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Old 08-23-2016, 06:00 PM   #1
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New to RVs and having electrical trouble

We just bought a used Sunseeker and took it out for our annual family vacation. We were plugged into a 30-amp site with an extension cord. Over the trip, we had to replace the house battery because it was drained beyond saving, and we thought maybe it was the source of our trouble. Then we thought it might be the converter. But home and plugged into the home electrical line (and with a different extension cord, in case that's relevant) we are having no trouble.

Here is what we were seeing: living room lights work fine, but if too many (more than two or three) are turned on, they all start to dim. If we continue to use built-in electronics, eventually we will get a warning from the LPG leak sensor that it is not receiving sufficient power; this is our warning that we have drained too much power. The battery reads as full most of the time, but it got a little confusing toward the end. At the same time, the bedroom and bathroom appear to be unaffected (different circuits?) and all AC powered electronics (such as the fan plugged into an outlet) work fine, even when the lights dim in the living room. When we got home, we plugged into the house power, turned on everything we could, and let it all stay on for an hour. No trouble.

So is this an underpowered campsite? A bad converter? Something else? I spent a lot of time reading forums here while trying to understand and learned a lot. Now I would love to prevent future problems!
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:06 PM   #2
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It sounds to me like you may have had very low voltage. What type of extension cord are you using is it a 30 amp cord? If you purchased this unit used I would take a wire brush to all the electrical connectors and make sure they are bright and making good contact when plugged in (nothing loose or wiggly).
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:16 PM   #3
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How old is the battery? It may have gone bad and won't take a charge. I would also suggest checking the inverter and battery charger circuits. Sounds like the battery is being drained And no power is coming through the inverter for the DC items.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:26 PM   #4
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Since the only thing you changed out between camping and home is the extension cord, I would start there. It is best not to use an extension cord in addition to the RV cord. If you must, make sure it is a HD cord with 30amp capability and as short as possible. A standard 120V household 12G or 14 G extension can cause the issues you were seeing. If the battery was old, it most likely did not do much to power the 12V appliances and the converter ( running on low voltage) was trying to keep up.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:40 PM   #5
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Thank you so much! I really appreciate the insight. The current house battery is new, purchased in the last week. And I checked and replaced the fuses in the converter, though there might be bad connections there. I will definitely look at the extension cord and at the prongs to make sure everything is strong and shiny.

In general, is a 30-amp site going to provide enough power for a Sunseeker? Should we just be looking for higher-amp sites?
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Old 08-24-2016, 06:54 AM   #6
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From your post, I am assuming that you have your camper plugged into a 20 amp circuit using an extension cord and an adapter. If the extension cord is not a 12 gauge, that could be your problem. Too much current draw through a wire that is not large enough.

If you are using another 30 amp RV cord, and hooked up to a 30 amp RV wired receptacle, then the problem could very easily be your converter.

If you are using another 30 amp RV cord and hooked up to a 20 amp circuit using an adapter, your current draw would be limited by the adapter, or the converter could be your problem.

If you do not have an EMS in place, then you are leaving yourself open for electrical problems no matter where you plug in.

Good luck in your journey to solve this dilemma.
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Old 08-24-2016, 06:58 AM   #7
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30 amp site is all you need if the available voltage is 115-125 volts.

The extension cord is most likely your problem.

Is the extension cord rated for 30 amps and how long is it? Low voltage can be made even lower with a long extension cord and using electric on your hot water heater. When you are using the "properly rated" extension cord ALWAYS use propane for your water heater and fridge.

If the site voltage is on the low end of the "normal range" and you use an extension cord, the voltage may drop below the converter's ability to make 12 volt DC. It can also damage items like your microwave and air conditioner.

You NEED a cheap volt meter to check incoming voltage to make sure it is OK to use. There are also accessories called Autotransformers (topic for another conversation) that can check for you, make sure the voltage is not only good, but repair low voltage, and protect your equipment from voltage spikes and sags.
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Old 08-24-2016, 07:02 AM   #8
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Extension cord wires have additional resistance which chokes off amperage over the length of the cord, thus reducing voltage.
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Old 08-24-2016, 07:21 AM   #9
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Shore Power

I had a similar issue early this year, replaced the battery and cord. Turns out it was the shore power...Rats had gotten into the post and chewed wires.
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Old 08-24-2016, 01:23 PM   #10
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Dimming lights

It sounds like you had a perfect storm of issues. Low shore power, undersized extension cord and low battery. As you increased your voltage draw by turning lights and other items on the converter had to pick up the load and the lights will dim.
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Old 08-24-2016, 07:03 PM   #11
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So grateful for all the advice! We're still trying to figure this out and appreciating any insight. So a voltage meter would be a smart thing to get and keep with us to check any future sites to make sure that the output is what it ought to be, right?

We're in touch with the couple who sold it to us, and we're under the impression that they never had any of these problems. However, they could be: not telling the truth (though that seems unlikely, as they've been very helpful in the past with teaching us how to use it, even talking to us on the phone when we were camping and trying to help us figure it out); not experienced with more rustic sites (we were in an electric site at a national forest campground, and I think they tended toward RV parks when using it); not understanding what we're describing since we're maybe not always explaining it the best. For example, we also had trouble filling the water tank and thought we had damaged something since water was coming out the bottom. Turns out the valve was open but no one had even told us that a valve existed! So we're learning as we go.

So the advice so far is: Check the voltage of a campsite, and use no extension cord when possible, a high powered one when necessary.

We didn't have the water pump or water heater on at all (due to not being able to fill the tank!) but used TVs (plugged into AV outlets), refrigerator (usually on AC, though had it on gas for a while when we thought that might fix the problem), sometimes a fan (plugged into AC outlets), once A/C for a couple of hours early in the trip (I think that uses DC?), and the lights, which were always the canary in the coal mine that told us when we were out of power. Is there an easy way to check the converter and tell whether it's the problem? We're also going to try to talk again with the couple we bought it from and see if they can help us out!
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Old 08-24-2016, 08:06 PM   #12
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Hello. You didn't say what year Sunseeker you have. On my 2011 Sunseeker there is a battery disconnect switch. Make sure it is turned on when on shore power to keep your battery charged. On my unit the switch is located on the left side of the entry door by the power awning switch and porch light.
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Old 08-24-2016, 10:19 PM   #13
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You need more than a voltage meter at the plug in. You need to be able to measure AT LEAST voltage at various points in the system...it is also very helpful to be able to measure current...and continuity (ohms) to check wire connections.
Suggest you get an AC/DC clamp meter to be able to do everything you need to trouble shoot an electircal or charging issue. Like this one. Comes complete with easy to follow instructions and there are lots of short YOU tube video on testing voltage, current and continuity.
https://www.amazon.com/MASTECH-MS200...6%3A1253494011

You won't regret the purchase. In the meantime...borrow a cheap multimeter from a friend and go right to your battery terminals while the Sunseeker is plugged in. You should find more than 13.4V as a readout on those battery terminals if your charger is working correctly AND your switch (see post #12) is in the right position.
If you try the switch in both positions and still don't get 13.4V+ then you need to take a voltage reading at the TERMINALS of the charger. If you don't have 13.4V there then the charger (converter) has a problem...fuse or connection to AC.
Good luck!
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:24 AM   #14
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Voltmeter, USB and cigarette lighter charger

I found this combination voltmeter, cigarette lighter and usb charger. When charging it reads 13.7vdc telling me the converter is good, 13.6vdc when towing telling me it is charging through my 7 pin towing cable and 12.6vdc when not charging.

You need to maintain the battery. Install a disconnect switch to turn it off or make sure you charge it once a week to top it off. Or pull the breaker on your LPG detector. I suggest removing the LPG detector by cutting and capping the wires and see if there is any other battery drain. LPG detectors should be replaced every few years.

Anyway, this device is great to see voltage and charge your devices. Leave the phone chargers at home.



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Old 08-25-2016, 11:31 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
If you try the switch in both positions and still don't get 13.4V+ then you need to take a voltage reading at the TERMINALS of the charger. If you don't have 13.4V there then the charger (converter) has a problem...fuse or connection to AC.
Good luck!
Don't forget you must remove the battery from the circuit to run this part of the test. There are several failure modes that will shut the converter down and prevent it from powering up (like a short in the battery or in the wires/fuses to and from the battery.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:54 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Kendra_R View Post
Thank you so much! I really appreciate the insight. The current house battery is new, purchased in the last week. And I checked and replaced the fuses in the converter, though there might be bad connections there. I will definitely look at the extension cord and at the prongs to make sure everything is strong and shiny.

In general, is a 30-amp site going to provide enough power for a Sunseeker? Should we just be looking for higher-amp sites?
A 30 amp service still requires some caution. For instance don't try to run the air conditioner and the microwave without watching your voltage closely. We keep 110 volt analog meter plugged into an outlet by the kitchen so we can watch our voltage all the time. If the amperage is a problem it'll blow the circuit breaker. If the voltage drops it may not blow the circuit breaker but it could damage your Motors and your electronics. On a warm day the park voltage can start out too low. I go off park power and on to our generator if the voltage measured at the outlet in the kitchen drops below 109 vac.

As far as the 12 volt system which Powers your lights, the control circuit for your refrigerator and The High demand item, the water pump, an intermittent problem is likely to be a poor electrical connection or connections. Check the connections at the distribution panel OF COURSE the ground between the batteries and the frame.

A bad ground may not be obvious with just a volt meter because the meter doesn't draw enough load to show the loss so check voltage at the battery while de cycles the water pump. If voltage holds at the battery but lights are dimming check voltage at the input at the distribution panel and repeat the test until you isolate the problem.

Good luck. Tom
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:38 PM   #17
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You did not mentioned which year is your Sunseeker.
All the ones I've seen are carrying 2 house batteries; is that your case?
You did say battery, how is your setup?
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