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Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened On Our Way to Our Stove Installation...

It didn't happen today.

Well, in the grand scheme of things I guess it wasn't so funny after all.

We started out bright and early this morning to work on our stove installation in the motorhome--- that I wrote about in my last blog.

We gathered tools and supplies and ideas and headed out to the motorhome. It was pretty warm out so we decided we would plug into shore power and fire up the air conditioner.

That's when everything went haywire. Not the air conditioning. Nooooo  We didn't even get that far to turn it on. It was the entire power for half of the things in the rig that run through our inverter.  Lights and a fan and the tv I turned on. Because we plugged into shore power, it should bypass through it and run to all the fixtures and outlets and lights that operate on that leg of our motorhome.

We turned things on and noticed our lights were dimming down and browning out. That's not a good sign. Our power management system, a hard-wired Progressive Industries EMS kicked us out every time. Just like it is supposed to. Here is my blog post about when we installed it:

We would wait for it to reset, turn on one thing, even a small thing. like a light. Again it would kick us out as soon as we drew any power.

First of course we checked the normal things like the shore power coming from the cord, we checked the transfer switch, we checked all of the GFCI outlets.

We decided to unplug from shore power and just ran the generator and see what happened then. Same thing. Brown out and kick off by any thing running through the inverter was not holding up to snuff. Any type of a draw and the Progressive Industries EMS would kick it out.

I am happy to say at least our Progressive Industries EMS power management system was doing the correct thing by kicking out and not letting us harm our electronics.

So now we concentrated on the inverter. We checked the two circuit breakers on the inverter. Yes, I know the upper left white input button is broke, it has been broken off for a long time but still operates.

We checked all of the breakers in the power panel box.  

We plugged back in ---  oh NO!  

NOW things everything was running over bright and and buzzing and ready to burn out! It was like a power surge within our rig from the inverter! The last reading we got off the kilowatt device was 180+ volts! We shut it down and decided that was enough of that!!!
This is a Kilowatt device that helps monitor power output at outlets.
I know the screen is blank, we shut down too quick
 for me to take a pic of 180+ watt reading...

We were not about to destroy anything by letting it continue to run or start a fire. Now it was time to do some diagnosis. Steve hauled out his Fluke meter and we started researching diagrams and schematics.

With all of our testing throughout the complete line of power from our house to the power cord to supply to transfer switch, we realized our inverter was not operating properly.

Everything was fine up to it and everything was fine beyond it --- so the bad link was the Xantrax Freedom20D 2000 watt inverter itself.  ACKKK!  Those run about $1,000-2,000 to replace with a similar size.

Steve carefully removed the inverter cover. Inside it was brown all around the top of the main section and curled back plastic surface like it had overheated...  DANG!

I think we narrowly avoided 
a big dangerous fire situation!!!

Steve removed the entire inverter and temporarily reconnected the AC lines together and capped off the DC hot line. Both Steve's Fluke meter and the kilowatt device are measuring the correct power. Whew! Now it is safe until we get a new inverter this week.

I think we will pick up a new pure sine wave inverter and have it ready for when we go to Canada in September. We are going to loop around Lake Superior just like we did on our honeymoon 20 years ago. We enjoy doing a lot of boondocking, (camping without hookups)  and have 500watts of solar panels and four big deep cycle batteries in a bank to draw from.  The inverter will be nice to have in case we want to run something that is AC from off the DC power.

I am just so thankful we avoided a fire!!!


  1. We had the Xantrex Pure Sign Wave 2000 watt inverter and it died, too. Hated that we couldn't asphalt park with power. UGH! Since we had our original charger, we opted to get just an inverter from Eastwood Industries. I will send you a link - it was around $600 and is working great!!!

  2. Good that this happened to you while you were home and not out on the road. Still a pain having to replaceit but it has to be done. The pure sine wave will be a great one to have.


  3. Glad you didn't have a fire but I can't understand why if you are plugged in at the post why you are running through the Inverter. Most Inverters only connect to the system at the Transfer Switch that keeps the two systems separate.
    We installed a 3,000 Watt Pure (Not Modified) Sine Wave Inverter which is the same power as at the post and is great for Electronics.
    Since you have the Solar Panels on the roof they should keep your batteries topped off so there is no need for an Inverter/Charger.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. It's rather complicated. Our inverter was only wired to some of the things in our rig, not all. (only some of the outlets and lights and appliances were invert-able, but others only operated on shore power no matter what.) It also had its own tiny internal transfer switch inside of it and had two output feeds. We may change it all around when we do put in a new one. Like you said, we are fine with our solar to charge the batteries like usual. We really only need it for a few things when boondocking like curling iron, coffee bean grinder, and the tvs. We can use small portable inverters for those if need be.(but they are noisy) We have enough 12 volt lights and don't use the 120vAC ones much anyhow. Our laptops, tablets and phones all have 12 volt cords for recharging. Steve said we will get one during the next month or so for our big trip in fall.

  4. Looks like I better take a look inside mine as I have the same inverter in the Trek. I don't want a campfire inside the rv either.....


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