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Inverter or Converter, Both?


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Hey all,

 

My wife and I have a 2005 Teton 5th Wheel that we bought used. The previous owner's husband took the inverter and the generator after their divorce. We are currently connected to shore power and will be for the forseeable future.

 

I am looking to replace the inverter right now. Looking at a Magnum MS2812 for the inverting and charging of the batteries.

 

But before I pull the trigger, I'm curious if anyone knows whether or not my 5er would have come with a converter. I do have a breaker in my electrical panel that says converter, but something is wrong there because when I trip that breaker off, I lose 120v power (pretty sure the whole house.)

 

Another reason methinks I don't have a converter is that my battery bank is needing very frequent recharging. The 12v furnace fan, and the 12v panel on the fridge, and fans and such seem to drain it quick. If I had a converter, the batteries would remain unaffected, correct?

 

It seems wise to get a converter as well, or instead given our semi-permanent parking situation. But I'm not sure.

 

My final question is: If I had both, which would I use to charge my BB?

 

Thanks ahead of time!

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I'd be interested to know how your rig is wired. Teton put in a sub-panel when they installed an inverter in place of a converter at the factory. I don't think they ever installed both, but it's possible. There was a 30 amp breaker in the main panel that fed the inverter, and the inverter fed the sub-panel. However, in my main panel they also included a breaker that is labeled Converter. It supplies power to a single outlet in the electronics bay where you would normally plug in a converter.

 

I'm suspicious that you may have a sub-panel setup because tripping the one breaker should not turn off power to the whole rig. That would only happen if there was originally an inverter. I know they located them in different places, but mine is under the dressing table area, near the floor. Have you found a sub-panel? What size is the breaker in the main panel that cuts power to the whole rig?

 

If I were you, I would install the Magnum inverter, but first I would be sure I understood how things were currently wired.

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Thanks for the responses guys.

 

Those hybrids do have some nice features, I just don't see us ever needing them.

 

Rif- We do have the sub-panel, it is in place of one of our drawers in the bedroom. That is where the "converter" breaker is. I'll do some work tonight tracing wires to see where it all goes.

 

I'm fairly certain that the 5er came from the factory with a Xantrex Prosine 3.0, but I have to check the big book to make sure. I know for sure it was the most recently installed inverter unit in the rig.

 

If it did come with an inverter, I wonder if the electrical guys at the factory were so used to writing "conv" on that panel that they just wrote it.

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I am in favor of only using the Inverter/Charger. Few converters are as smart as the charge circuits in the Inverter/Charger. Your batteries would benefit from this.

 

X2

 

Sounds like the old converter was replaced by an inverter/charger, so using the MS2812 would be all you need. Also look at the Magnum MSH3012, which is what I have. It does cost more, but has some really nice features that I think are worth the extra money.

 

X2. If you have a subpanel then that makes it even more likely an inv/charger was being used. More than likely, your factory converter is still there, but simply disconnected.

 

For the small difference in price, I would also recommend the MSH3012. I think you would benefit from it more than you think, however, if sticking to a budget, the MS2812 is a pretty rock solid unit. You would be more than happy with that, however, make sure to also purchase the temperature sensor, make sure it is properly fused, install the shunt, remote panel and don't forget a decent meter. It may not have as many features as a dedicated meter, however, the battery monitoring module available for the Magnums is pretty decent, not too spendy compared to a dedicated unit and integrates with the existing remote panel.

 

...but first I would be sure I understood how things were currently wired.

 

Absolutely! With a used rig, you never know what kind of re-wiring has taken place so run down every line, every outlet, etc.

 

Have fun with your NTU toy!!

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I just ordered the 2812. Got it new for 17XX shipped.

 

The MSH3012 would have been 2200 at the cheapest I could find it. 500 bucks is a lot to us!

 

What temperature sensor are you referring to? The only accessories that I have seen are the battery monitoring kit, the standard remote panel, and the advanced remote panel.

 

I'm planning on getting the magnum BMK for the very reason that it integrates with the remote that I'll be purchasing from magnum as well. Thinking of just going standard remote, I don't think I'll need the advanced one. We are only using flooded cell batteries.

 

 

It's actually not so new to us, as we got it back in April, I've just put this project off the longest. Of course now I'm remembering that the sooner I dive into these electronics projects the better, else they become a dreaded thing in my mind.

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I do not understand the need for the inverter when you intend to be on shore power? Could someone please enlighten me? If you won't be inverting you won't need the inverter capability. That is a big inverter and you don't sound like you intend to boondock. You can buy a high quality converter and get all the sophisticated charging your batteries may desire. How big is your battery bank now?

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Well, yea. I have the magnum 3012 inverter and a lithium bank but I don't understand advising someone to get a big expensive inverter when we do not know the size of their battery bank or inverting needs? A great converter would be a few hundred. Spending 1,000 dollars plus to address a theoretical power outage is a lot of money especially when we don't even know if it would work or needed with the current battery bank and ac needs. How long could he invert in a power outage off a 100 ah bank? Do we even know the OP's AC needs? I am just saying we need more information. The comment about the current batteries losing their charge also makes me wonder. How are those batteries currently getting charged? What is the condition of the bank? Should the money be put toward new batteries instead? I would cancel the purchase until your actual needs are understood. Dave

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I would cancel the purchase until your actual needs are understood. Dave

 

He wasn't asking about anything other than the inverter/convert/charger/subpanel issues. He may already '"know his business" and doesn't need input on every aspect of his power systems. ;)

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I do not understand the need for the inverter when you intend to be on shore power?

 

Getting from point A to B and still keep your residential fridge going? Asphalt camping on the way to point B? Letting the Grand kids watch movies while in transit? Running the microwave to heat some soup for lunch en route? CG outages.. possibly. He just wants one? ;)

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He wasn't asking about anything other than the inverter/convert/charger/subpanel issues. He may already '"know his business" and doesn't need input on every aspect of his power systems. ;)

Yes, your right. I read the initial post differently but you could easily be right. That is just a big purchase and I had the impression there are remaining unknowns with the electrical system.

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I wouldn't buy a new converter just to have one but if you do and it is a decent one I say keep it.

 

Aside from the possibility of using it if the inverter/charger has issues it is useful in situations where you have only a few amps or low/high voltage issues.

 

When we got to an iffy spot, one where we didn't want to subject our rig to the poor shore power we'd just not plug the rig in and instead live off the inverter and our batteries. We would plug in the converter to whatever was available and not worry about it pulling too many amps and blowing a fuse (brother-in-law still has fuses) power coming and going or the voltage as long as it was between 90 and 130 volts. The converter would happily pump amps into the batteries 24x7 and never had issues keeping up with the drain from the inverter running our normal stuff. Of course that didn't include the air conditioner, fridge or water heater since they weren't wired to the inverter for power.

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I just ordered the 2812. Got it new for 17XX shipped.

 

The MSH3012 would have been 2200 at the cheapest I could find it. 500 bucks is a lot to us!

 

What temperature sensor are you referring to? The only accessories that I have seen are the battery monitoring kit, the standard remote panel, and the advanced remote panel.

 

I'm planning on getting the magnum BMK for the very reason that it integrates with the remote that I'll be purchasing from magnum as well. Thinking of just going standard remote, I don't think I'll need the advanced one. We are only using flooded cell batteries.

 

 

It's actually not so new to us, as we got it back in April, I've just put this project off the longest. Of course now I'm remembering that the sooner I dive into these electronics projects the better, else they become a dreaded thing in my mind.

Check IMarine. Just got my MSH3012 for 1575.00. This is for a new unit.

http://www.imarineusa.com/MagnumEnergyMSH3012M.aspx

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Larger Magnum inverter/chargers come with temperature compensation and a remote voltage sense line. It is wise to use both.

 

Like Stan, we have always had BOTH an inverter and converter. For the reasons he stated. I'm not advocating this for the OP...simply clarifying the usage of the converter along with the inverter/charger. I discuss it in more detail on my website. Or if anyone has specific questions I'll be happy to answer - as will Stan. Many people would never take advantage of the dual charging methods, but there is a specific place for them where they are invaluable.

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It may benefit those who are wondering, why such a large inverter was suggested, that I had posted a previous topic in the WTB area. In that thread I listed my specific needs and battery size. I believe Yarome and possibly others made their suggestions based on that information?

 

I have confirmed that I do not have a converter. As for what I have been doing to charge the batteries in the mean time, I was doing the easiest option available to us, which was using a car battery charger. I know, I know, probably not the best for my batteries. But money was tight for a while.. and so on...

 

We don't NEED such a large inverter, but we have some circumstances which require us to NEVER be without power. I want a solid, reliable inverter that I don't have to worry about.

 

As for why I need an inverter if I'm always plugged into shore power, I think is most easily summed up by the fact that I don't have a converter. Therefore all of the 12V power is supplied by my battery bank.

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Check IMarine. Just got my MSH3012 for 1575.00. This is for a new unit.

http://www.imarineusa.com/MagnumEnergyMSH3012M.aspx

Dang!! That's a ridiculous price for the Hybrid model. I called the folks I ordered mine through and they matched that price I'm still getting a MS2812, but that's okay. Looks like imarine only has one left!

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Dang!! That's a ridiculous price for the Hybrid model. I called the folks I ordered mine through and they matched that price I'm still getting a MS2812, but that's okay. Looks like imarine only has one left!

They were the lowest price I could find. Even with paying tax since I am in California it was still the lowest, it it had free shipping also.

I was looking at the 2812 at first but it was only $175.00 more to get the 3012 so it was a no brainer.

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I have confirmed that I do not have a converter.

 

If you were to post a photo of the rear side of your power distribution panel we could probably tell you for sure. More than likely, the stock converter would be integrated into the actual power distribution panel rather than appearing as a separate stand-alone device.

 

Like others, I use a separate inverter/charger for my power requirements, but 'do' still have the original integrated converter. It isn't connected to the system, but it's ready and able if needed in a pinch.

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If you were to post a photo of the rear side of your power distribution panel we could probably tell you for sure. More than likely, the stock converter would be integrated into the actual power distribution panel rather than appearing as a separate stand-alone device.

 

Like others, I use a separate inverter/charger for my power requirements, but 'do' still have the original integrated converter. It isn't connected to the system, but it's ready and able if needed in a pinch.

 

Teton typically did not use that method. They usually installed a stand alone 12V fuse box that was not integral to anything else. The same is true of the 120V breaker box. The converter would be mounted separately somewhere.

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