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Old 06-12-2021, 07:45 AM   #1
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2014 27' FB International
Bon Air , Virginia
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Electrical problems while camping - Help!?

Good morning everyone,

We are currently camping in our 2014 27FB- 50amp 2 a/c’s.
Last night I awoke to an electrical burning smell, turned out to be a brand new fan plugged in in the bedroom. Immediately, all outlets in the coach began, for lack of a better term, “browning out” - phasing on and off. I immediately turned off and unplugged everything as well as the 1 a/c I was running and electric water heater. Checked all breakers, nothing tripped. Checked my surge protector at camp electric pedestal, all green lights. Turned off all breakers in coach, turned off breaker at pedestal and then reset everything. No change to outlets “browning out” and a/c is behaving as if it does not have sufficient power, even on Fan only. All 12v items seem to be working as normal. Opened all windows, put on Fantastic fan and finished our balmy night. Any ideas from the knowledgeable folks here?
Sincere thanks,
Brenton
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:18 AM   #2
Grace the Airstream
 
2020 27' Globetrotter
Powhatan , Virginia
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Sounds to me like you may have a bare wire or faulty ground on that line.

First thing I would do is use the plug tester your AS was shipped with and see if there is a fault at one of the outlets.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentone View Post
Good morning everyone,

We are currently camping in our 2014 27FB- 50amp 2 a/c’s.
Last night I awoke to an electrical burning smell, turned out to be a brand new fan plugged in in the bedroom. Immediately, all outlets in the coach began, for lack of a better term, “browning out” - phasing on and off. I immediately turned off and unplugged everything as well as the 1 a/c I was running and electric water heater. Checked all breakers, nothing tripped. Checked my surge protector at camp electric pedestal, all green lights. Turned off all breakers in coach, turned off breaker at pedestal and then reset everything. No change to outlets “browning out” and a/c is behaving as if it does not have sufficient power, even on Fan only. All 12v items seem to be working as normal. Opened all windows, put on Fantastic fan and finished our balmy night. Any ideas from the knowledgeable folks here?
Sincere thanks,
Brenton
You are experiencing low voltage from an overloaded campground system or a faulty pedestal. (also could be a loose main in your panel but less likely)
You need to check voltage while the AC units are running, low voltage can cause all that you described, it will cause motors to burn up. If you shut everything off the voltage will rise and you won't get a true reading. If you are in a campground with a lot of people this is a very likely scenario. Ask others if they are experiencing the same issues. A surge protector will do nothing to help you, you need a real EMS for protection. The grounding wire has nothing to do with it either. Run on generator if you have one, or move to another spot before you destroy your AC units.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:32 AM   #4
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Bon Air , Virginia
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Update:
Power confirmed at pedestal and at coach panel main in at 244 volts. 120 confirmed to each leg at panel. GFCI breaker was tripped. Reset and tested GFCI outlets at 194 volts- shut off breaker. Other outlets (bedroom) test at 49 volts. Dropping a leg? Thanks for any thoughts.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentone View Post
Update:
Power confirmed at pedestal and at coach panel main in at 244 volts. 120 confirmed to each leg at panel. GFCI breaker was tripped. Reset and tested GFCI outlets at 194 volts- shut off breaker. Other outlets (bedroom) test at 49 volts. Dropping a leg? Thanks for any thoughts.
You have an open neutral. Check at pedestal from each leg to neutral should be 120. It may test OK without a load, then as soon as it is loaded voltages will change relative to loads. It will still equal approx 240 but will not be split evenly as you saw with your outlets. Easiest test is to try a different pedestal to rule out trailer. Also try without the surge protector, it may be faulty. If it turns out to be the trailer check all connections on the white wire including inside the panel. Could even be at the campground panel or somewhere in another box, or underground. You may have some damaged electronics in your trailer by now.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:40 AM   #6
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Update:
Subject Outlet fan was plugged in to is dead (10 volts).
I’m out of my depth but testing at panel leading me to believe I’ve dropped a neutral.
Thanks a million.
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ITSNO60 View Post
You have an open neutral. Check at pedestal from each leg to neutral should be 120. It may test OK without a load, then as soon as it is loaded voltages will change relative to loads. It will still equal approx 240 but will not be split evenly as you saw with your outlets. Easiest test is to try a different pedestal to rule out trailer. Also try without the surge protector, it may be faulty. If it turns out to be the trailer check all connections on the white wire including inside the panel. Could even be at the campground panel or somewhere in another box, or underground.
Thanks Brian,

Staying in a resort with deeded lots, no real option to try another pedestal. Pulled subject outlet, appears fine. I killed pedestal power and tested breakers, GFI breaker seems to be bad - testing at 0. Bad beaker back feeding? I appreciate all electricians more today!
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentone View Post
Thanks Brian,

Staying in a resort with deeded lots, no real option to try another pedestal. Pulled subject outlet, appears fine. I killed pedestal power and tested breakers, GFI breaker seems to be bad - testing at 0. Bad beaker back feeding? I appreciate all electricians more today!
GFCI breaker likely got fried from open neutral, they contain a small electronic board
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:05 AM   #9
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Swapped a non GFI breaker to circuit. Eliminated breaker as problem. Reading 94 volts on the neutral of the GFI circuit. I’m nearing the end of my electrical troubleshooting talents. 😂
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:08 AM   #10
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With an open neutral everything now sees line to line, do not hook up as things will get damaged if not already. If one leg is at 50 volts the other will be at 190. Or 10 and 230 and so on. Adding and removing different loads will change the split as it is now a series circuit and voltage will change proportional to resistance of the various loads but will always total 240 (or thereabouts).
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:13 AM   #11
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Swapped a non GFI breaker to circuit. Eliminated breaker as problem. Reading 94 volts on the neutral of the GFI circuit. I’m nearing the end of my electrical troubleshooting talents. ��
Voltage on the neutral confirms it is open. Voltage comes in on line and out on neutral, when neutral is connected to transformer it should read zero, or nearly zero volts, however when it is open voltage will rise. The 94 volts is your 120 minus whatever the resistance the load is (GFCI internals) resulting in 94.
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:29 AM   #12
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Hi

Plugging in a trailer and having an open neutral is a *great* way to kill all sorts of things in the trailer. The gear is designed for 120V. Put a lot more than that on it and you kill it. Loosing a converter charger this way is *very* common. You can indeed kill an A/C unit doing this.

Your situation is basically a demo of *why* you want an EMS rather than a surge protector on your trailer. It may be a demo of why hard wired EMS units are better than pole mount units. It depends a bit on just where the open neutral is.

Simple answer: Do not plug anything in until you find the open neutral. It's way cheaper to dig through that than to replace everything that hooks to 120V .....

Bob
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Old 06-12-2021, 09:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Plugging in a trailer and having an open neutral is a *great* way to kill all sorts of things in the trailer. The gear is designed for 120V. Put a lot more than that on it and you kill it. Loosing a converter charger this way is *very* common. You can indeed kill an A/C unit doing this.

Your situation is basically a demo of *why* you want an EMS rather than a surge protector on your trailer. It may be a demo of why hard wired EMS units are better than pole mount units. It depends a bit on just where the open neutral is.

Simple answer: Do not plug anything in until you find the open neutral. It's way cheaper to dig through that than to replace everything that hooks to 120V .....

Bob
Thanks Bob, et al…
Trying to test supply, looks like a bad power cord (or at least a bad connection at coach) dropped neutral seems to be in cord itself. Confirmed by us my adapter to a 110 extension, all seems well. Headed out to find a new 50amp cable and ordering an EMS today.

Fingers crossed,
Brenton
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Old 06-12-2021, 10:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brentone View Post
Thanks Bob, et al…
Trying to test supply, looks like a bad power cord (or at least a bad connection at coach) dropped neutral seems to be in cord itself. Confirmed by us my adapter to a 110 extension, all seems well. Headed out to find a new 50amp cable and ordering an EMS today.

Fingers crossed,
Brenton
Hi

Sometimes (but not always) the problem with a cord is at the connectors. A wire isn't quite screwed down tight enough. It pulls out and you have a problem. For fun, you might open up the connectors and see if you can spot a problem.

Indeed if the wire slowly pulled out, it may have "cooked" the connector. Don't re-use one that has been badly scorched. The "shore" end of the cable is a very normal part that Home Depot or Lowes should have in stock ....

Good luck !!!

Bob
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:33 PM   #15
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Another person had the problem of open neutral at trailer end of cord/plug connection. Unfortunately his EMS didn't help since problem was after EMS.
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Old 06-12-2021, 01:24 PM   #16
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I work as a lineman for a power company, we use a tool called a beast, it will put a load on your incoming line and show if you have an open neutral or not. A hair dryer will do basically the same thing. Most times its a bad connection that causes the neutral problem, tho sometimes it can be a cut neutral line. Another new tool we have puts a load on the line and where the bad connector is, it will make a loud popping noise and make the problem really easy to find. Having one of these on a smaller scale for personal use would be really cool. JMO.
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:30 PM   #17
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By way of a conclusion (and thanks to all who participated with help)
Turns out connector (twist at coach) on 50 amp cable was dropping the neutral by way of a bad connection. Pulled coach (male) connector to access backside and confirm. Replaced power cord (raced to make it to nearest RV shop before they close at 1 pm!) and back in business. Apart from the burnt fan, all appliances, luckily, survived.
Grateful for all who weighed in, I appreciate this community. Some lessons learned and not as costly as it could have been.
Cheers,
Brenton
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:32 PM   #18
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Powhatan , Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentone View Post
By way of a conclusion (and thanks to all who participated with help)

Turns out connector (twist at coach) on 50 amp cable was dropping the neutral by way of a bad connection. Pulled coach (male) connector to access backside and confirm. Replaced power cord (raced to make it to nearest RV shop before they close at 1 pm!) and back in business. Apart from the burnt fan, all appliances, luckily, survived.

Grateful for all who weighed in, I appreciate this community. Some lessons learned and not as costly as it could have been.

Cheers,

Brenton
Great to hear and not a bad outcome all things considered. Hope the rest of your trip goes smoothly.
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Wazbro View Post
Another person had the problem of open neutral at trailer end of cord/plug connection. Unfortunately his EMS didn't help since problem was after EMS.
This is why I wanted to install my EMS inside the coach after all the connectors. Also has the added benefit of not being stolen and having to lock.

If you don't have an EMS on your unit you should.

Best place to install is inside.
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:43 PM   #20
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Hi

Grab a multimeter and check the output of your converter charger. It's not always obvious when they die ..... I have a unfortunately large amount of data on this ....

Bob
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