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Old 01-24-2006, 11:41 AM   #1
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We went dry camping in Quartzsite with the Alpine Coach Association for a few days (the first time we'd dry camped for more than a day) and encountered some problems on the last day and I'm trying to figure our what the problem might be. In the evening, I made sure the batteries were charged (all the red lights came on on the panel) and turned on the inverter. We were reading in bed with the 12V DC lamps over the bed, when they flashed on and off (about one second on, one second off) for about 10 times, then they came on a while and repeated a few minutes later. We also heard some clicking noise from the battery compartment when they flashed on and off.

Other data to add:

When we were running the generator, there was a constant flicker in the reading lamps. There was also a constant flicker in the lamp above the dining room table, which does not go through the inverter. We are on shore power now and there are no flickers in any lights.

When we were on the inverter, we had some problems where the inverter was clicking on and off, and the display on the microwave would flicker on and off like it wasn't getting enough current. I reset the inverter in the belly and that seemed to help... at least for the time being. However, when we drive down the road, the inverter was on and everything seemed to function normally.

It is the inconsistency amongst the indicators that has me baffled. I thought that once the power hit the transfer switch the coach didn't know whether it was on generator or shore power, but the lights act differently with the different sources.

If the problem is with the batteries, then how come the 12V lights work fine when we're on shore power?

I was hoping to learn a lot when we went dry camping for 5 days, and I did, but I think I came out with more questions than I went in with!
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Old 01-24-2006, 11:41 AM   #2
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We went dry camping in Quartzsite with the Alpine Coach Association for a few days (the first time we'd dry camped for more than a day) and encountered some problems on the last day and I'm trying to figure our what the problem might be. In the evening, I made sure the batteries were charged (all the red lights came on on the panel) and turned on the inverter. We were reading in bed with the 12V DC lamps over the bed, when they flashed on and off (about one second on, one second off) for about 10 times, then they came on a while and repeated a few minutes later. We also heard some clicking noise from the battery compartment when they flashed on and off.

Other data to add:

When we were running the generator, there was a constant flicker in the reading lamps. There was also a constant flicker in the lamp above the dining room table, which does not go through the inverter. We are on shore power now and there are no flickers in any lights.

When we were on the inverter, we had some problems where the inverter was clicking on and off, and the display on the microwave would flicker on and off like it wasn't getting enough current. I reset the inverter in the belly and that seemed to help... at least for the time being. However, when we drive down the road, the inverter was on and everything seemed to function normally.

It is the inconsistency amongst the indicators that has me baffled. I thought that once the power hit the transfer switch the coach didn't know whether it was on generator or shore power, but the lights act differently with the different sources.

If the problem is with the batteries, then how come the 12V lights work fine when we're on shore power?

I was hoping to learn a lot when we went dry camping for 5 days, and I did, but I think I came out with more questions than I went in with!
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Old 01-24-2006, 01:31 PM   #3
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J- Are you sure your batt's are/were fully charged? The utility panel above entry door reads (I think) voltage, so if you have solar putting ~13V across the house batts (or gen running, or main motor running), panel will show full charge and you are reading charge cycle instead of charged state.
Once while plugged into 20A recept. I got flickering in lights over dining (opposite side of coach from yours IIRC), but have never gotten same otherwise on shore of disconnected.
As a theory, I'd say batt's were not charged & inverter was on/off/on/off cuz it can't pull proper volts & amps for the demand & the batts were rebounding after each time inverter shut off.
You need a Volt-Ohm Multimeter to make simple data acquisition for problems like this. Check voltage on the batts when unplugged, after sundown, no gen running.
Now that you mention it, I think I'll put a pair of the 22-410 meters in the battery bay, one for house & one for chassis.
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Old 01-25-2006, 09:48 AM   #4
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Gator67: We also were at the Quartzsite rally and had a major electrical situation. First of all I want to thank all the great guys for their help in bailing us out. I can remember some of your names but not all (age) so I'll feel better with a blanket "THANK YOU".
As I'm typing this it's 29 degrees outside and snowing. We're at the south rim of the Grand Canyon with 30amp power. Should be home tomorrow if we don't get snowed in. Darn!!
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Old 01-26-2006, 06:08 AM   #5
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I, too, was at DRR. On last nite prior to leaving, I blew the 300 amp fuse from interter to batteries. Was watching TV when I fired gen for the evening charge and when I shut it down (after about an hour), the remote panal was dead. Fired the gen again and panal lit up and had 110. Scrolled through menu and found that battery charging was '0'. Having had the cross-over selenoid replaced by Guaranty, inverter in gen replaced by Onan (all within the last 30 days, I contacted tech support for each and also with Zantrax tech to get an explanation of possible cause. They had no idea. So far the new fuse is holding. Another ACA member had the same problem and a new fuse fixed him also. I have had enough electrical and battery problems that I am not really comfortable setting out to some remote locations. Has anyone else had the same problem with a logical solution?
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Old 01-26-2006, 06:53 PM   #6
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Sounds like the lights that were flickering are on a 120VAC circuit. If they only flicker while on generator power, would suspect a bad diode in the generator's alternator.
If the inverter is operating o.k. while running main engine or while on shore power it may be the inverter is sensing the generator problem and not fully charging batteries in generator mode. The LED bar graph on the inverter/charger panel would be a better indicator of battery charge state than the other panel described.

Could be on the 300A blown fuse that batteries were so discharged that the initial inrush current of the charging cycle took out the fuse. Would expect this fuse to be a fast blow vs. time delay to protect the electronics. Either that or a spike of overvoltage output from generator exceeded the fuse's voltage rating.
BTF
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Old 01-27-2006, 12:20 AM   #7
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I would recommend you check specific gravity of each cell in batteries to find a weak or dead cell. Do this after you have charged the battery bank and have removed the surface charge. If you find a weak cell if may be time to replace all of your batteries for the house.
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Old 01-27-2006, 07:22 AM   #8
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Yesterday, I received a call from an Onan RV specialist. He, too, was not sure what might have caused the fuse to blow, but offered this possibility: The converter box detechs a power source, first from shore power, then from gen source and finally the inverter. It should be an instant conversion but should there be a delay, a power serge might occur causing the fuse to blow to protect the electronics of the inverter. I am not much of an electrician so don't fully understand what I just wrote. I guess I will blow some more fuses!!! BYW, mine is a '06.
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Old 01-27-2006, 05:37 PM   #9
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For future reference the fuse is a Bussmann T-TRON, Class T, very fast acting, current limiting, rated at 300VAC or less, 300A, 200KA I/R, bolted blade, 2.75" OAL. It's a AC rated fuse applied to a DC circuit, so someone may want to ask WRV engineers about this apparent misapplicaton. Could be Bussmann has self approved it for DC applications.
BTF
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Old 01-28-2006, 01:51 AM   #10
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Overcurrent protection devises are in place to protect the wire not the apparatus at the end of the wire. The wire gage (size) is rated to carry an amperage up to a safe amount determined by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency). They have written the Nalional Electrical Code that covers this kind of design. Amperage is amperage and wire gage is wire gage. The only differences are in the insulation of wire types. THis may allow a certain size wire to have two different amperage ratings. It does not matter if the amperage draw is ac or dc. When a short circuit is detected by these devices, the fuse, in this case is to open to prevent the melting of the wire insulation & wire, possibly casuing a fire.

The reason for checking the battery bank is to insure that there is no shorted cells present. If so the amperage will increase and if the battery bank voltage is low, a high amperage is produced and could be one cause of the fuse to blow. Certainly one should check for the obvious chaffed wire, shorting to chassis ground too.

A bad inverter can also be a source if it, in itself, draws more current than designed. Eliminate the easiest to diagnose, first. If they are good, then you may be left with only one conclusion to the problem. I try to find the underlying cause as to why a componet fails. Sometimes there is none, but other times there is a condition that promoted the failure.
For those that are not comfortable working with electricity I encourage them to seek individuals that are to help. Never bypass a safety device for any reason. This could be a very bad decision. In electrical circuits voltage is believed to travel at least the speed of light. This would not give someone the time to turn it off or disconnect a problem before severe damage is done.
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Old 01-28-2006, 02:52 AM   #11
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Never bypass a safety device for any reason. This could be a very bad decision. In electrical circuits voltage is believed to travel at least the speed of light. This would not give someone the time to turn it off or disconnect a problem before severe damage is done. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Mike,

You can't state this strongly enough that with electricity, safety for you, your helpers and the equipment should be you primary focus.

My father, a plant manager who studied electrical engineering at MIT and served as a Top Kick laying wire throught the South Pacific in the late 1930's to mid 1940's, would caution us not to get too comfortable working with electricity and equipment/tools. "View them as your best friend and remember that even your best friend will turn on you if you take him for granted, push him too hard or fail to show him proper respect" he would tell us. This way of thinking served him well until the moment he died two years ago, on his feet, in full control, laughing and joking with a smile on his face. He would be 100 years old if he was still with us now. He never had a best friend turn on him and his longevity seemed to rub off on just about everything he maintained himself.

Regards,

Neil
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Old 01-30-2006, 12:13 PM   #12
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Interesting point Mike makes about chafing- even though Gator's rig is an '06, we saw a new chassis in the factory in August that had what looked like a naked, torch-cut, oval hole w/out chafe protection, & with a buncha wiring/tubing jammed thru it. You can't be too careful in making a full length inspection of the sources of chafing. A wire bundle that comes loose could also present a direct short issue.
These are not problems that should (or would) be expected, but w/a blown fuse, they are problems that should be eliminated first in the search for other possibles.
The one exception I'd make is the 15A fuse for the Glendinning cord reel installed @ the factory. Expect it to blow some day, & have the correct 20A fuse on hand. Don't know why WRV downsized the fuse for that device. Saving money? If the 20A fuse blows, check the wiring.
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Old 01-30-2006, 09:05 PM   #13
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Fuses are sized and applied to circuits not only for wire/conductor size but also the application. For an induction load, time delay fuses would be appropiate, for pure resistance load, fast acting fuses will do, for solid state equipment then very fast acting fuses are the norm. Also, fuses are rated for AC and/or DC voltage. Additionally, fuses have a interrupt rating (I/R)which would be important in clearing a arcing fault or short circuit should such occur.
It would be logical that the 300A fuse blew to protect the solid state inverter/charger due to initial inrush of current to recharge the discharged battery bank.
If the replacement fuse held, then it's not likley there is a conductor shorted to gnd.
Like Mike indicated, batteries need to be checked for damaged/shorted cells or problem may happen again if using the battery bank extensively.
BTF
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:24 PM   #14
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from the Aguanga FMCA Prerally Gearhead Session:
250A DC fuse installation (per Xantrex rep, even tho this is an Alpine device)-
1) Fuses blow due to an overload period. Check for & find overload.
2) This is a compression-contact device, spade of fuse compressed against the ring terminal of wire. If somebody has assembled the stack w/a SS flat washer between the fuse & wire terminal, SS is not a good conductor & will heat up thereby derating the fuse (lowering its amperage blow point).
3) If fuse blows, batteries may be making a very large charging demand on the DC system; check all battery condition parameters carefully.
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