Electrical system help

fronsm

First time owner at 67
Jul 1, 2020
114
Indiana
I bought a pop-up last year that has a battery and a refrigerator, and an electrical lift. All this has been very confusing to me. I brought my camper home from storage. I plugged the 30 amp plug into a three-prong extension cord. Now my battery is dead. I'm attaching pictures so you can see what everything is. I just need some simple answers to the following questions:
1. What did I do wrong to drain the battery while it is plugged in? Was it because the 12 volt and the 120 volt were both turned on?
2. How do I know when the converter is on?
3. I am assuming I use the 12 volt when I am towing the camper to keep the refrigerator working, and I use the 120 volt when I am at the campsite?

Thank you for your help.
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fronsm

First time owner at 67
Jul 1, 2020
114
Indiana
I had taken the battery off before I put it storage and I kept it charged. Since I had the power connected to an ac power source, did I lose the charge because I had both the 12 volt and the 120 volt switched on? Was it not using the ac?
What was happening in storage? Were you maintaining charge. You seem to know you should only select one power source but if it was not connected to AC it wouldn't matter the 12 volt setting would take down the battery in short time , possibly beyond recovery.
 

Mytime

Active Member
Mar 20, 2022
232
SE Missouri
I had taken the battery off before I put it storage and I kept it charged. Since I had the power connected to an ac power source, did I lose the charge because I had both the 12 volt and the 120 volt switched on? Was it not using the ac?
I would say it defaulted to 12v. Those 3ways will drain a battery in no time.
 

tombiasi

Super Active Member
Sep 1, 2012
6,773
Northwestern New Jersey
I had taken the battery off before I put it storage and I kept it charged. Since I had the power connected to an ac power source, did I lose the charge because I had both the 12 volt and the 120 volt switched on? Was it not using the ac?
If you had a source of AC and a source of DC then both heating elements were on. The only one that would effect your battery is the DC switch.
 
Dec 3, 2017
28
Did any of this advice help resolve the issue?
I have also been frustrated by your question 2. How to know if the converter is on or functioning correctly.
The converter, converts 120 Volt AC to 12 Volts DC. If the converter is working, anything that is 12 volt powered should turn on ie: lights, water pump, fans.
Avoid using your battery to power the frig. Like others have said, it will drain a battery quickly. Depending upon the length of your trip, consider cooling your frig a couple of days before leaving and don't put anything in it that's not already cooled. Unless it's overly hot or the trip very long, the frig should keep things cool throughout the day until you can power it up in camp. If the frig is not overly full, you could put in an freezable ice block inside as added protection. Last note, never try to power anything from two sources at the same time.
 

fronsm

First time owner at 67
Jul 1, 2020
114
Indiana
Did any of this advice help resolve the issue?
I have also been frustrated by your question 2. How to know if the converter is on or functioning correctly.
This was definitely a user error issue lol! I had the 12 volt switch on for the refrigerator and it drained my car battery. I guess indirectly, blackjackalley answered this by saying when it's plugged into a 120 volt it converts it to 12 volt. I was wondering if there was a indicator that would show me it is in use. Thank you
 

Neil Henry

Member
Jun 12, 2018
10
West Concord, MA
This was definitely a user error issue lol! I had the 12 volt switch on for the refrigerator and it drained my car battery. I guess indirectly, blackjackalley answered this by saying when it's plugged into a 120 volt it converts it to 12 volt. I was wondering if there was a indicator that would show me it is in use. Thank you
That is a great point (the lack of built-in system diagnosis tools).
I know the design objectives for these "power centers" or converters is to do "a lot" in an inexpensive package. Now that I have diagnosed a faulty converter, I'd be willing to pay slightly more for an updated unit that gave me continuous system status for peace of mind.
 
Dec 3, 2017
28
This was definitely a user error issue lol! I had the 12 volt switch on for the refrigerator and it drained my car battery. I guess indirectly, blackjackalley answered this by saying when it's plugged into a 120 volt it converts it to 12 volt. I was wondering if there was a indicator that would show me it is in use. Thank you
I looked back at your photos. There is no reason your frig should be turned on while in storage so, turn both 120 volt and 12 volt off. Your frig also can use propane. I would suggest you consider using propane while in camp but not on the road and, by law, it cannot be on propane when in a gas station. As I mentioned before, the 12 volt powered equipment in the pup are powered by 120 volts into the converter that distributes 12 volts to the proper equipment. If your pup has duplex outlets, they will be powered from the circuit breakers to the outlets which will have 120 volts. The only way I know the converter is working is to plug the pup into a 120 volt outlet. If you are using a household outlet, you will only get 15-20 amps so, don't try and power everything. Try turning on the water pump. It only runs on 12 volts. The lights are also 12 volts. Try them out. If they are working, your converter is okay. You can use a DC voltmeter to check if power is going to the 12 volt equipment. You've already learned that when your frig is on 12 volts and the pup is plugged into your tow vehicle, it will pull power from your vehicle battery. A battery isolator can keep this from happening. I pre cool my frig before heading to hunting camp and leave it off until I set up in camp. A half day doesn't affect the contents and I use propane in camp even though I have a 2K generator.
 

rob.mwpropane

Active Member
Aug 11, 2021
367
When we camped earlier this year I plugged in things and got nada. So I used a cell phone charger to check the campground. It worked. Took the cover off the converter and it was glowing...converter was toast. Unplugged everything and ran extension cords.

Converters should have some type of diagnostics. My new one has a blinking light that supposed to tell me some things. I wired in a shunt for 12v and a watchdog for 120v. Both will tell me the condition of things through my phone (or at least give me a head start).

To the op, mine was also a WFCO and I called them twice leaving messages and sent emails.. never heard back. Progressive Dynamics answered my email within the hr.

Whoever on here said it's a good idea to carry a space heater just in case saved our trip!! Dropped to 34f that night!
 

HoosierMomma

Member
Jun 21, 2022
23
The converter, converts 120 Volt AC to 12 Volts DC. If the converter is working, anything that is 12 volt powered should turn on ie: lights, water pump, fans.
Avoid using your battery to power the frig. Like others have said, it will drain a battery quickly. Depending upon the length of your trip, consider cooling your frig a couple of days before leaving and don't put anything in it that's not already cooled. Unless it's overly hot or the trip very long, the frig should keep things cool throughout the day until you can power it up in camp. If the frig is not overly full, you could put in an freezable ice block inside as added protection. Last note, never try to power anything from two sources at the same time.
I am trying to trouble shoot my pup. When i plug in 30amp with an adapter to my home electric, i get electric to fridge and outlets, but no interior lights, also i think the water pump (a red switch on the bunk end by the galley?) also doesn’t do anything. The battery that was in it is dead i believe, and charging it hasn’t proved fruitful, as i think it may have been an original and sat for over a decade. I just got a multimeter to try and help trouble shoot, but have no knowledge of electrical, so trying to learn. Should i be trouble shooting the converter at this point?
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,405
Why are both the 120v and the 12v switches in the ON position when there's a label right below the switches saying you should select only one power source at a time? Of what use is that label?

I can't think of why a fridge should be kept on while in storage except a day or so before trip planning.

When towing, use 12v.

When plugged into Shore Power use 120v AC.

When camping without Shore Power, use propane.

Use only one at a time.

The fridge draws 10A at 12vdc. Running a 10A load off your converter will keep its fan running all the time, at best. At worst it won't keep up and will drain your battery, or even overheat the converter. Running two power sources at once will cause the planets in the solar system to spin away from their orbits and hasten the demise of civilization.

(Just kidding... but it's really bad for the fridge to keep both power sources turned on at the same time)
 
Dec 3, 2017
28
I am trying to trouble shoot my pup. When i plug in 30amp with an adapter to my home electric, i get electric to fridge and outlets, but no interior lights, also i think the water pump (a red switch on the bunk end by the galley?) also doesn’t do anything. The battery that was in it is dead i believe, and charging it hasn’t proved fruitful, as i think it may have been an original and sat for over a decade. I just got a multimeter to try and help trouble shoot, but have no knowledge of electrical, so trying to learn. Should i be trouble shooting the converter at this point?
Like others have suggested, check any and all circuit breakers and fuses in your converter. With Shore Power connected, disconnect your battery cables and, using a volt meter, check if charging voltage is going to the battery cables. If not, it is likely your converter is shot. Here is a useful YouTube video that might help:
 




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