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Product Testing by the Sanidumps.com Team

Product Review - Upgrading Charger and Inverter Setup in my RV

Upgrading Charger and Inverter Setup

KC's Report

Background:

pd-9145a charger

My 2007 5th Wheel came with a 400 watt modified wave inverter (not shown) and a Progressive Dynamics 9145A 45 amp multi-stage charger with wizard. This inverter is an upgrade over most fixed rate chargers that deliver a constant 13.6 volt charge. The inverter was directly wired to my audio/visual 120AC plug in the entertainment center.

In 2008, I had to upgrade the 400 watt modified wave inverter to a Xantrex RS400 true sine inverter to eliminate a hum on the audio and TV from the modified sine inverter. This worked extremely well.

Since we dry camp or boondock 80-90% of the time, we are required to run other AC devices such as the microwave, laptops and exhaust fan/light over the stove. To manage this I had installed a Xantrex XM1800Pro modified sine wave inverter to run all the other AC devices except for water heater and air conditioner.

kc old remotes kcxantrex kcxantrex1800

This was a cost versus benefit driven decision. There were several benefits such as:

  • A built-in remote capability so we did not have to go outside and turn it on and off.
  • It had a built-in transfer switch so that the inverter would not be used if the RV was connected to shore power.
  • It provided basic information on my battery status on the remote.
kc rv basement

The install was fairly easy and the manuals were very good. Locating all the units was a little challenge due to space and proximity to the batteries.

In conjunction, I also acquired an ultra-quiet Honda 2000i 2000 watt generator/inverter to charge my batteries. This setup had following drawbacks:

  • Sensitive electronics could not be plugged into the Xantrex XM1800Pro.
  • Microwave power was compromised (ran at less than 50% power) and it made a funny sound. Later I discovered that modified sine wave power could shorten the life of the microwave.
  • The stove exhaust fan ran at a significantly slower speed rendering it ineffective.
  • Charging batteries took much longer. Even though the generator put out over 1620 watts or 13.3 amps AC, my 45 amp DC charger could only charge at 540 watts rate. This meant I had to run the generator much longer to get a full charge. We only ran the generator after 10 am but it felt uncomfortable creating noise in the campground.
  • When we plugged into shore power, the charger insisted on taking almost 4.5 amps at 120 volts AC to charge the batteries which meant, we only had 10.5 amps when connected to a 15 amp circuit (mostly at home). Therefore, we could run neither the air conditioner nor the vacuum, a major inconvenience for my wife. She had to wait until the charger completed the charge cycle or I temporarily shut down the charger manually which meant I had to remember to restart it after she completed the vacuuming.
Honda 2000i

Since we RV anywhere from 11 to 18 weeks a year, taking multiple trips, this became an issue we needed to resolve.

Research

After researching several inverters, chargers and combo units with a variety of specs, we decided that an ideal solution should meet the following requirements:

  1. A combined charger, inverter and transfer switch combo would reduce wiring requirements and make it easier to install.
  2. The unit should have an operating range of -15C to 40C which is a typical RVing temperature range.
  3. The unit should be UL 458 certified for safety.
  4. A pure sine inverter should be rated at a minimum of 2,000 watts continuous with surge capacity of 3,000 watts.
  5. A multi-stage charger with a minimum of 80 amps (which is the maximum rating for my 4x6 volt flooded battery bank). It should also have an equalizer mode to equalize the battery bank to extend battery life).
  6. A charger efficiency of >85%.
  7. A power factor of >95%.
  8. A low power consumption in standby mode (No load).
  9. A transfer switch rated at 20 amps or higher. This would determine the wiring and if a sub panel would be required.
  10. A remote that would allow full access to all the functions inside the RV.
  11. A solid vendor reputation with service centers across North America.
  12. A longer than 1 year warranty was preferable.
Fuse Block

In 2010, we met with Sean from the Go Power!TM team at a trade show. I mentioned our dilemma and he suggested we look into a Magnum charger/inverter/transfer switch controller with an intelligent remote as a solution. We selected the Magnum MS2812, ME-RC50 remote and BMK battery management system with a 125 amp multi-stage charger, 2800 watt true sine inverter and a built-in transfer switch. The price premium over the 2000 watt MS2012 was very little compared to additional capacity for charging and the inverter wattage. The main reason, we went with this unit, even though it was a little overkill were following:

Magnum wiring
  • It is much easier to wire and install.
  • We can now run everything in our RV on the inverter if need be.
  • Excellent 3 year warranty and product reviews.
  • Excellent operating temperatures from -20C to 60C (-4F to 140F).
  • The power factor >98% and a charger efficiency of 85%.
  • A 30 second surge capacity of 3800 watts for those devices that require surge power at start up.
  • A built-in 30 amp transfer switch which allowed us to wire shore power directly into the inverter and then on to the RV breaker panel.
  • Caramanah support throughout North America.
kc install 1 kc install 2

The manual and additional advice from the Go Power!TM team made the install a breeze once I figured out how to bend the #3/0 (over 1" thick) DC cables. I wired my shore power directly into the Magnum and then connected to my 30 amp fuse panel which meant I did not have to install an AC sub panel. All in all the wiring became much simpler. If you are a DIY person, make sure you include a DC slow blow fuse (200 amp) and a cut-off switch to cut all loads as well as appropriately sized DC wiring. Also I would recommend you get it checked out by a professional as these are big currents and could create fires and personal injuries. The Magnum manual is by far the best manual I have ever come across in the RV world. It covers just about all eventualities and configurations of batteries and RV wiring.

The remote panel is full of useful information about the health of your power system, the battery bank and power consumption with charging rates from solar as well as shore power. The setup accounts for most battery types and AC inputs from 15-50 amps. There are many parameters that you can set for your particular need or just use the default set up that works for most RVers. My wife likes the simplicity of the remote (easy to turn it on or off and lets you know the status of the battery bank) since it allows her to use the system with little confusion.

Results:

mr-rc50 remote

The install was a breeze and it took about 2 hours of planning to layout the physical space and to calculate the wiring lengths and routing and an additional four hours doing the actual wiring. The confined space (sitting in the basement to wire and bend the #3/0 cables) was the biggest challenge. The manual outlines the setup and testing of the unit in nice easy steps. You can customize the setup as much or as little as you want. I would highly recommend you spend the extra dollars for the ME-RC50 remote as it makes setup and usage much more user friendly. The combination of 225 watt solar, 4 x 6 volt battery bank, Magnum MS2812 and ME-RC50 remote is a perfect setup for us and our lifestyle when we go RVing.

Remember, you can transfer all this equipment to your next RV if you do decide to upgrade. All you have to do is keep the factory supplied charger and leave the solar panel clamps mounted on the roof (so that you don't break the seal on the rubber roof; the clamps are easy to replace). Given the robustness of these products and the long warranties, this is one investment that will enhance your RVing experience for a long time.

Now I have to find good homes for my Xantrex Inverters.

Company

Go Power!™ by Carmanah Technologies
250 Bay Street,
Victoria, British Columbia,
Canada, V9A 3K5
Toll-free: 1.866.247.6527
Fax: 1.866.607.6527
Email sales: sales@gpelectric.com
Website: gpelectric.com

 

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