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Old 07-20-2019, 10:37 AM   #1
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Hughes Autoformer RV220-50SP Testimonial

For anyone considering the purchase of a Hughes Autoformer, Camping World has a really good price on the RV220-50SP right now (July 2019). The price for that unit on the Hughes Autoformers web site is $719.00:

https://hughesautoformers.com/produc...ster-and-surge

Camping World is currently selling the same device for $529.97:

https://www.campingworld.com/hughes-...mp-102450.html

I can verify the Camping World price because I purchased one at our local Camping World store yesterday afternoon (Friday 7/19/2019). For anyone who may be interested in knowing more about the Autoformer and/or why I bought one, read on.

A few days ago, I made a post in this thread…

Polson Motorcoach Resort View

…indicating that Amy & I will be at Polson Motorcoach Resort and West Glacier KOA in a month or so. Shortly thereafter I received a PM from my buddy Brain Ashworth (“Hayman”) informing me of power issues he and his friend Bill experienced last summer at West Glacier KOA.

The problem was hot afternoon/early evening weather, everyone in the park running their AC units, power to Brian’s coach and Bill’s coach being cut off by their Progressive Industries EMS units due to low voltage. They reported the issue to park management and were told the power being supplied to the park was limited due to the park’s remote location. In other words, it is what it is, not much we can do about it. Amy & I have experienced this same problem under similar conditions at various RV parks around the country.

The park maintenance guy suggested bypassing the Progressive Industries EMS as one possibility. Not surprisingly, Brian and Bill weren’t keen on doing that. Another alternative would have been running generators, but you don’t make a lot of friends doing that in a full-hookup RV park. It turned out the best solution was a Hughes Autoformer which Brian and Bill were each able to “rent” from the park. I put “rent” in quotes because I’m not sure how much the park charged them for use of the Autoformers, if anything. Brian can elaborate if he so desires.

In any case, Brian’s note got me thinking that acquiring a Hughes Autoformer before we hit the road might not be a bad idea. Then it occurred to me that there might be another reason to do so. Which is…

We are fortunate to have an enclosed RV garage here at our home in Scottsdale, Arizona. The RV garage isn’t air conditioned, but it does have two 50 amp shore power outlets. So when I need to do work inside the motorhome while it’s in the RV garage, I often run the motorhome’s roof AC units. An issue I’ve experienced is that if I try to run all three AC units in really hot weather, my Progressive Industries EMS will repeatedly cut off power to the coach due to marginally low voltage. My theory has been that with all the houses in the neighborhood (including ours) running their AC units, plus me running all three of the motorhome’s roof AC units, the overall load on the power grid and/or our home’s electrical system is enough to cause voltage drops similar to what Brian and Bill experienced at West Glacier KOA.

So, I wondered, might a Hughes Autoformer solve my problem here at home, as well as provide protection when we happen to encounter RV parks with marginal power while traveling? To verify, I called Hughes Autoformers in Anaheim, California. My call was answered right away by a guy named Brett Thomas who turned out to be polite, articulate, knowledgeable, and very helpful. (Yeah I know, what a concept.) Brett assured me an RV220-50SP Autoformer would do everything I had in mind and more, and took the time to explain the difference between the RV220-50SP and its predecessor, the RV220-50. Short version – the SP stands for Surge Protection and the newer SP model has that along with the voltage boost capabilities of the original model.

I did some quick research online and determined Camping World had the best price by a considerable margin. Called the closest CW store here in the Phoenix area, verified they had two Autoformers in stock, and asked them to hold one for me. Drove out there, made the purchase, came home, set up the Autoformer, and ran a test.

Attached are a couple of photos. The first one shows my new RV220-50SP Autoformer and the second one is a close-up of the display panel on the front of the unit.

The Autoformer isn’t all that big – the box itself is a tick over 8” wide x 10 & 1/4” tall x 5 & 1/4” deep – about the same size as a transfer switch. There’s a carrying handle on top, about 5 feet of 50 amp cord with a male plug coming out of one side, and a 50 female receptacle on the other side. Not overly large, but man is it HEAVY! The web site indicates 32 pounds, but when I weighed it with the unit still in the box it was about 37 pounds. The box and packing materials can’t have weighed more than a pound or two, so I’m calling it 35 or 36 pounds.

As noted above the difference between the original RV220-50 and the current RV220-50SP is that the SP has built in shore power diagnosis & protection. I already have a Progressive Industries EMS unit, and the Southwire/Surge Guard 40350-RVC transfer switch Entegra installs also has power diagnosis & protection, so I thought I might be able to save some money by buying an original RV220-50 Autoformer with no power protection. Interesting theory, but it didn’t prove to be the case – the Camping World price on the RV220-50SP was better than I could find on either unit anywhere I looked. And as Brett Thomas at Hughes observed, “You can never have too much power protection.”

Once I hooked up the Autoformer and saw its display panel in action, I decided I liked what it was showing me better than the Progressive Industries EMS or the Southwire/Surge Guard transfer switch. If you look at the closeup photo of the Autoformer display panel, you’ll see a total of eight indicator lights. The recommended procedure is to turn off the shore power breaker(s), plug in the Autoformer only (i.e., don’t plug in the coach just yet), then turn the shore power breaker(s) back on. When you do that, the first four lights on the left side of the panel should all light up green. The cool thing about that is that those four lights correspond to the four 50 amp power wires – Line 1, Line 2, Ground & Neutral. So if anything isn’t right with the shore power, the Autoformer will tell you specifically where the issue lies.

The bottom two lights on the left side of the display panel are normally green, indicating the surge protection circuitry is operational. If they’re red, your surge protection capability has been mortally wounded and needs to be replaced. I don’t know yet if that is something an owner can do or if the unit has to be sent back to Hughes. UPDATE: Just determined the surge protection module sells for $50 (direct from Hughes) and is user replaceable:

https://hughesautoformers.com/produc...ection-module/

The two lights on the right side of the display panel light up only when Line 1, Line 2, or both are being boosted. There’s actually a little more to it in that the Autoformer boosts voltage on both lines about 2% all the time, and about 10% when low voltage is detected on one or both of the lines. The display panel indicator lights only come on when the 10% boost is active, and only on the line being boosted. You can see how this works in a really good video demonstration by Brett Thomas, which is available here:



Once I'd proceeded as described above and saw all six lights on the left side of the display panel lit up in green, I turned off the shore power breaker, connected the motorhome’s power cord to the Autoformer, and turned the shore power breaker back on. Everything was good, so the next thing I did was fire up all three of the motorhome’s roof AC units. While I was inside the coach, I made a note regarding which AC units are on which line. In my particular coach, the forward-most unit is on L2, while the mid-coach and aft units are on L1. As such, I figured if one of the two lines was going to need its voltage boosted, it would probably be L1.

I went back outside to watch the Autoformer’s display panel as the AC units came online. As a side note, a really nice feature of the Autoformer’s display panel is that you can see it and tell what’s going on from 15 or 20 feet away. I wasn’t out there very long before I saw a yellow light indicating L1 was being boosted. Back inside the coach, a look at the VegaTouch panel confirmed that to be the case.

Yesterday afternoon was plenty hot (yes, quite shocking for Phoenix in July), so I let all three roof AC units run all afternoon, while checking frequently for any power issues. Didn’t observe a single problem, so at this point I’m declaring myself a very satisfied Hughes Autoformer customer!
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Old 07-20-2019, 10:53 AM   #2
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The Hughes' Autoformer has saved us a few time due to low voltage. I do not run it all of time as some parks have sufficient power. The Autoformer will boost 2 or 3 volts any time you are hooked up.

Ken
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Old 07-20-2019, 11:17 AM   #3
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Nice write up Larry, thank you. I am leaning all kinds of things regarding Hughes today. With the temps in the 100teens all across the Midwest the past few days, I'll bet many are wishing they had one.
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Old 07-20-2019, 11:18 AM   #4
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The Hughes' Autoformer has saved us a few time due to low voltage. I do not run it all of time as some parks have sufficient power. The Autoformer will boost 2 or 3 volts any time you are hooked up.

Ken
Ken, I'm thinking about whether to use the Autoformer on a regular basis or only as-needed.

A possible reason to use it all the time is that most all of the surge suppression devices on the market are "one & done" - meaning that if the device takes a hit, the device or at least some portion of it has to be replaced.

The consensus on the Southwire Surge Guard transfer switch Entegra installs in their motorhomes is that if the surge suppression circuitry in the transfer switch box fails, you have to replace the entire transfer switch. That would be a big OUCH from several perspectives - cost, down time, and removal/replacement of the transfer switch.

I believe the Progressive Industries EMS I have is repairable if it takes a hit. I don't know if the owner can do the repair or if the device has to be sent back to the manufacturer. Also don't know the cost.

As updated in my original post above, I just determined the surge protection module inside the RV220-50SP Autoformer costs $50 and is owner replaceable. Since the Autoformer is first in line when in use, I'm guessing it would take the hit and protect my Progressive Industries EMS and my transfer switch.

So if all those assumptions are correct, it might make sense to use the Autoformer all the time. Corrections and/or differing opinions welcome.
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Old 07-20-2019, 11:29 AM   #5
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I believe the Progressive Industries EMS I have is repairable if it takes a hit. I don't know if the owner can do the repair or if the device has to be sent back to the manufacturer. Also don't know the cost.
Having been there with mine, the circuit board is plug and play replaceable, with a free lifetime warranty. This is for the hardwired model. They sent the board to me Priority Mail. I did have to return the old board, but not sure if they paid return postage of if I did. That was with previous owners, not sure of the new owners policy, but they still advertiser lifetime warranty.
The portable does have to be sent back at the owners expense
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Old 07-20-2019, 12:05 PM   #6
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Thanks Chuck - good info. As you may recall, I have a portable Progressive Industries EMS.

I'd forgotten about the confusion surrounding the lifetime warranty support when P.I. was acquired by Power Products LLC. Thanks for the reminder.

If I decide to use the Autoformer all the time, I guess I need to decide whether to plug it in before or after my P.I. EMS unit. In other words, which one do I want to be the sacrificial lamb...
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Old 07-20-2019, 12:28 PM   #7
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What's the options to hardwire the unit?
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Old 07-20-2019, 12:44 PM   #8
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Thanks Chuck - good info. As you may recall, I have a portable Progressive Industries EMS.

I'd forgotten about the confusion surrounding the lifetime warranty support when P.I. was acquired by Power Products LLC. Thanks for the reminder.

If I decide to use the Autoformer all the time, I guess I need to decide whether to plug it in before or after my P.I. EMS unit. In other words, which one do I want to be the sacrificial lamb...


Why do you need both? Wouldnít the Hughes be enough to protect the coach?
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Old 07-20-2019, 12:50 PM   #9
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Nice write up, Larry.

Iíve been very happy with my Autoformerís performance. My voltages are usually in the low to mid 120s and seldom go below 120.

Mine is installed internally using the installation kit available from Hughes; itís installed in the circuit in front of the Progressive EMS.

In my coach there was just enough room to place the unit behind the cord reel, but not enough room to mount the female receptacle (that goes to the cord reel) thatís needed to take the unit out of the circuit when required. My female receptacle is actually bolted to the front of the Aquahot housing with sufficient cord to allow the Aquahot to receive its yearly service.
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:04 PM   #10
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What's the options to hardwire the unit?
Hughes sells an installation kit that’s made up of two pieces: a female receptacle that’s wired to the cord reel and a male pigtail that is wired to the transfer switch (or in my case the Progressive EMS that then goes to the transfer switch).

The idea behind installation kit is the Autoformer can be taken out of the circuit by unplugging the male end (#1) coming from the transfer switch (and going into the female side of the Autoformer), removing the male plug (coming from the Autoformer) from the supplied female receptacle (#2) that goes to the cord reel and plugging #1 into #2. That links the cord reel directly back to the transfer switch. I hope I’ve described it correctly and that it’s not too confusing.
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:10 PM   #11
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Agree, awesome write up! Still trying to justify the cost but itís getting closer!
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:35 PM   #12
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Hughes sells an installation kit thatís made up of two pieces: a female receptacle thatís wired to the cord reel and a male pigtail that is wired to the transfer switch (or in my case the Progressive EMS that then goes to the transfer switch).

The idea behind installation kit is the Autoformer can be taken out of the circuit by unplugging the male end (#1) coming from the transfer switch (and going into the female side of the Autoformer), removing the male plug (coming from the Autoformer) from the supplied female receptacle (#2) that goes to the cord reel and plugging #1 into #2. That links the cord reel directly back to the transfer switch. I hope Iíve described it correctly and that itís not too confusing.
I get what you're saying. I generally prefer direct connect and not adding more terminations and connections. Why do you need to pull it out of the circuit? Do these units fail that often?
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:44 PM   #13
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I get what you're saying. I generally prefer direct connect and not adding more terminations and connections. Why do you need to pull it out of the circuit? Do these units fail that often?
They’re simple units so I wouldn’t expect a very high failure rate. The unit would need to come out of the circuit if the surge protection was used and the board needed replacement, something you couldn’t do if the unit was actually hardwired.

The units are weather resistant but not waterproof and internal installation totally eliminates theft. The units come with a bicycle type cable lock for locking the unit to something near the pedestal for outside usage.
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:50 PM   #14
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Sometimes your problem is HIGH voltage not low (I have had my Progressive EMS trip out over high voltage). In that case, you would not want the Autoformer boosting the voltage further, even a little bit. This is one good reason to want the ability to take the Autoformer out of the circuit.
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