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Old 05-18-2014, 04:04 PM   #1
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Electrical Fire after solar and inverter install

Just had a solar package install from the Airstream Dealership. The 1000 watt inverter is inline, so we don't have inverter outlets. I was told that we have to flip the converter breaker every time to off before turning on the inverter. I thought it was automatic.... Maybe I should have a manual on off instead of flipping a breaker?



Anyways, back to the dealership to determine why the negative wire melted and the bathroom gfi keeps tripping.
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:16 PM   #2
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Your dealer simply is incompetent and has not installed the inverter correctly. If they wired it so you have to turn off the converter breaker to use it, they did a very bad job.
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:39 PM   #3
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Can you explain how its supposed to be wired with still being able to use the existing outlets? Having to always turn off the converter breaker and worrying about fire scares us. It's the Zamp system, with 4 panels.
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Old 05-18-2014, 05:14 PM   #4
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Tomorrow I am dropping our AS back off at the dealer, and getting this fixed. Sucks that I now have to turnaround from our Yellowstone trip, however I rather be safe then have a bigger fire- 5 days lost in vacation is better than lives lost.

I still haven't found a good Inverter install thread that shows or explains how the wiring should be done to use the existing outlets. I would agree, that having to turn off a breaker everytime just doesn't seem right. Yet I would think that the converter should be disconnected somehow.
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Old 05-18-2014, 05:36 PM   #5
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To use the existing outlets with the inverter the would need to be on a sub panel which excludes the inverter from supplying power to things like the AC and the water heater (if you have an electric option one) microwave, and the converter/charger. In other words the inverter should only be able to supply power to the outlets alone and exclude the high power equipment. This also will require a transfer switch something like the ones used with a built in generator on a motorhome so those same outlets will function normally when on line power. Some inverters have that transfer switch built in. I don't have any idea if yours has that capacity.

This is one reason the new Airstreams have dedicated inverter outlets, rather than trying to use the same outlets with the much lower power output inverter.

This is not a trivial conversion, and as I stated above, your dealer does not appear to be capable of doing it properly. Sorry for that harsh judgment, but you already have indications of their ability.
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Old 05-18-2014, 06:46 PM   #6
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Your dealer simply is incompetent and has not installed the inverter correctly. If they wired it so you have to turn off the converter breaker to use it, they did a very bad job.
My AS dealership did something similar. They don't know solar or inverters. Take it to someone who specializes in solar/inverters! I didn't trust them to fix the mistake so I took it to someone who knows what they're doing. AS dealers don't have a clue.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:19 PM   #7
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I am amazed that any so called "professional" would do an install like this. It makes me wonder if he knows the difference between an "inverter" and a "converter" -- or even how A/S wires circuits. Ugh.
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Old 05-18-2014, 09:49 PM   #8
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I had only heard great things about this AS dealership, and when I asked about Solar and an Inverter with the existing outlets, they said they could do it. As I needed a few other items fromt the dealership, I chose to use them for the install.

I am just surprised that after reading the forums that they didnt bypass the heavy electrical appliances and just put it on a dedicated breaker. I am also surprised they told me and my pregnant wife to open the breaker box evertime and turn on/off breakers when I am to use Solar.

The fire in the electric box was the last straw. My wife is 6 months pregnant, and we are traveling with 2 dogs. An electrical fire was not something we are prepared to deal with- especailly on our way to Yellowstone and then AlumaPalooza.

We are considering keeping the Zamp 320watt 4 Solar Panel package, and having them uninstall the inverter, and now fix the wiring that has caught on fire. Or do we just ask them to remove the whole setup.
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Old 05-18-2014, 10:20 PM   #9
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Can you explain how its supposed to be wired with still being able to use the existing outlets? Having to always turn off the converter breaker and worrying about fire scares us. It's the Zamp system, with 4 panels.
It appears to me that the fire was because the screw for the affected wire was loose.

While I don't necessarily think your install will win any awards, powering the converter from the inverter shouldn't damage anything, though it will cause battery drain.
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Old 05-18-2014, 10:52 PM   #10
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Your solar may be just fine. There is no indication that it is involved in any of the fire situation. It is on the 12 volt battery side.

It is the inverter which is screwed up, on the 120 volt side.

Taking power from the batteries to run the inverter and then using that 120 volt power to run the converter/charger and charge the batteries may not do any damage as Jammer says, but it certainly will run the batteries down. It is not a perpetual motion machine.
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Old 05-18-2014, 10:54 PM   #11
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the first night we tried the inverter, everytime the converter fan kicked on the inverter would turn off. That's when we were told to flip off the converter breaker. I checked the nut for the burnt wire, and it was tight. If loose, I would have hoped a breaker would trip before it caught fire.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:40 PM   #12
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the first night we tried the inverter, everytime the converter fan kicked on the inverter would turn off. That's when we were told to flip off the converter breaker. I checked the nut for the burnt wire, and it was tight. If loose, I would have hoped a breaker would trip before it caught fire.
Hi, The screw for the burnt wire looks loose in your picture because it sticks out farther than the rest of them. All except the last white wire on the bottom seem to have been overheated as they look yellowish. An overload would trip a breaker, not a poor connection.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:49 PM   #13
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How to run inverter power to existing outlets

Here's how I think it can be done safely. This assumes the inverter does not have a charger or converter built into it, and does not have a transfer switch built into.

And I assume your trailer is wired similar to my 2013 25FB Flying Cloud. That means the existing converter is powered from the same breaker that feeds the bedroom outlets. Another breaker feeds the front outlets, including the fridge (but not the microwave, if you have a factory-installed microwave).

Based on those assumptions:
1) The output of the bedroom/converter breaker would be changed to only go to the converter.
2) For the other outlets, the wire coming from that breaker would be disconnected from the main breaker box.
3) A transfer switch would be installed. Two wires would feed it. One would come from the main breaker box where we disconnected the wire in step 2. The other would come from the inverter.
4) A new small breaker box would be installed. It would be fed from the new transfer switch. The new breaker box would have two output circuits. One would be the wire from step 2. The other would be the wire that feeds the bedroom outlets.
5) The affected breakers in the main box may need to be changed out for ones with different ratings.

Does the Eddie Bauer have two places on the outside where you can connect your shore power cord? (Most large modern AS trailers do). If so, that means you had a transfer switch already, and it is installed between those two input connectors and the original breaker box. When this dealer installed your inverter, did they keep both of the shore power connections active? Or perhaps they disconnected one of your shore power connectors, and wired the inverter into the existing transfer switch? If this is what they did, I think it was a bad idea. (But it would have been cheap and easy)
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Old 05-19-2014, 12:18 AM   #14
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SSquared, I don't fully understand the configuration, but the front shore power now has a switch for Generator or Inverter. I have it flipped to Inverter, as when I use the Gennies, its on the side shore power. Its a new switch in the FB compartment next to the Inverter. This is a 2012 27FB model too.

The tech did move the bedroom electrical off of the Converter breaker to the Microwave breaker. They did that so I could manually flip the breaker and not kill the 3 outlets in the bedroom. I like the steps 2/3/4/5, but it just wasn't done. It makes sense for this type of install to only run the outlets and not have to flip breakers.

All- thanks again for the PM's and call. I will say I am traveling the US with a 6 month pregnant wife and 2 dogs, and the dealership that did the install was not in Denver :-) I have had good experience with the Denver dealership :-)
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