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Old 08-24-2018, 11:30 PM   #1
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Question 1 of infinity: My inverter doesn't work

I have roughly infinity questions about my new (hah!) 1991 Concept, AKA The Lummox. I am going to try not to dump them all in here at the exact same time, both because that would be rude and because it would be exhausting, so here goes torpedo tube number one:

My inverter doesn't. My coach batteries aren't in great shape, but they're well above the 10 volts that the inverter is supposed to cut out at, but here's what happens when I try to use it:

1) I flip the circuit selector switch to the middle. Nothing happens, as it's supposed to.
2) I flip the inverter switch up. The inverter switch starts glowing green. Neither the low-battery light nor the circuit overload light come on. They are supposed to, according to the owner's manual.
3) I flip the reset switch. Nothing happens. Is that good? I don't know! Certainly none of the gauges seem to move at all. The low-battery light and the circuit overload lights do not go out, as the manual says they will, but that is because they aren't on. We'll call that a wash.
4) I flip the circuit selector switch to one side or the other. The selection lights up cheerfully, just as if everything were going just great. Only nothing actually happens: the oven doesn't turn on if the toggle is switched in that direction, the outlets don't turn on if switched in the other. Just... nothing.

This is pretty annoying to me as I am trying to make it across the country without spending too much money at RV parks, and without running my generator all night, but I need to run a CPAP all night. I have bought a UPS and will be trying it out for the first time tonight to see if it can run the damn thing all night) but obviously that's not exactly optimal.

Any ideas? Where IS the inverter? Is there some circuit breaker that isn't in the breaker box in the bedroom that could be flipped?

There! Only infinity-minus-one questions left to go!

Thanks!
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Old 08-25-2018, 09:49 AM   #2
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I suggest you first do a thorough survey of your RV. You know the inverter is onboard, so a search of every cabinet, closet, and compartment should reveal it. When you find a component, list its make and model so you can search online for further information, including manuals, troubleshooting guides, etc.

You mention "My coach batteries aren't in great shape, but they're well above the 10 volts." If your batteries are weak, anytime any attempt to draw power from them can drop the voltage so low the inverter may shut down. If all fuses and breakers are good, that could be the issue.



A 12v battery could be bad if it's just "above 10v." You could take it to a battery store and have it load tested to see if it can be saved.

If you're attempting to travel across the country on weak batteries, you will get stranded, and if you need a CPAP at night, with weak batteries, it will fail during the night.

Anytime you change from 12v DC to 120v AC, some energy is used up in the conversion. I'd suggest you see if your CPAP is actually 12v and already has a built-in inverter, thus you could operate it directly on 12v and reduce the energy needs. Or, you could buy one that will operate on 12v and sell the one you have.
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Old 08-25-2018, 10:55 AM   #3
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I agree sharing the make and model of the inverter would be helpful. Also does the inverter have a remote panel to manage the inverter. Since this is an older coach pictures of the switches and breakers you are talking about would also be helpful.


The battery voltage as noted above is also a concern. Is the battery charger not working? Does the battery charger have a equalizing setting? If so, try equalizing the battery bank to see if they can be restored.



Since the battery is in questionable maybe get a good battery and install it temporarily install it. Remove the questionable battery. That would eliminate one variable. Since it would be a temporary installation just about any 12 volt battery would work.
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Old 08-25-2018, 12:00 PM   #4
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When I took possession of my 2000 Intrigue my inverter also didn't work. I just figured it was bad like everything else and planned on replacing it. However, it turned out I had one bad battery. That was enough to keep it from coming on even though the other 2 were good and ran everything. I had no idea it had a bad battery.
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Old 08-25-2018, 12:26 PM   #5
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I agree with the advice given. You say your batteries are 'well above the 10V' required to make the inverter work but I suspect when it tries to work, it immediately pulls the voltage down and shuts off.


I would make sure you have good, fresh house and chassis batteries. If there is any question of their readiness, I would just replace them.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post


I suggest you first do a thorough survey of your RV. You know the inverter is onboard, so a search of every cabinet, closet, and compartment should reveal it.
I've done that already, and found most things. I haven't found the inverter yet. When I get a chance, I'll keep looking.

Quote:
You mention "My coach batteries aren't in great shape, but they're well above the 10 volts." If your batteries are weak, anytime any attempt to draw power from them can drop the voltage so low the inverter may shut down. If all fuses and breakers are good, that could be the issue.
While in theory that's possible, in practice it seems unlikely, since the inverter still doesn't work even when I have the engine running (and the coach batteries therefore read at 13v+, even under significant load.) It also seems unlikely because the inverter does not respond to being flipped on, even under zero load, in the way the manual says that it will.

Quote:
A 12v battery could be bad if it's just "above 10v." You could take it to a battery store and have it load tested to see if it can be saved.
Yes, I had them tested. One of the coach batteries is pretty badly off, and the other one is marginal. The chassis batteries were both utterly toast, before I replaced them. (And that was a nightmare, requiring two hours of chipping corrosion out of the mount before the new batteries would even fit.)

Quote:
If you're attempting to travel across the country on weak batteries, you will get stranded, and if you need a CPAP at night, with weak batteries, it will fail during the night.
I appreciate the concern, I really do. But I do know how batteries work. That's why I replaced the chassis batteries, which means I won't get stranded, and also why I got the UPS, so that I could run the CPAP off of it. (And that does work, as long as I don't turn the humidifier on.) I will replace the coach batteries when I have a chance, since it is much harder to find deep-cycle 8D batteries anywhere, generally requiring you to order them at least a week or two ahead of time, and/or pay through the nose, whereas decent 8D starter batteries were available in-stock at quite reasonable prices, even avoiding the crappy brands.

Quote:
Anytime you change from 12v DC to 120v AC, some energy is used up in the conversion. I'd suggest you see if your CPAP is actually 12v and already has a built-in inverter [note: that would be a transformer], thus you could operate it directly on 12v and reduce the energy needs.
I plan to do that in the longer term, since yes, it is a 12-volt device. However, it requires pieces that I don't currently have (a spare cord with connector that plugs into the thing, for one thing) plus both the time and willingness to screw with the wiring in the coach, or at least come up with some way to hook the cable into a light socket. I have a little bitty electronics kit with me, but I don't have a soldering iron, and I'd be a bit nervous about using alligator clips for this... they short things out too easily. Anyway, the CPAP sucks so little power that the amount lost in the conversion would be negligible... the real difference would be just turning on the inverter, which must suck some power just to have turned on.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ilvmygt View Post
I agree sharing the make and model of the inverter would be helpful. Also does the inverter have a remote panel to manage the inverter. Since this is an older coach pictures of the switches and breakers you are talking about would also be helpful.
The inverter is a 'PACS MODEL 1500'. There is a remote panel to operate it above the entrance doorway, that looks like, well, this:



Quote:
The battery voltage as noted above is also a concern. Is the battery charger not working? Does the battery charger have a equalizing setting? If so, try equalizing the battery bank to see if they can be restored.
I don't actually know what that means: I haven't seen anything about an 'equalizing' setting, not on any switches nor in the operating manual. However, that doesn't necessarily mean anything, since I don't think I retained everything in the manual. I'll reread the relevant parts and see.

However, trust me, at the very least the chassis batteries were bad. They had exploded all over the place and welded themselves into the slide-out tray with so much corrosion that it took me hours to get rid of it all. According to the mechanic I took the sucker to, one of the coach batteries is 'marginal' and the other is 'toast'. I think I'm just going to replace both, although they (as deep-cycle batteries) are a hell of a lot more expensive.

Quote:
Since the battery is in questionable maybe get a good battery and install it temporarily install it. Remove the questionable battery. That would eliminate one variable. Since it would be a temporary installation just about any 12 volt battery would work.
Not a bad idea. I may try that when I get somewhere where I can cadge the loan of a battery off of someone.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:02 AM   #8
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Several suggestions:


1. sounds like the inverter may be shot. What I can find on the web suggests it is an old school device so you may suffer less aggravation by just replacing it with a new unit. Unless it is different than the more modern inverters (Xantrex, Magnum Energy, etc.) with digital remote display/controls, it should have a built in multistage battery charger. Perhaps not in your case. I would be looking to replace the inverter with a Magnum Energy inverter/charger with the digital remote; MS2812 will give you 2800 watts and a true multi-stage charger.



2. looks like you are in CA so I would be making a trip to Junction City, OR area to one of the several shops that can help you sort this out. Oregon Motor Coach in Eugene, Premier RV in Junction City, or Winnebago/Country Coach in Junction City. Or get in touch with Kevin Waite in Junction City. He does mobile repair and has a shop and is a trusted expert on CC's.


3. If you are the dedicated DIY'r, Kevin Waite (K&M Mobile RV Repair. 541-953-6162) offers unlimited tech support (over the phone, by email or text) for $350 per year. He has saved many of us who have done our own repairs more than that annual fee in labor costs not paid to others. He can help diagnose and fix many issues. He is also a great source for parts for these orphan coaches. His tech support includes access to his BIL, Butch Williams, who is also a former CC builder who is an expert on all things electrical on these coaches.



4. If you want to replace the two house batteries with another set of 8D AGM's, I would go with Lifeline. Just need to get a gorilla to help you change them out.
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Old 08-27-2018, 03:42 PM   #9
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Letís start with the batteries. You need to know if your batteries are healthy and their current charge state. Do you have a multi-meter? If not, get one right away. Doesnít have to be a fancy model but some are easier to use than others. You need to know (and let us know) what battery types have been installed (12 volt 8Dís, 6 volt in series/parallel, etc.) Slide out your domestic battery tray (right hand side of coach) and take a picture for reference and post here as well. Disconnect the main battery leads and measure the voltage of the entire bank. Then disconnect each battery and note voltage of each individual battery. Regardless of charge state they should all be at the same voltage. If they are not the same then you have one or more bad cells. Replacing individual batteries is not recommended. All of the batteries in a bank should be the same type, capacity, age and brand. High likelihood you have 8Dís that are not true deep cycle batteries as they are much cheaper than the true deep cycle 8Dís. More on that later if you need to replace batteries.

You need to determine if your batteries are good first in order to determine if the inverter is working. Fully charged batteries will be around 12.7 volts unloaded. At 12.1 volts they are considered dead and the more a battery is discharged below this point the harder it is on the battery. True deep cycles are designed to handle discharging the best.

Not to ignore your other questions about the inverter but you have to know if you are supplying the inverter with good power first.
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Old 08-27-2018, 03:44 PM   #10
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By the way, your inverter is in the electrical bay on the passenger side just behind the domestic battery tray which is just behind the front axle.
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