Converter Blacking Out?

BigHorns

Member
I had a recent issue with the converter in my Bighorn that has had me stumped for a couple days now. Would be grateful for any insight or thoughts.


I've had this Bighorn for a year+ now. It has a Progressive 9200 converter that has exhibited a quirk that I've never been able to get any answers to- from Heartland nor Tech's I've talked to.


Everything I read on the 9200 confirms that it has three standard operating modes- Storage, Normal, and Boost with respective voltage outputs of 13.2, 13.6, and 14.4.


My converter has settled and operated at 12.6-12.8 for as long as I've had it- periodically bumping up to 13.2+ (behaving like it's going into equalize mode?). Following a trip and plugging back in, it would operate at 14.4 for a short while- as I would expect, presumably to pump the batteries back up after supplying the inverter/fridge on the road. But it would then drop back to 13.2-4 for a while and then to 12.6 or so like clockwork. Note here: I rarely ever have to add any water to my batteries, so I've wanted to assume my converter was taking pretty good care of them.


Then there was the event a couple evenings ago...


On this particular evening all 12v lights in the 5W suddenly dimmed to what seemed like half power. Voltage on the OneControl panel was at 9.3v. At the same time, the charge controller in the battery bay from the little solar panel glued to the roof was also showing the same 9.3v. Current battery voltage, I assumed.


We turned off everything 12v we could (except for the furnace I realized later) and went to flashlights.


At this point, I assumed the converter had crapped out and my batteries had been drawn down to nothing. But I would have thought all 12v service would have crapped out long before 9v. Remember, all lights were at full speed until that moment. Why would all 12v service (lights, furnace) be good until everything was suddenly at 9v?


Once I managed to get the converter exposed, only two things occurred- 1) I fondled the ugly mass of wires running past it thru all the sawdust, presumably to the fuse panels buried above, and 2) I pulled all three of the 30amp fuses on the converter to test them and returned them as good. Only other thing I did was to note the two heavy gauge bare ground wires (one to the converter and the other presumably going to a fuse panel above) resting against each other and separate them (why I don't know- I assumed it shouldn't matter).


At some point soon after plugging the converter's fuses back in I noted the voltage on the panel had jumped back to 13.3. Over the next several minutes it slowly climbed to 13.9 before coming back down and settling at 13.2.


Finally, one last event polished off the evening. Shortly, we noted that though the furnace had been running fine all evening, it was not coming on as it should be (even with bumping the thermostat up to be sure). I pulled its 12v fuse to test it and returned it as good. Soon as I returned the fuse, the furnace came on.


Now, remember that issue I've had with this converter for the last year with it operating at 12.6v+? Ever since this episode the other night, the converter has parked itself at 13.2 right where it should be- I've not seen the old 12.6 since.



One curiosity at the end of it all- when I suddenly noted the converter voltage had come back, why did it only come to 13v? Why would it not have jumped to boost voltage at 14.4 if the batteries were down? It never did. This seems to imply that the converter was happy with the batteries- they weren't really down, but... 9v??


Any explanations out there for what occurred here? Don't worry- I'm prepared for a number of flaws in my assumptions throughout.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Moving the ground wires by the converter seems to be the only thing you changed. I'd suggest checking where all the 12V grounds connect to the frame. That includes the ground from the fuse box, converter, and negative terminal from the battery. Make sure all connections are clean, tight and are to bare metal.

Also, if this happens again, I'd suggest disconnecting the solar controller from wherever it attaches to the rest of the 12V system to see if anything changes.
 

BigHorns

Member
Moving the ground wires by the converter seems to be the only thing you changed. I'd suggest checking where all the 12V grounds connect to the frame. That includes the ground from the fuse box, converter, and negative terminal from the battery. Make sure all connections are clean, tight and are to bare metal.

Also, if this happens again, I'd suggest disconnecting the solar controller from wherever it attaches to the rest of the 12V system to see if anything changes.

Thanks for the thoughts, Dane. I'm curious about your point on disconnecting the solar charge controller. Is it conceivable that I actually lost 12v ground otherwise and the 9v reading was just something coming from that solar panel? It was not totally dark when this first occurred- close, but not quite. Sun was barely set.

And as for those two ground wires, the particular spot I touched them was middle of probably a 5 or 6 foot run of those wires laying there, e.g. a lot of flexibility in them, and my touch of them was very small/minor. Hard to imagine I impacted a connection as far away as that would be. But I get it.

Still don't get why reseating fuses on multiple devices would have brought them back to life.

Thanks again.
 

centerline

Well-known member
very strange things can happen in an electrical circuit that has abnormal resistance in it, or when a ground wire has lost its continuity....
and ANY connection point can become a source of resistance in a circuit, and the problems you have experienced can be normal symptoms of a faulty circuit...

when i have an issue, or install a new component, it is my practice to always use silicone grease on the connection so it will lube it to help make a good connection while protecting it from any residual corrosion that may cause resistance to the circuit in the future...

by moving the ground wire as you did, it could have caused it to make a better connection and eliminate the resistance, which is the same for the fuses.... we may never know where the problem actually was, but it seems like you have fixed it for awhile....

if you ever have to go into it again, I would suggest you try the silicone grease, which is the exact same thing as dielectric grease (only a lot cheaper) on the connection points, and then you will never have to wonder about it again....
 

BigHorns

Member
very strange things can happen in an electrical circuit that has abnormal resistance in it, or when a ground wire has lost its continuity....
and ANY connection point can become a source of resistance in a circuit, and the problems you have experienced can be normal symptoms of a faulty circuit...

when i have an issue, or install a new component, it is my practice to always use silicone grease on the connection so it will lube it to help make a good connection while protecting it from any residual corrosion that may cause resistance to the circuit in the future...

by moving the ground wire as you did, it could have caused it to make a better connection and eliminate the resistance, which is the same for the fuses.... we may never know where the problem actually was, but it seems like you have fixed it for awhile....

if you ever have to go into it again, I would suggest you try the silicone grease, which is the exact same thing as dielectric grease (only a lot cheaper) on the connection points, and then you will never have to wonder about it again....

Thanks for the thoughts. Yes, indeed, the ground is at the center of a good many electrical issues. It's the behavior of the equipment (converter, furnace, etc.) here that baffled me- or, I guess, the way the issue manifested itself beginning to end. I'm definitely going to run down the various ground-to-frame connections to start with as Dane mentioned. Something I should have done long ago. The grease is something I won't forget in the process.

Thanks again.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
The reason to disconnect the solar while diagnosing is to simplify. When dealing with unusual problems, isolate the various components so you can evaluate each one separately.


  1. Disconnect solar components so you can check out the Power Converter and battery.
  2. Turn the battery cutoff switch OFF to check out the Power Converter by itself. Test voltages and 12V DC operations.
  3. Turn the battery cutoff switch ON and turn off the circuit breaker that feeds the Power Converter to check out the battery by itself. Again test voltages and 12V DC operations.
 

JohnDar

Prolifically Gabby Member
Just a side comment. When looking for information on an installed appliance or device, call the manufacturer direct, not Heartland.
 

BigHorns

Member
The reason to disconnect the solar while diagnosing is to simplify. When dealing with unusual problems, isolate the various components so you can evaluate each one separately.


  1. Disconnect solar components so you can check out the Power Converter and battery.
  2. Turn the battery cutoff switch OFF to check out the Power Converter by itself. Test voltages and 12V DC operations.
  3. Turn the battery cutoff switch ON and turn off the circuit breaker that feeds the Power Converter to check out the battery by itself. Again test voltages and 12V DC operations.
OK, thanks. Yeah, I understand the isolation concepts. I just wasn't sure if there was something else on your mind with respect to the solar panel.

Many thanks.

- - - Updated - - -

Just a side comment. When looking for information on an installed appliance or device, call the manufacturer direct, not Heartland.

Yeah, ...<sigh>. I should have talked with Progressive a long time ago. The conversations with Heartland just seemed to keep me on the hook to nowhere back then. With it under warranty it seemed like the logical place to begin.

Thanks for the advice. With the warranty gone, now, it's even more relevant.
 
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