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Old 04-06-2013, 09:54 AM   #1
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Question Inverter/electrical problem

This will be detailed so please bear with me
I have a 2004 Gulfstream Friendship G7. I took it on a road trip in December and there were issues with the generator charging the house batteries. I have done nothing with it since then.

Yesterday, the Xantrex Freedom 458 inverter began smoking - smelled like an electrical fire. I was inside and all the lights on the inverter remote panel went haywire - that's why I went outside to check it and found the smoke. I unplugged everything from the main power. Checked the house batteries, and they were all dry. Filled them up with distilled H20, checked everything else out, plugged the shore power back in, and...nothing. The remote panel inside is indicating a fault, and nothing is charging with just shore power plugged in.

I started the bus and ran it for about an hour, and all the indicators on the Xantrex remote inside were green, except the INVERT column. It is staying right at 10 DC amps. The AC seems to be fine with the main engine running.

I disconnected the shore power, turned on the generator (Onan 7500), turned off the bus engine, and was able to run the air conditioner. However, the battery indicator on the Xantrex remote inside quickly showed that the house batteries were losing charge.

I kept the bus unplugged during the night. This morning, I plugged it back it, and the only indicators on the Xantrex remote were a red light on the battery state and a red light beside FAULT. I started the engine again, and everything went back to green except the INVERT column. It is still

What am I missing? Electricity is not my strong suit, and I have a multi-meter, but unsure of the switch settings when taking a reading. So, I need assistance, guidance, ??

I do have an extended warranty on the rig through Good Sam, so I am thinking that should be my next step, but I do not want to be taken advantage of when I take the rig in.

Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom.

Full time RVer and Work camper GS Friendship G7
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Old 04-06-2013, 10:10 AM   #2
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An initial task would be to check each cell of each house battery using a hydrometer to find the specific gravity. It sounds like you have a shorted cell in at least one of the house batteries. Did you see smoke emitting form the inverter or the battery bank? In today's world inverter repair just doesn't seem to be done..... replacement is usually the choice.
We also have a 458 and recently it would indicate "over temp" alternating with normal charging. I removed the unit after searching in vain for a repair facility between Yuma and St. George, UT. Here's what I found to be the cause: The wire supplying 12vdc+ to the fan had not been attached to the wire spade connector. It was simply just stuck in there and finally vibrated out of the connector. About an hour labor to fix.

I just noticed that you are from Jax. Hello, neighbor.
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Old 04-06-2013, 10:22 AM   #3
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Susan if your batteries are dry they are no good some inverters need to see voltage if not they will not charge. also where did the smoke come from. any time there is smoke it is not a good sign and what ever was smoking will need to be replaced. after smoke then there is fire. There is no reason to put a band aid on it just to watch it burn down.
On your multi meter the vdc 200 you can check your batteries. with it on vac you can check ac power and if you put it on the one with a sound symbol on it you can check wires for shorts by disconnecting both ends and putting your probes at each end it will make a buzz noise and read a # if the number is 0 then there is no resistance in the wire and it is good if it does not buzz or there is a big number there is a problem.
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Old 04-06-2013, 11:21 AM   #4
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Go to the bottom left and select SEP/Bypass for model number. This should be close enough for demonstration of how your system works. Then select generator or shoreling on and see what happens. You will see the flow of power from AC to the Inverter/Charger which puts out 12 volts for charging and if it is activated from the control panel it takes 12 volts from the batteries and makes 120 Volts AC.

Dry cells can indicate over charging, neglect, or bad batteries. Over charging can come from a poorly designed or failed charger. You have a quality one and it should be able to protect from over charging. However in any case you must check battery water levels at least once a month or every two weeks if left plugged in all the time.

As for the reading of ten amps on your panel that may indicate you have the inverter portion turned on and producing 120 volts ac. Check your manual on the operation to see if it is turned on.

Good news that your engine alternator seems to be workling ok and the devices that keep your batteries seperated are working. Being able to start the engine indicates that bank of batteries is charged up.

As an ET, smelling for smoke is a troubleshooting too. Get close to the inverter and smell it. If it smells like something was burning you probably need to exercise the warranty and get it checked. Bad batteries could have overworked the charger if you had it plugged in for several months.

If the smell is not there carefully smell the battery area to see if that is what you were smelling. Rotten eggs or a harsh acidy smell can indicate sick batteries.

So you have a couple of things that need to be checked. Is the charger actually putting out a charging voltage. And if so is it getting to the batteries. Batteries cannot be evaluated fully in a discharged state so you need to get the charging issue fixed first.

As for the voltmeter. Go online and look for some you tube videos on how to use them. Trying to explain without pictures is not difficult but a picture is better. Put your meter on any DC scale, place the probes across the + and - terminals and see what it measures. Often digital voltmeters have a button you can push. Keep pushing the range button until you get something that makes sense. Try this on a known good battery such as a AA battery so you will be confident in the readout. You should get 13.5 volts or more across the batteries with the engine running indicating a good alternator and charging path. With engine off and shoreline or generator running you should get nearly the same since the charger replaces the function of the alternator.

To test your charger output find the large battery wires and measure where they connect. If you see the same voltage that you measured at the batteries with engine off, shoreline or generator off, then you know the path from the batteries to the inverter is good. Then plug in or start the generator and see if the voltage goes up. If not, you are not charging. There may be a reset button on the charger itself that needs to be reset. You may also have to turn the battery banks off via any larger cutoff switches to get it to reset. Again you need the manual for that information.
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Old 04-06-2013, 12:20 PM   #5
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Thumbs up Terrific info

Thanks for the info that you all sent. As for the location of the smoke, it was in the inverter compartment. No smoke or smell is in the battery compartment. The inverter still smells smoky, and the batteries are not holding the charge. It looks as if I am going to be making a trip to get a new inverter and batteries - these are old and not holding any charge. I will be testing the voltage later today when I get back to the camper. I love these forums!
Full time RVer and Work camper GS Friendship G7
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Old 04-06-2013, 04:30 PM   #6
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I'm having a similar problem, and that is just what I've been looking for and the best explanation I've ever heard! Unfortunately, it doesn't solve my problem. My motor home has been to 2 different Camping World shops and still doesn't work correctly. I'm on my fourth inverter and second set of new batteries in less than a year (all replaced under warranty, but still a pita and it doesn't work and I had to pay shipping for a couple returns). First thing Monday morning I'm making an appointment with a local independent shop to see if they can find the problem and hopefully fix it for good. Maybe since I have a better understanding of how it works, it will actually get fixed this time instead of just throwing new parts at the problem without finding the cause.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:21 AM   #7
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With the generator turned off and unplugged from shore power, remove the small rectangular access panel at the bottom end panel and inspect the NMC (Romex) wiring for loose connections. If you see a discoloring of the white conductors or melting of insulation on any wiring; it will have to be properly repaired. This means that a significant amount of the burnt wiring will need to be removed before it can handle the amperage it was rated for without burning up again. Tight connections are critical or arching and burning result in damage to the conductors. If this is the issue, it is not an inverter warranty covered item but may be installation warrant-able. Good luck and keep us posted as to what is found and how the repairs were made.
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