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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 8:00 am
Posts: 15
Location: Iowa
Just checking to be sure I've got this semi-right. Don't know why I have so much trouble with this (well, yeah I do, it has to do with what "off" means + I never tried to understand electricity before!).

Anyway here's what I understand (talking about an 05 BFT)

If the battery disconnect swtich is turned to "off" that means that the coach batteries are NOT being charged by a land line or the generator or the truck engine (not sure about the last). IOW, the connection between the power source and the coach batteries is "off".

If the battery disconnect switch is turned to "on" that means that the coach batteries are being charged. IOW the connection between the power source and the coach batteries is "on".

So, when plugged into a land line, you want the battery disconnect switch turned to off so as to not overcharge the coach batteries (assuming the batteries are already charged). IOW, you want no connection between the exterior power source and the coach batteries.

When stored for the winter, you want the battery disconnect switch to "off" also (I think).... or maybe it doesn't matter????? as long as you're not connected to a land line????

But you should provide a source of power (landline for instance) and turn the battery disconnect swtich to "on" to recharge the coach batteries every once in a while (say once a month).

Now, you all can tell me what I've got wrong.... or if I've got it backwards .

And thanks!

Kathy


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 7:50 pm
Posts: 49
You have made the first step towards being an electrical engineer! By and large you've got it!

A couple of comments though:

1) This may be obvious ... but if the switch is OFF the batteries are completely disconnected. You are not charging them but also you can't use them. If you are not connected to another power source and want to turn the lights on (or something like that) you must turn the switch to the ON position so they are connected and can be used as the dry camping source for which they are intended.

2) You say

Quote:
When stored for the winter, you want the battery disconnect switch to "off" also (I think).... or maybe it doesn't matter????? as long as you're not connected to a land line????


It does matter. There are be some circuits (like the propane detector) that work when the switch is on. These will slowly drain the battery. So turn the switch OFF and recharge periodically as you say in the next paragraph.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:52 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 8:00 am
Posts: 15
Location: Iowa
Just don't tell me how many more steps there are before reaching competent electric understanding status !!!! :)

And no it wasn't obvious that the swtich had to be to ON or I had no power for anything when dry camping but I figured that one out pretty fast actually... by flashlight!

Thanks for the clarification about the power draws during winter storage.... that's what I sort of had in the back of my mind.

Kathy... now on to things like volts and amps and meters (I think I get circuit breakers and fuses!)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:52 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2005 9:21 pm
Posts: 165
Location: Woodinville, WA
Kathy,
We also have a 2005 BFT. Your understanding of the disconnect switch is correct. I keep the switch OFFwhen we are plugged into another power source or running the generator and ON when we are underway in order to recharge the batteries. Your reasoning that you want the batteries disconnected when plugged in to shore power so that they are not over charged is correct. The power converter that BFT provides will charge your batteries however it is a poor battery charger. It doesn't reduce the charging voltage when the battery is fully charged and will keep on (over)charging it and eventually boil the water away in the batteries. There is a solution to this problem and Bill Hemme has developed detailed installation instructions for a replacement converter which has a good battery charging function included. With this change you would not have to worry about the disconnect switch position so much. When you are driving and using the alternator to charge the batteries, it does reduce voltage when the battery is fully charged and you should not have a problem with leaving the disconnect switch in the ON position. Bill's change is posted on the modifications section.

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David and Janice Potter
Zoey the mutt
2005 Born Free Built for Two
2001 VW Cabrio


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:55 pm
Posts: 1295
Location: Escondido. CA
Kathy, you nailed it. Like Bill Hemme, I also converted my stock Magnetek/Parallex converter/charger to a smart charger so I could keep the battery disconnect on continuously when connected to shore power.

Here is a great site for almost everything RV:

http://www.dudesrv.com/index.html

The Links link on the home page contains links to some invaluable information on the equipment and systems in your coach.

Bill

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Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 1:38 pm
Posts: 598
Location: Monroe, NJ
So what is an "excessive" amount of time to be plugged into shore power and have the disconnect switch on? Is a weekend too long? I sometimes will put in 12 hour days driving, with breaks of course. Will this be overcharging the batteries? :?

If this is a real problem, why hasn't Born Free addressed it instead of making it the buyer's responsibility to worry about how long you are plugged in or driving and charging the batteries. These are not cheap, entry level motorhomes. Seems like they use high quality parts in some areas, and then skimp on others that are not as obvious to the buyer.

Buying in the volume they do, how much more would it cost to do it the right way?

John

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John and Maureen O'Brien
and our 2 German Shepherds
2006 RSB - sold
2008 Jeep Wrangler X


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:32 pm 
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Location: Escondido. CA
Good questions, John. Especially since some of the smart chargers/converters that are available are cheaper than the Parallax units used by BF.

Bill

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Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 12:05 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 7:03 pm
Posts: 87
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
I think the reason Born Free stays with the Parallax convertor/charger is because it also includes the distribution panel. This is the panel above the convertor/charger that has the circuit breakers and fuses and distributes electricity to all the BF circuits. I too have converted over to the Progressive Dynamics convertor/charger as recommended by Bill Hemme. I'm sure happy with the conversion and can't thank Bill enough for the help he gave me over the phone and for the great job he did documenting the conversion.

IMHO if Progressive Dynamics or someone else offered the entire package (charger/convertor and distribution panel) Born Free might be interested.. Larry

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Connie and Larry Rayher
Owners of a 2001, 22ft, Rear Door Born Free
often seen towing a fishing boat.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:24 pm 
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Location: Escondido. CA
rv4fun wrote:
IMHO if Progressive Dynamics or someone else offered the entire package (charger/convertor and distribution panel) Born Free might be interested..


Both IOTA Engineering and World Friendship Company (WFCO) offer complete AC/DC Distribution Panels/Centers with their converters/smart chargers:

http://www.iotaengineering.com
http://www.wfcoelectronics.com

Other RV maunfacturers install them as OEM. Don't know why BF doesn't. Hmmmmm.

Bill

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Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:52 pm 
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Location: Woodinville, WA
jobrien wrote:
I sometimes will put in 12 hour days driving, with breaks of course. Will this be overcharging the batteries? :?


No. The regulator for the vehicle alternator will protect the coach batteries the same way it protects the chassis battery. The problem only occurs when the OEM converter is charging the coach batteries.

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David and Janice Potter
Zoey the mutt
2005 Born Free Built for Two
2001 VW Cabrio


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 Post subject: Coach batteries
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 10:03 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2006 6:18 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Colorado or in the West
I've been wondering about this disconnect question too, since I've decided to stay in an Escapees park for 2+ weeks, and would prefer to leave the coach hooked up on the 30 amp. (I'm tired of packing up and moving !) So, should I turn the Guest switch to off? There was a comment about the batteries not overcharging when you're driving, but no answer about staying hooked up for a while. I also think that when I have to eventually replace the house batteries, that golf cart ones are the way to go instead of these deep cycles.

Oh, if the disconnect is off, will that affect the antenna booster or any other surprises?

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Ann P. , 2008 24' RB. "All who wander are not lost."


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 11:21 am 
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Posts: 49
Ann,

When you're hooked up with the land line to the 30 Amp 110 Volt AC supply, it in turn powers a gizmo called the converter of which there has been so much discussion.

You can think of this converter as a sort of super battery. It can do two things: firstly it can run all of the lights, antenna booster, etc. and secondly it can (and will) charge the house batteries IF THEY ARE CONNECTED. [The problem with the converter supplied by BF is that although it's super, it's stupid. It doesn't have circuitry which can tell whether or not the house batteries are fully charged . If the house batteries are hooked up, the converter just keeps on charging.]

So... if the house batteries are disconnected by turning the connect switch off, they cannot be (over)charged. The super, stupid converter could care less and just keeps on running lights, etc. as long as you keep the coach plugged in to the AC land line.

Hope this helps...

Tom


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:26 pm 
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Location: Spencer, IA
Your Born Free Motorcoach came equipped with a Magnetek (later called Parallax) Model 6345 or 7345 Charger/Converter. This unit will over-charge your coach batteries if you stay plugged into shore line power for an extended period of time (like more than approximately 3 days). That is why you should shut off your battery disconnect switch when plugged into shore line power (after you know your coach batteries are fully charged). Any charging time after that will cause battery water to be boiled off and is also hard on your batteries.

This standard charger/converter is also a problem for those that do a lot of dry camping. While over-charging already fully charged coach batteries, this system also is very slow to re-charge coach batteries that have become drained due to one or two nights of dry camping and the only method then to recharge them is to run your generator. Even though this charger/converter has a rated output of 45 amps, that current is not available for the purpose of re-charging your coach batteries - the available current to recharge your batteries is only approximately to 3 to 5 amps! It will take more than 24 hours of running time on your generator for the standard charger converter in you Born Free to fully recharge a pair of discharged coach batteries.

For these reasons I decided two years ago to replace my Parallax 7345 Charger/Converter section with a 3-stage smart charging system and I chose the Progressive Dynamics PD9160A system that others have referred to in posts above.

I have posted complete details on this conversion in the Coach Modification section below under the topic named CONVERTING PARALLAX 7345 CHARGER/CONV TO PD9160A. I acknowledge however that only the mechanically minded should probably attempt this conversion on their own.

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Bill Hemme - Spencer, Iowa
E-mail: whemme@earthlink.net
2002 Born Free (Ford E-450 V10) 26' RSB
2016 VW Golf GTI - toad


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:46 pm 
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Location: Escondido. CA
whemme wrote:
I acknowledge however that only the mechanically minded should probably attempt this conversion on their own.


Bill Hemme was a "pioneer" in upgrading the Magnetek converter/charger using the Progressive Dynamics 3-stage smart charging system. It was his excellent documentation of this upgrade that allowed me, with minor alterations, to upgrade my Magnetek system with an IOTA Engineering 3-stage smart charging system.

Now I see that BestConverter.com offers a slide-in 3-stage smart charging upgrade kit for the Magnetek converter/charger. They use the World Friendship Co. (WFCO) smart charger. It comes in either 45 or 55 amps. The kits are complete and require no cutting or splicing. Best of all, the upgrade comes with its own sheet metal housing, so those tedious steps in Bill's conversion process are avoided.

If you're interested, you can see these upgrade kits at:
http://www.bestconverter.com/Magnetek-U ... _c_64.html

Bill

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Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 4:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2006 6:18 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Colorado or in the West
Many thanks for the info about my "super but stupid" converter. I know what it's supposed to be doing but wasn't sure how it all applies to my situation. So I went ahead and turned it OFF, since I've been mostly hooked up to the land line and hope to stay that way the next 2 weeks. Actually, my recent travels have involved going from one park to another hooking up, plus the batteries get charged while I'm driving.... So wouldn't that keep me in a state of over-charging? Seems like it could wear out the coach batteries. But isn't this the way a lot of RVers travel ? What kind of converter do they have in the big fancy rigs? maybe super and not so stupid?

It was also helpful to read Bill's info on the dry camping. I've only had one long experience where I dry camped for 4 days; I ran the generator each day for about an hour and had no problems, but now I know I won't get many amps. I see that the new converter kit costs a little over $200. How long would it take a mechanic to install ? Sounds like a worthy thing to do.

By the way, there's a Lazy Daze near me that's been dry camped for 2 weeks and has solar. I'm going to go chat with them. I'm not big on dry cmaping, but want to see their set up. Also, I want to go to the Born Free get together in Quartzsite in Jan. Will be interesting to compare notes on our power systems, or lack thereof.

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Ann P. , 2008 24' RB. "All who wander are not lost."


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