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Author Topic: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem  (Read 483 times)

kaajot

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2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« on: January 20, 2018, 08:18:36 PM »
Hi-

This is my first post. Normally I'm posting on fordtruckfanatics forums in the Gen 8/9 series, but I've got an issue with my 2001 Sunline 'Solaris' Camper. 

The issue is I would run it on a Predator Generator out on my property and everything worked.  The DC, the AC, the fridge, the heater, the water pump, the ac outlets and the dc lights.  The signal lights, the battery, everything.

The power center was old and a 45 amp, so I upgraded it to a newer power center off Amazon for about $225 to a 55 amp converter (max). I figured that was a good charge to send power to the DC and battery.

Now, the Harbor Freight special generator (The Predator 4000) has worked all last Summer, ran my air conditioning, etc.  It was fine.  It was exceptional.  However, its spark plug broke so I'm using one of my two back-up generators, a 9500 watt one that works great.  It is also charging a solar array battery bank, chicken waterer heaters, etc when I fired it up today.  However, the electrical cord running to the camper was plugged in so I could top off the marine deep cycle battery on the tongue and no outside light came on. I thought that was odd.

I went inside, tried turning on other LED DC lights (I removed all the old bulbs and installed LED replacements).  Nothing turned on. I looked at the microwave LED screen -- there were numbers, it was on, verifying some power was coming into the camper.  I then turned on the furnace to see if it would start heating the camper (this is upstate NY) and while I waited for that I thought I'd see if any of the AC outlets were working. I have a toaster on the counter, always plugged in.  I pushed down and energized the unit and would you believe that ALL the interior lights I had turned on suddenly illuminated?

I found this upsetting as I knew this wasn't the right way that electrical system should become energized.  I turned off the toaster, the lights that I had turned on all went out on the DC system.  I energized the toaster and the lights came back on in the camper.  I turned it off and sighed.  The furnace kicked on, still no lights, but the furnace, which runs on a step-down conversion from the 110v to 24v DC, turned on and blew out hot air from the propane burning furnace.  All good there.

So my question is, WHAT has happened?  Did a mouse get in somewhere and cross a wire?  This camper has worked flawlessly for months after the power center was installed.  Even if the marine deep cycle battery is mostly shot (it barely holds 1/4 of its power and doesn't last long),  I'm plugged into a 9500W continuous generator that should be able to quite easily turn on my LED lights, yet I have to energize a 110 AC outlet to complete my DC circuit for some reason now on the 12V DC wiring!

Any and all help much appreciated.  I'll have to shovel some snow out to back my truck up next and test out the 12v wiring harness to see if there is a new problem there now that I am experiencing an electrical gremlin in my 12v wiring.

Also, I have not looked at the CBs and wish I had before I left -- I think something maybe happened there too, or possibly an animal has caused an issue with my 12v DC wires to ground out to a 110v circuit?  That kind of makes sense, but WHERE would I look?  The power center/amps?  Under the camper?  At the battery?  Behind each 110v outlet?  It really doesn't make sense how the 110v's AC draw completes the 12v DC circuit.  However, it is worth noting that LEDs are forgiving and do not need 12v DC -- the 110/115/120v circuit could just as easily energize the 12v system and simply draw a much lower amp load to self-regulate.

Those are my thoughts.  Suggestions welcome.  I can take pictures and upload next time if requested on specific things that I can open up or gain access to inside my camper. 

Thanks!

-KJ

grashley

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 06:07:27 PM »
Welcome to the Forum!

I am NOT the expert, but my thought is this:  Some Auto Transfer switches associated with generators and inverters need to see some threshold level of power draw to "switch".  If the battery is too low, the converter / charger may not charge it, so no draw there.  Turning on the toaster adds sufficient draw to activate the transfer switch, since all the lights are a very low draw.  Now, the converter kicks on as well and all the 12V stuff works.

I have seen this in other applications reported here, but do not remember the specifics, other than it related to genny ATS issues.
 
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kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2018, 11:06:05 AM »
Thanks Grashley!

That is exactly one of the three scenarios I considered after I thought about it for an hour or two.   Since I changed to LEDs, those lights are VERY low power.  The only problem I also noted was the furnace was turned on (takes about 60 seconds for it to audibly kick on and start pushing air) and that appliance surge did not trigger more power to be supplied by the generator, but did run it.  Also, the microwave was powered on, so a trace amount of electricity was coming through the generator but not enough to energize the DC circuit?  Unless it was my battery barely keeping the microwave on, BUUUT typically the DC lights also are "very dully illuminated" when the battery is low and supplying power to any of the LED lights.  In addition, the wattage is approximatley 124 watts converted down to 4.something amps at 24v that powers the furnace (I read the tech manual, twice ^_^) so you'd think the 124ish watts should be enough to register?  Maybe the generator has a thresshold of 5% of its max continuous to register a draw ie that'd be about 450-500 watts on a 9500 watt generator.  I have the manual stuffed in my truck somewhere, will have to read up on that particular 9500w generator's finder details.

So here's the three options I'm going to start testing.  I have a new 1200w peak generator, excellent 50% load run-time at 9 hours for 1.5 gallons gas coming as a present from my father today, so I can try some scenarios with the new generator verses the big gun 9500w gen.

1.  Try the lower-powered generator that should supply 450w minimum at all times and see if the lights function normally.

2.  Try other outlets and try lower-powered appliance draws.  Do an additive test and see if I can come close to a percentage threshhold on the generators that trigger a 50% load supply of electricity on both the low-powered and high-powered gens I have running (have two more I"m repairing, halfway repaired, that are 3200/4000 and 5500/8000 gens and the 3200/4000 Predator (HF Special) was the one I used to run all Summer/Fall on.

3.  Check all the CBs (3 or 4 in the Power Center) and see if a dead rodent maybe laid its body into the wiring too and grounded out a DC to AC switch that runs the 110v outlets.  The reason for this is those LED lights will technically accept ANY voltage and modify the accepted amps to power on.  If the 110v outlet is grounded to the 12v DC circuit, once energized, 110v could be running through the 12v DC circuit and that's why the lights energized at .025 amps on 110v vs the ~.2 amps at 12v.   If that's the case, it's a good thing I changed out all the regular bulbs because I would have had a lot of POPS overhead when the 110v surged back.  Also glad I didn't run it LONG or run a higher-amp required 12v appliance on the circuit as that may have exceeded the maximum amps through the 18 gauge wiring and caused a fire.  *fingers crossed*   Really hoping that's not the situation as I don't want to have any burned wiring from the very short energizing of the 12v circuit.

I'll report and take pictures with my smart phone if I get a solid answer as to what's going on with what "appears" to be an AC/DC cross-over in my camper.

-KJ

grashley

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2018, 07:24:28 PM »
Do you have a surge protector?  If so, it could be blocking the low power flow because it is "dirty" power - Frequency off, voltage too high or low.  With a larger draw, things stabilize and the surge protector is satisfied.  Different generators will certainly affect this!
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kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2018, 09:05:05 PM »
I don't think I do have a surge protector.  It's certainly dirty power though.  Even my inverter for my solar battery bank/array is modified sine wave power (buying a pure sine wave inverter later this year when I upgrade to 24v battery bank).

Where would I put a surge protector?  I've got the "adaptor" for my camper cord to go to a regular heavy duty 3-prong power cord, and that's plugged into the generator.

And update:

I used the little 1200W peak, 900W continuous tailgate generator on the camper today -- worked like a champ.  The lights worked again on their normal 12 DC circuit without a large demand required by the toaster to get the lights to turn on.

So, the 9500W continuous power generator definitely needs a percentage minimum draw of its operating power (at half-load, full-load, or peak?) in order for it to send electricity to power the camper's systems.  I'll still have to read the user manual in my truck, but the quick observation confirmed it's the generator and not the camper that was the cause of the symptom.  Smaller generators should work without issues (until trying to run air con, that tail gate generator won't cut it and will pop a CB quicker than you can say "Refs 4 Patriots 4 Lyfe!"

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2018, 11:24:37 AM »
Portable surge protectors (surge is only one of the functions) go on the outer end of the power cord, before any adapter. Hard wired one go on the RV end. Neither has anything to do with inverters, MSW, etc.

Since it works with some gensets but not the big one, I would start checking the adapters used for the outlet on the 9500W guy. Do the genset-to-power cord- hook-ups differ from one to another?

Could this be a 50A shore power RV?   Some of what you describe sounds much like an open neutral wire on a 240v supply. That causes voltage on the hot legs to float, one goes high and the other low.  That gives really weird effects when 120vac loads (the toaster) are added to one leg or the other.

You also mentioned some 24v step down in the RV, which is not exactly standard stuff.  The lighting is all 12v, yet somehow is affected by loads on the 120v system (the toaster).  Are there batteries in the system, or is the 12v stuff running exclusively off the converter? And is that converter 12v, or 24v and feeding a step-down transformer of some sort?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2018, 11:26:52 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
Gary
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kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2018, 07:07:28 PM »
Gary, you're a wizard.  Tough questions!   I'll try to answer what I can.

I'm very confident now I don't have a PSP installed before the adapter.  It's just the standard hook-up, the adapter to get to a 3-prong conventional extension cord, and then a generator plug for 110/115/120v electricity supplied  by the operating generator.

The original power center was either 40A or 45A and I upgraded the power center when fixing the Power Center's Converter (battery not charging, only supplied power but would not charge when a generator was supply juice to the camper) to a Parallax Power Center at 55A.

Here's the link to what I installed.  It was very similar to the original Power Center, but the Converter was much nicer.  All wires plugged into the correct spots, worked as advertised (as far as I know) but maybe there is an issue with recharging the 12v deep cycle battery on the tongue.  That has always shown as "low" but I think it's just wore out.  I typically can get it up to 3-bars if the generator runs for 6 hours and then shuts off, but can't ever get to a full battery anymore.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002SSEWF6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Yes, the furnace is fired through the 120v power going into a 24v DC circuit at around 4.1-4.3 amps draw.  I do not know why they designed this way, but it works good.  No complaints, and my 30lb propane tanks last a long time (2 on the tongue).

Yep, all the lighting is on 12v and there is a battery on the tongue as well that can run the 12v system.  If the battery is removed and the system is on shore power, the lights will still work too.  The lights have worked in the past on the battery-only.  I should test that out when I go out there to put the chickens into their coop tonight (lock'm up) before the next ice storm hits.  Temps are dropping rapidly now!

Power Center's Converter is 12v.  The 24v circuitry I mentioned is exclusively a 120v step-down for only the furnace circuit.  It is on its own 120v CB that then steps down to 24v DC probably near the furnace's location under the couch.

kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2018, 08:33:21 AM »
Checked 12v system while I was out there last night putting chickens up.  The battery was at 2 bars and barely lit the LEDs lights I turned on overhead.  I took a look at the poles on the battery (it does not have a cover, just an overhang of the physical trailer) and there's a considerable amount of rust on the poles.  I'm guessing it has corrosion blocking a strong amperage for both draw and charging.

So far, so good. Will clean it up when I'm back from Boston -- headed to class, 6 hours away!  Yippee Yai Yo Kai Yay!

kdbgoat

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2018, 08:52:07 AM »
Don't forget to check the water level in the cells. If low, use distilled water only. When doing this while they are in the discharged state, add just enough distilled water to cover the plates. Top off the cells about 12 hours or more once they have been fully charged. Follow the battery manufacturers recommendations to get the proper "full" level.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2018, 12:12:38 PM »
Quote
Yes, the furnace is fired through the 120v power going into a 24v DC circuit at around 4.1-4.3 amps draw.  I do not know why they designed this way, but it works good.  No complaints, and my 30lb propane tanks last a long time (2 on the tongue).

That's certainly not RV-standard for a propane furnace. They normally run off 12v, not 24v.  Not germane to this problem, but would be curious to learn if that is a modification you did, or a former owner?  Is it perhaps a 120v only furnace (no LP)? Atwood makes one like that and it works well as long as shore power is available.
Quote
I took a look at the poles on the battery (it does not have a cover, just an overhang of the physical trailer) and there's a considerable amount of rust on the poles.  I'm guessing it has corrosion blocking a strong amperage for both draw and charging.

Very likely a major contributor to the problem.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2018, 09:06:08 PM »
That's certainly not RV-standard for a propane furnace. They normally run off 12v, not 24v.  Not germane to this problem, but would be curious to learn if that is a modification you did, or a former owner?  Is it perhaps a 120v only furnace (no LP)? Atwood makes one like that and it works well as long as shore power is available.

I know, not a standard, but I read the schematics and user manual while I was trying to stay warm in it over New Years. It's not a modification. It's literally the 2001 Sunline Solaris specs for my camper (in the camper's binder of appliances and user manuals).  It uses 120v to downchannel to a 24v circuit and fires the furnace.  I'd prefer a 12v operation on the 12 circuitry so I can run it on the battery if needed.  :-)  But it does not work unless the generator is on or the solar battery array (Solar Shed) I built is plugged in and providing 120v shore power from its huge battery bank.

kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2018, 09:07:33 PM »
Don't forget to check the water level in the cells. If low, use distilled water only. When doing this while they are in the discharged state, add just enough distilled water to cover the plates. Top off the cells about 12 hours or more once they have been fully charged. Follow the battery manufacturers recommendations to get the proper "full" level.

Will do! 

I have a 1420 amp battery bank for my solar shed 50' away from the camper and have maintained most of those batteries too. :-) Thankfully I don't have any AGM batteries, so the distilled water maintenance works.

kaajot

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2018, 07:26:00 PM »
Well, going to have to tear the power center apart again.

There's a dead mouse down there laying as if nibbling on a power center wire -- probably is the reason everything shorted out.  I took the battery apart, cleaned it up, recharged it in the garage, and now it's holding power and the camper is working as advertised on the 12v system.

keymastr

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Re: 2001 26' Sunline Camper DC-AC problem
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2018, 10:42:10 PM »
Note that if your larger generator is an open frame construction type generator they provide very dirty power and can cause lots of issues with electronics and will shorten the life of many such as microwaves, TVs and the control boards for furnaces, fridges etc. I would only be using an inverter generator for those things, including the power center.

 

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