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Old 07-17-2015, 07:53 PM   #1
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Refrigerator trips inverter GFI

Just found the GFI outlet on the inverter (Samlex pure sine 600W) tripped. Trips again immediately when the refrigerator (Norcold) is set to auto. After switching to shore power, refrigerator runs fine on 110 volts.

Any ideas? I looked around in the refrigerator compartment and didn't see anything obvious.
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Old 07-18-2015, 01:20 AM   #2
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If you're handy, you can try to replace the inverter's GFCI with one from Lowe's or Home Depot. Samlex, Magnum, and others have their Chineese factories put these cheap no-name GFCIs on their smaller inverters and they just don't work very well with certain loads.

Odds are that it will solve the problem, if not the whole inverter may need to go.
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Old 07-18-2015, 06:29 AM   #3
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What's the frigs. Wattage? Some are 500-750 maybe over doing it.
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Old 07-18-2015, 06:50 AM   #4
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Is this a new setup or a working setup, that just started acting up?

A test, would be to get an extension cord and plug your fridge into a shore power GFI. Just running on shore power, without a GFI could be hiding a ground fault problem.

If it blows the shore GFI, something is wrong with the fridge or wiring.

If it works, the GFI in the inverter, is most likely the problem.
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:59 AM   #5
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This setup was working for a year. Problem started yesterday after traveling down a severely washboarded dirt road.
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Old 07-18-2015, 09:39 AM   #6
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Some fridges have a pan with water under them, could water have splashed on the control wiring?
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Old 07-19-2015, 10:05 AM   #7
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If norcold it could be failing heater.

Do as others directed and plug directly into home gfi via long good 3 wire cord.

If trips unplug ice maker first and repeat.

If good ice maker bad if bad next unhook heater and re test.

The heater first failure is breakdown of internal insulation to casing so heater will work but leak current to ground.

Later it blows hole in cooling unit.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:55 PM   #8
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If it just began, then odds are the fridge's electric heater has a high resistance short to ground, perhaps due to corrosion where the element slips into its sleeve on the boiler tube. Removing, cleaning and reinserting the element may fix it. If not, replace the element(s).
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Is this a new setup or a working setup, that just started acting up?

A test, would be to get an extension cord and plug your fridge into a shore power GFI. Just running on shore power, without a GFI could be hiding a ground fault problem.

If it blows the shore GFI, something is wrong with the fridge or wiring.

If it works, the GFI in the inverter, is most likely the problem.
This is a GREAT plan to determine if it's a GFCI issue or a refrigerator issue.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emcee View Post
Just found the GFI outlet on the inverter (Samlex pure sine 600W) tripped. Trips again immediately when the refrigerator (Norcold) is set to auto. After switching to shore power, refrigerator runs fine on 110 volts.



Any ideas? I looked around in the refrigerator compartment and didn't see anything obvious.

Most often when a GFCI protected fridge trips the outlet, the problem is the fridge's heating element has shorted to ground. Since you indicated rough roads, this is a likely case.

Just use a meter to check the resistance between each heater lead to ground. Be sure the power is off and the heater is disconnected when checking.


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Old 07-24-2015, 12:58 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the tips. I will do the gfci test during the next generator run. I'm in glacier NP thousands of miles from home so afraid to touch it since it's working on gas. If unplugged from AC will corrosion continue if actual ground fault exists?
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Old 07-28-2015, 07:05 PM   #12
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Plugged the fridge into the gfci outlet in the coach while on generator and it did not trip. Later, tried the gfci outlet on the inverter and it no longer trips that either. In order to check the resistance on the element, the circuit board cover has to be removed and in order to do that, the 12v connections have to be disconnected. I'm not doing that until I'm home again in another month or so. I will only use it on electric if I have to. Tried to slide the element out of the sleeve to look at it but the sheet metal wrap around the burner gets in the way. Don't know how I'm going to get that off with the few inches of space I'm working in.
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Old 08-21-2015, 01:34 PM   #13
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Follow up. I found the heater element sitting loosely in the burner tube. It had rotated so that the wire connector was contacting the burner sleeve. There is grooves in the plastic wire connector where it was contacting the sheet metal sleeve. I rotated it away from the sleeve and put rubber tape on it to hold it in place. Also wiggled every connector on the refrigerator circuit board.

Whether this had anything to do with it or not the inverter GFI no longer trips when the refrigerator is plugged into the circuit.
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Old 08-21-2015, 07:37 PM   #14
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That sounds as though it could be the cause of an intermittent short. It just slips into the sleeve on the boiler, but it's not supposed to flop around.
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