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Old 28-09-2013, 19:28   #1
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Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

Hi,

I am reading through the link below and he keeps referring to 'converters'... what are they and how do they differ from a 'charger'?

The RV Battery Charging Puzzle HandyBob's Blog

Thanks!

- z
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Old 28-09-2013, 19:37   #2
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Re: Difference between 'converter' and 'charger'

All I can tell from a quick glance at the page is that it is some off the wall RVer name for a battery charger. The closest I could come to that in the boating world is I have heard inverters called converters before.
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Old 28-09-2013, 19:44   #3
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Re: Difference between 'converter' and 'charger'

a converter is not a power source. it converts 110 to 12 or 24v (where as an inverter makes 12 or 24v into 110).

a charger provides power to recharge a battery. alternators, solar, wind are all variations of chargers.

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Old 29-09-2013, 06:24   #4
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Re: Difference between 'converter' and 'charger'

And our battery charger -- powered by AC from either shorepower or genset -- is marked "converter" at the breaker.

-Chris
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Old 29-09-2013, 08:33   #5
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Re: Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

The terms don't seem to be used consistently. Most common usage I believe is that a converter converts electricity from one form to another to be used as a power source. For example a 120 volt AC to 12 volt DC converter converts AC outlet power to a constant 12 volt DC supply suitable for running lights, computers, radios, etc. It is a poor battery charger because it puts out a constant voltage too low to efficiently or maybe even completely charge a battery.

Most battery chargers are poor converters. Some of the older styles require a battery in the circuit to operate correctly. Modern 3 stage chargers deliberately change the voltage over time to quickly charge a battery. Some (most?) modern chargers also say not to be used without a battery connected. Some have a setting to be used as a converter without a battery in the circuit.

Your link says a 3 stage converter is not a battery charger. I have never seen a 3 stage converter, it doesn't make sense in what I believe is common usage. There are poorly designed 3 stage chargers that don't charge the batteries as fast as they could, but there is no reason to have stages to supply power for use by devices.

There are also converters like DC converters, 12 V DC to 24 V DC, 24 to 12 , etc.
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Old 29-09-2013, 08:43   #6
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Re: Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

The RV industry uses the term "converter" to mean what the rest of the world call a battery charger.

I think that the reason is the RV industry doesn't think much of batteries. The average RV has one Group 27 battery. Rarely do you see more. And never any discussion of adding more to be able to hang out "off the grid" or "off the generator" for long.

David
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Old 29-09-2013, 08:47   #7
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Re: Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

not all battery chargers are alike. Most chargers can not or should not be used alone to power the 12 volt systems of the boat. Our Iota battery charger will run the 12 volt systems on the boat, even if there are no batteries attached. The plugs most often used to run laptops off a cigarette lighter type plug are DC to DC converters. The 12 to 120 volt units are inverters. Too often the terms are used interchangeably. Whether that is correct or not, i can't say but it does tend to confuse the issues. An inverter almost always refers to changing 12 volt to 120 volt. A converter can be used for any voltage but usually goes from AC to DC. Chuck
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Old 29-09-2013, 10:08   #8
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Re: Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
The terms don't seem to be used consistently. Most common usage I believe is that a converter converts electricity from one form to another to be used as a power source. For example a 120 volt AC to 12 volt DC converter converts AC outlet power to a constant 12 volt DC supply suitable for running lights, computers, radios, etc. It is a poor battery charger because it puts out a constant voltage too low to efficiently or maybe even completely charge a battery.

Good point. When I said ours is labeled "converter" -- I mean that's the breaker panel labeling -- by the boat manufacturer.

The charger manufacturer does indeed call it a charger.

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Old 01-10-2013, 02:11   #9
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Re: Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

a converter changes voltage levels of DC. IE 24v dc to 12v dc. a transformer changes ac voltage. like 240ac to 120ac. power supply creates direct dc power from ac (does not need batteries inbetween to run dc stuff). charger creates dc from ac to charge batteries and is different then a power supply. although you may find some rated to do both. inverter creates ac power from dc

I have seen breakers with the word converter on before for an ac to dc charger. it is wrong. all those terms are used wrong all the time
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:11   #10
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Re: Difference between 'Converter' and 'Charger'

CONVERTER = change to....It converts from A to B

A can be 110Volts or 240Volts or 24Volts or 12Volts.

If 110 or 240 Volts it will convert to either 12 volts or 24 volts

If 12 Volts or 24 volts it will convert to 110 or 240 Volts.

Clarity is a nice word.

Peter
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:50   #11
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The correct meanings as used in the electrical/electronic world are...

Converter : electronic circuit which converts one DC voltage to another DC voltage (either higher or lower)
Inverter: electronic circuit to change DC to AC
Rectifier: electronic circuit (often just diodes) to convert AC to DC
Transformer: Electrical device which transforms one AC voltage to another AC voltage (either higher or lower, or even the same in some cases)

A battery charger is usually a combination of the above and may for example consist of a transformer followed by a rectifier followed by a converter (as well as other electronics).
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