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80 Amp Electronic Power Converter


From the Progressive Dynamics website: "The PD9180, 80 amp power converter is designed to provide reliable filtered DC power to all recreational vehicle 12-volt lighting and appliance circuits. The PD9180 converter also provides safe and rapid recharging of RV batteries. Built-in features such as electronic current limiting, reverse battery protection, high voltage protection, low voltage operation, and over temperature shut down ensure long term reliability."

Cutting out the cool air intake vent opening for the power converter.
Cutting out the cool air intake vent opening for the power converter.
Inside view of the cool air intake vent for the power converter.
Inside view of the cool air intake vent for the power converter.
Cool air intake cover installed for the power converter.
Cool air intake cover installed for the power converter.
Power converter cool air intake installation complete.
Power converter cool air intake installation complete.
Inteli-Power Power Converter installed in the compartment.
Inteli-Power Power Converter installed in the compartment.
Exhaust fan installed in the compartment to prevent the power converter from overheating.
Exhaust fan installed in the compartment to prevent the power converter from overheating.

After attending the St. Louis Auto Show, because I had to wait for the dome to clear out, I happened to see the trade show service workers while they were dismantling the floor displays and I noticed that every vehicle had a small box hidden under the car with a set of battery cables connected to the vehicle wiring. It turned out that these were electronic power converters with an amperage output of up to 80amps. The light was just lit. This was exactly what I was looking for but had no idea what to search for. I found one with with a model number since the manufacturer's name had been removed and started my internet search. Very quickly I found Progressive Dynamics' website. I was searching for the manufacturer and this website looked like that of a distributor. So I kept looking and finally realized that this was, indeed, the company that manufactures these electronic power converters.

I contacted Progressive Dynamics and explained my project and they were just fantastic to deal with. The next week, I had one of the 80amp units in my hands and now all I had to do was get it installed. Now comes the hard part.

I knew it would be installed in the electrical compartment next to the Xantrex Power Inverter. But because this is going to be used for hours at a time, with the compartment closed, in the summer sun, I needed to figure out how to ventilate the compartment so it would not overheat and shut down. This took quite a bit of time to contemplate. Finally, after exploring all of my options, I settled on a custom cool air intake vent in the wheel well with the hot air being exhausted at the rear of the truck in an inconspicuous location.

Mounting the electronic power converter was not tremendously difficult. It was, however, a very tight fit. I was very fortunate that I had enough room left in which to mount the power converter. I started by using a short length of 2x4 to support the power converter up off of the floor of the storage compartment. Then I carefully marked the three mounting slots so they could be drilled. After the holes were drilled for the power converter, I had to figure out how to connect it to the vehicle wiring since the 110ac connection was pretty straight forward. I finally decided to run the positive and negative cables from the power converter to the main terminals on the Xantrex Inverter so I would not have to drill any additional holes in the compartment. This actually worked out quite well, but it was a challenge working in such close quarters. Once the DC cables were in place, I bolted the power converter to the truck and then ran the AC power cable up to the junction box and tied it into the first breaker so that it gets its power from the Kusmaul auto ejector input.

Next, I drilled a 2-1/2" hole in the compartment wall from the inside of the wheel well. After inserting a plastic louvered protector, I drilled the custom vent I had fabricated from 10ga steel and bolted it to the inside of the wheel well after spraying the inside with undercoating material to prevent rust. This, then, will allow cool air into the compartment, near the power converter's fan so that it will cool the power converter efficiently.

Now for the hot air exhaust. I purchased two Thermaltake brand high flow computer case fans along with two silicone rubber gaskets to help prevent vibration noise. Next, two 3" holes were drilled, one at the top of the compartment and one at the top of the rear compartment. Because the service body has a large opening between the middle and rear compartment, only two fans were necessary. Then, in the rear of the stahl service body, I drilled two 2-1/2" holes behind the bumper and covered them with a couple of plastic vent covers I found at a boat store.

To ensure the fans only have power when the power converter is energized, I used some phone wire and phone connectors so I can manually connect the power to the fans when I turn on the power converter. This was the best solution I could come up with and not have to drill any further holes or figure out how to surface mount a small switch in the compartment.

And just in case you're wondering, at the Route 66 Father's Day Car Show, with an ambient temperature of about 90 and high humidity, the system performed flawlessly. I had the lightbar energized as well as the front and rear oscilasers, the strobes and the LED's, all running off of a small Honda inverter/generator. The compartment was closed the entire time, in direct sunlight and not once did the unit even come close to overheating. Thanks to Progressive Dynamics, Project Responder will be fully lit up at every show, drawing even more crowds and attention. For more information on these power converters, be sure and visit the Progressive Dynamics website.

 
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