cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Doris is Dead!

DKLilly67
Explorer
Explorer
Hello all- I sure hope you can help me! We have a huge problem. We are in the middle of a trip, and our youngest daughter ( we became guardians at age 50 because the girls were being abused) in one of her episodes - tried to turn on the A/C units both at the same time by rapidly dragging the levers up and down thru all settings four times before I could get to her. My husband and I are both disabled - he is 70 I am 60. Anyways, when she did that everything went black. No power to anything. I assumed we tripped a breaker, so we reset everything. It didn’t work so I repeated it several times( definition of insanity) then I tried unplugging the autoformer from shore power waiting a bit and rebooking everything up. Back inside I turned on each breaker . For some reason everything was back. I went thru the coach and put all the unused lights in off position. I made sure anything not in use but plugged in was not plugged in.
We had lights and air again fridge was working- world was back to normal.
Then after several hours - blammo- everything out. We were able to restore power to our not shore side - but outlets are out a/c is out everything is out. We tested and found that we were getting power to the two gfci outlets but plugging anything in got nothing to turn on. So we replaced the two gfci. Well we thought we did. Turns out if you have your adult son do it and he does it backwards they will never work. So we got up this morning and the entire coach was dead. Had to call roadside assist to jump the battery.
I am lost. I have no idea what we should do now. I’m in tears. I just have no clue what I’m missing. Please anyone - if you can help me figure his out- I’m desperate.
21 REPLIES 21

DKLilly67
Explorer
Explorer
Thank you so much! I’m very grateful for the education I am getting!!!

Groover
Explorer II
Explorer II
CA Traveler wrote:
So glad for all of you. But please note that running 2 A/Cs on 30A can be questionable. Why? The NEC recommends a max of 80% to limit the heat or 24A for sustained operation and 2 AC's are sustained operation. And your family member issue likely contributed. But your dedication is fantastic and I admire you guys! Thanks for sharing.


You can run both AC's on 30A IF all other power draws are shut down with the exception some LED lights and a radio or TV. It really helps if you have soft starters on both of the AC units. Start with the batteries fully charged so that you are only doing maintenance charging and make sure that the water heater is not running on electricity.

My coach has both AC's and the water heater are on the same circuit but just about everything else is on a different circuit. I did have to put in a soft start system for one AC and plan to do the second one soon. It hasn't been a problem when on shore power. I have to watch it when on the 6kw generator. The starting load on an AC can hit 30amps all by itself. It is very short duration with the running load dropping down to about 11amps. The generator doesn't have as much in reserve as shore power does and starting both at the same time will trip its breaker without a soft start.

DKLilly67
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks Rick ! We will do that before we leave. I will add it to my growing list of items to check periodically. I really appreciate the tip. I will be following all of you guys to learn more as we go!

Rick_Jay
Explorer II
Explorer II
DKLilly67,

Glad to hear all is well. Kudos to you for your persistence and for posting your solution. There have been many posters who never post the solution and that just leaves everyone hanging, without us being able to learn of the problem. Posting your solution can potentially be helpful for others in the future who have similar issues.

I would recommend that if there are any other screws on junction boxes or breaker panels, that at some time someone go around and make sure they're all tight. This includes ground wires for the DC side of things as well. It's possible that the screws can loosen up over time, even on house wiring. In an RV that's bouncing down the road, it's even more likely for the fasteners to loosen with age. A loose connection will generate heat and ultimately create electrical problems.

Again, thanks for following up with your post! 🙂

~Rick
2005 Georgie Boy Cruise Master 3625 DS on a Workhorse W-22
Rick, Gail, 1 girl (27-Angel since 2008), 1 girl (22), 2 boys (23 & 20).
2001 Honda Odyssey, Demco Aluminator tow bar & tow plate, SMI Silent Partner brake controller.

CA_Traveler
Explorer III
Explorer III
So glad for all of you. But please note that running 2 A/Cs on 30A can be questionable. Why? The NEC recommends a max of 80% to limit the heat or 24A for sustained operation and 2 AC's are sustained operation. And your family member issue likely contributed. But your dedication is fantastic and I admire you guys! Thanks for sharing.
2009 Holiday Rambler 42' Scepter with ISL 400 Cummins
750 Watts Solar Morningstar MPPT 60 Controller
2014 Grand Cherokee Overland

Bob

DKLilly67
Explorer
Explorer
Hey everyone!
Doris is alive and kicking!!
We found the problem and got it fixed - hopefully I won’t get this wrong- the distribution J box had a meltdown - there was a short and it actually melted old wiring together. Brand new everything - I have the melted mess in my hand. We are so so lucky. It could have been way worse. I’m grateful for everyone’s help and advice here. We have had our first real life lesson in knowing as much about your RV as you can and always be willing to learn. Many thanks to everyone who contributed and taught us so much!!
You all are the salt of the earth!!!!

Racklefratz
Explorer II
Explorer II
DKLilly67 wrote:
We have now been running generator for about 20 minutes and we can see the charge in the batteries going up, but it still not enough to start engine, let alone turn anything else on.


I'll jump in here, with the caveat that there's still not enough info to make a definitive diagnosis of what's going on. My experience comes from owning and operating Class A RVs 28 years. I'll concede I find it curious that you're the one who's having to try to address these problems.

"and we can see the charge in the batteries going up" - WHICH batteries? House or starting batteries?

Your RV has two mutually-exclusive electrical systems. It has an engine starting system, and a house battery system and each depends on its own separate charging system.

What that means is, your could have lights, etc, that depend on your house batteries to work, and still not be able to start your engine, if the starting batteries are discharged.

The usual way starting batteries are recharged is through the alternator that operates when your engine is running. The converter that normally recharges your house batteries usually won't recharge your starting batteries. System design varies by manufacturer.

Our present Class A has a 12v trickle charger which keeps the starting batteries topped off when our RV is connected to shore power. Yours may, or it may not. If your engine starting batteries are discharged, and shore power doesn't recharge them, you may need to use an external charger to get your engine started.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All the above are variables, which may or may not apply to your RV, due to variations among brands.

With no more information, it's impossible to give any further advice.
2012 Tiffin Allegro Bus 43QGP (All Electric)

CA_Traveler
Explorer III
Explorer III
For a discharged battery 20 min is just the start. It can take hours to get to 85% charged. Get the problem fixed, verify that everything is working and the charger is charging the batteries on shore power. When the batteries are fully charged it would be a good idea to load check them to determine their condition.

An alternate is to buy a auto charger to tide you over on batteries, but won't help with the AC problem.
2009 Holiday Rambler 42' Scepter with ISL 400 Cummins
750 Watts Solar Morningstar MPPT 60 Controller
2014 Grand Cherokee Overland

Bob

way2roll
Traveler II
Traveler II
If I were to guess I think you have a battery problem more than an electrical one. Your lights should all be 12V as are the thermostats for your HVAC and potentially your fridge. For some reason even hooked up to shore power your batts aren't charging. Maybe they are completely toast.
2023 FR Sunseeker 2400B MBS

DKLilly67
Explorer
Explorer
Okay- good morning to all- please keep sending your thoughts and instructions we will try everything you want us too!
So update- we ran the generator last night ( huge onan in its own huge compartment where most engines go, right under our front windshield) that made it possible for us to have lights, start engine and one plug at kitchen table that works. Fridge is running on propane. We shut everything down last night and went to bed, but by 3:21 am the light under the tv was out so back to generator on - and we thought that way we would at least be able to get to the same spot we were at yesterday before bed. We have now been running generator for about 20 minutes and we can see the charge in the batteries going up, but it still not enough to start engine, let alone turn anything else on. Still no power elsewhere. That’s where we are at. I do have a repair scheduled for later - but I still really believe I’m just missing some step.

DKLilly67
Explorer
Explorer
I promise we will definitely reinstall gfci as soon as we figure out where the issue is. Everything we looked at up until that moment lead us to believe the gfci were old and probably needed replacing- and possibly could have led to the problem. The reason we believe the new gfci s were of no help is because before we installed them we had 118 - then after they were installed ( incorrectly) there was 118 at one pole and 2 on the other. When I read the literature that came with the gfci it said to use the yellow sticker and had big warnings everywhere that said if it was hooked up in the wrong way that it would create a hard lockout. There was no way to even remove it, reset it, reinstall it correctly- they were just toast. So we moved on and figured okay we will just take it to basics. That’s when we just put regular receptacles in . We installed both the replacement receptacles as instructed. They read 118 volts, but nothing works when plugged in. We are going to try the unplug from shore power, reset breaker , reset everything right now including inverter.

CA_Traveler
Explorer III
Explorer III
And buy a household tester $10 and check every plug when he's done.

True story: When I was doing the PDI for our current rig which was 2 years old the household tester showed a open ground on all of the kitchen slide outlets. The problem was a open ground in a junction box Monaco mfg did not connect. Prior owner wasn't aware.
2009 Holiday Rambler 42' Scepter with ISL 400 Cummins
750 Watts Solar Morningstar MPPT 60 Controller
2014 Grand Cherokee Overland

Bob

CA_Traveler
Explorer III
Explorer III
Also and this is meant to be helpful: Electritcy can be dangerous and from your description 2 amatures have made electrical changes. Consider a good mobile tech to get everything right and up and running.
2009 Holiday Rambler 42' Scepter with ISL 400 Cummins
750 Watts Solar Morningstar MPPT 60 Controller
2014 Grand Cherokee Overland

Bob

CA_Traveler
Explorer III
Explorer III
RV wire color standards don't exist. Yes there are conventions that may/may not be followed unlike homes with standards and inspections. The best way to know is to measure the voltage using frame ground as a reference. You could try the standard household tester and see if the 3 lights are correct. I'll bet a neighbor has one. But it sounds like you have a very small voltage leakage to the outlet which allows the voltmeter to register voltage but appliances don't work. Perhaps there is a tripped CB somewhere.

I'd also guess that your charger doesn't have AC input and hence the batteries die. Did you fully turn off every CB and then fully back on? Are there any CBs on your inverter or charger or charger/inverter depending upon what you have? If so then the same on/off drill.
2009 Holiday Rambler 42' Scepter with ISL 400 Cummins
750 Watts Solar Morningstar MPPT 60 Controller
2014 Grand Cherokee Overland

Bob

Rick_Jay
Explorer II
Explorer II
DKLilly67 wrote:
This morning we got plain outlets ( just trying to close circuit and go from there) my husband very carefully hooked them up ground to ground, white to gold, black to silver. We can now read power to the outlet but nothing to the outlet works .


I hope you have a typo there. It should be ground to ground (usually a green screw), black to gold screw, and white to silver screw. The black is the hot line, the white is the neutral line. If wired the way you described, things connected to the outlet should work, but they are a shock hazard. Outlets have a "load" and a "line" side. The "line" side received the black, white & ground wires from the breaker panel. The "load" side is used to feed the power and protect the other outlets downstream. The fact that they don't works suggests that either they are wired incorrectly (more so than you mentioned) or that the breaker which feeds the those outlet(s) is tripped.

ON EDIT: Reading your next reply, I see that you figured out the hot & neutral reversal. That's a step in the right direction. I might also suggest, if you don't have one already, that you purchase a GFCI receptacle tester similar to this one. There are many variations, all do about the same thing, and any hardware store should have them. Personally, I recommend the ones with the GFCI test button. Oh, and the yellow sticker is there mostly to indicate the "load" terminals on the GFCI. Where it's placed has no bearing on the circuit operation. I have no idea what "hopelessly locked up" means. If they were tripped, hitting the "Reset" button should fix it.

And you really should reinstall the GFCI outlets. Without them, you have a serious shock hazard. I don't really think the GFCI outlets had anything to do with your original issues.

I don't like to say this, but it sounds like the people you have working on the electrical issues don't really understand what they are doing. Understand that electricity can be lethal and it's important to have a good understanding and respect for it.

You might want to consider hiring someone who is skilled in electrical work to straighten this out.

Good Luck,

~Rick
2005 Georgie Boy Cruise Master 3625 DS on a Workhorse W-22
Rick, Gail, 1 girl (27-Angel since 2008), 1 girl (22), 2 boys (23 & 20).
2001 Honda Odyssey, Demco Aluminator tow bar & tow plate, SMI Silent Partner brake controller.