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Old 05-26-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
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Charge contoller tripping circuit

My 2004 Dolphin has a charge controller located in the compartment just forward of the door. The positive lead from the charge controller runs to a small PC board that has 6 or 7 circuit breakers. I have an issue where when I run the generator, the circuit breaker will trip and reset itself every 10 seconds or so. Therefore, it doesn't charge the house batteries. It doesn't do this all the time, but randomly. For instance, this weekend it worked fine for a couple days, and then randomly it starts tripping the breaker. Even if the generator has been off for several hours at a time. So I don't think it's a heat issue.

I've replaced the batteries just a month ago. It did the same thing on the old batteries. I've replaced the circuit breaker, and it seemed to go away for a while. But now it's back again.

My charge controller has a remote feature. Can I bypass the circuit board and wire the controller directly to the batteries? Then I can manually control the charge controller with the remote. It even has a feature where it will sense the charge of the battery bank so as not to overcharge the batteries. I know this doesn't fix the circuit breaker issue, but I'm really tired of trying to track this particular issue down.
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Old 05-27-2013, 04:32 AM   #2
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Can you post some pics of the circuit board you're referring to?
Brand/Model of the Charge controller?

From your description I assume that an automatic resetting breaker is what's tripping?

Need more info!
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:46 AM   #3
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This charge controller sounds like it's part of your BIRD system, which maintains both batt banks? Does it say Intellitec on it? Part/model number?

Since this is happening with just the genny, I'm thinking the voltage output is too high or erratic. It could also be the hertz is either too high or low. It should be right at 60hz. If this is going on, it's logical the controller would be complaining.

I would get the multi-meter out first and check high and low voltage under several load conditions. It should be in the 112-122v range, give or take a bit. Then check hertz.

It could be the controller or other unknown problems, but is a good place to start and should be checked periodically anyway.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:48 AM   #4
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Here is a picture of the circuit board.

Click image for larger version

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Old 05-29-2013, 07:58 AM   #5
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The cable connected to CB3 is the positive lead from the charge controller. That is the breaker that keeps tripping when powered by the generator.

The charge controller is a Progressive Dynamics PD9270 model, 70amp output. The controller is only about 7 months old, as I replaced it last fall thinking it was the issue. Then I replaced the circuit breaker and the issue seemed to go away for a while. Now it's happening again.

I checked voltage at several outlets. I get 117.4 volts steady when on the generator. Even when I had a vacuum cleaner and microwave running for load.

I haven't been able to check cycles since my cheap-o meter won't do it. I'm working on borrowing a meter this weekend to test.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:22 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ctusdenny View Post
The cable connected to CB3 is the positive lead from the charge controller. That is the breaker that keeps tripping when powered by the generator.

The charge controller is a Progressive Dynamics PD9270 model, 70amp output. The controller is only about 7 months old, as I replaced it last fall thinking it was the issue. Then I replaced the circuit breaker and the issue seemed to go away for a while. Now it's happening again.

I checked voltage at several outlets. I get 117.4 volts steady when on the generator. Even when I had a vacuum cleaner and microwave running for load.

I haven't been able to check cycles since my cheap-o meter won't do it. I'm working on borrowing a meter this weekend to test.
Denny,

This is MUCH clearer now. The PD9270 is known as a Converter/Charger. The "charge controller" had me stumped as that term is usually associated with solar panels. Anyway, I have a PD9245 in my Dolphin. That picture is your 12v power distribution center made by RV Custom Products, the part number is 130325-1 Rev. 2. Here is their info for future reference:

RV Custom Products
14000 Anson Ave
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 921-8353

It might be a good idea now to call Mary there and have her email you all the info on your board if needed. If needed later, she can have a tech call you to troubleshoot.

The CB3 is apparently the 12v circuit breaker which at least powers some 12v circuits and ultimately the entire coach and battery charging. Since this 12v power is coming from the converter/charger, any objection to bad 120v power would happen at the PD9270. So this generator approach doesn't fit at the moment. All things being normal, that breaker should only trip if there is too much 12v draw in the coach, or of course the breaker is bad.

This leads me to, is there any more high draw 12v items in the coach that are used more under generator than with shore power? I'm thinking Inverter use, if you have one, since those can pull some amps. If not, I'm thinking another bad breaker. Perhaps they had a bad production run on a bunch of these.

So I think the next step should be to call Mary to find out what they may know about this problem and hopefully they've seen it before. Keep us posted and good luck.
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Old 05-29-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by clyon51 View Post

Denny,

This is MUCH clearer now. The PD9270 is known as a Converter/Charger. The "charge controller" had me stumped as that term is usually associated with solar panels. Anyway, I have a PD9245 in my Dolphin. That picture is your 12v power distribution center made by RV Custom Products, the part number is 130325-1 Rev. 2. Here is their info for future reference:

RV Custom Products
14000 Anson Ave
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 921-8353

It might be a good idea now to call Mary there and have her email you all the info on your board if needed. If needed later, she can have a tech call you to troubleshoot.

The CB3 is apparently the 12v circuit breaker which at least powers some 12v circuits and ultimately the entire coach and battery charging. Since this 12v power is coming from the converter/charger, any objection to bad 120v power would happen at the PD9270. So this generator approach doesn't fit at the moment. All things being normal, that breaker should only trip if there is too much 12v draw in the coach, or of course the breaker is bad.

This leads me to, is there any more high draw 12v items in the coach that are used more under generator than with shore power? I'm thinking Inverter use, if you have one, since those can pull some amps. If not, I'm thinking another bad breaker. Perhaps they had a bad production run on a bunch of these.

So I think the next step should be to call Mary to find out what they may know about this problem and hopefully they've seen it before. Keep us posted and good luck.
Thank you much for the info. I'll give them a call and report back what I find out.
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:01 PM   #8
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So I called and spoke with Mary. She didn't seem to recognize my issue as being one she'd heard before. In any case, she did email me the troubleshooting guide and schematics for my 12v system board.

I've went ahead and ordered a couple of new 50amp breakers to swap out and see if that's the culprit.

One thing I noticed. You have a PD9245 converter, which is a 45amp unit. I believe this is the same unit I had before I replaced it some months ago. When I replaced it, I decided to get the 70amp version. Do you think this might have something to do with the circuit breaker tripping? The breakers are rated 50amp. Maybe the new converter is too much for the breaker?
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:46 PM   #9
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The breakers are rated 50amp. Maybe the new converter is too much for the breaker?
No, that 70 amp only means it supplies that much if it's demanded from it. Your breaker should only trip if something (or a combination of things) in the coach is using 50+ amps. If there is zero draw in the coach, the 9270 will put out zero amps.
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:57 PM   #10
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No, that 70 amp only means it supplies that much if it's demanded from it. Your breaker should only trip if something (or a combination of things) in the coach is using 50+ amps. If there is zero draw in the coach, the 9270 will put out zero amps.
Makes sense. I'll replace the CB and see what happens.

I'm still not convinced the CB is the issue, though. I'm guessing that current goes through that CB regardless if the power source for the converter is the engine alternator, or the generator. If that assumption is correct, then why does the CB trip with the generator and not the engine or shore power? That question is really where all this started, anyway.

As soon as I can rule out the generator running slow or fast (Hz), I'll be back to "what to check next". What do you think about my previous thought of bypassing the control board all together, and simply controlling the converter manually (i.e. not through the CB)? From what I can tell is the PD9270 has built in protection against overcharging the batteries, etc. It even has a remote pendant controller I can locate in a convenient location.
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:57 PM   #11
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I believe the 9270 is trying to supply as much current as the batteries want and that may be more than the 50 amp breaker rating.

If you have started the generator, then perhaps it is at a time when the batteries are low enough to be in the bulk charge state, and capable of accepting 70 amps.

You may want to run the batteries down a bit. Then using shore power, see if the CB will trip. If so then a higher rating CB may be needed. If so , be careful as the circuit board it self and wiring may have current limitations.

HTH,

Marty
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Old 05-30-2013, 10:02 AM   #12
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Makes sense. I'll replace the CB and see what happens.

I'm still not convinced the CB is the issue, though.
I'm not totally convinced either but, one must test in proper order to locate unusual problems.

Quote:

I'm guessing that current goes through that CB regardless if the power source for the converter is the engine alternator, or the generator. If that assumption is correct, then why does the CB trip with the generator and not the engine or shore power? That question is really where all this started, anyway.
Understood. With engine running, it supplies 12v to the chassis batts, then through a solenoid, to the house batts. But this is through a back channel. It's not clear to me and doubtful this current would run through CB3 as there are other circuits and breakers in the BCC (Battery Control Center - that circuit board). That's where a schematic comes in handy.

As far as the generator, it is putting out 120vac to the coach (a whole and completely separate system.) It has one 120v circuit dedicated to the PD9270 to convert 120vac to 12vdc, this is turn charges batteries and supplies 12vdc. If you look at the picture you sent, you will see the circuit from the PD9270 is the only one tied to CB3.

Quote:
As soon as I can rule out the generator running slow or fast (Hz), I'll be back to "what to check next". What do you think about my previous thought of bypassing the control board all together, and simply controlling the converter manually (i.e. not through the CB)? From what I can tell is the PD9270 has built in protection against overcharging the batteries, etc. It even has a remote pendant controller I can locate in a convenient location.

By-passing a circuit breaker can lead to burnt wires and fire, very bad idea. It wouldn't hurt to experiment with the Wizard by starting in Float mode. That will reduce volts and amps. However, that is still input into the CB3. If the coach is still demanding 55 amps and 55 amps is available, CB3 will trip.

Going back a post or two, did this happen with PD9245?

Here's my thoughts at this point. To pop a 50amp 12v circuit means the coach is using way to much amperage under normal conditions, so something is very wrong. We need to back track to find out what is being used when using the genny. You never did answer if you have an inverter and was it under use when the circuit trips. It's also not clear if you have an inverter, does it disconnect itself when 120vac is present. An inverter can pull some major amps depending what load you have on it. If you are using the genny, you must be doing some boondocking. So if you are letting the house batts get too low and you have all the lights on, the inverter on to make 120v power and those 120v items are on, you are going to get a huge surge and need of a lot of amps.

How many house batteries do you have, what type and at what voltage do you let them get down to before starting the genny?

A normal coach 12v control system doesn't use many amps (thermostat, water heater on gas, range on gas, all interior lights, water pump; smoke, C02 and propane detectors.) The big amp items are genny starter, inverter, leveling jacks and battery charging, and more so if they are in Boost mode.

These are expensive, so if you have a friend with one, borrow it. With a 12vdc "clamp" on Amp meter, you can clamp it around any 12v cable/wire to see how many amps is going through it. If you clamped it on the main output cable to the coach, you can monitor amperage. If it gets to say 40amps and the breaker trips, you know the breaker is bad. If is gets up to 50+ amps, you have too much draw going on at the same time. You can of course also clamp it around the PD9270, main starter cable, jacks pump cable, output inverter cable, ect.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:24 PM   #13
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Going back a post or two, did this happen with PD9245?
Yes. That is what I thought was the issue at first. So I replaced the PD9245 with the PD9270.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clyon51 View Post
Here's my thoughts at this point. To pop a 50amp 12v circuit means the coach is using way to much amperage under normal conditions, so something is very wrong. We need to back track to find out what is being used when using the genny. You never did answer if you have an inverter and was it under use when the circuit trips. It's also not clear if you have an inverter, does it disconnect itself when 120vac is present. An inverter can pull some major amps depending what load you have on it. If you are using the genny, you must be doing some boondocking. So if you are letting the house batts get too low and you have all the lights on, the inverter on to make 120v power and those 120v items are on, you are going to get a huge surge and need of a lot of amps.
I do have an inverter. Not sure of the make, but its a 600W unit. I do recall this last time the circuit breaker tripped it was on. My 32" LCD TV and DVD player was likely on. But that was it. I only turned on the generator to charge the batteries after being off all evening.

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How many house batteries do you have, what type and at what voltage do you let them get down to before starting the genny?
I have two deep cycle house batteries which a 6 volt pair. Then a smaller 12v chassis battery. Usually at night we only run the LP gas heat, and maybe watch TV a little before bed. A few lights on making dinner, getting ready for bed, etc. usually the voltage of the house batteries gets down to 12.0 - 11.8 depending on how hard the heat fan is working during the night. This last weekend it was getting down to high 30's at night, so it was kicking on quite a bit throughout the night. The rest of the general systems were on gas mode (fridge, water heater, etc.).

I do want to someday put a digital display somewhere that I can read the house battery % rather than just the voltage from the console that came with the coach. I'd like to know if they are 15% discharged, 18%, so on. I don't know how to do this, so I need to look into it more and see if I can figure it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clyon51 View Post
These are expensive, so if you have a friend with one, borrow it. With a 12vdc "clamp" on Amp meter, you can clamp it around any 12v cable/wire to see how many amps is going through it. If you clamped it on the main output cable to the coach, you can monitor amperage. If it gets to say 40amps and the breaker trips, you know the breaker is bad. If is gets up to 50+ amps, you have too much draw going on at the same time. You can of course also clamp it around the PD9270, main starter cable, jacks pump cable, output inverter cable, ect.
The service dept. where I work uses some nice Fluke multimeters, amp meters, etc. I'm going to borrow some this weekend and do some probing. Hopefully the new 50amp CB's I ordered will arrive Saturday as well.

Thanks for the correspondence on this. I'll come back with more info.
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:00 AM   #14
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Yes. That is what I thought was the issue at first. So I replaced the PD9245 with the PD9270.
The PD9245 should have been sufficient since you only have 2 house batts and a small inverter. (That's what I have but only use inverter in emergency. All my A/V equipment is 12vdc and all my lights are LED, but that shouldn't matter, just allows me to go longer between chargings (2 days). That extra 25amps is good for 4 to 6 batteries.

Quote:

I do have an inverter. Not sure of the make, but its a 600W unit. I do recall this last time the circuit breaker tripped it was on. My 32" LCD TV and DVD player was likely on. But that was it. I only turned on the generator to charge the batteries after being off all evening.

I have two deep cycle house batteries which a 6 volt pair. Then a smaller 12v chassis battery. Usually at night we only run the LP gas heat, and maybe watch TV a little before bed. A few lights on making dinner, getting ready for bed, etc. usually the voltage of the house batteries gets down to 12.0 - 11.8 depending on how hard the heat fan is working during the night. This last weekend it was getting down to high 30's at night, so it was kicking on quite a bit throughout the night. The rest of the general systems were on gas mode (fridge, water heater, etc.).
I don't see any real problem there. One thing I might suggest is, when batts are real low -12.0v, make sure inverter or all inverter powered items are off before starting genny. Just cranking genny is going to pull 30amps, then you have the inverter already pulling X amps and all other lights and systems, then a huge surge of 12v from the PD9270 to charge batteries . All this in of itself could exceed 50amps. BTW, when starting genny, it's always best to keep all loads off of it until it warms up.
Quote:

I do want to someday put a digital display somewhere that I can read the house battery % rather than just the voltage from the console that came with the coach. I'd like to know if they are 15% discharged, 18%, so on. I don't know how to do this, so I need to look into it more and see if I can figure it out.
I put a small/cheap digital volt gauge at the entry door. It gives me a good voltage reading right off the batteries. When mine hits 12.0v, it's time to charge them, here is a chart. Allowing a deep cycle to get down below say 40% is not good for them. What's even worse is allowing them to stay in that state very long, it just reduces their life.



Here's also two must reads for any RVer, study them when you have time.

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

The 12volt Side of Life Part 2

Quote:
The service dept. where I work uses some nice Fluke multimeters, amp meters, etc. I'm going to borrow some this weekend and do some probing. Hopefully the new 50amp CB's I ordered will arrive Saturday as well.

Thanks for the correspondence on this. I'll come back with more info.
That should tell the story. Other than you overloading CB3 with your procedures or a bad breaker, the only thing that makes sense in a genny only situation to me is, a bare/worn 12v wire/cable that is grounding out by the vibrations of the genny, either somewhere on or near it.
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