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Author Topic: Boondocker converter  (Read 2523 times)
mike802
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« on: January 31, 2014, 05:35:44 PM »

Hi everyone:  I am trying to decide which power converter I should go with for my bus.  I haven't done much with the project this winter, put the wires are piling up and I need to get them organized.  I am considering the Boondocker 4 stage power center at this link.  Anybody have any experience with this converter?  Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Its the powermax pm4b-100 100 amp.
Thanks
Mike.

http://www.bestconverter.com/PowerMax-PM4B-100-100-Amp-4-Stage-ConverterCharger_p_472.html#.UuxUWLRXlWE
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 06:16:29 PM »

Built-in desulfation cycle

I would want to know exactlyvwhat they mean by this.
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Iceni John
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2014, 06:59:23 PM »

Equalization?   If so, at what voltage, for how long, and how frequently if automatic?

John
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2014, 07:26:13 PM »

Mike - that looks like a low end model (not a bad price). I would assume a 100amp charger only provides about 1200watts of AC power.  Hardly enough to run a single heater, or a single cooktop, maybe just house lighting and laptops. If you really want to boondock, I would spend some money on a good 2500-4k watt inverter system like Outback or Victron.  It will cost you 2k (plus batteries) but you will not have to worry about replacing equipment in the middle of the desert and for the most part you will have support from the manufacturer. 

I have a low end (500$) sterling 2500w model.  It simply charges batteries, inverts and has pass through for when I'm hooked up to the pole or genny running.  None of the super duper features but we don't run much more than lights and computers when we boondock and run the genny for cooking breakfast and charging and the gas grill cooks dinnner.  Our battery bank is enemic right now (about 200 amp hours) and we are hoping to bump up to something a little better in the future.

Our inverter has a desulfation cycle as well.  You just change the dial to desulfate and it runs.  There are a bunch of details in the manual as to what it does and for how long but I haven't used it yet.  Our inverter was the nicer inverter for the low end models and we needed something quick and easy and so far I've been happy with it. 

-Sean

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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2014, 08:50:33 PM »

Built-in desulfation cycle

I would want to know exactlyvwhat they mean by this.


The reason I ask is because desulfation is critical to battery life in wet cell batteries....not so much in Agm's.
and if it isn't regulated or at least on a timer then,.....well boiling the batteries dry is worse. There is always a trade off.
If it meets your needs then it is probably a good one.
Remember too that it probably will not deliver 100% output (none do).
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Jeremy
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2014, 01:50:43 AM »

I've only just woken up so this is probably a stupid question - but aren't the terms 'boondocker' and 'converter' mutually exclusive? Converters convert AC power to DC - but if you're boondocking you won't have any AC. (Unless you're running the generator constantly I suppose, but why would you do that rather than using an inverter?)

Jeremy
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2014, 02:15:27 AM »

I've only just woken up so this is probably a stupid question - but aren't the terms 'boondocker' and 'converter' mutually exclusive? Converters convert AC power to DC - but if you're boondocking you won't have any AC. (Unless you're running the generator constantly I suppose, but why would you do that rather than using an inverter?)

Jeremy

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That is what I thought. I didn't put a converter in my bus just use my 4000 watt trace for charging the 24 volt batteries and a 100 watt equalizer for the 12 volt battery.
John
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2014, 05:45:20 AM »

Good converters work nice if his most of his system is 12 volt the boondocking part I don't get, converters are cheaper and will do the same as a inverter without passing through the batteries to supply the DC if hooked up to a AC supply,could be he doesn't need the DC to AC from a inverter if not the converter is the way to go for him and a lot cheaper I have a factory MH that has both a inverter and converter fwiw the DC fuse panel is almost worth the price of a converter
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TomC
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2014, 07:15:48 AM »

A converter takes AC power and converts it into DC power for charging batteries. Any good charger will do in this case as long as it is a smart charger. I personally don't like converters-they seem to fail more and when you're boon docking, a converter only works with the generator running.

An inverter takes DC power and inverts it into AC power-exactly what you need for boon docking to power all the AC items you need to run. You can use a straight inverter without charger that is relatively cheap-but you eventually have to charge the batteries. The inverter/charger is the way to go. Then you can have your solar panels charging the batteries, the inverter running 120vac power from the batteries, and if the solar panels cannot keep up with the load, you simply run the generator and the inverter/charger automatically switches to a 3 stage battery charger. When I boon dock, I run the generator (I do not have solar panels) for a couple hours in the morning and again at night since everything in the bus is electric except the propane furnace and stove. A good true sine wave inverter would be good. I'm looking at the Magnum 2800 watt true sine. Close to $2,000, but worth it. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2014, 07:38:50 AM »

With a converter when AC is not present it bypasses and draws direct from the batteries fwiw and with good one the charger can be turned off if he has no AC load the converter will work just as good as a 2000 dollar inverter for him it depends on how deep the pockets are,with a inverter one has to build a 12v fuse panel for the 12 volt side from the batteries not the case with a converter design a system for your use JMO the new converters are not your granddads Oldsmobile from the past
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2014, 08:01:12 AM »

I kept everything 12v and use this: http://www.iotaengineering.com/power.htm

On the road everything is normal.  When I hook to the pole, everything is still normal but running off the power supply instead of batteries.  No need for house batteries.  Thats just my setup though, I like simple.

I do have 110v for a small fridge which runs off the same 110v line as the power supply.
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mike802
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2014, 08:08:35 AM »

Wow: Thanks everyone, it has become apparent to me by all your replies that I know nothing about converters!  What I thought was a simple question now has me scratching my head LOL.

I know what desulfation is but the technical how it works stuff, no.

Quote
Equalization?   If so, at what voltage, for how long, and how frequently if automatic?
I have  no idea what this is.

Quote
aren't the terms 'boondocker' and 'converter' mutually exclusive?
Could be, but if someone is using a generator, or solar wouldn't they still have to go through a converter?

Maybe it would be better if I stated just what I was looking to use my bus for.  I did not choose the boondocker because I want to strictly boon dock.  We plan on using our bus for normal camping and boon docking.  I have 12v lighting, a small elec. 12q ft fridge, 2 roof mounted ac units, 2 vents, 2 tv's, 2 radios, and plan on running elec, baseboard heaters along with 2, or 3 propane furnaces, 2 pumps for water, a micro wave, or a convection oven, cooking range will be gas. various 110v outlets, there may be things I will want to add later, or have forgotten to mention.  I do not plan on running all this stuff at once.  The elec. baseboard heaters are only to take advantage of camp ground elec.  In my mind, set up like a normal RV, except for the elec. baseboard heaters.  Future plans are the addition of a generator and solar. I am looking for a good unit that will give me the most power, good battery charging and maintenance,  and will allow for the addition of a gen, and solar.  2k is a lot more that I thought I would have to spend, but it that is what it takes I guess I will just have to save some more and wait a little longer, shes not going anywhere soon.
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Mike
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mike802
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2014, 08:14:44 AM »

Quote
I kept everything 12v and use this: http://www.iotaengineering.com/power.htm

On the road everything is normal.  When I hook to the pole, everything is still normal but running off the power supply instead of batteries.  No need for house batteries.  Thats just my setup though, I like simple.

I do have 110v for a small fridge which runs off the same 110v line as the power supply.


I very much like the idea of keeping everything simple!
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Mike
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2014, 11:06:08 AM »

I am for the simple, am using the Xantrex 2500 watt inverter that includes the 100 amp smart charger.  Have been using it for 6 years woth no issues.t he setup includes a set of 4. 8D Gel cell at 900 AH rated, run everything but the A/C as wanted/needed. Can go over night easy with out the genset. Next AM, start genset and about 3-4 hours batteries are back full charged.  As said, I am for what works for me and this setup is fine for my needs.
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2014, 11:34:05 AM »


I know what desulfation is but the technical how it works stuff, no.

Desulphation has been discussed on the board before, and I think it's fair to say that there is a fair pinch of snake oil involved in it; the electronic desulphators I have come across claim to do the job by pulsing electrical current through the batteries plates, which is supposed to encourage the sulphate attached to the plates to re-dissolve into the electrolyte - quite how effective it is though is probably debatable.

Previous posts on the subject have (for me at least) concluded that in reality the best way of re-dissolving the sulphate is to deliberately boil (ie. overcharge) the battery, which kind of agitates the plates and the surrounding electrolyte - but of course that is something which is not only potentially quite dangerous (hydrogen production), but will also result in the rapid loss of electrolyte - so it's obviously not a technique which a device sold to the general public is going to use.

Other approaches I've seen mentioned include adding chemicals to the electrolyte and even reverse charging or short-circuiting the battery Shocked So. it's definitely an area where a bit of skepticism should be employed before parting with cash



Could be, but if someone is using a generator, or solar wouldn't they still have to go through a converter?


Yes for the generator (although it's worth mentioning that some (such as the one in my bus) can produce 12v DC as well as AC)

No for the solar panels - solar panels produce DC, but the actual voltage will entirely depend upon the type and configuration of panels you install, and then it's going to vary on top of that according to how brightly the sun is shining. So part of the installation will be a charge controller which regulates the output down to (usually) 12 or 24v DC, which you then feed into your batteries (ie, no converter required)


Jeremy
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