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Old 03-18-2009, 11:10 AM   #1
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Exclamation Hardwired Surge Protectors-One Problem

Having researched the RV forums to death prior to buying one, I knew I wanted a smart surge protector, so I installed a hardwired version. At install time, I thought about trying to wire some sort of bypass, but there weren't any off the shelf items that would fit in the space available without this becoming a major engineering project--so I wired the surge protector without a bypass. After all, why would I want to use power that was deemed "bad" by the electronics in the surge protector?

Well, now I know why! At the RV park where we are currently staying, street power fluctuates between about 126 VAC and 133 VAC. Guess where the surge protector kicks out? Yup, 132 volts! Because of the way the voltage fluctuates, the net effect is the power kicking in and out about every two to ten minutes over sometimes as much as a five hour period! Further, these periods come and go randomly, middle of the night, daytime, skip a day or two--sheesh.

Our HP printer was so confused by the constant up-and-down that it couldn't recover and just flashed a blinking "!" most of the time. The laptops have their built in battery backup, so that wasn't an issue. Watching TV--impossible. Ugh.

SO! What to do (Calling the power company didn't help, by the way...)? I watched the power at the power pole with my digital volt meter to assure myself that the voltage wasn't going TOO HIGH and the most I ever saw was about 133 VAC and some change. So I shunted (read shorted ) all four wires (H1, H2, N, Gnd) around the surge protector for the duration of our stay here. I don't like it, but nobody in the park seems to be suffering electronic equipment damage, so bypass it is--for now.

Oh, and the 50 Amp RV voltage regulator that CW sells for over $600 looks like it provides a boost for supply voltages in the 95 to 110 VAC range, but does not appear to compensate for over voltage conditions. Besides, any transformer solution is going to be heavier than I want to deal with.

BTW, this snow birding thing is great!

Cheers
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:42 AM   #2
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Chris,

Thanks for that post. That information is great to know. We don't offer surge protectors because we have heard about intermittant reliability of them, however I wasn't sure what caused it.

You pointed out the situation very clearly. KUDOS to you!!!!

Bryan
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:39 PM   #3
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Chris,
The link you provided on the regulator has information that it bypasses below 95v and above 110v. Something I'm missing here? I'm interested in this because I am contemplating buying the PT-50C, a similar product.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:07 PM   #4
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RE: Voltage Regulator

Hi Wayne:

Yes, it bypasses, it does not regulate or correct the voltage; nor does it provide surge protection. I accomplished the bypass with about $1.50 worth of wire (granted, I lost surge protection, too). Once I change locations and the power is better (should be), I will pull off the shunt and be back to my full protection profile. While not an automatic solution, it is both cheap and effective.

If you wanted to use the "voltage regulator" as your primary protection device, that is okay. For me to add that in series with my surge guard seem to be a waste of money and I don't plan to toss out my surge guard.

After reading more closely, the product description for the CW voltage regulator says, "Voltage Regulators work with Surge Guard® power protection devices (sold separately) to provide surge/spike/miswired pedestal protection to RV and appliances." So you still need to buy a surge protector and end up with a bill of $1000.00 or more. So, before you buy, make sure you are getting a device that does everything that you want it to. Also, calling the CW device a voltage regulator is a bit of a stretch based on my experience with electrical and electronic devices. YMMV.

If I continue to run into scenarios where I want to bypass, I may gen up a latching relay that, with the push of a button, the surge guard is bypassed. To reset, simply cut the power at the supply breaker and the surge guard is back in the circuit. I think I could home brew this for under $50.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:10 PM   #5
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Here's a pic of the best of both worlds - hard wired and portable at the same time - which will allow simple bypass if needed.


For more details and all the credits visit this irv2 thread, posting number 19.
http://www.irv2.com/forums/f103/ems-and-surge-protection-43578-post420596.html

One caution if you bypass. Your voltmeter even if a DVM will not record a very damaging electrical problem - the micro-second spikes that can be several hundreds of volts and more but last only fractions of a second. You'll need an oscilloscope to see them. They are often the result of heavy equipment switching on/off (like numerous ACs) and wreak havoc on electronics. Your surge protectors will capture (absorb) these w/o shutdown. Your voltmeter wouldn't see them and our fancy HDTVs certainly will not appreciate them.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:13 PM   #6
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Ems-pt50c

Hello again to Wayne:

I looked up the EMS-PT50C and it provides the same basic functionality as the the Surge Guard that I have. However, bypassing is easier since it plugs in line with your power cable (as opposed to being hardwired into the trailer's electrical system), just take it out of the circuit and plug your power cable directly into the power source.

Cheers...Chris
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:22 PM   #7
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Nice approach RVDude, clean layout, too. Yes, I know about the requirement for a scope to "see" spikes. Better yet, borrow a Dranetz power meter with printer so that you don't have to watch the O'scope over a suitable period of time (hours? days?). Also, I feel there it currently less risk of transients since the weather has been mild (no chance of thunderstorms). On the flip side, there was serious risk of bodily injury from the DW if the power kept poppin'!
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:29 PM   #8
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Chris,
You did not say what time of surge protector you have. I have a Progressive Industries EMS 50amp Hardwired - EMS-LCHW50C and with it there are two way to deal with the problem you are having. One is to perform a manual bypass, there is a jumper wire that can be put across two terminals that will disable the high low cutout without eliminating the surge protection. The other option is what I did while at a RV park in Mexico that had similar voltage variations. I pulled the cover off the unit and adjusted the the resistor for the voltage level sensing. I adjusted them so that 133 volts looked like 130 volts, that prevented the unit from tripping on the over voltage. When I got back to the US I readjusted back to the correct voltage settings.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:53 PM   #9
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For the HP printer try a UPS

Now for the rest of the rig.. There is a reason they set the cut off to 132 high voltage can damage stuff. big time. Page 2

One thing you can do is take a look at the Hughes Autoformer "Installation" package. Now, not the autoformer, but the installation package

The Hughes has a cord with a, in my case 50 amp plug, it has a 50 amp outlet.. The install pack consists of a 50 amp cord and outlet (Strangely enough)

You pull your hard wired unit and run the shore power lines to a 50 amp outlet, install a short cord with plug on the surge guard, a short "Pigtail" outlet on it's outlet and the wires that hook to the "Load" side of it get a 50 amp plug

Yes, the basically converts it to a plug in model

Now.. To bypass, Pull two plugs and plug direct into the outlet
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:25 AM   #10
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Surge Guard

Dave--It is the 50A hardwired Surge Guard like Camping World carries. When the post got moved to this forum, the formatting for the hyperlinks was lost.
The case cannot be easily opened, so for two weeks, I am running with only a power strip surge protector for my electronics. Thank you for the information, though!

John--Where I have the unit mounts (on the basement ceiling) the plug option would be a bit of a pain. I would probably go with my self-latching relay bypass so that I could mount the relay in the utility section adjacent to the surge guard. Not a bad idea, however, for getting the parts in one package--thanks...
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:47 AM   #11
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One reason I bought the EMS-HW50C from Progressive Industries is that it has a bypass switch on the remote display. You need to be careful when bypassing any surge protector because high or low voltage can cause damage to electronic equipment and motors. Even when the bypass switch is used, however, the EMS-HW50C will still protect against surges (just not against high and low voltage).
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Old 03-19-2009, 11:34 AM   #12
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Be extremely careful of the "installation kits". I ordered one and it was nothing but a 50A range cord and plug. The danger in that was that while the two hot legs (red and black) were 6 gauge wire, the neutral was only 8 guage (rated for 40 amps). Since an RV typically uses the two separate 120 volts circuits, you need a 6 gauge (50 amp) neutral.

I couldn't find any commercially made short cords for this and ended up making my own cord and plug set up with the correct gauge wires.
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:24 PM   #13
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Thanks Chris. I pretty sure I'm going to go with the PT50. I saw it advertised for good price.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:51 AM   #14
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Call the manfacturer and talk to someone who is smart enough to tell you exactly what the bypass switch is bypassing, don't believe the spec's or brochure.

I just installed a SurgeGuard 40240 that also has a bypass switch that was claimed both in the sales flyer, web, and the installation manual, that it will bypass several different modes, in my case I wanted ground missing bypass to run with a Honda eu2000i. Upon testing I found that it did not do what was claimed. I called TRC and was told by the VP of Sales that the only thing it bypassed was low voltage cutout so you could still run on the house charger if post power was in the 90's. He also claimed that he knew nothing about all these claimed spec's I quoted.... This clown is the VP of Sales!. Point being it MAY not do what you think it does, and from their standpoint bypassing protection that could kill appliances or people is a huge liability. Don't like it, but I understand it.
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