Converter Upgrade vs. Battery Charger

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by PopUpLarge, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. PopUpLarge

    PopUpLarge Member

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    Hi folks, hoping this is the right place for this, looking for advice for keeping my battery in good shape and having an optimal setup.

    The short version: my converter works fine but is an old Progressive Dynamics unit and I'm 90% sure it doesn't charge the battery. I am adding solar but would like a reliable shore power charging option. Should I upgrade the converter to something more modern with a built-in smart charger or carry a separate battery charger? If so, for a single battery, do I need something with a significantly higher amp output than my battery tender (which is about 1.5v)? Any recommendations on models of converters or battery chargers I should look at? Can I have the solar and a battery charger connected to the battery at the same time?

    Details:
    Me: Noob.
    The PUP: 1991 Viking Deluxe 180.
    The converter: Progressive Dynamics with the serial number PD6809--can't ID it specifically on their website but appears similar to the documentation they have for the PD688 series. I am unsure if it charges or not but I am pretty sure not. Works great, no issues.
    The battery: a single 12v AGM 75aH. I own two, I alternate them for each trip, I maintain them when not in use off the camper with a battery tender plus.
    The setup: standard ceiling and outside lights (LED bulbs); added inside and outside LED strips, two cigarette sockets, and 4 2.1 USB ports. 400W power inverter option connected directly to the battery (but only when we absolutely need it, otherwise it's stored). Adding a 100W solar panel and charge controller which will also be connected directly to the battery.

    We've only taken it out for short trips so far but are planning a longer trip for next year that may involve 2-3 days between access to shore power. Recently weekend camped with no shore power and had no problems for two days although the cheap voltage meter I installed was showing pretty low by the next night (10.5-11v). We did not experience any loss of power.

    I want to make sure I'm treating my batteries right while having a set up that makes the best sense. What do you think?
     
  2. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    Depending on where you camp the 100 watt solar system may be enough to extend your camp beyond 3 days. But you'll need at least 4 hours of direct sun on the panel per day.

    The problem with upgrading the converter is that you may need to upgrade wiring also. The best way to verify this is to buy some short lengths of AWG wire in gauges 14, 12, and 10 gauge and visually compare the diameters of the wire. The general rule of thumb is that 14 gauge is good to 15 amps, 12 gauge to 20 amps and 10 gauge to 30 amps.

    I would personally go with a good 10 to 15 amp charger, with 3 stage charging, plus equalization and maintenance cycles. I personally like the Shumacher Ship and Shore, also sold under the label Speed Charger. They're affordable, have good diagnostics, and the display will show you everything you need to know while charging your batteries.
     
  3. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    You can get a newer 45amp PD converter with smart charger for around $200. A battery charger would run half of that.

    The new converter makes it simple to charge - just plug in the shore power cord.

    The battery charger would be usable for your TV battery if needed.

    Just a decision of what you think will be of greater benefit.
     
  4. PopUpLarge

    PopUpLarge Member

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    Leaning towards just getting a charger, to save money and also ease of install/multi-purpose use. My converter is old but it seems in very solid shape.

    I've eyeballed the Schumacher and also NOCO and black and Decker chargers. Anybody have more thoughts about what they think works best?
     
  5. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    I went with a smart charger, haven't regretted my choice. I don't even run my converter, even with shore power I run off battery and let the charger keep up the battery. Much more stable voltage that way.
     
  6. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Solar helps sunny doondocking and if used 24/7/365 can charge and maintain one battery.
    You can keep it hooked up all the time and use a battery charger with it.
     

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