Help troubleshooting converter/wiring on battery power

Discussion in 'Wiring' started by Tasmin, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    SOLvED (See below and whole thread) Help! I took out my 2002 Rockwood Popup with a Centurion Converter this weekend and there was suddenly no power from the battery. Was fine last month and every other time. Zero power. Not even the CO detector has power. Help me diagnose please?

    Diagnostics:

    · Kitchen is up, kill switch is not depressed, tapped it anyway, not it (also see readings below to confirm I think it is working)

    · 6 mth old battery that I bought and have cared for on a trickle charge, multimeter says its fine 12.8

    · Replaced inline battery fuse at Positive terminal – not it

    · Flipped the AC breakers just in case – not it (although I have only run it on plug in power once last year, I only use battery and dry camp usually)

    · And no reverse polarity issues, at least anytime in the last few months, I know which is which

    · Replaced all converter fuses in front – not it

    · Reset GFCI test/reset – not it

    · Multimeter Readings:

    o MAIN: Black pos wire from battery comes up into cabin, connects to red wire via wire nut bundle, fuse hole reading is 12.8 – good

    o PUMP: 0 Voltage here with main fuse in – bad

    o LIGHTS: 0.87 voltage - bad, if I tap the kill switch, this goes to 0, so I think the kill switch is operating fine

    o ACCESS: 1.1 voltage - bad

    o (note yes I see that the fuses put in there by previous owner are larger than rating, so I put in 10A fuse to replace it as that was the closest to 8 I have on hand. No change)

    What does all this + sudden issue mean? I would hate to replace the converter to then find out it wasn’t the issue…
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    SOLVED:
    Yay! The winner was replacing the wire from the positive battery terminal to the converter with a new in-line fuse connection as well. The delay over the last two days was the "Amazon prime" two day delay for parts.

    I spent some time today tidying up the grounds with a bus bar, and reconnecting the AC side should I ever need it.

    Through this process I took a crash course on camper electricity and feel like I could even take on some of those mods that I was afraid to previously. I want to THANK all of you for being my tutors and having patience and providing ideas through this.

    For future readers with this problem: Because my tow vehicle connection was set up to charge the battery I think my first step should have been plugging it into that to see if the problem was with the converter. Then it should've been hooking up the converter directly to the battery with an in-line fuse to see if that solves the problem. I think those would've been the best ways to figure out whether the problem was in a circuit like a light or in the converter or in the wiring from the battery to the converter.

    Thanks again everyone!
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  2. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    reloaded pics above
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
  3. austinm48

    austinm48 http://s1174.photobucket.com/albums/r604/austinm48

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    Mine did same found out the plug that went into inverter burned at connector changed 12v comin in to anothwr circuit .... tie batt line coming into the inverter to the light circuit and see what happens all the inverter does is charge the batt .. may have burned the plug with electric lift mine did it because i tried the lift w dead batt
     
  4. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    OK, although I dont have an electric lift, maybe something else burned it. As not a particularly savvy electrical person, can you tell me exactly what you are suggesting - take the red wire out of the input to the converter and instead put it where?
     
  5. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    It is definitely not the converter because it really doesn't do anything when operating from battery.

    Power center breakers and the GFCI have nothing to do with operating from battery.

    You have a CO detector, not CO2.

    You have an open circuit somewhere in the 12vdc system, keep looking.

    Don't forget to also look at all the ground connections, electricity requires a complete circuit.
     
  6. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    Whats the best way to narrow down the circuit? should I just start undoing and redoing wire nuts? I have yet to see a wiring diagram shown on the body of the pop up. Ive only seen general schematics. I will test the ground (bolted to frame from neg battery terminal), are there more?
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
  7. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

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    It's neither a CO or CO2 detector. I'd bet money that it's a propane detector.

    The Centurion converters are know to fail with weird results. Mine failed and I couldn't use anything DC. Replaced it with a new WFCO.
     
  8. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    I think you're dealing with a resistance issue, and the first suspect in such issues is the ground connection. In your "wire enters into the power cabinet" pic I think I see a large black wire and a smaller white wire screwed to the trailer frame. Remove the screw, disconnecting the two wires. Clean the frame around the screw hole using sandpaper or a wire brush until all paint and rust are removed and the metal is shiny.

    You can clean the ring connectors, but I would replace them with new and untangle the wires so the the ring connector can lie flat against the frame without being bent. Based on the pic I would say the black wire would use a 12-10 gauge crimp connector and the smaller wire probably a 14-16. I would also use a new self tapping screw to reconnect the wires to the frame and then hit the completed connection with a good coat of rust resistant spray paint, such as Krylon.

    Normally we would go to the ground connection on the A frame first but because you haven't mentioned issues with the tail lights I think the issue is most likely the connection from the power box.
     
  9. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    OK I will try that tonight. I took that picture from a strange angle and never saw the ground there until you pointed it out. I have been having no issues with the running/tail lights.
     
  10. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    Well I have lots of stuff to update you on – but still not fixed! PLEASE think of what I should try next. I feel like the voltage measurements are trying to tell me something, but I don’t know enough about electricity to know where to go next.

    - Reattached grounds where wires go into the box – showing 2V here, so still a ground issue or broken circuit somewhere right?

    - Reattached wire hanging on by a thread on one side of pump switch circuit – no change

    - REPLACED entire converter – no change!!! I reattached a new WFCO 8725 wire by wire exactly and am still having the exact same issue

    - I checked all the fuses with the multimeter and they are all still fine

    I feel like I have touched pretty much all the wires at this point and can redo any connections, but I have no idea what to do.

    Readings at the Converter are:

    - Accessories – 2.0 V

    - Lights – 0 V

    - Pump – 0V

    - Power red wire – 12.8V

    A – are the voltage readings telling me that the issue is in the accessories line or NOT in the accessories line. If in the accessories line, the main thing I found is the line to the toilet flusher which reads 2.0V all the way to inside which MAY have been ‘splashed’ after we emptied it at the campsite around the time the power cut out. So I feel like this is a strong contender, but how do I check this theory.

    B – aaaack! What next? We are leaving Saturday for Labor Day and I would really like power and water.

    Thanking you in advance.
    [​IMG]
    Main diagram
    [​IMG]

    Switch [​IMG]

    ground [​IMG]

    toilet 1 [​IMG]
    toilet 2
    [​IMG]

    Converter diagram [​IMG]
     
  11. Douggro

    Douggro Active Member

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    Something tells me to start with disconnecting the 120V pigtail lead to the converter and the green 120V ground to the chassis. Grasping at a straw here, but I'd want to remove that side of the equation during troubleshooting. Have we established whether this is an auto-switching converter?

    Isolate your circuits during testing as much as possible. Keep your MAIN fuse in and test each fuse circuit individually. Try your LIGHTS and PUMP circuits first.
    I'd also check for circuit integrity to and through the kill switch on the galley - I think that would essentially kill all your power if there's a problem in that circuit or the switch itself.
     
  12. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

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    Yes the wfco 8725 is auto switching.

    I am surprised that your converter has a direct connection to the frame for the ground. I have installed 8700 series converters and have always had the ground connected to the ground bar in the AC side. In fact that is the installation instructions from WFCO. I do not think the white wire should be connected with the ground. Disconnect it and see what happens.

    Here is a link to the installation wiring for your converter.

    http://wfcoelectronics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/4-3_Installation-Manual.pdf

    You can see that the white wire coming out of the converter is supposed to go to the AC neutral terminal bar. Did you wire the converter this way? Is that white wire coming directly out the back of the converter?
     
  13. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    when you probe red converter wire/fuse, 12.8vDC, what are you probing with the other probe?
    When you probe ground, 2vDC, what are you probing with the other probe?

    When you probe the fuses, 2vDC, 0vDC, 0vDC, what are you probing with the other probe?
     
  14. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    In addition to Rabirds questions, when you test the light and pump circuits, are the switches on or off

    If you haven't done this already, remove the negative wire from the battery post, with the meter set to DC 20 volts, hold the + probe of the meter against the ring eye of the battery negative wire and the - probe to the negative battery post and record the reading. With the negative wire still disconnected, scrape the paint off of a spot on the A frame until you have bare metal, hold the + probe to the bare spot and the - probe to the battery post, do you get the same reading?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  15. Douggro

    Douggro Active Member

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    Post-posting investigation got me that it's auto-switching. ;)

    Just to clarify something for Tasmin on the point you raised, the three wires coming from the 12V side of the converter (black, white and green) should be wired as indicated in the instructions that you linked. Running the white wire from that group to ground is incorrect: that's the Neutral wire for the 12V converter and should go to the 120V Neutral bus bar in the converter.
    In theory, this could cause the converter to switch to 120V operation mode if there is sufficient current on the ground of the 12V side coming through the improperly wired Neutral feed to the converter. I wouldn't think that 2V would be enough, particularly on the neutral side, but... :confused: weird stuff happens.

    The 12V side of the converter should not be providing any grounding to the 12V circuits: that should all be provided from the common chassis ground from the battery.

    Checking voltage on any of the 12V circuits, including the fuses at the converter, should be done with the Negative probe connected to chassis ground or the Negative side of the battery.
     
  16. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    Thank you so much for your continued input on this. I spent all day out there trying to isolate the issue in 105F heat. So this is what I've done and what I still need to do:

    Theseus, Douggro & all
    -the white wire from the converter seems like my most promising lead, pun intended. Since the installation instructions were pretty basic I did a step my step re-connection same as my old converter so I didn't cross any wires. However there IS a white wire coming out of the back of the DC side along with the colored ones and power red. There is another ground from the DC into the AC side that was already wired into the converter to start. Here's a picture of the inside of the AC when I was connecting it. Looks like on my old converter the white from the DC went into a ground bar on the body of the converter. So I will try to connect the white through a hole in the back of the AC side and plug it into the ground bar in there?

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Rabird: when you probe red converter wire/fuse, 12.8vDC, what are you probing with the other probe? I am putting one poker of the multimer in the left fuse hole and one in the right fuse hole of the power fuse in the front of the converter DC side
    When you probe ground, 2vDC, what are you probing with the other probe? I am under the camper piercing the black wire from + battery into the converter and the ground screw connected to the ground out of the converter
    When you probe the fuses, 2vDC, 0vDC, 0vDC, what are you probing with the other probe? one poker of the multimer in the left fuse hole and one in the right fuse hole.
    I dont currently have a wire long enough to connect directly to the battery, but I could go buy one if I should

    In addition to Rabirds questions, when you test the light and pump circuits, are the switches on or off - I realized they need to be on to get a reading, but they are all less than 2V when switched on

    SteveP: remove the negative wire from the battery post, with the meter set to DC 20 volts, hold the + probe of the meter against the ring eye of the battery negative wire and the - probe to the negative battery post and record the reading. With the negative wire still disconnected, scrape the paint off of a spot on the A frame until you have bare metal, hold the + probe to the bare spot and the - probe to the battery post, do you get the same reading? I will try this tonight after trying to move the white wire

    Douggro: Isolate your circuits during testing as much as possible. Keep your MAIN fuse in and test each fuse circuit individually. Try your LIGHTS and PUMP circuits first. Yes, I went so far as unwiring inputs (removing live + ground from the wire nuts per item) to see if I could find 1 bad circuit, but no change
    I'd also check for circuit integrity to and through the kill switch on the galley - I think that would essentially kill all your power if there's a problem in that circuit or the switch itself. I went so far as just wiring the lights past the kill switch to by pass it for the purposes of experimentation (I would put it back), but no change.
     
  17. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    In the picture of the wf8725 there are 3 wires that come from the converter, a black, white and green
    These are 120v wires and how the converter gets 120v power. Black to breaker, white to neutral bus and green to ground bus. All 120v circuits will have 3 wires a black to the breaker, a white to the neutral bus and a ground to the ground bus.

    There is another set of wires for the 12v circuits, one is white, it is the negative for each circuit and also common ground. This is how 12vDC - completes the circuit, via the frame.

    On the back of the converter, with the + poker, poke the junction of the black battery + wire (where it joins the red) and with the other poker probe the white wire (there should be several 12v- wires, one to ground), you should see battery voltage. Do the same with blue, yellow and green + 12vDC wires using the white 12vDC -, each set should show batt voltage.
     
  18. Douggro

    Douggro Active Member

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    Okay, I see the source of some confusion.. the white wire that's coming out with the blue/yellow/green/red wires is a secondary ground for the 12V side. That can be safely run to chassis ground and/or act as an independent ground side for a circuit. (Chassis ground is simpler for most instances, but there are applications where getting a good ground requires a separate ground wire feed.)

    Nope, that's not right. The fuse only bridges the FEED to the LOAD side; probing across a fuse or the lugs it sits in should not give a voltage reading. The zero volts readings in that case are absolutely correct. The 12.8 and 2V readings are the anomaly. Getting a voltage reading across the fuse indicates that something is grounding that circuit somewhere. And given that it's not blowing any of the fuses, it's something that's moderating the short well enough to take the load off the circuit. An easy check would be to feel as many wires as you can as they pass through/under/around the trailer: a warm wire indicates a load is there.

    Steve was asking this be done right at the battery box, and it's a test for a direct short to ground that would be energizing the chassis ground (alluded to in my paragraph above). If we've affirmed that the white wire that we were discussing earlier is a secondary 12V ground coming from the converter and it is connected to the chassis ground, disconnecting that white ground wire is not necessary for this test, though it's not going to hurt any either.

    Keep us informed as to how you get on.
     
  19. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    Ok more googling in the amazon reviews of the converter brings me to this. I bet this is THE problem. So I can grab the old bus bar but where do I need to put it and what else do I need to put in it other than the white neg? Right now the negative or ground side of all of the things that connect to my fuses are bundled to the ground that goes to the frame [​IMG]
     
  20. Tasmin

    Tasmin New Member

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    [​IMG] Old converter pics from after removal, but that back bus bar was not directly connected to the frame/chassis. The AC side was and there is a D.C. To AC ground bar internal connection.

    I'm concerned that if I need to connect all my white wires from pump/lights/acc + DC white out + frame ground I don't have enough holes on these. Can I join 2 with a short cable? Am I going down the right track? I looked at ACE and NAPA today for a bus bar and neither had one
    [​IMG]
     

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