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Old 05-08-2013, 12:41 AM   #1
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No Electricity -- Transfer Switch Problem?

Hi All -- This is a brain teaser for me....

Getting the Winnebago ready for a year trip with the family. I turned on the generator after servicing the oil and filter and let it run for about 20 minutes. Shore power was not hooked up. When I turned off the generator, all the lights went dark in the coach. Found the main 12V DC breaker tripped -- reset and lights came one. I don't know why the generator being turned off would trip the DC breaker

More importantly, when I plugged into shore power, there is no electricity in the coach. The EMS panel (EMS is between the transfer switch and shore power) reads normal.

About every 3 minutes I hear a click (sounds like it is from the transfer switch) and electricity in the coach comes on for about 5 minutes, then another click, and it goes off. Power works fine with generator on and the DC breaker has not tripped again.

Any of this making sense to anybody? Do I look into troubleshooting the transfer switch?
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:12 AM   #2
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Hello Chad; on most transfer switches one side is normally closed (gen side) and the shore power is normally open. When you connect to shore power switch should moves via a relay and should close to provide power. (clicking you hear) When the generator is running nothing in the switch moves.

I think your transfer switch has gone bad. That why you have power while on generator and power is intermittent power while on shore power.
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:54 AM   #3
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Chad, I have only seen a couple, out of thousands of transfer switches, that have the generator wired as the default; mentioned above. Yours should have shore power connected through and when the generator feeds power to the transfer switch, a time delay of about 30 seconds allows the generator time to warm up and then the contactor coil is energized and power is then provided from generator through the transfer switch and into the coach.
The 3 minute delay is from the Surge Guard probably built into your EMS system and this is normal operation. It may also be why the power dropped out after 20 minutes. If the voltage gets too low or too high, or even a surge can cause the Surge Guard to do it job and protect your coach by disconnecting power.
When the power has been interrupted, and if you are comfortable in checking inside the transfer switch with a volt meter to determine if power is getting through the Surge Guard and if so getting through the transfer switch. These terminals will be marked on the inside of the transfer switch . Let us know what you find and what the voltage is if the Surge Guard it interrupting the shore power.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV Wizard View Post
Chad, I have only seen a couple, out of thousands of transfer switches, that have the generator wired as the default; mentioned above. Yours should have shore power connected through and when the generator feeds power to the transfer switch, a time delay of about 30 seconds allows the generator time to warm up and then the contactor coil is energized and power is then provided from generator through the transfer switch and into the coach.
The 3 minute delay is from the Surge Guard probably built into your EMS system and this is normal operation. It may also be why the power dropped out after 20 minutes. If the voltage gets too low or too high, or even a surge can cause the Surge Guard to do it job and protect your coach by disconnecting power.
When the power has been interrupted, and if you are comfortable in checking inside the transfer switch with a volt meter to determine if power is getting through the Surge Guard and if so getting through the transfer switch. These terminals will be marked on the inside of the transfer switch . Let us know what you find and what the voltage is if the Surge Guard it interrupting the shore power.
I'll open the transfer switch case and check what it is doing this weekend -- had to return the motorhome to storage last night. The EMS says it is operating normally, so it should be providing power to the transfer switch -- my guess was the transfer switch is not letting it through. However, I have not watched the EMS display when I hear the click -- need to do this.

The transfer switch is a Parallax Power ATS501. The EMS is a Progressive Industries hardwired EMS-HW50C.

Anyone know if the transfer switch has serviceable components? I saw other posts that talked about cleaning the relay contacts.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:49 PM   #5
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The contacts on the generator side of the contactor (big heavy-duty relay) and probably pitted and carboned. With shore power unplugged and generator off, you can try burnishing the contacts with an eletronic tech's burnishing tool, (a very fine grit file), or use 600 grit sandpaper.

That will be a temporary fix at best. Replacement of the contactor, or the entire transfer switch, will be the correct repair once this is determined to be the cause. A new transfer switch is about $150, and the replacement can be done by someone who is reasonably competent at doing simple electrical work.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:08 PM   #6
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The relays in the transfer switch may well be replaceable, though Parallax Power won't say so or sell you parts for it. You would have to identify the make of the relay and find another source.
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:39 PM   #7
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If your transfer switch is wired as shore power default then I doubt your problem is the transfer switch. If it was the transfer switch, what is triggering the circuit to cause the relays to attempt to switch over to generator?

Is the power being shut off after 5 minutes and then coming back on in 3 minutes? If so, that sounds to me like the EMS might be the problem.

There is a transfer switch in inverters that is default to battery but switches to ac when power is supplied to the coach either by the generator or shore power. That's another possible relay you may be hearing.

I would also check all the connections for the shore power beginning with the shore power receptacle all the way to the EMS just to make sure that one of those connections isn't loose.

Is the EMS close to the transfer switch? If it has relays, perhaps that's what you are hearing. You can try calling Progressive Industries to see if there are relays in their EMS.

While you are into the transfer switch, take the time to tighten all the terminals to be sure they haven't loosened over time.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:07 PM   #8
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I was reading my owners manual for my RS2000 inverter tonight. It has a setting that will not allow A/C voltage to pass through_safe mode. If you have an inverter you might check the display panel and see what mode its in.
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:31 AM   #9
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The contacts on the generator side of the contactor (big heavy-duty relay) and probably pitted and carboned. With shore power unplugged and generator off, you can try burnishing the contacts with an eletronic tech's burnishing tool, (a very fine grit file), or use 600 grit sandpaper.

That will be a temporary fix at best. Replacement of the contactor, or the entire transfer switch, will be the correct repair once this is determined to be the cause. A new transfer switch is about $150, and the replacement can be done by someone who is reasonably competent at doing simple electrical work.
Thanks for the information CaptBill!
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:38 AM   #10
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If your transfer switch is wired as shore power default then I doubt your problem is the transfer switch. If it was the transfer switch, what is triggering the circuit to cause the relays to attempt to switch over to generator?

Is the power being shut off after 5 minutes and then coming back on in 3 minutes? If so, that sounds to me like the EMS might be the problem.

There is a transfer switch in inverters that is default to battery but switches to ac when power is supplied to the coach either by the generator or shore power. That's another possible relay you may be hearing.

I would also check all the connections for the shore power beginning with the shore power receptacle all the way to the EMS just to make sure that one of those connections isn't loose.

Is the EMS close to the transfer switch? If it has relays, perhaps that's what you are hearing. You can try calling Progressive Industries to see if there are relays in their EMS.

While you are into the transfer switch, take the time to tighten all the terminals to be sure they haven't loosened over time.
Good advice. I need to take the cover off of both the EMS and transfer switch and see what is happening when the power cycles (careful to not touch anything while power is applied!) It sounds like the transfer switch does not have any mechanism to reset the power, so the EMS is a potential issue. Thanks.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:45 PM   #11
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I don't know if this is applicable to your situation or not. Last year there was a recall on all IOTA Transfer Switches. There had been a number of instances with loose connections of the wires within the switch, which cause fires in several units. You might want to check the connection within the switch for any burning. One of the specific IOTA switches recalled was IOTA IT'S-50R.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:47 PM   #12
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I just put that ATS in my Newmar to replace the IOTA which isn't made any more. When there is no genset power, my shorepower provides ac for the coach. When the genset is started, in 40 seconds I get power from the genset.

I believe that the relays in the Parallax are sealed in clear plastic.
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Old 05-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #13
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Problem Resolved

As some of you suggested, the transfer switch was a red herring. I associated the problem with the transfter switch because it occurred after the generator turned off. It was the EMS. Further, EMS was doing its job. I had plugged into a longer extension cord that I have not used before, and the EMS was getting too low of voltage. I called Progressive Industries on the weekend and a service tech called me back in an hour (I was surprised and impressed). Turns out that under some low voltage situations, the EMS will not show an error code -- it just blocks the electricity. They have a fix for this if I want to change out the processing chip in the EMS.

I changed to my normal extension cord and all is working. The things I am learning
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