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Old 10-26-2015, 11:16 AM   #1
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30 Amp breaker tripping

On my last weekend camping, there was an occasional smoldering smell and, what seemed unrelated, the main 30 Amp breaker tripped. Thinking the smell was coming from outside and the tripping was not related, simply re-set the breaker. The breaker tripped once more overnight and againth e next day.I called the service department where i bought my 2013 25' FC, and was asked if I heard the fan under the bed running. As I did not, it was concluded that my cooling fan might be not functioning. Can someone help describing how to diagnose this for sure and how to possibly change it out, and where to get a replacement.Thanks
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:31 AM   #2
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Just a guess on my part, but IMHO something else is up beside or other than an overheated converter or inverter.

It takes a lot to trip a 30 amp breaker, unless you are running two air conditioners at the same time, or the air conditioner and the microwave, or a couple or three space heaters.

What loads were you running when the breaker tripped?


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Old 10-26-2015, 11:38 AM   #3
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I was only running the electric water heater and at night a space heater. Fridge of course as well.
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:43 AM   #4
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The cooling fan under the bed that you are referring to is the little fan that cools the converter when it gets to a certain temperature. This fan does not run constantly. It cuts on and off as necessary.

The fact that you don't hear this fan running, doesn't necessarily mean anything. The dealer telling you that would make me suspicious of his competence.

Tell us more about what was going on when the main circuit breaker tripped. Ours trips regularly when we have too much electrical draw. This usually occurs when we are running the electric water heater and microwave, and the air conditioner cycles on.

As far the burning electrical smell, the first thing that I would check is the relay on the electric side of the water heater.

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Old 10-26-2015, 11:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryker View Post
I was only running the electric water heater and at night a space heater. Fridge of course as well.
Depending on the amperage draw of the space heater, I would venture a guess that this could be the issue. Some electric space heaters have quite a draw. This coupled with the water heater cycling on and the refrigerator and converter running, could be the cause of your problem. RV water heaters cycle so quickly that there is no real need to leave them on overnight.

We never leave our water heater on overnight or if we are gone from the trailer. I just don't trust them.

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Old 10-26-2015, 11:52 AM   #6
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The AC was not on at the time. Only the regular appliances, such as the fridge, water heater, and at night the space heater. I have used that space heater in the past and had no issues. At some point I did turn the water heater over to propane, as i wanted to "lighten" the load on the electrical system, but the breaker tripped after that as well. The area in around the breaker panel was extremely hot, which doe lead me to believe that the cooling fan may not be working properly.
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:57 AM   #7
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30 Amp breaker tripping

The AMP draw should be listed on the back of the space heater. It is not uncommon for them to draw 25+ Amps.

I like the oil filled radiator style heaters. Just check the amp draw before you buy them.

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Old 10-26-2015, 12:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverflames View Post
The AMP draw should be listed on the back of the space heater. It is not uncommon for them to draw 25+ Amps.

I like the oil filled radiator style heaters. Just check the amp draw before you buy them.

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I will check and see what my heater draws. However, I would think if it draws 25 Amps (or anything over 15 Amps), it should be the breaker for the circuit in which it is pluged into that trips and not the main breaker. I do understrand that the main breaker would ceratianly trip if the Amperage goes above, i.e. when watrer heater cycles on etc, but a 25 amp heater on a 15 amp circuit should wor at all.
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Old 10-26-2015, 12:18 PM   #9
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30 Amp breaker tripping

"Extremely hot" is never good when it comes to electric service. To me it signifies a very real possibility that something else is up beside you just using too many amps.

I suspect a loose connection between the trailer plug and the breaker box.

This heat may have degraded the insulation on the wires at this point.

If it was me I would disconnect all power to the trailer, make sure the inverter is OFF, (all 120 V power absolutely off), grab a flashlight, and pull panel covers to look for what has gotten hot and the damage the heat caused.


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Old 10-26-2015, 12:18 PM   #10
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When we had our 25' FC we tripped the breaker frequently until I learned how to better manage the loads. Fridge heats to circulate the cooling for fridge. I don't know the amps it pulls but it takes juice to work. Converter will cycle on and off to keep the 12v lights and batteries going. Space heater probably pulls several amps. Any fans, hair dryer, water heater, phone chargers, TV, Blu ray player or anything else that plugs in will count toward the 30 amps.
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Old 10-26-2015, 12:41 PM   #11
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Some campgrounds have inadequate wiring to their power pedestals for the loads modern RV's are demanding, so what seems like normal equipment running inside your Airstream it may be causing a voltage drop to your Airstream. That will increase current flow and may well lead to tripping the 30 amp breaker. We keep a simple plug-in voltmeter on our system all the time and turning on an electric heater or cooking device will often bring the voltage down to the red warning zone.

You may think you're not using much power with the appliances you have turned on, but I think you would be surprised. The water heater and an electric heater, added to the converter/charger, plus refrigerator may put you at the limit of the 30 amp system.

The easy solution is to only turn on the water heater electric portion when other things are not needed, it last a long time and recycles quickly. Then turn it off, no need to have it on overnight or much of the day. Or use the gas to heat water. Similar with other big electric draw items, it using an electric cooking griddle, turn off the space heater until you're done, for example.

And I would recommend the plug-in voltmeter as an easy way to tell when you've got more appliances going than the campground power can provide. If it drops into the red zone, turn something off.
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Old 10-27-2015, 10:21 AM   #12
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I recall having a similar issue - my 30-amp breaker was tripping for no apparent reason. It was suggested that I install a new 30-amp breaker. I did so, and the issue stopped. It seems that the bi-metallic strip properties may change slightly as well as the points of contact between the breaker and the panel may have corrosion. Corrosion will introduce some resistance, and the current flowing through will cause that point to heat up. This has also occurred in the 12 VDC system in my AS - JC replaced that breaker as well.
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Old 10-27-2015, 10:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverflames View Post
The AMP draw should be listed on the back of the space heater. It is not uncommon for them to draw 25+ Amps.

Absolutely no 120 volt plug in heater draws 25 + amps.

They are limited to the cord and plug capacity of the heater, which is further limited by various codes. The maximum they ever draw is 12 amps.

12 amps x 120 volts = 1440 watts.
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Old 10-27-2015, 12:04 PM   #14
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We only turn on the water heater when we need hot water, even our ancient system takes only 15 to 20 minutes to give us literally burning hot water, plus it lasts a while. Why would anyone leave it on all day? *scratches head* It's an awful waste of electricity or propane.
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Old 10-27-2015, 02:01 PM   #15
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As you have seen, there may be many reasons for a breaker to trip. Another is that a breaker is a thermal device that can and does fail. If a main breaker trips without a branch breaker tripping, I would suspect the main breaker has failed. Replacing it is easy and not expensive. Just pull the old one out, unscrew the wire and take it to the store for a replacement. You may have to go to an electrical supply house for an exact replacement if the home center doesn't have one.
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Old 10-27-2015, 02:45 PM   #16
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A similar thing happened to me last year. I was at a funky Florida Keys park, woke up on a chilly morning, and turned on my space heater. Evidently everybody else in the park did as well, took a bad voltage dip, and fried various breakers. I replaced all of the bad parts, and installed a decent surge/dip protector. Hasn't happened again.
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Old 10-27-2015, 03:54 PM   #17
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The first we camped in our then new 2014 Int. FB 27. We had the 30A breaker problem. When using an all electric home adding a hair drier, toaster, coffee pot or vacuum would trip the trailer main breaker. 30A/120V just isn't enough. We have learned to run the water heater on gas and the wife shut down the A/C when hair drying. Seems to work for us. Good luck!
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Old 10-27-2015, 04:45 PM   #18
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If the breaker had a burned smell and subsequently worked intermittently, the breaker is probably worn out. They generally last a long time but if tripped frequently, they will wear out. Easy fix if you are handy, if not call an electrician.
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Old 10-27-2015, 06:07 PM   #19
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This will explain it.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:18 AM   #20
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I checked the wattage on my electric heater yesterday, it is 1500 Watts. I also took the whole breaker panel out and inspected all the wires. None had any evidence of have gotten too hot, smoldering or anything like that. Since I have the trailer now winterized and the batteries are out I could not verify if the cooling fan comes on or not.
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