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Old 09-18-2020, 03:44 PM   #1
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I am just puzzled ...

Given the issues I have had with the Renogy 40 amp DC-DC charger I thought I would get the Victron 30 amp charger instead. Ordered it from a local supplier and it arrived earlier this week. Today I sat down to get the stuff I needed to install it and ran into a very strange problem.

The Victron charger uses a set screw connection for the wires. That is, there is a hole for the bare wire and a set screw to hold it in place when it is inserted. The Victron manual calls for a 16 mm2 wire size if the wire run is 5 meters or more and since I believe it to be that long I checked to see what the corresponding gauge would be. Turns out to be 5 gauge according to several online conversion webpage routines I checked.

Now I have never seen 5 gauge wire, but then I am not an electrician and what do I know of available wire gauges, so I decided to check the auto stores. None of the local auto parts stores have 5 gauge wire. OK. Perhaps I could use 4 gauge in its place, but since the Victron charger I have is still in its original plastic case and box I decided to call the techs at the store I bought the charger to find out if it would take 4 gauge. You can imagine my surprise when I was told it would not take anything larger than 6 gauge. Well, I asked, why would the manual call for 5 gauge if the device will not take that size wire, and was met with a long period of silence, only to then be told that I could step the 4 gauge wire down to 6 gauge right before the connection to the device.

So a couple of questions. Where would I go to get 5 gauge wire? Does anyone sell it (other than perhaps specialty houses)? Is it really safe to step down the wire size from 4 gauge to 6 gauge to fit into the charger? And why would the manual tell you to use a wire size that would not fit???

OK. That last question was not a real question; more a cry of frustration.
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Old 09-18-2020, 03:54 PM   #2
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Maybe 5 gauge is an RV thing, I did find these 5 gauge connectors which mention RV, available in both 2' and 10' lengths.

https://www.amazon.com/InstallGear-B...0465831&sr=8-2

I don't see any reason you couldn't use a short section of 6 gauge especially if the longer length is oversized from 5 to 4. The required gauge is a function of length. But . . .

Another option would be to just reduce the size of the wire where it clamps in. Basically cut off a few strands of wire. That way you'd be 4 gauge all the way to the device, and there would be no crimp or other connection along the line.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:35 PM   #3
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Maybe 5 gauge is an RV thing, I did find these 5 gauge connectors which mention RV, available in both 2' and 10' lengths.

https://www.amazon.com/InstallGear-B...0465831&sr=8-2
I had seen that as well, but I was looking for wire that was longer and did not have the connection loops on it. I probably need something like 3 feet.

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Another option would be to just reduce the size of the wire where it clamps in. Basically cut off a few strands of wire. That way you'd be 4 gauge all the way to the device, and there would be no crimp or other connection along the line.
I had assumed that 4 gauge wire would be a single solid strand of wire. Is that wrong?
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:43 PM   #4
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I had seen that as well, but I was looking for wire that was longer and did not have the connection loops on it. I probably need something like 3 feet.
You could cut the loops off the 10', but I would assume one of the two loops would be useful.

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I had assumed that 4 gauge wire would be a single solid strand of wire. Is that wrong?
I would be shocked it if were. Stranded wire carries more current and is better able to withstand flexing. Larger gauge home wire is stranded, although the individual wires might be 14 or 16 gauge! But you could go check it out at a hardware store just to make sure you know what exactly you're getting. This appears to be fine stranded.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/WindyNat...-20R/307834455
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Old 09-18-2020, 05:06 PM   #5
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The Victron manual calls for a 16 mm2 wire
Are those numbers correct? I'm not familiar with wire in mm so I thought I would look it up, and that would be huge! Where did you see that 16mm would be 5 gauge?
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Old 09-18-2020, 05:07 PM   #6
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I would be shocked it if were. Stranded wire carries more current and is better able to withstand flexing. Larger gauge home wire is stranded, although the individual wires might be 14 or 16 gauge! But you could go check it out at a hardware store just to make sure you know what exactly you're getting. This appears to be fine stranded.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/WindyNat...-20R/307834455
When I checked out 6 gauge wire for the Renogy charger at the local auto store the wire they showed me was single strand. The multi-strand 6 gauge wire that I have is far too thick to fit into the wire slot on the Victron charger and I assume the 4 gauge stranded wire would be even thicker.

Still I will go back to the auto parts store and check tomorrow.
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Old 09-18-2020, 05:21 PM   #7
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I'd go to a hardware store. Probably more variety and better prices.
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Old 09-18-2020, 05:58 PM   #8
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Victron is an EU company located in The Netherlands and so naturally they show items common in their region. But, obviously 16mm2 wire is not common here in the US.

I know you have Battleborn batteries and they too sell the Victron B2B chargers, why not consult with them. Even though you didn’t purchase this item from them I bet they would give you installation advice since you are a customer.

I found a U.K. website that converts 16 MM to AWG and they claim it to be 6ga stranded wire. They also so that the conversion fro MM to AWG is not an exact science.

A Simple Guide on Cable AWG to Metric Conversions - Nicab
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Old 09-18-2020, 06:11 PM   #9
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Victron is an EU company located in The Netherlands and so naturally they show items common in their region. But, obviously 16mm2 wire is not common here in the US.

I know you have Battleborn batteries and they too sell the Victron B2B chargers, why not consult with them. Even though you didn’t purchase this item from them I bet they would give you installation advice since you are a customer.

I found a U.K. website that converts 16 MM to AWG and they claim it to be 6ga stranded wire. They also so that the conversion fro MM to AWG is not an exact science.

A Simple Guide on Cable AWG to Metric Conversions - Nicab
The Victron manual does not specify 5 gauge wire, but only the cross sectional size. I guess that the conversion is an estimate since the two sites I used both gave 5 gauge as the proper conversion while yours gives 6 gauge. Perhaps the proper conversion is somewhere in the middle.

I thought that the specified wire might be more common in Europe and that would account for the manual specification but that does not help me to solve this problem.

One other thing I should do is actually measure the length of the INPUT wire run so I can see if it really is 5 meters. The distance inside the RV from the starter battery to the location of the charger is about 6 feet. Add to that the distance across the RV from the driver side to the passenger side (5 feet?) and the distance from the connection under the step to the charger (5 feet?) and I get 16 feet, almost exactly 5 meters.

On Monday I will check with BattleBorn and see what they say, but I suppose I might end up keeping the Renogy 20 amp charger since it is working properly and return the Victron. I would like the extra 10 amps charging but I suppose I can live without it.

In the meantime I will check with HomeDepot tomorrow and see if they have single strand 6 gauge wire in case the actual run length of the installation is less than 5 meters. I am almost certain that 6 gauge stranded wire will be too thick to fit into the wire slot.

Fun, fun, fun.
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:54 PM   #10
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I don't have the link but if I happen to see I will post if you don't find it first but there are places on ebay where you can order any size wire and length you like by the foot. You can also specify what the type of connectors if any on either end.

I may still have in my ebay watch folder? I was about to order heavy duty red & black cables to install a professional disconnect switch for the chassis battery. However I was at the RV Dealer one day and they saw the part for me They used their own wiring, I may have paid them $50 and they did wonderful install.
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Old 09-19-2020, 06:26 AM   #11
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Are those numbers correct? I'm not familiar with wire in mm so I thought I would look it up, and that would be huge! Where did you see that 16mm would be 5 gauge?
I just did a Google search for wire mm2 to gauge (or something like that) and picked 2 of the links. This one is a calculator. Enter 16 in the mm2 entry and you get 5 gauge wire.

https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/wire/awg-to-mm.html

This one is a table and it does not have 16mm2 exactly, but the closest entry was 5 gauge.

https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/a...uge-d_731.html
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Old 09-19-2020, 06:28 AM   #12
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I don't have the link but if I happen to see I will post if you don't find it first but there are places on ebay where you can order any size wire and length you like by the foot. You can also specify what the type of connectors if any on either end.

I may still have in my ebay watch folder? I was about to order heavy duty red & black cables to install a professional disconnect switch for the chassis battery. However I was at the RV Dealer one day and they saw the part for me They used their own wiring, I may have paid them $50 and they did wonderful install.
If you find it I would appreciate you either posting it or sending it as a PM. In the meantime I will go to HomeDepot and try to see if they have any wire that seems appropriate and will fit into the set holes. I will also do a search on eBay and see what I can find.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:02 AM   #13
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It might have been easier to just swap the BB batteries into your battery bay, and replace the alternator when it explodes.
(sorry, just trying to lighten the mood)
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:18 AM   #14
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It might have been easier to just swap the BB batteries into your battery bay, and replace the alternator when it explodes.
(sorry, just trying to lighten the mood)
Or melts down from the high current. I wonder if my insurance would cover that ...

I have to admit that my life was a lot quieter when I just left my older RVs as they were and didn't try to "improve" them.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:56 AM   #15
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I just did a Google search for wire mm2 to gauge
I thought the 2 in mm2 was a typo, so that's why I wasn't getting results.

I've never dealt in anything but gauge.
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:07 AM   #16
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In the meantime I will go to HomeDepot and try to see if they have any wire that seems appropriate and will fit into the set holes. I will also do a search on eBay and see what I can find.
BTW, on the idea of cutting off some strands, please think about two things.

First, at your point of connection to the device the connection is only going to be to a few of the strands no matter what you do. As a practical matter if you could somehow remove all the center strands for a 1/4 inch length and replace it with some insulating material, the connection would likely be electrically equivalent to having copper strands in the center.

Second, the need for certain gauge is dependent on voltage, length and current. You can play around with the variables here, including the difference between 4 and 5 gauge at 12 volt for different lenths.

https://www.calculator.net/voltage-d...s=30&x=57&y=13

But my point is more, while this calculator won't deal with distances less than a foot, at a 1 foot difference for 30 amps at 12 volts the voltage drop is negligible for a change from 4 to 6 gauge. Over 1/4 inch it would be even less.

Edit: And a third point. Fuses by definition are designed to carry a limited current. But fuses are very short. So even though they carry limited current they don't cause a voltage drop over their short distance (or heat issues until they blow!).
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:17 AM   #17
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What wiring do you have for the Renergy charger?
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:03 AM   #18
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What wiring do you have for the Renergy charger?
4 gauge for all but the last 3 feet and 6 gauge for that.

The 20 amp Renogy only calls for 6 gauge so this seems more than sufficient. The original wiring (before I moved the unit) was for the 40 amp Renogy charger and that called for 4 gauge.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:06 AM   #19
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Or melts down from the high current. I wonder if my insurance would cover that ...

I have to admit that my life was a lot quieter when I just left my older RVs as they were and didn't try to "improve" them.
You didn't have a choice in this case.
The factory batteries (same as yours?) in our Navion were woefully inadequate for even short stretches off grid.
Mine got to the "barely made it through the night" stage, running minmal 12V stuff, although the fridge was a steady draw when cycling on.
That's when I made the investment, and dropped the 2 Relions into my battery bay. Haven't looked back, although we've oniy really tested them on one 4,000 mile trip out and back.
I haven't added all the other bells and whistles, and so far, everything seems to be functioing pretty much as designed.
Good luck with it.
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:30 AM   #20
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You didn't have a choice in this case.
The factory batteries (same as yours?) in our Navion were woefully inadequate for even short stretches off grid.
I think that the OEM wet cells were designed for people who plan to camp at sites with shore power and were only intended to provide enough power for them to get from one camp site to another with, perhaps, one night in-between with no short power. When we found how much we preferred dry camping and especially boondocking the power turned out to be insufficient unless we were willing to run our generator. Given how much my wife hates the sound and smell of it there was not much choice.

We did consider AGMs for a while but it just seemed like a better solution to go with the Lithium and, even with all of this extra charger pain I still think it was the best decision for us.

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Good luck with it.
Thanks. I am back from the HomeDepot with some 6 gauge wire. When I asked about 5 gauge I got a strange look and the comment that what they had was 4, 6 and 8. Perhaps 5 gauge (well, 16 mm2) is just common in Europe and not here.
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