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Old 08-05-2018, 07:36 PM   #1
csp
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Inverter question

Hello again Sunline owners club. My 1990 T243 has an inverter built into it. I am assuming the purpose is to convert 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC. Is this correct? I found it mounted down below the sink. I don't know what to do with it. Any info would be appreciated.

I have an off the grid camp set up on a mountain in southwestern PA. I have attached a picture.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:04 PM   #2
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If it's original it's probably not an inverter. If it's an add on then maybe if so it should have some sort of on off switch and 120 volt outlets. The stock system made 12 volts from a 120V plug in (for the lights,water pump and such) and also charger the battery but did not make 120 volts from the battery like an inverter would it would be considered an converter/charger.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:49 PM   #3
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Okay. The label on the inverter indicated 120 volt input and 12 volt output. There are "regular" duplex receptacles in the camper. Is it correct to say that when the camper is plugged in, some of the power is 120 volt for the receptacles and the inverter(converter/charger) changed some of that power to 12 volt DC to run the lights and other 12 volt equipment?
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:22 AM   #4
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Not quite the converter is powered by plugging the camper in the converter does not power the outlets it only makes DC voltage for camper use and doubles as a battery charger. The battery is the source of DC if the camper is not plugged in but has no connection to the outlets they are two different power sources. So if you need household power you will need an inverter, it runs on 12 volts DC from the battery and makes 120 volts AC the opposite of a converter. I see from your picture that you have a solar panel that will be your source of power to recharge the battery when you are not plugged in if you add an inverter you will need to be very conservative of what you power because the battery powers the inverter so you will have a factor of 10:1 on battery current draw so if you plug in a household device that draws 1 amp it will discharge your battery at 10 amps that is a rough figure but close enough to get the picture. Another tip inverters have what's known as idling current some are worse than others so even if it's not doing anything as long as it is powered by the battery it will be using some battery current so a disconnect for the inverter should be part of the equation. Because your original converter is hard wired it would not be advisable to power the outlets with an inverter by plugging the camper cord into the inverter because of diminishing returns all the while you are taking power from the battery the converter will be trying to recharge it.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:08 AM   #5
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Yep, the terms converter and inverter are often interchanged mistakenly. A converter is pretty cheap and common, put in all RVs. As Mainah said, the battery is needed not only for when you aren't plugged in, but when you are too. The lights, water pump, furnace fan, etc. all run off 12v. The converter doesn't put out enough to run multiple of these things at once- you need the deep cycle battery for that. The converter just keeps it charged.

Inverters are pretty uncommon in RVs, although they can be added. Some of the large, expensive motorhomes have them from the factory, but the inverter units themselves can get pretty pricey. It all depends on what you want to plug in too, to determine what size unit you need. Chances are if you want an inverter large enough to power larger electronics, you'll need a bank of deep cycle batteries and possibly solar charging to accommodate it.

A good resource to read about adding solar and inverters is by our own EMAM, Pat and Cindy: Every_Miles_A_Memory
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:15 PM   #6
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The converters did have some pretty hefty 12 volt output but not much to charge the battery typically in the 30 amp range for lights etc the campers came with with a hand full of cabin lights my little T1700 had 13 lights with all of them on it was like 23 amps! Once replaced with LED's the current dropped to less than 4 amps! If you intend to bring the house with you you will need a hefty battery bank and BIG cables. 200+ watts of solar might get you by with an inverter. Even a pipsqueak microwave will sock your battery bank for 5000 watts
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:03 PM   #7
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Our original converter was rated as a 45-amp unit... not sure we ever asked it do do that much. When it died, we replaced it with a 45-amp Progressive Dynamics unit because it had a MUCH better battery charging section than the original... 3-stage with a desulfanating mode to help maintain the batteries BETTER.
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Old 08-13-2018, 09:52 AM   #8
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CSP brings up a few questions I would like to ask:

Hello, csp: Is there a make/model and any marking on it regarding the current (amps) rating of the output? Does it mention battery charging current separately? Perhaps a general question should be: Do they install "converter"s under the sink, ie: is this the "the" trailer's converter? If so, it would be a model designed for trailer duty, that is designed to permanently screw-mounted on a wall floor or shelf as opposed to "stand alone" on a shelf or desk. Isn't that a little close to a water source to be factory-installed? My 28 yr old converter is (was) screwed to the (rotted) floor under the rear bench bed, right at where the power cable comes into the trailer.

BUT BUT BUT: HERE is some questions I have wanted to ask the forum:

IS the 12 Volts DC (12vdc) that most trailer converters put out Filtered? or just rectified? If so, that may be good enough for lighting and fans, but is way too "dirty" or noisy for any electronic device not specifically designed for just plain rectified 12vdc. (I haven't put a scope on mine yet.)

Another question: Are NEWER "Converters" providing 12vdc, FILTERED and REGULATED like they SHOULD BE? (Aw, I know the answer)

CSP: I would be one to install a FILTERED and REGULATED 12vdc power supply ("converter") in my trailer. This provides clean power that is "as close to connecting to a 12v battery" as you can get. I have previously had to SHUT OFF a trailer's built-in converter in order to listen to broadcast AM/FM radio (and operate my Ham radios, too! The people I was talking to could even here the noise in my SIGNAL!)

I know this is probably covered elsewhere, but why not connect directly to the trailers 12 volt battery for clean !2VDC? You could, if the converter is shut off. When on, the charging circuit creates NOISE NOISE NOISE.

I will kick my soap box back under the bar and look forward to any comments and replies. Sorrrry I'm so long winded.

holmzie N2EXG
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:47 PM   #9
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holmzie... according to the paperwork and the website for our Progressive Dynamics converter, the guts (converter) section of the 4000 series panel we have is the same as the 9200 series converter/charger. It SAYS the 12-volt power is filtered, but I doubt it is the same quality as what you have come to expect from Ham radio rated 12-volt regulated power supplies. I suspect ordinary 12-volt uses in an RV would not require the higher quality regulated & filtered power required for radio work like yours (or mine one day!).
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:06 PM   #10
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What is in a CPS that would need well filtered DC? Probably an original converter will have a pretty good 60cps being half wave on a scope and a modern one some switching noise. I don't know what the CPS machine uses for a power supply but I'm guessing a switcher it maybe just as noisy as your converter. I'm not real well versed on a CPS but is isn't basically a heater and a motor?
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:49 AM   #11
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Hey csp, mainah, dkasten, and others.

Gorsh there manah, ya got me corn-fused. By "CPS" do you mean "Computer Power Supply"? I just don't have trailer vernacular quite down yet, or the related acronyms. My humble apologies.

csp: Love the solar and the off-grid part of your camping experience. Saw a brook in your video, Ahh, another source of POWer! Get a dc permanent magnet motor from a discarded treadmill, make or buy an impeller...get some PVC pipe and couplings..NOW you can charge your battery(s) in the dark, or during a storm!

Ok, off subject.

There are various things that I will need an inverter for in my tower/trailer. All of them require little 120vac current. One is the antenna rotor. another is a soldering GUN, (could use butane torch-iron?) and a few odds & ends. I have several cheap "modified" sine-wave units, from 50 watts to around 500. All but the 500 have a quiescent current below 75 ma. Newer ones are much better than 15 yrs ago in this regard. Now "pure sine-wave" inverters are available for about twice the price, which is still cheap considering what they were in the old days.

Lastly, (thankfully?) I saw some comments on REPLACING the charge controllers AND the 12vdc converter outputs of the typical trailer "CONverter". For my radio work, this "converter" could be modified into a quality standard "regulated linear power supply". (OR a very quiet "switching mode regulator"?) The heart of this is the HUGE transformer, and some replace the rectifiers with a full-wave bridge unit, This would be the best of both worlds. Was this mentioned here in the Sun Line forum? There are articles in our "QST mag, CQ mag, and in forums and magazines all over the place. Older RVs and trailers all had 12v incandescent lighting which REALLY represents a large, continuous load that could easily overheat a "lesser" than adequate transformer. I think mainah brought that up in another thread.

I require 22 amps minimum of solid 13.8vdc ("12vdc") for my 100 watt radio. 30 amps would cover a second radio and accessories.

Remember, a radio "load" is NOT necessarily continuous, but has to be well regulated. With Morris Code or SSB voice, the load can change instantaneously from about 1 amp to 20 amps, which can drive some regulators crazy!

OK, holmzie: Blah Blah Blah! Get on with it!

Just run some nice 8 awg wire to the operating position, and get some Anderson Power-Pole connectors, and voilą! Now you don't have to pack that separate power supply. And NO NOISE!

Since writing this I also would consider placing a/the regulator remotely: right at the operator(s) position. This would allow 12vdc lighting and accessories to be upstream from the regulator(s), as they don't need regulation, just filtering. This would also provide a degree of isolation for the radio equipment. When off-grid (on battery power), the switching function would remain, (and any remote regulator would have to be by-passed in this mode)

Stay FREE!

holmzie N2EXG



My Ham Radio buddies are all nodding there heads now. We're a tight-knitted bunch, yah know.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:09 PM   #12
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Oh I thought it was a breathing machine thingy you were talking about! I run my ham gear from the batteries and the converter at the same time no issues no noise It's a modern one at 45 amps granted the batteries help with regulation to an extent I have never tried to directly run HF from the charger but I would think most any resistance would look as a load to a solid state device the converter really isn't much different than a external power supply by design.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:20 PM   #13
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For a water wheel generator I think I would go with a automotive alternator the treadmill motors are high voltage designed to be regulated with PWM. A 12 volt alternator with all ready have all the regulation you would need. For max smoke it would want to turn about 3K RPM.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:13 AM   #14
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I like the way you think, mainan.

The following comments are my opinion only, for which I am not responsible for any wrong facts or misleading statements contained therein:

Here's what I think. Automotive alternators require a field current, and are not efficient at low power delivery. low rpm even worsifies the matter. you may need to "kick" an alternator with a source of 12volts just to get it to produce power. The regulators on some (chryslers?) even apply full field current upon start-up, up to some rpm/voltage threshold in order to quickly recharge the lowly Lead-Acid battery. I had a devil of a time on Field Day, long ago, i got suckered in to peddling a bike/alternator combo, and I'll never do THAT again! I do use 'm for my 12v chargers with a junked 3 - 5 hp engine, works well!

Bunch of off-gridders make there own Perm Mag alternators using magnetron or old hard-drive magnets, or other Rare Earth magnets. I may be nuts but I'm not crazy. you can actually buy perm mag alternators designed for power gen if you have the money.

Though they have brushes, I find a treadmill perm mag motor, (I own 3) typically 90 - 120 volts or more, really great with small windmills, bicycle power, and peltion water turbines. These little darlings squirt out power at any rpm. all yo need is a diode. Of course, it'd b nice to have a switching mode regulator. OR go with a trace inverter $$$ or other charge controller. 120 volt AC is better if the brook is a long way away.

I never found a brook for my little water wheel...yet. BUT: I did light a 6o watt bulb handcranking a bicycle with the treadmill motor/generator, and charged a Field Day operator position and made contacts for the extra pedal (human) power points.

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Old 08-17-2018, 09:45 AM   #15
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Shout out to csp:

Hey csp: how far is that brook in your video?



Really like your OFF THE GRID camping. Feel free to pull up a chair and chew the fat...!
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:06 PM   #16
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Yes they require field current that's how they are regulated even full tilt only about 3 amps. A PM motor/generator would require exterior regulation generally PWM (Noisy) The alternator will have a great deal more output depending of course on it's source of power but if the water head is great enough that should not be a problem. The PM will require a pretty good jolt to get it going because it has no stator it's pretty much the starting torque is the same as max output torque. Any junk yard will have an alternator some with outrageous current output if you have enough head water. Some alternators are self exciting meaning no power necessary to get it charging. Only drawback you would need a big wheel driving a small one they like to spin. Oh yeah they are also cheap and easy to come by and have any number of mounting options. They can be converted to produce AC also.
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Old 08-19-2018, 02:13 PM   #17
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Aw, I guess Im-a-gettin’ a little far-afield her, mainah. And I’m not an engineer, I just play one on tv. I bet you’re the real McCoy. I just love this stuff.

Assuming just a small head with a small brook, (and minimal piping, weight, bulk, etc): I designed a little system that would perhaps give me a half an amp or 1 or 3 at 12vdc, or so I thought... Never got to use it, (yet!). Guess I said that already, sorry…this was YEARs ago.

With the treadmill PM motor, I can spin the shaft with my fingers and measure voltage. These motors never reach anything like 3000rpm a full 90 vdc, but they are really powerful for their size, typically 1.5 – 2 hp. After my horrible experience the first year with the Auto Alternator, I tried the discarded treadmill PM motors.

Get this crazyness: the PM motor I used also has a 4” cast fan wheel on the shaft which was driven by the bicycle tire. With a previously discharged (11.5vdc) flooded lead-acid auto battery, and no diode, it spun about 260 rpm?. When I mounted the bike and started pedaling, I got up to around 350-400 rpm?. After a few minutes (GASP!), as the battery resistance lowered and it took a charge, the rpm slowed, the load increased and amperage increased and I pooped out, and another pedaler took over, a fairly muscular rider, and we got up to 12.5 volts, and we started making contacts.

When we changed riders, the bike kept spinning.

Cool! Strangely, when the battery voltage reached 12.8vdc, the rpm’s stayed ALMOST constant (300rpm?) IF WE WERE PEDALING OR NOT! At first we thought something was wrong... Finally came to our senses and put the ammeter in line, and found out we could pedal gently and put in about an amp or two and not struggle to much. The “generator” was squirting current into the battery on each pump, and the battery made the setup act like it had a flywheel!. Manah, that was a real come to God moment for me. Physics. 1 amp at 12 volts is about 12 watts of work. I'm 64 now, and I think I would be lucky to make 6 watts!


Well, I beat this horse to death. Sort-a wish csp would come by and see how I convoluted his thread.


Happy Sunday
holmziep N2EXG


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Old 08-19-2018, 06:42 PM   #18
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This I would like to see if the motor was powering the bike it is acting as a motor so yeah it made it easier to pedal at the cost of a charging device! Being permanent magnet the current is direct output from the rotating armature making it a AC generator with full current supplied from the armature. With an alternator the rotating member is the field the stator is what carries the load yes it too is an AC generator but inside are 6 diodes it's basically is a 3 phase generator at about 400 CPS @ 3000 RPM rectified to make DC. By varying the field voltage the current can be regulated this is the beauty of an alternator it is simply regulated. So with a PM generator the regulation would require external electronics like PWM so RPM would be a factor because they would be no limit to voltage without intervention.
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Old 08-19-2018, 07:06 PM   #19
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I will add I'm 72 there is no way I'm going to peddle a bike to read the newspaper or watch TV! I have a very nice home made solar setup for camping I set it up it turn it to the sun it charges my 160 Amp hour battery bank no sweat no noise very little effort involved! If it rains for days I have a 236 HP DC generator @ 165 amps (my truck) with a Anderson power pole attached to the truck battery that plugs into the camper batteries, switch on the inverter watch the news go to bed. I love the K.I.S.S. principle!
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:34 PM   #20
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Hello all. Thanks so much for the valuable insights you all have. Even though I have no use for the converter and was just trying to figure out what I had all the information was interesting and valuable for the future. There are a few mountain Brooks on my camp. The one in the video is probably about a half mile from my camp site. There are others that are closer. The thought about producing electricity from flowing water interests me. There are a lot of places in my camp where water just springs out of the ground and starts flowing down the mountain. My camp is 77 acres. There is still some of the property I have not yet explored. Yesterday I was exploring on my quad and I rolled it. It rolled over 3 times. The 2nd roll went over me so I am pretty sore right now. I am back home in Maryland but will be heading back out to the camp in 2 weeks. Btw, I find that the 1 solar panel I have is doing a great job of keeping my deep cycle battery charged and my water tower is working great. For what I use I have plenty of water and electricity.
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