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Old 05-29-2017, 03:41 PM   #1
Dam Worker
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Generator

During our normal Memorial Day weekend camping trip, (boondocking) I had the usual smell of what I thought was the generator getting hot. This time it was smelling worse than normal so I started doing another investigation on where the smell was coming from. I could smell a burnt plastic smell unusually strong coming from the vents in the stairs. When I opened up the DS storage door I noticed that the wiring coming from the generator went into a metal junction box. Pretty typical except this time the box was to hot to touch. As I contemplated this I noticed the box said (30 amp) max on it. I thought that this was kind of strange as my generator is a 5500 watt Onan that was installed at the factory. I also noticed that the wiring coming out of the junction box was only 10 AWG. I am not an electrician but I do know that I only used 10 AWG for 30 amp circuits when wiring my house.
When everything had cooled off enough for me to open the junction box I found a glob of melted wires. The wire nuts were deformed and the only thing left on the biggest wire nut was the metal spring or threads. After cutting away burnt wire I redid everything and only used the generator for recharging the batteries and some microwave use, no hot water heater or fireplace. Keystone was at their normal service when I drop up and over the mountain to get repair parts and cell phone service. Biggest thing was they were happy that my unit did not catch on fire but other than that I need to take it to the dealership and have them look at it to determine if something was wrong.

As a few people on here say it is probably better to just fix stuff yourself as it will be done correctly the first time.

Tom Marty
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:27 PM   #2
jcurtis934
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Bummer tom, at least you have the smarts to know that the factory was incompetent on that part of your build. Hope for better on the rest of its wiring and fix this part yourself after taking pictures to document their fine work.
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Old 05-29-2017, 06:07 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about your problem. What year and model is your trailer? I assume it is a 50A unit. Sounds like a bad day at the factory. Here is the transfer switch installed in mine:
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File Type: jpg Generator Transfer Sw 2 -2.jpg (1.02 MB, 3 views)
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Old 05-29-2017, 06:36 PM   #4
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This belongs in the Id 10 T file. Why would anyone put 30 amp wires and a 30 amp transfer switch on a 50 amp generator. When Id 10 T is written it looks a lot like idiot.
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Old 05-30-2017, 09:04 AM   #5
WaltBennett
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Originally Posted by mlh View Post
This belongs in the Id 10 T file. Why would anyone put 30 amp wires and a 30 amp transfer switch on a 50 amp generator. When Id 10 T is written it looks a lot like idiot.
Lynwood
Better yet, what Montana has 30 amp anything in the last 8 years or so?
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Old 05-31-2017, 08:58 PM   #6
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Scott I can't remember if I confirmed my transfer switch is rated for 50a or not, I guess I will have to pull two screws and remove the panel to confirm. I think I checked when I installed the Progressive Industries surge protector.

Where my wiring was melting is in the storage area where the generator wiring and 10awg house wire meet in a metal junction box. I am curious if anyone else's unit is wired with the 10awg. I am pretty sure that the 50a shore power has bigger AWG sized wire where I tapped into my Surge protector. I decided not to run my generator through the protector after talking to the surge protector manufacturer.

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Old 06-01-2017, 09:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dam Worker View Post
I am pretty sure that the 50a shore power has bigger AWG sized wire where I tapped into my Surge protector.
Tom Marty
I checked my wiring. It is #10 from the generator to the junction box and #10 from the junction box to the transfer switch.

My shore power cable is also #10.

From the transfer switch to the breaker panel is #8.

#10 wire is rated for 40 amps. I would like to see #8 but #10 is probably ok.
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:06 PM   #8
Dam Worker
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Thanks for the information Scott. An electrician friend of mine said about the same thing in meaning once the wiring is inside the RV it probably doesn't have to meet to much electrical code. I am pretty sure that some of the other wiring inside the unit coming from the plug is probably 8Awg. I just really like the junction box being used rated at 30a max.

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Old 06-01-2017, 10:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dam Worker View Post
As I contemplated this I noticed the box said (30 amp) max on it. I thought that this was kind of strange as my generator is a 5500 watt Onan that was installed at the factory.
Tom Marty
I also have the same note on my generator junction box.
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File Type: jpg Generator Junction Box 1 -2.jpg (959.9 KB, 0 views)
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:21 AM   #10
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I could easily install #8 from the generator to the transfer switch (I would eliminate the junction box), but it would be difficult to replace the wiring from the shore power junction box to the transfer switch.

I'm going to go out later and run mine with a both air conditioners on and see what happens.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:25 AM   #11
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Curious - does this transfer switch feed BOTH 30 amp legs of your 50 amp service? (That's how RVs are wired. Your breaker panel is split with two different 30 amp legs as well) If it is, I'm mystified as to why the factory would provide a 5500 Onan with only a 30 amp transfer switch.
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Old 06-02-2017, 12:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by WaltBennett View Post
Curious - does this transfer switch feed BOTH 30 amp legs of your 50 amp service? (That's how RVs are wired. Your breaker panel is split with two different 30 amp legs as well) If it is, I'm mystified as to why the factory would provide a 5500 Onan with only a 30 amp transfer switch.
Yes, both sides of the breaker panel are fed by either shore power or the generator.

Actually, 50A service provides two legs at 50A each for a total of 12kw (30A service provides one leg st 30A for a total of 3.8kw) There are no "30A legs" in a unit with 50A service.

I'm also mystified; can't answer that question.
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Old 06-02-2017, 12:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by scottz View Post
Yes, both sides of the breaker panel are fed by either shore power or the generator.

Actually, 50A service provides two legs at 50A each for a total of 12kw (30A service provides one leg st 30A for a total of 3.8kw) There are no "30A legs" in a unit with 50A service.
I think if you search the forum for many, many posts on this you'll find this is not true. I also know as I rewired my Montana myself when installing our 400 watt solar system. RVs, and our Montanas for certain, are wired with the 50 amp plug and cable broken into two 30 amp circuits. Check your AC breaker panel and you'll find two ganged 30 amp breakers. These are the two 30 amp circuits I wrote about. There's no 220v as some think and not anything of 50 amps total by itself. If your inverter is feeding both sides, you've got to be very careful not to have your air conditioner, refer on electric, or hot water heater on electric as these will drain your batteries in a heart beat - probably damage them as well. (I actually had to move the refer breaker to the other leg.) I broke the circuit for the side that feeds all the mundane things (ceiling fan, TV, sound system, microwave, outlets, etc.) and put our inverter in it. The other leg goes straight to all the high-amperage things.
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Old 06-02-2017, 05:00 PM   #14
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Walt I am not sure what Scott's second picture is but I assumed it was the junction box between the generator and the transfer switch. His first picture is of the transfer switch and it looked like it was rated for 50 amps. I can tell you I don't like having wires melting that could cause a fire. I still need to take the unit in and at least let a dealership look at the system and than they can contact Keystone.

Scott does your transfer switch buzz/hum when hooked up to shore power? Mine is annoyingly loud and it takes quite a while for it to switch when I start the generator. It is also loud when it does finally switch.


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Old 06-02-2017, 05:29 PM   #15
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50 amps going to 30 service should be no issue..However, 30 amp service going to a 50 amp rig could be..
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:06 PM   #16
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Dfb what do you me mean? I think you have that backwards. 50 amp going to a 30 amp could over heat the wiring because there is the potential for to much current. You can just about alway oversize wire and run less amperage with no problems. Kind of like plugging your 50 amp cord into an 30 amp adapter and only drawing 30 amps through the cord. Usually you go to higher voltage to run more power through smaller wire. That is why the transmission lines are such high voltage and use fairly small wire.

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Old 06-02-2017, 10:20 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dam Worker View Post
Walt I am not sure what Scott's second picture is but I assumed it was the junction box between the generator and the transfer switch. His first picture is of the transfer switch and it looked like it was rated for 50 amps. I can tell you I don't like having wires melting that could cause a fire. I still need to take the unit in and at least let a dealership look at the system and than they can contact Keystone.

Scott does your transfer switch buzz/hum when hooked up to shore power? Mine is annoyingly loud and it takes quite a while for it to switch when I start the generator. It is also loud when it does finally switch.


Tom Marty
The second picture is the label on the junction box between the generator and transfer switch.

Yes, it buzzes when hooked to shore power. That is just a relay hum. I found that it was resonating through the transfer switch metal enclosure making it louder. I wedged a piece of foam on the top of the transfer switch box to dampen the sound.

I never timed it but mine takes about 5-10 seconds to transfer. When it transfers (either way) you should hear a loud "chunk". I've been maintaining standby generators and transfer switches for over 30 years; this is normal. The delay is desirable; higher end transfer switches have an adjustable delay and move through a neutral position (with it's own delay) while switching (they also have delays to warm up and cool down the engine). Last thing you want is the generator and commercial (shore) power side connected to each other; even for a moment.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:37 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by WaltBennett View Post
I think if you search the forum for many, many posts on this you'll find this is not true. I also know as I rewired my Montana myself when installing our 400 watt solar system. RVs, and our Montanas for certain, are wired with the 50 amp plug and cable broken into two 30 amp circuits. Check your AC breaker panel and you'll find two ganged 30 amp breakers. These are the two 30 amp circuits I wrote about. There's no 220v as some think and not anything of 50 amps total by itself. If your inverter is feeding both sides, you've got to be very careful not to have your air conditioner, refer on electric, or hot water heater on electric as these will drain your batteries in a heart beat - probably damage them as well. (I actually had to move the refer breaker to the other leg.) I broke the circuit for the side that feeds all the mundane things (ceiling fan, TV, sound system, microwave, outlets, etc.) and put our inverter in it. The other leg goes straight to all the high-amperage things.
Nope, my breaker panel has two 50A breakers ganged together; one feeding each side of the breaker panel; see photo below.



I also think you are mistaken on the two legs of 50A service; I believe they are 50A each.

Google 50A RV service and you will find a ton of imformation. Here is a sample:

https://www.rvtechmag.com/electrical/chapter3.php

"50 Amp RV Service:

To facilitate the larger loads placed upon the newer RVs the 50 amp service was brought out. Whereas the 30 amp service was a 120 volt service yielding 3,600 watts of power, the 50 amp service is a 120/240 split phase service. The split phase service means you have two 120 volt 50 amp poles, which gives you a total of up to 12,000 watts. So the perceived increase from 30 to 50 doesn't sound like very much but the real increase from 3,600 to 12,000 puts it into a more realistic perspective. Keep in mind that this assumes that you can utilize both of the two 50 amp poles effectively by balancing your load. If all of your loads are on one side of the panel you'll only be using one 50 amp pole, which means that you can only get 6,000 watts. So, it is important to split your loads and balance them between both phases on the breaker panel in order to get maximum capacity."


This is why you need to be careful how many high amp devices you run when you connect your 50A unit to 30A service via an adapter. The adapter takes the single 30A leg and applies it to both sides of your breaker panel. Turning too many items on should trip the 30A park breaker; if not the adapter is probably going to get really hot.

The rest of the details about splitting the panel are spot on. My inverter feeds both sides of the panel, but I switch off breakers to high amp devices before going to inverter power; including running the refrigerator on propane.
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File Type: jpg Breaker Panel -2.jpg (1.61 MB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Breaker Panel -3.jpg (201.0 KB, 1 views)
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Old 06-03-2017, 03:46 AM   #19
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Scottz

You are right on when I put my VOM on L1 and L2 it shows 220 to 240 v depending on what electric company you use.

I have posted the same information along with drawings and pictures of circuits but that article puts it all together in a presentation that any one should be able to understand.

Thanks.

Phil P

PS: scottz I am working on an irrigation project that is solar powered. I have designed my own controllers for the pump motors and have a number of wells now producing much more water than they have in the past. No batteries the pomp only ruins during the day.
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Old 06-03-2017, 11:45 AM   #20
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Scottz

You are right on when I put my VOM on L1 and L2 it shows 220 to 240 v depending on what electric company you use.

[/FONT]
Correct, but don't confuse this with a residential breaker panel that actually lets you provide 240V to a device. An RV breaker panel takes L1 and L2 and applies one leg to each side of the breaker panel; just like having two independent breaker panels; no 240V breakers (I assume there are some high end motor homes that use 240V service, but not what we are talking about here).

PS: It is really not important but nominal voltage in the US is 120/240/480; the use of the terms 110/220/440 went away about 50 years ago. Of course that is the nominal voltage standard; you still get what you get.

http://www.nema.org/Standards/Compli...C84-1-2011.pdf
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