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 > Project: Converter Swap–WFCO9835/PowerMax Boondocker PM3B-45

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JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Joined: 11/20/2003

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Posted: 10/27/11 10:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Project: Converter Swap–WFCO 9835 for PowerMax Boondocker PM3B-45

Well, I went through all the song and dance and jive doing all that wiring upgrades and relocating the converter in my backlogged projects series only to discover that my original converter, the WFCO 9835 35-amp deckmount, was on its way out.

In the past, the popular unit of choice has been the Progressive Dynamics 9200 series with its remote charging pendant, however, I am not seeing a 35amp model in the line up over at www.BestConverter.com, the lowest amperage rated unit they have is a 45amp model, which is likely overkill for my rig.

So, I fired off an email to Randy over at BestConverter.com inquiring as to the fate of my old converter to verify that my suspicions were indeed true.

My email dialogue went like this:

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:
[image]
Howdy folks [image]. Late 2008, I bought a WFCO 9835 deckmount converter from ya guys and been using it without issue up till just recently.
I'm trying to figure out whats going on with it, as I've moved it from where it was originally installed (roughly about 11' away from the batteries) to where it is now, (roughly 2' from the batteries) and now its acting strange.
The unit is making a constant clicking sound when listened to up close. Before, the unit would perpetually stay in 13.6 volt mode, doing the desulfation boost every 24 hours) which I figured was because it was 11' away on 4 gauge wire. So, I moved it to its new location, which is right on the other side of the wall from the batteries.

Once moved, the unit was performing as normal, but now actually going into boost, and staying there (Left it alone for 3 days, it never went out of 14.8 volt bulk). I figured this was due to the fact that my two Group 31 Trojans were at the end of their service life, so I replaced the batteries with two new of the same make and brand and now the unit clicks constantly and the lights pulse. The batteries are connected correctly, and all contacts were cleaned and polished to ensure good connectivity.
Also, the unit can no longer be run on the generator. Before, it worked just fine, but now, whenever it is switched on the generator starts cycling (revving up and down like a load is being added and removed rapidly), something that only happens when the converter is used, nothing else causes this.

Is any of this normal for the unit? I personally think something has gone out in the WFCO unit. I cannot find any articles specific to the 9835 online, most of the problem threads I find are related to the older 8000 series units.

Thanks for any enlightenment you can provide on this bugger. Either way its gonna likely have to be replaced, as I don't want it damaging the $400 in new batteries I just installed! [image]

Randy@BestConverter wrote:
[image]
Hi Matt,
While I don't know what, something has failed internally and it will need replaced. Anything or nothing could have caused it to fail.

I would not recommend another WFCO unit however. The Powermax Boondocker is a much better performing unit and has a better warranty. They never come back. Thanks and here is a link if you decide to replace it.
PowerMax Converters
Randy

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:
[image]
How does the PowerMax Booster Compare to say the 9200 Series Progressive Dynamics unit?

Randy@BestConverter.com wrote:
[image]
Similar except its a constant current based charger, uses a slightly higher voltage (14.6 max) for faster charging and has 3 year warranty. I prefer it. If you are fimiliar with constant current versus constant voltage, there is no questions the job gets dont better and faster with a current limited unit. Both are good units though.

Randy

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:
[image]
Oh yes, and I forgot to ask, but what is the AC wattage usage of the 35amp/45amp PMB units? Their detail pages on the website don't list anything in particular.

Randy@BestConverter.com wrote:
[image]
I don't have it on the website yet but they are vitrually identical to all of the other is you find another table.

Randy

-------------

Wanting to make certain I didn’t make a repeat of buying the WFCO-grade of converter again, I started up a thread over on RV.net and got folks opinions and in the end, decided to take Randy’s advice and a chance (not too many of these PowerMax Boondockers out there yet amongst the RV community that I can see) and ordered a 45 amp PowerMax Boondocker [image].

My parcel arrived in fairly short order, this morning 30 minutes after I left for work, in fact [image].

When I got home from work, I dug into it [image].

First off, as you can see, the PowerMax, on the right, is almost double the size of the older WFCO unit, on the left, I originally had, but its shorter in overall height compared to the WFCO. The only thing I ‘m not 100% thrilled about is that the PowerMax is completely flush, where as the WFCO was offset a bit to allow air space between the unit and the surface it fastened to.

So far, the PowerMax is running substantially cooler than its predecessor under similar conditions. At the moment, I’m not even generating enough load to cause the cooling fan to cycle on.

[image]

Sadly, I had to drill a couple more holes in my dinette seat [image], but at least they’re hidden underneath a cushion.

Swap out was pretty straight forward and took very little time, I was done in under 45 minutes [image]. Simply disconnect the battery wires (Negative first!) after unplugging the unit and unbolting it from the underside of the dinette seat and doing the reverse (after marking and drilling out the new bolt holes) for installation of the Boondocker.

Original WFCO
[image]

PowerMax installed
[image][image]

Once I had everything hooked up, I flipped on the power switch and nothing exploded or caught fire, which to me is always a good thing!

Once it had been on for a couple seconds, I flipped the switch on my voltage meter to check what mode the PowerMax had decided it needed to run in. According to everything I’ve read, the unit starts in 13.6 volt mode, then checks to see if the batteries need more and will go up to the 14.6 Boost mode, or down to the 13.2 float mode if the batteries do not need charging.

Much to my joy, she went down to 13.2 volts, something I don’t think the WFCO ever did, which is why my Trojan’s died an early death as they were being constantly boiled, even with water being added regularly, eventually the plates degraded to the point of no return.

As I sit here, typing my blog entry, the converter is still working just fine and still happily at 13.2 volts. My lights no longer flicker and so far, I’m happy with the PowerMax Boondocker.

I still need to see how she performs in a recharging situation and operating off the generator. I wasn’t able to use my generator with the WFCO on my last two participations on the Fall Colors Rally,

Thanks for following along, I will keep ya’ll posted as things progress!


My Blog - The Journey of the Redneck Express
CB Channel 17 Redneck Express
'1992 Dodge W-250 "Dually" Power Wagon - Club Cab Long Bed 4x4 V8 5.9L gashog w/4.10 Geared axles
'1974 KIT Kamper 1106 - 11' Slide-in
'2006 Heartland BigHorn 3400RL


pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Joined: 12/18/2004

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Posted: 10/27/11 09:23pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Joe,

Thanks for taking the time to post!


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp hours of AGM in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

garryk6

Kodiak, AK

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Joined: 03/16/2004

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Posted: 10/27/11 10:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey Joe! After your information and post, I decided to order the same one for the Avion. The old 20 Amp charger I had got, doesn't seem to put out anything over 13.2. It usually only hits 12.7... So I ordered the same 45 amp version. I have one group 27 battery, and hope to add a second soon. With the 12V lights, toilet and cooler and water pump, I wanted to make sure I have enough reserve. Once I change out the bulbs to LED that will help alot.
Thanks again for all the leg-work!

Garry in AK


Garry K
Wife + 4 kids
Retired Military Family.... Alway's on the move....
2002 F350 CCSB 5.4 6spd 4x4 in AK
1966 Avion C-10 Truck Camper


adrenaline210mph

Bentonville, Arkansas

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Posted: 02/20/12 09:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JoeChiOhki wrote:

I haven't gotten it to go up to the 14.6 volt mode yet, however, it takes several days of operations in my camper to draw the 260 AHs of capacity down to the point where it'd need bulking back up (360 if the truck and camper are mated).

I may not get a chance to see the bulk charge mode until I take an extended dry camping trip, the camper hasn't moved from its current parking spot since October of last year, so other than a 12 hour stint here and there where the power's gone out, the camper's batteries haven't been off maintenance mode too much.

My camper's electrical system draws very small amounts of 12 volt power, usually not enough to kick the charger up to the 13.6 volt mode with any regularity once the batteries have reached full and it's dropped back down into 13.2 float.

I do know that the water consumption between the two onboard batteries has been very minor with the Boondocker compared to my previous charger.


Joe, thanks for the response. How long does it take the boondocker to drop to float mode? Do you believe it does it the second the batteries are 100% full or does it take a day or two to finally drop from 13.6 down to 13.2? My fear is that it takes a day or two to drop and that minor damage happens to the battery by being at 13.6 when it really should be at 13.2. This is what I'm trying to find out before I buy.

adrenaline210mph

Bentonville, Arkansas

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Posted: 02/14/12 08:26am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JoeChiOhki wrote:

Project: Converter Swap–WFCO 9835 for PowerMax Boondocker PM3B-45

Well, I went through all the song and dance and jive doing all that wiring upgrades and relocating the converter in my backlogged projects series only to discover that my original converter, the WFCO 9835 35-amp deckmount, was on its way out.

In the past, the popular unit of choice has been the Progressive Dynamics 9200 series with its remote charging pendant, however, I am not seeing a 35amp model in the line up over at www.BestConverter.com, the lowest amperage rated unit they have is a 45amp model, which is likely overkill for my rig.

So, I fired off an email to Randy over at BestConverter.com inquiring as to the fate of my old converter to verify that my suspicions were indeed true.

My email dialogue went like this:

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:
[image]
Howdy folks [image]. Late 2008, I bought a WFCO 9835 deckmount converter from ya guys and been using it without issue up till just recently.
I'm trying to figure out whats going on with it, as I've moved it from where it was originally installed (roughly about 11' away from the batteries) to where it is now, (roughly 2' from the batteries) and now its acting strange.
The unit is making a constant clicking sound when listened to up close. Before, the unit would perpetually stay in 13.6 volt mode, doing the desulfation boost every 24 hours) which I figured was because it was 11' away on 4 gauge wire. So, I moved it to its new location, which is right on the other side of the wall from the batteries.

Once moved, the unit was performing as normal, but now actually going into boost, and staying there (Left it alone for 3 days, it never went out of 14.8 volt bulk). I figured this was due to the fact that my two Group 31 Trojans were at the end of their service life, so I replaced the batteries with two new of the same make and brand and now the unit clicks constantly and the lights pulse. The batteries are connected correctly, and all contacts were cleaned and polished to ensure good connectivity.
Also, the unit can no longer be run on the generator. Before, it worked just fine, but now, whenever it is switched on the generator starts cycling (revving up and down like a load is being added and removed rapidly), something that only happens when the converter is used, nothing else causes this.

Is any of this normal for the unit? I personally think something has gone out in the WFCO unit. I cannot find any articles specific to the 9835 online, most of the problem threads I find are related to the older 8000 series units.

Thanks for any enlightenment you can provide on this bugger. Either way its gonna likely have to be replaced, as I don't want it damaging the $400 in new batteries I just installed! [image]

Randy@BestConverter wrote:
[image]
Hi Matt,
While I don't know what, something has failed internally and it will need replaced. Anything or nothing could have caused it to fail.

I would not recommend another WFCO unit however. The Powermax Boondocker is a much better performing unit and has a better warranty. They never come back. Thanks and here is a link if you decide to replace it.
PowerMax Converters
Randy

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:
[image]
How does the PowerMax Booster Compare to say the 9200 Series Progressive Dynamics unit?

Randy@BestConverter.com wrote:
[image]
Similar except its a constant current based charger, uses a slightly higher voltage (14.6 max) for faster charging and has 3 year warranty. I prefer it. If you are fimiliar with constant current versus constant voltage, there is no questions the job gets dont better and faster with a current limited unit. Both are good units though.

Randy

RedneckExpress/JoeChiOhki wrote:
[image]
Oh yes, and I forgot to ask, but what is the AC wattage usage of the 35amp/45amp PMB units? Their detail pages on the website don't list anything in particular.

Randy@BestConverter.com wrote:
[image]
I don't have it on the website yet but they are vitrually identical to all of the other is you find another table.

Randy

-------------

Wanting to make certain I didn’t make a repeat of buying the WFCO-grade of converter again, I started up a thread over on RV.net and got folks opinions and in the end, decided to take Randy’s advice and a chance (not too many of these PowerMax Boondockers out there yet amongst the RV community that I can see) and ordered a 45 amp PowerMax Boondocker [image].

My parcel arrived in fairly short order, this morning 30 minutes after I left for work, in fact [image].

When I got home from work, I dug into it [image].

First off, as you can see, the PowerMax, on the right, is almost double the size of the older WFCO unit, on the left, I originally had, but its shorter in overall height compared to the WFCO. The only thing I ‘m not 100% thrilled about is that the PowerMax is completely flush, where as the WFCO was offset a bit to allow air space between the unit and the surface it fastened to.

So far, the PowerMax is running substantially cooler than its predecessor under similar conditions. At the moment, I’m not even generating enough load to cause the cooling fan to cycle on.

[image]

Sadly, I had to drill a couple more holes in my dinette seat [image], but at least they’re hidden underneath a cushion.

Swap out was pretty straight forward and took very little time, I was done in under 45 minutes [image]. Simply disconnect the battery wires (Negative first!) after unplugging the unit and unbolting it from the underside of the dinette seat and doing the reverse (after marking and drilling out the new bolt holes) for installation of the Boondocker.

Original WFCO
[image]

PowerMax installed
[image][image]

Once I had everything hooked up, I flipped on the power switch and nothing exploded or caught fire, which to me is always a good thing!

Once it had been on for a couple seconds, I flipped the switch on my voltage meter to check what mode the PowerMax had decided it needed to run in. According to everything I’ve read, the unit starts in 13.6 volt mode, then checks to see if the batteries need more and will go up to the 14.6 Boost mode, or down to the 13.2 float mode if the batteries do not need charging.

Much to my joy, she went down to 13.2 volts, something I don’t think the WFCO ever did, which is why my Trojan’s died an early death as they were being constantly boiled, even with water being added regularly, eventually the plates degraded to the point of no return.

As I sit here, typing my blog entry, the converter is still working just fine and still happily at 13.2 volts. My lights no longer flicker and so far, I’m happy with the PowerMax Boondocker.

I still need to see how she performs in a recharging situation and operating off the generator. I wasn’t able to use my generator with the WFCO on my last two participations on the Fall Colors Rally,

Thanks for following along, I will keep ya’ll posted as things progress!


Joe, I'm thinking about buying the same boondocker. I spoke with an engineer at the company that makes them (so I was lead to beleive) and he told me the boondocker goes to float mode (13.2) after 8 hours of no significant power draw on the battery. You seemed to indicate above that the boondocker will go to float mode relatively quickly.
Also, I'm curious, does it jump right back to boost mode 14.6 when you start drawing significant current?

Please, let us all know if you've noticed anything else since your last posting.

Thanks!
Paul.

JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Joined: 11/20/2003

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Posted: 02/14/12 10:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I haven't gotten it to go up to the 14.6 volt mode yet, however, it takes several days of operations in my camper to draw the 260 AHs of capacity down to the point where it'd need bulking back up (360 if the truck and camper are mated).

I may not get a chance to see the bulk charge mode until I take an extended dry camping trip, the camper hasn't moved from its current parking spot since October of last year, so other than a 12 hour stint here and there where the power's gone out, the camper's batteries haven't been off maintenance mode too much.

My camper's electrical system draws very small amounts of 12 volt power, usually not enough to kick the charger up to the 13.6 volt mode with any regularity once the batteries have reached full and it's dropped back down into 13.2 float.

I do know that the water consumption between the two onboard batteries has been very minor with the Boondocker compared to my previous charger.

* This post was edited 02/14/12 11:07am by JoeChiOhki *

JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Posted: 02/20/12 01:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

adrenaline210mph wrote:

JoeChiOhki wrote:

I haven't gotten it to go up to the 14.6 volt mode yet, however, it takes several days of operations in my camper to draw the 260 AHs of capacity down to the point where it'd need bulking back up (360 if the truck and camper are mated).

I may not get a chance to see the bulk charge mode until I take an extended dry camping trip, the camper hasn't moved from its current parking spot since October of last year, so other than a 12 hour stint here and there where the power's gone out, the camper's batteries haven't been off maintenance mode too much.

My camper's electrical system draws very small amounts of 12 volt power, usually not enough to kick the charger up to the 13.6 volt mode with any regularity once the batteries have reached full and it's dropped back down into 13.2 float.

I do know that the water consumption between the two onboard batteries has been very minor with the Boondocker compared to my previous charger.


Joe, thanks for the response. How long does it take the boondocker to drop to float mode? Do you believe it does it the second the batteries are 100% full or does it take a day or two to finally drop from 13.6 down to 13.2? My fear is that it takes a day or two to drop and that minor damage happens to the battery by being at 13.6 when it really should be at 13.2. This is what I'm trying to find out before I buy.


Haven't seen it take a day, so far the longest was like 4-6 hours, but the batteries also needed charging at that time.

Right now, I periodically shut the unit off and disconnect battery power and let it discharge then restart the system to have it recheck the batteries and unless the batteries actually were in need, it always went back down to 13.2.

adrenaline210mph

Bentonville, Arkansas

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Posted: 02/20/12 02:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So basically - best you can tell is that it drops to 13.2 pretty much immediately when sufficiently charged and doesn't have any kind of an artificial delay. That is different than what the Powermax engineer told me. He told me the boondocker waits for 8 hours of no activity before it drops from 13.6 to 13.2.

Thanks!

adrenaline210mph

Bentonville, Arkansas

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Posted: 02/20/12 02:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PS - I believe you over the engineer :-)

JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Posted: 02/20/12 02:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

adrenaline210mph wrote:

So basically - best you can tell is that it drops to 13.2 pretty much immediately when sufficiently charged and doesn't have any kind of an artificial delay. That is different than what the Powermax engineer told me. He told me the boondocker waits for 8 hours of no activity before it drops from 13.6 to 13.2.

Thanks!


I'm just going by what mine is doing [emoticon]. I have the 45 amp model, it's hooked to two group 31 batteries and has at max a 3' run on either wire coming from the batteries to the converter (all 4 gauge wire).

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