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Old 10-26-2021, 07:49 PM   #1
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Fixed Generator with low voltage to ETS

Huge thanks to @gruelens on this post here:
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f103/gen...ml#post2136848

You just saved me a ton of money for less than $5 in parts!

I have a 2018 Coachmen Pursuit 32WC with less than 100 hours on the generator and I just bought it used.

Very first time I went to boondock with the coach and generator stopped providing power after about an hour of use.

I checked the voltage coming into the transfer switch where both legs were giving only 20V each off the white common wires, but I was getting full 120V off the ground to each leg.

I then traced the wiring to a junction box hidden behind a panel in the wet bay. I instantly saw that the wire nut on the white common leads was melted and fried up. I simply cut off the burnt ends of the wiring and spliced fresh clean wire with a new wire nut and that was all that was wrong!

I believe that the manufacturer used too small of a gauge of wire going from the generator to the junction box, plus who ever connected the wiring didn't ensure that the wires were properly fastened, plus they didn't even use any dielectric grease on the nuts.... very disappointed with the quality of the construction, this should not have failed with less than 100 hours of use :(

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Old 10-27-2021, 04:30 AM   #2
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I’m inclined to say that the installer just didn’t do a good job of insuring the neutrals were properly stripped and secured in the wire nut.

I’ve never seen, nor do I know of any requirement, for dielectric grease be used with wire nuts. Wire nuts are used everywhere - and over 50 years of a combination of equipment design/manufacture and servicing of all things electrical, the only time I’ve seen anything in the wire nut is when pigtailing copper to aluminum to correct issues of houses built with aluminum wire.

The installer also added tape to the wire nuts - something that was done to electric motors used in a UL listed piece of equipment manufactured at a place that I worked at back in the 80’s.

I think you just got one that slipped thru, and good that you found it with no damage done.
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Old 10-27-2021, 08:06 AM   #3
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You can buy wire nuts with dielectric grease already in them. Sold as "outdoor wire nuts". I encountered these on the sprinkler control valves in my yard. I've never seen them used in any residential wiring though.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
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Old 10-27-2021, 08:57 AM   #4
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I must admit that I'm brand new to the RV world, but common sense tells me that any wiring located outside any HVAC enclosed area (i.e. the wet bay in my case) should be no different than wiring standards for sprinkler systems. When I stripped the insulation back to expose fresh braided wiring I found a bunch of corrosion build up in between the braids and had to "flick" out the corrosion, this would easily be prevented if dielectric grease had been used IMO. I also feel that the gauge of wiring used is too small which may have also contributed to this failure. If I get to a point where I'm bored and looking for something to do, I just might upgrade the wiring too
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Old 10-27-2021, 09:12 AM   #5
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Is it really dielectric grease you want to use? That is typically silicone grease and is very good at dispelling H2O and for corrosion protection, but is an insulator when used electrically.
What I would suggest and is heavily used in the electrical industry esp. in overhead installations is "no-ox" grease, can be pricey but a little bit goes a long way.
Amazon No-Ox


🎃
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Old 10-27-2021, 09:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldWEB View Post
...
What I would suggest .. "no-ox" grease...
Amazon No-Ox

🎃
Thanks very much for the tip!

Glad to see there is a better solution which also is a conductor rather than an insulator, much appreciated

When I apply the no-ox, I think I'll tin the braided wires with my soldering iron as well
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Old 10-27-2021, 09:50 AM   #7
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If you really want connections that won't vibrate loose you could use split bolts, then wrap with mastic followed by Scotch 33. Or an easier but more costly solution are the Polaris type insulated connectors that use set screws. If the wires are up to #8 though the wire nuts, properly installed, should be fine. #6 and larger is where I like to use alternative methods.
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Old 10-27-2021, 10:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bigb56 View Post
If you really want connections that won't vibrate loose you could use split bolts, then wrap with mastic followed by Scotch 33. Or an easier but more costly solution are the Polaris type insulated connectors that use set screws. If the wires are up to #8 though the wire nuts, properly installed, should be fine. #6 and larger is where I like to use alternative methods.
Great idea!

I also found these split bolt covers here as well:
https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Cover.../dp/B008SCVNTE
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Old 10-27-2021, 01:23 PM   #9
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The OP's image of the situation has me scratching my head a bit. What's up with the larger green wires versus the uninsulated smaller ground wires? What size is the rest of the wiring? Kinda looks to be in the 12 gauge range. Did I read your post correctly, that these came in from the genset?
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Old 10-27-2021, 01:38 PM   #10
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12AWG stranded steel wire coming in from the genset on the left and 10AWG solid copper wire going from the junction box to the ETS.

I spoke with a certified Onan Tech and he said this junction box is used to "disconnect" the genset so it can be pulled from the chassis for service. He also said that the stranded steel wire is standard from Onan, in order to upgrade the wiring the genset would need to be pulled, but there also isn't enough space inside the genset to increase the size of the wiring like I had hoped would be possible.

*** UPDATE ***
According to the specs here, the 12AWG run is rated to handle 20A per leg:
https://www.solaris-shop.com/content...ze%20Table.pdf

The specs on the Onan 5.5 says it's rated for 45.8A:



*** UPDATE 2 ***

According to my Wattmeter, with 1 AC at full power + Residential Fridge it registers 18A draw. I have not spec'd out other appliances like microwave, toaster, coffee pot, water heater, etc... that's on my list to check next!
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Old 10-27-2021, 01:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudfrog View Post
The OP's image of the situation has me scratching my head a bit. What's up with the larger green wires versus the uninsulated smaller ground wires? What size is the rest of the wiring? Kinda looks to be in the 12 gauge range. Did I read your post correctly, that these came in from the genset?
I'm seeing (I think) a #10 Romex entering from one fitting and individual #10's (THWN-2) from the other. The #10 Romex will be orange and have a bare grounding conductor. The individual conductors will appear larger because the insulation is thicker. The extra grounding conductor is the bond to the metal box and it looks like maybe there is an additional chassis ground as well. All the conductors are in non-metallic liquid tight conduits as evidenced by the gray plastic threaded connectors.
edit: it looks like 2 white wires coming in from the genset?
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Old 10-27-2021, 01:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill_delong View Post
12AWG stranded steel wire coming in from the genset on the left and 10AWG solid copper wire going from the junction box to the ETS.

I spoke with a certified Onan Tech and he said this junction box is used to "disconnect" the genset so it can be pulled from the chassis for service. He also said that the stranded steel wire is standard from Onan, in order to upgrade the wiring the genset would need to be pulled, but there also isn't enough space inside the genset to increase the size of the wiring like I had hoped would be possible.
The individual wires from the genset are only #12? How big is the genset?
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Old 10-27-2021, 02:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigb56 View Post
I'm seeing (I think) a #10 Romex entering from one fitting and individual #10's (THWN-2) from the other. The #10 Romex will be orange and have a bare grounding conductor. The individual conductors will appear larger because the insulation is thicker. The extra grounding conductor is the bond to the metal box and it looks like maybe there is an additional chassis ground as well. All the conductors are in non-metallic liquid tight conduits as evidenced by the gray plastic threaded connectors.
edit: it looks like 2 white wires coming in from the genset?
I'll be sure to snap a pic of the insulation jacket of the stranded wire (and zoom in) to verify that the wires are in fact 10AWG, I just made an assumption because they were significantly smaller in diameter from the than the 10AWG copper wires going to the ETS.

Just need to wait for the No-Ox to arrive!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigb56 View Post
The individual wires from the genset are only #12? How big is the genset?
I need to verify they are 12AWG, perhaps steel stranded wire can have a smaller diameter than solid copper or the thickness of the OD on the insulation may have confused me. I posted a pic a few posts up of the Onan 5.5 Genset plate.
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Old 10-27-2021, 02:53 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by bill_delong View Post
...they didn't even use any dielectric grease on the nuts...
.
As I understand it, di-electric grease is non-conductive.
.
Rubbing/squirting/slathering "grease on the nuts" sounds like an 'extra-fee service'... and I would be hard-pressed to expect that level of dedication from factory assemblers.
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