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Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Head Scratcher

Or, now matter how long you’ve had your motorhome (7 years) you can always learn something new about it.

We decided to take it easy today.  We’ve been working quite a bit here at J.Strom Thurmond COE project and enjoying every minute of it.  But as the saying goes:  “All work and no play…” well, you know how it goes.

Recently we upgraded our portable heater we use inside the Journey to a new one.  Nothing wrong with the Pelonis unit, but after more than 8 years of use (we even used it in our stix-n-brix)  I decided to order a new unit.  Andy, from MyOldRV.com, a no nonsense fellow gate guard down in the Texas oil patch highly recommended a Broan unit as rugged, well made and long lasting.  I decided to buy one and keep the old Pelonis as a standby.

                  IMG_5151

The Broan heater, on the left is smaller, and an all metal case.  It puts out some good heat and is less likely to tip over.  Andy was right, it’s a good unit.

Today as we loafed around, we had the new heater running to keep the chill off, just like we always have done.  Being lunch time, I threw some bread in the toaster and Marti put some soup in the microwave to heat up.

Then all the 110 volt stuff stopped working, the heater, the toaster and the microwave.  As well as the TV.  Hmm, I guessed the new heater pulled a littler higher amperage than the old one and must have tripped the main 50 amp breaker on the campground pedestal.  I checked it and it didn’t seem to be tripped but I turned the breaker off and then on again.

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No good.  I double checked the Progressive Industries surge protector I have, but the lights all indicated power was flowing normally into the Journey.

                     IMG_5147

Okay, maybe it’s one of the GFI outlets I have in the Journey.  I checked them and they were fine.  The mystery continued.

                   IMG_5156 

So, it must be a breaker tripped in the 110volt panel.  I opened the panel up, and didn’t find any tripped, but I clicked them all on and off anyway.

                   IMG_5155

Now I’m confused a bit.  So I started the generator up to see if I’d have 110v power.  Nope.  Now the head really scratching begins.  I still had 12volt lights, but I double checked their breakers, too, just to eliminate some possible strange issue from there.

                   IMG_5153 

I went to my electrical management panel and found the air conditioner and fan still worked.  They are 110v units, so that really had me puzzled.  Some 110v power was getting in to some of the equipment but not all of it.

What to do?  Well, a really good place to start is RTM (Read The Manual).  I dug it out and spent a few minutes reviewing the electrical system.  Unfortunately, it didn’t reveal any other ideas, I had covered everything correctly.

Now I’m really scratching my head. All the while Marti is looking at me expectantly knowing I’ll pull some magical solution out of my hat.  Except I’m not wearing a hat.

I shut off the generator and double checked to see if the a/c would work on shore power and it did.  This is really strange.  I started to wonder if I had some sort of issue with the main power on/off switch located in the back of the Journey.  Jeri and Terry just posted on their blog that they had that kind of a failure in their motorhome. 

I thought about it and ruled it out, because if it was bad, I’d have no 110v power into the Journey and I had some.

What else to do?  If all else fails, PAWW (poke around and wiggle wires).  I went back outside and opened my electrical bay.  Looking around, I noticed this tiny little button on my inverter.

                           IMG_5148

It had a number 30 on it, indicating a 30 amp breaker.  I pushed on it and click, it reset.  It had popped when too much voltage was going through the electrical system with all the devices and the new heater on.  I went inside and everything worked.

Phew!  Problem solved and a new thing learned about our motorhome. 

What threw me was the a/c unit has a separate wiring circuit that does not go through the inverter.

Just proves you can teach an old dog new tricks.  Now I hope I can remember about that breaker if it ever happens again.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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25 comments:

  1. Lucky you that in 7 years nothing like that had ever happened before. You remind me of David in your dogged determination to figure it out. Well done!

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  2. HAHA .... At least fixing your issue was cheaper than ours. However, I'm not complaining at what we paid. I wonder if your manual on the electrical system is has worn and read as ours!! Glad it was a simple fix. I'm going to bet next time you won't turn everything on at the same time.

    PS .... we bought a new little heater too. Yes, even in Palm Springs it gets cool in the morning. We also bought a new fan ... how's that for confusion?

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  3. Good thing you remembered all the places to look! Maybe all that pin hunting has helped :)

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  4. PAWW... too funny!!! Just love the technicle terms;o)) Glad it was just a push of a button to get things working!!!

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  5. So just to confirm...you have a 50 amp power plug, but if you use more than 30 amps something will blow? Doesn't sound quite right...

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    1. Evidently there is a split in the power systems. There is a 50 amp breaker for the a/c in my 110v panel. On the inverter there is a 30 amp breaker. It's confusing to me, too, but I didn't design the wiring system.

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  6. I was sort of with you until that button on the standby power system. I don't know if I have one of those.

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    1. I think if you have an inverter, there is a circuit breaker. It doesn't hurt to take a peek.

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  7. We had the same issue on our Discovery but just to add a little degree of difficulty they put the breaker on the back of the inverter. No mention of it in any of the manuals either, but I managed to get someone from Fleetwood on the telephone and the guy told me to run my hand up between the inverter and the wall and push the button in. Sometimes I really would like to get my hands on the engineers who design some of this stuff, almost as much as the folks who install it.

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  8. November 21, 2014

    It does make sense, the air conditioners do not operate when the coach is on the invertor. All the receptacles do operate on the invertor circuit. My invertor has two circuit breakers, with my micro wave on its own circuit breaker. I have known of the two breakers but not what the second one controls until this summer when it popped for some unknown reason. Thought we just “brought a new microwave oven”. Fonnaly went to the invertor and found that other breaker tripped. Three days of troubleshooting (well not all day) even the manufacturer did not recommend that check. And by the way, we also have to be careful when heaters are used with toasters, coffee pots and other heat devices. So heaters, toaster, coffee, television off check invertor first that is my story and I am sticking to that.

    George

    http://busterstravelsgeo-bon.blogspot.com
    November 21, 2014

    It does make sense, the air conditioners do not operate when the coach is on the invertor. All the receptacles do operate on the inverter circuit. My inverter has two circuit breakers, with my micro wave on its own circuit breaker. I have known of the two breakers but not what the second one controls until this summer when it popped for some unknown reason. Thought we just “brought a new microwave oven”. Finally I went to the inverter and found that other breaker tripped. Three days of troubleshooting (well not all day) even the manufacturer did not recommend that check. And by the way, we also have to be careful when heaters are used with toasters, coffee pots and other heat devices. So heaters, toaster, coffee, television off check inverter first that is my story and I am sticking to that.

    George

    http://busterstravelsgeo-bon.blogspot.com

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  9. As they say ... if it's not one head scratcher, it's another one ;-)

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  10. With all the complexities built into our coaches not they do make you wonder about some of the issues. But, you got 'er fixed.

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  11. well done!!! nice that it was an easy fix!

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  12. You'd be so bored, Paul, if not for these little mysteries :) I call it cheap entertainment...except for when it turns out to be expensive :) Glad yours was cheap!

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  13. Good job on troubleshooting. Electrical issues with an RV almost always lead to head-scratching it seems - or wrench throwing!!

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  14. Glad you didn't resort to using a hammer. We have a switch next to the door that we sometimes bump and it shuts off the power. Always causes a few head scratches before we remember it.

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  15. The more I read and hear, the more complicated those big diesels are. Kinda makes me glad we have our simple little gas unit.

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  16. You might want to watch the outlets you plug the heater in. The RV wiring is not like a house. The lines do not terminate at each outlet but rather are just pinched in the contacts and then move on to the next outlet. I found this out nearly the hard way when a heater that was rated for the apparent outlet capacity nearly burned up two of the outlets.

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  17. Mine did that also, a Tech and Xantrex said my inverter was gone. Got new inverter, problem still existed. Upon checking the breaker in the panel had shorted, I guess while going down the road, and the top connection was shorted out so much there was no metal left. $20 breaker and problem fixed.

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  18. It is always something -glad you figured it out. We had a similar problem twice after a power outage. Flipping the 12V cut off switch fixed it- I don't know why but sometimes it is not worth thinking too hard about it.

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  19. Good job! Although what happened was really disturbing, at least you managed to fix those broken appliances on your own. I believe doing so really saved you a lot. Hahaha! Anyway, I'm glad that everything worked out well for you. Thanks for sharing that! Kudos and all the best!

    Tommy Hopkins @ AccuTemp

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  20. Good thing you were able to fix everything right away, especially the heater. It could be quite difficult to come by without a working one, and to think that you had a new one, makes it even more devastating. Anyway, thanks for sharing that! Have a great day!


    Brett Rogers @ Flame Furnace

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  21. Thanks for sharing that tip with all of us who use our motor homes regularly. I must admit I would have called an RV store or taken the camper there before I ever would have found the answer. Things can get so aggravating. Yes, you did teach an old dog a new trick.

    Ambrose @ Brown & Reaves Services, Inc.

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