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Old 06-08-2020, 08:35 AM   #1
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Not all A/C Soft Starters are the same

Back in April there was a thread on the forum mentioning a sale on the soft start ac units. This was for a product made by SoftStart USA, and sold thru NetworkRV.


The code was specific to this forum, and I was able to purchase 3 units for $747 delivered /c install kit and 2 year warranty.


I installed them and tested, and then the RV has been parked unused since then.


Last week I was checking out the coach and decided to lower the temp. I soon discovered that 2 of my 3 air units where not operating. I went on the roof and checked the status of the soft start, and discovered both units had an internal failure.


I started searching the internet and discovered what a mistake I made by purchasing from this company.


The SoftStartRV product was created from an ex employee of Micro-Air - the original designer of the EasyStart.



Further research shows there are several others on the market, but all fail to compare to the original in many ways.



A document exists online here that compares the competition to Micro-Air. Some hilights that are exclusive to Micro-Air:


*The Micro-Air EasyStart is UL Approved
* has a average start surge reduction of 70%
* auto learning algorithm
* 4 years + of RV usage



The other products are very new to the market, and have extremely poor service.


Now that I realized that I made a mistake in purchasing the SoftStartUSA brand, I reached out to Micro-Air. I was able to quickly get hold of someone, discuss the product, and confirm they will ship out today if I placed my order. The total price for 3 units was only $50 more than the "special" price I received from the competition. I have 3 micro-air easystarts on the way to me.


As far as the SoftStart products, I am within my 90 day return window. I had opened a ticket with them for the problem via the support site, which said I would be responded to within hours. It has been 100's of hours (days) with now response.



I also went to the original web page for NetworkRV and SoftStartUSA to contact them from the contact links. The provide both a phone number and an email.



The phone number is a google voice number that rings no answer. The email bounces back as being wrong.




I am fairly certain this company has either gone out of business and is liquidating stock, or soon will be going out of business.


I have captured screen shots of their offers stating "You take no risk with our Free Trial Offer! If you’re not happy with the SoftStartRV, just return it anytime within ninety days for a full refund. Receive a full, 100% refund of every penny you paid." and sent this information to my credit card company to begin a dispute.


If you purchased one of these units and are within the 90 day window, I strongly encourage you to check its operational state and make sure yours is still working properly.


For those looking to buy, you will see brands like "Sure Start by Hyper Engineering" and "SoftStartRV by Network RV". None of these products are the same as the Micro-Air product.


One last note: Any installation of this product will 100% void the warranty of your air unit. You will want to remove the product before having your air conditioner repaired for warranty work.


Micro-Air states that they will cover the air conditioner warranty for 2 years if their product causes the failure.
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Old 06-08-2020, 09:07 AM   #2
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I'm not sure why anyone would want to spend more when this does the job for all RV AC units and AC/Heatpump units for $ 10 ...

Supco SPP5
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Old 06-08-2020, 09:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powercat_ras View Post
I'm not sure why anyone would want to spend more when this does the job for all RV AC units and AC/Heatpump units for $ 10 ...

Supco SPP5

You are exactly where I was a year ago...I thought this is just a simple capacitor right?


Truth is ...no its not.


What is happening is instead of taking a very large amount of energy all at once to start the compressor, a computer is controlling the voltage to the motor to start it slowly. It is much more "technical" than what I just described, but the idea is to let the motor spin up to full speed over a controlled method, thus consuming less amperage. This is done by controlling the "LOAD", which is a formula of amps and voltage. This is the magic of the controllers.



The capacitor would not reduce the amperage, just provides more available voltage and is the cause of the surge.


The reason this is important is when you are in the high heat in a popular area. RV parks are over subscribed for power, and thus lower voltage. Even with a Hughes Autoformer, the surge of amperage causes issues, and breaker tripping. Adding capacitors does nothing for this, but a smart controller that can learn the power curve of the motor load, and control it while the motor is coming up to speed.
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Old 06-08-2020, 09:30 AM   #4
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You are exactly where I was a year ago...I thought this is just a simple capacitor right?


Truth is ...no its not.


What is happening is instead of taking a very large amount of energy all at once to start the compressor, a computer is controlling the voltage to the motor to start it slowly. It is much more "technical" than what I just described, but the idea is to let the motor spin up to full speed over a controlled method, thus consuming less amperage. This is done by controlling the "LOAD", which is a formula of amps and voltage. This is the magic of the controllers.



The capacitor would not reduce the amperage, just provides more available voltage and is the cause of the surge.


The reason this is important is when you are in the high heat in a popular area. RV parks are over subscribed for power, and thus lower voltage. Even with a Hughes Autoformer, the surge of amperage causes issues, and breaker tripping. Adding capacitors does nothing for this, but a smart controller that can learn the power curve of the motor load, and control it while the motor is coming up to speed.
Thanks for the good info. I tried the "hard start" capacitor with bad results, [tripped gen breaker] Bought the Microair and have not had any problems. Was tempted by the ones you mentioned but decided to go with an established brand. Glad I did.
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Old 06-08-2020, 09:35 AM   #5
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Thanks for the good info. I tried the "hard start" capacitor with bad results, [tripped gen breaker] Bought the Microair and have not had any problems. Was tempted by the ones you mentioned but decided to go with an established brand. Glad I did.

Your research was better than mine initially.



I had a bad feeling from the beginning with the instructions being so poor, and during install never being able to get hold of support for clarity.



Hopefully this will seed the search engines and help someone before they make the same mistake I did...could have been very costly had the failure not occurred within the 90 days.
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Old 06-08-2020, 09:40 AM   #6
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Supco has good paper explaining the benefit of their hard start products on the download tab of the web page I posted the link to in post #2 of this thread. The products that wire in parallel with a motor's run capacitor increase starting current to a motor/compressor that is not rotating. Personally given the smaller size compressor motors in RV AC units, I use the SPP5 as I don't want to over-stress the unit too much.

In my view, this is similar to "chipping" an Engine Control Module, you are modifying the motor/compressor to be able to work harder, in this case to generate more rotational force when not rotating, than the OEM designed it to do, but still within its capabilities.

The most important is that there must be, regardless of the AC voltage present, a time delay to allow the high side and low side pressure across the compressor to equalize before the AC starts again. RV and Home electronic thermostats have this feature. Most RV AC power protectors also have a 120 second delay before they let power thru for this reason as well, so that when there is a power hit the AC gets a chance to pressure equalize across the compressor.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powercat_ras View Post
Supco has good paper explaining the benefit of their hard start products on the download tab of the web page I posted the link to in post #2 of this thread. The products that wire in parallel with a motor's run capacitor increase starting current to a motor/compressor that is not rotating. Personally given the smaller size compressor motors in RV AC units, I use the SPP5 as I don't want to over-stress the unit too much.

In my view, this is similar to "chipping" an Engine Control Module, you are modifying the motor/compressor to be able to work harder, in this case to generate more rotational force when not rotating, than the OEM designed it to do, but still within its capabilities.

The most important is that there must be, regardless of the AC voltage present, a time delay to allow the high side and low side pressure across the compressor to equalize before the AC starts again. RV and Home electronic thermostats have this feature. Most RV AC power protectors also have a 120 second delay before they let power thru for this reason as well, so that when there is a power hit the AC gets a chance to pressure equalize across the compressor.

This is still very different from an electronic start. The product you linked to will not do anything to protect the motor, nor will it reduce amp.


The product you have is a "Hard Start" - ie: Forced energy start


The product I am referring to is a "Soft Start" or a managed startup sequence that reduces heat by reducing load, and ends up reducing wear on the compressor.


This was hard for me to understand too. In fact, if you search my history of posting, I made the same exact argument you are making -- I just could not wrap my mind around why anyone would spend the money on this. After reading posts, I started to do my own research. There is ton of information out there, but seeing is believing. Even with the SoftStart USA brand that I am now returning, I was able to see a huge difference in observed starting, and the air unit sounded less stressed. When it turned on there was no instant hit on the compressor.


Here is a quote from Easy Start web page


What does EasyStart™ do and how does it work?


Quote:
Consider how a regular compressor starts. When power is first applied to the motor it creates a magnetic field that presses against a rotor. The rotor is connected to the compressor and these components have mass so it takes time and energy to get up to speed.
Compressor motors are connected in a way that lets them draw as much energy as needed to get up to speed quickly. Because of this design the motors draw a huge current surge when they start.

On every motor plate there is a specification called LRA. This stands for Locked Rotor Amps and is the maximum current the motor can draw according to the manufacturer. During a start you can expect your compressor to draw this current from the supply.
RV rooftop 16 KBTU compressors are rated around 50 to 60 amps LRA. A typical 2000 watt inverter generator is rated at 2000 watts peak which is about 16.7 amps at 120 volts AC. There is no way will the generator start a load that draws four to five times its peak rating!

The solution is to reduce the peak LRA so we created EasyStart™. EasyStart™ is designed to connect directly to the compressor motor and reduce the power surge that occurs on start. It does this by controlling the power supplied to the windings of the motor on each AC cycle. EasyStart™ gradually increases this power until the compressor is running.
This increases the time it takes the motor to get up to speed and creates a very smooth start that reduces the peak current by 50 to 70%. An RV rooftop 16 KBTU, 120 volt compressor can now start with under 20 amps of current.


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Old 06-08-2020, 10:13 AM   #8
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I installed 3 micro air units 1 1/2 years ago and they are working perfect. I did this because I run them off inverter and batteries. Last year the fan quit working in the front one. I was at Newmar and they replaced it under warranty. They did ask me what the box was. I said it is a soft start and does not control the fan and had no problem. I did have my fingers crossed. It might have been different if it was the compressor.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:22 AM   #9
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Electronic soft starts have been used in the industrial world for many years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_...%20work%20flow

I also run one ac with Microair off inverter and batteries, lot easier on batteries and inverter because of no sudden surge. just a controlled ramp up in load.
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:08 AM   #10
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If you paid with a CC, let them know and have them claw the money back for you. Happens all the time.
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:54 AM   #11
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,,, The capacitor would not reduce the amperage, just provides more available voltage and is the cause of the surge. ,,,
I'm afraid that when applying Georg Ohm's law to your statement a problem occurs with the math. In this instance Watts = Volts X Amps. If using a start capacitor increase the available volts (as stated) to a motor a corresponding decrease will occur in amps necessary for the same number of watts need to perform the work. For example, if the start surge is 3000 watts for 1 second with 120VAC applied the start up surge will be 25 amps for one second. But if I can increase to 180VAC by using a start cap the demand will drop to 16.6 amps for one second as the watts will not have changed.

The total power or work necessary to both spin up an electric motor's rotor from rest and get past the initial compression cycle won't change by reducing or ramping up the speed of the motor (Newton's Law of Motion is in play here). You still have the same amount to work to do but by ramping you're extending the time to do it. Call it flattening the curve of the surge or wattage demand over time from a spike to a bubble.

Soft Starts do work well but is there cost benefit for the average RV owner? If you are running a configuration as 10 fan or jcussen described there is a benefit but for the average coach with the correct AC power configuration (30 or 50 amp) for the installed electrical load, I'm not so sure. $200+ and change per device will buy a lot of fuel or nights in a CG.
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Old 06-08-2020, 12:38 PM   #12
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I'm not so sure.
I am.

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...will buy a lot of fuel or nights in a CG.
For me, it was not about either factor.
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Old 06-08-2020, 02:43 PM   #13
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I am.



For me, it was not about either factor.
May be subjective, but can hear the blower come on, but instead of the clunk when the compressor comes on, just a low hum, much less noise with the soft start.
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:34 PM   #14
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The purpose of this thread was to warn about an inferior product and to call attention to the difference micro-air easystarts offer vs the competition.
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