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Old 03-11-2020, 06:42 PM   #1
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Generator - A/C issue

This is kind of long but I need to give all the details:
I have a 2019, 2425 Coleman bumper pull RV. I have recently been in some “primitive” camping sites with no services. I have an EF3600ISDE Yamaha generator that is dual fuel (Gasoline or Propane). It is a great unit. Here is my issue and questions:
Yesterday it was warm enough to turn on my RV A/C unit. I had the generator running on propane and in full throttle mode not “eco” mode. The A/C fan came on for a minute or so and the generator stayed at 3450 RPM (normal full throttle mode RPM). When the A/C compressor kicked on the generator advanced a few hundred RPMs and then went into “overload” and cut power to RV. The generator cut back the RPMs and kept running at 3450 RPMs but stayed in overload mode. I cut off A/C, shut down generator, and restarted. Generator came back on and was supplying power to RV. I did not have anything else on in RV such as microwave, coffee pot, ect. I tried again to turn on A/C and same result: power to RV was cut and generator in overload mode. Experimenting, I disconnected propane and tried running generator on gasoline. Basic same result.
I noted that generator ran at 3450 RPM’s before turning on A/C when on propane or gasoline. During several attempts, some times the A/C would run a few minutes longer when compressor cut on than other times but always the generator would then go into overload mode and cut power to RV.
On a whim, I restarted generator and put it in eco mode. It ran at 2650 RPM’s on both gasoline and propane in eco mode, I then cut on A/C and much to my surprise the generator went to 3040 RPM’s and A/C stayed on and power to RV was not cut off. A/C and everything worked fine. When A/C compressor would cut off the generator would cut back to 2650RPMs and when compressor cut on generator would rise to the 3050 RPM range. This was on either propane or gasoline operation.
OK so the solution is to just run in eco mode HOWEVER I have a remote start/stop kit installed on the generator and instructions say “only remote start in full throttle mode and not in eco mode (actually any start up, key or remote, is supposed to be in full throttle mode). If I set up the generator in full throttle mode so I can use the remote start and not have to go outside to start the generator I can’t use A/C without going outside and put generator in eco mode. Kind of renders my remote start feature useless.
Any ides why generator would go into overload mode when set on full throttle mode? Any ideas how to correct this?
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:49 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Band Of One View Post
.... I canít use A/C without going outside and put generator in eco mode. .....
So go outside, how hard can it be with an RV.


You need to measure what is happening to voltage and frequency inside your RV but it likely happens to fast to see.

How do not know how inverter/generators work.

Regular generators produce pure sign wave AC. When you add a load voltage and frequency drop momentarily depending on how good the control circuit is.

It is a momentum thing.

Induction motors have high starting current. The motor comes up to speed fast and the starting current drops off. The momentum drop of my big muscle 6500 watt Onan is hardly noticeably when starting an A/C.

With half the engine turning at a slower speed, the effect is going to be bigger.

There are things electrical engineers do to 'soften' starting current.

I suspect what is actually happening in the 'eco' mode is that the lower momentum results in the A/C motor taking a fraction of a second longer to start the compressor. As a result you do not trip your thermal overload.

Hopefully someone will have a better answer.
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Old 03-12-2020, 12:48 PM   #3
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If it is OK to start generator in eco mode I would be good with that and that would solve a lot of issues. I have forgotten it was in eco mode and have started the gen with no problem. I always have everything in the RV turned off before I ever start the gen. Even when it's running, I don't use two large draw systems at the same time. Such as, if I'm going to use microwave I turn off A/C. I don't even use electric water heater at same time as A/C.
I am confused by the "overload" malfunction when I am in full throttle mode and turn on AC.
Follow up:
I have now been running gen in eco mode and A/C for several hours. The gen is cycling from 2650 RPMs to 3050 RPMs as the A/C compressor cuts in and out. Everything is working fine but I had to go back and test again. Now I'm really confused:
The A/C was running as described and compressor was in off cycle. I switched gen from eco mode to full throttle mode and when A/C compressor came back on, nothing happened. Gen continued to run at full throttle and did not speed up and A/C (and everything in RV) stayed on. Gen did not go into overload.
It is very hard to figure this one out ??? I think I have a ghost in either my RV or my gen that is messing with me.

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Old 03-12-2020, 07:16 PM   #4
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I ran into a similar situation with my Predator 3500. It would not carry the A/C when we were camping, but worked fine at home. Turned out to be a loss of power due to the high elevation we were camped at-7500'. That equated to about a 50% loss of power due to the thinner air. Not sure if that will help you, but thought I would throw it out there.
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Old 03-12-2020, 09:19 PM   #5
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I am not a refrigeration or generater expert, but the following are possible causes. Inverter generators are microprocessor controlled devices. They act according to stored programing. You have described how the programing responds to the conditions you presented.
I think you are running at the extreme limits of the generator. Small changes make all the difference.

I agree the eco mode probably decreases the starting current long enough for the compressor motor to increase its speed and decrease is starting current. Also, the generator voltage is not up to normal voltage and the programing may allow slightly longer overload when in eco mode to allow it to come up to speed before tripping.
As to working in the non-eco mode at sometimes and not others, it may have to do with something like the temperature of the oil allowing more engine power out or other subtle changes that provide just enough extra to prevent the overload until the compressor is up to speed.
The compressor also changes is starting current draw depending on the pressures in side the refrigerant chambers and temperature of compressor oil. If it has been run even briefly it will have higher starting resistance. Warmer oil offers less resistance.
So much for wild speculation. A soft start kit may allow things to work more reliably. It decreases the current during starting and increases the time the compressor takes to reach full speed.
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Old 03-13-2020, 09:15 AM   #6
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I think Paul's assessment is correct. Your generator's ECO mode is coincidentally working like a soft starter for the A/C. I wouldn't expect this to be reliable in terms of starting the A/C. You're not likely to hurt the generator, but you may have problems with the A/C compressor at some point.

Soft starters generally do three things:
  1. Turn on the compressor after the fan so that both the fan and compressor aren't trying to start at the same time. The initial fan surge current is also intended to boost the generator RPM's to kick it out of ECO mode long enough for the compressor to start.
  2. Ramp the current up on the compressor motor, keeping it under the overload limits of the generator. This is typically done in one second, or less. If it sounds like your compressor is struggling for much longer than than one second, then you may risk overheating the compressor motor windings. Starting currents are much higher than running currents, and the longer they exist, the greater the winding temperatures.
  3. Prevent the compressor from restarting too quickly. After a failed start, or after running, the refrigerant pressure remains high for several minutes, adding to the starting current requirements, with the likely outcome of an attempted start being a generator overload. If you're experimenting, it's a good idea to wait 5-10 minutes between attempts to start the A/C. This gives the refrigerant time to bleed off pressure through the capillary tube, as it does during normal cooling cycles.
You might consider installing a soft starter on your A/C. I would probably provide reliable starting as you seem to have enough power to run the A/C.
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Old 03-13-2020, 12:09 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the replies, especially bob26rls. Great explanations.
I also spoke with a Yamaha tech at a dealer and while he was puzzled by the issue he also said I should not worry about starting the gen in eco mode.
While there is no real exact answer to the default overload when compressor kicks in and gen is in full throttle mode, as long as A/C works in eco mode wife will be happy... and you know I'm happy about that.
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Old 03-13-2020, 12:31 PM   #8
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Is this a new issue? Or has been like this all along?
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Old 03-14-2020, 07:17 AM   #9
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Is this a new issue? Or has been like this all along?
It's new to me as i had not used generator on this RV. I've had this RV just over a year and this was the first time I used the gen for it. My previous RV had the same size A/C but I always ran in eco mode. I did not have the remote start kit installed at the time I had the old RV. I would always go out, start gen, switch to eco mode, then go inside and turn on A/C. Now that i have the remote start, and it says to start in full throttle mode only, I am noticing the problem. I guess i just need to not be lazy and go back to my original routine of starting gen, switch to eco mode, and then go in and turn on A/C OR just go ahead and remote start gen in eco mode and hopefully not damage it.
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:05 PM   #10
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Open your breaker panel and flip off the converter. If you are camping at altitude, you lose power the higher you go, but the AC still needs the same amount to start. Is your ac a 13.5 or a 15k btu unit? The larger ac units need more power to start and run. When camping at altitude, I will often turn my converter breaker Off and make sure my fridge is set to propane (instead of "auto" which will change to electric when the genny is running or when plugged in). Once the AC is running and the compressor has cycles a few times, I'll turn the breaker back on for the converter to start charging the batteries.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:31 PM   #11
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For propane operation on a generator, you have to derate the generator by 20%. So your peak rated 3600 Watts is now good for a peak load of about 2900 Watts. Continuous load duty is about 10% less than the 2900 Watts.

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Old 03-29-2020, 10:31 AM   #12
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Turned out to be a loss of power due to the high elevation we were camped at-7500'. That equated to about a 50% loss of power due to the thinner air.
While there is in fact a power loss with normally aspirated engines at altitude your 50% claim is far from accurate. There is about a 3% loss in horsepower per 1,000 ft of elevation vs sea level. At 7,500 ft elev the loss is about 22.5%. To hit a 50% loss you would need to go to an elevation in excess of 20,000 ft.

Think about it... if you had a 50% loss at 7,500 ft how many cars would be abandoned towards the top of Pikes Peak (14,200) because they basically quit making enough power to pull themselves.
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:16 PM   #13
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While there is in fact a power loss with normally aspirated engines at altitude your 50% claim is far from accurate. There is about a 3% loss in horsepower per 1,000 ft of elevation vs sea level. At 7,500 ft elev the loss is about 22.5%. To hit a 50% loss you would need to go to an elevation in excess of 20,000 ft.

Think about it... if you had a 50% loss at 7,500 ft how many cars would be abandoned towards the top of Pikes Peak (14,200) because they basically quit making enough power to pull themselves.
What you say makes sense and I stand corrected. Whatever the loss, it was not sufficient to run the A/C at that elevation even with everything else shut off. The A/C unit fired up fine, but once it cycled off, it would overload the generator when it tried to cycle back on.
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Old 04-01-2020, 08:57 AM   #14
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Not sure why every group I am in, it's always the wattage that is being discussed on generators. It's your Amp load that is the main factor. Calculate your Amp load add 20% and match your generator to that need.
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