I felt like my 5th wheel was on life support…

I had seen it before in my ramblings through the “basement” of my “5th wheel”

I had no idea of what it did or of its importance

Not until…

The furnace would not turn on

The “duotherm” thermostat would not illuminate or operate

The refrigerator was flashing “low dc”

The lights (any and all of them) were very dim

What device am I talking about??


Watch my video here for a full recap and much more…

So… what does a power converter actually do?

Think of it as a device that controls the “ebb and flow” of energy to your 12v appliances – including your FURNACE (an “appliance” of MAJOR importance to those of us who live in regions where even at the end of April, temperatures can drop to near 20F in the pre-dawn hours!) 

Additional 12v appliances include your RV’s lights, refrigerator, hot water heater, LP detector and I’m sure there are more that I’ve not mentioned here… but safe to say, if (and when) your converter fails, you’ll see just how important a device it is!

In short, it converts 120v AC to 13.6v DC and BOTH “feeds” the 12v appliances AND the batteries. As I mentioned in my video, HOW could a 5th wheel, connected to “shore power” (120v AC at the campground WITH a surge protector to monitor unexpected fluctuations) for the better part of 6 months be OUT of power??!! Answer – the Converter was NOT “putting out” 13.6v DC (can be easily measured) to BOTH the batteries (possibly caused by one of the batteries “pulling on” the converter too much) and to the 12v appliances.

Solutions – and Actions Taken…

I decided to take two actions: 

First, I ordered a replacement power converter from Makarios RV. They shipped from Kansas and in 2 days I had a replacement converter. Further, what impressed me was my initial conversation with Trey, one of their customer service reps. He is a man of his word and I will not hesitate to do business with them again!

Second, I decided to have my batteries checked (2- 6volt AGM style batteries from Full River). I purchased them in December 2011, anticipating the need for my furnace to operate all night while traveling in the winter. Since January 2012 however, I have always found myself with access to “shore power” during winter months. So, long story short… NAPA reported to me that one of the batteries had gone bad – so there went $500 as they were *just* out of warranty – plus I needed a battery NOW!

power converter issue for 5th wheel
Two 6v “golf cart” style batteries – the idea was to be able to run the furnace all night
power converter for a 5th wheel
Running a trickle charge to keep my 12v systems running – without a power converter it was my only option.

Since I had to buy another battery, I made three decisions – 

  • go cheap! since the “premium” batteries failed to perform in the harsh winter environment
  • go back to one 12v since I won’t need the “lasting power” of 2- 6volt batteries (I now know when I’m likely to be “boondocking” – and it will not be in the winter up north!)
  • go with a national supplier (NAPA) since if and when the battery fails, I can bring it to any NAPA store

The total cost of this “experience”? About $300. Fortunately, no labor was involved as I was able to replace the power converter myself, along with the battery replacement. I’d love to hear from YOU and know if you agree with my approach to this issue – and whether you’ve ever encountered a similar issue! It is funny that all this came up immediately after I created a post on my “alansills” site calledDaniel and the Lions Den and the power of positive thinking?”. If you visit that post, I’d welcome your thoughts there as well! 

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