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Inverter Issue


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Yesterday I was running the generator with both AC's on to cool the coach down before going to bed.  Everything worked fine, I shut off the rear AC and was going to leave the front run a while longer.  About 3-4 minutes later the generator cut out.  It was dark and I didn't want to fool with it then.  Hit the road this morning and drove ~350 miles and am now parked at a Cabela's in Dundee.  I had the inverter running the whole time I was driving so batteries were 100% when I parked.

Started my troubleshooting.  Got a 3-3 code and a 3-6 code.  I primed the generator and it started right up but then died as soon as the transfer switch kicked in.  Turned off the breaker on the generator, it started and ran a long time but as soon as I flipped the generator breaker it died.

Went inside and shut off all the breakers, (main, Inverter 1&2, and all the breakers in the main and inverter panel).  Started the generator with the generator breaker on and it stayed running.  Went inside and flipped the main breakers, it stayed running.  I did this with all the breakers and with the inverter on and off.

Through trial and error I found that if I left the Inverter #2 breaker off the generator would stay running  and all the circuits are energized with the inverter on.  I am running 2 AC's right now.  I checked voltages at the panel and the main circuit breaker is receiving 119.3 volt from the generator. 

I checked my inverter, I have only 1 circuit breaker and it was not tripped. 

Anyone have any suggestions on what the problem may be.  I know that the inverter has pass through circuits that passes 120 volt on shore or generator power.  Not sure why, when I flip the #2 Inverter breaker on the main panel the generator dies.  Could it be a problem with the breaker itself, I may go buy one and swap it out if I can find a compatible one, but I'm doubting that is the problem.  My guess is something is wrong with the inverter.  Is there a problem with using the generator to charge the batteries via the inverter in this situation, it is currently showing 13.4 volt charging. 

 

I am on the last leg of a 5 week trip, will make one more stop and then headed home.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Does your panel indicate the amps being drawn from the Generator?.... if so, does it jump up, like way up when you try to put the #2 inverter on the load? 

I had problems with my generator when I was out on my 6 week trip, gen would quit with a 3-6 code, (which is a general code)... when I tried to run both A/C's and my (one) inverter to charge the batteries.... it was very unstable running.  I had fuel contamination in the past, (and similar surging and shutdown with a 3-6 code) and had changed the fuel filter before the trip and it ran fine (for about 45 hours).   So on the trip, I changed fuel filter again, ran fine for about 20 minutes and became unstable and shut down (3-6 code).  Knowing the fuel filter was not clogged (new), I disconnected the fuel hose and used my onboard air and a shop hose and blower nozzle to blow out the line from the generator to the fuel tank.... after a good priming it started and has run stable since (about 6 hours)..... maybe you are having fuel starvation problems..... clogging filter and /or supply line... 

Ken

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I also did a service on mine prior to this trip including new fuel filter.  It ran fine up until it shut down last night. 

I can run both AC's now without a problem by leaving the #2 inverter circuit breaker off.  It was pulling ~36 amps with the AC's running.  Has shut down since and appears to be running smooth.  I have a spare filter and could try and change but if I can get by as is for now I'll wait until I get home. 

Jim

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Except for getting under the coach, blowing the fuel line out was pretty easy (easier than the filter change) wish I had done that first (before changing the filter for the second time).... hope you track down the problem, I think I have mine solved... for now, time will tell...

Ken

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3-3 is overheating and 3-6 is a fuel problem.
“I had the inverter running the whole time I was driving so batteries were 100% when I parked.“ Unless the generator was running, the inverter/ charger is not charging your batteries…the alternator is.

”2 inverter breaker” has me confused as most rigs only have a signal 30A breaker powering the inverter…doubt you have 2 inverters??? The one breaker you found on the inverter is for power into the inverter… there are 2 more, hard to see for the 2 circuits the inverter powers. One is for the micro and other for everything else the inverter powers. It appears to be passing power through so that’s not your problem.

Replacing the breaker isn’t going to change anything… need to figure out what it controla and doubt it’s the inverter…how many amps is it? Sounds like the extra load it puts on the generator is more than the amount of fuel can handle. Without the ACs running does it still shut the generator off?

Edited by Ivylog
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2 minutes ago, Ivylog said:

3-3 is overheating and 3-6 is a fuel problem.
“I had the inverter running the whole time I was driving so batteries were 100% when I parked.“ Unless the generator was running, the inverter/ charger is not charging your batteries…the alternator is.

”2 inverter breaker” has me confused as most rigs only have a signal 30A breaker powering the inverter…doubt you have 2 inverters??? The one breaker you found on the inverter is for power into the inverter… there are 2 more, hard to see for the 2 circuits the inverter powers. One is for the micro and other for everything else the inverter powers.

Replacing the breaker is going to change anything… need to figure out what it controls. Sounds like the extra load it puts on the generator is more than the amount of fuel can handle. Without the ACs running does it still shut the generator off?

I did pull the cover off and check the belt etc.  All was good there.  Also checked coolant level.  All good there.

The #2 Inverter circuit has the kitchen GFCI and the microwave on it.  It doesn't overload the generator, I've used the microwave a couple times along with the front AC and all was good. 

I ran both AC's for 1/2 hour and it didn't overload the generator. 

Everything is fine if I leave the #2 breaker off in the main panel. 

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A fuel problem with a low hour fuel filter is often the electric fuel pump… not that expensive on EBay and even Amazon.

Still confused what the #2 breaker powers??? Have you tried no ACs and then turning #2 on?

Edited by Ivylog
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#2 breaker feeds from the main panel to the inverter and then back to the subpanel.  The subpanel powers all the inverter circuits.  I think the circuits are the kitchen gfci and micorwave. 

I've been running the generator now for ~6 hours with the front AC running without a problem. 

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Is this the xantrex rv2012 inverter?  I had a similar problem that turned out to be the inverter’s AGS shutting down the generator. Sporadically at first and then eventually becoming pretty consistent. 
In the onan troubleshooting guide, it basically says ‘turn off the main breaker on the generator and if the problem goes away, your issue is outside of the generator’. 
My inverter apparently lost its mind and began shutting down the generator for me. I had a trouble code stating low AC voltage that made it even more confusing. Turns out my trouble code was not relevant; the generator stores the last trouble code and will recall the old code, even if there is no current error condition. So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the ECU could be flagging low voltage when my meter was very clearly indicating no low voltage condition. 
I isolated the condition by shutting off the main breaker on the generator. Then further isolated it by turning on the main breaker and turning off the two breakers feeding the inverter. 
Cheers

Walter

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That's basically what I did, I first shut off the breaker on the generator, it ran fine but as soon as I flipped the breaker on it died.

I then shut off all the breakers on the inside and through trial and error I found the generator would shut down when I flipped the L2 breaker feeding the inverter from the main panel

I ran the front AC most of last night without a problem but the inverter will not charge the batteries like that.  Fortunately at 4PM I started with full batteries, by morning I was still at 70% and that was leaving the refrigerator plugging into the inverter circuit.

I drove ~6 hours today and the batteries were full.  So when I parked I started the generator and AC's to cool the coach off and plugged the refrigerator into an outlet controlled by the main panel, this was to keep my batteries up.  It's bee ~3 hours and I'm still at 85%.  I'll probably let the generator run all night, it's hot enough to justify keeping the coach cool. 

I guess I'll cut my trip short and start heading toward the house tomorrow.  Not sure if I can get there in one day or not. 

I'll then dig into the problem.

Thanks for the reply. 

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You can also disconnect the large connector on passenger top of generator and totally isolate anything possibly causing shutdown by command. Whether AGS programmed or not, bad switch, wiring etc.

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When I get home I'll try doing that just to confirm.  I'm going to check the simple things first. 

Running the generator again tonight to cool the coach, both AC's.  Also plugged the refrigerator into the shore power outlet behind it to save the batteries.  I have both the L1 & L2 inverter breakers off in the main panel.  Generator is running fine, both AC's & fridge pulling ~33 amps based on the load meter. 

 

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Have you tried the microwave (or other kitchen appliance) on shore power at any time in this process?  I wonder if the the GFCI has a short, triggering the shutdown before the breaker can trip . . . .

Just a WAG

- bob

 

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2 hours ago, cbr046 said:

Have you tried the microwave (or other kitchen appliance) on shore power at any time in this process?  I wonder if the the GFCI has a short, triggering the shutdown before the breaker can trip . . . .

Just a WAG

- bob

 

Haven't tried the microwave since it would run off the inverter and drain my batteries.

I am home now and will start troubleshooting tomorrow.  Drove ~560 miles today, a little wore out!!!!

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2 minutes ago, jacwjames said:

I am home now and will start troubleshooting tomorrow.  Drove ~560 miles today, a little wore out!!!!

Sitting in a barcalounger watching scenery go by?  606 miles until 3 am then 201 miles this am.  Just woke up from the nap 😉

- bob

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So I've started looking at my inverter.

I had both wires removed  from the main panel I checked ohms across the L1 and L2 inverter circuits in the main panel, these are the ones that feed power to the inverter. 
 
The L1 ohmed 0
 
The L2 ohmed 259, which I assume is bad.
 
I'm going to call trace and/or a repair shop and see what they say.
 
Anyone have any experience with this.  Options to repair/replace.
 
Thanks

 

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If you're creative you can disassemble both units and compare resistances on the output components (mosfets?).  L2 is dead anyway, what else can you do to it? 

When you find the mosfet / component that's different resistance get the numbers off the device and order from a supply house (DigiKey, Newark, etc) for pennies on the dollar (compared to inverter replacement).  If you can't get an exact match order a beefier one but order the complementary side also.  I did this with a 400W portable inverter that had 4 output transistors and saved the unit.  Well, until the battery wouldn't hold a charge anymore.

Just a thought.  L2 is a boat anchor anyway, right?

- bob

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The tech from Xantrex said that I could buy an external transfer switch but considering the inverter is ~20 years old and I'm starting to have trouble with it I think I will replace it.  Not going to take a chance getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a problem like this. 

One thing I am going to do is install a second inverter just for ht refrigerator that also will be able charge the batteries.  Having this as a redundant unit makes sense for probably ~$500 .

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3 hours ago, cbr046 said:

If you're creative you can disassemble both units and compare resistances on the output components (mosfets?).  L2 is dead anyway, what else can you do to it? 

When you find the mosfet / component that's different resistance get the numbers off the device and order from a supply house (DigiKey, Newark, etc) for pennies on the dollar (compared to inverter replacement).  If you can't get an exact match order a beefier one but order the complementary side also.  I did this with a 400W portable inverter that had 4 output transistors and saved the unit.  Well, until the battery wouldn't hold a charge anymore.

Just a thought.  L2 is a boat anchor anyway, right?

- bob

That sounds exactly like what I would do, keep the B running unless I had compelling reason to upgrade. Electronic components are cheap and there is nothing to lose at that point. It does take some knowledge tho and that's where the repair cost is.

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3 minutes ago, Ivan K said:

That sounds exactly like what I would do, keep the B running unless I had compelling reason to upgrade. Electronic components are cheap and there is nothing to lose at that point. It does take some knowledge tho and that's where the repair cost is.

I am ordering a 2nd smaller inverter that I will use to power the refrigerator and also be able to charge the batteries.  Once I get this installed I will pull the Xantrex inverter and look at it. 

But I am skeptical of repair.  The inverter is 20 years old, how much time and money should I throw at it.  Plus the last thing I need is the inverter fail again during a long trip.  Got lucky this time in that it failed at the end of my trip, I cut my trip short at 5 weeks but was looking at another week. 

I am in the planning stage of an extended trip out west.  Don't want to have to worry about the inverter.

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These are all good considerations. Time is a consideration as well. Cost can be a few dollars if you can identify the failed component unless the board is just burned beyond use. Sometimes there are boards for sale cheap too. I don't worry about the age of electronics if what they still do is what I need. Older units are usually easier to repair than the new technology and these days everyone just throws new boards at them in 5 minutes and charge what ever they can, just like with everything else. I just like to tinker with things when I have the time. I used to repair TVs and such in my young years so that helps.

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I called Xantrex tech support and told the tech the symptoms including the 259 ohms on the L2 feed wire.  He said that was an indication the internal transfer switch on that leg was bad and they did not sell that part.  Suggested I source an external transfer switch. 

Once I get the transfer switch out I'll see what it looks like and see what I can do. 

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