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Old 01-25-2019, 12:14 PM   #1
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2019 23' Flying Cloud
West Sacramento , California
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Shore Power GFCI Tripping

Hello all,

New member here. My wife and I have a brand spanking new 23FB Flying Cloud. It has not been on any trips yet, and I'm experiencing an electrical issue that may or may not be an issue.

The storage facility I use has 110 volt GFCI protected outlets for power. I received a call from them saying my trailer is tripping the outlet and causing others to stop receiving power (it is a four outlet power box shared by four different spots).

I went down to storage and sure enough, every time I plugin to the outlet I trip the GFCI on the outlet, with our without the breakers engaged inside the trailer, with the battery disconnect switch off (i.e. store position).

Thinking it may just be their GFCI, I brought the trailer home and plugged into two different GFCI 110 outlets at my house. The GFCI's trip immediately (again, regardless if the breakers on the trailer are on or off, with the battery disconnect in the stored position).

The issue at the storage place has caused my batteries to drain (tested below 10 volts after just a couple weeks - probably because they were not receiving any power to the converter to charge them). I've had the batteries on a Battery Minder ever since to keep them topped off, and the Battery Minder seems to think they are ok as all indications are in the green - voltage after charging is a solid 12.8 volts).

I called Airstream directly and at first the guy said it was probably normal due to the type of converter they use, but when I told him it does it when the breakers inside the trailer are off, he said I may have a ground fault on the trailer and to have it checked by the dealer.

I have a service appointment scheduled for next week with my local Airstream dealer to see what is up. However, in my initial conversation with them they thought this symptom was normal because the converter tries to pull lots of current to immediately begin charging the batteries, even when the battery disconnect is in the stored position. When I told him it does it when the trailer breakers are off, he still didn't seam too concerned, but said they'd take a look next week.

To be clear, when I plug into a non-GFCI 110 outlet at home everything seems fine (i.e. everything on the trailer seams ok - all works as it should - have NOT run the AC in this configuration by the way).

Has anyone else ever experienced this? Should I be concerned?
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:37 PM   #2
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Correction to my original post:

I said "the Battery Minder seems to think they are ok as all indications are in the green - voltage after charging is a solid 12.8 volts)"

The voltage after charging is actually 12.64 volts. I "think" the batteries are ok, but have not tested with a battery tester hydrometer for specific gravity. I can say that I did top off the battery water levels about a week ago with distilled water.

I should note that I've tried two different extension cords for this issue, one is a fairly heavy duty 15 amp / 12 gauge cord. I've also connected from the house GFCI outlets using two different adapters at the trailer - one is the standard 30 amp female to three prong 110 male "dogbone" that everyone seems to use. The other is an adapter that plugs into the male end of the 30 amp cord that came with the trailer, and converts it to 110 three prong. All combinations continue to trip the various GFCI's.

Personally I don't think this is normal.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:50 PM   #3
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He said it trips when all the breakers are off so that step has already been done. Next step would be to disconnect the incoming lines from the power cord at the breaker box to see if it is the cord or in the trailer, but being under warranty he should first let the dealer look at it. An electrician could narrow this down in very short order. The tech saying it is "normal" because of the type of converter is wrong. It shouldn't trip, period. Don't let them blow smoke.

edit: wow the post I quoted disappeared when I was typing
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:02 PM   #4
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I had exactly the same issue on my 2007 Safari 25FB. My problem turned out to be the air conditioner; I found burned up wiring in the junction box in the ceiling where the air conditioner is connected. I brought it to Jackson Center to have them replace the AC.

Hereís the thread that I started, which contains a wealth of troubleshooting information: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...ng-167877.html

However, as Brian said, your unit is under warranty and itís best to let the dealership figure it out and fix it.

Jim
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Old 01-25-2019, 08:01 PM   #5
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Yes, you should be concerned. If there's a wiring error or a short (e.g., wire insulation pinched or cut through by a metal edge or screw), all metal parts of the trailer could be live, posing a potentially lethal shock hazard.

Since this is a brand new trailer, I'd strongly suspect an assembly or wiring error at the factory. Those people are sloppy; I saw some really egregious build errors in my 2017 International.

Don't let the dealer brush you off with excuses--get this resolved! In the meanwhile, don't touch any metal part while standing on wet ground. A quick test you can do: set your multimeter to AC volts and carefully measure the voltage between the outside of the trailer and a known ground, such as the ground hole of a household or campground outlet. If you see more than a few millivolts, you have a dangerous situation.
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Old 01-25-2019, 08:46 PM   #6
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I am not familiar with the electrical equipment Airstream installs in recent trailer models but I'll chime in here and tell you how I solved a very similar problem on our 2010 Interstate van. By the way, I went round a round with customer service at Airstream, the local dealer and others before finally finding some useful information via an internet search on the subject.

Our van does not have any wiring "problems." But we also tripped GFCI outlet immediately, even when everything is off, circuits disconnected, etc.

I finally figured out that the inverter/converter/charger in our Interstate is connected directly to AC power as well as connected directly to the batteries. As wired from the factory there was no way to isolate the inverter/converter/charger. For simplicity, I'll simply refer to it as the inverter. If your trailer has an inverter system similar to our van you may want to do some troubleshooting to determine if the inverter is causing your issue.

My workaround is to be sure the inverter is indeed in inverter mode when I connect to a GFCI outlet. After I connect with the inverter in inverter mode for 15 seconds or so (I hear a relay click) then I can turn the inverter back to normal (i.e. converter) mode.

The problem stems from the ground and neutral bonding that occurs inside the inverter. When the inverter is in normal mode the ground and the neutral are joined together on the circuit board at start-up. A GFCI sees that as a fault. Only with the inverter actually inverting is the ground and neutral separated during start-up so the GFCI doesn't trip. After the relay clicks then the circuit board has fully powered-up and the ground and neutral are separated for normal operation too.

For reference, ours is a Tripp-Lite inverter/converter/charger. Interesting name, huh?! Apparently this issue of ground and neutral being joined at start up is not uncommon even in other brands of inverters.
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Old 01-25-2019, 11:04 PM   #7
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Go to your big box store and buy an outlet tester. Plug your trailer into a non-gfi outlet where everything seems to work. Plug the outlet tester into as many outlets in the trailer as you can. The tester will tell you if you have one of several faults like reversed neutral and ground, open neutral, etc.

That will give you something to tell them when you take the trailer in. Until then, keep the batteries charged with the battery minder.

Al
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:06 AM   #8
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I had the same issue until I replaced the stock single stage converter with a boondocker brand multi stage converter. Dont know if the converter was the issue or the way it was wired. But solving the breaker issue was a pleasant side effect of replacing it.

Btw, numerous people who I spoke with suggested the issue was that you can't have a gfci outlet loop plugged into another gfci. So the trailer gfci was causing the trip. Apparently this isn't true because it's fine now.
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:22 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the replies. At least I know itís not ďnormalĒ.

My appointment with my ďlocalĒ dealer (45 mins away) is next Thursday, so weíll see how that goes. Since a rep at Airstream said itís NOT normal with all the trailer circuit breakers shut off, that hopefully gives me a little leverage for the dealer service guys. They mentioned that they have GFCI 110 outlets, so before I leave there I will verify with them that it does the same thing (i.e. replicate the problem). Since Iíve not dealt with them yet from a service standpoint, I half to cautiously give them the benefit of the doubt that they will do the right thing.

I will post more when I know more. I do have an outlet tester (dealer gave me one when I took delivery). Iíll try testing as Al and Missy suggested before taking it down.

I gotta say, though, that Iím very disappointed in Airstream right now. I bought this brand based on both implied and recommended quality. I only hope I didnít get a lemon. I didnít realistically expect total perfection, but come on, electrical problems and weíve not even taken a trip yet!

Iíve had one other pop up trailer years ago and didnít have a lick of trouble with it (a Chalet A frame). Youíd think for three times the price Airstream could get it right the first time.

Live and learn I guess.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:41 AM   #10
caz
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Elgin , Texas
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Investysly,

I believe you have the best explanation to date. I have a 2018 Flying Cloud. Trying to connect it to my brother-in-law's 50 amp GFCI circuit in his garage resulted in an immediate trip at his end of the circuit. We surmised that my inverter/converter was the culprit. Finally, just ran an extension cord through the front door of my trailer to run my CPAP during our visit. In comparison, I have a new 50 amp circuit wired to my RV port at home and it works perfectly connected to my Airstream 50 amp cable.
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:07 PM   #11
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2014 25' International
2010 22' Interstate
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GFCI tripping

Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
I am not familiar with the electrical equipment Airstream installs in recent trailer models but I'll chime in here and tell you how I solved a very similar problem on our 2010 Interstate van. By the way, I went round a round with customer service at Airstream, the local dealer and others before finally finding some useful information via an internet search on the subject.

Our van does not have any wiring "problems." But we also tripped GFCI outlet immediately, even when everything is off, circuits disconnected, etc.

I finally figured out that the inverter/converter/charger in our Interstate is connected directly to AC power as well as connected directly to the batteries. As wired from the factory there was no way to isolate the inverter/converter/charger. For simplicity, I'll simply refer to it as the inverter. If your trailer has an inverter system similar to our van you may want to do some troubleshooting to determine if the inverter is causing your issue.

My workaround is to be sure the inverter is indeed in inverter mode when I connect to a GFCI outlet. After I connect with the inverter in inverter mode for 15 seconds or so (I hear a relay click) then I can turn the inverter back to normal (i.e. converter) mode.

The problem stems from the ground and neutral bonding that occurs inside the inverter. When the inverter is in normal mode the ground and the neutral are joined together on the circuit board at start-up. A GFCI sees that as a fault. Only with the inverter actually inverting is the ground and neutral separated during start-up so the GFCI doesn't trip. After the relay clicks then the circuit board has fully powered-up and the ground and neutral are separated for normal operation too.

For reference, ours is a Tripp-Lite inverter/converter/charger. Interesting name, huh?! Apparently this issue of ground and neutral being joined at start up is not uncommon even in other brands of inverters.
I had the same problem with my 2010 AI. They said it was the inverter/converter/charger unit. They replaced it under an extended warranty and no problems since.
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:09 PM   #12
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I had the same problem with my 2010 AI. They said it was the inverter/converter/charger unit. They replaced it under an extended warranty and no problems since.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:15 PM   #13
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Just wondering...does this happen when you are plugged into 30-amp service? You did not say. Finding that out may help resolve the issue.
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Old 01-26-2019, 04:13 PM   #14
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The primary point to remember is that GFICs are safety devices which disconnect electrical service upon detection of conditions that can be dangerous to users and equipment. This can include such things are reversal of the Neutral and Hot wires leading to your trailer, as well as excessive currents flowing through the ground wire from your trailer back to the GFIC.

Don't take a chance, unplug your trailer and get it to a reputable service organization. The best of luck,
Tom
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