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Old 04-03-2015, 06:10 PM   #1
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Inverter/GFCI Outlet issue

Hello,

I have an 2013 Itasca Sunstar 26HE with a solar system (Go Power Weekender package) installed on it. The system, which was installed about one year ago, included a 1500 watt inverter which has been working fine until now. In fact, I used the solar system/inverter last weekend at the NASCAR races in California.

Today, I turned on the inverter, it kicked on briefly (about 1 second) then popped the GFCI outlet on the inverter causing all outlets in the motorhome to go dark (no power). I unplugged everything from the outlets, except the built-in microwave (plug not easily accessible) and still had the same problem with the GFCI outlet on the inverter tripping. I checked the cables going into and out of the inverter, and they all looked secured. I reset the GFCI outlet and it immediately popped again. I reset the outlet a third time and the inverter stayed on. If I turn off the inverter, then back on again, the outlet would trip again.

I ran the generator and everything has normal power.

The only thing I did different was unplug the TV from a TV PowerTek outlet prior to turning on the inverter for the first time today. These outlets are designed not to provide power to the TV while the vehicle is in drive. Probably has nothing to do with this issue, but wanted to mention it.

Any thoughts???
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:35 PM   #2
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GFCI's work by checking the voltage difference between the power and ground leg of the circuit. See here for details http://www.nema.org/Products/Documen...esentation.pdf

Anything that causes the current in the black wire to be different from the current in the white wire will cause the breaker to trip.

It sounds like you have a faulty ground connection, loose wire, or perhaps water in one of the connectors.

Finally, contrary to the manufactures literature, GFCI's do have a lifetime. I have had to replace several just because they were old; therefore, before you pull all your hair out looking for the loose connection or water, you might replace the outlet itself.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:58 PM   #3
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GFCI protection is triggered when the current measured on the hot (black) is 6 MA or greater in difference than the current measured of the neutral/return (white).

With nothing plugged in to the inverter's GFCI outlet it should not trip. Plug in a lamp directly into the inverter's outlet. If either of these trip the outlet suspect the GFCI or the ground connection.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImagineIF View Post
GFCI protection is triggered when the current measured on the hot (black) is 6 MA or greater in difference than the current measured of the neutral/return (white).

With nothing plugged in to the inverter's GFCI outlet it should not trip. Plug in a lamp directly into the inverter's outlet. If either of these trip the outlet suspect the GFCI or the ground connection.
Hello,

With the Go Power Solar systems, the Transfer Switch appears to plug into the GFCI outlet on the inverter. In the second photo, you can see some of the white GFCI outlet on the inverter.

Thanks
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APhotoWizard View Post
GFCI's work by checking the voltage difference between the power and ground leg of the circuit. See here for details http://www.nema.org/Products/Documen...esentation.pdf

Anything that causes the current in the black wire to be different from the current in the white wire will cause the breaker to trip.

It sounds like you have a faulty ground connection, loose wire, or perhaps water in one of the connectors.

Finally, contrary to the manufactures literature, GFCI's do have a lifetime. I have had to replace several just because they were old; therefore, before you pull all your hair out looking for the loose connection or water, you might replace the outlet itself.
Thank you for the information and advice.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:12 PM   #6
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I do not know anything about the "TV PowerTek" outlet, except it is my understanding the outlet will not work when the motorhome is in drive. The purpose is to prevent the driver from watching TV when driving. Does anyone think this could be the cause, maybe a possible short somehow???

Like I have said, I was using the solar system/inverter last weekend without any problems. Now, all of a sudden, I have a problem and the only thing I touched prior to turning on the inverter was unplugging the TV from this outlet and unplugging the DirecTV receiver from another outlet. The purpose was to save battery power.

Thanks
John
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:09 PM   #7
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Went to Pickup my motorhome from the dealership today. They diagnosed a bad inverter and the company shipped them a new one to install. I went and tried the inverter today and it popped the GFCI on the inverter (see pictures in Post #4). It only popped the GFCI the first time I tried it. After I reset the popped GFCI on the inverter, everything seemed to be fine. We turned the inverter on and off several times and each time it powered the coach without popping the GFCI outlet on the inverter.

The dealership is going to do some more tests on the motorhome. MY feeling is even if it only popped the one time, I still have a problem somewhere. Am I correct in my thinking?
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:25 AM   #8
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Yep, something is still wrong. Did they change the GFCI outlet already? That would have been my first effort. GFCI outlets fail. I had one fail the other day. Nothing plugged into the outlets it was protecting yet it chattered and then smoked. If I hadn't been by it when it happened I may have never known as it was still supplying power, unprotected, to the outlets.
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:34 AM   #9
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No. Automatic crap fails for many reasons. Some valid and some not. A one time failure only tells me something in the electrics was getting set up. If it repeats then I would look at why. It's a similar phenomenon to why pulling the power cord to let all the electronics die to solve a problem works. I would not be surprised if nothing changed when the GFCI was changed as it was probably doing it's job.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:47 AM   #10
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As noted GFCI's pop for one of two reasons
Bad GFCI (rare)
Ground fault (Common)

Unplug everythign,then plug in one at a time

Check patio outlet box (May be full of water if seal failed) Do not forget to re-seal

Check under RV for any junction boxes See Patio outlet comments

Also a GFCI may trip when inverter or generator starts for other reaons (This is speculation,,,Never tested) in this case a reset will hold however)

NOTE: some inverters give you the option of bonding neutral or not.. BOND IT. Usually this involves moving a screw from one hole to another.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:13 AM   #11
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Gfi may trip with switch mode devices of which inverters are.

Gheck all ground bonds as one in wrong place will still work as ground but drive gfi nuts.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ImagineIF View Post
Yep, something is still wrong. Did they change the GFCI outlet already? That would have been my first effort. GFCI outlets fail. I had one fail the other day. Nothing plugged into the outlets it was protecting yet it chattered and then smoked. If I hadn't been by it when it happened I may have never known as it was still supplying power, unprotected, to the outlets.
The GFCI outlet that is popping is actually on the inverter (see photo in post #4).
When this outlet pops it prevents power to flow to the outlets in the coach. The tech replaced the inverter and also replaced one of the outlets in the coach. He said everything had been working fine until I went to pickup motorhome and we tried the inverter.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:37 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nothermark View Post
No. Automatic crap fails for many reasons. Some valid and some not. A one time failure only tells me something in the electrics was getting set up. If it repeats then I would look at why. It's a similar phenomenon to why pulling the power cord to let all the electronics die to solve a problem works. I would not be surprised if nothing changed when the GFCI was changed as it was probably doing it's job.
I like your response and hope you are right, but I am thinking something is still wrong.

Thanks
John
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:40 AM   #14
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What is often wrong in deals like that is that there is no way to control the startup sequence. When the main power is turned on everything connected tries to start. That can (not will) set up a short current imbalance that will trip the GFCI. The issue is is if it keeps tripping or not. If it keeps tripping you have a problem. If it resets and runs you are in one of those race conditions.

I would try turning off all I could before turning on the AC. Then bring up the loads one at a time. If one keeps popping the ground fault that is your problem. If none do then your problem is the race on starting that really has no practical answer.
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