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Old 08-08-2011, 05:07 PM   #1
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I need electrical help!!

As many know we have been wondering about the country. Everything has been doing fine until today. I went to plug in the coach at my cousin's place and it tripped the GFI. It has been fine up til now. After scratching my head a bit I fired the gen set and all was well. We tried different cords and different receptacles and no joy. I started tearing into the transfer box and discovered if I disconnected the white wire to the breaker box the GFI didn't trip. I went inside and one by one disconnected the white wires in the lower right of the box. The middle wire appears to be the common for the bath receptacle and the battery charger. If I leave the white disconnected and the receptacle breaker off the GFI on the house doesn't trip. The A/C works fine. With the generator on if I turn the breaker on the front receptacles work and if I connect the white they all work. I don't understand why it trips the GFI in the house and not the one in the coach and why all is good on the generator. I can't find a schematic of the coach 120 V wiring. I'd welcome any suggestions.

Here's a pic of the box with the white wire disconnected and the upper left, 120 V receptacles, breaker off

Thanks, Dan
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Old 08-08-2011, 05:52 PM   #2
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Dan, you're not alone. I wonder about our country, too...

Now, on to your issue. The breaker you have off and isolated (sort of) that goes to the bathroom goes to the bathroom. The wet bathroom. GFCI trips when there is too much current leakage, such as when an outlet or wire has a bunch of water around it. Your coach probably doesn't have a GFCI on the generator, which is why it still runs that circuit. So, check to see if you have a bunch of water, or even an abraided wire either in your bathroom or on your converter, which could also have current leakage.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:45 PM   #3
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If it is the GFI in the house that is tripping, it may be caused by several things. A GFI measures the current flowing through the "hot" or line wire of an AC circuit. Under normal conditions, the same amount of current should also flow on the neutral wire. This is the reason the white neutral wire passes through a terminal on the breaker too. If the GFI detects a difference, it assumes the lost current flowing on the line side is being sent ground by some fault or short. The argument for GFI circuits in the first place is that the short might be a human. So the GFI opens and cuts power. It is further assumed by those whom write the electrical code that this condition is more likely going to occur around water and pipes, thus the requirement to install GFI outlets near sinks and for outdoor uses.

The problem is that some devices may leak current to ground via windings during normal operation, like some electric motors and transformers. As mentioned above, even a few drops of moisture in the wrong place can provide the leak.

If possible, I would simply find a non-GFI outlet to plug into. I would guess there is nothing wrong with the wiring in your trailer. The problem is probably just an incompatibility between something in the trailer and an oversensitive GFI outlet.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
Dan, you're not alone. I wonder about our country, too...

Now, on to your issue. The breaker you have off and isolated (sort of) that goes to the bathroom goes to the bathroom. The wet bathroom. GFCI trips when there is too much current leakage, such as when an outlet or wire has a bunch of water around it. Your coach probably doesn't have a GFCI on the generator, which is why it still runs that circuit. So, check to see if you have a bunch of water, or even an abraided wire either in your bathroom or on your converter, which could also have current leakage.
Terry, thanks for the response. As I understand it the cord and the gen set go through the transfer switch and then through the same wire to the breaker box. The GFI Breaker, the lower right in the picture, would be after the cord or gen set and would protect the coach no mater the power source. Again that's how I understand it. Also when I plug in my circuit tester all the receptacles test good. There is something I'm missing.

Thanks, again, Dan
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
If it is the GFI in the house that is tripping, it may be caused by several things. A GFI measures the current flowing through the "hot" or line wire of an AC circuit. Under normal conditions, the same amount of current should also flow on the neutral wire. This is the reason the white neutral wire passes through a terminal on the breaker too. If the GFI detects a difference, it assumes the lost current flowing on the line side is being sent ground by some fault or short. The argument for GFI circuits in the first place is that the short might be a human. So the GFI opens and cuts power. It is further assumed by those whom write the electrical code that this condition is more likely going to occur around water and pipes, thus the requirement to install GFI outlets near sinks and for outdoor uses.

The problem is that some devices may leak current to ground via windings during normal operation, like some electric motors and transformers. As mentioned above, even a few drops of moisture in the wrong place can provide the leak.

If possible, I would simply find a non-GFI outlet to plug into. I would guess there is nothing wrong with the wiring in your trailer. The problem is probably just an incompatibility between something in the trailer and an oversensitive GFI outlet.
Thanks for the encouragement. I didn't realize the GFIs were that sensitive. Like I said everything has been fine at the parks and I couldn't imagine that kind of a problem when nothing else has changed. I'll try a non GFI receptacle tomorrow.

Thanks, Dan
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:16 PM   #6
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From your description it sounds like a problem in the converter or one of the outlets you could disconnect them one at a time to find the culprit.

One of the "hidden" things that will trip the GFCI is a hot water electric heating element even when it seems to be OK.

If you are using a 30amp plug at the CG they are not GFCI protected If you are using a 30 to 20 amp adapter in the current location that would detect a problem you did not know you had.

One other outlet that may be the problem if you have and outside outlet on the RV that may be tied to the bath circuit and these get moisture in them that will cause a GFCI to trip.
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:18 PM   #7
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Well I think I solved the problem. I think like Jeff said, the GFI is too sensitive. We ran a cord to an interior receptacle and all is good. I checked every receptacle in the coach and they all test good. I got to thinking about it and I have plugged into a GFI at home with no problems but it is an older house. The GFIs here are much newer and apparently more sensitive.

Anyway thanks for the help and suggestions. For now I think I will just keep a close eye on things at each park. I do leave my tester plugged into the galley receptacle so after I plug in that's the first thing I see when I step back into the coach.

Thanks again, Dan
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:17 PM   #8
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I've replaced the gfi breaker in Bess quite a few times, it's connected to a lot of stuff besides the charger. Hope you guys are doing well.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:40 PM   #9
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Having been involved with GFI at the wiring device mfgr level, may I contribute the following. Any gfi device with trip IF the downside length of the protected circuit is 200' or more just because of the resistance in the circuit. When the power runs the full length, the cheer resistance in the wiring will unbalance the circuit hence the sensing circuit will read a fault(unbalance) and trip. That is why a receptacle is preferred over a gfi breaker bing closer to the load hence a shorter path. My belief in your case is that the house protection, taking into account the total resistance of the newly plugged in circuit, read an imbalance (due to its cumulative length), decided there was too much imbalance (fault!), and tripped when there were no faults. Please understand that all protection is mandated by the Code where a potential for a human to be electrocuted is possible, hence in locations where power is required with protection as outside, & inside within 36" of where water is touchable. Breakers are less sensitive at 5-7 ma. trip levels, and GFIRs' at 2.5-5ma levels. Hope this helps understand GFI protection principles.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:55 PM   #10
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Welcome to the forums.

Thanks for the insight on the circuit length. I had not considered that.

Best Regards,
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:21 PM   #11
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Electric...

DO NOT run the generator and the land line at the same time...you will end up replacing the solenoids under and behind the steps(2), and it may cause further problems down the road...ask me, I found out...m
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:37 PM   #12
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I sure hope there are lots of people benefiting from GFIs for all the headaches they are causing Airstream people. Interesting that even the length of the circuit can cause problems. Since the problem at my cousin's place all has been good at the campgrounds we have been in. The only problem we have run into is many state parks in Connecticut and Rhode Island don't allow pets. Hagar was not happy. The last two private parks ask for a rabies certificate. I guess that is for another thread.

Cheers, Dan
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