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Old 01-08-2016, 03:51 AM   #1
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Damage Repair and Circuit Breaker Questions

I got my camper back from the shop today. $1400 worth of damage from the tire tread.

Now for my question. Something happened while it was in the shop that may have shorted something on the 12v side. Some of the hidden damage was the kitchen slide would not move on one side and the controller wiring was damaged. They found the circuit board on the 12v side of the fuse box partially burnt. The burnt part comes from the converter and goes to the battery compartment.

I installed a new converter a few weeks before and didn't have any issues. While in the shop I think the lights got left on and ran the batteries down. I have 3 12v in parallel. When I got home I plugged into shore power and noticed a clicking noise. It was in the front battery compartment and one of the circuit breakers was auto resetting repeatedly. I isolated the breaker as the one coming from the converter. If I turn off the master battery switch that will stop the breaker from kicking. My batteries have 11.5 volts on them, so they need charged. The breaker is a 30 amp. The converter is 100 amp. Could the batteries be pulling more than 30 amps from the converter to charge? My thought is to up the breaker to a 40 amp breaker. My batteries were fully charged before going to the shop. So there would not have been much draw from them as now. Any Thoughts?

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Old 01-08-2016, 06:47 AM   #2
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I would recharge the batteries with a charger first, then see if the C/B still kicks out.

Going up to a 40A could cause a fire, if the wire is not heavy enough to handle 40A

If you have to manual for the converter, there should be a trouble shootig section in it, that's were I would start.

I had a shop teacher back in 1963, when the old screw in fuses in you house. He old us "If you ever have a fuse burn out and you don't have a spare, make sure you us an American penny to jump the fuse." His reason "The American penny says In God We Trust."
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Old 01-08-2016, 02:47 PM   #3
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As hddecker said, do not increase the size of the breaker.

I had a similar situation a few years ago with a blowout and it destroyed lots of wires under the slide. My guess is that there is a short under there somewhere.

I would remove the breaker, charge all the batteries and then check to see if everything works. My guess is something won't work because there are shorted wires leading to that item. And a dead short may have gotten your converter.

Good luck, and report back your findings.
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:39 PM   #4
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Hi Everyone,


I think I have solved the problem. I did some research and made a couple of calls to PowerMax, here is what I did: I isolated both the converter and battery by using the battery switch. I put my 4 amp car charger on the batteries and let it run for a few hours. It didn't seem to have any problem charging so I went on to test the converter. The voltage from the converter was good, so I turned on all the 12V stuff I could to put the converter under load with out the battery in the circuit. All was fine.


I then unplugged the converter and ran with just the batteries and that went fine as well. The wire the runs between the converter, distribution panel and batteries is 6 gauge wire, so I knew I could put bigger breaker in, so I tried a 40 amp with the same result, just not as fast. So it was looking like something with the PM4-100 Powermax converter I just installed.


I had gotten the replacement WFCO-9875 converter, covered under warranty back over the holidays, so I temporarily hooked it up and it seem to work fine charging.


I thought there could be a problem with the charging circuit, so I called Powermax. They said that was unlikely and to go to a higher amp breaker. My research shows that the max breaker for a 6 gauge wire is 80 amps, but to go that high I would have to do some re-wiring for a different style of breaker. I found a 50 amp breaker the same style that current bus bar uses at O'Reily auto parts. That seems to have solved the problem.


The WFCO-8925 distribution center and my new converter are rated for 100 amps, unfortunately Dutchmen didn't put 4 gauge wire in, that rated for a 100 amps. I may do that one day if I ever do anything with solar. In doing research I did see were some car alternators are rated for 50 amps, so hopefully the fully discharged batteries don't draw more than that in the future. Hopefully that helps.
-Jeff
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:08 PM   #5
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Is this an unusual situation where the batteries were almost completely drained? If that is so, would a battery cut off switch in the ground connection of each battery work? I would expect that charging one or two batteries at a time would draw 1/3 or 2/3 the current from your converter, possibly reducing the current draw low enough to not to trip the breaker.. at least until you get to doing the rewiring...
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:16 PM   #6
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Glad you located the problem utilizing great problem-solving skills rather than just throwing parts at the problem. Great job and we really appreciate you reporting back.

So many will post a problem, receive lots of advice, and then never let us know the solution so we an all learn.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:05 PM   #7
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Way to go Jeff.

I'm glad you researched the problem before jumping on the larger fuse solution.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firstime RVer View Post
Is this an unusual situation where the batteries were almost completely drained? If that is so, would a battery cut off switch in the ground connection of each battery work? I would expect that charging one or two batteries at a time would draw 1/3 or 2/3 the current from your converter, possibly reducing the current draw low enough to not to trip the breaker.. at least until you get to doing the rewiring...
It's not normally a problem while the camper is in service, unless you don't have something maintaining the batteries and you are placing a heavy load on them. In this case the problem arose after the blowout.

Many folks will put a battery cutoff switch in the system, so they can eliminate the parasitic draw when the camper is in storage. Personally I keep my batteries maintained and in the trailer ready to go anytime we get the urge.

Speaking of maintaining the batteries, I found that I had a problem with in my truck and I don't know how long it was going on. The fuse that safe guards on the 12V constant power leg of the trailer plug had blown.

I only learned this when I upgraded the trailer to disk brakes, the batteries were disconnected so to test the system and bleed the brakes I plugged the trailer into the truck. The problem only showed because the brake actuator needs a constant 12V power sully from the tow vehicle.

All the other things lights, turn signals and brake lights worked fine and the solar was keeping the batteries charged.

Of course my Ram has one of them square fuses that I didn't have a spare for. So find which fuse is charging the batteries as you are towing and make sure you have spares. You might get a surprise, I have heard of trucks with the tow package, but that fuse is not installed at the factory.

I now pop open the fuse panel and check that fuse during my pre-trip each morning.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:41 PM   #9
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Good advice. That's another thing I hadn't thought of..
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Old 01-12-2016, 01:09 AM   #10
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Got a follow up call from powermax late today to make sure everything was ok. It was a different guy, so I gave him the cliff notes version of what I did. He told me they have had the same issue with several manufacturers. He also said the is really no reason to put a fuse or breaker between the converter and battery. Their converters have built in short/overload protection. He said it's like putting a rev limiter on a corvette, it works till you hit the gas hard.
-Jeff
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