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Old 02-14-2011, 07:29 AM   #15
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Troubleshooting 101

Way back in my Tech Support days, I informally taught 'Troubleshooting 101'. It's the rigorous application of 'Cause & Effect' by looking at 1 - and only 1 - possible variable at a time w/o guesswork like 'it can't be that'.

Safety first, so this needs to be done w/o distraction; cutting corners; Kids or Pets around, etc.. Until the Rig Breakers are exonerated, there will be lots of trips back-and-forth to shut A.C. Box Power off. One Industrial trick is to hang something non-conductive in front of where you're working as a reminder when the main power is back on. Remove it when the power is off, and so on.

Job 1: see if another Box GFI trips while a <15 Amp Load is drawn by your Rig. If so, follow the cable into your Rig. Snap loose one end of the Breakers [the upper end] to take them out of the Circuit and see if the problematic GFI still trips. Snap 1 Breaker back in and reenergize them one at a time. Disconnect the Converter/Inverter. And so on. By having only 1 item connected at a time, the GFI-tripping leakage source will reveal itself. It might be obvious as the Nose on your Face, or it might be a really-rare problem.

I once had a Rental flooding emergency [someone else's Property, fortunately]. Turns out a Drywall Screw was driven through a Water Pipe during construction. The dissimilar metals in the Screw and the Copper Pipe meant the fault degraded over the years. One day - boom - a flood at City Water Pressure w/o warning.

The point: a similar, very old and weird problem could now have surfaced in your Rig. Only the 'baby steps' of rigorous Troubleshooting w/o any assumptions will reveal such unsuspected problems [on the Water Heater Circuit, and so on]. One of several sharp suggestions above mentions the possible Factory bonding of Neutral to Ground. This is supposed to occur once, and only once, in either the House Breaker Box, or the Campground Breaker Box; not at 2 places simultaneously [Rig and external Box]. Case-in-point, this might have been 'ok' for years, but have arisen as a problem only now. And so on...

Have a pal help if you're not comfortable around exposed House voltage. A Voltmeter; thin flexible Gloves; insulated Shoes; and never resting a Hand anywhere simultaneously where voltage can pass through your Heart are old tricks used by us 'Sparkies'.
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Old 02-14-2011, 12:03 PM   #16
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This is the exact same situation. I went to get my MH from the storage lot and the main battery was dead. Had it jumped drove it home and tried to plug in to our outlet and it popped the GFI. Now after fully charging the battery I will try to plug it back into the GFI.
Thanks for the info.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:33 AM   #17
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Detective Work

A bit of forgotten trivia popped into my Head...

To keep some Plumbing to some tall, slender Cisterns in our Mountain House Garage from freezing, I put on some Heat Tape. Even though the dedicated Outlet was >3' off the Floor, I put in a new 15 Amp GFI, thinking protection by water was all good. A pal who built nearby found the GFI tripped one Winter when checking on our House. For the record, the unmodified Heat Tape drew much less than 15 Amps.

The Electrician for my pal's new House nearby said authoritatively that they don't install GFIs where Heat Tape is used, due to 'false' tripping. I don't know what the technical Root Cause for this observation is. Inrush current? Occasional Storm-caused A.C. surges? Most all Kitchens have GFIs, due to Outlets near Sinks & water, yet Toaster Ovens and other Appliances work fine in my experience.

An interesting bit of Detective work would be to plug in a Rig with discharged Batteries and/or a tank of cold Water to be heated electrically [per the very informative Post above]. If the same GFI trips initially, but doesn't trip after the Batteries are charged and/or the Water is heated, that's a huge clue to be chased down methodically. In an ideal World, this same test would be repeated while connected to a non-GFI Outlet to make absolutely sure the problem is not inrush current draw near/above the trip limit of a Circuit Breaker.
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Old 02-15-2011, 01:50 PM   #18
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I know GFCI's are used on resistive and inductive loads so why yours would trip? Dunno.. bad tape? Im thinking the heat tape has too much 'leakage'..
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:27 AM   #19
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The $64,000 Question

Midniteoyl ~ This was a weird one, with the final analysis taken on Blind Faith [not my style!]. In that the Electrician who rendered this opinion did a lot of work in the Mountains, but had not seen my sparkling new Heat Tape install, we had to deduce it was some issue - as you guess - endemic to Heat Tape. Plus, it's a VERY random problem; from never tripping to 1x/yr. It didn't even come up as a problem until after several years of Winter-only, leak-free Heat Tape use.

This ex-Ham/Electronic Geek 'Sparkie' has seen a lot of weird ones, but I'll have to remember to ask an Electrical Contracting pal what's he seen on this topic. No moisture was ever around, and the Heat Tape never even touches Ground; the Floor, or anything to represent a leakage path. It was my usual clean, dry, A-R install... This same pristine condition of the surrounding environment made me comfy to return to a non-GFI Outlet. Nothing succeeds like success...
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:03 PM   #20
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I saying to much leakage in the tape itself.. the GFCI is detecting a short.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:54 PM   #21
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I'd guess the same - aggravated by expnsion/contraction of the heat tape cycling on and off. I have seen enough leakage (on a non-GFI Circuit) to give you a tingle when touching gutter downspouts.
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