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Old 10-22-2017, 01:50 PM   #1
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System overload?

Not sure what happened this morning, but nothing works from the house battery. We had the diesel heater on then plugged in the tea kettle with the inverter on. Next we started the van. That shut everything down. The house battery has a full charge. It is being charged with the solar panels and also with the alternator. My husband changed the 150v fuse under the driver's seat and checked all the other fuses. We did a soft reset and turned off/on the manual reset circuit breaker to the inverter. Not sure what else to do. Anyone have any insights?
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Old 10-22-2017, 02:31 PM   #2
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I'm just a hack, but the way I troubleshoot is to very consciously shift from:
- "It doesn't work", or
- "Everything shut down"

to
- Identifying specifically which piece of what is not working or is shut down.

In your case, let's go through the major components:
- Air conditioning: is it on or off? If it is on, start by turning it off.
- Exterior 120v power: Are you plugged in to shore power? If so, start by unplugging.
- Engine: runs or does not run?
- House (interior) battery: do you have a volt meter? Can you determine how many volts it is putting out?
- 12v fuse panel: If you have a test light or volt meter, can you determine if you have power to the 12v fuse panel?
- Inverter: Using your test light or volt meter, is there 12v power to the 12v side of the inverter?
- Inverter: Does the inverter turn on?
- Interior 12v lights: Do any interior 12v lights work?
- Fridge: Does the fridge come on when you turn it on?

Don't worry about the questions you can't answer. See which ones you can answer, and we can take it from there. If you don't have a volt meter or a test light, I encourage you to get an inexpensive volt meter, and a 12v test light. It will set you back less than $30 for both, and they are really handy tools.

Have fun with this one...it is a good opportunity to lean something about your rig.
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Old 10-22-2017, 03:07 PM   #3
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Fridge, lights, pump, heater, do not work. We are not plugged in, have no AC unit. Engine runs. We used a continuity tester on the fuses. Inverter does not turn on. No power is going to anything in the back.
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Old 10-22-2017, 03:34 PM   #4
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OK, good information.

Here's the interesting bit: If we start at the battery, there should be one wire that feeds your 12v electrical panel, and a separate wire that feeds the 12v side of your inverter.
- Since none of your 12v items--lights, fridge, etc., are working, that leads us to think that maybe no power at all is getting to your 12v panel.
- But it appears that no 12v power is getting to your inverter, either. Which leads us to think that the 12v power is being interrupted before the power supply for the inverter and for the 12v panel split from each other.
- That probably gets us back to your battery--your "house" battery, NOT your van's engine battery.

Consequently:
The next questions are:
1. What is voltage between the positive terminal of the House battery and ground? For the purposes of this bit of analysis, measuring voltage between the positive terminal and the negative terminal will not give us the information we need. We need to go between the positive terminal and a chassis ground point.

2. When you visually inspect the cables connected to the House battery, do you see anything that looks broken, burnt, or otherwise weird?
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Old 10-22-2017, 04:03 PM   #5
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Thanks for your comprehensive replies. This next step we are unable to do as we have no access to our house battery. This is a new build and we are finding out these flaws the hard way. Since it is Sunday there are no places open to go to have it looked at. We are on a road trip and need to get this dealt with asap.
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Old 10-22-2017, 04:20 PM   #6
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I'm sorry to hear that. There is a reasonable chance that there are one or more large, in-line fuses between the house battery and the 12v electrical panel and/or inverter. It is possible that that fuse/those fuses need to be replaced. But that's just a guess, based on insufficient information.

It sounds like the best thing you can do is find a competent shop tomorrow.

From a philosophical perspective: these vans are quite complex. In a sense, they are like miniature towns, with power generation, electrical grids, water systems, sewer systems, climate control systems...and the whole thing is on wheels. It is a lot of technology to pack into a very small space. Realistically, things will go wrong as you use your van.

Sometimes, things will go wrong due to user error. Other times, parts will fail. But one thing is certain: take all of that technology and all of those mechanical parts, put them in a box on wheels, and shake them around with a couple of people and maybe a dog, and something, sometime, will go wrong.

As you enjoy your van, I recommend that you do your best, in your own way, to learn about how the systems work, and what things you can do to keep them running at their best. We all have different levels of interest, and different levels of skill when it comes to things like this. Only you know what is right for you. But--within the sphere of what you are able to do, and are interested in doing--the more you know about your van's systems, the fewer issues you will be likely to have.

Good luck, and enjoy your travels!
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Old 10-22-2017, 04:52 PM   #7
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The fact that it all spontaneously shut down when the engine was started really does give the impression that indeed a circuit breaker or fuse was overwhelmed and tripped.

(The possibility of a brief spike in voltage (or perhaps rather amps) through the batteries and panel/inverter when the alternator began feeding the system sure seems like a logical avenue to pursue.)

You say there's no access to your house batteries --- how is this the case? Are they mounted underneath the van?

Perhaps worth crawling around and seeing if you can't observe a circuit breaker or fuse that seems associated with the run of wiring between the house batteries and the 12v panel. Glider's assessment seems pretty spot-on to me here.

Batteries charged, solar panels and alternator appear to still be happily keeping em charged, yet no 12v functionality whatsoever = the lines between the batteries and the 12v fuse panel have developed a break somewhere.

Put some effort into finding a possible fuse or circuit breaker in there somewhere.
(Btw - "Don't get zapped," as Mom would say. )

PS: take a couple pictures of your electrical panels and wiring looms for us....ya never know, we might just solve this with ya from our armchairs....
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainBikeRoamer View Post
Put some effort into finding a possible fuse or circuit breaker in there somewhere.
(Btw - "Don't get zapped," as Mom would say. )
Although shorting a 12V wire to ground can make lots of big sparks, there isn't really any risk of getting zapped with 12V. 110VAC from the inverter different story......but nothing on the 12V will zap you.

..and yes it sounds like you have another fuse or breaker between the house battery and the appliances.

You mentioned replacing a fuse in the first post; was that fuse blown? 150V?? did you mean 150A??

What does doing a "soft reset" mean?

When you say "no power is going to anything in the back" do you mean 12V power to fridge and inverter, etc? ..not 110VAC out of the inverter....correct??
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:22 PM   #9
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A good thread to review:
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...lve-13418.html

and the thread that it references:
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ted-13254.html


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Old 10-22-2017, 08:36 PM   #10
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This is a Sprinter, correct? Fresno uses a large stand-alone 12 Volt circuit breaker between the house battery and all 12 volt users, it is typically easy to find and located in the living space in the rear. It is big and obvious, thus easy to see. Austin does this differently, they use a simple toggle switch that matches the other light switches and that runs to a relay, they call it the "main power" switch and nothing 12 volt will work without it being engaged. In my 150 build the relay is attached to the back of the wood panel beneath the rear seat and immediately in front of the inverter.

Who did your build and which style of main 12 volt disconnect do you have? Based on what I have read above, this is where I would start looking. Bad breaker, bad switch, bad relay...
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