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Old 07-21-2013, 07:34 PM   #31
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Yeah, I have a 2007 Flagstaff, and it has GFCI.

Thanks again.

Dan
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:41 PM   #32
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It also explains why the 7500 watt generator for my house didn't have this issue.

On another note, the reason I bought this generator was because my Coleman Powermate (1800 watts) fried my 1-day old converter. All was well plugged into the house but when I connected the Coleman, the camper filled with smoke from 2 big capacitors that burned out on the converter. I shut things off and haven't again even started that old generator. Plus, I had the ADDED bonus of getting to buy another converter!

I don't know what was wrong with that old generator but it gave me an excuse to buy one large enough to run the AC.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:42 PM   #33
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I think the reason for floating the neutral on generators under 5 KW is that it allows the manufacturer to eliminate the GFCI outlet that's required by code on generators with G-N bonding. However, your RV should have its own GFCI outlets as required by RVIA code, and be much safer.

The ultimate safety solution is to also also add a ground-rod to the generator, but that's generally too much trouble for an RVer. However, when I set up a large outdoor sound stage with a generator for musicians, I ALWAYS use a ground rod.

Mike Sokol
Makes sense to me, Mike.
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:56 PM   #34
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This is exactly how my nightmare started on my Bighorn 2 1/2 yrs ago. Ended 2 yrs. later with a trade-in after we burned up 2 microwaves, a transfer switch, an inverter and several small appliances. Was told by dealer as well as Heartland that I had an open neutral that was sending 240V thru the receptacles but they could not find the problem. Ended up costing me $1800 and had to sign a waiver releasing Heartland from any other damages or bodily harm. If your unit has a power reel for your cord check it 1st. Hopefully your problem will not be as severe as ours was. Good luck with it. Steve
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:02 PM   #35
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Makes sense to me, Mike.
This little piece of information about generators under 5KW being exempt from needing a GFCI if they were G-N floated took a bit of figuring out. None of the generator manufacturers discuss this in their literature, and their help desks seemed, well, helpless to explain why some of their generators were G-N bonded while others were not.

I found this out accidentally while searching on a contractor wiring site where they discussed using portable generators to temporarily power house service panels. This 5kW threshold does explain why a 3KW Honda has a floated neutral, while a 5KW+ contractor generator generally has a bonded neutral.

But hindsight is ALWAYS 20-20....

Mike Sokol
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:12 PM   #36
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This is exactly how my nightmare started on my Bighorn 2 1/2 yrs ago. Ended 2 yrs. later with a trade-in after we burned up 2 microwaves, a transfer switch, an inverter and several small appliances. Was told by dealer as well as Heartland that I had an open neutral that was sending 240V thru the receptacles but they could not find the problem. Ended up costing me $1800 and had to sign a waiver releasing Heartland from any other damages or bodily harm. If your unit has a power reel for your cord check it 1st. Hopefully your problem will not be as severe as ours was. Good luck with it. Steve
It's a shame that most RV service techs are unaware of how to properly perform an impedance test on grounds and neutrals. As you found out, a neutral with a high resistance connection will cause all sorts of over-voltage conditions that can damage everything electrical in your RV. Sorry you had to find out the hard way. I've designed a special G-N impedance tester that would have found your problem in 5 minutes, but even though it only costs $10 to build, I've never seen it in common usage.

Mike Sokol
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:27 PM   #37
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OK, I'm trying to envision how an open or high-impedence neutral would cause 220V into your circuits. Then it struck me that you probably have a 220V generator, which I can understand. I fought with the power company over one leg of power to my son's townhome once; it was a real head-scratcher for a while. I can see how an open neutral between 2 legs if 110 could be the same way.

My new (and old) generators are 110V only. I'm still trying to decide if I want to test the Coleman, or just toss it in the trash.
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:41 PM   #38
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OK, I'm trying to envision how an open or high-impedence neutral would cause 220V into your circuits. Then it struck me that you probably have a 220V generator, which I can understand. I fought with the power company over one leg of power to my son's townhome once; it was a real head-scratcher for a while. I can see how an open neutral between 2 legs if 110 could be the same way.

My new (and old) generators are 110V only. I'm still trying to decide if I want to test the Coleman, or just toss it in the trash.
Any 240-volt power (in America, at least) is equally divided into two 120-volt circuits. The neutral wire keeps this division even as 120-120 volts. If the neutral opens up, then the 240-volts can divide into 80-160 volts, 60-180 volts or even 40-200 volts, depending on current loads on each leg. Hint, the leg with the highest load will have the lowest voltage, while the leg with the lowest load will have the highest voltage. So, 200 volts feeding your 120-volt microwave or inverter will do terrible things to the circuity.

Of course, your Colman generator might be fixed, but you'll have to carefully inspect the entire output circuit. I would suggest getting a electrician or technician to look at the generator since a mistake can be very expensive.

Mike Sokol
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Old 07-21-2013, 10:10 PM   #39
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Yeah, I understand what you said about the 220 stuff. I was just fixed into the 110V thinking, since that's what I'm dealing with.

That problem on my son's place was a high resistance in one feeder leg to his service panel, but the neutral was fine. The voltage seemed to randomly fluctuate between about 60 and 110, and we weren't even changing the loading on the house. Looking back. It seems like it should have been obvious but at the time, things just weren't computing in my alleged mind. The power company dug up his yard and fixed the problem.

I had to school a fellow tech at work once about 25 years ago. He checked the voltage to the feathering solenoid on a hydraulic pump. He found the correct 28VDC on the connector so a couple other guys changed the hydraulic pump. Boy, were they mad when THAT didn't fix the jet's trouble. Turned out to be a (very common on an old 737) high resistance connection at the connector. He asked me later why he didn't find the trouble with his voltmeter, and I explained to him that he should never, if at all possible, measure voltage on an open circuit. I helped him make up a 115V test light to use as a load and he never made that mistake again. He realized that a voltmeter (ESPECIALLY a digital one) on an open circuit can-and WILL-lie to you. On some circuits, this could be a fatal mistake.

This comes from a man (me) who once had 1,300VDC go through his left hand and arm.

Ohm's law doesn't care whether its a car, a house, a camper or the airplane I currently teach, the 787.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:12 PM   #40
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It's a shame that most RV service techs are unaware of how to properly perform an impedance test on grounds and neutrals. As you found out, a neutral with a high resistance connection will cause all sorts of over-voltage conditions that can damage everything electrical in your RV. Sorry you had to find out the hard way. I've designed a special G-N impedance tester that would have found your problem in 5 minutes, but even though it only costs $10 to build, I've never seen it in common usage.

Mike Sokol
Hi Mike,
Would like to see this tester you made or a plan for it. Also, all my problems were from shore power. Bighorn was prepped for genny but didn't have one in it. Thus the transfer switch. Steve
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