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Old 08-06-2015, 02:43 PM   #1
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12v circuit trips shore GFCI

Hi everyone! I was hoping to get some help on a recurring issue we are having with our AS. I am no electrician so it wouldn't surprise me if the solution is elementary.

When we remodeled our 65 TradeWind I redid the electrical system from the ground up. At the core of our electrical system we have an Intellipower 4045, two 6v Lifeline batteries, and a battery monitor.

We have a problem when we plug into shore power with a GFCI outlet anywhere on the circuit. All is well when the 120v breakers in our 4045 are switched on but when I turn on the 15A circuit that powers the converter/12v side the shore GFCI outlet trips and shuts the shore circuit off. I have tried checking to see if I have a short anywhere on any of my 12v circuits by seeing if the draw on the battery changes when my 12v fuses are out, and the draw (-0.01A which I am assuming is what the battery monitor is using) remains unchanged. I have also tried disconnecting the battery from the converter via my disconnect switch but this does not stop the shore GFCI from tripping.

I have attached a diagram of my electrical system. I hope I am providing enough info, and that the fix is simple and cheap!

Thanks in advance for any help!

Chad & Kir
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Old 08-06-2015, 02:57 PM   #2
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Is the converter the only device on that circuit. If not, try disconnecting the other devices.

Bruce
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Old 08-06-2015, 03:02 PM   #3
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When I was still working for a living, we had several construction sites where there were "nuisance" trips of GFCIs. We finally realized, after much head-scratching (which no doubt contributed to my baldness), that the problem was caused by office trailers with GFCI outlets being plugged into shore power also with GFCI outlets. It was always the GFCI on the service pedestal, never the GFCI in the trailer, that tripped.

The connection that allows a GFCI outlet to detect ground faults registers as a ground fault when plugged into another GFCI farther "upstream." So when we made sure there was never more than one GFCI providing protection to the same circuit, the problem went away. Since it was easier to change the pedestal than the trailer, we did away with the GFCIs on the shore power supply, and left the circuit protection up to the GFCI in the trailer.
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Old 08-06-2015, 03:38 PM   #4
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Is there any possibility that the neutral and ground wires feeding the converter are reversed?

Does the shore GFCI trip if you plug the trailer in after you enable the breaker to the converter? In other words, try this: Unplug the trailer. Turn off all other circuit breakers except the main and the 15 amp that feeds the converter, and then plug the trailer into the shore power outlet. Does the shore power GFCI trip?

Chris
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:03 PM   #5
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Of the two new Airstreams we have owned, plug either one into a shore GFCI outlet and the shore GFCI outlet would trip. Plug them into a regular circuit breaker-protected shore circuit and all is fine.

I'm guessing there's a RF filter of some sort allowing a tiny leakage of current to ground in the Airstreams, tripping the GFCI's.
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Old 08-06-2015, 05:08 PM   #6
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I had the same issue with my 68 Trade Wind. Scratched my head for a couple of weeks with no luck fixing the issue. After a tip from another forum member I checked my outside 120V outlet. Pulling the receptacle I found it was wet and corroded due to the seal on the lid leaking. I replaced the cover and outlet and that fixed the problem. Might pull your outside outlet and see if it is dry.
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Old 08-06-2015, 06:54 PM   #7
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Thank you all for your replies. I am at work at the moment but I had my wife run a few more tests.

@AstroBruce - the converter is the only device on this breaker.

@Protagonist - we have a GFCI outlet in the trailer. I just had my wife turn all 120v breakers off in the 4045, turn on the main 30A breaker then turn on the 15A breaker to the 12v side and it still tripped the shore GFCI.

@Minno - I will have to double check to see if I got my wires crossed, so to speak. I thought I was careful when wiring in the trailer inlet but I may have messed something up.

@dkottum - unfortunately I only have access to a GFCI-protected outlet here. Up until this point that was my MO; plugging in to a non-GFCI-protected circuit.

@68Twind - all connections look good. The circuit we are plugged in to is in a garage and protected from any corrosive elements.

Thanks for your suggestions everyone! I'm still lost here though!
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Old 08-06-2015, 07:25 PM   #8
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12v circuit trips shore GFCI

The problem is with the converter or converter wiring period.

Whomever you paid to wire it needs to fix it.

That is their job.
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Old 08-06-2015, 07:39 PM   #9
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Converters usually have filters on their inputs to minimize electrical noise. Typically these include capacitors from the hot and neutral to the ground. A defective component or components in the converter may be leaking current onto the ground line. Unplug the converter or disconnect it from the circuit and run the test again. If the trips go away, either the converter is defective or its design is incompatible with GFCIs.

Al
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Old 08-06-2015, 11:08 PM   #10
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@J. Morgan - I paid Intellipower to wire the converter. They designed it, and I bought it and installed it. I'm sure you read my initial post but again, I redid the trailer wiring; I did not pay a professional to wire my trailer. I only let one "professional" company work (ahem, "Arizona Northwest RV") on my trailer and they hacked it up so badly that I will never take my trailer in for service for anything ever again. I work in the healthcare profession and I could have done a better job one handed and drunk. Anyways, I will take your advice and call Intellipower and ask them to do their job.

@Al and Missy - I'm beginning to think the converter is defective. This doesn't seem normal, and I can't find anything wrong with how I installed the thing. It throws the GFCI even when I pull the fuses to all my 12v circuits and disconnect the battery.

Thanks for all of your constructive input. Once I find a solution I'll be sure to post about it.
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Old 08-06-2015, 11:20 PM   #11
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Can you unplug the converter and plug it directly into the shore gfci with extension cord to see if it still trips that way. Then possibly disconnect the. 12v side of the converter with direct plug to gfci shore, to narrow to the converter w / wo load?
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Old 08-07-2015, 12:10 AM   #12
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I just looked at the specs on your converter. When first powered up it may draw a slug of up to 32 amps. That may trip a 15 amp GFCI. There may not be anything wrong with your converter.

I read on another board that folks have had success replacing GFCIs with more expensive units or with 20A units. That may or may not meet code in your area depending on wire size, and other factors.


Al
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:53 PM   #13
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GFIs

GFCIs work by comparing the current going in (on the black wire) to the current coming back (on the white, or neutral wire). When the device sees a mismatch of around 5 milliamps, it should trip. The theory being that the mismatched current is going somewhere that it should not be going. Namely, thru your body. This small amount of current most often is not enough to feel but the device removes the power source, making the circuit safe. A converter is just one of the many types of devices with internal windings, capacitors, resistors, and other electronic components that can cause a GFCI to see a mismatch. The efficiency of electrical devices is not going to be 100%. Current leaking to ground from a damaged or defective cord can also cause nuisance tripping. The solution is to plug into a non-gfi protected outlet. Per the National Electrical Code, all 15 and 20 amp outlets at kitchen countertops, in bathrooms, garage or outside are required to be GFCI protected. That safety thing again. The 30 amp RV circuit is not required to be GFCI protected, but the outlets in the bathroom, ouside and kitchen sink areas of the trailer are. These are down-stream of the panel or protected by a GFCI breaker, and would not normally be on the same circuit as the converter. This protects the end user. The best answer at home is to install a 30 amp RV outlet circuit, use a 30 amp cord connection on the trailer, and carry some adapters for those times when a 30 amp connection is not readily available. It really is about safety.
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Old 08-07-2015, 09:53 PM   #14
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Atlas,
I was referring to the outside outlet on your trailer, not the outlet that it is plugged into. I spent a week chasing a CFCI issue and it was as simple as a wet and corroded outlet.
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