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Old 09-17-2020, 04:21 PM   #1
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Mounting Bracket for Hughes Autoformer

As noted in this thread…

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f278/hug...al-453450.html

…I purchased a 50 Amp Hughes Autoformer back in July 2019. I’ve been very satisfied with the product. Since acquiring it I’ve been considering options for mounting the Autoformer inside a basement storage compartment on our 2018 Cornerstone.

I finally got around to fabricating and installing a mounting assembly a month or so ago, only to learn today that the company that makes the Autoformer announced a nicely designed mounting bracket I could have purchased for just $42! Included below are two photos of the new bracket. (My intent was for those two photos to show up first, but for some reason they're at the bottom of the group of photos.) The Hughes bracket isn't available just yet, but it should be within the next month or so. More info and additional photos here:

https://hughesautoformers.com/produc...for-autoformer

I'm pretty sure I spent close $42 making my mounting assembly, not to mention more hours than I care to admit. Below are some photos of what I did, using High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) material and a few other parts & pieces.

As you can see, my assembly is mounted to the top of our Aqua-Hot unit. I was a little leery of doing that, based on the fact that the "roof" panel of the Aqua-Hot gets pretty warm to the touch when the Aqua-Hot is running full blast. But checking the temps with a Fluke non-contact thermometer and comparing the readings from the roof of the Aqua-Hot to how warm the bottom portion of the Autoformer gets while sitting on a piece of wood in open air, the numbers were pretty much equal. That was good news because it wasn’t like I had a whole lot of options regarding where to locate the Autoformer.

As you can kinda-sorta see in a couple of the photos, I did cut some two-inch diameter HDPE wafers to elevate the mounting assembly a bit above the roof of the Aqua-Hot. Probably not necessary since HDPE is a pretty good insulator all by itself, but I figured it couldn't hurt. We recently made a 2,000 mile trip to Missouri & back, in pretty warm weather. I kept a close eye on temps with the Fluke thermometer and didn't see anything alarming at all.

Also partially visible in the photo where you can see the cord reel is a portable Hughes 50 Amp Power Watchdog surge protector & power monitoring device, which I was able to locate behind the cord reel. With all those components in place, the flow of power is from the power pedestal to the cord reel to the Autoformer to the Power Watchdog to the transfer switch to the coach. The cord reel, the Autoformer and the Power Watchdog are each configured with 50 amp connectors so any one (or more) of those devices can be in or out of the power flow as necessary or desired.
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Old 09-17-2020, 04:34 PM   #2
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AWESOME job. Looks fantastic!
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Old 09-18-2020, 05:36 AM   #3
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Nice job and nice write-up. I have had my Hughes now for nearly 2 years and have never inserted it in the line. I watch my power situation very carefully and the plans are for the Hughes to be inserted when I find myself in an RV park that has problematic commercial power, but have always wanted to have it permanently installed. Your write up give me some good ideas so I appreciate getting the information.

Gary
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Old 09-18-2020, 11:16 AM   #4
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Gary, I leave the Autoformer inline all the time. As you may know, the Autoformer boosts incoming voltage by about 2% all the time, then adds additional boost when it detects abnormally low voltage. There are indicator lights on the Autoformer that let you know what it's doing at any given time.

I rarely see the lights that indicate it's applying full boost, but I still prefer to leave it inline all the time, for the following reasons:

1) If a given park has somewhat low voltage - not low enough to trigger full boost, but almost - my understanding is that the 2% boost in voltage (at the expense of a few amps) is better for the AC units and other appliances.

2) If the park has voltage right on the edge of adequate, such that it is fluctuating under and over the threshold at which my Power Watchdog (or other surge protection/energy monitoring device) will cut power to the coach, having the Autoformer inline all the time means I'll never be affected by that problem. If I don't have it inline, I'll see power to the coach being cut off, coming back on, cutting out again, etc. Then I have to go outside, break out the Autoformer, turn off the shore power, hook up the Autoformer, and reestablish shore power to the coach.

3) The Autoformer has some level of built-in power protection. Not as comprehensive as the protection afforded by the Power Watchdog and similar devices, but the nice thing about the Autoformer's power protection is that it's controlled by a user-replaceable power protection module. (The Power Watchdog has a similar user-replaceable module.)

With the Autoformer inline all the time, followed by the Power Watchdog, I have two devices protecting the transfer switch from bad power and surges. Both of those devices have relatively inexpensive user-replaceable power protection modules. As you know, the transfer switch is a different story: it's one-and-done, and a replacement transfer switch isn't cheap.
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Old 09-18-2020, 02:13 PM   #5
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Won’t having the Autoformer on top of the Aquahot impede access for AH maintenance?
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Old 09-18-2020, 03:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRUSA14 View Post
Won’t having the Autoformer on top of the Aquahot impede access for AH maintenance?
Good question, Marc. The answer is, not to any significant degree:

Unplug the Autoformer, loosen the strap that keeps it from bouncing around, lift it out. The HDPE mounting assembly stays in place. Remove the three bolts that hold the roof panel of the Aqua-Hot in place, remove the roof panel for service just like you would if the mounting assembly wasn't attached to it.

I didn't elaborate in the original post, but the HDPE assembly is secured to the roof panel of the Aqua-Hot with five stainless steel screws & nyloc nuts - one in each of the four corners and one in the center so I could place a fifth wafer under the center of the HDPE panel the Autoformer sits on. I added the fifth wafer in the center only because the Autoformer is HEAVY and I didn't want the HDPE panel it sits on to end up sagging.

If any of that is unclear I can take some additional photos to clarify. The short version is that removing the Aqua-Hot's roof panel for service will only take a minute or two longer than it did before. Same thing with reinstalling the panel once the service work is completed.

When the time comes to sell or trade the coach, I can include the Autoformer and mounting assembly in the deal, or remove the Autoformer and the mounting assembly. At that point there will be five relatively small holes in the roof panel of the Aqua-Hot. My thought would be to fill those with very short stainless steel screws and nyloc nuts. If a given buyer finds that objectionable, I (or he) can just purchase a new roof panel.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:30 AM   #7
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Nice job Larry!
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Old 09-21-2020, 07:11 AM   #8
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Nice bracket. That is exactly where I set mine when I need it. I ran into a situation where the voltage at the park was high enough that with the Autoformer inline, the 2% boost was enough to cause the Progressive EMS to shut down on high voltage occasionally. Once I removed the Autoformer, I never had any more issues while staying at that park.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:00 PM   #9
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James, we had that happen one time as well. In our case, we arrived at the Entegra service center “campground” (actually a parking lot with 50 amp power) in Middlebury on a Sunday afternoon, for a class that started on Monday. That night our Progressive Industries EMS unit started intermittently shutting off one leg of the 50 amp power.

A bit of diagnosis revealed the same situation you described - abnormally high voltage on that one leg - which was being boosted 2% by the Autoformer, putting it just over the threshold the P.I. EMS unit would tolerate. My theory was that the campground was probably powered by the same grid that powers the entire factory, or at least the service center. And with everything in those buildings idle, we and our fellow campers were about the only loads on the system.

At that point I had the Autoformer stashed behind the power cord reel, along with my portable P.I. EMS unit. Everything was cabled for “plug & play,” but to get the Autoformer out of the loop required unbolting the cord reel and moving it out of the way. I now have a Hughes Power Watchdog instead of the P.I. EMS, which I like better because of its Bluetooth capability. And with the Autoformer sitting on top of the Aqua-Hot I can take the Autoformer out of the loop if necessary without having to unbolt the cord reel.

What I’d really like to see is a switch added to the Autoformer that would allow for disabling the 2% boost when necessary. Or some “smarts” added to the unit that would recognize the presence of voltage high enough that the 2% boost isn’t useful and automatically turn it off.

On a different but related subject, I still have the old P.I. EMS unit, which comes in handy if we arrive at given RV park, plug into shore power at our assigned site, and see anything flaky. In that situation, I can take the portable P.I. EMS unit to another site, plug it in to the power pedestal, and determine if the issue is specific to our site or more widespread.
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