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Old 05-28-2008, 05:11 PM   #1
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Ground-Fault if Honda is grounded or not

Hi,
This past weekend, I hooked up our Honda eu2000i to recharge a bit. It set off our Surge Guard Digital Line Monitor with a ground fault warning. Steps taken with no better results:
1) Plugged the Digital Line Monitor into each of the 120v sockets directly on the Honda
2) Ran a copper wire from the ground connection point on the Honda to a steel tent peg in the ground.
3) Plugged the Digital Line Monitor into each of the 120v sockets directly on edgeman's Honda eu2000i

Next I plugged the Digital Line Monitor into a very old farm field outlet and it too showed the ground fault (OK, it's probably a bad monitor, right).

At this point, I just set the Digital Line Monitor aside and charged my batteries for a while (No damage apparent).

On returning home, I plugged the Digital Line Monitor into our trailer while hooked up to shore power. No ground fault - the monitor is working.

I've read 2air's thread started in 2006 about GFI troubles and see this is a different kind of situation. But I've been unable to find any threads dealing with generator ground faults.

Can anyone add insight to this situation?
Walt
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:15 PM   #2
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I don't think they work with the generator. Remember the trailer has a floating ground setup and the generator isn't grounded either.
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:47 PM   #3
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Hi Over59,

Thanks for responding. See step 2 above, there is a ground connection point on the Honda & I did ground it. The Digital Line Monitor was plugged into the Honda directly (The trailer wiring was irrelevant at this point).

Why would a Digital Line Monitor not work with a generator which is supposed to put out clean, standard a/c power?

Walt
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:54 PM   #4
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Yes you can add an external ground wire to the generator. Depending on soil makeup and moisture content, I doubt that a tent stake will do it. Most ground rods I have seen are in the six foot range. Why not set this up at home with the generator and run the ground wire to a water pipe (copper) that runs into the ground or a know ground line at your home's service entrance.
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Old 05-28-2008, 06:13 PM   #5
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Hi azflycaster,

Understood, I'll try that tomorrow AM and post back. Note: The stake was next to an irrigation ditch.

Walt
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:26 PM   #6
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A GFI problem is between neutral and ground, not to any earth or chassis ground.

The Honda does not bond the neutral and ground together and neither does (should) your trailer. Check the Honda manual for whether it is OK to tie the neutral to the chassis ground.

You do not need an earth ground with a portable genset nor does code require such. An earth ground is only required at the park service entrance which is where the neutral and ground are bonded. That is the only place they should be bonded. In portable service, some transfer switches will bond ground and neutral when they switch to genset power but it is generally not necessary.

The floating neutral common with genset power does cause some wiring protection devices some grief and a good device will cover this in its manual.
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:58 PM   #7
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Hi Leipper,

I'm trying to follow, but not sure I understand. When you say "The Honda does not bond the neutral and ground together...", does it mean that testing the outlets on the Honda should NOT show a ground fault (Regardless of whether the Honda is grounded or not)? This is right at the generator -- not hooked to the trailer (The trailer is out of the picture in this).

NOTE: We checked 2 Honda eu2000i's with the same ground fault result.

Is the Surge Guard Digital Line Monitor at fault and an inappropriate device to be using here?

Walt
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Old 05-29-2008, 12:53 PM   #8
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Additional Data

Hi again,

I grounded the generator to our house ground (Scraped to bright copper and held connection with a Vice-Grip). Then fired up the Honda and then plugged in the digital monitor. The result is the same ground fault.

Leipper, having the same result seems at least consistent with your statement "You do not need an earth ground with a portable genset...".

But, since the neutral and ground are not bonded together in the generator, I understand that I should NOT see a ground fault. Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding.

Does anyone else have a Honda eu2000i & Technology Research Corp. Digital Line Monitor model# AECM20020 (For specs try Technology Research Corporation / Select 'Other Products' / Select 'Digital Monitor -- Bought at Camping World) to try to duplicate what I'm seeing?

Thanks,
Walt
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Old 05-29-2008, 02:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Is the Surge Guard Digital Line Monitor at fault and an inappropriate device to be using here?
might be.

This is one of those simple complicated things that easily create confusion. There are lots of discussions about it, too.

On your electrical plug, 'ground' is a frame of reference that represents all of the things you can touch near the plug. 'Neutral' is the electrical path that is usually considered to be at the same electrical reference as ground but not locally attached to the ground. 'Hot' is considered to be the other side of the electrical circuit and at the greatest potential electrical difference from the ground.

What a GFI or ground fault interrupter device does is to match the current in the hot and the neutral to see if the match. If they don't it means current is getting out of where it needs to be and that implies a wiring fault that needs fixing.

A ground fault tester is probably checking to see if there are any leaks between the ground and neutral. It does this by looking at the resistance between neutral and ground. It expects a low resistance because proper wiring will have these two connected at the service entrance.

For grid attached systems, the frame of reference ground can be a real problem. Large distances and multiple attachment points and induced currents and such things keep power system engineers intellectually stimulated. These phenomena lead to the assumption that the frame of reference ground is a part of the circuit whether or not you want it to be so you define the rules for how it is connected to be able to control them. For RV's this assumption is not appropriate.

For RV's, the electrical power circuit is small and electrically isolated. It makes no difference which lead coming from the genset will be hot and which neutral. You define which is which by attaching one to the reference or frame ground, if you want (check the genset manual about this) but it isn't required by electrical codes. There is near zero risk of electrical current going through some other path than the neutral and hot leads in an RV genset situation so GFI type stuff isn't a concern of any weight.

Your test device, though, thinks it needs to find a low resistance between neutral and the reference frame ground because that is 'proper' wiring for grid connected power systems. If your RV system on genset doesn't bond these together, then the resistance between them will be high and the device will indicate a fault.

One way to tell if neutral and ground are bonded is to check the voltage between neutral and ground and hot and ground. In a proper grid wiring situation, the neutral to ground voltage will be zero and the hot to ground will be 120v. In an unbonded RV genset situation you'll probably find 60v between neutral to ground and between hot to ground. (that tells you there is a bit of coupling there but it is only visible because the meter has a high impedance).

If the manual says its OK, bond the neutral and ground together and then see what the line monitor thinks.
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Old 05-29-2008, 04:53 PM   #10
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Neutral & Ground not Bonded

Hi Leipper,

I did find this in the Honda owner's manual:
"Honda portable generators have a system ground that connects generator frame components to the ground terminals in the AC output receptacles. The system ground is not connected to the AC neutral wire. If the generator is tested by a receptacle tester, it will not show the same ground circuit condition as for a home receptacle."

This sounds highly consistent with what you're describing, Leipper.

On searching the whole PDF file for the words 'bond' and 'unbond', I found no references. I've also done a visual search of a hard copy of the shop manual and also found no reference. Neither seems to specify if it's OK to bond the neutral and ground together (I'll assume not OK for now).

I'll have to make another trip to the storage yard for my multitester to check for the 60v up and down. I'll report back once I know.

Regards,
Walt
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:13 PM   #11
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HI Walt, We discovered that the power line at the rally site last weekend was indeed wired backward. So your montitor was working correctly there.

On another note, I charged my battery with Gary's generator on Monday and the ground fault light in my trailer was on but it was about half the brightness that it usually is. That goes along with what Byran is saying about there being just 60 V between the ground and the hot.

Thought you'd like to know.
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:16 PM   #12
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Don't think you have a problem, which will make it very very hard to solve. The meter's design application is a standard AC circuit.
Bryan's explanation is great.
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:24 PM   #13
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bond means to electrically connect the wires together.

The Honda manual probably says it better than I can.

For a horror story about campground wiring, see Melting the plug which describes and links to an encounter with Oregon State Park electrical systems. It is amazing how many parks have wiring problems, sometimes even dangerous ones.

You might also be interested in Wiring your generator ground and genset grounding for more information and some links on the same blog.
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:50 PM   #14
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On the way to clarity?

Hi Leipper,

When you used the word 'probably' in "In an unbonded RV genset situation you'll probably find 60v between neutral to ground and between hot to ground", was there some other possibliity in mind?

My readings a few minutes ago were 126v hot to neutral and 0v hot to ground.

Regards,
Walt
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