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Old 04-19-2010, 02:31 PM   #1
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weird power issue

We took the motorhome out for a 'picnic' ride to our boat harbor saturday. The wife wanted to make coffee, so we started making coffee, which kicked on the inverter. About 1/2 way thru the brew cycle, I fires up the generator, figuring it'll take over. Turns out it didn't, and awhile later after brewing and keeping the pot warm, all the 120 volt stuff shut down, with the generator still running. The display was on, seemed to be working fine, it showed the batteries discharged and the inverter in 'fault' mode. A check of the inverter itself showed the 'overheat' light blinking. I turned it off at the display, and the fault went away.

But nothing I tried would restore 120 volt power. Turning the inverter back on wouldn't do it, I checked all the breakers & fuses, all was okay, I checked the AC-incoming relay, looks brand new and one leg looked "on"...

So I shut down the generator, then tried the inverter. Nothing, but I think the batteries were still too discharged. Fired up the generator again, still nothing...

So I pulled over near a power pole that had a 120v plug, and plugged the main cord in. Voila, power as usual. The display said the batteries were charging, and the inverter was off...

Before we left, I unplugged from the pole, and went in and verified everything but 12 volt power was off. I fired the generator, and got power...

OK, so what's going on?

Should I be sure the inverter is off before firing the generator? (didn't think it mattered?)

Do I maybe have an AC switch going bad?

Is there some sort of failsafe I don't know about?

Am I wrong to assume that whenever the generator is on, I should have power?

OH, and I almost forgot---!! While I had no apparent AC power while the genny was running, I tried the roof AC units, and they came on like nothing was wrong...!

So my "no power" seemed to affect only the inside plugs, but not the AC units...?


Any help would be great!
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:32 PM   #2
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Hi PlayItForwrd,
What is the output rating of your inverter. My assumption is 2K WATTS or more. This is because you lost all the VAC outlet power but not the A/C units. When the generator took over powering the coach, the inverter should have gone into bypass mode. The inverter can remain on all the time. It will provide AC power when there is none present via shore or generator power source. When either is providing power, the inverter will monitor the power and wait to be called upon.

It sounds like the batteries may have been depleted enough that the inverter did not go into bypass mode when the generator was started. The inverter was having a difficult time getting the battery power needed to sustain the load you were asking for. When generator power was applied the inverter was not able to go into bypass mode. Exactly why I do not know.

Was this a one time occurrence?
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Old 04-19-2010, 04:18 PM   #3
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On my inverter there is a circuit breaker, a little round black button on the front of the unit.
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Old 04-19-2010, 07:17 PM   #4
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Gary, we've only had this thing since February, so not a lot of experience with it, but I HAVE run the genny a few times, it's always done the job before. The inverter (2500w) has done it's job too (what little use I've given it).

Our houseboat has a switch on the helm, for shore power, OR inverter power, OR genny power, OR none at all, no auto switches... In the Allegro, I know everything's automatic... The AC input switch automatically chooses either the genny or shore power, and I believe shore power has priority... but I'm not sure how the inverter is 'chosen' for duty or it's priority. From what happened it seems that if I switch on the inverter from the display panel, then IT has priority? And since it went into fault mode, it wouldn't switch out to allow the genny to power the outlets...

Ok, I guess it makes sense, but that prompts me to ask: Does shore power have priority over the inverter? And is that why I had power when I plugged in? (or did enough time go by for the inverter to allow the switchover?)

Methinks I should attempt to locate a wiring diagram!
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:29 PM   #5
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Play, When you started the generator the AC feed should have switched over to it. If you have a temperature sensor from the inverter to your batteries, the batteries may have become heated enough to put the inverter to fault mode. You don't mention if you have AGS feature on your inverter but if your inverter is in fault mode I'm not sure if it could have gone into the AGS mode if the battery voltage went below the AGS threshold. Is everything working normally now?
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:18 AM   #6
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Find your transfer switch, remove cover and check for power from generator. If no power check circuit breaker on generator. If you have power getting to the transfer switch but after a few minutes it does not power the coach you have a bad transfer switch. The generator putting out power will activate the transfer switch to provide power to coach from generator, even it you are plugged into shore power when everything is working properly.
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Old 04-20-2010, 07:52 AM   #7
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My transfer switch acted up a few times by not switching. Then last week it quit completely. A small relay burned out.Since a lifetime guarantee is only good if the company is still alive and this one died. I opted for the mechanical transfer. I installed a 50 amp receptical near the dsed switch. When I unplug from shore power I plug into the receptical.
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:42 PM   #8
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One thing they forget to tell you is that Hot-switching power sources is a BAD idea.. I killed an ATS that way (Auto Transfer Switch)

My coach has an Onan 5500 and a Xantrex Prosine 2.0 (2,000 watt inverter)

Now... When you fire the generator here is what happens.. Ideally

Power is sent via a pair of circuit breakers on the generator to the auto-transfer switch (Are the breakers tripped?) which then starts a countdown.. after 30 seconds or so.. It enegerizes the proper relays and the power is sent on to the main power distribution panel.. from there it goes to the Prosine, which also waits a second and switches over to MAINS power (Main/generator)

Possible issues. indlude tripped breaker on generator
Auto Switch failure
Tripped inverter breaker in main breaker box
SCREW LOOSE (I will explain)
Auto Switch failure #2

Breakers (if they exist) on inverter

Breakers in secondary distribution panel (SUB panel)

Now, the screws loose comment.

I like to joke that many RVers have a few screws loose (The joke is you are thinking "Mental" when I'm talking "Metal") I found nearly every screw in my main power distribution panel needed tightening.

To tighten.. FIRST UNPLUG THE RIG and kill the generator.. You really do not want 120vac in there when you are polking around with a screwdriver

Mine took a #2 square or robson bit.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:51 PM   #9
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My inverter/charger is a Freedom Combi 20D... According to the manual, it has an automatic transfer switch, and when outside AC input it sensed, it switches from inverting to charging...

So answer me this: Does ALL the AC power to the coach come from the inverter? It appears so from the inverter wiring diagrams and description, "single input, dual output"... If so, why did my AC units work when the outlets did not? Did I just lose one of the 2 outputs? And if so, since I didn't reset any breakers, why did power return to the outlets when I plugged into shore power?

<heavy sigh> ( )
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:58 AM   #10
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Yes, the inverter/charger has its own internal transfer switch; but you also have a transfer switch that the power cord and generator power conductors come into before going to the electrical distribution panel.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayItForwrd View Post
My inverter/charger is a Freedom Combi 20D... According to the manual, it has an automatic transfer switch, and when outside AC input it sensed, it switches from inverting to charging...

So answer me this: Does ALL the AC power to the coach come from the inverter? It appears so from the inverter wiring diagrams and description, "single input, dual output"... If so, why did my AC units work when the outlets did not? Did I just lose one of the 2 outputs? And if so, since I didn't reset any breakers, why did power return to the outlets when I plugged into shore power?

<heavy sigh> ( )
No, all the AC circuits will usually not be powered by the inverter. You would need too big an inverter to run the whole coach, especially the air conditioners.

If you have 50 amp power (which is really 50 amps on each of 2 legs for a total of 100 amps), you would need a 12,000 watt inverter to power the whole coach.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:51 AM   #12
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Usually coaches are wired something like this (Oh the lmitis of ASCII)

Shore Power to ATS
Generator power to ATS (ATS will choose source, Generator overrides shore)

ATS to main Breaker box

Main box to big ticket items including Water Heater, Air Conditioners, Fridge, The inverter/charger or Converter, and (optionally) Microwave

(NOTE: Microwave depends on the inverter)

Inverter to sub panel (May be a second section in main breaker box or may be a totaly seperate box)

Sub panel to Televisions, GFCI loop and, if not on the main, Microwave

GFCI loop is bathroom(s) Kitchen, and outdoors.. May (on some rigs) include the fridge.

On my coach the inverter (Prosine 2.0) and sub panel are after market, The inverter powers televisions, and assoicated electronics, Microwave and GFCI.. Optionally it can hit the baseboard outlets and fridge but that is an after-after manual switch I installed so the ice maker works when boondocking cause I like my drinking water COLD!
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:12 PM   #13
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I didn't write exactly what I meant to say (I think?) and was misunderstood--(like THAT'S never happened!)

OK-- I know all about the xfer switches, and I pretty much know about how the inverter works, and when I asked 'does all power come from the inverter', I didn't mean "powered BY" the inverter, as I know that ain't gonna work--

How I meant to ask this question was like this-- (hope I get this straight):
wa8yxm mentions a "typical" AC connect goes: shore/genny to xfer switch, xfer switch to main panel....

---or does it?

Because the inverter also doubles as a battery charger, and according to my wiring diagram, **IT APPEARS THAT**---
AC power from the main xfer switch is connected directly to the inverter ONLY, and the AC outputs from the inverter are the ONLY outputs to the main panel, with the inverter acting as a switched junction box, with the inverter's xfer switch changing outputs from inverted power to outside power, as necessary...

So that's why I asked if all the power "comes from" the inverter? It *appears so*, but...?

(sorry!)
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Old 04-23-2010, 03:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayItForwrd View Post
I didn't write exactly what I meant to say (I think?) and was misunderstood--(like THAT'S never happened!)

OK-- I know all about the xfer switches, and I pretty much know about how the inverter works, and when I asked 'does all power come from the inverter', I didn't mean "powered BY" the inverter, as I know that ain't gonna work--

How I meant to ask this question was like this-- (hope I get this straight):
wa8yxm mentions a "typical" AC connect goes: shore/genny to xfer switch, xfer switch to main panel....

---or does it?

Because the inverter also doubles as a battery charger, and according to my wiring diagram, **IT APPEARS THAT**---
AC power from the main xfer switch is connected directly to the inverter ONLY, and the AC outputs from the inverter are the ONLY outputs to the main panel, with the inverter acting as a switched junction box, with the inverter's xfer switch changing outputs from inverted power to outside power, as necessary...

So that's why I asked if all the power "comes from" the inverter? It *appears so*, but...?

(sorry!)
The coach should be wired to where the conductors off the load side of the transfer switch feed the distribution panel. A dedicated circuit breaker feeds the inverter and one or two (depending on model) lines come out of the inverter to supply power to parts of the coach. I have seen them wired back through the distribution panel, a sub panel and no panels at all. If you have power feeding the inverter and you get no power back out of the inverter, then the transfer switch inside the inverter is failing. This is of coarse true if the circuit breaker is not tripped.
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