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Old 03-22-2016, 09:13 AM   #1
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Strange electric issue

I am having a strange electrical issue. Twice in recent months I have noticed the generator periodically surging and then it died while driving with the basement heat pump running. When hooked up to 50a shore power everything seemed to be working fine, then I noticed the panel says incoming power is 30a. Watching the monitor, when the heat pump kicks on it goes to the normal apx 17a draw. Then when the second compressor kicks in it fluctuates wildly, then settles on 2a rather than apx 23! Again, the heat pump unit appears to be operating normally. So I unplugged and checked the outlet, power cord, etc with a multi-meter and confirmed that normal 50a current is making it into the motorhome ...two lines of 120v 50a current. So I used an adapter to step the input down to 30a. Everything operated normally, including normal amps display on both one and two compressors. I removed the 30a adapter, went back to the normal 50a power cord, and again have apx 17a on first compressor and 2a with both running ...same is true whether running heat pump or ac.

What are the possibilities that are causing the monitor to read 30a when 50a is present? ...and why the very strange 2a reading with both compressors running??
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Old 03-22-2016, 09:31 AM   #2
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Does the AC/Heat Pump work normally. I would suspect it is somehow connected to the CT (current transformer) in the energy management.
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Old 03-22-2016, 09:39 AM   #3
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Poor connection(s) in the automatic transfer switch?

Not quite sure why switching to 30 amps would help that though....
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:37 PM   #4
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AFChap, First, by chance is the water heater or Refrig/Vacuum breaker turned off.
The current meter in the panel display show the amount of current flowing in the neutral wire. When on a 30 amp hook up all of the current will flow through the neutral wire. When on a 50 amp hook up only the unbalance current will flow through the neutral wire ( not true system current load). So on single coil power panels the current display is disabled when on 50 amps.
The reason I asked about the water heater breaker and refrig/vacuum breaker is this is how the system knows your are connected to 50 amps (240VAC).
OR you have a bad load share unit.
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Old 03-23-2016, 10:41 AM   #5
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AFChap, First, by chance is the water heater or Refrig/Vacuum breaker turned off.
The current meter in the panel display show the amount of current flowing in the neutral wire. When on a 30 amp hook up all of the current will flow through the neutral wire. When on a 50 amp hook up only the unbalance current will flow through the neutral wire ( not true system current load). So on single coil power panels the current display is disabled when on 50 amps.
The reason I asked about the water heater breaker and refrig/vacuum breaker is this is how the system knows your are connected to 50 amps (240VAC).
OR you have a bad load share unit.
The refrigerator breaker is turned off ...on mine I think it actually is marked "dishwasher" but I know it runs the refrig/vacuum outlet. I will check that and see if it corrects the strange 2a reading. But why the system thinks my 50a outlet is only 30a I have not yet figured out. This is the outlet at my home base. I KNOW it is wired correctly, has worked as it should in the past, and continues to test normally on a meter.
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Old 03-23-2016, 03:59 PM   #6
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After today's messing with it I believe the ATS is hanging on one leg.


When I went to mess with it I found the display showing the normal 50a incoming power (rather than 30a as it said when I left it before). I turned the dish washer/refrigerator breaker on and that made no difference, so I turned it back off. With the normal 50a display still normal, I ran ac/heat pump and all appeared normal, including the amps reading on one compressor and then on two compressors. I had NOT tried running on the generator, so I started the generator and shut off the breakers to the 50a outlet. When I got back in the coach I found the display telling me I was on BOTH 50a AND generator. I went out to the power bay and did several fist whacks on the ATS box. Back inside, and the display reads generator only. I ran both the ac and heat functions and all worked as normal. Then when I shut down the generator and turned the 50a breakers back on, the display is back to reading 30a incoming power rather than 50a.


I believe the ATS hanging with one leg on 50a and one leg on generator would explain the 2a reading when the 2nd compressor kicks in on 50a power. The system reads the neutral leg. AND it would explain the generator bogging down/being killed when the 2nd compressor tries to kick in on generator power ...one leg is hung up on the dead 50a connection. This Parallax ATS model 5070 was new in January 2007 after a lightning strike damaged the original.
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Old 03-23-2016, 04:17 PM   #7
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Sometime all it takes IS A good wack to fix it. Keep and eye on it and see how it does now. Sometimes it's burnt contacts that stick. If you can open up the box, kill ALL power including the Inverter, take a fine file and clean the contact points.
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Old 03-26-2016, 12:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFChap View Post
After today's messing with it I believe the ATS is hanging on one leg.


When I went to mess with it I found the display showing the normal 50a incoming power (rather than 30a as it said when I left it before). I turned the dish washer/refrigerator breaker on and that made no difference, so I turned it back off. With the normal 50a display still normal, I ran ac/heat pump and all appeared normal, including the amps reading on one compressor and then on two compressors. I had NOT tried running on the generator, so I started the generator and shut off the breakers to the 50a outlet. When I got back in the coach I found the display telling me I was on BOTH 50a AND generator. I went out to the power bay and did several fist whacks on the ATS box. Back inside, and the display reads generator only. I ran both the ac and heat functions and all worked as normal. Then when I shut down the generator and turned the 50a breakers back on, the display is back to reading 30a incoming power rather than 50a.


I believe the ATS hanging with one leg on 50a and one leg on generator would explain the 2a reading when the 2nd compressor kicks in on 50a power. The system reads the neutral leg. AND it would explain the generator bogging down/being killed when the 2nd compressor tries to kick in on generator power ...one leg is hung up on the dead 50a connection. This Parallax ATS model 5070 was new in January 2007 after a lightning strike damaged the original.
Another consideration is a loose wire. I have had several occasions over the years to fix problems of this nature simply. Tighten all connections in the ATS. Sometimes I would find a burnt wire in the ATS because it had overheated from being loose. It is a good practice to do this every few years, and also in the service panel. Needless to say, remove power from the coach, including opening the gen breaker(s) for safety. Manually operating the breakers once a year is also a good practice.

Happy trails,
Rick Y
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Old 03-26-2016, 12:59 PM   #9
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One of the contacts in the tranfer switch is probably burned and making a poor connection.

Open and inspect. You can burnish the contacts, and that will help for a short time.
should be sble to just replace that contactor (relay).
Also could be a lose connection ss previously mentioned.
Everything should be off when going to gen and back to shore.

Regards,

Dan
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Old 03-27-2016, 12:10 AM   #10
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Sounds like contacts in the ATS may be the culprit.


But one other thing to consider with an erratic reading on the power console. It has a computer inside, just like a PC, and sometimes needs to be rebooted. You do this by disconnecting all AC and 12v power to the coach and chassis. Hopefully you have switches to do it, like my coach, makes it very easy. Leave the power off for a minute, then switch back on. Amazing how things can start working right again.
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Old 03-27-2016, 08:44 AM   #11
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I chased electrical ghost for a year, inconsistent voltage range, system sheet down, battery issues, you name it. Five different techs checked it out, we replaced the inverter and switch. Nothing seemed to work, no rhyme or reason to any of the electrical issues while plugged in on 50 Amp. In the end, found one leg on 50 Amp plug to Rv was not making good contact, replaced cord, solved all electrical issues.
What I learned, and we all know this and overlook it, start small, basic and from the start. With electricity, if it looks a bit strange or corroded, clean or replace it.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:02 AM   #12
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LookAtUSNow, Yes I fought a heater problem in a 94 Vectra we had for over a year. Gas would not come on or would drop out in the middle of the night. Found one of the output wires on the convert had not been tightened down, the wire was just stuck in the hole. So the batteries would not get a full charge unless the engine was running. In hind site I had some clues but did not see them.
So always check for loose wires.
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Old 05-01-2016, 12:54 PM   #13
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I have rebooted my power panel display in the past by unplugging the connection from the inverter. Did not work this time.


I found no loose connections, nor could I see any burn/heat marks anywhere in the ATS.


I checking online I found that the Parallax 5070 I had was obsolete and the current replacement was the 503. I ordered it almost a month ago, but have not had time to get it installed until yesterday. We went to a rally a couple of weeks ago and since the display showed we had good 50a shorepower before I unplugged at the house we did not run the generator driving to and from in hopes the ATS would maintain that position. All went well.


Replacing the 5070 with the 503 was definitely not a "direct bolt-in" replacement. After removing the 5070 I had to create a longer mounting board (3/4" plywood). Because all the connections were moved inside the 503 I stripped all incoming cables back several inches to get more wire length. I mounted the 503, and discovered I needed to get more wire length yet. That was a real challenge with the cable running into the coach ...the "load" cable ...but finally I managed to get enough wire to make the connections. The 5070 had all wires from each cable (line, load, gen) located together where that cable entered the box. The 503 groups the connections by L1, L2, and Neutral so when finished all red wires are together, all black wires are together, and all white wires are together. The ground connections are hidden behind all that by an insulating flap. That grouping made it harder physically to do the connections (had to have enough wire to reach the length of the box, leaving bunched wires in the middle), but easier to ensure I was not making a wrong connection.


When completed I exercised loads on both shore power and generator, watching the panel when switching from one to another. All operated normally.


I partially dis-assembled the old 5070 as you cannot see the points when the box is installed. I found no burned points, connections, etc. Everything looked good. Only thing I can figure is that one of the relays that do the switching was going bad.
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