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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cranky Converter

My parents recently purchased a used motorhome equipped with a converter with a battery charger. All of the circuits on the converter are working okay. On the charger side, the output stopped the first time they plugged it in at the campground. From what I gather, Mom was listening to the radio while packing the RV before they left. When they got to the campground, the radio would not work. The battery is new. The transformer is putting out over 16-volts on one side and only 8-volts on the other. I don't want to waste anybody's time if this is a lost cause. Where can we find some technical info or a like replacement unit?
Rob, (Findlay, OH)


Rob, some older converter chargers are quite capable of being repaired as long as parts are still available for them. However, in some instances of under-sized converter outputs, (for the application), or those converters of lesser quality (components or design), it may be best to upgrade to one of the newer, sophisticated, multi-step chargers. Some of today's designs employ actual computers with special algorithm principles that can truly satisfy today's high demand for on-board 12-volt power by keeping the battery bank fully charged, without the fear of overcharging. Sadly, many of the earlier charging/converters used in the RV industry were mediocre at best. Some were under-powered, while others were prone to literally boil the electrolyte out of the batteries. However, before condemning any converter, I recommend a complete bench test and an internal electrical "check-up," if you will. 

Like I’ve mentioned before, some converters can be repaired quite successfully, so you must be prepared to choose between a repair and a new converter. Some factors to consider are, how long do you think your parents plan to keep that RV? Are they thinking about a trade anytime soon? Do they want the absolute best of today's technology? Answers to these questions will help decide between a repair of the existing converter or a new one. But before you can even consider such a choice you must first have the existing converter analyzed by performing very specific tests and measurements. Unfortunately, without actually viewing the converter first-hand and performing these diagnostics, I'd just be guessing. 

I do, however, have a recommendation for you. When it comes to converter/charger experts in the RV industry, I recommend Master Techs. They are located in Marshall, Michigan, but they receive converters from all over North America for repair. They have a quick turn-around time, (they ship back to you within 24 - 48 hours), and because of the considerable inventory of spare parts they carry for virtually all brands of converters. Chances are they will have the converter tested, repaired and shipped back to you faster than you could secure an appointment at a local RV service facility. Chances are also, that facility would have to order the repair parts from Master Techs anyway; that is if they even do internal converter repairs at all! Not many shops dig into the innards of a charging converter. Might as well let the experts do the work correctly the first time. To have your converter checked out by Master Techs, call toll free 800-848-0558. They will provide all the necessary information to ship your converter to them.

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