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1997 safari: sahara..is electrical..coach..power(110)I lose power…

Customer Question
I have a 1997 safari-sahara...
I have a 1997 safari-sahara model- it features 2000 watt inverter, onan generator, etc.
The problem I am having is electrical-specifically ac(110),when coach is plugged in to land power(110)I lose power to the gfci circuit, but not the other outlets(non gfci). I have everything working when working off inverter or generator! I have replaced the breaker in the distribution panel for the gfci circuit.
Submitted: 12 years ago.Category: RV
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Answered in 9 minutes by:
8/21/2010
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago
Steve F.
Steve F., RVIA Certification
Category: RV
Satisfied Customers: 443
Experience: Journeyman and Master RV technician, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineer. RVIA Technical Consultant
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Hi,

 

It sounds to me like you have a bad GFCI receptacle. Please be aware that if you have a single GFCI circuit in your coach, all the receptacles downstream of the first receptacle are protected by the first receptacle.

I'm sure you've already done it, but please check your GFCI receptacle to make sure it is not tripped. All the GFCI receptacles downstream of this one will be normal receptacles in appearance, but will be protected by this first outlet.

If it is not tripped, then it may be faulty and you should replace the GFCI receptacle. It is possible that the GFCI receptacles work properly on inverter, but not on shore power due to the nature of the way they operate.

 

If the GFCI outlet is not tripped, remove it from the wall and measure the INCOMING voltage to the receptacle. If you have power there, the outlet is definitely faulty.

 

If you do replace the GFCI outlet, which do tend to fail, note that they have to be properly wired. They have terminals for "Line" and "Load". The "Line" side goes to the circuit breaker, and the "Load" side goes to the downstream outlets.

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I have power to the bathroom gfci at all times, but the one in the kitchen only has power momentarily after resetting the breaker(in dist. panel), does your answer still apply in this case?
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

So I am assuming the bathroom GFCI has the reset and test buttons on it?

 

How many of the GFCI circuits in your coach actually have GFCI receptacles? This will determine how many GFCI circuits you have in your coach. Most coaches only have 1. In this case, I will assume that the kitchen GFCI is downstream of the bathroom one.

 

Do you have a volt meter or multi-tester?

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I am using a voltmeter. The kitchen gfci also has reset button, and there is one with a reset by the icemaker, and several others w/o reset.
I believe the bathroom gfci is the first(closest to power supply).
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

So my next question is which GFCI outlets are you having problems with?

 

So it sounds like you have 2 GFCI circuits, are both of these circuits giving you problems?

 

I believe it's a simple matter of replacing the GFCI receptacle (the one with the reset button) upstream of the GFCI circuit you are having problems with.

 

Do you understand what I am saying?

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I think I understand what you are saying(maybe).I am having trouble with the one in the kitchen and of course everything upstream of that does not work. are you saying I have 2(two) breakers in the dist. panel controlling 2 gfci circuits?
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

If you have two GFCI receptacles (the ones with the reset buttons), they should each be controlling a separate GFCI circuit. Turn off your breaker that controls your kitchen GFCI and see if the the other one still has power.

 

At any rate, if you are having problems with the kitchen GFCI and everything downstream of that, I would simply replace the kitchen GFCI receptacle. Note that it must be wired properly when you replace it. There are a set of "Line" and a set of "Load" terminals on the back of the GFCI receptacle. The "Line" goes to the circuit breaker, and the "Load" goes to the downstream receptacles.

 

One thing you can do is remove the kitchen GFCI receptacle from the wall and measure the voltage going IN. I expect you will find that you have continuous 120V there no problem, but you will have problems with the voltage going OUT.

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I noticed the bathroom gfci outlet has no voltage when coach is NOT plugged into land power, is this where the problem is?
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

This depends on whether your inverter is working. In other words, do you have 120V elsewhere in your coach?

 

If so, measure the voltage at the bathroom GFCI breaker in your distribution panel, as well as measure the voltage going into your bathroom GFCI breaker. If you have power going INTO the receptacle, then it is a bad receptacle. If you don't the problem is elsewhere.


So, summarize for me..... what power problems are you having when you are plugged into shore power, and what power problems are you having when you're running off inverter?

 

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
shore power 110 circuit working, gfci circuit not working.
inverter gfci working, 110 not working
generator everything works!
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

That changes my opinion, now I believe you may have a bad transfer switch.


Is your coach 30 or 50A?

 

 

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I have checked the power transfer switch and it has power when it should, I am checking
with voltmeter when plugged in and it seems to be working. I do have cover off transfer switch and can check again if need be
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

 

You still haven't told me if it's 30A or 50A?

 

Does your generator go through your inverter?

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
power transfer switch is a 50 amps/pole
according to my manual for the transfer switch generator power goes through bottom pole in pst box, shore power goes through upper pole in pst box and other side of that pole is power to dist. box
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

Do you have an energy management system?

 

And you have an inverter mounted AFTER the transfer switch?

 

You should remove the circuit breaker access cover on your distribution box and measure the voltage going to EACH power rail (top and bottom) on generator, inverter, and shore power and see what you get.

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I checked the dist. panel and it is hot when plugged into shore power and also when ge. is running- panel is dead when relying on the inverter!
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

Okay, you probably have a 30A inverter, in that case 1 leg will be expected to be dead when on inverter power.

 

Did you measure BOTH power rails? You should have an upper and lower power rail, both of them should measure 120V to ground when running off generator and shore power. However, at this point I have to ask if you are actually plugged into a 50A receptacle for your shore power, or are you using an adapter to reduce your feed?

 

 

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I am plugged into an adapter at home, still had the problem at the rv park when plugged into 50 amp service.
the inverter is a 2000va -brand is freedom model is 20d it has 2 ac outputs
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

Hopefully it's a moot point, because the 20A leg of the distribution box should just be your 2nd air conditioner.

 

Run your coach off shore power and measure the output of EACH circuit breaker in the distribution panel to make sure you have power to every circuit (Except the 20A second power leg, which should be dead)

 

It is also important to note that inverters and GFCI outlets don't always get along very well, so I still wonder whether we just have a bad relationship going on there that is causing the problem. Click HERE for a bunch of Xantrex documentation on inverters.

 

Your generator runs everything fine, so there is nothing fundamentally wrong with your system. I really think the problem stems from the GFCI/inverter relationship, unless there is something wrong with your inverter.

 

To see if we can determine this, turn your inverter OFF (if you haven't tried this already) and see if there's an improvement to your behaviour. What happens to the GFCI circuit when you turn the inverter off?



Edited by Steve F. on 8/21/2010 at 9:01 PM EST
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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I turned off the inverter on the remote panel and it is off at the inverter already, and plugged shore power in bathroom gfci hot in and out, kitchen gfci dead nothing coming in.
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

Okay, so either the kitchen GFCI is not getting power from the distribution panel breaker (check that), or the kitchen GFCI is NOT the first one in the chain, and another GFCI is tripped or faulty. My recommendation there is to pull ALL GFCI outlets from the wall and measure the voltage coming OUT of them.

 

Here is my first official diagnosis: If the kitchen GFCI is the first one in the chain, then it is not getting power from the breaker box. First check the output voltage for each breaker in the panel. The kitchen circuit should be labeled. If you have no power at the breaker, make sure it is properly seated in the power rail. Is this the breaker you already replaced?

 

If the kitchen GFCI is NOT the first one in the chain, which is possible, one of the receptacles before it is the culprit. Either the GFCI is tripped, or it's faulty.

 

So, to summarize, at this point, please double-check that you have voltage coming out of all the breakers, as I said above. If so, pull ALL the GFCI receptacles from the wall (including the ones that don't actually have GFCI outlets), and check for voltage in and out.

 

I have to go out for about 1/2 hr., but I will check back in with you then. Don't worry, we'll figure this out :)

 

Just to be sure, also please check the fuse on the inverter circuit board.....

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I am going to get a new gfci outlet for kitchen as it must be the problem, back soon, will let you know if problem is solved.
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago
yes, an excellent idea! Try to avoid Leviton brand, as they are known not work properly with inverter
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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
Well it seemed like a good idea, power only on momentarily and quits, like there is a short somewhere? I reset the breaker and it will do the same again, any ideas?
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

Sounds like it's doing it's job and you have a short. But the short seems like it's between the shore cord and the transfer switch, since your generator doesn't trip the GFCI right? If you can rule out a faulty adapter or house receptacle, then inspect the shore cord. Otherwise I think we're back to the transfer switch.

 

 

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
the house batteries charge up when connected to shore power, and since that charging system is part of the inverter can I assume I don't have a problem with the cord?
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

Sounds like the 30A leg is okay at least, and you coach should be powered off that leg, so let's assume we're okay. The only thing is that GFCI circuits are specifically designed to trip on high resistance shorts, which other electronics won't detect, at least not as quickly, so we would expect a high resistance short to affect a GFCI before anything else, but on the other hand, the other GFCI circuit would be affected too.

 

First, remove that breaker that is feeding that GFCI circuit from the distribution panel, and temporarily swap out a different breaker of the same current rating. In other words, remove the breaker for the GFCI, find another breaker in the panel of the same size, remove the wire that's on it, and attach the GFCI wire to that breaker. This way we can rule out the breaker....

 

One thing you can try is to disconnect the shore line input from the transfer switch and temporarily connect the wires from the shore cord DIRECTLY to the transfer switch output and see what happens. But if your transfer switch output is attached to the inverter INPUT, and there's a problem with the shore power, your inverter lights should have been flashing at you....... but not necessarily.

 

At any rate, try bypassing your transfer switch (make sure you don't start your genny), and see if there's any change.

 

If it works, then you have a bad transfer switch.....

 

I have to go play golf now I'm afraid. Please perform these tests and then I will be back later tonight. I am on the westcoast, so will be on here quite late. If you're gone, you can check in for my response tomorrow. Sorry this is such a stinker.....

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Customer reply replied 12 years ago
I am quitting for today, will try moving the power cord tomorrow, seems like a good idea, I will let you know what happens after that is done, thanks for all the help today
RV Mechanic: Steve F., RVIA Certification replied 12 years ago

There is one more thing you should try first. First, check the GFCI outlet you just installed to make sure you wired it properly. Remember that the INPUT (the wires that have the voltage coming to them) MUST go to the "LINE" side of the receptacle, and the wires going to the next receptacle MUST go to the "LOAD" side of the receptacle. Make sure that you didn't wire that backwards. Double-check by disconnecting the wires again and measuring the bare wires. The wires with the voltage are the LINE side Laughing

If you did it correctly, disconnect the LOAD side, in other words, disconnect all the downstream receptacles from the new receptacle and see if that solves the problem. We may have a downstream receptacle that is shorting...... That would be good. Doesn't fully explain why the genset is working properly, but it's a simple test that's worth a try before. Logic would dictate that the test above may reveal the solution though.

 

After you do this test, THEN do the one I suggested above.

 

I have my church job tomorrow (I am a church musician), so I will be online after about 11:30 PST. Looking forward to hearing about your test results then.



Edited by Steve F. on 8/21/2010 at 11:51 PM EST
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