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Old 08-27-2017, 12:00 PM   #1
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Location: Little Rock, AR
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Bizarre Electrical Problem

We experienced a serious electrical failure in our RV this weekend at a new park. Our new to us RV is a 2002 Damon Intruder 369 with an Onan 5500 genset. I'll first post the symptoms followed with how we got there in hopes someone can assist. To be clear I've been a licensed aircraft mechanic for 20 years and chasing electrical problems is something I'm very familiar with, however RVs are new to me and I'm a novice when it comes to their components.

Current symptoms:

1. AC power only on bathroom outlet (GFI), kitchen outlet, and outlet in
living room slide.
2. Rear A/C will run while forward will not although it did run periodically
while on shore power at the park.
3. No AC power to microwave although we did see it periodically while on
shore power.
4. I started the generator this morning at home and nothing has changed.
5. While on shore power surge protector showed green lights on Line 1 and
2 with an intermittent "power on" light.

How it happened:

While on 50A shore power at the park for 30 minutes running both A/C
units, the forward TV, and after after 1 minute of using the microwave we
lost all AC power in the RV. The breakers on the pedestal were not
tripped but the converter breaker in our rear breaker panel was tripped.
Resetting this breaker produced a loud strange electrical buzzing but had
no effect on the AC power. I shut off and reset all breakers and all AC
power was restored.

5 minutes later we heard a loud arcing/popping noise in the forward A/C
unit, strange sounds from the rear A/C unit, and after around 10 seconds
another total AC power loss. This time resetting breakers etc did not
restore it. I tried starting the generator but this also had no effect.
Being an A&P, I had my trusty multi-meter with me and attempted to
check voltage at the pole. I couldn't get my probes deep enough into the
50A sockets to check but the 20A outlets were putting out 123 VAC.

I have several theories but could really use some RV expertise to help. I've considered the automatic transfer switch, surge protector, converter/charger, and possibly the park's power as culprits. MY MH is in our driveway so troubleshooting is a moment away. Thanks for any help in advance!!!!!
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:07 PM   #2
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Break out that multimeter and start chasing. Since your symptom seems the same either on SP or GEN I'd start in the vicinity of the transfer switch. Since you have a 5500 GEN I assume we are talking about a 50 Amp system. You should have 220 - 240 VAC between the 2 hot leads but nothing in your RV uses that. Each hot lead supplies its own 120 VAC loads. Sounds like one of the two hot leads is loose somewhere.
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoosierRV View Post
We experienced a serious electrical failure in our RV this weekend at a new park. Our new to us RV is a 2002 Damon Intruder 369 with an Onan 5500 genset. I'll first post the symptoms followed with how we got there in hopes someone can assist. To be clear I've been a licensed aircraft mechanic for 20 years and chasing electrical problems is something I'm very familiar with, however RVs are new to me and I'm a novice when it comes to their components.

Current symptoms:

1. AC power only on bathroom outlet (GFI), kitchen outlet, and outlet in
living room slide.
2. Rear A/C will run while forward will not although it did run periodically
while on shore power at the park.
3. No AC power to microwave although we did see it periodically while on
shore power.
4. I started the generator this morning at home and nothing has changed.
5. While on shore power surge protector showed green lights on Line 1 and
2 with an intermittent "power on" light.

How it happened:

While on 50A shore power at the park for 30 minutes running both A/C
units, the forward TV, and after after 1 minute of using the microwave we
lost all AC power in the RV. The breakers on the pedestal were not
tripped but the converter breaker in our rear breaker panel was tripped.
Resetting this breaker produced a loud strange electrical buzzing but had
no effect on the AC power. I shut off and reset all breakers and all AC
power was restored.

5 minutes later we heard a loud arcing/popping noise in the forward A/C
unit, strange sounds from the rear A/C unit, and after around 10 seconds
another total AC power loss. This time resetting breakers etc did not
restore it. I tried starting the generator but this also had no effect.
Being an A&P, I had my trusty multi-meter with me and attempted to
check voltage at the pole. I couldn't get my probes deep enough into the
50A sockets to check but the 20A outlets were putting out 123 VAC.

I have several theories but could really use some RV expertise to help. I've considered the automatic transfer switch, surge protector, converter/charger, and possibly the park's power as culprits. MY MH is in our driveway so troubleshooting is a moment away. Thanks for any help in advance!!!!!
Sounds like you overloaded the fuse to the inverter - or the inverter itself.

Or possible in the main panel a Loose Wire/Bad Breaker?

?? Rear A/C will run while forward will not although ?
it ?
did run periodically
while on shore power at the park. ??
Not sure I understand this?

Sounds like you have lost one side or the 50 amp power - in the Generator? - in the Plug - in the Transfer switch? Loose wire/burned wire from over load? possibly in the Plug?

That's all I've got,

Let us know as you progress in the chase....
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:17 PM   #4
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Remember that nothing in your RV is 240V.
They simply wire 1/2 of the coach to one leg, and the other 1/2 to the 2nd leg.

Sounds like one leg is dead. Not sure, but you might have two breakers on the inverter, and you may have only seen/reset one of them.

The transfer switch has a contact for each leg, one contact could have been burned.
Remember everything happened under full load, so there was some arcing when power died.

Dan
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:18 PM   #5
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Defently check the wire connections in the transfer switch. There has been many posts about the connectors being loose and arching and burning up the ends of the wire.
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:55 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input, everyone. To clear up Busskipper's question, the forward A/C was working perfectly up until the loss of power episodes. Afterwards, the AC power would come on periodically and the A/C would start up along with the microwave clock appearing. This would last for around 10 minutes and then those would lose power. I shut that A/C off as to prevent any damage so I'm uncertain if that cycling continued throughout the night.
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Old 08-27-2017, 02:04 PM   #7
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I would start by opening the power switch over box. It sounds like a loose (now burned) connection where the coach power attaches to the switch itself. The other option is at the main power panel where the wire from the switch connects. Locating these items may be a problem. The switch box should be where the shore power connections is terminated so I would start there.

Happy Hunting.

- Jerry
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:09 PM   #8
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Thanks, Jerry. The transfer switch was going to be my first target. Unfortunately, it's mounted behind the drawers in the bedroom and will be "interesting" to access. I'll be sure to post my findings.
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:19 PM   #9
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

I wonder if there was a problem with the power pedestal you were connected to! I highly recommend you get a Progressive Industries HW50C or PT50X protector which protects you against any problem you can encounter. Keep her between the ditches!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 08-27-2017, 09:42 PM   #10
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You need to check each power leg for continuity, including the neutrals and grounds. I suspect you have dropped the neutral. When you drop a neutral, weird things happen, including some things can work if loads are turned on on both legs.

If the current consumption (load) on each leg are equal, then the neutral will float so the legs are about 120 each, and things work. If the loads aren't balanced, then the neutral floats to something else (like 160 and 80), and some things are going to smoke or not work. Check all connections, look for burnt wires, check voltages

Since you have this problem on both shore and gen, I'd search initially at the transfer switch and main wire to circuit breaker panel.
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:12 PM   #11
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I am learning the 50A system from afar ( distance, not fire side) so I can't help with and answer, but this is the right place to pose it.
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Old 08-28-2017, 01:13 PM   #12
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Like has been said, lots of posts of loose wiring. Power down and check every connection in breaker box, then the transfer switch, I have had issues when you loose power with ac running that will cause an arc on the contacts. Then either stick or have a burned spot
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:13 PM   #13
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Thanks for the help, guys. I haven't had time to troubleshoot yet. I'm planning on looking into the transfer switch today. I have a feeling I'm going to find some arcing and burnt terminals there or on the back of the circuit breaker panel.
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Old 11-20-2017, 09:10 PM   #14
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Update: I know it's been a while but my wife had to deploy to Afghanistan and I've been doing the single dad gig for 2 months. I was finally able to do some troubleshooting tonight and produced the following results while running on generator power.

1. There was no AC voltage on leg 2 at the load center with normal voltage on leg 1 to neutral.
2. Working upstream I removed the cover on the Lyght ATS and found no obvious damage. Testing leg 2 on the load center portion inside the transfer switch saw the same result: zero voltage.

I suspect an internal failure of the ATS. While not an expensive component I'd like to be sure before I load up the "parts cannon" and spend several hours replacing the switch.

Any suggestions on how to confirm this or possibly repair the switch itself?
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