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Old 12-14-2019, 11:03 AM   #1
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Electrical question

Recently we started our generator and heard loud chatter coming from our circuit breaker box area and thought it was the fan on our converter and ignored it for about three hours. During our drive I noticed plug outlets powering our gps, fans, ect. failing so I pulling over to have lunch and touched the circuit breaker box which felt hot. I turned off the generator. Once we reached our destination, I plugged into a pedestal and half the plugs no longer worked. Discovered the 20 amp portion of the combination 30/20 amp breaker was dead. Here is my question for those who might know. Could the generator have caused the breaker to fail?
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:17 AM   #2
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If the circuit breaker panel is hot, then it sounds like you have some connections that have vibrated loose and not making good connection. Loose connections can cause heat buildup and even fires. You need to turn off all power and go through your circuit breaker panel, transfer switch, etc and tighten all of the connections. This should be a yearly maintenance check item for all RVs as road vibrations can cause them to loosen over time.
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:17 PM   #3
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Agree with Lt.Dan regarding a problem in the breaker box. The chattering was likely a breaker, maybe even the main breaker, so if all connections are solid, the breaker itself my need replacing. Also, check the breakers on the inverter and assure that they are reset. Then, check voltage at the main to see if current is flowing from the inverter.
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:24 PM   #4
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The sound of chatter makes me think you may have a bad contactor, either in panel or at transfer switch.
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:50 PM   #5
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I have taken a couple of classed from an electrical engineer who works in the RV industry and he has spent a lot of customers time (vendors) and money doing failure analysis.... His top item on the list is failure of electrical connections because of the vibrations that the 120/240 vac circuits see when the unit runs down the road...


He's some major failure analysis on a couple of the surge protectors and most, his words 85% or more are from loose connections....


He suggests a hand held torque wrench and when all the power is off... opening each on connection once a year and testing the torque on the screws.... the correct torque is 35 in lbs... and the first time I used the torques wrench (yep I sprung for one.... $135) I found at least 10 connections that were loose...


Remember that if you can feel heat at a connection its bad.... I've had power cords with the male plug getting hot at the end of the cord.... and have had to cut it off and replace it.... bad connection, heat, low voltage and a fire...


The other item he talked about was the pedestal power not being correct... miss wired by some local who doesn't know his stuff.... so I use a little tester and check each time I plug in....



BTW the industry is trying to force all parks to install ground fault circuits on the 30/50 amp connections.... the inherent method in an RV to mix 12vdc and 120 vac and use some common chassis grounds will almost every time POP a GFI and Arc Fault... he's lobbied on behalf of the surge protector people not to let the electrical code people screw with what works now.... as most of those people don't understand the inherent issues of an RV...
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:08 PM   #6
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The noise you heard is the contactor in the transfer switch. One side working and one side not. Since you reset the gen breaker has it stopped?
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:11 PM   #7
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My first thought was your transfer switch is failing due to a loose connection, and that as the connection bounced around the transfer switch was looking for a new source of power. Now it sounds like one leg of the 120v system has dropped, which may mean the connection has failed or fallen out completely. If your transfer switch is anywhere near your circuit panel, the heat would certainly transfer from one to the other. Not a rare problem to have a loose connection in the transfer switch cause serious problems.

This needs to be thoroughly checked out before you continue running on shore power or generator.
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Old 12-14-2019, 03:24 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. I replaced the main 30/20 amp breaker and everything appears to working well. The transfer switch is behind my 12 volt fuse panel and still needs to be checked, so have this as my next step. Once everything has been checked, my next step will to start the generator and listen for any chatter. I will post any findings.
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jelag View Post
He suggests a hand held torque wrench and when all the power is off... opening each on connection once a year and testing the torque on the screws.... the correct torque is 35 in lbs... and the first time I used the torques wrench (yep I sprung for one.... $135) I found at least 10 connections that were loose...


Remember that if you can feel heat at a connection its bad.... I've had power cords with the male plug getting hot at the end of the cord.... and have had to cut it off and replace it.... bad connection, heat, low voltage and a fire...

The other item he talked about was the pedestal power not being correct... miss wired by some local who doesn't know his stuff.... so I use a little tester and check each time I plug in....

^^^ THIS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jelag View Post
BTW the industry is trying to force all parks to install ground fault circuits on the 30/50 amp connections.... the inherent method in an RV to mix 12vdc and 120 vac and use some common chassis grounds will almost every time POP a GFI and Arc Fault... he's lobbied on behalf of the surge protector people not to let the electrical code people screw with what works now.... as most of those people don't understand the inherent issues of an RV...
Here I respectfully disagree. "The industry" is the National Fire Protection Association, which is the organization that write most of the "model codes" regarding residential and commercial life safety. Like Underwriters Laboratories, it was the product of insurance companies who want to pay out less in claims for injuries, deaths, and property damage. They really, really want people to not get shocked, electrocuted, or die in structure fires resulting from electricity. It's not about a relatively small amount of money Siemens or Square D will make selling GFCI devices, it's about the multi-million $$$ claims that insurers (and in some cases, taxpayers) have to pay out, and the cost benefits to not having people die (or have their homes and work places burn) is cumulative, too.

As for combining 12VDC ground bus and 120VAC bus... it should present no confusion to a GFCI device. If the RV is plugged into a properly wired pedestal with GFCI and the RV has neutral and ground bonded in the RV breaker box (recent iRV2 thread about this), the GFCI will trip regardless of 12 VDC ground. But wait, there's more...


There's a whole bunch of voodoo and quasi-info about GFCI devices that floats around camp grounds and the internet. They're functionally simple devices that detect an imbalance of current between hot and neutral, a kind of "Watt's Balance Sheet." If the current is out of balance, where did it go? Someone have a pocket full of current? When the books don't balance the GFCI locks the door and nobody gets out... Oh, and GFCIs don't need a ground. At all.

So the 12VDC sharing "ground" with the 120VAC service doesn't matter because the 12VDC service is not passing through the GFCI to start with. Remember, electricity flows in a circuit, and the DC is not part of the AC circuit.

Let good luck and safe travels hitch a ride wherever you may go.
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:53 PM   #10
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.... at transfer switch.
If voltage gets to low from cheap portable generator the transfer switch will chatter. On my coach, it would be difficult to tell if was coming from the breaker box or transfer switch when inside.

MY on board Onan generator trips on under voltage and other things.

So no your generator should not damage your circuits.

You did not say why you were running your generator while driving.
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:06 PM   #11
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The sound of chatter makes me think you may have a bad contactor, either in panel or at transfer switch.
There is no contactor in the breaker panel.
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Old 12-15-2019, 07:45 AM   #12
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I use the generator while traveling to keep it exercised and provide power to misc. items such as fans, phone charger, microwave, fridge, charging gps, ect. obviously I don't have to run it for those things but why not since it is available.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:59 PM   #13
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also they do not like you to run it in the camp ground.
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Old 12-15-2019, 04:45 PM   #14
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Cavie I agree there should not be any contactors in breaker panel unless you get into large commercial type breaker/contactor motor panels. but in this case OP said his transfer switch was behind or next to breaker panel so this could be a chattering contactor, I have never heard a breaker chatter. IMHO
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