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Author Topic: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector  (Read 872 times)

Fyrediver

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Had a Progressive Industries hardwired 30 amp unit installed to protect against bad electrical inputs.  So far it saved us from a lost ground and when our bus bar burned through which required the entire pedestal be replaced. 

However it also caused a major problem:  our campground has an antiquated electrical system that drops voltage (browns out) when you draw on it significantly.  The microwave alone causes the input voltage to draw down to less than 100 volts which makes the PI surge protector shut down power.  We never had this problem before the PI was installed.  Blissful ignorance; even though the voltage dropped the appliance would work but much less efficiently. 

Solution to the problem I inadvertently created by trying to protect the electrical system in our MH is to switch the "bypass" on for the surge protector.  It disables all the computerized functions of the protector but retains the surge protection function.  Now the protector doesn't shut us down every time the voltage drops. 

The campground electrical system is being upgraded which will give us a full (and stable!) 50 amp RV circuit and a separate 15 amp "lot" service.  That'll be nice when it's done but until then we're working off a seriously limited "30" amp supply.
1993 National Dolphin 32D

Kevin Means

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2017, 02:03:24 PM »
This is just food for thought, and my intent is to be helpful, not critcal, so please keep that in mind. When I was shopping for surge protectors, I learned that damage is more likely to occur to RV appliances due to cumulative exposure to low voltage than to high voltage spikes. That's why the low voltage cutoff feature is such an important safety feature. You can likely get away with bypassing it for awhile, but that doesn't mean damage isn't occurring. 

Our Progressive 50 amp device will disconnect from shore-power if the voltage falls below 104 volts, or exceeds 132 volts, and I would assume yours is the same. 104 volts is a long way from 120 volts. If your PI device is shutting the power off, because the voltage has fallen below that, I'd recommend an alternative solution to bypassing it. Perhaps an adequately sized inverter/batteries, or simply running the generator while drawing heavy loads.

Kev
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John From Detroit

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2017, 05:22:06 PM »
Park--Hughes autoformer----PI HW #0c--- RV
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SargeW

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2017, 08:28:11 PM »
What Kev said. I know it tempting to use a "work around" to prevent the brown outs, but don't by pass what you spent good money for.  All it takes is one AC or refer to burn out, then that work around won't look like such a good idea.
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WILDEBILL308

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2017, 09:13:44 PM »
Turn it back on NOW. You have way more potential of damage due to low power than to spikes. I tried to get buy on my first trip with out my Surge Guard. I was at a park and noticed the lights got dimer but brightened up again. But not before the washer quit. It cost more for the circuit board for the washer than the surge Guard cost. It has saved me many times from low power.
Bill
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jatrax

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2017, 10:11:15 PM »
Quote
Solution to the problem I inadvertently created by trying to protect the electrical system in our MH is to switch the "bypass" on for the surge protector.
I can see your point of view but I think you have it backwards.  The 'problem' is not the Progressive Industries EMS but the poor service at your campground.  As I am sure you already know turning on the bypass simply hides the problem and allows cumulative damage to your rig and appliances to continue.

If you are stuck there then perhaps you have no choice and in a few campgrounds I have done the same when the EMS cut off power.  I tested the voltage at the pedestal and determined I could use it for the converter but left all other 120 volt appliances off.

I wonder about your belief that your appliances will still work, just not as efficiently.  That might be true for purely mechanical things like a resistance heater but motors and electronics are different.  Allowing them to run on low voltage will eventually cause failure that might be very expensive.
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Fyrediver

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2017, 04:15:51 PM »
Understood on all counts; did not come to this conclusion lightly.  In a bygone era I was a radar and radio technician so have a fairly good background (albeit dated) on electronics.

However we're in a fixed campground with chronic low voltage and that's a fact of life.  Running the generator every time I want to heat a cup of cold coffee or pop a bag of popcorn just isn't feasible.  That would entail pulling the plug from the pedestal and reinstalling it in the generator output and then reinstalling it to the pedestal afterwards; just isn't going to happen.

My now wife lived in this campground in this motorhome for a year before we met and she never had problems with the power shutting off.  Not saying the surge protector is the problem at all.  The antiquated electrical grid is the problem but the surge protector made us aware of the problem by constantly shutting off the line voltage.  I think there are other issues with the local grid as well but they're in the process of upgrading everything so they know the problems exist and the upgrade is to overcome those flaws. 

Microwave, coffee maker, and fridge works.  That's the extent of "high" draw electronics we have.  Where we're at AC is rarely required so that's not an issue.  The only other electronics are things like the TV and DVD player and phone chargers and they transform power down already.   

Our site maintenance man doesn't think the voltage drawdown is as severe as the Progressive's unit says;  he's checked the current and voltage under load and said we're getting all the grid has to offer.  I'm not sure of the calibration of his test equipment but have a feeling the Progressive's unit is accurate. 
1993 National Dolphin 32D

SargeW

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2017, 04:39:24 PM »
Your rig, your call diver. Just a heads up to what the issues could be. 
Marty--
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Fyrediver

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2017, 10:20:52 AM »
Park--Hughes autoformer----PI HW #0c--- RV

Thanks.  Didn't understand your short statement until I've done more work trying to find a solution.  Clearly this is IT! 

For the others in the thread or other newbies with the same problem:  John identified the solution to low voltage from the grid.  It is an "autoformer" which is simply a step up transformer to adjust the line voltage to acceptable levels.  The transformer adjusts incoming voltage from low to "higher" by electronic magic.  This is the solution I needed but didn't know existed. 

I've now got my Hughes Autoformer on order. 
1993 National Dolphin 32D

Frank Hurst

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2017, 07:25:42 PM »
While in Vietnam I worked closely with the dinning halls with food and dinning hall inspections. One of our biggest problems was brown out. We could not keep our refrigerator units going because of brown outs. When the voltage got low the overhead fans would start to slow and we would go and turn off the compressors. Might not be the same but I would be careful.

Frank
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Fyrediver

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2017, 10:23:42 PM »
Update:  the Hughes Autoformer is working great!  It's in the boost mode almost all the time. 

Frank, the brown out you're referring to is the exact thing I was dealing with except I had a Progressive that shut the power down to protect everything from that brownout.
1993 National Dolphin 32D

WILDEBILL308

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Re: Electrical Brown Out -- Inadvertent Problem caused by Surge Protector
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2017, 10:27:34 AM »
Update:  the Hughes Autoformer is working great!  It's in the boost mode almost all the time. 

Frank, the brown out you're referring to is the exact thing I was dealing with except I had a Progressive that shut the power down to protect everything from that brownout.
Great, thanks for reporting back. Be thankful that the Progressive shut the power down to protect everything. I tried to get buy when I first got this coach and it cost mea circuit board for the washer. Just one short low power event cost more than the Progressive unit would have.
Bill


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2003 Bounder 38N
300 HP 5.9 Cummins
Allison 3000MH Trans.
Towing 2014 Honda CRV
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A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
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