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Old 08-09-2009, 04:21 PM   #15
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To get a good test you will need plug to converter into an independent circuit from the trailer.
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Old 08-09-2009, 04:54 PM   #16
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To check the GFI breaker, switch it with a regular breaker and see if that one trips in the GFI slot. If so, then you'll know the GFI one is bad. Go to Lowe's, Home Depot, etc., for a breaker and you'll probably pay less than at the Square D store.

The last thing that was done was install a new A/C—check the wiring from the A/C to the 120 v. breakers and see if something was done wrong. I would think the A/C has a dedicated circuit and nothing else is on it. Why the GFI breaker was flipping when the old A/C tried to start makes no sense to me because the A/C would be on a different breaker. If the GFI breaker is ok, there's most likely a short somewhere.

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Old 08-09-2009, 05:37 PM   #17
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I was incorrect about the AC breaker tripping - it never did. It's always been the 20A GFI breaker that controls the galley, bath, outside, etc. outlets.

Not sure I completely understand: If I switch the breakers, and the one that's now in the slot that the GFI was previously in, and it trips, that doesn't mean the GFI breaker is bad, does it? If I switch them and the GFI breaker continues to trip now in a different circuit), what conclusion can I draw from that - that the breaker is bad?

I was fooling around with some of the 12VDC outlets with my trusty multimeter, and it shows that I've got 27VAC in those 12VDC receptacles. That doesn't seem right to me.

I also used one of those plugin AC receptacle testers and it shows that all the outlets are OK.

We're about to give up and turn it over to some Camper World tech to diagnose, but I really hate to do that until I've exhausted all the diagnostic procedures I can do myself.

Thanks.
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Old 08-09-2009, 05:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Jenkins View Post

Not sure I completely understand: If I switch the breakers, and the one that's now in the slot that the GFI was previously in, and it trips, that doesn't mean the GFI breaker is bad, does it? If I switch them and the GFI breaker continues to trip now in a different circuit), what conclusion can I draw from that - that the breaker is bad?

I was fooling around with some of the 12VDC outlets with my trusty multimeter, and it shows that I've got 27VAC in those 12VDC receptacles. That doesn't seem right to me.
If a different breaker works in the GFI slot, it indicates the GFI breaker is probably bad. To confirm, if the GFI breaker doesn't work in a different slot, it's bad (unless all the 120 v. circuits are screwed up, but you didn't say they were). If the GFI breaker is good, there's something shorting it somewhere—a short is what trips it (if it's good). There could be a short in a receptacle, wire, etc. GFCI breakers (same as GFI) are ultra sensitive to shorts, so a very minor short in a circuit could trip a GFCI breaker, but not a regular one. No one said this was easy, but it is possible.

You shouldn't use the AC setting on your multimeter on DC receptacles. I'm not sure what DC does to an AC voltmeter, but it can't be good. 27 v. is about twice what you'll get on a 12 v. circuit (it's not 12 v., more like 13.5), so maybe alternating vs. direct current aspect does that to the meter. Try the AC multimeter option on your house current to see if it reads close to 120 v. to check if it still works (note—house voltage is often a few volts off 120).

A lot of Airstreamers avoid Camping World, either saying the techs there know nothing about Airstreams, or they know nothing. I have no personal experience, but just reporting what others say.

Gene
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:24 PM   #19
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Hi Gene:

Thanks for heads-up on Camping World.

The multimeter still shows 120VAC on a "normal" circuit. The meter has an AC voltage setting - are you saying not to use/trust it?

As far as that 27VAC goes, I also see it across the battery positive and the trailer ground, measured in the converter cabinet.

I've just spent the last hour switching things off and on, and I'm not sure I've learned anything. I do see this, though: With all the breakers ON, shore power disconnected, if I measure resistance across shore power plug prongs I get 0 ohms. With all off, the meter shows an open circuit. I start turning on the breakers, one by one, and when I get to the microwave breaker, resistance drops back to zero. That's a double breaker - one half is 15A (water heater) the other 20A (microwave).

However, none of that seems to have any effect on the GFI breaker tripping: With all breakers OFF, when I start turning them on, one by one (and converter is plugged in), it's when I get to the one that includes convenience outlets (which includes the one the converter plugs into), when I switch that breaker on, the GFI breaker trips.

I don't understand the zero ohms reading, and I don't know what to try next. Tomorrow, I'll try switching the circuits the breakers control and see if that makes any difference in symptoms.

This is very depressing.
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:32 PM   #20
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Gene:

I reread your warning about the AC reading - I see what you're saying now.

One time, in our house, we had problems with the elec. water heater tripping breakers. Turns out the heating element was shot. That problem only occurred, of course, when the heater was trying to heat water, which we're not doing in this case. But I'm wondering if electrolysis (unit was plugged into shore power for a long time during colder weather) could have boogered something, hot water heater switch is maybe hosed?

Straw-grasping - that's what it is ...
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:42 PM   #21
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Dave,
From what I understand the GFCI breaker only trips when the converter is plugged in.

That tells me the converter has an open neutral or internal short.
The short only has to be a very slight current leak (.001 amps can do it).

You may have to take the converter out and test it on a GFCI in the house.

Garry

GFCI do go bad but not very often and it sounds as it is designed to.

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Old 08-10-2009, 07:10 AM   #22
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Hi Garry - thanks.

I have all along thought it was the converter. You understand correctly. The breaker in question only trips when the converter is physically plugged in, or when it is already plugged in, and I connect to shore power. That is, it only trips when 120V AC is first applied to the converter.

The thing that has given me pause in this (due to ignorance on my part) is the issue of which breaker is tripping. My control panel has 5 breakers. The converter receptacle (along with some others) is on one 20A breaker. There is another 20A breaker with GFCI that controls receptacles that are in places where there's liable to be water involved (bath, galley, etc.). That's the breaker that trips.

So if I've been wondering all along if that's expected behavior or not: A short on a device (converter) on one circuit trips a breaker in a different circuit. If that's normal behavior, then I think it's the converter; but if that says there's something else wrong, then I need to keep looking.

Can you provide any insight on that issue, Garry?

Thanks!
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:26 PM   #23
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Here's an update:

I may be closer to getting a resolution to this:

I called the Parallax manufacturer (or maybe their reps: Connecticut Electric) to get some help, and they suggested some additional diagnostic tests. I’ve tried to call them back twice to report on what I found, but haven’t been able to reach anyone.

Here’s what I did, and what happened:
1. Tested each of the three other circuits (but not the one the converter is on, and not the one that the GFCI breaker is on) by removing each circuit's neutral connection. The GFCI breaker continued to trip when the converter was plugged in. I guess that tells me that nothing on any of those three circuits is affecting the breaker tripping - right?
2. I bought an inline GFCI tester and put it in a line I ran from a Honda generator. Nothing else was running off the generator, and when I plugged in the converter to that generator, the inline GFCI tester tripped.
If I interpret all of that correctly, that seems to point specifically to the converter as the source of the GFIs, to me. But I’m open to a different interpretation, or conducting any further tests that you all want to suggest.

What do you think?
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:48 PM   #24
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just a note.. when testing the 12v DC circuit, you are seeing 27v AC, because your meter cant read DC when in the AC setting. There is a setting on your meter for DC, use that setting when checking DC, and the AC setting when checking AC circuits.

as a side test, I would take the converter home, and plug it in to a GFCI circuit there and see what happens. Although I guess this pretty much the same as the generator test. Does your Honda generator have GFCI protected circuits? I know my generator does, did the converter trip those? or just the inline?
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:09 PM   #25
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related post:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...gfi-43187.html
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:14 PM   #26
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Thanks, Dakota's Dad.

The little Honda generator i was using showed an open ground, thereby casting the results of that test in doubt. (I was told.) However, I then disconnected the AS from shore power, connected the converter to the building power through the inline GFCI tester, and it tripped (while, as to be expected, nothing in the trailer tripped). With the trailer on shore power, the converter connected to inline GFCI tester, both GFCIs tripped. Don't know in what order.

I'm told by the Parallax Power guy (who has been *extremely* helpful) that this would be only the second one he's seen in 10 years with this particular problem. I just hope that I've faithfully followed all the problem isolation procedures folks have suggested, and that I haven't done something stupid to lead to the faulty converter conclusion.

I will be ordering a warranty replacement unit shortly, and will update this thread once it's installed.

Thanks!
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:26 PM   #27
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Hi Ricky:

Thanks for pointer to that earlier thread. No one else seems to have the identical symptoms that I've been having: Converter is on a non-GFI circuit, but trips the breaker on a separate GFI-protected circuit.

Some of my most recent posts may shed some light on what I've found out so far. One thing I have NOT done is to swap out the GFI breaker. I have one, but it's too darn hot in this part of Texas to do that now. Later, maybe.
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:31 PM   #28
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dave, the gfci only trips when it senses current flow on the grounding conductor. The reason you don't know which gfci breaker is tripping, is because all of the grounding conductors within your trailer are connected together. There is current running in the grounding system within your trailer. There is a spike in that current when you change from shore/gen/and back. The only place the neutral and grounding system are bonded together is at a shore line main panel. So, there is possibly a "downstream" connection between the neutral and the grounding system. This causes a "fault" condition and the gfci will operate. The very early gfci were prone to failure, the newer ones not so much. the extra confusion comes because the problematic device is the charger-which you should isolate from the 12dc load side and then just energize the charger-such isolation would determine if the 12vdc load side is the source of the grounding system current, or if the charger has suffered some kind of internal fault. once isolated from the 12vdc load, if the gfci operation still continues, then there is a problem internal to the charger. if the problem goes away, while isolated from the 12vdc load, then there is a wiring problem on the 12vdc side. I am going back to reread your posts and may edit this for clarity.
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yeah, reread them and eliminated the a/c as the cause. The only time the gfci operates is when shore line is connected-this confirms the idea that there is current in the grounding system, only causing the gfci to operate when connected to a 120vac source that has the neutral and grounding system bonded correctly. a portable generator does not have such a bond. so do the isolation to determine if the problem is in the charger (12vdc source) or the 12vdc load side. The question is: what changed? Has there been any 12vdc work done lately?
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