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Ask Dave: When on shoreline power, can I turn off my somewhat-loud converter?

Dear Dave,
My camper is plugged in all the time. Do I still need to have the converter on? It makes a somewhat loud humming. —Rick, 1993 Holiday Rambler, Aluma-Lite

Dear Rick,
First, to answer your question, if you are plugged into 120-volt shoreline, the power goes to your distribution center that has the circuit breakers for your 120-volt components. It also supplies 120-volt power to your converter, which converts to 12-volt power and charges your battery bank. Shutting off the converter would then drain your batteries. So, if you want to use any components on the 12-volt side of the operation such as lights, roof vents, and any LP appliances, then, yes, it needs to be on. It also provides power to your refrigerator eyebrow board, thermostat, and control module of the roof air conditioner.

I’m not sure what Holiday Rambler used for a distribution center/converter back in 1993, as they have been owned by many companies over the years. However, if it is the all-in-one model similar to this one from a 1993 Itasca Suncruiser, I would suggest upgrading.

These old MagnaTek models were very loud and gave off a lot of heat. Most manufacturers struggled with where to put them as they here hot and noisy in the bedroom all night, but also hot and noisy in the kitchen/living room during the day. Most manufacturers switched to a distribution center that could be mounted in the bedroom and a separate converter that could be mounted inside a cabinet somewhere that the heat would not get to the living area.

The 2015 Thor unit we just worked on this week had the converter under the bed back behind the support panel. We had to tear apart the headboard and framing to replace it!

Two options for upgrading the converter

You have two options for upgrading the converter. The first would be to replace the converter with a digital upgrade such as the one we did for the 1993 Itasca. It is much quieter and produces less heat; however, there is still some noise.

Your second option would be to shut off or disconnect the existing converter and install a stand-alone model under the cabinet. The most popular place is to remove the bottom drawer in the kitchen and see if there is space behind it. You will need a 120-volt power supply such as an outlet and be able to get cables from the new converter to the battery bank. I would suggest contacting the great tech support at Progressive Dynamics and look at their units. Just make sure you match the converter with what type of battery you currently have in the rig.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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DW/ND
1 month ago

Not sure – but you might try mounting the converter on rubber pads or feet. A lot of hum is transmitted thru the floor our mounting base to the structure. Try the low cost approach lst! Use a rubber pad or special screw type rubber mounts with the screw isolated from the base and structure. Like a pair of donuts!

tom
1 month ago

Very loud humming generally indicates that the power transformer inside the box has loose plates. Replacement is the only fix. Switching power supplies are much smaller, produce less heat, and take up less room.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I have my converter (a Progressive Dynamics unit) plugged into a power strip with an on/off switch so I can turn it off when operating on our inverter.

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