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Old 07-18-2011, 10:02 AM   #1
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GFCI Tripping

I have tried the search, did all of what was recommended in other posts and am now at a loss. On our recent trip I plugged into shorepower prior to departing, all was fine, charged the house battery. Mid-way through our two week travels we found ourselves at a site with power. I plugged in and when I turned on the inverter it tripped the pedestal breaker. No problem re-set breaker and again tripped the pedestal breaker and the GFCI. GFCI would not re-set and was able to purchase one on the road. Installed new GFCI and tested without being plugged in, anytime I turn the 110V system on, the GFCI trips. Got home, tested the outlets for continuity, found one that was "bad". Replaced and again once the 110V system is on, the GFCI trips. The interesting thing, my inverter has a 110V GFCI outlet, that works, but somewhere between I must have a problem. I have very limited experience with this system and wanted to see if anyone else has any options before I find someplace to take it. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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Re: GFCI Tripping

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Originally Posted by Seattle
I have tried the search, did all of what was recommended in other posts and am now at a loss. On our recent trip I plugged into shorepower prior to departing, all was fine, charged the house battery. Mid-way through our two week travels we found ourselves at a site with power. I plugged in and when I turned on the inverter it tripped the pedestal breaker. No problem re-set breaker and again tripped the pedestal breaker and the GFCI. GFCI would not re-set and was able to purchase one on the road. Installed new GFCI and tested without being plugged in, anytime I turn the 110V system on, the GFCI trips. Got home, tested the outlets for continuity, found one that was "bad". Replaced and again once the 110V system is on, the GFCI trips. The interesting thing, my inverter has a 110V GFCI outlet, that works, but somewhere between I must have a problem. I have very limited experience with this system and wanted to see if anyone else has any options before I find someplace to take it. Thanks in advance for your help.
Do you have a set of breakers inside the van? If you have a short downstream of the GFI, it will continue to trip. It sounds like you just have a problem in one of the plugs below the GFI plug. Kill the power, check everything dead before contact and pull each plug and inspect them. At least with mine, all the outlets open to view are wired to the GFI plug. I'm fairly sure the microwave and refrigerator are on separate circuits (each on its own breaker in the vans breaker box) but would have to check to make sure. You might have a pinched wire, a screw through a wire, or it's possible that a wire came loose behind one of the GFI's slave outlets.

I'm surprised that the shore power breaker tripped without one of the vans breakers tripping. Sounds like everything is good between the shore power plug and breakers plus if the inverter is working with the GFI inside the van in the tripped position, that also sounds like the inverter is OK.

BTW, I can't stress checking the system dead. I teach grounding and stray voltage procedures at the power company I work for and find people get complacent with 110 voltages. We routinely handle 12,000 volts by hand in our line of work but last month we lost a lineman (Mike Wigt) who got a hold of a lousy little #10 120 volt wire which killed him dead. It didn't even trip the 15 amp breaker. It doesn't take big volts or big amps to kill someone...it just takes the right circumstances. Don't become a statistic; please be careful.
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:49 PM   #3
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Re: GFCI Tripping

I'd pull the GFCI and remove the wiring to the downstream outlets, then see if it trips. If it doesn't power down and go to the next outlet in line and repeat, after hooking the line back to the GFCI. You can at least isolate which section of cord to look more closely at. The "bad" outlet is probably not the outlet but the wiring, and something that could have been on the verge of grounding or contact (split or a screw) until it moved from driving and contacted/melted/arc'd when the pedestal first went off, then stayed contacted s.t. it always trips now.

When you find the wire section you can either trace it to the problem or run a new wire removing it from the system at both ends (cut it back so it's not hooked up again).

Dave, that's a shame about Mike. I'm sure death isn't unheard of in your line of work, but to have it happen at home...
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:02 PM   #4
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Re: GFCI Tripping

Thanks to you both for the suggestions. I will pull the GFCI and remove the downstream wiring and report back. Dave, I always keep a voltage detector with me and test prior to working on anything. Thanks for the additional reminder.
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Old 07-18-2011, 07:17 PM   #5
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Re: GFCI Tripping

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Originally Posted by jage
I'd pull the GFCI and remove the wiring to the downstream outlets, then see if it trips. If it doesn't power down and go to the next outlet in line and repeat, after hooking the line back to the GFCI. You can at least isolate which section of cord to look more closely at. The "bad" outlet is probably not the outlet but the wiring, and something that could have been on the verge of grounding or contact (split or a screw) until it moved from driving and contacted/melted/arc'd when the pedestal first went off, then stayed contacted s.t. it always trips now.

When you find the wire section you can either trace it to the problem or run a new wire removing it from the system at both ends (cut it back so it's not hooked up again).

Dave, that's a shame about Mike. I'm sure death isn't unheard of in your line of work, but to have it happen at home...
I agree...follow the crumb trail.

Yeah Jage. It's a cryin shame for a kid so young to loose his life. I think people (especially in my line of work) don't think much about being shocked by low voltage AC. The insulation on the wire was compromised and he might have forgot or turned off the the breaker. Even if he had a pair of leather gloves on he'd be here today.
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:46 PM   #6
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Re: GFCI Tripping

Thanks guys for your help, pulled the GFI and disconnected the downstream outlets. All worked fine, started testing each outlet, then the GFI began to "buzz". Pulled the downstream outlet wiring out, re-tested GFI, still "buzzed". Purchased a new GFI thinking I now killed the old GFI. New GFI is still "buzzing". After a little research, looks like I might have a floating neutral? Not sure what now. Any additional suggestions?
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Old 07-21-2011, 01:04 PM   #7
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Re: GFCI Tripping

check neutral to ground and make sure that you do not have a neutal wire grounding. Then make sure all connections are on the right points on the plugs along with each circuit using the correct neutral.

Should be easy to find in a van with simple wiring.
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:05 PM   #8
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Re: GFCI Tripping

You might want to pull the inverter and anything AC that's tapped into the 110 system and re-check as well.

From there I'd try pulling the breakers and look at all the neutral connections at the breaker panel in the van. Make sure everything is clean and all the connections are tight. Sometimes breakers can track with moisture and dust. Make sure everything is clean and dry.

I wonder if you might have a hot ground. The neutral and ground wire should be tied together and with all sources off, you should get full continuity between them. With everything isolated there should be no continuity between the hot leg and the neutral.

(also I assume you're sure the AC polarity is correct)
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:55 PM   #9
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Re: GFCI Tripping

This is good but the only place the ground and neutral should be connected is at the service entrance of the panel you're plugged into into. Never after that.




Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
You might want to pull the inverter and anything AC that's tapped into the 110 system and re-check as well.

From there I'd try pulling the breakers and look at all the neutral connections at the breaker panel in the van. Make sure everything is clean and all the connections are tight. Sometimes breakers can track with moisture and dust. Make sure everything is clean and dry.

I wonder if you might have a hot ground. The neutral and ground wire should be tied together and with all sources off, you should get full continuity between them. With everything isolated there should be no continuity between the hot leg and the neutral.

(also I assume you're sure the AC polarity is correct)
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:54 PM   #10
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Re: GFCI Tripping

Well I haven't looked but the neutral and ground should be all connected at the vans breaker panel like in any typical electrical panel. I also suspect the vehicle frame is attached to the ground as well. I could be wrong but that's how it's done in a mobile home trailer. RV is different?
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