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Old 03-19-2020, 11:27 AM   #1
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Improving converter performance, bigger wire size

Hi All,

I have a 2017 Navion with an IOTA DLS-45 amp converter and 2 100ah LifeBlue lifepo4 batteries. Using the factory wiring I am only getting about 20amps of current to the batteries when charging. If I connect a direct 4ga line from the converter to the batteries I can charge them at 40ah (pretty much twice as fast). I'm assuming that the reason for the huge difference is the amount of resistance in such a long run for 8ga wire.

From the factory an 8ga wire is used from the converter to the ac/dc distribution center, and I assume the 8ga wire runs most of the way to the battery although I haven't figured this out yet..?

Has anyone tried increasing the wire size the converter uses? I've only started trying to trace the wire (the wiring diagrams aren't detailed enough for this) but it's difficult as it is bundled with about 50 other wires in a loom tighter than anything!

Any input greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:41 AM   #2
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Have you tried adding one of these to adjust the DLS charger's output algorithm to lifepo4?
https://www.iotaengineering.com/IQ/#!/detail/IQ-LIFEPO
The wire gauge is probably the reason it's around 20A, but the charge control module might help that along, by maintaing a higher rate of charge for longer.
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winterbagoal View Post
Have you tried adding one of these to adjust the DLS charger's output algorithm to lifepo4?
https://www.iotaengineering.com/IQ/#!/detail/IQ-LIFEPO
The wire gauge is probably the reason it's around 20A, but the charge control module might help that along, by maintaing a higher rate of charge for longer.
Yes, I've tried that controller and it improves things slightly for a short amount of time. And actually, Larry at Starlight Solar (Lifeblue distributor) now recommends you not use that controller and instead use the dual-voltage plug instead. The Lifepo4 charging profile requires the battery to get to a very low SOC before bulk mode will kick in, or you have to reset the converter/controller to force it in to bulk mode.
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Old 03-19-2020, 12:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrady View Post
Yes, I've tried that controller and it improves things slightly for a short amount of time. And actually, Larry at Starlight Solar (Lifeblue distributor) now recommends you not use that controller and instead use the dual-voltage plug instead. The Lifepo4 charging profile requires the battery to get to a very low SOC before bulk mode will kick in, or you have to reset the converter/controller to force it in to bulk mode.
OK. I use a PD9245 converter/charger with my setup, and added their Charge Wizard Pendant to be able to boost the rate of charge just to finish the job, when I'm on shore. The solar and the alternator do a decent job at other times. 2 Relion RB100-LT 100Ah batteries. Our usage never gets them low enough that I worry about recharging to full.
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Old 03-19-2020, 12:11 PM   #5
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I had the same experience in my Winnebago Vista, where the 45A max output OEM converter is located about 12' away from the batteries and used 6 gauge wires. With my battery monitoring system, I could see the charger falling out of bulk charge mode at 70% rather than the preferred point of 80%.

When I replaced and relocated my inverter, I moved the Converter Charger to the former inverter location only about 4' from the batteries and reused the 2 gauge wires that had been feeding the inverter. I found that my batteries would charge to 80% in bulk mode after relocation with the shorter larger gauge wire runs.
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Old 03-19-2020, 01:22 PM   #6
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Li batteries need a fixed 14.6 voltage for maximum charging. The standard PD converter drops to a float voltage of about 13.6 volts so it does not charge Li batteries fully.

PD makes their 9100 series which has a 14.6 fixed voltage setting. Also upgrade the wire to #4 to minimize voltage drop which will also keep from charging the Li batteries fully.

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Old 03-19-2020, 03:00 PM   #7
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Great answer. I installed the PD9145ALV charger in the bay next to the coach door and the output to the inverter cables in place. Left the PD9245 in place with breaker off. The PD9145ALV charges the BB LFPs at 45 amps fast and the correct voltage, made for the lithium batteries. My generator runs are really short now when boondocked. I don't really worry about parking in the shade and solar now.
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Old 03-19-2020, 03:23 PM   #8
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Sorry, I did not read the first post carefully. Yes, you have to replace the Winnebago OEM converter/charger, designed only for use with Lead-acid batteries, with one designed for LiFe04 if you change from Lead-acid to LiFe04 batteries. You may have problems with the OEM battery isolation manager, if your Winnebago has one, not fully charging the LiFe04 batteries as well.

My post regarding bigger wire and moving closer to batteries only applies if you have Lead-acid batteries.
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Old 03-19-2020, 03:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powercat_ras View Post
Sorry, I did not read the first post carefully. Yes, you have to replace the Winnebago OEM converter/charger, designed only for use with Lead-acid batteries, with one designed for LiFe04 if you change from Lead-acid to LiFe04 batteries. You may have problems with the OEM battery isolation manager, if your Winnebago has one, not fully charging the LiFe04 batteries as well.

My post regarding bigger wire and moving closer to batteries only applies if you have Lead-acid batteries.
Hi powercat, yes I've already replaced the converter with one better suited for lifepo4. And your comment does apply to lithium as well. In my current setup I have the 45amp converter putting out a constant 14.4v over an 8ga wire that runs about 25ft. Max current is about 20amps in. I tested using a 4ga wire that was around 15ft long and the current went up to 40 amps.

So... at the moment I'm trying to figure out exactly how the wiring runs from the ac/dc distribution panel to the battery. It looks like it may run up under the passenger side seat and tie in somewhere there? Once I figure out the current wiring I plan to change the 8ga wire over to 4ga.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:17 AM   #10
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tbrady. Your profile shows you are in the Northwest. I thought T. Brady was in New England, but is moving to Tampa Bay.
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:38 AM   #11
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Tbrady, you can go to winnebagoind.com and get some electrical diagrams for your unit. You can at least see how the 12 volt and 120 volt wiring is physically run in the unit. They stopped posting the full wiring diagrams in about 2014, but what is there will help you some.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by powercat_ras View Post
Tbrady, you can go to winnebagoind.com and get some electrical diagrams for your unit. You can at least see how the 12 volt and 120 volt wiring is physically run in the unit. They stopped posting the full wiring diagrams in about 2014, but what is there will help you some.
Thanks Randy, they did get me pointed in the right direction. I figured it out yesterday between those and a multimeter. It's basically just a wire that runs from the ac/dc distribution center to the "panel" under the passenger seat. I'm pulling the wire today, it's a real pain in the butt since I had to pull up all the floorboard stuff in the cab to get the wire through.

What's crazy is that from the panel under the passenger seat to the battery on/off relay they ran 4ga wire. I figure they saved about $5 by running 8ga instead of 4ga the rest of the way.

Anyway, the testing I did yesterday shows a steady 40amps in to the batteries compared to the 20 I was getting before. Since we boondock 95% of this time it really cuts down on how long we need to run the genny.
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:07 PM   #13
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This post is a fine example of what can and will happen when making changes to your electrical system. ALL of the individual pieces and parts are engineered as a system and optimized around price/performance characteristics. If you change ONE thing, you will likely have to reengineer part or all of your system, depending on what was changed. Most of us are not trained to foresee what will happen when making changes, even "minor" ones. This is why I always preach to get qualified technical help to review any electrical system change. The operative word here is "qualified", subject to different interpretation from place to place.

In short, do as much research as you can way in advance, ask questions about your prospective change(s), review your change(s) with an experienced individual and then develop an implementation plan, possibly a multi-phase plan, then order and execute.

Happy camping to all, after we recover from this pandemic.
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