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Old 12-31-2011, 11:56 AM   #1
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Stranded with no power

We are camping on the coast and have lost all 12 volt power. We are plugged in to 120 and the outlets work fine, but the lights and all 12 volt systems dimmed and the went out as if we were on battery only. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
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Old 12-31-2011, 12:13 PM   #2
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"...dimmed and went out." That is exactly what happens if the power converter is not working. Many airstreams have a switch that allows one to switch the converter on and off. Switch is usually somewere near the back of the sofa. On the older trailers it looks just like a 110 volt wall switch.
For whatever reason your power converter has quit. the switch, if there is one, is a likely suspect. Or maybe the 110 circut the converter is plugged into. Or the converter is bad. You just have to locate the converter and see if it is powered. On our unit it is located in the front behind the sofa.
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Old 12-31-2011, 12:28 PM   #3
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Your converter is located behind the black metal door below your refrigerator. Your 12 volt fuses and 120 volt breakers are also located there check for tipped or burned out fuses. Also check the battery disconnect switch on the left side of the exterior door to make sure it is still on.
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Old 12-31-2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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If the converter (below the fridge) has quit, 12v systems should run on battery (if the batteries are not drained). Switch the battery disconnect switch, by the entrance door, to "use".

There is a test procedure for the converter on the Parallax web site.

doug k
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Old 12-31-2011, 05:40 PM   #5
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Thanks, guys. I replaced the 30 amp fuses and reset the "use" switch, but still not working. Strangely, I have determined that the batteries are recharging on shore power- but using the 12 volt discharges them. We went into town and bought a ceramic heater and some lamps and we are going to "rough" it for New Year's and fix it when we get home. Thanks for the replies! Much appreciated.
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Old 12-31-2011, 10:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Bale
We are camping on the coast and have lost all 12 volt power. We are plugged in to 120 and the outlets work fine, but the lights and all 12 volt systems dimmed and the went out as if we were on battery only. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
Your symptom is exactly what you suspect; you are running on batteries only without a charge from the converter.

I see you have an '08 Safari; your AC/DC distribution is probably like mine. The 110V is fed directly to the converter from one of the 110V breakers, no other switch is used here. I think it is breaker #3 on mine, there should be a label behind the front cover that identifies what each breaker serves. All 110V circuits are protected by these breakers. A tripped breaker may look like it is in the On position. To reset, it must be switched to Off and then back to On. There are 2 small fans in the converter (lower section of the Parallax unit), if the breaker is providing power to the converter, you may hear the fans running, listen closely while switching the breaker off and on. This won't verify the converter is good, only that it is getting power.

There is a row of red 20A fuses in the upper section that protect the various 12V circuits in the trailer. These fuses are all likely to be good as things work if your batteries are charged. Just above the row of fuses are a pair of green 30A fuses that are electrically between the converter and the batteries. These should be checked. If blown, it will prevent the converter from charging the batteries. On the same board with the fuses are 3 terminals labeled Conv Pos, Bat Pos and Bat Neg (common to both). If you had an inexpensive voltmeter and was familiar with its use, by pulling the green fuses you could verify if you do or don't have 12V coming to the fuse board from the converter.

A clarification on the Use/Store switch. In Store mode, the batteries are electrically isolated from the coach and the converter, the converter still supplies 12V to the coach in Store mode. In Use mode, the batteries provide power to the coach, and if the converter is functional, it keeps the batteries charged AND also provides 12V power to the coach. The red light goes out on the switch panel only in Store mode if there is no output from the converter (another way to determine if the converter is providing DC power).

A loose connection is a possibility. Before tightening those exposed connections (breakers and fuse board terminals) be sure you have disconnected your shore power AND batteries to prevent any nasty surprises. You indicate the batteries are possibly taking a charge from the converter if you aren't putting a load on them. This is a symptom of a loose connection.

You can rough it with a 110V heater and a lamp or two, but remember the fridge needs 12V for the control board to function.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:48 AM   #7
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mrs. b., i seem to remember a reading that the store/use switch will not operate if the battery is below a certain voltage. it might be best to first get the battery charged/checked and then verify the 120v ac breaker hasn't tripped, the converter fuses are good and test the 12v dc system voltage with and without power to the converter.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:03 AM   #8
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What a wealth of information here, anything you need help with somebody knows the answer!

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Old 01-01-2012, 12:32 PM   #9
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Thank you, Silver Goose. I had another interesting development this morning- after reading your reply I decided to try resetting all of the breaker switches on the panel. Circuit #2 ("bedroom/converter) is the problem. When I flipped it off and the on, it made an electrical zapping sound and a considerable amount of smoke came out. Yikes!
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:39 PM   #10
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Get a 12V battery charger with as many amps as you can get and hook to the batteries till you get the converter replaced. You may be able to charge them by hooking to the tow vehicle and charging through the trailer connector but this is not going to get them fully charged.

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Old 01-01-2012, 02:44 PM   #11
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You cannot charge through the connection to the truck very efficiently. It would take a long time. Small battery 120V battery chargers can do it in an hour - you are in a campground? Use their power. '08 model - still under warrenty? I would still contact AS and get them to answer you on that issue.
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Old 01-01-2012, 03:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Bale
Thank you, Silver Goose. I had another interesting development this morning- after reading your reply I decided to try resetting all of the breaker switches on the panel. Circuit #2 ("bedroom/converter) is the problem. When I flipped it off and the on, it made an electrical zapping sound and a considerable amount of smoke came out. Yikes!
If you feel comfortable with this, you can investigate further. As I recall, it takes a T-10 or T-15 torx bit to remove the 4 screws securing the front cover. Before going further, you must unplug your shore power and insure no one will plug it in while you're back inside.

Remove the front cover, then remove the galvanized safety cover. This is the plate that fits flush on the front and is secured with a few hex head screws. Be certain you are not connected to 110 volts! Now look at the wire(s) that are attached to the terminal on the bottom of each breaker. These wires should have black insulation. Each wire should be fully inserted into the terminal and the securing screw tight. In the same compartment with the breakers, you should see a line of white insulated wires. Each is secured with a set screw into an aluminum block. Again, each must be tight. Lastly, you will see a row of bare copper or possibly green insulated wires secured in the same manner to another block.

Peer in there with a flashlight to see if you see any evidence of charring or arcing. If so, can you determine the source? Does the housing or each breaker appear sound? The breaker housings may have a little wiggle in position, but does one feel noticeably different than the others? Are there any broken pieces of plastic in the tray below the breakers? Without taking anything apart, peer into the converter section. There is a circuit board with a lot of components on the bottom. Do you see anything that looks charred or cracked/broken off?

If you found something loose and tightened it, install the safety cover before plugging into shore power to test. Another caveat... If you feel the need to explore the area around the 12V fuse panel, be sure to also completely disconnect both batteries and do that with care not to get the wench between the + post and the frame or between the posts.

If you do not feel comfortable with this, seek qualified assistance.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:41 PM   #13
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If you were a computer geek I would tell you to hot wire a computer power supply to get 12V out of it. I expect any RV place will have a power supply for you.

Perry
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