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Old 09-16-2010, 07:35 PM   #1
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Air Conditioner Problems

Has anyone had problems with their air conditioner. I have a 25 foot 07 75th anniversary limited. My Dometic, Pinguin Air AC is supposed to operate at 10.5 amps on cool. It has been operating at 17+.
Historically, I bought the Camper in Sept 06 and did not have any problems with the unit until the next summer when outside temp became hot, hot, hot! The breaker box began to blow and with it being under warranty i took it in and had the guy at Bob Jones RV in Houston tell me the AS needed replacing. Not knowing much about air conditioners I followed their lead. However, after they contacted airstream the air conditioner got better. I was told the ac was better and to call them back if i had any other problems. I had problems and decided to wait till the next year to take it. This time off to DeMontrond in North Houston. They replaced the breaker switch (20amp) replaced the burned up shore power line, replace the start capaciter and told me everything was better. And, as you guessed, things were not better. Last summer I had a mobile guy come out and replaced the start capaciter, and was better for a while. This summer bought my own equipment and began to measure the amps myself and had a friend out, who is an AC professional, help me with an evaluation. In terms of voltage the system seems to be working ok, however the amps are registering at 17+with an outside temp of 100F. And the guy (Jim) at customer service tells me that the unit is operating within range. does anyone have any input.
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:09 PM   #2
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There is a data plate on your unit that will specify the FLA (full load amps) that the unit should be drawing. This should be measured at the hot lead supplying power to the A/C unit at the breaker box. That location will give you both the compressor amps and blower motor amps.

Next, these readings should be taken at the individual components, which are located under the A/C shroud on the roof. If your tech is not capable of getting these readings, FIND A DIFFERENT TECH!. You do not need an airstream tech, as any RV tech who is qualified and certified by Dometic can do this properly. You can find authorized Dometic service centers on their web site: http://www.dometic.com/enus/Americas/USA/Start/

Be sure that they know record the ambient temperature when the reading is taken, as this will affect the readings. Also, a reading on the 120VAC input voltage should be taken, since low voltage will cause the amperage draw at the unit to increase beyond it's stated operating limits.

Only after a diagnosis like this can you begin to determine the cause of your over-amp problems.
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:13 PM   #3
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I Dunno what model penguin u have but the lowest amp draw I see in their spec sheet is for a 9,000 btu unit and it's 7.8 amps for the compressor + 3.0 for the fan...

MOST of the models seem to spec at 12.4 compressor + 3.0 for the fan and at 100 degrees it's gonna be workin kinda hard....

Either way even at 17 amps the 20 AC breaker should do fine...

What's "Blowin"?
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:14 PM   #4
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Just a thought...Have you been routinely cleaning the filters? These get dirty and clogged fairly quickly, especially if the air is high in pollen or dust. The filters can have a dramatic influence on the performance of the unit.

Not saying it isn't the unit that's the problem, but sometimes the simplest solution is overlooked.
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Old 09-16-2010, 11:50 PM   #5
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Been there; done that; still doing that! This seems to be an endemic problem with Dometic. I’ll bullet my experience below with my 2002 31 foot Classic Limited:
  • June, 2001 - Drove into Las Vegas around midnight with 104 degrees ambient and made our way to the Lake Meade campsite. Next morning it got to 117 degrees ambient. AC tripped the breaker; thereafter tripped breaker every 2 minutes after resetting. I swapped 20 amp breakers in an effort to get AC to sustain running to no available (talk about hot inside the rear of the Airstream on a 117 degree day!!). Called Airstream for solution but got none. Finally gave up and drove into Las Vegas to spend the day in air-conditioned buildings. We drove out that night to a cooler climate.
  • Late summer of 2001 - Airstream directed me to Camper Clinic in Buda, Texas, (VERY poor dealer) to R & R the AC with a new one under warranty. With the NEW AC the problem remained the same, i.e. with ambient temperature above 95 degrees the breaker would trip.
  • July, 2003 – Thinking the problem may be in the breakers I called the breaker manufacturer and was advised that the 20 amp breaker max operating temperature is 140 degrees, which it exceeds in the upper rear street side corner where my breaker box was located. I therefore called Airstream and so advised them. They called the breaker manufacturer and confirmed my advice. As I was passing through Ohio that July I scheduled an appointment at the AS factory. They confirmed that the AC was operating within spec. (1.5 to 2.5 amps for fan only; 16 amps with compressor) and decided to move the breaker box to the floor at the foot of my street side twin bed AND segregate the AC breaker into its own box to lower the breaker ambient environment. I went down the road and nothing changed the next time the ambient temperature got to 95 degrees.
  • August, 2005 – I reviewed the Dometic installation manual wherein it states that “12 AWG copper up to 24 ft.”. I measured mine and found it ran in excess of 34 feet. I called Airstream and discussed the matter with them. Since this was an ongoing warranty matter they directed me to a VERY good service facility in Carolyn Texas where they replaced the 12 gage wire with a 10 gage wire. This did not correct the problem.
  • June, 2007 – I was at a Houston Dometic repair facility on a refrigerator recall and ask the service man about the Dometic AC breaker tripping. He said that both Dometic and Coleman had capacitor problems in 2001 and 2002.
  • August, 2007 – I called Airstream service and discussed the capacitor matter with Dick Deardorff. He told me he was “going to do some checking on the AC breaker problem and call me back. He never called me back.
  • October, 2007 – I contacted Dometic Customer Service Center (800-544-4881) and talked to Ms. Courtney, whom I detailed the AC problem to. She talked to her engineer and advised me the engineer told her the following:
    • “All of the Dometic ACs give up at 95 degrees ambient and that the engineer told another Customer they would ‘just have to live with it’”!
    • “Coleman had a capacitor issue in 2001 and 2002 but Dometic didn’t, although they do have an issue in 2007”!
    • “Can’t put a 30 amp breaker on the AWG 10 gage line” (I had ask if this could be done because the breaker is there to protect the wire, not the equipment and a 10 gage wire can handle 30 amps, but the engineer wanted to protect the AC unit also. I’m still considering doing this though).
  • October, 2007 (same day) – Contacted Airstream, Dick Deardorff and advised him of my above conversation with Domsetic. Dick advised me he was going to contact Dometic to try to resolve the problem and provide me with details and names of the Dometic people he talked to. I never got a call back and personal matters intervened so I didn’t follow up.
  • August & September, 2010 – I’ve spent the last couple of months performing maintenance on the Airstream and traveling in it. The AC has tripped the breaker several times, but until a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t isolate the cause. Then the other day I turned on the AC, and then immediately put the fan on manual low. The breaker tripped immediately. I immediately reset the breaker (within 30 seconds) without turning off the AC. Upon being reset the low fan immediately came on and about 2 minutes later the compressor came on, without further tripping the breaker. The AC ran for several hours, fan on manual low.
  • September, 2010 – I called Dometic and talked to Bridget who indicated the problem was probably the “fan run capacitor” which she said she would sell to me. I told her I’d think about it.

In considering the matter now, it seems to be a blower “transient” fan run capacitor failure endemic to Dometic as the breaker never trips as the compressor cycles while the blower is on manual low or high mode. Additionally, when on auto mode the AC will run for hours, cycling on / off without incident; then at some point will trip the breaker (if above 95 degrees ambient).

So at this point I have run the AC on manual fan, thereby never allowing the fan to cycle, and the breaker has yet to trip; not holding my breath yet though.

I hope the above epistle helps you understand the problem.
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:04 AM   #6
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Yep, the fan has a mind of its own too. We got some 'zoomspout' oil and climbed up on top and gave everything a good oiling as the wheel seemed to be dragging, having to reach up often into the underside to give it a hand spin to get it going. Andy had mentioned removing the (what I call) the hamster wheel and oil it in a vertical position. But the zoomspout had a telescopic nozzle that allowed for oiling horizontally. So be sure to reach up in there and see how 'fluid' that wheel wants to turn.
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:01 AM   #7
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Withidl! That's what I am arriving at now. For last three days I have had the unit on high manual and it has not failed. Although the amp reading at the breaker box results in 17+. W outside temp 98 or so, w/o considering heat index. We got the specson the unit and the amp reading while on cool is expected to be at 10.5. I cannot remember the other numbers now. Now I could take it if the cust service guys said that this is the level of functionality one could expect from the ac. But, this is not the case, as they are telling my that the thing is fine.
My friend and I checked the unit out to find it running at 115 volts and no drop when we cycled the unit. Check was done at the compressor. However the amp reading was high 16-15 at the compressor. He felt the condenser coils were at the center of the prob. There is an area( 7-8% total surface) of the fins I need to comb out. I replaced some of the foam on the underside of the shroud. How do you guys think the new commercial grade 15000 btu dometic would work on a high heat environment? I cannot find any reviews of the unit and I hesitate with it being a dometic.
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:20 AM   #8
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30 amp breaker

Withidl, you can place a 30 amp breaker for your unit, then put a slo-blow fuse (20amp) within the air conditioner-if you can find the physical space perhaps even a second circuit breaker. whichever you can use, try to place it in the air stream (no pun intended) to keep it relatively cool. that should cure the voltage drop problem. btw power=V times A, so 20 x 120=2400; 20 x 103 = 2060watts. Voltage drop can be a major factor in this here deal. it would behoove us all to know our individual voltage drop in our trailers. The other "thing" you could do, and too bad you were not on this before the 12 ga wire was pulled-is to place the blower on a separate breaker from the compressor. Now, let's see; replace one 20 amp braker with a 30, add a second feed to power the fan; place a slo-blow fuse on the compressor; add extra start capacitors for both blower fan and compressor, clean the filters, replace the shore line, double check source voltage spend $800 for good voltage/amp meter-that oughta 'bout do it, doncha think?
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
There is a data plate on your unit that will specify the FLA (full load amps) that the unit should be drawing. This should be measured at the hot lead supplying power to the A/C unit at the breaker box. That location will give you both the compressor amps and blower motor amps.

Next, these readings should be taken at the individual components, which are located under the A/C shroud on the roof. If your tech is not capable of getting these readings, FIND A DIFFERENT TECH!. You do not need an airstream tech, as any RV tech who is qualified and certified by Dometic can do this properly. You can find authorized Dometic service centers on their web site: Start - Dometic

Be sure that they know record the ambient temperature when the reading is taken, as this will affect the readings. Also, a reading on the 120VAC input voltage should be taken, since low voltage will cause the amperage draw at the unit to increase beyond it's stated operating limits.

Only after a diagnosis like this can you begin to determine the cause of your over-amp problems.
lewster,
My friend and I did a diagnosis much like the one you described. He is a retired home AC guy. After taking voltage readings and amp readings at the compressor and at the fuse box and taking into consideration the atmospheric conditions, we came to the conclusion that the unit was operating at 3-4 amps over expected. volt readings were not out of range. some of the cooling fins on the condensor coils were bent over, so i need to comb them out. through fixing a couple of things we were able to reduce the amp readings by one or two. this is where i now live, at 3-4 amps over expected. thank you very much for your input.
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wmarsha View Post
Withidl, you can place a 30 amp breaker for your unit, then put a slo-blow fuse (20amp) within the air conditioner-if you can find the physical space perhaps even a second circuit breaker. whichever you can use, try to place it in the air stream (no pun intended) to keep it relatively cool. that should cure the voltage drop problem. btw power=V times A, so 20 x 120=2400; 20 x 103 = 2060watts. Voltage drop can be a major factor in this here deal. it would behoove us all to know our individual voltage drop in our trailers. The other "thing" you could do, and too bad you were not on this before the 12 ga wire was pulled-is to place the blower on a separate breaker from the compressor. Now, let's see; replace one 20 amp braker with a 30, add a second feed to power the fan; place a slo-blow fuse on the compressor; add extra start capacitors for both blower fan and compressor, clean the filters, replace the shore line, double check source voltage spend $800 for good voltage/amp meter-that oughta 'bout do it, doncha think?
Phew! wmarsha, you can say things that arn't that funny! I believe I'll just let the fan run on manual, save the big $$$$ and my further labor!
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:36 PM   #11
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I know this is an old thread, but the info is very useful.....
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Old 09-13-2011, 09:07 PM   #12
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It was very useful. With my AC 20 amp breaker problems today, I am going to try the "high" fan setting for my day away tomorrow leaving the AC on here in San Antonio. I will report back on the results.

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Old 09-13-2011, 09:12 PM   #13
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Be sure and leave the cabinet door open for airflow around the breaker box....
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