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Old 02-29-2016, 03:27 PM   #1
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Residential fridge not working on inverter

So, we broke camp Sunday morning to drive about 10 miles where I parked for about 8 hours before heading home. I had forgotten to turn the inverter on before breaking camp, but remembered to turn it on when we arrived at the day parking location. We've done this before. The three 12 volt batteries will run the residential fridge all day.
That afternoon, we headed home about two hours away. When we were unloading the fridge, items were not as cold as they should be, then I noticed that the fridge light wasn't on when the door was opened. It was late, so I plugged the camper in, turned the inverter off, and we went to bed.
So I start checking things this morning, and the symptoms aren't making sense. The fridge works fine on shore power, but is not getting power at all when the inverter is on, and I unplug from shore power, yet the 110 ac outlets show 117 volts.
I know the inverter is pass through, and it seems to be doing that, but for some reason, the fridge doesn't come on, yet the adjacent outlet is hot.

I'm puzzled. Anyone run into this before? I'm at a loss to explain it.
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:33 PM   #2
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:51 PM   #3
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Well, I got to thinking that maybe it was load related, (even though the inverter voltmeter is constant at 116-117 volts) Anyway, I disconnected shore power, turned the inverter on, and plugged an electric woodworkers router into the inverter out. When I hit the switch, the inverter did exactly what I expected,.... the voltage sagged from 117 to 105, then went right back to 117. I figure that the router starting current would be an adequate load test for my purposes.

I'm totally bumfuzzled with this one.
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Old 02-29-2016, 04:17 PM   #4
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Batteries are at 13.2 volts
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:25 PM   #5
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Batteries are not at 13.2....you're reading voltage from converter or surface charge. A full battery is not more than 12.7.
Suggest disconnecting and running stuff in the coach on 12v including fridge on inverter. Then take a V reading....or...go to auto zone type store and get a hydrometer for ten bucks and check each cell in batteries.
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:03 PM   #6
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You are correct. I had taken that voltage with the unit connected to shorepower, so that would have been with the converter running. I had been out earlier and had turned the inverter on and disconnected shorepower. That was about 9:00 am. The inverter has been on all day (7 hours) and battery voltage measured 12.41 volts.
I'm thinking these batteries are good.

Sure would like to solve this mystery.
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Old 03-01-2016, 06:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davidg View Post
You are correct. I had taken that voltage with the unit connected to shorepower, so that would have been with the converter running. I had been out earlier and had turned the inverter on and disconnected shorepower. That was about 9:00 am. The inverter has been on all day (7 hours) and battery voltage measured 12.41 volts.
I'm thinking these batteries are good.

Sure would like to solve this mystery.
I agree...batteries sound good to me...just to be sure though....do you have dedicated batts just for the fridge and inverter and are those the ones you tested...or do you just have one bank of house batteries for everything?
Assuming the batts are ALL fine, suggest the next place to test is at the 12V input to your inverter where the cables from the batts are attached.
If you are 12.4 on the batts...then you should be close to that at the cable ends with the meter. If not, there should be an IN LINE fuse close to the batteries and generally on the red cable that should be checked for continuity.
Moving on from there, switch to AC voltage on the meter and take a reading at the output of the inverter terminals. Should be 120 or so. Check fuses on unit or perhaps internally on unit if you are not getting output.
Output of inverter wire may be to a breaker or switch and that too should be checked for voltage in and out. Last step is the outlets it serves which should also measure 120...if not...look to see if ONE of the outlets is a re-settable breaker...sometimes these affect a whole string of outlets.
Do all of this without the coach plugged into shore.

Anyway...that would be my process...not necessarily in that order! Good luck...tough one.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:55 PM   #8
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Thanks Cam. There is just one bank of batteries for the coach. The inverter is a pass-through unit, which is what is driving me nuts. When I turn on the inverter while still on shorepower, it starts up with its characteristic little whine, and it's meter reads 124 vac. After disconnecting shorepower, the meter reads 116 vac. i have verified these readings with a meter. This acts like there are separate cables to the fridge. One from shorepower, and a different one from the inverter...which has a bad connection. But that's not how the system is designed...it's a pass-through inverter! Geeeez...dang mystery.
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Old 03-01-2016, 08:15 PM   #9
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Sounds like there is an auto transfer switch inside the inverter and as a practical matter you ARE getting "120V" output from the inverter in either shore power or inverter mode assuming you have not relied on the meter built in for anything and have put your voltmeter on the output terminals while unplugged from shore power which is how I read your post. What you are saying is that everything downstream from the inverter to the fridge is working properly since the shore power uses the exact same wiring...so it is either the inverter or upstream. Did you check the 12V incoming wire for 12V voltage at the inputs? Stumped otherwise...

One additional thought to try if you have a DC clamp meter....on battery power with inverter on...open fridge door till the compressor kicks on and measure amps delivered by batteries by clamping the red (positive) wire close to the inverter. You should see something in the 12-15 amps or more if you have a big fridge... (150-200 watts while running). Low numbers would suggest wiring or battery capacity issues.
Might also switch the meter to AC amps and measure output after the inverter...then plug in the coach and measure the pass thru amps again and compare. Should be close to the same.
Here a link to a cheap but decent clamp meter that does both DC and AC amp measurement.
http://www.amazon.com/Uni-T-UT204-Au...s=p_89%3AUNI-T
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Old 03-01-2016, 08:28 PM   #10
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Sounds like a load test on the batteries might be an idea or like someone said earlier go get a hydrometer. Batteries can read sufficient voltage but not have the amperage required to start up the fridge.
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