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Old 10-06-2013, 06:09 PM   #1
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Electrical problem

We were happily sitting in our livingroom when we heard a loud pop and several lights went out. Bottom line... the main inverter breaker (on the left side of the breakers) and the inverter breaker and one general purpose breaker on the right, were tripped.

We still had power coming into the coach, as everything NOT running thru the inverter, worked, i.e. light over the dining room table, air conditioner. But the green light on the front panel had the inverter light lit... which I don't understand since the inverter breaker was tripped.

I though this was just an anomoly, so I reset the breakers and everything was fine. When we returned from an errand the next morning, the same situation occurred. I reset the breakers and within 15 minutes, those same three breakers tripped. The general purpose one that tripped, controls the front and rear entertainment centers and few outlets.

I tried a few combinations. I disabled the inverter, then set all the breakers on. A few minutes later, the main inverter breaker stayed on, but the inverter breaker on the right side, and the general purpose breaker, tripped.

With the inverter still diabled, I reset all the breakers EXCEPT the general purpose one contolling the entertainment center. That seems to keep things running, and that is the state I am in now.

So, it would appear that there is either a problem with the inverter itself, or the breaker, or something on that circuit is suddenly misbehaving and causing the breaker to trip.

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-06-2013, 06:47 PM   #2
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I would check every connection connected to the tripped breaker and unplug every device and then turn it on again and measure voltage at those outlets. See if that breaker is OK without any known load and then bring items on one at a time and see what happens. If you have an ammeter, you could check current flow under each load condition. You could add other heavier loads to test the function of the breaker also.

Breakers can go bad.

Good luck
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:33 PM   #3
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Hmmm, I would make sure you have good shore power, sounds like there could be a problem with it too. A friend went into a park in Palm Springs, CA, and his transfer switch would not allow the coach to connect to SP. We checked the power and it was a good 50A incoming, but the transformer was close and was real noisy, so I think the transformer was putting out a bad sign wave, or one of the legs feeding that part of the park was not good. His surge guard protected him in this case. Recommended to him to move to another site, and that fixed the issue. A transformer that is heading out, or has a lot of vibration will cause weird things to happen to your coach, I would move sites and see if the problem disappears, seeing as how everything was fine until. As stated in the above post, check each receptacle and see if something is causing this to happen, but it sounds like your shore power is acting up causing this. Once you figure it out let us know.
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Old 10-07-2013, 01:57 PM   #4
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More info...

Had an RV come by and did an analysis on the system. The most significant finding was, if we turned off the main inverter breaker, all the other breakers were fine. That situation meant that the converter wasn't charging the batteries, and everything that's on the inverter was running off the inverter, and everything that runs on shore power, was running on shore power (i.e. washer/dryer, A/C, etc).

If we turned off the general purpose breaker for the entertainment system, then turned on the main inverter breaker, everything was fine, i.e. no other breakers tripped.

The combination of the main inverter breaker being on, and the general purpose breaker for the entertainment center being on would cause breakers to trip.

All current readings at the inverter were apparently as they should be.
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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What Libero said.

Famous quote from a Xantrex engineer: "Fuses blow because the current exceeds their capacity."
Capacity could degrade over time such that low amps would trip a breaker, but more likely there is trouble on the circuit. Loose wire causing arcing for example, ground fault, etc. The fact that more than one breaker on the same platform will trip leads me to suspect fault.

One nice thing- it doesn't seem to be very intermittent.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:36 PM   #6
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Had an RV guy come by today and do a bunch of checking. We discovered something interesting.

With shore power to the inverter, the inverter breaker on the subpanel and the breaker for the entertainment center, trip.

If I turn off the breaker that provides power to the inverter, so everything that runs on the inverter is running, everything works fine. The entertainment breaker stays on.

It seems that devices would not know the difference between running on shore power and running off the inverter. If there was a fault, or a bad wire, wouldn't the problem show up whether the inverter was receiving shore power or not?

Right now I am running with shore power to the inverter, but I turned off the entertainment center breaker... no satellite or front TV for a while. (We plugged the back TV into an outlet that works and we're on cable)
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gator67 View Post
Had an RV guy come by today and do a bunch of checking. We discovered something interesting.

With shore power to the inverter, the inverter breaker on the subpanel and the breaker for the entertainment center, trip.

If I turn off the breaker that provides power to the inverter, so everything that runs on the inverter is running, everything works fine. The entertainment breaker stays on.

It seems that devices would not know the difference between running on shore power and running off the inverter. If there was a fault, or a bad wire, wouldn't the problem show up whether the inverter was receiving shore power or not?

Right now I am running with shore power to the inverter, but I turned off the entertainment center breaker... no satellite or front TV for a while. (We plugged the back TV into an outlet that works and we're on cable)
What Engineer Mike and I have been saying, A circuit breaker trips because the current exceeded its limit, Now that limit can change if the breaker is faulty.

Measure the voltage on the converter output with and without shore power. Higher voltage = higher current
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Old 10-07-2013, 10:22 PM   #8
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I'm suspecting a faulty transfer switch circuit in the inverter as the common denominator. Still not sure how one of the inverter output breakers selectively trips and not all the output breakers.
Which inverter breakers trips, the one on the gray panel or the one on the black panel? Gray is shore out to inverter, black is in from the inverter to power the black panel.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:00 AM   #9
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Which inverter breakers trips, the one on the gray panel or the one on the black panel? Gray is shore out to inverter, black is in from the inverter to power the black panel.
When all the breakers are on, in anywhere from 10 seconds to 3-4 minutes, the gray breaker (shore to inverter), the black breaker (inverter to black panel) and the general purpose to the entertainment center, all trip.

If I trip the gray breaker, and reset the others, everything seems to work.
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:23 AM   #10
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If you have a schematic for the inverter and all connections from it, this would help to troubleshoot.
Do you have schematics?

I was thinking internal transfer switch also as Engineer Mike said, but this does not explain the inverter load side breaker tripping, so voltage and current readings at strategic places might provide additional clues.

The bottom line is for a load side breaker to trip, current MUST have exceeded the breaker capacity. That overcurrent likely caused the main breaker to trip is my assumption at this stage. I am surprised both breakers, more or less in series, with the load would go at the same time but a surge might do that.

Did you unplug all "entertainment" devices connected to that inverter output circuit and see if the breaker(s) still trip? A kill-a-watt meter would be handy to determine the current drawn by each item plugged to the circuit. Also a clamp-on current meter to see what overall load you have on that circuit. (perhaps something else is on that circuit.) Do you have these instruments?

I am surprised the RV tech did not take voltage readings. It seems that he merely confirmed what you knew. I.E. : The breakers were tripping.

(I noted in a previous post of mine I typed "converter" when I should have typed "inverter") Did not have brain in gear I guess.

When I troubleshoot, I like looking at circuit diagrams and if I don't have one I make one. Hope you can either get the diagrams, or can produce them yourself by tracing the circuitry. The latter does require a bit more technical skill than some people might have especially if you have to do so inside the inverter circuitry to analyze what is going on and unless one has the technical savvy to work on hot circuits, I would not encourage anyone go poking around were leathal hot wires are exposed.

I trust each person knows thier limits in this regard.

So good luck. If you can provide a schematic of all the elements in play and can take electrical measurements, . I am certain we can collectively zero in on the problem cause.

Hope I have been able to contribute to finding a solution.
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Old 10-08-2013, 08:30 AM   #11
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Actually, I thought the RV guy was very thorough. He checked the voltage in and out of the inverter and everything looked okay. We disconnected everything we could think of that was on that breaker, except the plugs on the right side entertainment center... the digital converter box and the satellite receiver, but they were powered off. He put an ammeter on the wire to the breaker and it pretty much ran from .1 to .2 amps... not sure what was drawing power. Then, I think it spiked to 12 (or so he said) and it tripped. He also moved the wire from that breaker to the one next to it, and that caused THAT breaker to trip, so that probably eliminated the breaker as the problem.

I have circuit diagrams, so that help us locate the things supposedly on that breaker, however I noticed inconsistencies in the diagrams supplied by Western RV.

I still don't understand the difference between shore power coming into the inverter, and it NOT coming into the inverter, since all is well when the shore power to the inverter is off, but not okay when it is on.
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Old 10-08-2013, 10:05 AM   #12
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Did not understand the RV guy did the measurements etc. And while he did not fix the problem, he did find some extraneous current spike of unknown origin. I would look on that circuit for the cause of that spike. It might be something coming on or a loose connection as the cause.

I understood all seemed to work when the entertainment load breaker was off.

Re varriance in the schematic. I have traced every wire in every RV I owned and only a few did not have some small circuit varriation from what was in the schematic. My Monaco DPs had great diagrams but I found some wires that went to the wrong terminals or were not routed 100% per the diagram.

I have a signal tracer like the telephone techs have, it is handy to find wire routing, I have put my oscilloscope on various points to check waveforms and to see what noise might be introduced by various devices. I measure voltages and currents and record both at various points under good working conditions so I have a baseline when problems occur. I use my kill-a-watt meter to record the power and Current for each device, and validate that vs circuit load on each breaker using a clamp on meter. I often put a temporary loop cable at the main panel because I could not get my clamp meter to fit around the closely connected wires.

Good luck, I would look for the cause of that spike,
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Old 10-08-2013, 11:01 PM   #13
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Jerry-
There are a coupla Gen purpose brkrs on the black panel, I assume "moved the wire" means tech moved the ent sys output from its brkr to another on the black panel & it tripped just like the ent sys brkr. If that isn't right let us know.
Try shutting off shore power @ the pedestal & run the gen; see if you get the same result on Gen 120V. If yes, you can eliminate the shore/Gen transfer switch.
After that iiwmi'd replace the 3 brkrs in question, they are only ~$3 ea & that's cheap diagnostics outside the trip to H.D. If you still get the same trips, I'd guess is either faulty inverter xfer switch or there is a short in the went circuit.

Electrical shorts come in 2 varieties- dead & leaky. Either type can be intermittent & caused by something heating up & moving to create contact. That would explain how amps can spike after some time. Doesn't explain where. Gotta isolate the where.
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:04 AM   #14
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My guess is that it's the inverter transfer switch that's bad. Seems that it has to have the entertainment breaker on to provide a load for it to short out. Try turning the entertainment breaker off and run the microwave to see if the inverter breakers trip.
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