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Old 10-13-2017, 07:57 AM   #1
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Electrical Gremlins

I have a problem that I have thrown a bunch of money at without result. But, first a background.

Purchased my used Northern Star in November 2016. Everything electrical worked. It had a Surge Guard 35550 unit hard mounted in the electrical bay.

In December we took a trip to Fredricksburg, TX and it got zapped by a powerful lighting hit in the RV park. I wired around it temporarily and got power back. It did fry our coffee pot but nothing else. I reinstalled a Progressive EMS/surge protector in place of the surge guard.

Last week, my Progressive unit started behaving strangely. I heard it keep pulling in the relay and then trying it over and over again. I cut the power to the RV and investigated the pedestal. I had 120 Volts on each leg, ground to leg one, ground to leg 2. Neutral to leg one and neutral to leg two.

I traced all circuits for potential at breaker box. Everything checked every breaker from neutral to the red wire and from ground to the red wire and had 120 volts at each breaker.

The error the Progressive gave was E1 which is reverse polarity. At that point I was at the limit of my electrical knowledge. I called a fully RVIA certified RV Technician to come and see what the problem was.

After much testing and a conversation with Progressive the conclusion was the the Progressive unit was bad (they are sending a new one). At that point I dismissed the Tech and removed the Progressive unit and wired around it to get me back online with power. All was well.

Last evening after being gone all day we noticed that washer/dryer circuit and our tv circuits were dead. I pulled the panel covers and found a loose ground and hot wire in the main panel. The ground was particularly loose and it took two and half turns with a screwdriver to seat it tight. However, this fix was of no help. I have also check the two known GFCI outlets (one over the lavatory sink and one over the stove) both were not tripped. I am going to search the RV to see if I have more GFCI outlets but I am fairly certain I don't have more.

My conclusions are that I have a loose wire somewhere or I have bad breakers on each those two separate circuits. I will re-check voltages at this breakers to insure it's not the breakers. What am I missing. I need help solving this.

EDIT - I checked for further GFCI outlets in the basement. I have three outlets but none are GFCI. I have 118 volts at each of the breakers.
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Old 10-13-2017, 09:20 AM   #2
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Bad test procedure.. You had 120 volts NO LOAD at the pedistal.

But when the EMS kicked out you were UNDER LOAD.

I've seen voltages go from olike 115 to 80 under load at a pedistal. (OK so this is an OLD park with OLD wire).. About 100 yards from where I'm sittin I'm in the new part however).

I had a 12 volt lead that under NO LOAD showed near normal voltage. but the slightest load and it went to zero and fast. I've not seen a 120 that bad.. but well As I said I did see voltages in the 80's.
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Old 10-13-2017, 09:48 AM   #3
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You're at Whispering Pines on top of the hill? So what is the correct way to load test the pedestal? My voltage was/is fluctuating from 116.2 volts to 118.7 volts across the breakers at the panel at the moment.
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:10 PM   #4
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With the lighting hit you got it fried your surge protector and something inside coach.
I have not seen any mention of your transfer switch, I would check the TS and see if any wiring maybe burnt and if all wiring connections are tight plus the wires to load center and to your Gen.
Go to your load center check main top of board for tight connections and the circuit beakers themselves.
This is what happens if loose wiring in your TS. from tech info link below.
You Progressive is picking up a condition not right, one thing at a time you lucky you didn't loose some of your electronics's and Micro.
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 007";3849263]With the lighting hit you got it fried your surge protector and something inside coach. [COLOR="Red
It took out a coffee maker[/COLOR]
I have not seen any mention of your transfer switch, I would check the TS and see if any wiring maybe burnt and if all wiring connections are tight plus the wires to load center and to your Gen. All connections were tight, none burned
Go to your load center check main top of board for tight connections and the circuit beakers themselves. Breakers are all working properly as measured with a multi meter.
This is what happens if loose wiring in your TS. from tech info link below.
You Progressive is picking up a condition not right, one thing at a time you lucky you didn't loose some of your electronics's and Micro. Yes we're lucky it wasn't worse
After exhausting my limited electrical experience I had narrowed the problem to three possibilities (in my mind). The cord and plug itself, My wiring when I removed the EMS/Surge Guard and wired directly to the TS, and finally the Transfer switch itself.

When the RVIA certified tech came and looked over things he tested all of the connections in the transfer switch and found all quite tight. Secondly he tested the power pedestal and it was fine under load.

Then he tested the cord and found it ok with continuity thru each pin to the terminus (he removed the wires from the transfer switch for this test. Finally he tested voltages across the wiring in the TS and found that I have 48 volts (reverse polarity) coming through the neutrals across the transfer switch. Not good. In fact I got down on my knees to look with him to watch and touched the rear wheel with my hand (the metal) and got zapped.

What prompted all of this is that we had three circuits that weren't live. All three of which are stand alone circuits, the freezer, the hot water heater (AC) and the washer dryer.

After testing shore power the tech he had me disconnect the shore power and run the generator. Voila' those there circuits were restored. However, at that point he told us we're dead in the water, can't run shore power, can't run the generator to charge batteries because of the 48 volt potential on the neutrals. I cannot charge individual batteries because I have no auxiliary charger (I'll fix that in the morning).

The inverter is still running so the fridge is ok until I run out of battery. We have eliminated all potential energy vampires on twelve volt circuits
so we can get maximum usage of the fridge fans.

Since my Newmar has a Xantrex inverter I am guessing that the charger and inverter are all in one package (I will pull the manuals out and verify). Where I am going with this is this, can I just use the charger aspect of the Xantrex to charge my batteries while we are in crisis?

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Old 10-14-2017, 04:19 AM   #6
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Charlie and Martha-

I'd suspect the transfer switch. What is the make and model of the transfer switch?

Here is a link to a Google search of iRV2 posts containing the terms "Newmar," "Northern Star" and "transfer switch." I vaguely remembered that some coaches came with a defective transfer switch, and these results confirmed that. Here is a link to one of the posts from that search that describes symptoms quite like yours. "wa8yxm" provided the answer on that thread, too.

I believe the IOTA-50R transfer switch was unsafe, and recalled. Interestingly, the IOTA-30R (of which my coach has one) was not. The preferred replacement for the IOTA-50R appears to be the Esco ES50M-65N.

By the way, the diagram in your post #5 may not apply to your coach. Some coaches have both converter/chargers and stand-alone inverters, but more likely your coach has no converter/charger and your Xantrex an inverter/charger instead. As someone has said, though, RVs are "snowflakes," and few are similar once they leave the factory.
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Old 10-14-2017, 07:27 AM   #7
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I had a bad (burned) connection in my 50 amp plug. See if you have voltage between your chassis and the ground (literally the ground), I did. I took apart the plug and found a hot wire touching the ground. I cleaned it up and it took care of the problem.

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Old 10-14-2017, 08:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l1v3fr33ord1 View Post
Charlie and Martha-

I'd suspect the transfer switch. What is the make and model of the transfer switch?

Here is a link to a Google search of iRV2 posts containing the terms "Newmar," "Northern Star" and "transfer switch." I vaguely remembered that some coaches came with a defective transfer switch, and these results confirmed that. Here is a link to one of the posts from that search that describes symptoms quite like yours. "wa8yxm" provided the answer on that thread, too.

I believe the IOTA-50R transfer switch was unsafe, and recalled. Interestingly, the IOTA-30R (of which my coach has one) was not. The preferred replacement for the IOTA-50R appears to be the Esco ES50M-65N.

By the way, the diagram in your post #5 may not apply to your coach. Some coaches have both converter/chargers and stand-alone inverters, but more likely your coach has no converter/charger and your Xantrex an inverter/charger instead. As someone has said, though, RVs are "snowflakes," and few are similar once they leave the factory.
Hi, thanks for the link. I had found that the Iota was recalled but didn't see that thread. I guess it's too late for mine. I have a conundrum to face at the moment.

My hands are too arthritic to fight all of those #6 wires but cash isn't falling out of the tress so I may have to bite the bullet.

I could have the guy that diagnosed the problem do the work (he charges $100 an hour) but we are on a time crunch, the RV Park we're in closes in two days for the season.

Finally my last choice is to drive toward our next destination and see if I can find a dealer to take care of the problem and while driving let the batteries charge with the big engine.

This sort of sucks when you live in your RV....gah! Oh, and to add to the problem it's supposed to rain all day today and part of the day tomorrow and it's the weekend so getting a transfer switch is next to impossible.
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Old 10-14-2017, 08:21 AM   #9
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If you have the old transfer switch you need to get it changed as you are doing.

I found in TECH INFORMATION ------ this link on getting zapped from skin of coach, long thread with useful links, problem with GFI outlets.

This is another thread in same TECH INFO link good info also.

There are many links on proper grounding, battery grounding, house outlets for RV's and other useful info in the TECH INFO Link below in my signature and all those links have info for your Newmar's.

Electrical problems can be frustrating and also possibly deadly, if you have droughts tracking down get a professional to take care of it.
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 007";3850210]If you have the old transfer switch you need to get it changed as you are doing.

I found in [B][URL="http://www.irv2.com/forums/f54/technical-info-links-28855.html
TECH INFORMATION[/URL][/B] ------ this link on getting zapped from skin of coach, long thread with useful links, problem with GFI outlets.

This is another thread in same TECH INFO link good info also.

There are many links on proper grounding, battery grounding, house outlets for RV's and other useful info in the TECH INFO Link below in my signature and all those links have info for your Newmar's.

Electrical problems can be frustrating and also possibly deadly, if you have droughts tracking down get a professional to take care of it.
Thanks for all of the help you have always been there when I needed it "007".

The tech that was here said he believed that the voltage on the neutral was responsible for the hot skin condition, I really don't know because that's not my bailiwick.

I do know I got a good jolt and tasted the fillings in my teeth when I touched the tire rim. The good news is that I located a transfer switch nearby and it is a Parallax ATS 5070 MB. The tech is mounting it tonight after the rain is supposed to stop. He lives in a park model trailer in this campground where we're staying so it will be an easy commute for him.

Hopefully this will put an end to our electrical gremlins. This will make two EMS surge protectors and now an ATS in the span from last November until now. I am confident that original lighting strike was the reason for most of these problems but me and the family CFO are ready for this to end so we can have "Play Money" instead of "Repair Money".
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:15 PM   #11
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There are not to many NorthernStars on the road and people living in them one other on this forum is also named Charlie.
That being said does not mean the N S is going to have constant problems, things happen and you had protection to save from more serious problems.
You will be able to enjoy your coach and save for a rainy day again, trust me.
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Old 10-14-2017, 07:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by "007" View Post
There are not to many NorthernStars on the road and people living in them one other on this forum is also named Charlie.
That being said does not mean the N S is going to have constant problems, things happen and you had protection to save from more serious problems.
You will be able to enjoy your coach and save for a rainy day again, trust me.

Of course you're right, life goes on. The RV tech just departed. It was without question the transfer switch. There were several melted wires buried beneath the wires in the front. There was also some minor melting of the box (plastic) It is just amazing that we did not have a fire. I am also happy to note that there is no voltage present in the neutral now.

As a result of the repair we are now able to head to the next destination which is Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland. It's a barrier Island that has a large population of wild horses. Should be interesting and fun.

I want to thank everyone that responded to my thread. This is a wonderful resource and the people here are amazing. Thanks all.

(PS: "007" I still have not pinned down the headlight replacements for this coach. But, I'm working on it.)
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Old 10-14-2017, 08:20 PM   #13
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Charlie its great to see your on the road again, we have been to that Is. through a rain storm in the dark of night and high tide, for over night stop on way to FL. hope you have better weather.
Just notice your last name same name of two foster boys we brought up of maybe 50 children through our home, wife was a busy woman, both are doing well now.
I just put this thread on forum have not looked through it, but may lead you to your head lights.
Enjoy your trip and safe travels.
Here is more on headlamps this site did a long search and I think it gave me your tail lights, i think, use search block for your headlights, it will be a long search, be patient.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:25 PM   #14
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Charlie check this link out maybe your lights on E-Bay.
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