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Author Topic: When Smarter is not always better..  (Read 5567 times)

tomnnva

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When Smarter is not always better..
« on: August 17, 2012, 07:47:02 PM »
My coach has a Precision Circuits Power Control System; it is a very sophisticated, smart, system.  This system routs and monitors power throughout the RV regardless of source, generator or shore.  It works with the Magnum Inverter to reduce battery charge rate prior to shedding loads.  It will shed non-critical loads during high peak loading.  Here is one of its self proclaimed features, “Monitor and Manage total RV current (amps) to avoid nuisance circuit breaker tripping”.  This is where the system becomes too smart.

We camped at a camp ground that had only 30amp service available, not a problem I thought, it was hot outside, but I have run 2 A/C units on 30amps, on a previous coach, without a smart Power Control System.  Just monitor your amps, stay at or slightly under 30 amps and you are good to go.  If I drew too much current the trusty circuit breaker on the shore power pole would let me know.  It has been my experience you can run a bit over 30 amps and still not trip the breaker, less that 30amps is preferred, but a slight bit over 30amps for short periods of time will not trip the breaker.

With a smart power control system running the show, this being loose with an amp or 2 is not an option, the instant the smart system detects 30 amps, it sheds the second A/C unit.  2 A/C units can run on less than 30 amps, after initial start up, but if the smart system detects a battery system in need of charging, which is a higher priority than my 2nd A/C unit, the A/C unit is “shed”.  Of course the big new RR is always drawing its 6 amps which compounds the problem.

We love our Tour with 100 available amps, with exactly 30 amps, it is a hot box.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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SargeW

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 08:13:08 PM »
My first load to shed is the electric hot water element. #2 AC compressor is next.  Do you have a electric hot water element you can shut off?
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2012, 08:27:56 PM »
We have an AquaHot system, the electric heaing element was off..  Next time I run into this problem, I am going to try turning the RR off for a few hours.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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John Canfield

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2012, 08:43:01 PM »
One of our friends in our Winnie club has a brand new Journey with a really different energy management system.  I was helping him try to figure it out one night at about 9 PM at the GNR.  If the load temporarily exceeds 30 amps (I have no idea what the algorithm is) the inverter will supply the difference.  I think he was also having a problem with the second roof air not running on 30 amps.
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Ned

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2012, 09:28:38 PM »
Circuit breakers are specified to carry 80% of their rated amperage continuously.  Exceed that and they will eventually trip, so a 30A breaker should only be loaded to 24A continuous.
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 10:16:50 PM »
One of our friends in our Winnie club has a brand new Journey with a really different energy management system.  I was helping him try to figure it out one night at about 9 PM at the GNR.  If the load temporarily exceeds 30 amps (I have no idea what the algorithm is) the inverter will supply the difference.  I think he was also having a problem with the second roof air not running on 30 amps.

That's what this system is suppose to do, I don't know how to tell if it really works as advertised- when 30 amps was reached the system shed an A/C unit.  I wonder if there is a way to test wheather or not the inverted  is indeed supplying extra juice to the system?
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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Gary RV Roamer

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2012, 08:48:16 AM »
Quote
If the load temporarily exceeds 30 amps (I have no idea what the algorithm is) the inverter will supply the difference.

That's the Onan Hybrid Quiet Diesel system, in which the generator and inverter are integrated with power management. If you have a temporary power shortage the inverter is used to assist; if sustained or more than the inverter can handle, the generator comes online. It is programmable for things like quiet time and demand thresholds. It's a slick system. Glad to hear Winnie is installing it.

http://autopowerinverter.blogspot.com/2012/03/cummins-onan-rv-products-hybrid-quiet.html
Gary
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Alfa38User

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2012, 09:37:10 AM »
Circuit breakers are specified to carry 80% of their rated amperage continuously.  Exceed that and they will eventually trip, so a 30A breaker should only be loaded to 24A continuous.

...and this is tempered further by the number of times the breaker has been blown. The higher the number of times, the more sensitive it is and the more likely it is to blow at a lower amperage than expected.
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SeilerBird

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2012, 09:48:31 AM »

We camped at a camp ground that had only 30amp service available, not a problem I thought, it was hot outside, but I have run 2 A/C units on 30amps, on a previous coach, without a smart Power Control System.  Just monitor your amps, stay at or slightly under 30 amps and you are good to go.  If I drew too much current the trusty circuit breaker on the shore power pole would let me know.  It has been my experience you can run a bit over 30 amps and still not trip the breaker, less that 30amps is preferred, but a slight bit over 30amps for short periods of time will not trip the breaker.
I think smarter is better. I don't think it is a good idea to rely on circuit breakers tripping like you are doing. If the circuit breaker fails you could end up burning up your motorhome. Just because you could run two A/Cs with your last unit does not mean it is a good idea.
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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2012, 10:11:41 AM »
Our coach with basement air, two compressors, and a high/low blower speed controlled by the energy management system makes camping on 30 amp power basically a non-issue.  It's not a real smart system like the new Winnie's have, but it's very effective and reliable.

Once the 42 footers came out with three roof airs, energy management on 30 amp shore power became much more problematic and difficult.  Winnie ditched the Dimensions charger/inverter and the old EMS system for something else - not sure if it is based on the Onan system or not.  Maybe Tom (tommnva) can shed some light on the system and the vendors.

Smarter is not always better.
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2012, 10:37:10 PM »
The Power Control System is manufactured by Precision Circuits Inc.  Here are the features right out of the manual;

1)   Monitor and manage total RV current to avoid nuisance circuit breaker tripping.
2)   Manage power no matter what the source: 50amp Service, Generator,  30amp service, 20amp service. (20amps, they have got to be kidding)
3)   Provide Inverter-Assit (their word), additional power from battery bank to smooth out high peak demands. (I would like to know how to test this feature, 30amp threshold seems to trump everything.)
4)   Shed non-critical loads during high peak loads. (My second A/C)
5)   Remote panel displays Service Type, Load Status, and RV Current and Voltage.
6)   Generator Soft Start.

I would like to be able to change the “critical load” sequence, i.e. make my 2nd A/C a higher priority device than my RR.  The manual says this cannot be done by “dealer or owner”. 

Has anybody ever tried to change the critical load sequence on one of these devices?
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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SeilerBird

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2012, 10:38:54 PM »

Smarter is not always better.
It sure beats the hell out of dumber.
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John Canfield

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 08:40:08 AM »
...Has anybody ever tried to change the critical load sequence on one of these devices?

Thanks for that overview Tom.  It sounds like that feature was not coded into the program.  My Xantrex is highly configurable, but that was a design criteria of the RS2000 and the AGS.  Chances are Winnie worked with Precision Circuits to get the necessary features built in at a cost they could live with.

Hmm - is there a way to make some changes at the breaker panel?  Swap the 2nd AC for the fridge?
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Gary RV Roamer

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2012, 09:45:47 AM »
The Intelletec version of an EMS can be configured to any priority order for load shedding, but you need the installation( or service) manual to do it. There are jumpers and possibly physical wiring to change (in the case of an a/c). Probably the Precision Circuits unit is similar.  Generally speaking, the unit has to be configured for the load-shedding sequence when it is installed, since not all RVs have the same equipment.  If you can get an installation manual from Precision or Winnie, I'll bet you could do it yourself with little difficulty.  Upon further study, I see that the shed order is digitally controlled and a "dongle" and a Windows program are needed to alter it.
 
This is not a Winnie-specific product, though it may have their logo on it when installed in a Winnie or Itasca. Precision offers their system with any Magnum Energy inverter system and Tiffin uses it too.

Here is a link to the PCS Installation manual:
http://www.precisioncircuitsinc.com/Documents/PDF%20Documents/PCSInstallationInstructions.pdf
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 09:59:42 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
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DITTO

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2012, 02:47:30 PM »
Hi Tom, hope all is going well except this issue...I see you have made progress in your great adventure since we saw you in south Dakota! I picked up on of these adapter boxes http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/50-amp-rv-box-adapter/25774 in case of a situation like yours...as you know I need 50 amps!
2013  Winnebago Tour QD

DennisGraham

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2012, 04:31:53 PM »
According the attached diagram the residential refrigerator IS turned off before the air conditioners are turned off.
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2012, 05:12:11 PM »
According the attached diagram the residential refrigerator IS turned off before the air conditioners are turned off.

My system does not have a display that looks like the one you have pictured.  It does, however, list the items to be shed in order of least importance;
engine heater, water heater(AquaHot), Front A/C, Rear A/C, Middle A/C, Dryer, Washer.  It does not even list the RR.  I'll be on the phone with Precision Industries Monday to sort things out and report back.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2012, 05:18:49 PM »
Hi Tom, hope all is going well except this issue...I see you have made progress in your great adventure since we saw you in south Dakota! I picked up on of these adapter boxes http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/50-amp-rv-box-adapter/25774 in case of a situation like yours...as you know I need 50 amps!

Joe - thanks for that tip, it is my next purchase, 50amps we could live with.  We are now in Salt Lake City and will be here for about 10 days.  Jane has to fly back home to the OBX, when she returns its off to Zion and Brice.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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DennisGraham

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2012, 09:17:53 PM »
Tom,
  A couple of items.  First, with the "cheater" you will not have 50 amps.  You will actually have two separate lines with 30amp each.  Or, stated another way, with 50 amp you have Line1 with 50 amps or 6,000 watts AND you have Line2 with the same for a total of 12,000 watts.  With the "cheater" you will have Line1 with 30 amps, or 3,600 watts AND you will Line2 with the same for a total of 7,200 watts.  Not the same but certainly better but remember, a "cheater" will not work on a post with a GFI connection.
  The second item, is I think I know the problem you are haviing when your second ac is being shed by the power control monitor from precision circuits.  If you call them tomorrow tell them they may not be aware of the fact that RV Products (the makers of the air conditioners) changed their thermostat to 3 zones, each with a demand from the ac's of 14 amp.  Previously they only had two zones one with a 28 amp demand and the other with 14 amp.  If you set it to the one with 28 amp then you had two ac's working on 30 amps but with three separate zones their control module is not allowing the second ac to operate.  I don't know a solution but I think this is the reason for the problem.  I doubt if RVP ever told precision circuits about the change.  (Mabye I can send them an email too.) 
  I need to know myself as I pick up my new Meridian 43E in October and will be facing the same problem when we connect to 30 amp service.
Let us know what you find out.
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2012, 09:49:30 PM »
Tom,
  A couple of items.  First, with the "cheater" you will not have 50 amps.  You will actually have two separate lines with 30amp each.  Or, stated another way, with 50 amp you have Line1 with 50 amps or 6,000 watts AND you have Line2 with the same for a total of 12,000 watts.  With the "cheater" you will have Line1 with 30 amps, or 3,600 watts AND you will Line2 with the same for a total of 7,200 watts.  Not the same but certainly better but remember, a "cheater" will not work on a post with a GFI connection.
  The second item, is I think I know the problem you are haviing when your second ac is being shed by the power control monitor from precision circuits.  If you call them tomorrow tell them they may not be aware of the fact that RV Products (the makers of the air conditioners) changed their thermostat to 3 zones, each with a demand from the ac's of 14 amp.  Previously they only had two zones one with a 28 amp demand and the other with 14 amp.  If you set it to the one with 28 amp then you had two ac's working on 30 amps but with three separate zones their control module is not allowing the second ac to operate.  I don't know a solution but I think this is the reason for the problem.  I doubt if RVP ever told precision circuits about the change.  (Mabye I can send them an email too.) 
  I need to know myself as I pick up my new Meridian 43E in October and will be facing the same problem when we connect to 30 amp service.
Let us know what you find out.

You may be on to something, the thermostat that came with this RV had 2 zones; zone one controlled 2 a/c units, center and forward while zone 2 controlled only the rear unit.  While attending the Grand National Rally in Forest City, I had Winnebago upgrade my coach to a 3 zone thermostat, hoping to gain better amp management.  I am wondering now how the PCS reacts to this new configuration without being reprogrammed or is it strictly looking at current flow regardless of zone configuration?  I will ask that question.  Thanks for the tip, Dennis.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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Gary RV Roamer

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2012, 09:37:54 AM »
It's not total amps - see your PCS operator manual. The PCS system is supposed to make intelligent decisions about load shedding, even considering what is on L1 vs L2.  It could well be that it was originally set up with the knowledge that two a/cs are acting as one (single zone) and making decisions accordingly. On the other hand, it could be controlling the a/c's though the power supply rather than via thermostat, in which case the zone configuration won't make any difference.
Gary
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2012, 04:18:51 PM »
Ok, I think I understand how this Precision Circuits PCS system works.  I spoke to Winnebago Technical support and George Cepynsky at Precision Circuit, I think he is the owner – a very nice guy.  Winnebago’s knowledge on this system is only superficial, George designed it.

First you have to define a load as understood by this system; there are loads which can be shed and there are user loads.  Loads that can be shed are factory defined and there can be a maximum of 7.  In order of first shed loads in my coach they are, 1)Engine Heater 2) Water Heater-AquaHot  3)Front A/C 4)Rear A/C  5)Middle A/C  6)Dryer  7)Washer.  These shed-able loads can only be changed by the factory.

User loads are all the other stuff, in my coach they are RR, Dishwasher, Microwave, Fake Fireplace/heater and of course the Inerter/Charger.  User loads are never “shed”, as George said, we don’t want to prevent you from popping your microwave popcorn.   If I am on a 30amp service running 2 a/c units at 28amps and I turn on the microwave, 20amps, my 2 a/c units will be shed.  George said the “bad guy” in this 30amp situation is the RR, it is normally drawing 6amps leaving only 24amps to run the 2 a/c’s.

Enter the “Inverter-Assit” feature of the PCS, its purpose is to “provide additional power from the battery bank to smooth high peak demands”.  Here is where things get tricky.  The Precision Circuits PCS works closely with the Magnum Energy MS Series Pure Sine Wave Inverter/Charger and the Magnum Energy Inverter Remote Control.  The PCS will draw additional current from the Inverter/Charger as long as the “Low Battery CutOut” setting, established by the Magnum Remote control, has not been met.

So here is how it works; I am running on a 30amp service, I am drawing 28amps to run my 2 a/c units.  Suddenly the RR cuts on drawing 6amps, I am now at 34amps.  The PCS system immediately directs the Inverter/Charger to supply the additional current so the 30amp threshold will not be met.  The PCS will continue receiving the additional amps from the Inverter/Charger until it senses the “Low Battery CutOut” voltage has been reached.  When this LBCO has been reached the PCS will begin a battery charging operation and shed loads (my second a/c) until the 30amp threshold has been reestablished.

The LBCO can be set at 9, 10, and 11 volts, my coach is set at 11 volts.  Next time I have this problem I am going to set the LBCO to 10 volts and see if that helps.  If not, I know where the RR circuit breaker is located.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2012, 05:02:53 PM »
Good write-up Tom, thanks for taking the time to document the energy management system characteristics.  I think I'll copy/paste that to the Winnebago Resources sticky.  I really like the concept of using the inverter during peak AC demand on an as-needed basis to take care of transitory power loads.  Ingenious idea.

So the way I read it, two of your ACs should have remained running since the inverter can supply the necessary current to run the fridge which begs the question of why that didn't work.  Your experience closely parallels the issue my buddy in our Winnie club was having with only roof air running on 30 amp shore supply at the GNR.

10 volts is pretty low - I set our low voltage cut-off at 11.0 volts, but you could give it a try, that would be an interesting test.
--John
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tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2012, 06:55:17 PM »
Good write-up Tom, thanks for taking the time to document the energy management system characteristics.  I think I'll copy/paste that to the Winnebago Resources sticky.  I really like the concept of using the inverter during peak AC demand on an as-needed basis to take care of transitory power loads.  Ingenious idea.

So the way I read it, two of your ACs should have remained running since the inverter can supply the necessary current to run the fridge which begs the question of why that didn't work.  Your experience closely parallels the issue my buddy in our Winnie club was having with only roof air running on 30 amp shore supply at the GNR.

10 volts is pretty low - I set our low voltage cut-off at 11.0 volts, but you could give it a try, that would be an interesting test.

John - here is what I think was going on, this from a very nontechnical person.  I have 30 amps to play with, but 2 major bad actors, non-shedable, plus other house battery drains  were the problem.  The non-shedable drains were the RR and the Inverter Charger, the house battery drains were the TV and DVR.  Assume the 2 a/c's draw around 28 amps.  The RR is going to take 6amps, the Inverter/Charger is going to take amps, not sure how many, because it is being drained by the TV and DVR, plus lights, etc.  So just the RR, non-shedable coming on will shut down 1 a/c, shedable.  The PCS system may have sensed an LCBO or the inverter/charger and may have initiated a bulk, absorb or float charge. I'm not really sure how those decisions are made by the "system".  So this system is very marginal to sustain a constant 28amps, too many other things want to suck some amps. 

The manual seems to have no problem with setting the LCBO at 9, 10, or 11 volts, personally I don't want to go below 10 volts.
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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Rvliberty

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2012, 10:43:40 AM »
This is a great write up. Very informative. I have a View with a 30 amp service. I would like to shed loads when hooked up to residential power. 15 amps is normal and occasionally 20 amp circuit is available. Any suggestions?
Alan Howell
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Bellevue, Wa

John Hilley

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2012, 01:55:50 PM »
We do it quite often. Just be cognizant of your loads. Warn the wife about microwave, hair dryer, coffee pot, electric frying pan, AC and etc. Only use one of those at a time and every thing should be fine.
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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2013, 01:57:55 PM »
Tom, how long, if at all, are you able to run both a/c's on 30 amp? Did lowering your voltage cutoff help? Did turning the RR off help in running 2 a/c's and how long is it safe to do this. We are trying to decide between the RR and the ac/gas fridge on a new Winnie so any info would be much appreciated.

Brent
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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2013, 03:37:55 PM »
Brent - I am a recent convert philosophically and out of cost savings to having a residential fridge.  I was resistant because I liked the idea of being able to run a fridge on LP but after all of the trouble we've had with ours, I would never, ever have a gas fridge again.

When they break (and they will break), they are expensive to fix and not everybody can work on them.  There is an element of inherent risk due to the problematic heaters (can you spell recall after recall which didn't address the problem but only shut the fridge down in an overheat situation.)  They take a long time to cool down and I don't think they are very efficient.  Our residential fridge is simple, extremely energy efficient and it doesn't care what angle it operates on.

Energy management shouldn't be a big issue on 30 amp but I can't speak for the newer power management system.  With our 290 watts of solar power and a gen set, we're good for boondocking.
--John
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Soaringeagle

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2013, 08:50:07 AM »
Thanks for the perspective John, I feel the same about the reliability issue. I think we will go with the residential fridge and figure out how to deal with the power issue on 30 amp, either with solar or perhaps a trickle charger plugged into the campground 15 amp outlet (if it has a separate breaker). In any event 75% of the time we will have 50 amp and we will only require 2 air conditioners a portion of the remaining 25%.
2013 Winnebago Journey 42e
2011 Ford Edge Toad
Driver: Brent
Navigator: Melissa
Boss: Poopsie the cat

tomnnva

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Re: When Smarter is not always better..
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2013, 10:23:24 AM »
Tom, how long, if at all, are you able to run both a/c's on 30 amp? Did lowering your voltage cutoff help? Did turning the RR off help in running 2 a/c's and how long is it safe to do this. We are trying to decide between the RR and the ac/gas fridge on a new Winnie so any info would be much appreciated.

Brent

Brent - since starting that post, seems like it was so long ago, we have never again run into a 30amp shore power issue.  But if, when, it happens again I will first try turning off the RR, next will be lowering the cut off voltage, then TV's and all the rest of the stuff .  Cutting off the inverter/charger is probably not an option, these batteries are way to expensive to risk damage.

One of the reason we purchased the new coach was to dump the Norcold unit.  Love the new RR, the contiuned 6 amp draw could be an issue if you do much boondocking.  The 2 extra house batteries, in our limited experience will give you about a day worth of RR run time..
Tom, Jane & TC (Travlin Cat)
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