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Old 11-21-2022, 09:40 AM   #1
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Surge protection

We have a 2014 36 LA gasser.
This past week, we lost our inverter, apparently due to electrical surge at a state park.
This is my own fault, as I did not have a external SP on the power pole.

Now. My question: Our coach has a junction box where the power cord is connected to. It's located in the electrical bay. The box is labeled (by Tiffin) 'Transfer switch Surge protector'.

If I already have a SP built in, why do I need an external one for protection? The fact that I lost the inverter answers my question, but why does Tiffin label the box as a surge protector if it doesn't protect?

Expensive lesson learned, and a bit confused.

Thanks for any/all explanations.

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Old 11-21-2022, 10:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killingtime View Post
We have a 2014 36 LA gasser.
This past week, we lost our inverter, apparently due to electrical surge at a state park.
This is my own fault, as I did not have a external SP on the power pole.

Now. My question: Our coach has a junction box where the power cord is connected to. It's located in the electrical bay. The box is labeled (by Tiffin) 'Transfer switch Surge protector'.

If I already have a SP built in, why do I need an external one for protection? The fact that I lost the inverter answers my question, but why does Tiffin label the box as a surge protector if it doesn't protect?

Expensive lesson learned, and a bit confused.

Thanks for any/all explanations.

Skip
Not sure which brand you have; ours has the Surge Guard and it's a one shot surge protector which means you also lose the transfer switch function if it blows. External units will save that pain and expense. I use the Hughes Power Watch Dog +EPO and the SP portion is user replaceable and the first replacement is free.

Sam
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Old 11-21-2022, 04:37 PM   #3
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^^^^^ Ditto what Sam said.
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:36 AM   #4
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Hughes Power Watchdog

As Sam and Lt. Dan stated, The Hughes Power Watchdod is a great unit, I PREFER IT TO BE THE PORTABLE UNIT WITH WIRELESS display onto your cell phone, each line voltage, each line current flow and it captures the consumed KW/HR so that you can start with Zero KW/HRS at a new RV park and when the meter is read have a means to insure your electric bill is in order. Plus this portable unit is easy to swap out if needed and they offer a in expensive replacement card, so IF YOU GET A HIGH DAMAGING SURGE, on any surge protector, the surge will burn up the (MOV) metal Oxide Varistors, they are the sacrificial items that protect your TV electrics, TV, Computer, ect. When and if a surge occurs.
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Old 11-28-2022, 02:41 PM   #5
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OP here.

Thanks guys. We went with the Hughes Watchdog. I liked the idea of having a spare board on hand if needed.

Just wished I'd had more snap before this happened.

Thanks again...Great forum!!!

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Old 11-28-2022, 03:11 PM   #6
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The Power Watchdog is a great choice and you won't be disappointed. If you have a full time in house WiFi, you can connect the watchdog to a RV Whisper module and monitor power from anywhere.
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Old 12-06-2022, 06:50 PM   #7
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Surge protection is generally provided via small dime size two lead components called MOV's. Their capacity rating is typically tiny. If they interrupt a surge higher than their capacity they permanently blow. Generally MOVs can be replaced if you know what your doing and the unit has access to them. I would expect a tiffin transfer switch does, unless their soldered on a circuit board which I doubt. If an MOV blew it was doing its job.

Surges can be caused by lightning or even just utility switching in substations. A rule of thumb is 1 lightning strike per mile of utility power lines per year ... translation ... a lot of lightning strikes to power lines.

Inverters or any electronic device, e.g. TV, that has electronic devices is suspectable to surges but also failure due to heat aging of the electronic components. The heating and cooling from turning off and on ... or heating and cooling from load variation ... stresses the electronic components and they eventually fail. Other components like capacitors can failure due to surge punch thru. Components with windings, like transformers or motors, can fail due to surges, as the insulation in the windings is extremely thin. The voltage rating of the winding insulation isn't 120VAC, it is called turn to turn insulation ... so the insulation is only thick enough or strong enough ... for the potential difference (voltage) caused by the resistance (impedance) caused by a single turn of the winding. So very thin, low potential difference insulation hence easy to punch thru via a surge.

There are means to reduce failures due to surges. None ... None are fool proof. A shielded isolation transformer can provide some degree of help but a large high rated surge arrester will be large, heavy and expensive.

The MOV surge arresters are better than nothing, provide some protection and are the best bang for the buck

IMHO
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:07 AM   #8
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For what it's worth, I've been using the Hughes Power Watchdog at the pole, since the product was first marketed. I'm a believer in the product. I love the bluetooth app on the phone. It tells me all I need to know. The face lit up red a few times after plugging in, and both times, it turned out to be miswired pedestals. One thing, though - I've updated the app a few times since I've owned it, and get a different display of the stats. Same stat functions, but just a different look.

I've had to replace the on-board Surge Guard ATS/surge box once, since I bought this rig new in '16. A good tech told me that the particular on-board model of the ATS/surge protector, protects well against high voltage, and not so well against low. I had an old portable Surge Guard that I used at the power box, but didn't use it, because I thought the on-board one would be good enough. Once the on-board ATS/protector was replaced, I started using the portable one at the pole again. I, still, have the old portable Surge Guard (as a backup).

The Hughes Watchdog has performed very well. So far, I've not had to replace the card in the Watchdog, yet, but have seen that they're inexpensive. I don't use the RV Whisper module that Lt. Dan spoke of, but it sounds like a good idea (especially if pets are left in the motorhome, while the owners go away on a hot afternoon). I do use a bicycle cable to secure the Watchdog to the power pole, to deter theft. I did the same on the old Surge Guard portable model. It only takes 60 seconds to secure the portable unit. Of course, cable cutters could be used, but using the cable is a deterent. I've read about some portable surge protectors being stolen, but I've never encountered anyone, personally, that has dealt with that.

More on the on-board Surge Guard, old portable Surge Guard & the Hughes Watchdog, on our website Projects RV Surge Protection page HERE
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Old 12-21-2022, 07:15 PM   #9
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OP here.

UPDATE!!!!

OK guys, I bought a new inverter and set up an appointment with a RV tech I've used in the past at my home base.

After about twenty minutes of checking out possible problems, he couldn't find anything wrong with my coach. All the receptacles worked just fine.

After I told him the whole story of the events leading to our outage, he immediately suspected that the park had lost an electrical leg at the supply post. This make good since because when I tried to reset the 110 breaker at the supply which is right next to the 30 amp breaker, it was just "springy" and would not reset.

At the time, I suggested to the RV tech that responded to the park, that we could start the genny and check the systems. He told me that wouldn't work and I just needed a new inverter.

I should have known that since half of my coach had power at the 110 receptacles, that one leg was bad. But, this is all new to me, and I certainly don't know about the electrical setups in a RV.

The tech at the park didn't check the voltage at the supply post. This would have saved me a bunch of grief, and some $$$'s. He charged me almost $400 for the service call.

I did send him an email, explaining the outcome. I don't want any refund, but I hope he might learn from this mistake, and save another unsuspecting camper down the road.

But, now that I have the new Hughes Watchdog surge protector, I believe the codes it provides will lessen some of these problems as they occur.

I hope this response with keep others from having the same bad experience.

Thanks for reading.

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Old 12-23-2022, 09:18 AM   #10
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We use a different 50 amp surge protector and it saved my bacon at least one time. I recommend adding an in-line cable line surge protector too.

Our RV park had a major surge due to a lightning strike. Our 50 amp surge protector worked and our RV no issues there. GFI on pedestal was fried. We did have a power surge come in through our cable line. It jumped into the 12 volt system and caused multiple issues in RV. I now use a surge protector on my cable line too.
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Old 12-23-2022, 09:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killingtime View Post
OP here.

when I tried to reset the 110 breaker at the supply which is right next to the 30 amp breaker, it was just "springy" and would not reset.


I should have known that since half of my coach had power at the 110 receptacles, that one leg was bad. But, this is all new to me, and I certainly don't know about the electrical setups in a RV.
A "springy" feel to a breaker means it has tripped and won't reset until you force it to "OFF" first.
What doesn't make sense is when you say "the 110 breaker next to the 30 amp", they are both 110 (actually 120) and if you were plugged into the 30 then the single next to it has nothing to do with you. Also there is only one leg on a 30 amp hookup. Were you plugged into the 50 amp? Even still the individual "110" breaker being tripped would not affect you unless the wiring was jury rigged in the pedestal and there was no true 50 amp service, and the individual breaker was supplying one leg of the 50, which would be very unusual, certainly something I've never seen.

At any rate, checking supply at the pedestal is the first step and it's hard to believe a service tech didn't do this, if so I wouldn't call him a tech at all, that is what is known as a "non-qualified" individual. Having a meter and knowing how to use it can save you a lot of time, money and grief, literally a 15 second job.
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