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Old 01-09-2010, 12:07 AM   #1
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Electrical smell = poor maintenance - Plus a few questions!

This evening I smelled an electrical burning smell in the bedroom area. About 45 seconds later, the Inverter breaker tripped.

I've read the manual that said that the Inverter would shut down if the battery voltage dropped. However, I don't think that this is what it meant by "shut down".

I checked the batteries and it is evident that I have maintained them properly. I popped a few fluid caps and couldn't see any fluid. I'm guessing that is bad. Plus, a few cable connections are corroded.

So, what now. I figured I'll clean the connectors and fill the batteries with distilled water. I am concerned about the inverter though.

Where is the inverter? The manual said it was on the floor of the wardrobe, but I'm not sure about that. The floor of the wardrobe does have a large cover inside of it, but there are a decent number of screws to remove, at least at midnight. So, I just wanted to make sure I'm in the right area. Oh, I see that the coach should have come with a Heartland (something like that) inverter, but my control panel is Xantrax which, from what I've read, is an improvement.

I'm looking for advice on how to proceed. I may price out AGM batteries for replacement. All advice is appreciated!

GT
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Old 01-09-2010, 09:15 AM   #2
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My inverter is beneath the wardrobe drawers, not the closet. On my 2001 there is a vented wood cover that pops off.

But the inverter is probably not your problem - you batteries are probably toast - and refilling them probably won't bring them back.

I have to fill my batteries at least once a month.

An inverter failure could cause the batteries to be overcharged which would cause the low or no battery water.

If you replace the batteries, after an hour or so with shore power, the inverter should show a charge rate of less than 10 amps. And check the battery voltage at the batteries - it should be about 13.5-14V with shore power. If you have 6 volt batteries in series, check across the two batteries in series. After an hour with new batteries, if the voltage is above 14.5V you probably have an inverter problem. Otherwise the problem was caused by a lack of battery maintenance.

AGM batteries would get rid of having to worry about that pesky battery water.

Lots of luck.
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:06 AM   #3
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Ref your 03/40FD, the inverter is on a raised shelf in the compartment just foward of the passenger side, rear wheel-well--probably a Heart Freedom Combi, unless its been replaced [ie, yr Xantrex control panel]. If one or more of your bats had exposed plates[low water], you definitely have a bat/charging issue. Adding water now probably wont save the bats. "Chicken or Egg" on bats vs inverter/charger problems but if you arent checking yr bat water frequently, this one is one is probably on you. There are also some extensive threads here on the forum concerning cleaning bat connections, and on checking/tightening both 12 and 110 volt electrical connections throughout the coach. Good reading on both accounts....
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:59 PM   #4
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I'm very sure it is on me. I've replaced the house batteries and now (expectantly) the inverter is showing a fault and not operating.

However, I can't find the inverter!!!!!

It isn't in the wardrobe and it isn't in any compartment I can see, including where you suggested.

I've searched all through the bedroom.

The compartment in front of the rear wheels is the furnace fan, the one in front of that is the one without the latch which houses the sewer system. In front of that is of course the basement storage.

I'm really frustrated with the lack of documentation right now. The manual is useless.

GT
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:16 PM   #5
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Ok, I found the inverter. It is in the compartment you mentioned, but in the middle of the coach on the bottom behind a panel. I found it by smell. That isn't good. Troubleshooting now.

GT
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:29 PM   #6
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"Location by smell" is not good. There are a couple of replacement options for an inverter -- see threads on this forum. The Xantrex RS2000 is the "OEM replacement" but it is not without issues--most of which are minor. If you replace the inverter in its current position, recommend you remove/modify the surrounding wood box to ensure maximum air flow. Also recommend some spacing [1-2 inches] when mounting to floor or bulkhead--again, the issue is air flow!!!!!
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:38 PM   #7
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If you replace the inverter w/a Xantrex, I'd mount it where the 2006 units did, on the rear-most bulkhead of the basement storage. There is plenty of air circulation there, and the fan noise won't be in the coach. This will require some rewiring, but that will likely be needed to some extent if you don't have a true plug & play replacement anyway.

I hate it when the smoke gets out of my electronics. So far I've let the smoke out of the RCA home entertainment box, the Dtv receiver, one charging solenoid, and I swear the Jensen dash radio ain't right. But if we didn't have these things to deal with, we'd need a hobby, right?
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:13 PM   #8
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Ok, check this out.

I removed the inverter figuring it was toast after performing a reset per the manual. The inverter tried to click over, but immediately kicked off and provided a fault. Anyway, so the inverter is out.

There are two AC inputs to the inverter. There is a small compartment inside the inverter where you make your AC connections with the inverter. Well, it got hot. Like fire hot.

Essentially, it appears there was a short at this location in the wire, right at the inverter. Per a suggestion on another thread, I have been running two 1500W ceramic heaters to combat the extreme use of propane. I'm now wondering if it was just wired poorly and the high load I placed on the system caused a small fire. I'll post a picture if it helps, but batter life on my laptop is minimal right now.

I'm thinking of reconnecting this properly and trying again. I think the inverter is fine. Thoughts? I'd love to get this buttoned up tonight so I don't have to go to the in-laws for the night.

GT
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:20 PM   #9
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I just noticed that one wire is input, and the other is output. It was the output side that melted. The other side got black from the smoke, but it was the output that shorted.

I guess I don't understand something. I have a 50A connection coming in. Well the input to the Inverter isn't 50A. Where does the rest go? The shore power will power some lights in the coach without the inverter, but electrical plugs and some other items come off of the inverter? I don't understand that.

Anyway, I'm more and more convinced that this was due to poor wiring / high load on that connection. If you think otherwise, stop me now.

GT
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:24 PM   #10
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:54 PM   #11
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Coach input is two hot legs. If fed by standard 50A, then it is an A and B leg of 120V each with different "phasing," i.e. one cycles +120/-120 while the other cycles -120/+120. If fed by a 30A input, that is a one sided input (only the A leg for example) of +120/-120 only, and the plug adapter 30A to 50A puts the +120/-120 on both legs of your 120/240V panel in the coach.

The inverter only takes one leg for its 120V input (either the A leg of an A/B input or the A leg of an A/A input), and has only one 120V leg out. Inside the inverter is a transfer switch. If input 120 is available it switches that right back out; if no 120 coming in then it makes 120 out of 12V from the batteries and the switch puts that out to the inverter breaker panel (note that you have two electrical breaker panels, one is straight thru from 120V coming into the coach from shore or gen, the other is passed thru the inverter to supply only certain circuits by passed thru shore power or battery-inverted power when not on shore power).

Before reconnecting, I'd do a thorough recon to isolate what burned. It could have been the internal transfer switch, one of the connections, etc. If it was just a loose connection, you can probably replace the contact part(s) that is/are burned and be back in business (note that the burned surfaces won't contact properly untill refinished; easier some times to replace a lug than refinish it; this is probably why it burned- got hot repeatedly till the contact surface resistance was too high and it went critical). Check the other components to see they are OK, and the adjacent wire insulation (which will probably need augmenting, I'd use Xtreme Tape or double shrink tube), and brighten up any smoked wire ends that might be burned and therefore high resistance as well.
If you are not sure about proceeding safely on this, you should get an electrician to check the whole assembly before testing and to do a routine inspection for incidental issues of overhauling such an appliance that is central to your electrical service.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:57 PM   #12
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GT- your inverter says Xantrex on the side. Xantrex acquired Heart, then marketed Heart stuff under a dual brand before going to Xantrex only branding. Looks like your Xantrex panel is OEM in conjunction w/this inverter.
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:02 PM   #13
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Mike,

Thanks for the timely replies. The wire itself burn on the output side of the inverter. I removed the wiring and pieces of burnt wire nuts came out. I'm rewiring now. I'll post back in 45 min or so with an update!

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Old 01-09-2010, 04:47 PM   #14
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It's Alive!!!

The rewire fixed it. I guess I should have gone straight to the inverter and not the batteries, but the batteries were in bad shape anyway so now is as good as time as any.

Thanks to everyone for all of the help!

GT
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