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Old 11-26-2020, 09:50 AM   #1
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Inverter/power issue?

Morning and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

On our first big trip today and have run into issues. Stupidly we left at 10pm without any propane when it was 20F. We thought we could fill up at the truck stop but all of them we tried had a 8 or 9pm cut off. So we drove all night but we were freezing.

We were using a heat cube in the cockpit running off the inverter. This worked great until the inverter shut off (lasted about 6 hours.) I haven't done the math yet but 1200w heater should have lasted longer than that on 4x big 6v batteries while being recharged by the alternator (via BIRD controller)..... Right?

Anyway, inverter shut off and I believe due to low voltage because I would turn it back on and it would run for 5-10m and then shut back off. I left it off.

This morning I'm not getting any 110v at the outlets. Inverter is on and green light is lit but it detects no load . I have reset it's breakers as well as all the breakers in my panel. Even with the gen running I have no outlet power. There is a tripped gfci on the bathroom sink outlet which trips as soon as I reset it. Nothing plugged in to any outlet at all.

2000/01 Diplomat w/ a trace 1500w inverter and 7.5kw onan. Would be very thankful for any help!
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:31 AM   #2
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At the load tou described, you maxed out the engine alternator, question is why didn't you run the generator? 99 monaco that we had i ran 3 1500 watt heaters for travel off 3 circuits, at .5/ gal/hr why not?
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:33 AM   #3
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You may want to put your coach make/model/year in your signature.

If your alternator does not charge your house batteries you would have been better off running your generator.

Check your inverter, there is probably a breaker on it that has tripped, when voltage goes down, amps goes up so you deplete your batteries faster.
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:36 AM   #4
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One thing to remember is that if you have a "wet bay heater" it draws about 35 amps 12v, so that adds into your problem.
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:41 AM   #5
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A 1300 watt electric heater would about max out a 1500 watt inverter. At 120 volts the heater would draw 11 amps. The inverter would draw 130 amps at 12 volts to run the heater. Plus the inverter would draw a little more to power the conversion.

High current draw from a lead acid battery will cause low terminal voltage. Voltage drop due to 130 amp draw would cause the terminal voltage to drop dramatically. Inverter would trip soon due to low input voltage.

Lead acid deep draw batteries are inefficient for high current draw. Battery bank would run down in short order.

Recharging from the engine might be between 20 and 80 amps. It is not nearly enough to replace what is consumed by the heater.

I have been there and done that! My TT uses "20 #" bottles. I exchanged at a gas station at 2 am. Even Walmart closes in a Covid year.
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:47 AM   #6
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Ad far as the battery life, the heater was drawing 10 amps, so 10 AH at 120 volts.

That's 100 AMPs at 12 volts !

6 hours = 600 AH plus inverter losses of about 30 AH = 900 AH.
4, 6 volt batteries avarage about 400 AH. You did good getting that much out of them.

Running at night uses more of your alternator power for chassis lights and heaters, leaving less for charging thru the BIRD ( Isolation Solenoid ). It will disconnect, If the chassis battery drops below 12.6 volts and delay reconnecting, protecting the chassis functions.

Run the generator.

GFCIs will not reset if there is no power. If it has power, unplug everything until it stops tripping.
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Old 11-26-2020, 11:09 AM   #7
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It's all a learning experience. Honestly I thought it was a 600w heater and that it was using "free" power from the alternator. Lesson learned!

I found another gfci under the dining table and now that outlet works (but only that outlet. ) Bathroom circuit still trips as soon as it resets and can't find any other breakers and still nothing plugged that I can find. Inverter has two breakers and neither of them are tripped.
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Old 11-26-2020, 03:18 PM   #8
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Not a good way to start your trip, hopefully you will find propane and things will start to improve, you may have a GFI circuit in your outdoor storage bins.
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Old 11-26-2020, 03:43 PM   #9
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Not a good way to start your trip, hopefully you will find propane and things will start to improve, you may have a GFI circuit in your outdoor storage bins.
Good call!

We did find propane and are now quite warm. Loves in Hudson, CO informed me that company policy is that all Loves that offer bulk propane (should be most of them) are required to sell 24/7. The woman working was quite bothered to hear I had stopped at 3 that refused late-night service. Who knows.

Great day to eat up some miles. No traffic. Just pushed through the eisenhower tunnel and left footing it to Moab.

Will check the bin outlets once we get parked this eve.
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Old 11-26-2020, 03:58 PM   #10
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Good call!

We did find propane and are now quite warm. Loves in Hudson, CO informed me that company policy is that all Loves that offer bulk propane (should be most of them) are required to sell 24/7. The woman working was quite bothered to hear I had stopped at 3 that refused late-night service. Who knows.

Great day to eat up some miles. No traffic. Just pushed through the eisenhower tunnel and left footing it to Moab.

Will check the bin outlets once we get parked this eve.
I'v been turned down for propane fill in a few Flying J after 5 PM. The excuse was no one trained to do it on site.
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Old 11-26-2020, 08:42 PM   #11
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I know a gfci provides quicker protection than the circuit breaker but I bypassed it tonight and all is well. I'll pick up a new one and hopefully problem solved while still being safe.
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Old 11-26-2020, 09:12 PM   #12
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You got lots of great advice in here. I have the same unit as you so I'll add in my two cents as I recall the same issues as a new owner. Here's how it worked for me;

First, if you don't have 50 amp service you have to be careful what you plug in and run at the same time. You will blow breakers and such until you learn. Here's the checklist when that happens;

1) Check two breakers on inverter
2) Check two breakers on Generator
3) Check all the GFCI's. The bathroom seems to be the main culprit. There is also one under the kitchen table and one on the counter. Reset them all as necessary.

That will normally address the symptoms until you learn, from experience, why it happens. Also, just an FYI, on your inverter, when it's been completely powered off, you have to press the on button TWICE to turn it back on.
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Old 11-26-2020, 09:59 PM   #13
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I know a gfci provides quicker protection than the circuit breaker but I bypassed it tonight and all is well. I'll pick up a new one and hopefully problem solved while still being safe.
GFCIs don't offer quicker protection, they offer different protection.

Circuit breakers protect you from overloading the wiring and causing an electrical fire.

GFCIs protect against you from getting a deadly shock.
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