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Old 08-11-2022, 07:47 PM   #1
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Temporary ATS Fix?

So it would seem that my failing ATS (Surge Guard 40250-RVC) cannot be replaced or repaired before my trip home. Its problem is that the breaker on the generator side is failing (continually tripping and resetting), though the shore power breaker is fine. So, what about the following idea for a temporary fix so that I'm able to use generator power and shore power on the way home? (And please pardon me if this idea is ridiculous; it seems logical to me, but maybe I'm overlooking something.)

What if I disconnect the power lines going into the ATS from the generator and connect them to a 50 amp receptacle available from one of the "big box" stores. Then, when I want to use the generator, I can plug my shore power cord into the receptacle that the generator would be feeding. That way, the power from the generator is still going through the switch and its built-in surge protector, etc., just as if I would be plugged into shore power.

Thanks,
Paul
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Old 08-11-2022, 07:53 PM   #2
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That is how you used the generator on the older motorhomes. You plugged the power cord into the generator in the electrical compartment.
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Old 08-12-2022, 06:24 AM   #3
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That is a pretty good strategy assuming the ATS works on shore power, but not on generator power.

If the ATS does not work on either source, you will have to bypass that ATS as well.

Properly wired, it will be safe and effective.
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Old 08-12-2022, 07:27 AM   #4
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That is a pretty good strategy assuming the ATS works on shore power, but not on generator power.
That's exactly the case.

I'm still waiting to hear from the mobile tech that had come out to see if he's willing to wire this up, but if not, I might give it a try myself. So here's my plan along with a few questions. I think it would be convenient to first attach some wires to the receptacle so I have some length to work with. What gauge wires should I use, and should they be solid copper or stranded? Once that's done, I can attach those wires to the generator wires that I'll be removing from the ATS. What's the best way to do that--wire nuts?

Thanks,
Paul
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Old 08-12-2022, 07:30 AM   #5
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Connect the cord to the receptacle. Additional connections lead to additional possibilities for problems. I personally would never use wire nuts in that application.
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Old 08-12-2022, 07:50 AM   #6
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If you generator breaker is bad, how is bypassing the ATS going to fix that.

If you actually talking about the contactor in the ATS ( There is no breaker in the ATS ) , its possible that the generator output is what's causing the shut down of the surge protector. If the generator voltage drops, the ATS will disconnect. Is the generator engine surging ?

Monitor the generator voltage under load or swap generator and shore power connections in the ATS and see if the generator problem still exists before buying outlets and and boxs.
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Old 08-12-2022, 07:57 AM   #7
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Adding a NEMA 14-50 outlet to the end of the generator feed then plugging the shore power line into it will work but what's you plan to fix "Its problem is that the breaker on the generator side is failing (continually tripping and resetting)" or are you calling the relay in the ATS a breaker?
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Old 08-12-2022, 09:05 AM   #8
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To answer several of the previous questions in no particular order:

1. I must be using the wrong terminology (thanks to the mobile tech guy that came out) when I say "breaker". He and I must be talking about the relay/contactor in the ATS. He spoke of it as a breaker, and said that due to age, it was no longer maintaining connection when a large enough load was applied. After a while it would try to connect again, and then it would release again when there was a load on it.

2. I think I remember that he checked the voltage on the generator, and it was staying consistent at somewhere near 120 volts with whatever kind of load we were able to get onto it. That's how he narrowed it down to the relay in the ATS. Originally, there was a generator problem that you might remember reading about in another thread. It wasn't surging, but when a load was applied, the generator was shutting down. The mobile tech guy adjusted a screw (the throttle?) to slightly raise the RPM. The difference was barely noticable, but it did seem to cure the shut-down problem.

3. I'd like to connect the wires directly to the receptacle, but I'm not sure there's going to be enough room in the compartment or enough wire to work with. I thought having wire connected to the receptacle first would make things easier to work with. I understand that more connections are not generally desirable, but if I were to do it as I suggested, is there some kind of connector better than wire nuts I could use that would be available at a big box store?

4. Switching the generator and shore power inputs to the ATS is a great idea for testing. The only reason I'm hesitant to do that is my lack of experience and lack of a torque-screwdriver. Also, the tech seemed very confident that the problem was as previously described. Also, the parts I need don't seem so expensive.

More thoughts, please!

Thanks,
Paul
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Old 08-12-2022, 09:49 AM   #9
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Did he check both legs of the generator output for a steady 120 volts.

The ATS only senses one leg coming from the generator to close the contactor and if he measured the other one, it was a bad test.

From your description of his determination of the problem, he's not making sense.

The contactor is a relay. It has a pull in coil that uses very little current and may even be low voltage.
The fact that it works, drops out, and then reconnects sounds like the voltage is dropping below the hold in circuit voltage of 90 volts. Once the load drops out, the voltage climbs back up and it starts its 30 to 45 second countdow to closing the contacts again.

He also screwed up your generator. Raising a throttle screw is bypassing the generator engines governor.
Your going to need to get that fixed properly otherwise it can overspeed the engine and may be affecting the output voltage.
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Old 08-12-2022, 10:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Did he check both legs of the generator output for a steady 120 volts.

The ATS only senses one leg coming from the generator to close the contactor and if he measured the other one, it was a bad test.

From your description of his determination of the problem, he's not making sense.

The contactor is a relay. It has a pull in coil that uses very little current and may even be low voltage.
The fact that it works, drops out, and then reconnects sounds like the voltage is dropping below the hold in circuit voltage of 90 volts. Once the load drops out, the voltage climbs back up and it starts its 30 to 45 second countdow to closing the contacts again.

He also screwed up your generator. Raising a throttle screw is bypassing the generator engines governor.
Your going to need to get that fixed properly otherwise it can overspeed the engine and may be affecting the output voltage.
I think he tested both legs of the generator feed, but I could test that, too.

I might be using the wrong terminology again as far as the generator adjustment goes. I'll take a picture and post it.

If everything is like new, it makes sense that the relay would be acting as you described, but is there any logic to the idea that the relay could be wearing out over time? Could the pull in coil have gotten weak, and therefore not holding in?

Thanks,
Paul
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Old 08-12-2022, 03:25 PM   #11
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I think he tested both legs of the generator feed, but I could test that, too.

I might be using the wrong terminology again as far as the generator adjustment goes. I'll take a picture and post it.

If everything is like new, it makes sense that the relay would be acting as you described, but is there any logic to the idea that the relay could be wearing out over time? Could the pull in coil have gotten weak, and therefore not holding in?

Thanks,
Paul
It's possible that the coil is bad but if it repeatedly recovers, in the programed 30 to 45 second of the delay, that would be a big coincidence.
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Old 08-12-2022, 05:33 PM   #12
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Thanks, Twinboat! It turns out that you were right, and the mobile tech guy was wrong. (No surprise there on either end, actually, but that's a story for another time.) So I've abandoned the concept that is the title of this thread. Fortunately I didn't purchase anything.

I got "brave" and rerouted the generator through the shore power side of the ATS, and it behaved about the same. So it looks like I do have a generator problems and the ATS is fine. Here are some more details that I hope will be helpful.

First, to tie up a loose end, the attached picture has a red arrow pointing to the nut that the tech guy adjusted in the generator. I don't know what it's called. He didn't turn it very much. I'll say that it seemed to help, but I'll be anxious to hear others' opinions about this adjustment and what it is.

Second, when switching the wires in the ATS, I first observed that there was no red wire coming from the generator, but instead there were two blacks, and then saw that the two blacks were actually a single black with a "jumper" black from one terminal to the terminal where the red would be. I don't know if that means anything. The generator is an Onan 5500 which, I would assume, only has black, white, and ground coming from it, right?

Once I had the wires switched, and also after I switched them back again, here are the tests I did and the observations I made.

1. I started the generator with nearly nothing turned on inside the motorhome. I went inside and looked at the ATS panel that displays voltage and amps. I heard the ATS relay turn on, and observed around 113V on each leg and 0 amps according to the panel. Even though the two legs were connected in the switch (as mentioned above) the volts were not exactly the same, but they were never off by more than a volt or two.

2. I started one air conditioner. When the fan turned on, the amps on one leg went up to 2, and the volts went up a bit. Then, when the compressor turned on, the amps went up to around 8 or so, and the volts rose to around 120 on both legs. Does this make sense--the volts rising with a greater load? The one air conditioner continued to run fine for a while, so...

3. I added some other appliances, like the water heater and the microwave. The generator continued to run fine, the switch didn't cut off, and the display showed a few extra amps for the extra appliances.

4. Next, I turned the other appliances off and tried to run both air conditioners simultaneously. When the second air conditioner's fan started, I saw a slight amp increase. When the second air conditioner's compressor then started, bad things happened. On one test, it shut down the generator with error code 13, and as that was happening, I did happen to briefly see a 94V on the ATS display. On another test, it didn't shut down the generator, but the ATS relay switched the power off. I just turned everything off then.

Thoughts, please! Are there other tests I should try? Should I just be happy I can at least run one air conditioner? I think before the generator adjustment the guy made at the red arrow, even one air conditioner was a problem.

Thanks,
Paul
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Old 08-12-2022, 06:48 PM   #13
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You need to find a generator guy to fix the generator engine and re-adjust the engine speed control that the other guy screwed with.

Your plan on bypassing the ATS is going to leave you powering the RV with bad 120 volt generator power.
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Old 08-12-2022, 08:33 PM   #14
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Temporary ATS Fix?

I was experiencing issues with my Surge Guard 40250 with the contactor blinking in and out. I was able to tighten all the lugs on the wire connections and so far so good. As these units are obsolete and the replacements have different communication protocols I was looking for repair possibilities. I was able to source the Chint contactors from overseas. Click image for larger version

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I purchased 2 to have as spares.

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