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Old 02-12-2013, 09:09 PM   #1
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Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

I am extremely new to the RV world and just bought a beautiful 2008 Dodge Sprinter Sportsmobile. When I picked it up from the owner he explained everything inside and out that I would need to know. Since I was purchasing a dream come true, just about everything he said went sailing over my head. I was too awestruck to absorb it all. What I need to know, in the simplest of terms, is how and when to use the inverter and/or charger. This is a TrippLite Inverter/Charger. Here are some scenarios:

1. The Sprinter is sitting in my driveway for a week without being driven. Do I have the Inverter ON, the Charger ON, or both OFF? I'm guessing OFF.

2. I am driving for five hours to a destination and I want to have the refrigerator running. Do I turn the Inverter ON or the Charger ON?

3. I get to my destination and there is no electrical hookup (out in the boonies).
Inverter ON or Charger ON? When the light gets to yellow on whichever one is on will driving around for awhile recharge it? When camping without electrical (30 amp) hookup will the Inverter or Charger allow the use of the microwave?

4. I get to a campground and hook up to 30 amp. Do I still need to turn the inverter or charger on?

BTW, yes, I am a woman. I have no problem driving the vehicle, it’s just that electrical things are a bit confusing to me.
Thanks!
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:04 PM   #2
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

Quote:
Originally Posted by roguerunner
I am extremely new to the RV world and just bought a beautiful 2008 Dodge Sprinter Sportsmobile. When I picked it up from the owner he explained everything inside and out that I would need to know. Since I was purchasing a dream come true, just about everything he said went sailing over my head. I was too awestruck to absorb it all. What I need to know, in the simplest of terms, is how and when to use the inverter and/or charger. This is a TrippLite Inverter/Charger. Here are some scenarios:

1. The Sprinter is sitting in my driveway for a week without being driven. Do I have the Inverter ON, the Charger ON, or both OFF? I'm guessing OFF.

2. I am driving for five hours to a destination and I want to have the refrigerator running. Do I turn the Inverter ON or the Charger ON?

3. I get to my destination and there is no electrical hookup (out in the boonies).
Inverter ON or Charger ON? When the light gets to yellow on whichever one is on will driving around for awhile recharge it? When camping without electrical (30 amp) hookup will the Inverter or Charger allow the use of the microwave?

4. I get to a campground and hook up to 30 amp. Do I still need to turn the inverter or charger on?

BTW, yes, I am a woman. I have no problem driving the vehicle, it’s just that electrical things are a bit confusing to me.
Thanks!
It all depends on how the system was built

If you have solar, you don't need to run the charger in the parked position (between trips) provided everything is off 12 volt wise. Most refrigerators switch to AC mode when plugged in, so as long as no other 12DC stuff is not on there is no reason to turn on the charge mode. But over the course of a month the house batteries will start to loose charge and a good charge via the inverter will help or be necessary. In general keeping the charger on poses no problems but it is possible to overcharge your system. It's best to monitor the charge from day to day when the van is parked and not in use.

Unless you need AC there is no reason to turn on the inverter while you drive. This also depends if SMB installed a battery separator which is installed on most builds.

Depending on the size of the inverter, while in camp most all the items run off the 12 volt system but things like the microwave run off the inverter. To power something like this its best to start the engine and set the inverter to charge and use the microwave. After you cook what you need , let the engine run for a while to top off the house system. It doesn't take too long to recharge the battery but it all depends on your inverter size/system.

While plugged into shore power, the inverter (most of them) automatically switches over to an AC mode, so there is usually no reason to activate the inverter. Remember most inverters have an AC on mode and a Charge mode. It is always a good idea to turn on the charge mode to top off the house system when hooked to shore power. After the house batteries Are topped off, the charger can be turned off.

Really it all depends on how SMB put the system together.

Dave
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:02 AM   #3
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

Do you have the Magnum 2000 inverter? If so here are some simple instructions on page 44 http://www.magnumenergy.com/Literatu...eries)_Web.pdf
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Old 02-13-2013, 08:07 AM   #4
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

DaveB pretty much nailed it, the only things I would add is to remember to keep an eye on the water levels in your house batteries. Especially if they are 6 volt ones. Don't let the levels get to low, this usually happens from having a charge going to them all the time or for too long causing the water to boil off. Also when you use items like the microwave and you are not plugged into shore power, keep in mind that it will run down the batteries pretty quick. To get the amps you need to run the microwave from 12 volts is a lot. Other 120 volt appliances will pull some (t.v., computer) but not nearly as much.
Also, welcome to the forum and enjoy you new home away from home!
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Old 02-13-2013, 08:53 AM   #5
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

See >> comments inline below. Also, if the person you bought it from isn't too far away, don't be shy about taking it back and asking him to go over some things again. Most likely he'd be happy to help. Otherwise, maybe take it to a local RV dealer and ask if someone can help explain some of the systems for a small hourly charge. Would be $100 well spent to avoid a problem down the road. Or, finally, depending where you are located maybe somebody here on the forum would be willing to meet you someplace and explain things (I know I'd be happy to do this for someone).

Quote:
Originally Posted by roguerunner
I am extremely new to the RV world and just bought a beautiful 2008 Dodge Sprinter Sportsmobile. When I picked it up from the owner he explained everything inside and out that I would need to know. Since I was purchasing a dream come true, just about everything he said went sailing over my head. I was too awestruck to absorb it all. What I need to know, in the simplest of terms, is how and when to use the inverter and/or charger. This is a TrippLite Inverter/Charger. Here are some scenarios:

1. The Sprinter is sitting in my driveway for a week without being driven. Do I have the Inverter ON, the Charger ON, or both OFF? I'm guessing OFF.

>> Suggest Charger ON, inverter OFF, to keep your batteries charged up. This depends somewhat on your battery type and what kind of charger you have, but it should automatically regulate and keep your batteries at a good constant state of charge. If you have AGM batteries, they hold a charge longer and you could leave it unplugged for a week without negative results. It's a good idea to find your battery (batteries) and write down the make, model and type for future reference (also post it here so we can give better advice). I keep my charger ON most of the time while my SMB is parked in my driveway, since I only use it sporadically.

2. I am driving for five hours to a destination and I want to have the refrigerator running. Do I turn the Inverter ON or the Charger ON?

>> Keep them both OFF, assuming you have a 12v frig. It will run off the "house" (coach-side) 12v system, which will be recharged while you are driving. In general, if you have appliances that can run on both 120v/12v, like most RV refrigerators, it's more efficient to keep them in 12v mode when you are running on batteries (not plugged into shore power). In the case of a 120/12v frig, if you turn on your inverter when not plugged into shore power the frig will automatically switch from running on 12v to 120v. This will use up more battery "juice" since the inverter will convert the 12v source electricity into 120v electricity, a process that is much less efficient that keeping a direct 12v path. What I do with my van is to keep the 120v breaker switch for the frig turned off at all times unless I'm plugged into shore power. Then I turn it on. This allows me to use my 120v appliances (microwave, mostly) via the inverter when needed without having the frig switch over to 120v. Hope that makes sense.

3. I get to my destination and there is no electrical hookup (out in the boonies).
Inverter ON or Charger ON? When the light gets to yellow on whichever one is on will driving around for awhile recharge it? When camping without electrical (30 amp) hookup will the Inverter or Charger allow the use of the microwave?

>> Charger OFF because you are not charging your batteries. The only time you put the charger ON is when you are hooked up to "shore power" (i.e., plugged into an external power source or running a generator if you have one). Inverter OFF or ON depends on what electrical appliances you are running. ON if you are running 120v appliances (e.g., microwave) or anything plugged into a 120v outlet (normal house-type outlet). OFF if you aren't using anything plugged into 120v. Keep in mind that your inverter draws down the batteries a bit even if you aren't actively using anything that is plugged into it. So, better to keep it turned off unless you need it for something.

4. I get to a campground and hook up to 30 amp. Do I still need to turn the inverter or charger on?

>> Inverter OFF because you are now getting your 120v power from the 30-amp hookup. The only time you need the inverter ON is when you need to "create" 120v power from your 12v battery bank. Charger ON or OFF depending on whether your batteries need to be charged or not. No harm in turning the charger ON in this instance. As an aside, if your van didn't come with an adapter to convert your 30amp plug (round one with three big plugs) into a standard household 15 amp plug, you should pick one up. Some campgrounds don't offer full 30amp service, or you may want to plug in at home to your standard household 120v outlet. Here's a link to what I'm talking about: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/it ... pter/57719

BTW, yes, I am a woman. I have no problem driving the vehicle, it’s just that electrical things are a bit confusing to me.
Thanks!
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:21 PM   #6
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

Roguerunner;

Since your indicated that you have the TrippLite Inverter/Charger I thought I would add some specific to that. As you probably already know the tripplite has a switch that looks pretty much like this.


My secondary question would be if you have the ASRM installed, it is a remote option that hooks in the RJ45 connector left of the above switch.


My SMB came with ASRM minus panel, it was also unfortunately installed about 10 inches away from the actual inverter, which made it pretty much useless. I have since moved it but that is off topic.

If you have the remote installed, the switch would be left in the Auto/Remote (left). If you do not have a remote, this would put the inverter in auto mode. "Switch to this mode when you need constant, uninterrupted AC power for connected appliances and equipment. The Inverter/Charger will continue to supply AC power to connected equipment and to charge your connected batteries while utility or generator-supplied AC power is present. Since the inverter is ON (but in Standby) in this mode, it will automatically switch to your battery system to supply AC power to connected
equipment in the absence of a utility/generator source or in over/under voltage situations."

So if you are plugged in you do not need this to be on. The drawbacks if you left this on, would be if you are plugged in and using some AC appliance and said plugged power goes away, the inverter would automatically cycle over and provide AC until it ran the battery to low. In my case my water heater is a electric/propane unit, so if I plug in at a campground and turn on my water heater, if I left for the day and came back and found that the campground had lost power, I would have drained my battery trying to keep the water heater going. The second case would be when not plugged and not using any AC power. Even without supplying inverted power it will use some battery power up, so it would be best to be off or in charge only.

Charge only - "Switch to this mode when you are not using connected appliances and equipment in order to conserve battery power by disabling the inverter. The Inverter/Charger will continue to supply AC power to connected equipment and charge connected batteries while utility- or generator-supplied AC power is present. However, since the inverter is OFF in this mode, it WILL NOT supply AC power to connected equipment in the absence of a utility/generator source or in over/under voltage situations."

This is where my inverter stays at 95% of the time. There is really no negative consequence to being in this settings even if you are not plugged in.

DC OFF- "Switch to this mode to prevent the inverter from drawing power from the batteries. Use this switch to automatically reset the unit if it shuts down due to overload or overheating. First remove the excessive load or allow the unit to sufficiently cool (applicable to your situation). Switch to “DC OFF”, then back to “AUTO/REMOTE” or “CHARGE ONLY” as desired."

Note: I use the DC Off setting when plugging in a "hot" plug. ( Or at least I would recommend it). Since it is not really easy to get that switch, I try to make sure the plug is not hot when plugging into the SMB. (Most Campground power Stands have breakers). If your power source is from a GFI plug you will need to have the switch in Auto/remote mode while plugging in, after that you can move it over to charge only. Plugging in from a GFI source with it set to charge only will reset GFI plug.



If you have the remote, then you leave that switch on auto and then have two options on the remote switch. Auto/Invert and Charge only. The Remote will give you the charge Only setting and the Auto Invert mode. I have moved this to a more accessible location. I will keep this in on the charge only setting unless I need the inverter ( in my case that would mean to fire off the coffee pot or microwave)

On either the inverter itself or the remote there are some LED indicators. The left side are for Battery Voltage or charge rate. If you are charging the batteries the LED's indicate the following:

CHARGE RATE INDICATION (Approximate)
CONTROL SWITCH IS IN THE "CHRG ONLY" OR “LINE/CHARGE ONLY” POSITION
LEDs Illuminated Charge Rate
All three lights on Overcharge error†
Red 75% - 100%
Red & yellow 50% - 75%
Yellow 25% - 50%
Green 0% - 25%
All three lights off 0%

If you are auto invert mode:
BATTERY CHARGE INDICATION (Approximate)†
CONTROL SWITCH IS IN THE "AUTO" OR “AUTO/INVERT” POSITION
LEDs Illuminated Battery Capacity (Charging/Discharging)
Green 91%–Full
Green & Yellow 81%–90%
Yellow 61%–80%
Yellow & Red 41%–60%
Red 21%–40%
All three lights off 1%–20%
Flashing red 0% (Inverter shutdown)††
† Charge levels listed are approximate. Actual conditions vary depending on battery condition and load.
†† Inverter shutdown protects battery against damage due to excessive discharge.
LEDs Illuminated Fault Condition
All three lights Excessive discharge (Inverter shutdown)
flash slowly†
All three lights Overcharge (Charger shutdown)
flash quickly.

The LED's on the right will indicate the following

“LINE” LED: This green light will turn continuously ON whenever connected equipment
is receiving utility-supplied AC power and your Inverter/Charger is set to
“AUTO/REMOTE,” meaning that it will automatically switch to battery power if AC power
becomes unavailable. The light will flash intermittently when connected equipment is
receiving utility power and your Inverter/Charger’s Operating Mode Switch is set to “CHRG
ONLY” to indicate that the Inverter/Charger’s inverter is OFF and that the Inverter/Charger
will not supply power from connected batteries.

“INV” LED: This yellow light will turn continuously ON whenever connected equipment is
receiving battery-supplied AC power. It will flash if the Inverter/Charger does not detect the
minimum load necessary to activate the inverter.

“LOAD” LED: This red light will turn continuously ON when your Inverter/Charger is
receiving utility-supplied AC power and the load is between 80% and 110% of capacity to
alert you that the inverter might not be able to support the load. The light will flash
intermittently after the Inverter/Charger's inverter shuts down due to a severe overload or
overheating.

I hope all this helps. As others have said some things depend on your set up. Using the inverter for a microwave or coffee pot can use up a lot of battery power. My coffee pot will take about 10% of my battery power to make a pot of coffee. As Dave said this can be offset if you start the van and idle will using the inverter for that short period. Note: due to the automatic disconnect of separator it is possible that at idle ,the alternator is not providing enough power to keep the separator closed while running a microwave.

I hope all this help, and enjoy your new camper.


-greg
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 932727.pdf (1.15 MB, 2 views)
File Type: pdf ASRM.pdf (238.8 KB, 4 views)
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Old 02-17-2013, 09:37 AM   #7
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

I made the brilliant decision to video tape the previous owner as he explained everything. Of course I've never reviewed it and have spent years understanding for myself some of the things he explained.

The good news is you'll probably have to try really, really hard to mess anything up. Your worst case scenerio is no worse really than leaving your dome light on in a passenger car.

Hopefully this answers your questions:
You've got two electrical systems: 12v like in your car and 110v like in your house (120v same thing).

The 12v is your vehicle batteries, cigarette lighter outlets and lights.

The 110v is all the regular outlets like you would find in your house, that you would plug a coffee pot into.

The only time the charger needs to be ON is to charge the 12v batteries from a 110v source (aka shore power). So unless you're plugged into shore power, the charger is OFF. When you're plugged into shore power the charger is always ON. You might just be able to always leave it ON. I don't see any reason to turn it OFF actually, but my system doesn't have the option to turn it off so I'm not 100% sure.

When you're plugged into shore power your house-style outlets are always powered (well the breakers are powered anyway). Shore power can be any style outlet, even at home. So as long as you are plugged in to 110v, there is 110v already in the system. Meaning you can plug your coffee pot in just like you were plugging it at home.

The inverter makes 12v into 110v. The inverter should only be ON when you need it. The inverter itself takes power just to be on, and is less efficient at making 12v into 110v than it would be to simply use 12v. The bigger the inverter the more power it uses just to be on- imagine fans and lights inside that use power. So if you leave the inverter on, it's like leaving ALL the dome lights on and will drain your battery over several hours. So only turn the inverter on when you need 110v and do not already have it (there is an exception but one you probably won't ever encounter).

To recap:

Charger:
-leave it ON all the time unless someone who knows better corrects me

Inverter:
-always OFF unless you need 110v and don't already have it

So if you need an outlet (e.g. microwave):
-either plug into shore power 110v
OR
-turn the inverter on while you use the microwave

Your refrigerator:
-Automatically works on either. The simple answer is ignore it as a factor (don't think of it as a 110v appliance like your coffee pot).

Shore power:
-Generally plug in if it's available; driving, shore power and solar all put energy back into the system
-"generally" because you can easily camp for days without shore power and longer if you're driving in between

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-17-2013, 01:33 PM   #8
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Re: Extreme Newbie Needs Simple Answers

Concerning full time charging I think it depends on the inverter/charger or in some cases the converter/charger. The OP stated the inverter make which I'm not very familiar with so I won't try to explain its operation. But IMO leaving any high amp charger "on" while the vehicle sits for long periods of time away from it is slightly risky. As long as you check the charge rate daily it shouldn't be a problem though.

The inverter manufactures like to call their high end high amp inverter/chargers "smart chargers". It's a poor term and should be only classified as multi-stage chargers. Any battery in the system can fail at any time for a number of reasons. Yeah, it's rare but it happens. Most owners catch the problem before it becomes an issue, usually finding the vehicle has difficulty starting or the house battery dies quickly. The problem is when the so called smart charger is activated and a battery fails. The inverter/charger will simple see the bad battery as one that is needing a charge. With batteries in normal condition, the charger will start at a high rate (shown in amps) and as the batteries reach the full level, the charge rate drops to a lower rate then switches to a maintenance level (usually about an amp). But if a battery fails (and all batteries fail at some point in time), provided the charger is left on, the charge rate will not taper off thinking the battery is in a low state. Eventually the charge rate reaches full (unless the charger has an automatic shut down mode) and the bad battery begins to heat up and finally will reach a boiling state. It can possibly spew off hydrogen and acid or even explode. Although a battery blowing up is very rare, the acid makes a mess and needs to be neutralized correctly. I've seen battery lugs glowing red hot using a high amp charger. I don't know the ampacity of the tripplite but when I had this happen to me I was surprised to see 40+ amps cooking one of my starting batteries (I have a xantrex prosine 2000). If I had been gone for the weekend I don't know what would have happened; possibly a fire and the loss of my van. But the high rate of charge can also damage other batteries that are banked together. In my case it was an overnight situation and the sulfer smell alerted me there was a problem. I also finally figured out that if my battery monitor gauge does not drop down to about 1-2 amps over 12 hr period I've got a problem somewhere and need to go into a troubleshooting mode. I had noticed the change in amperage weeks before but never put 2 and 2 together.
Now that's with my system and each is different. I have two starting batteries and two 220AH house batteries. Burning down the van wasn't likely but cooking 2500 bucks worth of batteries has a higher chance of happening and hits the pocket book kinda hard. I've bee lucky so far.
IMO the solution is to have a good battery monitor and check it on a continuing basis. You might not have to check it daily but once the values begin to change after a full charging session, keep a closer eye on and avoid leaving a high amp charger on at all times when plugged in.

Having a maintenance charger is safer as they only put out a couple amps, just enough to keep thing topped off without the risk of overcharging. But if something happens when using a low amp charger (such as leaving something 12v on in the van) that requires more than the small charger can keep up with, you'll end up with a dead battery system. That is usually something more likely to happen than overcharging so it gets back to monitoring.

I feel that as long as you keep an eye on the charge rate while using the on board inverter charger, you can safely charge the batteries. It's best (IMO) not to rely on idiot lights and get a good digital monitor that shows voltage and amperage. Note the amperage after the charge before it's shut down or at a minimum make sure the charge LED status level light reaches the low indicator after a good 12 hr charge. The next time you charge, the values should be the same after the full charging session.

For long term storage it might be best to manually open the separator and use low amp chargers but that's just my opinion. I've had starting batteries fail on me 3 times now but after the first go around, I caught the next problem before it reached the critical state that happend during the first failure.

Dave
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