffective. It's possible, though, that the switch became activated when you got home?
Beyond those two thoughts, I can't think of much else that would pull a healthy battery down that fast.

- Jack
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Old 12-14-2020, 10:17 AM   #19
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Saulpm was this with the unit still plugged in to 120 volts and all the lights on?
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Old 03-22-2021, 11:59 PM   #20
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Default An Update Regarding Those Mystery Fuses

I thought I should post this, since I THINK I've found what those mystery, hidden fuses are all about. From looking at specs and wiring for replacement converters, I'm about 99% sure now that those fuses are "Reversed Battery Protection" fuses, that would protect the circuitry of the converter if one should possibly install a battery with the negative post connected to the positive cable and the positive post to the negative cable. Or, more likely, if someone were to "jump" the battery backwards, with the jumper cables on the wrong posts.

From one wiring diagram I found, there are supposed to be 30 Amp fuses in points 10 and 11 on the front of the panel for this purpose, but in my converter they are empty and there are the two inline 30 Amp fuses hidden in back, where they're hard to get to and a pain to check. I have no idea why the fuses were not installed in the fuse holders on the circuit board - it was an OEM converter on a brand new trailer.

In the troubleshooting sections of several replacement converters, I've learned these fuses can also blow if the battery condition is badly discharged in addition to having a reverse voltage applied.

Now, I've only rarely had the batteries get badly discharged. It happened when the trailer was new and I found I had to insert a switch to disconnect the dealer installed radio/CD/DVD player to stop its "vampire draw", and then later when we went camping with batteries that were failing (before I added solar). Those batteries were so badly discharged that they overloaded my 1000 Watt generator, when I tried to charge them through the shore power cord.

I've NEVER installed a battery backwards or applied charging/jump power backwards either.

But, as I've said earlier in the thread, I've often either raised the top, or, used the tongue jack to lift the truck and trailer combination to install/dismount the Weight Distributing Hitch, with shore power connected. Both of these activities put a heavy load on the battery, which reduces its voltage, possibly making it look like a "dead" battery to the converter which is running with shore power connected.

Anyway, I've decided I've had it with the Elixer converter and have a new 45 Amp one from Progressive Dynamics on the way. This one features 4-stage charging and it also has an LED that lights if the "reverse battery" fuses are blown. Those fuses are right in front where they should be too. I looked at the converter from Best Converter (the Boondocker), but this one was cheaper and offered the same features along with the LED that tells me if the 30 Amp fuses are blown. I ordered my converter from BatteryStuff.com.

Edit: I should add that this converter, as well as the Boondocker feature a charging profile that is suitable for Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, if that is of interest to anyone. The old Elixer is NOT suitable for Lithium battery charging.

- Jack
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