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Old 08-20-2010, 11:34 AM   #1
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Converter Question

For some time now I've noticed that turning off the "Aux (house) Battery" switch shuts down shore power to the coach. It hasn't been a major problem so it's languished on my list of things to do but I've finally gotten around to looking into it.

It's my understanding that a converter takes over the duties of supplying 12v to the coach when attached to shore power and takes the coach batteries out of the equation... but keeps them charged via the Dimensions Inverter/Charger. What I have been observing instead is the house batteries constantly cycling... that is discharging and then recharging as the charger goes into Bulk Mode. All of this leads me to believe that if there's a converter in there someplace it's not working. I should mention that I'm currently limited to a 20amp shore line and the charger in bulk mode can eat up several amps.

I've poured over my manuals and can only find a brief reference to the converter and it's role but no details on even where it is. As I began to investigate, I've found that the 120v outlet located in the electric utility bay right above the inverter is dead. I haven't yet tried to run a seperate extension cord to the the plug that uses it to see if that rectifies the 12v converter issue because I wanted to find out why the plug is dead first if at all possible. I'm now looking over the wiring diagrams for the coach to see if I can find where the breaker controlling it might be but wanted to put out feelers to see if anyone else knew what might be going on.
Thanks in advance for any insights.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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Rick - that dead outlet is probably where you plug in your engine block heater. The cord for the block heater is usually coiled up and tucked away somewhere in that area. At your One Place panel, turn on the "Engine Heater" switch, then check that dead outlet again. It makes a handy place to plug in an extention cord that you can switch on and off from inside - like for Christmas lights, etc.

As for the converter, I've never seen a Winnie that has an inverter/charger and also a converter. Converters are generally used in the simpler setups with a separate charger. Your inverter/charger should handle all your 12v loads. But, I've been surprised before...
Your batteries should not be cycling like that and I don't any explanation for that. Maybe a question for Dimensions.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:28 PM   #3
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Hey Tom, thanks so much! Just checked it out and you're spot on. It's just a switched outlet for the engine heater.

The only reference in my manual I could find regarding the converter is:

"The power converter changes 120 volt AC household current from the shoreline or generator into 12 volt DC current for use by 12 volt equipment in the motor home."

This is listed under the Inverter/Charger Unit section. Maybe I'm confused with terminology... but I AM confused.

My batteries are cycling because I can watch the voltage drop from 13 down to 12.2 and then the charger goes into bulk mode and I can see it jump at least three amps on the power consumption. Then it starts all over again. I need to figure out how 12v is supposed to be supplied to the coach when connected to shore power.

I'll probably call Winnie Monday if I don't get more insight here.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:06 PM   #4
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Rick - I think that reference to a converter is just left over verbage from the past. But, Winnie could tell you for sure.

Something sounds amiss with your inverter/charger. When you have been unplugged from AC and then plug into shore power or start the gennie, the Dimensions panel should: first read bulk mode, then at some point shift to accept mode, and finally shift into float mode. It should then stay in "float" until you disconnect from AC power. While it's in float, you should be able switch DC loads on and off and see the results on the Dimensions panel. With DC loads off, you should see something like:

CHGR-FLOAT MODE
13.2V DC, 0A DC

Then, if you turn on a few lights:

CHGR-FLOAT MODE
13.2V DC, 5A DC

Sounds like instead of going into float your charger just shuts down till the batteries are depleted. The only time it should go into bulk mode is after you have been disconnected from AC power. Definately worth a call to Dimensions - I've talked to them and they are very helpful...
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:39 PM   #5
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Rick - a bit more background on the AC/DC wiring. This is based on my '04 model, but I doubt it's changed much. I previously had a gasser that worked exactly as you described - the converter would handle all the DC loads and you could disconnect the batteries while plugged in to AC. The DPs are wired a little different because most everything is in the back.

In order for your inverter to be able to supply it's rated AC output (2KW) it must be able to draw up to 200A DC from your batteries. If the cable had to run from the batteries to the disconnect switch up front and then back to the inverter and allow 200A, it would have to be humongous! So, the inverter charger is connected directly to the batteries. A cable then runs forward to the disconnect and then to the DC load panel. If you throw the disconnect switch, you remove all 12V power being supplied by the house batteries and the charger section of the inverter/charger. Only things powered by the chassis batteries (steps, wipers, etc.) would be operable then.

Keep in mind that some of the AC appliances like the fridge & heatpumps are controlled by a 12v DC circuit board. So removing 12V power gives the impression that AC power has been lost.

Hope at least some of my explanations make sense...
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:28 PM   #6
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Thanks again Tom. This sounds exactly like what's going on. When the 12v disconnect switch is thrown it not only takes out the fridge and heat pump but the EMS panel as well. In fact, everything on the One Place panel goes dark... but the inverter is still operating. When the 12v Aux switch is turned back on, all returns to normal and the EMS panel returns immediately without the two minute delay usually caused by my Surgeguard so I think you've hit it on the head.

All may actually be working as designed but I'll still give a call to Winnie or Dimensions Monday to try and better understand if my batteries should be cycling in this manner.

BTW, ALL of your explanations made perfect sense. Thanks much.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:44 AM   #7
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I am guessing you have an Energy Management System.. some of these systems are very good and measure input voltage, both L-1/neutral L-2/neutral and L-1/L-2. Then they either pass power or not, and shed loads or not, depending on the readings.

Example 120 volt L-n/Neutral pass power. 240 volt L-1/L-2 don't shed loads to hold it to 30 amp max.

240 volt L-n/neutral, KILL POWER do not pass go, do not fry electronics.

Takes 12 vots to do all this magic. The computer runs on 12 volts.
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Old 08-21-2010, 11:17 AM   #8
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I think you'll find that the only time you would want to shut off the 'Aux Power' switch would be when you are not using the coach and you're not plugged in. Otherwise just leave it on.
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Old 08-21-2010, 04:21 PM   #9
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Thanks Chris. I don't really have a problem figuring out how to make the coach operate in a normal set up mode. I was about to replace my coach batteries and hitting the disconnect switch seemed prudent prior to doing the work. From there the issue arose of whether or not the system was working as designed when everything inside went dark dispite still being hooked up to shore power. I think I will still call Winnie to confirm but it's sure sounding like this is how it's designed to operate.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:08 PM   #10
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Rick,

My coach is doing the same thing that you observe. The battery voltages are cycling back and forth between about 14V and 12.2V. I have the 2000W Dimensions Inverter/Charger (which is only 6 mo old). My previous Inverter/charger demonstrated the same behavior. I am suspicious but cant prove it that the cycling began with the installation of my Xantrex Echo Charger that charges the engine battery from the house battery which is then charged by the Inverter/charger from shore power.

Also, I have the engine heater switch on my one panel, but cannot locate an outlet that it switches. Any idea where I might find that? I looked up and down in my power compartment and there was definitely no outlet.

Please let us all know what you find out about the cycling behavior of your charger. Thanks

jim & debbie, 04 Journey 34H, suzuki toad
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmccreary View Post
Rick,

My coach is doing the same thing that you observe. The battery voltages are cycling back and forth between about 14V and 12.2V. I have the 2000W Dimensions Inverter/Charger (which is only 6 mo old). My previous Inverter/charger demonstrated the same behavior. I am suspicious but cant prove it that the cycling began with the installation of my Xantrex Echo Charger that charges the engine battery from the house battery which is then charged by the Inverter/charger from shore power.

Also, I have the engine heater switch on my one panel, but cannot locate an outlet that it switches. Any idea where I might find that? I looked up and down in my power compartment and there was definitely no outlet.

Please let us all know what you find out about the cycling behavior of your charger. Thanks

jim & debbie, 04 Journey 34H, suzuki toad
Will do Jim. My engine heater outlet is hard to miss as it's located on the horizontal wall surface right above my inverter on the right hand side of my power bay, which is my rear bay door on the road side. Although I hope to never need to use the engine heater... it was cool to learn that it provides an external, switched outlet I can use for Christmas Lights!

I always thought it looked kind of like an after thought having a dedicated outlet in that bay with some undefined cord just plugged into it.
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:26 AM   #12
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Hi Jim & Debbie,

This is all I can find as to the location of your engine block heater. Go to page 39 of this PDF and it shows it on the driver’s side behind the rear wheel inside the compartment. Problem is it appears in the PDF to be facing to the rear and possibly inside a small box.

http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...0167473034.pdf

The only reference to ‘engine heater’ is this one from the ‘Wire Identification Chart’:

JJC ENGINE HEATER CIRCULATING HOT WATER HEAT CONTROL PANEL
14 YEL PUMP SWITCH (BLU/BLK WIRE)

Otherwise, there is no mention of wire codes for the 120 VAC from the ‘Engine Heater’ switch to the ‘Engine Heater’ outlet. If it does not exist, then I’d call Winnie and complain. Maybe they can steer you to the outlet.
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:58 PM   #13
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Hi Mark,
Yes, I found it on page 39 of the schematic you sent. After further inspection inside the power bay compartment I finally located it on the right side of the black housing under which is mounted the compartment light. Debbie is excited about shopping for lights now.
thanks again, very much appreciated.
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Old 08-23-2010, 12:15 PM   #14
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Update....

Just got off the phone with Winnie and, as several of you have pointed out, the system is functioning as designed when throwing the "Aux Bat Disconnect" switch makes the coach go dark... even when connected to shore power.

Al told me that the Inverter/Charger feeds directly through the house batteries and that this is common on many/most of their coaches.

Thanks to all for contributing to this question. I know I've learned some things I didn't know before.
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