Explaining Your RV Charge Converter and How to Tell If Its Gone Bad

Published Categorized as RVs

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In this article I’ll explain what a charge converter does on your RV and the best ways to determine whether it’s working properly or whether it should be replaced. I’ll also share some of my ideas for replacing your charge converter should you have to do that.

What is a charge converter and what does it do?

What this device does is convert a 110/120-volt power source into a 12-volt rv electrical system. In other words, when you plug into shore power while at a campground, this converts some of that voltage down to 12-volts to operate some of your lighting, cell phone, computer or camera charging outlets as well some products such as refrigerators like the Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler which is great for smaller RVs such as restored vintage campers, truck campers, teardrop models and van conversions.

Another feature of the charge converter is that it converts the voltage from your shore power and through a trickle charge, it keeps your 12-volt battery system fully charged so that that system is ready to be utilized anytime you are going off grid and you’re ready to go boondocking. This type of charging also occurs when you tow your RV while driving down the road and I touched on this subject when I explained how to wire your RV for towing in my series about building your own teardrop camper.

How do I know if my charge converter is bad or not working properly?

One of the biggest signs of your converter not working properly is if it shows a draw of power when you use it. For example, you have a 12-volt refrigerator and every time it turns on, it decreases or dims the lights in your RV that you usually use. This is a clear indication that your charge converter is not working correctly.

Frankly, the best way to evaluate your charge converter is with an electrical multimeter. With this tool you’ll be able to test connections and electrical continuity for such things as electrical sockets, fuses, appliances, and even other basic things that require an electrical supply to function. A good multimeter will cover AC and DC connectivity and it’s something that every RVer should include in their list of essential tools for their RV.

If I do test my RV’s connectivity and charge converter and it’s still defective, what should I do?

The best option for me and you would be to replace the converter. It’s a no-brainer and my recommendation for a replacement converter would be the 45-amp Progressive Dynamics PD9245CV Inteli-Power 9200 series converter charger with a charge wizard because of its durability. The reason it’s called a charge wizard is because it will start working when it’s needed and it will stop working as needed, so it won’t overload your battery or batteries. Some converters don’t have this feature and you must remember to turn them off and on which can become problematic if you forget to check your power supply from time to time or you are away from your RV for extended periods of time while you’re fishing, hiking or being a tourist for the day.

In short, checking and maintaining your charge controller or converter is basic maintenance and you should get into the habit of doing it often. Even daily if you can. Maintaining your power supply to your home is one of the most important things to understand while RVing and I hope some of my insights have helped to understand these principles. If you’re also having trouble with your battery, please read my guide on what to do if your RV battery won’t charge.

As always, my friends, thanks for following along, and I hope to see you out on the highways, campgrounds or boondocking sites along the way or in our future!

By Brian

Born and raised in Michigan, contributing writer Brian C. Noell is a retired hospitality industry professional that now works remotely as a visual artist, writer and photographer as he travels around the United States in an RV with his dog Lizzy, an eighty pound Appenzeller hound dog.