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120V Electrical Problem After Electrical Storm


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#1 jaf722

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 01:43 PM

Yes, I'm a newbie to the RV experience and am not having good luck yet. I purchased a used 04 Newmar Dutch Star 40' coach and was on my first camping trip.

Unfortunately, we were hit by several electrical storms (thunder, lighting & heavy rain) the second night at the RV Park. I was hooked up to 50 amp service. A storm had just passed through so we turned on the TV, etc. Then, out of the blue, there was a lighting strike very close to the RV, if not on top of it (the crack and light were simultaneous), but there were no signs of a direct hit. However, after the strike, all 120V circuits inside the coach went dead, including the TV. I checked all the circuit breakers and blade fuses and none were tripped or blown. Both GFI receptacles were dead and couldn't be reset. All our battery operated circuits, however, were active. When I ran a lead to both TV's and microwave, they were all fine.

When home, I checked the circuits as much as I could. It appeared the inverter was not running properly because when I disconnected shore power, the inverter did not power the 120V circuits. I thought maybe the close lighting strike may have confused some of the electronics in the coach, so I disconnected and shore power and battery power so the coach was completely dead. When battery and shore power was reestablished, the inverter worked again and powered the 120V inside circuits. However, when I plugged in to shore power, the 120V inside outlets go dead.

I'm thinking this might be a problem with the Automatic Transfer Switch??? I hope it's not the inverter! It's a IOTA Automatic Transfer Switch ITS-50R. Any ideas or suggestions?

I'm not very experienced in electrical matters, but can use a multimeter. I checked the 50 amp cord and the resistance was OK. The power to the transfer box was OK and I had two 120V outlets outside the living area of the coach active - one to the refrigerator and one to the engine block heater that was in the same compartment as the shore line, transfer switch, etc. I don't know what to do next.

Thanks for any help you can give on this matter!!

Frustrated Motor Coach Owner
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#2 wolfe10

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 02:07 PM

Welcome to the FMCA Forum.

First, some advice for all on electrical storms. Disconnect the shore power cord! Even turning off the breaker is not as safe, as lightening can follow a ground or neutral wire into your coach.

Now, IF, repeat IF you are safe working around 120 VAC, to test the ATS, remove the top of the box. There will be two sets of wires on the IN side-- one from generator and one from shore power. Check for power on each when generator/shore power turned on.

Next, there is one wire on the OUT side of the box (still in the box, but on the wires going to the main 120 VAC breaker box). Verify that you have voltage on the two hots when on shore power and then again with the generator running.

An inverter sometimes confuses matters, as it can provide 120 VAC even when shore and/or generator circuits are faulty (in fact that IS when they do provide power. So make sure the inverter is OFF during your testing.

Brett
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#3 jaf722

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:29 AM

Hi Brett,

Thanks for the welcome. I have the following results from your suggestions:

With the inverter off and the following at the transfer switch:

Shore power connected- power to shore line and 120 V side of transfer switch (left side). No power to Generator side of transfer switch(left side)

Generator only - no power to shore cord. Power to 120 V and Generator sides of transfer switch

Generator & Shore power on - Power to shore cord and to both 120 V and Genenerator sides of transfer switch

With the invertor off, none of this situations delivered 120 V power to the inside receptacles.
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#4 wolfe10

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 01:11 PM

Your tests show that the ATS is working properly.

If the ONLY thing(s) that don't work are the outlets on the coach, you need to locate and push the "reset" button on all your GFI's. Most coaches have two.

I interpreted this to mean more than just the outlets: "all 120V circuits inside the coach went dead". If it is just the outlets that are not working, reset the GFI's.

Brett
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#5 jaf722

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:03 PM

All the 120 V outlets "inside the coach" when connected to shore power are dead. There are 2 120 V outlets in comparments (refrig & block heater) that do have 120 V power. I could only find 2 GFI outlets - one in the bath and one under a kitchen cabinet, that are dead when on shore power. Also, when I have the inverter on and the 120 V outlets are active, both GFI's are not tripped. To be sure, I tested them and reset them. So, that's not the problem. All I can think of is there is either a hidden cicuit breaker or GFI on the shore line circuit side, but not on the generator side since the generator side does power all the 120 V outlets inside the coach.

Any other ideas???
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#6 wolfe10

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:13 PM

A puzzler.

From the OUT side (to 120 coach breaker box) of the ATS, wiring is exactly the same whether on generator or shore power. Said another way, there are two separate "IN's" to the ATS-- one from generator, one from shore power. But on the OUT there are just the four wires (with 50 amp: two hots, a neutral and a ground) going to the breaker box.

If everything works on generator power, but not shore power, I am surprised you got the same readings on the OUT of the ATS while on shore power that you got while on generator.

Here is what you are checking on the OUT side of the ATS:

Since everything works on generator, you WILL HAVE:
Hot L1 to neutral or ground= 120 VAC
Hot L2 to neutral or ground= 120 VAC

Please verify the readings on the OUT side of the ATS with shore power are the same.

Brett
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#7 jaf722

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 04:23 PM

Everything doesn't work on generator. On generator, the same inside 120 V outlets are dead. The only time the inside 120 V outlets are hot is when shore and generator power are "off" and the inverter is "on".
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#8 wolfe10

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:54 PM

Let me restate the problem so everyone is clear on what is working and when. Please correct me if this is incorrect!

From either shore power or generator, all 120 VAC circuits work fine EXCEPT for a few outlets.

Those same outlets DO work from inverter power (when shore power DISCONNECTED and generator OFF).

Are there any circuits that work from the inverter (when shore power disconnected and generator off) that DO work from shore power or generator (perhaps the microwave or other circuit that you can use from the inverter while dry camping)?

If not, look in your inverter book and see if it has a "pass through" feature. Pass through means when the inverter sees 120 VAC (from shore power or generator) it merely "passes it through" to all circuits supplied by the inverter. Many models with this feature have an internal fuse-- it may be blown.

Tell us the make and model of the inverter-- THE MORE DETAILED THE INFORMATION THE BETTER WE CAN ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS.

Brett
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#9 jaf722

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:11 PM

Updated information:

From either shore power or generator, only a few 120 VAC circuits work fine while most inside outlets DON'T work.

ALL 120 VAC outlets DO work from inverter power (when shore power DISCONNECTED and generator OFF).

It's too late tonight (10 p.m.) to check if there are any circuits that work from the inverter (when shore power disconnected and generator off) that DO work from shore power or generator (perhaps the microwave or other circuit that you can use from the inverter while dry camping)?

I don't see anything in the manual referring to a "pass through" feature, but there is a 25 amp pop-out circuit breaker on the front panel of the inverter. It does not appear to be tripped, but I pushed it in several times to make sure. The inverter/charger is a Xantrex, Model RV2012, with a RC7 remote control mounted in the control center of the motor coach.

There are 2 electrical panels with circuit breakers inside the RV on the opposite side of the RV where the shore power connects and the transfer swithch is located. One panel is the shore panel breakers and they are powered when on shore power, while the other small panel is the generator panel breakers are are powered when the generator is on the shore power disconnected.
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#10 jaf722

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 10:19 AM

Just did some additional checking. There must be 3 120 VAC outlets on a different circuit - Refrigerator, block heater and washing machine since all 3 of these outlets are hot using shore power or generator. There are no additional 120 VAC outlets hot using the generator vs shore power. The 2 AC units work on generator but I don't think I can test them on home shore power because it is only 15 amp, 120 V service.
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#11 wolfe10

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 11:39 AM

Are those "3 120 VAC outlets on a different circuit - Refrigerator, block heater and washing machine" supplied through the inverter or directly from the 120 VAC breaker panel (i.e. could you run them off the inverter).

I suspect the answer is no. So that still points to the inverter or breaker supplying the inverter with 120 VAC power as the problem causing no power to the other outlets since they do work on inverter power (so the GFI's are OK).

Does the battery charger portion of the inverter/charger work-- that would suggest that you do have 120 VAC getting to the inverter/charger?

If so, you need to call Magnum and find out where the fuse/breaker is for the pass through feature.

Brett
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#12 jaf722

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 03:05 PM

The remote panel (RC7) for the Xantrex, Model RV2012 inverter/charger does indicate that the batteries are being charged when on shore power. I called Xantrex and they said the only fuse/breaker for the unit is the 25 amp pop-out breaker in the upper right on the front panel of the unit. It was not popped-out, but I pushed it in several time to make sure. There was no indication that it needed to be reset.

I do appreciate your help Brett. This seems to be a difficult problem to solve!!!
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#13 wolfe10

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 03:18 PM

You have pretty well zeroed in on the inverter being the culprit.

Reason: You have confirmed that 120 VAC is getting to the inverter/charger from the 120 VAC breaker panel since it is charging the batteries when plugged in to shore power.

You have conformed that the inverter (when not plugged in and generator not running) will supply those outlets, so the GFI's and wiring OUT of the inverter is OK.

That would suggest that there is some issue within the inverter that is not allowing the pass-through of shore/generator power.

IF you are good with electronics, get Xantrex on the phone and ask for troubleshooting help given these facts.

Brett
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#14 vtbigdog

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 04:48 PM

I would also look in your basement for any outlets that exist to make sure a GFI is not tripped. I had a similar problem with mine and that is what it was.
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Regards,

Richard

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8.1 Workhorse / Allison

#15 wolfe10

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 04:56 PM

I would also look in your basement for any outlets that exist to make sure a GFI is not tripped. I had a similar problem with mine and that is what it was.


Richard,

Good call if those outlets don't work-- don't work from any source of 120 VAC. But, when powered by the inverter, he says they all work.

Brett
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#16 jaf722

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 05:17 PM

I could only find one additional outlet in the basement and it wasn't a GFI outlet. It was for running an outside TV and had a cable TV connection next to the outlet. I checked all the basement compartments several times trying to find a possible GFI or circuit breaker that I may have missed and found none.

Thanks for everyone's help but I have thrown in the towel and am bringing the RV to the dealer tomorrow. I have a few other issues for them to look at in addition to the one above. Since the electrical problem mentioned has the potential to be the most expensive, I had hoped to solve that one myself. Now, I hope they will be able to find the problem and resolve it.

I'll report back what the problem was when it has been resolved. In the mean time, if any one has any other suggestions, please post them, just in case the dealer is stumped by the problem.

Hope to report back soon!
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#17 jaf722

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:37 PM

Well, the electrical problem is in the Xantrex, Model RV2012 inverter/charger according to the dealer. They will have to ship it to a Xantrex repair facility in N.J. to find out the specifics of what went bad. They think it was a circuit board that handles the pass-through power and charging. Xantrex best guess is it could cost a min. of $200 to a max. of $800 to repair.

Has anyone had any experience in inverter/charger repair for what I assume was an electrical surge from shore power? Xantrex doesn't make the Model RV2012 inverter/charger anymore. They make Model Model RV2012GS which is almost indentical to my model. However, it required a new remote control panel RC/GS since the inverter/charger is not compatible with my RC7 panel. The RV2012GS is around $1,500 and the RC/GS is another $305, so I'm leaning toward the repair.

I also plan on adding surge protection to keep this from occuring again. The Surge Guard 50 AMP Hardwire Unit, 120/240V, 1750 Joules of power surge protection is current on sale from $377.59 to $323.79. Does anyone know if this is a good unit? Will it protect from close lighting strikes if we aren't arround to unplug the RV from shore power during an electrical storm?
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