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IOTA 50-R FAILURE - intermittent shore power - SAFETY & FIRE HAZARD


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MODERATOR EDIT.  This post is a classic example of the IOTA 50-R ATS that was recalled by most major RV or MH Manufacturers several year ago. IOTA refused to accept any LIABILITY.  These ATS have caught fire and also stranded many individuals. The poster is very lucky to have figured out the issue.  The contacts and the terminal strip created High Resistance connections.  Even a thorough retightening does not correct the problem.

They need to be replaced.  Monaco was purchased by Navistar. Navistar recalled ALL the IOTA's they installed.  However the Bankruptcy of Monaco absolved Navistar of any liability for the Monaco production and IOTA refused to participate in the NHTSA Recall.

If you MUST use one until you can purchase and install a replacement, retighten the terminals and use sparingly.  ESCO, a well known brand and one of the most popular choices for replacement, also recommends using Loctite Green on the terminals.  If not, they need to be retightened periodically....but also even with Loctite, they should be checked every few years...or more if you are a high miler.  This, I assume from discussions with ESCO on the maintenance would apply to all.

EDITED NOTE...if you have an IOTA with the #2 Square drive screws in the terminals, I reused them. A SHARP Poster just gave some INSIGHT.  DO NOT REUSE THE IOTA SCREWS (on Page 2).  They DID work for me...but they MAY have had a different "point" and more contact area on the wire. 

Hello Monacoers- I am fixing, or attempting to fix an intermittent shore power problem. When I get home with my camper or to a campground, and attempt to plug into shore power, I have to "pump" my transfer switch to get it to connect to the power coming from my power cable. At least this is my explanation for why I don't get power right away. I have been working around this for almost a year, I would say, give or take. It's now time to take the bull by the horns. I have been looking for any type of mechanism in my camper that would cause this behavior and my analysis is that it is my transfer switch, the IOTA IS50R. I see that there was a recall on these, don't know why the previous owner(s) didn't take care of this. Certain suggestions are that it wasn't this transfer switch, but an installation problem as a result of not enough torque applied to the connections. If anyone wants to, please tell me what I need to get to ensure that my replacement lasts as long as it should. Maybe these transfer switches are a more consumable item that I would guess.

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The first thing you need to do is to get rid of your IOTA transfer switch.  There was a recall on that PTS.  It will catch on fire and burn down your coach.  The recall recommends unplugging your coach from shore power to keep from catching fire.   Tightening all connections will NOT prevent a fire.      https://community.fmca.com/topic/3781-transfer-switch-iota-50r/

Chuck B  2004 Windsor

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I have spent an hour or 2 yesterday looking at new replacement units. Price seems to be in the $200+ range. Chris Throgmartin suggested the Progressive brand. Other brands seem to be similar quality, some with plastic boxes others metal. I found several reviews but these seem to be a little inconclusive.

Any recommendation to help with making a purchase?

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I'll throw this out there and let others comment:  If you're tight on funds consider a transfer switch from a salvage yard.  Just make sure it's not another IOTA.

- bob

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Yep, you have dodged a bullet so far, I can see the bured spot on the lid.  Most plastics burn pretty hot so metal seems like a better choice for the case/box.  If you are at home unplug it and order a new transfer switch, if on the road get it fixed pronto.   Two brands have been recommended above, both good choices.  I installed an Esco in mine but Progressive would be a good choice as well.

Most important is don't put it off.

Edited by Ray Davis
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1 hour ago, Martinvz said:

I have spent an hour or 2 yesterday looking at new replacement units. Price seems to be in the $200+ range. Chris Throgmartin suggested the Progressive brand. Other brands seem to be similar quality, some with plastic boxes others metal. I found several reviews but these seem to be a little inconclusive.

Any recommendation to help with making a purchase?

The most common one is the ESCO LPT50BRD.  That is what is stocked, per our members all over the country.  Chris is certainly a resource.  AND I KNOW THAT CHRIS DOES HIS DUE DILLIGENCE....so his recommendation carries a lot of weight.  I hesitated to go further, but I, too, have a lot of knowledge and experience with the ESCO....as you will see in the following.  This may be a classic example of Ford vs Chevy....  The ESCO’S have been the most popular and the mainstay here.  So, take my comments as more than a little biased....but also with a lot of hands on experience helping folks replace their IOTA as well as spending many hours on the phone with ESCO when the IOTA issue popped up and then passing that on here.  This is a synopsis of what has been posted here over the years and a little technical info....as well as my own "opinion", based on certain events. 


I knew, personally, Tommy Fannelli, who started Progressive.  His EE brother designed the surge protectors and was his “tech resource”.  Progressive is right down the road or maybe 5 miles...and I visited the shop several times and actually picked mine up there.  Tommy hand picked his assemblers and was doing testing and improvements with his brother assisting.  I was a beta tester for him and had an advanced board.  It didn’t last and Tommy had then sold to Lippert.  I talked to the new Lippert GM in 2017.  The front line techs sort of hinted that “things had changed”   I finally got him to understand that I was a tester and needed a replacement board to get mine back to the original design.  He was less than cooperative and really knew very little about their number one product….

I also spent many hours on the phone with the ESSCO engineers as well as their tech support.  ESCO is considered as the GOLD Standard of ATS, like Progressive is the GOLD STANDARD of Surge Suppressers. Many folks like the TRC SURGE GUARD combo ATS with SURGE...but the are pricey and typically non field serviceable.  If you want full protection then the Progressive HW50C upstream of the ESCO LPT50BRD is excellent and each is field serviceable.  I suspect Chris sells them. 

I have no history on whether Progressive totally designed and developed their ATS or has swallowed up another vendor and is selling under the High Quality and Well Known Progressive. I am sure Chris can fill in detail as I know he is meticulous and does not want to be associated with any product that is not top notch.

FWIW.  IOTA was a spin-off….I think and was made by some employees that formed their own company.  They had other products.  They never accepted any responsibility or liability when the switches failed and each RV Manufacturer was left holding the bag and doing the recall.  Not exactly a AAAA Better Businss rated outfit.  

Then, there was a spin-off from them of very knowledgeable and quality crowd that formed. LYGHT.  And I may be a little fuzzy. The LYGHT was an improved and more robust version of the crappy IOTA.  ESCO went through a very thorough testing and evaluation.  They then purchased the LYGHT name and design and rebranded it under their Quality name.  I later spent 2 hours on the phone with their Senior Design engineer…so I have the straight info.  That was at the request of our founder to understand the new ESCO LPT50BRD and compare it to their mainstay.  The older ESCO was a tank,  But it had AC Relays or contactors  and BUZZED.  The LPT50BRD is low voltage.  Some wives did not like the hum.  We had folks that put in the older and they complained.

That is what I know.  We have never had a failure of the ESCO LPT50VBRD and the same can be said for the Progressive HW50C....save ONE instance where the member reinstalled it, in the DOWNSTREAM side....and burned up the contacts. He drove to NC and Tommy Fannelli changed it out and put it in the right place.  Tommy revised the instructions....BUT, Tommy ain't there no more....

Check the specs and price and such and make the call....that is the best way.

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  • Tom Cherry changed the title to IOTA 50-R FAILURE - intermittent shore power - SAFETY & FIRE HAZARD

I know we have a lot of new members with new to them coaches.  I would suggest they check there transfer switch and confirm it is not the Iota.

I have the parts page for my 2002 Windsor.  They made a parts change sometime through the model year from the Iota ITS-50R to the Lyght (same as Esco) LPT50BRD.  Any coach made before Sept 30, 2001 probably has the Iota, any coach made after has the Lyght. 

So Windsor Owners can look at the date of manufacture but I'd still confirm visually. 

Not sure why they changed and not sure what coaches would be similar. 

1 Power Transfer Switch.pdf

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Jim, I do not think that change was across the board. I have an IOTA ITS-50R in our 2006 coach. Replacing the IOTA was a discussion topic at the gathering this year. The wife and discussed it but did not action it. I am reviving the action point.

Tom, thanks for the details and history. It is very helpful, as always.

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Transfer Switch

Bought this one in 2018. We full time and both AC's run nearly as much. We live in Central Florida so this thing gets worked hard..

I do keep an eye on it and check the connections about every six months. None have become loose. 

Knowing the old transfer relay it really needed a smoke detctor in there. I have inspected too many RV's and that is one of the first places I look. 

 

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10 hours ago, Martinvz said:

Jim, I do not think that change was across the board. I have an IOTA ITS-50R in our 2006 coach. Replacing the IOTA was a discussion topic at the gathering this year. The wife and discussed it but did not action it. I am reviving the action point.

Tom, thanks for the details and history. It is very helpful, as always.

Agree, not sure why there was a change to 2002 Windsors but yet Monaco continued to use in other coaches much later

This is he primary reason I'd suggest everyone check their own rigs. 

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Plugged in my 2008 Monaco Knight a week back, think I have a ATS that has gone bad, it is a ATS 501, no previous problem. How can I test it to be sure, I was on the road when it happened, home now and have the tool, just have never trouble shot one of these. Any guidelines.

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22 hours ago, Martinvz said:

I have spent an hour or 2 yesterday looking at new replacement units. Price seems to be in the $200+ range. Chris Throgmartin suggested the Progressive brand. Other brands seem to be similar quality, some with plastic boxes others metal. I found several reviews but these seem to be a little inconclusive.

Any recommendation to help with making a purchase?

Same request, suggestions for replacement for the IOTA. Of high importance is ease of making the switch.

Ed           
‘05 HR Ambassador 

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1 hour ago, Gospel said:

Plugged in my 2008 Monaco Knight a week back, think I have a ATS that has gone bad, it is a ATS 501, no previous problem. How can I test it to be sure, I was on the road when it happened, home now and have the tool, just have never trouble shot one of these. Any guidelines.

 

48 minutes ago, saflyer said:

Same request, suggestions for replacement for the IOTA. Of high importance is ease of making the switch.

Ed           
‘05 HR Ambassador 

There is NO test for an IOTA…. .  It was recalled.  Replace it or sleep with a fire extinguisher as well as installing a loud some alarm next to it..  Sorry to be blunt.  We revised the title to reflect that.  Use sparingly to avoid a fire.  If it failed ….that is the “TEST”.

Don’t know how the quote for the ATS 501 got in here, but my IPad will not delete.  Richard has answered.

POWER OFF. tighten all connections but FIRST….look for any burned or charred areas.  Find some.  BAD.

POWER ON.  Assume you mean a VOM.  You MUST BE QUALIFIED or KNOWLEDGEABLE to proceed with LIVE circuit testing

VOM on 120 VAC . You must have AC, preferably 50A service. But with even a 30 A adapter or even the cheater to use a receptacle to a 30 to 50.

INCOMING.

Red to White 120 VAC.  Repeat Black to White….120 

Red to Green Ground.  Same 120. Repeat Back to Ground 120.

USE the OHM scale….zero OHMS.  Use the 120 scale…ZERO VOLTS

That means your line cord is good and there is power.  IF 50 A….set VOM to 240 VAC.  Measure RED to BLACK. 240 VAC.

OK….repeat the above on the LOAD or RV or Main Breaker contacts…

IF OK…..it is working and you have a downstream problem in the main breaker.

AC UNPLUGGED.  Start Genny.

REPEAT and test on GENNY and MAIN.  Do NOT do the 240 VAC as you have a 120 ONLY Genny.

if you are not qualified, any friend or a competent HOME  electrician can do this.  It does NOT require a RV Tech.

if you don’t get the correct readings, write them down and call the manufacturer.  They may have service parts and should help you.

if they don’t….replace ….make an intelligent decision.  There are MH’s out there running the original ESCO 60 from the 90’s.  The LYGHTS are still running….and they were the forerunner of the LPT50BRD.  Mine is 13 years old.

Lightning sometimes plays havoc.  That is what an upstream surge protector saves your ATS…like the Progressive HW50C.  That was the number one device used in 2009 when I joined.  I sold my external Surge Guard…even though I had cut the interior cable and installed it…and put in the HW50C….saved me grief and money at least 5 times….due to low or miswired pedestals….and countless lightning strikes.

Good Luck 

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23 minutes ago, Gospel said:

Plugged in my 2008 Monaco Knight a week back, think I have a ATS that has gone bad, it is a ATS 501, no previous problem. How can I test it to be sure, I was on the road when it happened, home now and have the tool, just have never trouble shot one of these. Any guidelines.

If you don't feel safe & qualified to work on 240 VAC power I would hire someone to test it.

Remove cover, plug in 50-30-20 amp shore power, observe relay to transfer power to coach. Measure each LEG, #1 & #2. Remove shore power, start generator, observe relay to transfer power to coach, measure LEG #1 & #2.

I could not find ANY documentation for your Parallax ATS-501 Transfer Switch.

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6 minutes ago, Dr4Film said:

See post #3.

Doesn’t address the easiest to install question. If ESCO is easiest, great, I’ll follow that advice. But if another brand is much easier and just as good I’d rather do that. On another forum it was implied some brands require a lot of work and modification/wiring change. Trying to avoid that.

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7 minutes ago, saflyer said:

Doesn’t address the easiest to install question. If ESCO is easiest, great, I’ll follow that advice. But if another brand is much easier and just as good I’d rather do that. On another forum it was implied some brands require a lot of work and modification/wiring change. Trying to avoid that.

These coaches are snowflakes! What works easiest for one may not work for another. Sometimes easiest means you end up with an ATS that isn't any better than what you already have.

I do know that my previous 02 Windsor has the ESCO Lyght ATS and it has never hiccupped or failed in 21 years of service. My 06 Dynasty has a Surge Guard ATS. I don't have a lot of history with that as yet but other owners of the Surge Guard state that they are a rock solid ATS switch.

When it comes to my expensive second home, I don't cut corners or chintz out. Plus, I do whatever it takes to make it work and get it right.

You may have to do some modifications to get a the new ATS installed. Up to you, your coach, your decision.

Safe travels!

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1 hour ago, saflyer said:

Same request, suggestions for replacement for the IOTA. Of high importance is ease of making the switch.

Ed           
‘05 HR Ambassador 

The need to replace the IOTA is paramount.  As to the replacement, there is enough info already…but there may be others.

I can only offer the same info as I have done for 10 years.  Use ALL a ELECTRICAL safety precautions.  Open the IOTA and LABEL your cables.  Do NOT, on the ESCO LPT50BRD or probably others that the cables go back in the same “holes”. Label each as to SHORE (Incoming); GENNY; LOAD or MH Main Breaker.  
 

You may (will?) have to wiggle or un criss cross them.  There was a topic recently where there was a space or cable lenght and a suggestion was made.  If the ATS is mounted in the cardboard ceiling (like mine), make sure that the screws go into METAL .  I pulled mine out, then I positioned it where the cables worked and then used an ice pick and poke a hole in each mounting position….into the cardboard.  I moved it a bit to get it on an upper brace.  I had TWO good metal “holes”,  I eyeballed the length of the screws I needed.  I use a # 10 or # 12 metal roofing drive (drill point) washer head, with fiber washer, head screw from Lowes.  Very common and easy to find,  I predrilled a pilot hole.  Then I mounted it.  I used Loctite .green.  I torqued the screws using a large driver handle with a wrap or two of a red/blue cloth shop towel for friction,  An average male can get about 35 - 40 INCH POUNDS of torque using a large grip and a friction wrap.  I double or maybe triple torqued…reversing or random patterns.

That, other that what I posted….being assured you put Genny to GENNY…Load to MAIN…etc. is it.  YES, we have had folks not do this and had to help them sort out the cables…..been there…done it 3 or 4 times…

Good Luck.

42 minutes ago, saflyer said:

Doesn’t address the easiest to install question. If ESCO is easiest, great, I’ll follow that advice. But if another brand is much easier and just as good I’d rather do that. On another forum it was implied some brands require a lot of work and modification/wiring change. Trying to avoid that.

As a moderator that has helped at least 25 folks install a new, usually LPT50BRD, the “easy” question is irrelevant.  There is NOT an exact ATS that has the same cable configuration as well as the mounting holes.  There are some that use all FOUR conductors on each connection.  That would be “easier” as the Ground is shorter.  BUT, as I pointed out…in another post….the single wire INCOMING Ground and the two Outgoing grounds on the same side terminal are usually not an issue….there is typically some slack and you have to reposition the cables.  I did mine and cut off the additional 6” off the RED, Black and White and it worked.  You ARE going to have to fund a suitable, with a drive screw in at least one metal bracket.  NOW, Monaco wasn’t as picky. Their installers just drove deck screws into the ceiling cardboard….I chose to mount securely.

The recent replacement where the cables were going to be a challenge due to the LPT50BRD single terminal ground was an easy fix and meets NEC.  So, out of 25 or so “on or offline” helping, this was the first…gotta do it differently.

YES…compare….make an intelligent decision.  If a tossup, I would chose to do a little extra work and use the ESCO as it has the most demonstrated track record….

But, as I said…I’m biased…and will admit that….but no failures is pretty hard to beat….

BTW…don’t get any $$ from ESCO or think I have any stock in their company if owned by a publicly traded company….we Moderators want to help folks fix things and that is our only reward.l.but if someone sent me a fifth of CR?  LOL.  You get my point.  Thanks for the comment as it allowed a little more installation info to be passed on.

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 Is a IOTA the same as a ATS  I'm confused. Having problems with the power input for the first time.  

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28 minutes ago, Gospel said:

 Is a IOTA the same as a ATS  I'm confused. Having problems with the power input for the first time.  

IOTA is the brand name of the ATS aka Auto Transfer Switch.

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1 hour ago, Tom Cherry said:

The need to replace the IOTA is paramount.  As to the replacement, there is enough info already…but there may be others.

I can only offer the same info as I have done for 10 years.  Use ALL a ELECTRICAL safety precautions.  Open the IOTA and LABEL your cables.  Do NOT, on the ESCO LPT50BRD or probably others that the cables go back in the same “holes”. Label each as to SHORE (Incoming); GENNY; LOAD or MH Main Breaker.  
 

You may (will?) have to wiggle or un criss cross them.  There was a topic recently where there was a space or cable lenght and a suggestion was made.  If the ATS is mounted in the cardboard ceiling (like mine), make sure that the screws go into METAL .  I pulled mine out, then I positioned it where the cables worked and then used an ice pick and poke a hole in each mounting position….into the cardboard.  I moved it a bit to get it on an upper brace.  I had TWO good metal “holes”,  I eyeballed the length of the screws I needed.  I use a # 10 or # 12 metal roofing drive (drill point) washer head, with fiber washer, head screw from Lowes.  Very common and easy to find,  I predrilled a pilot hole.  Then I mounted it.  I used Loctite .green.  I torqued the screws using a large driver handle with a wrap or two of a red/blue cloth shop towel for friction,  An average male can get about 35 - 40 INCH POUNDS of torque using a large grip and a friction wrap.  I double or maybe triple torqued…reversing or random patterns.

That, other that what I posted….being assured you put Genny to GENNY…Load to MAIN…etc. is it.  YES, we have had folks not do this and had to help them sort out the cables…..been there…done it 3 or 4 times…

Good Luck.

As a moderator that has helped at least 25 folks install a new, usually LPT50BRD, the “easy” question is irrelevant.  There is NOT an exact ATS that has the same cable configuration as well as the mounting holes.  There are some that use all FOUR conductors on each connection.  That would be “easier” as the Ground is shorter.  BUT, as I pointed out…in another post….the single wire INCOMING Ground and the two Outgoing grounds on the same side terminal are usually not an issue….there is typically some slack and you have to reposition the cables.  I did mine and cut off the additional 6” off the RED, Black and White and it worked.  You ARE going to have to fund a suitable, with a drive screw in at least one metal bracket.  NOW, Monaco wasn’t as picky. Their installers just drove deck screws into the ceiling cardboard….I chose to mount securely.

The recent replacement where the cables were going to be a challenge due to the LPT50BRD single terminal ground was an easy fix and meets NEC.  So, out of 25 or so “on or offline” helping, this was the first…gotta do it differently.

YES…compare….make an intelligent decision.  If a tossup, I would chose to do a little extra work and use the ESCO as it has the most demonstrated track record….

But, as I said…I’m biased…and will admit that….but no failures is pretty hard to beat….

BTW…don’t get any $$ from ESCO or think I have any stock in their company if owned by a publicly traded company….we Moderators want to help folks fix things and that is our only reward.l.but if someone sent me a fifth of CR?  LOL.  You get my point.  Thanks for the comment as it allowed a little more installation info to be passed on.

Thanks so much Tom. I didn’t figure anyone had experience with more than one brand but you came close enough. Thinking I’d better have a shop do it. Will open the IOTA up first to see how complicated it might be. 

Ed

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24 minutes ago, saflyer said:

Thanks so much Tom. I didn’t figure anyone had experience with more than one brand but you came close enough. Thinking I’d better have a shop do it. Will open the IOTA up first to see how complicated it might be. 

Ed

Make sure all power is off and the generator disabled when you open up the ATS.

While you are looking at the change note how much spare wire you have for both the generator and shore power.  Sometimes Monaco left a bunch spare and others hardly any at all. 

I didn't have to replace mine but I did add a Progressive HW50 surge protector.  To do that I removed the cable coming from shore power, pulled it into the surge protector and added a wire back to the ATS.   I had to move the ATS a little to be able mount the ATS.   Not hard , the #6 awg wire can be a little hard to manipulate where you want it to go, easier if you have plenty of wire.

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  • Tom Cherry changed the title to IOTA 50R Transfer switch

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