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Old 06-11-2021, 03:31 PM   #1
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A/C breaker question

I have three roof top AC Units. Each is protected by a 20A circuit breaker. They have given no problems in 6 years.

Now it is 102V where I'm parked (feels like 112), the circuit panel is on the sun side of the coach, and the front AC (only) trips periodically. Resetting the breaker will allow the AC to run again, at least a few hours.

I am monitoring power draw, nothing unusual. The breaker is hot, the top of the case measure 145F while the rest are all at around 125F. I happen to have a new breaker, do you think changing it will help fix the tripping?
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Old 06-11-2021, 04:56 PM   #2
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Breakers are nothing more than an thermal overload device. The more amps it passes, the hotter the device gets. Being against a hot wall or direct sun can easily cause the breaker to heat more and trip. You can provide additional air flow to a breaker by placing a small fan to circulate air or a sun shield.

Breakers can get weak and need replacement.

I hope you meant 102 degF, not 102V because an A/C will trip on 102 volts.

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Old 06-11-2021, 07:31 PM   #3
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ACs also draw more amps if the rooftop, condensor coils are dirty.

Remove the cover and hose them out.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:16 AM   #4
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John both posters above are dead on. I could elaborate but they have explained it well. Not sure if you could move or reposition your rig so the sun is not hitting directly on the electric panel side of the coach. As stated breakers are a thermal device designed to trip from excess heat. Possibly changing your breaker would help. I would suggest shutting the power off at the pedestal, taking the cover off the panel and check all connections to be sure they are tight as well. Lose connections will create heat and cause a breaker to trip as well. This would be a good time to swap the breaker in question. This may not solve the problem due to the excessive heat bearing down on your RV but it definitely won’t cause any new problems. Stick with quality name brand replacement breakers though. No Murray or generic off brand.

The fan idea would not hurt either. Your coach is fairly new but if you have camped in dusty locations as twinboat suggested that is another possibility but I’m thinking it is a heat issue. All the best and good luck.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:22 AM   #5
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You could also look into rearranging breakers a little if there are two heavily loaded breakers next to each other, especially 20A with A/C on them (for instance), so that the ones carrying the highest current for the longest duty cycle are not next to each other.

Testing for UL listing of breakers involves, among other things, supporting rated current indefinitely, but thatís in free air of some proscribed temperature. Sitting in a hot box, tight against other breakers that also may be carrying high current and generating heat, is not part of it, and is part of the reason for the 80% Ďruleí for continuous loads and circuit ampacity.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:33 AM   #6
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Concur with the above advice. Breakers do fail over time. Being hot doesn't help. Condensers get dirty. Things happen.
Good luck
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
ACs also draw more amps if the rooftop, condensor coils are dirty.

Remove the cover and hose them out.
What he said. In my a/c field, it is the single most problem with breakers tripping after running for a couple of hours. you can wash out condenser with just a garden hose on the roof. You don't need pressure as this will damage fins. Just wash with open hose.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:09 PM   #8
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Circuit breakers do have a thermal & a magnet trip. The thermal trip is a bimetallic strip. Indeed the thermal trip can be affected by ambient temperature.

You would think that high ambient temp would affect other heavily loaded breakers approximately equally.

I have seen panels burn down from breakers overheating. Heat can be caused by loose connections too. Iíve seen this from loose connection where the breaker clips onto the bus and Iíve seen it where the wire is loose where it clamps onto the breaker. Corrosion inside the breaker could also cause heat.

I would swap the breaker and check the heat.
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Old 06-14-2021, 06:15 AM   #9
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Is it possible to pull your awning and block the direct sunshine on the side of the rig? That should help some.
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Old 06-14-2021, 07:24 AM   #10
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All good advice above!

Breakers are designed to trip for a reason. When they trip, it is logical to assume there is some problem on the load side of the circuit.

There are good suggestions above that can cause high load for an A/C. Don't forget there can be combinations of issues. Low line voltage combined with loose connectors and obstructed evaporators and condensers can all conspire together to increase load.

However, most breakers are cheap and easy to replace. Troubleshooting a complicated appliance may not be so easy. Keep the replaced breaker for future testing if changing it does not solve the problem.

Check line voltage at the pedestal , at the circuit breaker, and at the A/C. Getting a clamp on A/C amp meter can help troubleshoot. There is nothing like being able to measure rather than guessing.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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