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Old 05-30-2022, 06:27 AM   #1
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1999 Monaco Diplomat refrigerator low voltage

I am having an issue with only getting 28 volts to the refrigerator control panel and plugs in the outside compartment. I believe the power comes from the GFCI in the bathroom which has 120 volts on both the line and load side. Is the issue a circuit breaker (which I do not know where the one for the fridge is located) or a ground issue (where do I start to look for that??)
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Old 05-30-2022, 09:15 AM   #2
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Where and how are you measuring this 28v? The fridge requires both 12vdc (for control) and 120vac (in AC electric mode). And what make.model fridge is it?



The circuit breaker feeds that GFCI, so it must be good if you have voltage there. No other circuit breaker unless the source is something other than that GFCI. And AC circuits have a neutral wire, not a "ground". Measure the voltage between hot & neutral where it enters the fridge control board.
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Old 05-30-2022, 06:07 PM   #3
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I have found that some of the wiring, receptacles and GFCI's on our 1999 Monaco Diplomat have not aged well.

Monaco chained all the outlets together primarily using the load side of the receptacles as the connection point. There are 6 or 7 receptacles downstream of the bathroom GFCI on that circuit.

A number of receptacles displayed evidence of overheating when pulled from their boxes. The worst were in the kitchen where there were higher loads from kettles and toasters.

I replaced a number with good quality receptacles using the screw lugs rather than the strip and insert clips.

While you may have 120v at the GFCI, you will probably see incremental drops the further downstream you go.

I would check them sequentially and see if there are any obvious bad ones.

In looking at ours, the 14/2 wires from the fridge plug run forward most likely to the plug under the dinette.

As Gary noted, the control circuit for the fridge requires 12v which is most likely fed from the chassis wiring harness.

Good luck.

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Old 06-01-2022, 09:10 AM   #4
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Update

I did a little more trial and error and it turns out I have the proper voltages at the fridge control panel and the plug in the exterior panel. The issue I have found is the GFCI will trip after 5 or 10 minutes of the fridge being turned on electric mode. I replaced the GFCI with a new one and it still does the same thing. I plan to plug the fridge into a house outlet to see what happens. Any idea why the GFCI is tripping after a short period of time?
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Old 06-01-2022, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiznGary View Post
I am having an issue with only getting 28 volts to the refrigerator control panel and plugs in the outside compartment. I believe the power comes from the GFCI in the bathroom which has 120 volts on both the line and load side. Is the issue a circuit breaker (which I do not know where the one for the fridge is located) or a ground issue (where do I start to look for that??)
In my RV the GFCI/inverter powered only the ice-maker, not the fridge. The fridge itself is a high current demand device, and has its own circuit with a dedicated breaker.

If you are only getting 28 volts AC at the outlet for the fridge, check the breaker, the outlet wiring, and you should find the problem without too much trouble.
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Old 06-01-2022, 03:45 PM   #6
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Heating elements can start to leak to ground only takes 6 milliamperes. That outlet is kind of near the elements, at least mine is just inside of vented door, might want to safely remove it and check it out for dirt ,corrasion and moisture. Maybe even run cord inside to same GFCI or on same run.
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Old 06-01-2022, 05:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiznGary View Post
I did a little more trial and error and it turns out I have the proper voltages at the fridge control panel and the plug in the exterior panel. The issue I have found is the GFCI will trip after 5 or 10 minutes of the fridge being turned on electric mode. I replaced the GFCI with a new one and it still does the same thing. I plan to plug the fridge into a house outlet to see what happens. Any idea why the GFCI is tripping after a short period of time?
If you turn off the ice maker and switch the fridge to propane does it still trip the gfi? If not turn on the ice maker but make sure you have water and water in the FW tank. If it does not trip, switch the fridge to electric mode and see if it trips.

As 153stars said it could be a heating element. I had a camper that did the same thing. replaced the heating element and fix the issue.
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Old 06-02-2022, 06:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiznGary View Post
I did a little more trial and error and it turns out I have the proper voltages at the fridge control panel and the plug in the exterior panel. The issue I have found is the GFCI will trip after 5 or 10 minutes of the fridge being turned on electric mode. I replaced the GFCI with a new one and it still does the same thing. I plan to plug the fridge into a house outlet to see what happens. Any idea why the GFCI is tripping after a short period of time?
OK, if the new GFCI also is tripping then you have leakage that is too high. Takes some electrical testing to see where, but the cause is often the heater elements failing.

If you are comfortable with electricity and have some tools and a meter I can take you through the process to test the elements.

Also again is this going through your GFCI, and is this the fridge and not the ice-maker? A absorption fridge should never be run on an inverter--they current draw is too high. In my HR all the GFCI outlets are on the inverter!
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Old 06-02-2022, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiznGary View Post
I did a little more trial and error and it turns out I have the proper voltages at the fridge control panel and the plug in the exterior panel. The issue I have found is the GFCI will trip after 5 or 10 minutes of the fridge being turned on electric mode. I replaced the GFCI with a new one and it still does the same thing. I plan to plug the fridge into a house outlet to see what happens. Any idea why the GFCI is tripping after a short period of time?

Plugging to the house outlet won't change anything. The GFCI is measuring current from its physical location in the circuit onward to the fridge. Nor does changing the GFCI itself fix anything, despite the popularity of doing this when GFCI trips occur.


A ground fault means some of the current (amps) in the hot wire is escaping instead of returning via the neutral as it should. In other words, it is going to "ground" somewhere. A fairly common problem in RV absorption fridges is that the electric heat element corrodes a bit and current begins to leak a bit. It could be a stray strand of wire where it enters the top of the element, but more often it is the element itself. Replacing it would be the wise move. It's should be easy, but sometimes the element is hard to get at and sometimes it is rusted in its tube alongside the boiler. Either of those can make the task challenging.
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Old 06-02-2022, 09:47 AM   #10
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You did not state the model of refrigerator you have but but it is not likely it is a “high current draw”. I had a Dometic 1492 (14cf) refrigerator and it drew about 3.5 amp (350watts) while on AC. It had 2 AC heating elements. If your refrigerator has 2 heating elements you could disconnect one at a time to see which element is causing the problem.

Also the the GFIC measures the total loss of every thing down stream of the GFIC outlet. In other words if you have a 1 milliampere (mAmp) loss at several outlets then you only need 4 ma loss at the refrigerator if the GFIC has a trip point of 6 mAmps. It may requiring inspecting each outlet and correcting any problems.
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Old 06-03-2022, 06:06 AM   #11
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...

Also the the GFIC measures the total loss of every thing down stream of the GFIC outlet. In other words if you have a 1 milliampere (mAmp) loss at several outlets then you only need 4 ma loss at the refrigerator if the GFIC has a trip point of 6 mAmps. It may requiring inspecting each outlet and correcting any problems.
Excellent point there. I forgot to mention that. There are tools to measure differential (leakage) current in an AC pair (the way that a GFCI does it) but I doubt more than a few of us have either seen one or even have one!

However I kind of suspect that the OP does have a bad heater element, however. Only proper diagnostics will say for sure.
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Old 06-03-2022, 09:09 AM   #12
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Electric Circuit Troubleshooting

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiznGary View Post
I am having an issue with only getting 28 volts to the refrigerator control panel and plugs in the outside compartment. I believe the power comes from the GFCI in the bathroom which has 120 volts on both the line and load side. Is the issue a circuit breaker (which I do not know where the one for the fridge is located) or a ground issue (where do I start to look for that??)
The key words here are

28 volts to the refrigerator control panel

GFCI in the bathroom which has 120 volts on both the line and load side.

In order for a voltage drop there has to be a load:

Voltage Change = Current times Load (delta-V=IR).

It is clear you have a volt meter, you just need to use it when there is a load on the system to find the voltage drop. There has to be a resistance to result in a voltage drop.

Hope this helps
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Old 06-06-2022, 10:53 AM   #13
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I turned the fridge on to propane and it worked until it gave me the no co code. I thought the RV was level enough in my driveway but I was wrong. Anyway, I had to do a hard reset on the motherboard for the fridge because this must have happened prior to me owning the rig. After resetting the board I plugged the fridge into my house and it worked fine. So I thought lets try it plugged into the RV. Lo and behold it now works fine. The wonders of electricity. I also performed a continuity test on the heating elements before all this and it indicated no grounding was occuring. So long story short, the fridge now works. Thanks for all your ideas.
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