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Old 01-19-2013, 09:19 PM   #15
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The thicker the gauge wire, the better.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:48 AM   #16
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Yep. I have done something similar and had no problems. However, just for those who don't know, residential circuit breakers are rated for "Intermittent duty" which means they are intended to only carry 80% of their rating for continuous duty. This is why some people have problems tripping breakers. 15A = 12A continuous and 20 A = 16A continuous. Further, the ability of a breaker to carry a load is reduced as the ambient temperature increases.

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I use a 25' true 12/3 gauge extension cord for our motor home on a 20 amp breaker. Have used it for many years. Never had a problem. If it's really cold for us, I'll run a couple of ceramic heaters set on low heat. Amp draw is ~13 amps / total watts is ~1500. Voltage reading in coach is 115 volts.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:01 AM   #17
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Related question. If you are staying in a friends driveway and using the inverter for only those things that the inverter will drive (like lights, charging cell phones, or flat screen TV), I understand it is fine to plug into their 120 volt house current with an extension cord. Is my understanding correct that the "120 volt shore power" will only charge the batteries? (Meaning the actual current draw in the coach for items that work on inverter is coming from the coach batteries via the inverter and not from the friends house?)
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:50 AM   #18
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Sorry bad assumption, at least on the coaches I have owned.

When 120vac is connected your coach, it comes to the power transfer relay and to your power distribution panel and then to the charger and inverter ccts also but power should be present on all circuits.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:18 AM   #19
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OK, so if I had the inverter on when I am plugged in with an extension cord to a 15 amp outside receptable on my friends house if I accidentally turned on things that draw more than 15 amp not only may it overheat the cord, but it could trip the breaker in my friends house (both of which I was hoping would be impossible if I had the inverter on).

I guess the way to tell is to plug in on "extension cord" shore power, turn the inverter on, and see if the power distribution system is smart enough to not power up things that it knows are more than the inverter can support. If, however, everything powers up (like even the A/C and microwave for example), then I know I need to manually manage the power draw on my "extension cord shore power".

Guess I could also watch to see if when an extension cord is plugged in for "shore power" if the microwave display screen powers up (it does NOT power up if on inverter and no shore power) and then see if turning the inverter on shuts down the display screen on the microwave.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:56 AM   #20
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Yes you can try that, but see if you have power at non inverter outlets, I bet you do if all AC breakers are on.

If you have a kill-a-watt meter, it will show you the power, current and voltage at your AC plug on the extension cord. IMHO there should be a kill-a-watt meter in every RV along wih a multimeter.

Also suspect any outside circuit is gfi protected so the chance of tripping that GFI breaker is high if you get any surge or spike on the circuit. A GFI breaker is much more sensitive to spikes than a regular breaker.
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:52 PM   #21
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GFI?

One more thing to add to the list -- some inverters cannot be connected to a GFI circuit -- it will trip the ground fault protection. After installing a Xantrex pure sine installer I called an electrician to check my wiring because the GFI I plugged into kept tripping. He said wiring was find that the inverter cannot be plugged into a GFI.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
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One more thing to add to the list -- some inverters cannot be connected to a GFI circuit -- it will trip the ground fault protection. After installing a Xantrex pure sine installer I called an electrician to check my wiring because the GFI I plugged into kept tripping. He said wiring was find that the inverter cannot be plugged into a GFI.
We cannot plug our coach into most of the plugs inside the Newmar high-line service barn. They're on GFI breakers. We need to plug into the outlets on the other side of the main aisle, which are not GFI. It's been that way since new. We have a Magnum inverter.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:20 PM   #23
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Don't understand the inverter being plugged into a GFI circuit. An inverter gets it's power from a 12v battery.

Would be interested to see the circuit diagram on how your inverter is working.

I have plugged my xantrex converter to a 20A GFI protected circuit many times and it worked fine as long as the current draw did not exceed the limits of the GFI

I suspect you exceeded the current limits of the GFI protection because the CONVERTER, plus other items on the circuit were drawing too much current. GFI breakers are very sensitive and fail often.

Any outside plug should be GFI and I suspect many people have plugged thier RV's to these circuits without tripping the circuit with a low current draw. AC's and other surge loads would most likely have a problem on a GFI circuit.

But I really don't understand how an inverter would do this. Hope others can help.

Thanks.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:14 PM   #24
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The inverter/converter is a combo unit. It has 120v input to drive the converter side, and it's a pass-through connection to the inside inverter circuit(s) when there's shore power present. It doesn't actually produce inverted power unless shore power goes away. There is a "sync" circuit which keeps the internal inverter circuit operating and synchronized with shore power. With this, the switchover is measured in milliseconds. I can kill the breaker to the inverter (or the whole coach), and most things on the inverter never notice any break in power. Including the computers.

No, we're not drawing too much power. It's a 50amp (x 240V) connection, and pretty everything (like AC units) is off when it happens.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:13 PM   #25
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Extension cords come in several flavors. The common "Zip Cord" extension cord is usually 18GA, Outdoor cords are usually 16GA. HD types 14 ga.. If you shop carefully at Sears, K-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, Mennards and the like you can find 12GA You want a 12GA

The ones from Sears and K-mart, (Depending on which one you get) may have a push button on the outlet end that you have to push to plug in or unplug.. That is the one I have and recommend.

It runs converter and perhaps one small load, If I'm in a place where I need it I run the Progressive Dynamics 9180 (With Wizard) to charge the batteries and the Prosine to run the TV.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:22 PM   #26
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Understand most are combo units but the inverter component is powered by 12 v and the converter component by AC. The functions are of course different as you have so well defined.

I am not certain if the flow through of the AC from an external source is the default position of the Inverter or it is actvated by external AC. Would need to look at the circuit to determine how that occurs.

The discussion related to tripping the GFI AC shore circuit when the "INVERTER" is connected to the AC.

I have connected my converter side to an AC GFI outlet and it does not not trip the GFI unless there is a current spike or sufficient current to trip the breaker.

I suspect transient pulses could be caused by a power transfer switch in combination with other loads and that could be seen with an oscilloscope connected.to the AC.line and if the limits of the GFI limit was exceeded the breaker would be tripped.

But I don't understand how the "Inverter" component of the combined unit would trip the GFI.circuit. This is the part I would like to understand better.
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