It’s really unfortunate. The standard converter-charger installed in most RVs and truck campers is pretty poor. Many campers get the basic WFCO 8945PEC 45 amp Power Center like the one that’s in our Northstar Laredo. I wouldn’t complain if the unit’s converter-charger ever put out a bulk charge approaching 45 amps and 14.4 volts. The problem is it rarely does. In fact, I’ve never seen it. The most I’ve ever seen put out by the unit is 7 amps and 13.6 volts, even when running very few loads. The problem with WFCO’s low amp/low volt converter-charger output is that if you have a pair of severely depleted batteries, it will take over 24 hours to recharge them. If you’re camping off-grid and running a generator that’s an unacceptable amount of time. Even worse, this Chinese-made converter-charger will boil your wet cell batteries dry if you leave it connected to your batteries over a long period of time. If you’re running expensive, new batteries, this can cost you a lot of money. This is a Review of the Progressive Dynamics 4645V RV Converter-Charger.
Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy solution to the problem. Progressive Dynamics manufactures and sells a complete line of American-made, 35, 45, and 55 amp direct replacement converter-chargers for campers equipped with Magnetek, Parallax, and WFCO Power Centers. For the WFCO 8945PEC unit in my truck camper, I bought one of the best smart chargers in the market, the Progressive Dynamics 4645V. This 45 amp model, designed especially to charge wet cell and AGM batteries, measures 13.25 inches wide x 8 inches deep x 5.38 inches high and mounts in the lower section of the aforementioned OEM power centers. This converter-charger has the same impressive quality, performance, reliability and multi-patented features as those found in Progressive Dynamics’ popular 9245 model. The best price I could find online for the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4645v RV Converter-Charger was $201 on Amazon.com.
What features does the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4645V offer? First and foremost it comes with the company’s patented Charge Wizard microprocessor-controlled system that constantly monitors the battery’s voltage to ensure a rapid, yet safe, recharge. The Charge Wizard does this by selecting one of three charging voltages and one of four charge/operating modes—boost (14.4 volts), normal (13.6 volts), storage (13.2 volts), and desulfation (14.4 volts)—depending on the state of the batteries. Like all Progressive Dynamics converter-chargers, the 4645V also features electronic current limiting, reverse battery protection, high voltage protection, low voltage operation, and over temperature shut down. The 4645V even comes with an upgraded DC fuse board with a Charge Wizard control button to manually change the charging mode. Note: the standard 4645V is made for lead-acid batteries only. If you have lithium-ion batteries you’ll need to order the 4645VL model instead, which puts out a boost charge of 14.6 volts.
Truth be told, I originally intended to install Progressive Dynamics Intel-Power 9245 Converter-Charger in my camper. This is probably the company’s most popular model, but has its limitations due to its slightly larger, box-shape size. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit in the lower bay of many power centers, including my WFCO 8945PEC. In order to install it, I would’ve needed to mount it underneath the kitchen sink, taking up valuable storage space and subjecting it to possible moisture. Sure, I could’ve cut away parts of the power center’s bottom to make the 9245 fit, like some RV owners have done, but this wasn’t an option that appealed to me either. The best and easiest way to get the benefits of a Progressive Dynamics converter-charger without the hassles associated of either cutting or remounting in another location is to go with a direct replacement, “plug and play” model like the Progressive Dynamics 4645V Converter-Charger.
Overall, the installation of the Progressive Dynamics 4645V was fairly easy. The unit, as boxed, comes with the 4645v converter-charger, a replacement DC fuse board, a plastic mounting bracket, and a four-pin wiring harness. Even though the installation instructions say that only a licensed electrician or certified RV technician should install this unit, anyone with a good understanding of electricity and electronics can safely install it. If you have any doubts about your electrical knowledge and abilities, however, you should hire out the job. Better to be safe than sorry when working with high voltage equipment and circuits. The Progressive Dynamics 4645V is a direct replacement for the converter-chargers found in the Parallax/Magnetek model 6345, the Parallax model 7345, and the WFCO model 8945 power centers. For the job, you’ll need a 5/32-inch hex driver, a small, flat-bladed screw driver, a socket wrench with a small 7/32-inch socket, wire cutters, and a good set wire strippers.
Every job has preliminaries and this job’s no different. Before you start, make sure you disconnect your camper from 110 volt shore power and disconnect your batteries. THIS IS IMPORTANT. This ensures that no voltage is present during the installation. If you have a WFCO power center in your camper, you’ll also need to remove the aluminum enclosure from the 4645V converter-charger by removing the four 7/32-inch hex screws attached to the bottom of the assembly. Once these two preliminary steps are done, you can begin the installation.
The first part of the installation involves removal of the OEM unit, which is a pretty simple task. On the AC side you’ll need to disconnect the neutral (white) and ground (green) feed wires from the distribution blocks and the hot wire (black) from the AC branch breaker. On the DC side, you’ll also need to disconnect the converter-charger positive (black) and converter negative (white) wires. Next, remove the battery positive wire from the OEM fuse board and reconnect it to the “BATT POS+” terminal on the new DC fuse board, then connect the negative battery wire to the “BATT NEG-” terminal. Secure the new DC board to the power center, then transfer the individual branch circuit wiring and fuses from the OEM board to the new one. The last step requires removal of the bottom two screws securing the OEM converter-charger assembly to the power center and removal of the OEM converter-charger assembly.
Installing the new Progressive Dynamics 4645V is just as easy. Simply reverse the wiring steps outlined above. But first, you’ll need to install the plastic mounting bracket and the new Progressive Dynamics 4645V in the power center. You’ll also need to connect the four-pin wiring harness to the Progressive Dynamics converter-charger and to the new DC fuse board. Like I said, the installation was pretty easy. The instructions provided by Progressive Dynamics are well written and easy to understand. Overall, the job took about two hours, not including the time required to gather the tools and digest the instructions.
How It Works
The Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4645V Converter-Charger works better than expected. The OEM converter-charger never got above 7 amps. The new Progressive Dynamics 4645V converter-charger does a lot better than that. During one test run, I purposely drained my 220 amp hour battery bank to 12.06 volts and to a 53 percent state-of-charge (SOC). After plugging my truck camper in to shore power, the unit immediately went into the boost mode, putting out a whopping 32 amps and 14.4 volts. That never happened with the OEM unit previously. To get my batteries to a 90 percent state of charge with the Progressive Dynamics converter-charger only took 3.5 hours, the final 10 percent another four hours (the slower rate for the final 10 percent is quite normal for smart chargers like the Progressive Dynamics 4645V).
Perhaps the best feature about the unit is the Mode Select Button located near the top of the DC board. This button gives you the ability to put the unit in the boost/bulk mode manually. Unfortunately, getting to the control button on an WFCO power center is difficult because the DC cutout isn’t high enough to reach the button. I drilled a tiny hole in the WFCO cover so I can access the button with a toothpick, but using a Progressive Dynamics 4600 Series WildKat Remote Pendant is a much better workaround. The pendant connects directly to the converter-charger by bypassing the control button on the DC fuse board and allows you to control the unit remotely. Unfortunately, the WildKat pendant isn’t included in the standard 4600 series installation kit and is a Progressive Dynamics special order item available only through Best Converter. In my opinion, this is a big omission, but I suppose the standard control button on the DC fuse board will be more than sufficient for those who own Parallex and Magnetek Power Centers.
Another great feature of the Progressive Dynamics 4645V Converter-Charger—and all Progressive Dynamics converter-chargers for that matter—is the unit’s Desulfation Mode. This mode is only active when the Charge Wizard is in the Storage Mode. During this mode a timer in the micro-processor automatically switches the Charge Wizard to the Boost Mode for 15 minutes every 21 hours. This higher voltage causes some slight gassing in wet cell batteries, and mixes up the battery electrolyte to prevent battery stratification, and the resulting sulfation of the plates, which is the leading cause of battery degradation.
The quality of the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4645V Converter-Charger is outstanding. The unit’s Charge Wizard quickly and efficiently charges both of my AGM batteries and runs all of the 12 volt circuits in my camper when the batteries are disconnected. At first I was disappointed to see the smaller, 10 AWG feed wires on the DC side of the unit (the WFCO OEM converter-charger uses 8 AWG wires for both connections), but due to the very short wiring run to the DC fuse panel the smaller feed wires haven’t been an issue at all. On the plus side, the Progressive Dynamics converter-charger comes with two 12 volt fans, rather than one, which keeps the unit cooler, and has an upgraded 12 volt fuse panel with three additional branch circuits for future expansion (two of the branches are for low amp circuits like CO detectors). The only real negative with the Progressive Dynamics upgrade is with the inaccessible control button on the DC fuse board, but as I mentioned, there is an excellent workaround available to mitigate this issue.
Overall, we’re thrilled with how well the Progressive Dynamics 4645V Converter-Charger works in our truck camper. If you haven’t done this modification yet, we highly recommend it. Without a doubt, it’s a top 10 RV modification, one of the best mods you can make to your camper. Not only is the Progressive Dynamics 4645V an outstanding smart charger, but it’s also made in the USA, which leads me to another point. This equipment really should be OEM in all American-made RVs. It’s a shame that RV manufacturers here in the United States resort to putting substandard, foreign-made junk in their RVs to safe a few bucks. Progressive Dynamics manufacturers and sells a complete line of excellent power centers for both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, so there’s no excuse going with a foreign-made model. What would we rate the Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 4645V RV Converter-Charger? On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, we enthusiastically give it a rating of 5 stars.
This is a really old article, however in the event someone stumbles on it, it is important to note the WFCO here is catching a lot of undue criticism in this post. Yes you will see 7 amps typically in a fairly well charged battery or if the camper is drawing more power to handle loads in the camper.
However, if you want to see capability, you need to place a very heavy demand on the charger as it will not spool up to full output until it sees a heavy load. Drop a battery down to something like 11.8 VDC so the charger really sees a draw and I bet you will see 29-30 amps almost immediately and it will hold in the 25+ range until the battery is pretty well charged, usually in 3.5-4 hours. I certainly do with mine.The problem is most folks are gauging the converter output when a battery is pretty well charged.
The WFCO systems typically use a less intuitive algorithm than what folks expect. I have actually had a long conversation with WFCO as I at first did not understand it either. I would note however in situations where batteries are severely depleted I have seen amp outputs that actually exceed the charger rating!
Not downing any other converters, but if you are not sure how to check this converter out, customer support at the factory is just a phone call away and is quite good. It does not work like other converters, but it does work well! And in a Northstar even turning on everything in the camper at the same time hardly makes this converter sweat. 🙂
In a Northstar here are the amp draws in a 2019 Laredo SC as measure in my unit.
Furnace 2.6, Large lights .8 amps each, small lights .1 amp each, fridge 12.6 running on DC, and water pump I think is 8 or less. As you can see, unless you have added something, the WFCO will be on light duty the majority of the time. Control boards are extremely light loads and there is also propane detector which is a very light load. 🙂
Are you till happy with your Progressive Dynamics Converter/charger? I have a Northstar Arrow U and I think my WFCO converter isn’t working. Tested the fuses for continuity, etc. I’ve got a call out to Rex and if this is the case then i think it is a good time to upgrade. My camper is a 2018 so the WFCO is probably still under warranty but I’m traveling south and can’t wait. Thanks for your excellent articles! I’ve learned more from Truck Camper Adventures than any other resource.
Yes, we still love our PD Converter-Charger. One of the best mods we’ve ever made to our camper.
Thanks for the response Mike! You are a great guy!
here is an ebay item number for the A/C delay relay I put in my camper a year ago, you can adjust the time you want, so far working great.
I lucked out my Eagle Cap 950 came with the PD wizard from the factory.
Mike here is the link for the AC timer for a Coleman Polar Cub. It stagers the start of the compressor and the 2 fans by about 20 seconds. Both fans start, get up to speed and stabilize then the compressor starts. That is quite a surge load for the 2000 watt generator. It is literally a 5 minute install, and about $75. Gotta be better for all the components!
Here is the link, http://www.dyersonline.com/coleman-mach-a-c-compressor-time-delay-relay-assembly.html. Just pop the inside cover down and it connects inline with the switch assembly. A 5 minute installation. I installed mine at the start of the summer heat and it works fine, it keeps the generator from getting a hit to start the fans and compressor together. It was less than $75, and it MAY help prolong the life of AC components and the generator appreciates it!
Mike, a very comprehensive article by someone who knows what they are talking about. A couple years ago at your urging, we added 200 watts of solar to the roof of our ancient Lance camper. At the same time, and because of a total meltdown (literally) of the 1998 factory charge center, a new PD 4645 with Charge Wizard was installed, as were 12 LED light bulbs. What a difference! It works great even with 3 matching lead acid batteries, by the way. Especially true since we have no air conditioning on the roof; no microwave; and no oven. Early on I bought a Honda 2K generator ‘just in case’ we used too much power with the heater or lighting to make it through the night, or forget to turn the 3-way fridge to propane upon arrival. We don’t even take the Honda anymore as the fridge runs on propane 24/7, and power consumption has ceased to be a problem. jefe
Thanks, Jeff. Glad your solar power setup is working well for you.
when you say this model is for lead acid batteries does that include agm batteries?
I put a progressive unit with the wizard in my terry trailer a few years ago and it was fantastic. think i want to get rid of the one in my northstar and replace with a progressive.
Yes, it works with AGM batteries. That’s what I’m using.
I have the exact same concerns with the charger in my Northstar Adventurer. Thanks for doing the research! Just ordered the Progressive Dynamics 4645 via the link in the article! Thanks Mike!
As a electrical side note, we use our camper “down south” and starting the Honda 2000 to get the AC online is the first thing I do when we are boondocking. Just too hot and humid to enjoy the heat soaked camper! I installed a timer so the AC fan starts the 20 seconds later the compressor starts. The little Honda likes this mod!
Thanks, Jay. Glad to do it. Would love to learn more about your AC timer.