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Old 03-16-2016, 01:16 AM   #1
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Inverter popping its GFCI outlet

A couple years ago, I had a Go Power Solar System installed on my motorhome. The system included a 160 watt solar panel, 1500 watt inverter, transfer switch, control module, and remote on/off switch. Since the install, I have had two more solar panels installed on the roof for a total of 480 watts.

Everything operated fine until about a year ago, I started having trouble with the inverter where I would press the remote on/off switch to use the inverter and it would "pop" the GFCI outlet on the inverter (the GFCI outlet is built into the inverter). When activating the inverter, I would hear the microwave beep (Microwave would get power) then the GFCI on the inverter would pop about a second later. I would reset the GFCI outlet and it would pop again. I would reset the GFCI outlet a second time and it would allow power to the coach.

I took it to the RV Dealership and they replaced an outlet in the coach and the inverter. That worked for a brief period of time, but the problem came back. They looked further and found a lose ground wire. They fixed the ground wire and that worked for a brief period of time, but the problem came back. The inverter was replaced a second time (due to a burglary) everything seemed to be fine until today. I went to test the inverter and the problem returned.

I connect to shore power 99% of the time, so every once in a while, I would turn on the inverter to test it. Today, I turned on the inverter and the GFCI outlet popped again.

From what I understand, the technician in the past has unplugged everything in the coach (Microwave, TV, DirecTV receiver, etc) in an effort to diagnose the issue. The inverter, transfer switch, and some of the wiring is new due to the burglary (but the problem started prior to the burglary).

Personally, I am not convinced there is an issue with the Solar System. If I had to guess, I would say the issue is somewhere in the coach, but I am definitely not an expert and looking for some advice or possible solutions.

If anyone has had similar issues like this in the past, please chime in. I would like to provide some suggestions to the next technician who looks at my coach.

Thanks!
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Old 03-16-2016, 02:43 AM   #2
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Sorry... Just a side note. I did post this issue about a year ago when it first occurred. I did not want to revive an old post. Here is a link to the old post for background purposes;

Inverter/GFCI Outlet issue

Thanks!
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:34 AM   #3
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**Update**

Took my motorhome to RV Dealership for above issue (GFCI popping on inverter). Mechanic tested all wiring and accessories (such as microwave, fridge, TV, air conditioner, etc) for electrical issues. He believes the air conditioner was causing the GFCI to pop on inverter when inverter is first turned on. He installed a sub-electrical panel excluding the air conditioner from the inverter circuit. He said he normally does this when he installs an inverter/solar system because the inverter (1500 watts) is not strong enough to power the air conditioner. This seems to have solved my problem. He tested inverter approximately 50 times over a several day period and it has functioned properly (so far).

Keeping my fingers crossed.
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:35 AM   #4
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The AC should have never been on the inverter circuit in the original install.

Do you have a propane/electric refrigerator. They are know to pop GFCIs.

Unless you have a residential 120 volt refrigerator, it should not be on the inverter circuit either.

I hope your problem is gone but I give thought to why it worked fine for the first 2 years.
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Old 04-03-2016, 10:12 AM   #5
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Your tech is right that the AC should not be on the inverter, but that has nothing to do with a GFCI trip. That's a ground fault, not a amperage overload. If indeed it is the GFCI and not the circuit breaker (your inverter has both) that is tripping, you have a wiring issue in one of the branch circuits served by the inverter.

If you suspect the microwave, unplug it or shut off the circuit breaker for its branch circuit and see if that changes things. Ground faults aren't usually intermittent unless there is a wire that is loose or insulation that is worn.
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Old 04-03-2016, 06:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
The AC should have never been on the inverter circuit in the original install.

Do you have a propane/electric refrigerator. They are know to pop GFCIs.

Unless you have a residential 120 volt refrigerator, it should not be on the inverter circuit either.

I hope your problem is gone but I give thought to why it worked fine for the first 2 years.
Thank you for the response. I asked the same questions regarding A/C being on the same circuit when installed and why did the inverter work fine for the first couple of years. Regarding the same circuit, my mechanic indicated cost was probably a factor. As long as I ensure the fridge was on gas when I boondocked and knew I could not run the A/C on the inverter, it really was not an issue. Although the solar/inverter was installed at this same RV Dealership, it appears each mechanic may do something a little different. My current mechanic indicated when he installs a solar system/inverter, he always excludes the A/C. Which does sound like the right way to do it to me. My mechanic did say he tested the fridge and there was a very minor difference between the hot and neutral on start-up, but not enough to trip the GFCI. He tested a different motorhome with the same model fridge and it tested the same way, so he believes it is inherent to this model of fridge. He went on to discuss some other issues. I tried to follow what he was telling me, but my knowledge is limited on this issue. He indicated the A/C had the biggest difference between the hot and neutral, so removing it off the circuit seems to have helped (and this is the way he likes to do it anyway).

Regarding working for the past couple of years, it may be the GFCI on the inverter was starting to go bad. I had the problem before and my mechanic told me that Go Power sent me a new inverter with a different GFCI installed. Unfortunately, this inverter was stolen during the burglary and my mechanic did not know about the different GFCI until recently. So when the inverter was replaced after the burglary, they just pulled a new one from off the shelf. I really only boondock once a year, so the problem may have been there and I did not know it. Again, I tried to follow my mechanic the best I could with my limited knowledge of this issue.

Thanks!
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
Your tech is right that the AC should not be on the inverter, but that has nothing to do with a GFCI trip. That's a ground fault, not a amperage overload. If indeed it is the GFCI and not the circuit breaker (your inverter has both) that is tripping, you have a wiring issue in one of the branch circuits served by the inverter.

If you suspect the microwave, unplug it or shut off the circuit breaker for its branch circuit and see if that changes things. Ground faults aren't usually intermittent unless there is a wire that is loose or insulation that is worn.
Hi Gary,

Thank you for the input. As I indicated above, my mechanic explained a lot to me, all of which I did not completely understand. What he did with rewiring the A/C off the inverter circuit may only be part of the problem. All I can say is he tested the inverter (On/Off) about 50 times over a several day period and the GFCI held every time. Prior to the re-wiring, the inverter would pop probably 95%-99% of the time.

I'll test it over my next couple of trips and see what happens.

Thanks!
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:56 AM   #8
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A GFCI trips if the current (amps) flowing in the neutral is as little as 5 milliamps (0.005 amps) less than the hot wire that delivers the power to the appliance. I'm a bit skeptical that your tech can reliably measure that tiny bit of difference without laboratory grade equipment, but will have to take him at his word.

Hope your problem has been solved, though. Good luck!
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
A GFCI trips if the current (amps) flowing in the neutral is as little as 5 milliamps (0.005 amps) less than the hot wire that delivers the power to the appliance. I'm a bit skeptical that your tech can reliably measure that tiny bit of difference without laboratory grade equipment, but will have to take him at his word.

Hope your problem has been solved, though. Good luck!
Hi Gary,

You are correct. My mechanic did mention he wish he had a Fluke Earth Ground Tester at the cost of $1800. All I know is he tested the system the best he could with the equipment he had. I don't believe he was trying to hide anything from me. I think a lot got lost in the translation based on my limited understanding of the issue.

Either way, there is no doubt he improved my situation. I have my fingers crossed.

Thanks again for the good information.

John
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:34 PM   #10
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Try using a shore connection that is gfi protected.

Many folks do not understand that a gfi tripping means something is broken in such a manner that can KILL you.

One can try as above to isolate the issue but then they need to determine the fault and fix it.

Absorption fridge units trip them usually due to leaking heater or defective ice maker.

So get it fixed.
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:27 AM   #11
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Good advice from TQ60. Plug the rig into a regular 15A outdoor outlet with GFCI and see if it trips. I doubt if the problem is only on the inverter, and if the a/c unit does indeed have a ground fault, it IS potentially dangerous.

Newer parks may have GFCI protection on even 30A and 50A outlets, so you might encounter a place where you lose all power to the RV because of a ground fault.
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