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Old 07-25-2016, 02:05 PM   #1
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Intermitant Electrical Issues

Recently I have been having electrical issues with my AI 2014.5 Grand Tour. First of all this has been occurring during very hot weather conditions, over 100 degrees. I start generator and wait for the panel to indicate that the 120v circuits are up and active. When I then start AC the fan comes on followed by compressor, then it runs for awhile and then shuts down and panel indicators go blank. If I let generator continue to run it eventually charges backup indicators come on again and AC starts running for awhile, then shuts down and goes through this process again over and over again. I shut off the breakers to water heater and microwave in attempt to minimize load.
The same thing occurs when I try to use microwave after shutting off AC breaker in order to make sure to not overload 120v system via generator? So obviously this is not strictly an AC issue. The generator does not shut down at anytime, it is just the panel indicator lights shutting down then reactivating if generator is left on. It runs for awhile shuts down and repeats the process again.
I am baffled as to cause. At first I thought it was the thermostat. Then I thought it was generator and still could be. However, I am beginning to think it is the inverter or whatever controls the 120v circuits. Could it be the inverter getting to hot, due to the heat or lack of ventilation due to its placement under seat in lounge area and above generator, but it still does this even first thing in the morning when inverter and generator are still cool.
What if any ideas can you give that might lead me to what the cause might be, so that I can get it in for proper service. If generator, Onan service center or inverter, AC, thermostat to Airstream service.
Thanks
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Old 07-25-2016, 02:19 PM   #2
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When running your generator, you're really limited to running just one of: AC or water heater (on electric) or microwave. So if you want AC, make sure the others are off.
If they are off and you're still getting the problem, watch the Amp usage while this is happening and let us know what are the readings. They will fluctuate as the AC compressor kicks in.
Edit: Amps display as indicated on the Precision Circuits display.
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Old 07-25-2016, 03:38 PM   #3
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Yes, I know about over loading. I even interupted the breakers to microwave and hot water heater. I will check the amp reading as soon as I can and get back with that information. Thanks for your assistance.
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Old 07-25-2016, 03:52 PM   #4
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I may be telling you something you already know, but the generator only puts out 20 amps, not 30.

Your Airstream Interstate is equipped with a device called an EMS (Energy Management System) that is supposed to identify when the power source is overloaded but no individual circuits are overloaded, and temporarily shed loads by shutting off individual circuits in a specific order, starting with the A/C.

The EMS should be able to detect whether the power source is 20 amps or 30 amps, and compensate accordingly (but it doesn't have a 15 amp setting so plugging into home power outlets can confuse it). If you look on the control panel, there should be some indication whether it's in 20 amp or 30 amp mode.

If the generator is not the problem, then the problem might lie in the EMS, based on the symptoms you describe.

I do not believe the problem lies with the inverter. When the generator is running, the inverter/charger is in charge mode, taking 120vAC power from the generator and converting it to 12vDC to charge the batteries and/or run 12vDC lights and appliances. It is not sending power to any 120vAC circuits.
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Old 07-25-2016, 04:10 PM   #5
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Intermitant Electrical Issues

In very hot ambient temps, your A/C compressor will begin to draw its maximum amperage rating. The rating of the generator is usually a higher number than it's running load capacity (2000 watt Honda is actually 1600 RUNNING watts).....

Be sure to place your inverter's charger section to standby so it is not drawing power from the generator when operating, along with any other 129 VAC loads like the water heater, microwave of AC side of your fridge ( if so wired).

That should isolate the A/C as a solitary load and allow it to operate.

If you still have problems, have Onan check your generator's output.
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Old 07-25-2016, 05:13 PM   #6
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Thanks for this info. When generator is running the panel displays "gen", when plugged into 30 amp shore power it indicates 30 amp. I must admit I haven't made notice of whether it indicates 20 amps as well while in generator mode. UKDUDE earlier said I should check on the amp draw while AC is in fan mode and again when compressor kicks in. I also thought it might be the energy management system, but I did not know what it was called. Thanks for all the help.
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Old 07-25-2016, 05:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by kupchu9702 View Post
Thanks for this info. When generator is running the panel displays "gen", when plugged into 30 amp shore power it indicates 30 amp. I must admit I haven't made notice of whether it indicates 20 amps as well while in generator mode. UKDUDE earlier said I should check on the amp draw while AC is in fan mode and again when compressor kicks in. I also thought it might be the energy management system, but I did not know what it was called. Thanks for all the help.

The EMS senses when on generator so it won't show 20, just GEN. I've had a similar experience with the EMS shutting off power when trying to use the A/C in very hot conditions. I shut off all the 120VAC breakers except the A/C and it held. The inverter/charger is always drawing power if there is a 120VAC power source - so turning off the inverter/charger breaker stops that addition current draw and makes sure all available power is for A/C. I only had this issue on very hot 90+ day. When I tried it again on a 80 deg day it worked normally.


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Old 07-25-2016, 05:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kupchu9702 View Post
UKDUDE earlier said I should check on the amp draw while AC is in fan mode and again when compressor kicks in. I also thought it might be the energy management system, but I did not know what it was called. Thanks for all the help.

Yes, this is displayed on the top left of the Precision Circuits display. When on generator you have just 20 amps to play with. So we should take a look to see if we're approaching or exceeding 20 amps.


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Old 07-25-2016, 08:43 PM   #9
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The hotter it gets, the higher the pressure which makes the compressor work harder and draw more current.
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Old 07-25-2016, 11:47 PM   #10
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Thanks to all

I feel that under the conditions of 100 to 110 degrees it may be drawing more amperage than EMS or generator will support. I have indeed switched off the microwave and hot water heater breakers, but never the others such as inverter breaker. My question is whether the over-under freezer and fridge combo in a Grand Tour setup will still run with inverter off? I am not in a position to shut down fridge/freezer. If the fridge and freezer operate with inverter off, then I will try shutting down all breakers except AC under these extreme heat conditions.
I am going to schedule a service with Onan to have them inspect generators output. If it turns out generator is functioning properly, I will then have the EMS checked out.
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Old 07-26-2016, 12:08 AM   #11
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My question is whether the over-under freezer and fridge combo in a Grand Tour setup will still run with inverter off?
They also run on 12 volt so the answer is yes. But that should be a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.

I looked up the specs for Onan generator and it says maximum operating temp is 120 degrees. Sitting under the coach likely it is cooking at those temps if not higher. It may have a safety shut off for over temp of the alternator side.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:55 PM   #12
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I had to re-learn the lessons from this thread again this year. I recently tried to run the Air Conditioner (A/C) off the generator with temps above 90 degF. Got the EMS/PCS power cycling problem discussed in this tread. The EMS (Energy Management System) is the Airstream name for the Mini-PCS (Power Control System) made by Precisions Circuits Inc. (PCI). PCS control panel image attached.
https://www.precisioncircuitsinc.com/product/mini-pcs-monitor-panel-3-loads-wh-ac-2-ac-1/

The power cycling problem is very frustrating since the Mini-PCS has a 2 minute generator soft start delay built in every time it trips off the power.

I forgot that the A/C overloads the PCS when it’s hot unless you turn off other circuit breakers. Searched this forum and found this thread with my own answer to problem. But this year I decided to dig a little deeper as this should not be an issue since the generator can put out 2500 watts or just over 20 Amps at 120 Volts. The generator has a built in 25 Amp breaker and can run the A/C load with no problem if you get the PCS out of the picture. I can disable the PCS on my 2013 Interstate by turning off the Microwave and GFCI Receptacles breakers. Those are the two circuits controlled by the PCS I/O module.

I started to wonder why I had to disable the PCS to get A/C under these conditions. Then I dug deeper into the PCI documents I had on the Mini-PCS. I found a likely reason according to the PCI Mini-PCS Troubleshooting guide. It says:

“Generator - Mini-PCS senses power to the Generator Hour Meter. In this mode Mini-PCS just displays current, but does not shed loads. Two other options exist:
1. Mini-PCS performs the same functions as above except that it limits total current to a specified threshold.
Mini-PCS max current level range is 18-90 amps and set at Precision Circuits.
2. Not even displaying current, for RV's with a 240V generator.”

The version of the Mini-PCS that Airstream installed on my Interstate must have Option 1 set to trip at 18 Amps. This is too sensitive for the Interstate installation and causes this power cycling problem. I’ve seen the current go to 17 Amps on the PCS display panel when the A/C compressor kicks in, so it is likely going above 18 amps considering lag in the display and fact that it shuts off the generator power.

Hopefully Airstream is using a Mini-PCS on newer Interstates that is better matched to the generator capability.
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