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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers

 > Is My WFCO Converter Dying?

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OBSPowerstroke

Portland, OR

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Posted: 02/07/13 10:03am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey Guys,

It seems like forever since I have been on the forum!

Anyway, I was out de-winterizing the trailer last night for a trip over President's Day Weekend and turned on the furnace to warm the inside a bit and to make sure it fired up okay. I started noticing the blower motor fluctuating between fast and slow, and thought that was a bit odd. A little while later I was running the water pump to flush out the lines and noticed it was doing the same thing. I also could hear the fan kick in on my power center every time the furnace and water pump would run harder.

First thing I did was plug in my volt meter, and I noticed every time there was a surge, the voltage would jump up to about 14.5. Once the surge stopped, I would get a reading of around 12.5 volts. I decided to really tax the system and turned on every DC powered device in the trailer (all my lights are LED, so they don't draw that much). Doing this, I would still get around 14.5 during the surge, and it would drop down below 12.0 until another surge happened.

I checked the water level and all the connections on the batteries, and everything was clean and secure and full of water. The batteries are relatively new 6V Trojan golf cart batteries and each measured 6.25 volts, so I doubt the batteries are to blame.

I noticed if I disconnected shore power and ran a full DC load strictly off the batteries, everything worked fine and the surging stopped. This morning I went out and checked the voltage again, and it was showing 13.6 volts.

My guess is my power converter is dying and for some reason it is resetting (12 volts and lower), then jumping to bulk charge (14.4) for awhile, and then back to absorption mode (13.6) and repeating this cycle over and over any time there is a draw.

I have the WFCO 8735P power center, so if you all think it's a problem with the converter, is there a drop in replacement that you'd recommend? I'd hate to have to replace the entire power center, but I will if I have to.

Of course getting the new parts and having time to install them before next weekend's trip is going to be really fun.

Thanks in advance!


Josh
'16 Ford F350
'11 Komfort Resort 240RK
Portland, OR


2manytoyz

Central FL

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Posted: 02/07/13 10:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like mine just before it died. Mine was a 55A model. It finally died on a camping trip. When the battery got weak, the propane alarm squawked, fridge quit, and the lights dimmed. I had a portable jump pack in my truck that I connected to keep the camper alive overnight. We were heading home the next day, so didn't impact the trip too much.

Here some pics of the replacement.

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[image]

I bought the 55A Iota charger on eBay, then bought the IQ module (3 stage) from a solar website.

The performance difference is amazing. The WFCO charger would 'hiss' with no load, and the fan would run if several lights were on at the same time. The Iota unit is silent. It does have a fan, but it's very quiet. The lights are BRIGHT now, instead of the slight yellow I was used to, even when the camper was new.

Simple to install. Little modification needed.


Robert
Merritt Island, FL
2015 Forest River Georgetown 328TS
2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited TOAD
Falcon 2 Towbar, Roadmaster 9400 Even Brake System
http://www.2manytoyz.com/


OBSPowerstroke

Portland, OR

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Posted: 02/07/13 10:32am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2manytoyz wrote:

I bought the 55A Iota charger on eBay, then bought the IQ module (3 stage) from a solar website.

The performance difference is amazing. The WFCO charger would 'hiss' with no load, and the fan would run if several lights were on at the same time. The Iota unit is silent. It does have a fan, but it's very quiet. The lights are BRIGHT now, instead of the slight yellow I was used to, even when the camper was new.

Simple to install. Little modification needed.


Thanks for the reply Robert!

It looks like replacing the converter is pretty simple. My power center is smaller than yours and doesn't have the bay underneath the breakers for the converter like yours does, so I'm not exactly sure where mine is mounted. If I have time tonight, I'll have to pull the converter to get a better idea of how everything is installed.

CavemanCharlie

Storden,MN

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Posted: 02/07/13 11:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Mine was surging like that once. I was home plugged into a 15 amp outlet using a cheater. I then re-plugged into a different outlet closer to the main breaker box that's in the shed where I am plugged into when I'm at home. Then problem quit. The only time mine does that is when I'm plugged into that one particular outlet in my home shed far away from the breaker box.

Before charging things out try plugging into a different outlet.

Sandia Man

Rio Rancho, NM

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Posted: 02/07/13 11:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Those are some of the symptoms exhibited when a converter is nearing the end of it's lifespan. Good opportunity to upgrade to a Progressive Dynamics or Iota unit. Call Randy at Bestconverter.com and he will set you up. WFCO converters have been known to under-perform due to their inability to deliver bulk rate charging, they tend to hover around 13.6 volts most times. The swapout shouldn't be too difficult, and Bestconverter.com has photos and instructions. Your batteries will really appreciate the maintenance routines provided by a PD or Iota unit. Enjoy your trip next week, we will be going south for 6 days that same holiday weekend.

ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 02/07/13 12:33pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sandia Man wrote:

Those are some of the symptoms exhibited when a converter is nearing the end of it's lifespan. Good opportunity to upgrade to a Progressive Dynamics or Iota unit. Call Randy at Bestconverter.com and he will set you up. WFCO converters have been known to under-perform due to their inability to deliver bulk rate charging, they tend to hover around 13.6 volts most times. The swapout shouldn't be too difficult, and Bestconverter.com has photos and instructions. Your batteries will really appreciate the maintenance routines provided by a PD or Iota unit. Enjoy your trip next week, we will be going south for 6 days that same holiday weekend.


x2. Use this as an "excuse" to upgrade and improve your converter.


2011 Keystone Outback 295RE
2004 14' bikehauler with full living quarters
2015.5 Denali 4x4 CC/SB Duramax/Allison
2004.5 Silverado 4x4 CC/SB Duramax/Allison passed on to our Son!


OBSPowerstroke

Portland, OR

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Posted: 02/07/13 02:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

CavemanCharlie wrote:

Mine was surging like that once. I was home plugged into a 15 amp outlet using a cheater. I then re-plugged into a different outlet closer to the main breaker box that's in the shed where I am plugged into when I'm at home. Then problem quit. The only time mine does that is when I'm plugged into that one particular outlet in my home shed far away from the breaker box.

Before charging things out try plugging into a different outlet.


The particular outlet I'm plugged into right now does give me problems all the time, so I think I will try another outlet tonight to see if that fixes it. Thanks for the tip!

I definitely want to upgrade my converter, but if I can get through my next trip with this one and not have any issues, that would be nice due to the time crunch. It seems odd that the converter worked fine on my last trip in November and would somehow bite the dust just sitting plugged in through the winter, but you never know...

I'll keep you all posted if simply switching outlets tonight takes care of it.

OBSPowerstroke

Portland, OR

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Posted: 02/08/13 07:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I tried switching outlets last night, and, although it seemed to help a little at first, I still started getting a surge in voltage as soon as I fired up the furnace. I think the brief improvement on the new outlet was just a coincidence, since after I did all my testing last night, I turned off all DC loads on the trailer and the fan on the converter still was cycling on and off. My guess is the converter is officially shot.

After some more investigating of my power center last night, I'm almost to the point where I wonder if just buying a better, larger unit that includes the converter is the way to go. My converter is only a 35 amp model, and I noticed that only ONE 15 amp breaker runs the converter, fridge on electric, and ALL the outlets in the entire trailer except for the outlet for the water heater and fridge. No wonder I can't ever run an electric heater and coffee maker at the same time!

Even though a new power center would require me to cut out a larger opening, I am thinking I could rewire everything to help balance the A/C load across more breakers. I see the reasoning behind most of the outlets being on one circuit so they're all connected to the GFCI, but was it really necessary to include the fridge and converter in the mix?

What would you all suggest? Bite the bullet and install a better power center or just retrofit a better converter into my existing one? Retrofitting will be a challenge as it is, since there's no room in my current power center to mount a larger converter, so I'd have to mount the converter to the floor behind the power center and re-run the wires anyway.

Thanks for the help so far!

ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 02/08/13 09:27am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OBSPowerstroke wrote:

I tried switching outlets last night, and, although it seemed to help a little at first, I still started getting a surge in voltage as soon as I fired up the furnace. I think the brief improvement on the new outlet was just a coincidence, since after I did all my testing last night, I turned off all DC loads on the trailer and the fan on the converter still was cycling on and off. My guess is the converter is officially shot.

After some more investigating of my power center last night, I'm almost to the point where I wonder if just buying a better, larger unit that includes the converter is the way to go. My converter is only a 35 amp model, and I noticed that only ONE 15 amp breaker runs the converter, fridge on electric, and ALL the outlets in the entire trailer except for the outlet for the water heater and fridge. No wonder I can't ever run an electric heater and coffee maker at the same time!

Even though a new power center would require me to cut out a larger opening, I am thinking I could rewire everything to help balance the A/C load across more breakers. I see the reasoning behind most of the outlets being on one circuit so they're all connected to the GFCI, but was it really necessary to include the fridge and converter in the mix?

What would you all suggest? Bite the bullet and install a better power center or just retrofit a better converter into my existing one? Retrofitting will be a challenge as it is, since there's no room in my current power center to mount a larger converter, so I'd have to mount the converter to the floor behind the power center and re-run the wires anyway.

Thanks for the help so far!


the reason so much is on one breaker is NEC code requirements. On a 30A panel, there can only be 5 breakers. With the AC, MW, HWH all requiring dedicated breakers, that only leaves two remaining. One is usually for the 120V GFI protected circuits, and all the rest on the last one. So, the fridge, converter and remaining outlets end up on one breaker. Very common. And yes, the converter itself can put 1000W or more load on that one circuit, add 300W for the fridge, and not much else left.

First thing I did, since there was space for two more breakers is put the converter on it's own circuit, the fridge on it's own circuit and then fed the two outlet circuits through a subpanel and transfer switch connected to the line and inverter. Now when I'm on batteries, only the outlets are fed from the inverter and I don't have to worry about someone trying to run the AC from the inverter.

OBSPowerstroke

Portland, OR

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Posted: 02/11/13 10:27am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After following all your suggestions, I contacted Randy at Best Converter and he suggested I go with the PowerMax Boondocker PM4B-45S and just bypass the old WFCO converter so I don't have to replace the whole power center.

I placed my order with him this morning and should have it by Thursday. I didn't even have to pay for priority shipping to get it here by Thursday, since their warehouse is in Boise, and ground shipping only takes two days to Portland! [emoticon]

I'll let you know how the install goes, probably after my trip this next weekend, since I'm going to be quite busy installing the new converter and getting everything packed to go, all while still having to work a full week.

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