Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Little Glitch

Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 94, low 78)

Boy has it been hot in Florida.  We haven’t had any rain since Tropical Storm Debby left, and I don’t mind, except without the normal daily storm clouds, it just gets too hot. 

We had a little glitch yesterday that concerns me.  I wanted to get some opinions.

We have a Progressive Industries portable voltage and surge protector.  It’s plugged into the power pedestal, and our motorhome is plugged into the surge protector.  If there is a problem at the pedestal, like low voltage, high voltage, a reverse polarity, open ground, etc, it shuts power down to the motor home.  It is supposed to protect the motor home from damage.


Anyway, it was very hot yesterday afternoon.  Both a/c units were running, the dryer and tv were running plus a few lights.   I turned on the hair dryer and after a few seconds, it made a sound like it lost power.  I thought the plug had started to come out a little, so I pushed it back in and it seemed fine after that.

A few minutes later we thought it was getting hot, but since we had both showered, we figured it was because of that.  A few minutes later we realized we had a problem. 

It’s very difficult in our motorhome to know if you have lost power because most every thing runs on 12v. The tv was still running, lights were running and the a/c appeared to be running, because I could hear the fans.  After further checking, we noticed no cool air was coming out.  The inverter was supplying battery power, but not enough for the a/c.

Al went out to the power pedestal and checked the surge protector.  It normally has red lights that give you the status of the power.  The surge protector was dark.  No error codes, and no lights in the display.  He flipped the circuit breaker and the power was restored.  He didn’t see an error code on the surge protector.

So…..we were thinking we were using too much power and it caused the problem.  

After talking with David,  he mentioned that the surge protector should have cut off power and we should have an error code.  We didn’t.   It appears the power pole lost power.  He thought the surge protector should have cut off the power, instead of the circuit being tripped on the pedestal.

My question is:

Did we cause that by using too much power all at once?   We have 50 amp, but we were definitely running a lot of high power items at the same time.

My worry is:   the cats.   What if this happens when we’re gone.  The motor home got very warm, very quickly.  

We are supposed to go scalloping with some friends on Friday.  It will be an all day trip, so I’m naturally worried.   Al thinks I worry too much, but my thinking if it happened once, it could happen again.  I realize we won’t be using that much power when we’re gone, but was is related to me running too much at once?    Shouldn’t the surge protector shut itself down and reset, instead of it causing the pole to trip a breaker?   Isn’t that what the surge protector is supposed to do?

I am realizing we should have called Progressive Industries yesterday.  They have wonderful customer service, but I doubt they will be open today, since it’s a holiday.

So….one more thing for me to worry about.


  1. I don't believe the EMS would stop (trip) if you are using too many volts - you should have tripped a circuit breaker instead. They are for voltage coming into the RV and are essential in my opinion.

    Hair dryers are the biggest "problem" in RV living. We frequently trip the breaker on the inverter if my wife uses the dryer with too many appliances running. As a rule, she tries to turn off most everything when using her dryer - including the AC!

    You have a few days to see that all is well, before your Friday outing. Use only one AC when gone and open a window in the bedroom. If power fails the cats will find that open window if needed. That's what we do and I am comfortable our precious "Bella" is OK.

    Good Luck and Love the Kitties!

  2. I agree with Paul to many things running to use the hair dryer... After 8 years of full timing we keep a close watch on the power ~ sometimes I have to turn off one thing to use another just so tripping the breaker doesn't happen.
    Hope everything is far as electric for the pets there is something you can buy and have installed that would turn on your generator if you have a power failure while gone so that the air stills works... not sure of the details but reserch it. I told my husband I would like that...

  3. Hi ~ it's me again... The weather on this trip has been beautiful except the rainy days but we use them as rest days... The highest we've seen is 82 here in Bangor but mostly it is around the high 70's. My kinda weather... You will love it here in New England and so far all our parks have been GREAT!

    1. My kind of weather too. Wish we were there!

  4. Karen...Paul is right...he HATES my hair dryer.
    I can't help you with your problem, only make a suggestion. Did you go to the office and ask if anyone else has had any problems with the electric? We had a low voltage problem once and the office told us their...I think they said...electrical box is being taxed. It was a very hot week where we were also. Just a suggestion. Hope you get it all in order quickly.
    Love those cats!

  5. Hey Karen... I read your post aloud to Steveio.

    Good thing you have your EMS surge protector!

    1. Sounds like the power problem was with the park, not with you. (same thing happened here last night in our park) too many folks drawing too much and often park wiring is usually not sturdy enough for everyone at full blast.

    2. If it had been YOUR fault, the EMS would have shown a code. Yes, your DC 12 volt things will still work from the batteries when the AC household current is halted.

    3. I am not sure if your model of EMS has an auto reset timer built in, but ours waits 2 minutes and 16 seconds before restarting if it ever does have a fault or a problem at the pole. The delay is to protect your air conditioner compressors.

    4. Running one air and an open window for the cats is a great hint, if you are worried about it happening again. Hopefully by Friday your park will have figured out it's problems.

    5. I also turn off other big drain items before using my hair dryer, but Steve said hair dryers should only draw no more than 15 amps. Its the total amp draw of everything in use at one time that causes problems.

    6. It's probably too many people upstream of you drawing a lot power too that is causing problems with the park power as a whole. He don't think you caused the outage.

    Right now, we are in a park with only 30 amps and the power kept kicking on and off last night at the pole, not from us inside. Our EMS didn't show any codes either. Steve used a tester on the pole that showed no power at the outlets on the pole. To make due while plugged into 30 amp power in weather like this, we switch our fridge over to only propane mode (not the auto switchover back to electric mode). Make sure if you have an electric water heater that you have that off too or on propane. Don't leave unnecessary items plugged in drawing power like charger cords or appliance that draw even when turned off, like tv's and dvd players. Everything you can do to diminish the draw will help ensure your AC is still running.

    Hope that helps!

    STAY COOL!!!!

  6. I don't have one of those power gizmo's so I can't offer an opinion on that. Interesting read though. I do have a small plug-in gadget that I can use to do an initial check of the power pedestal in a park to make sure of the voltage and open ground stuff. It seems to do a good job.

    Have a great 4th of July!

  7. Wish I knew more, Karen, and we only are a 30 amp rig, but I do know that my hair dryer will cut the power if I have anything else on. I am very careful when I use it. We can run the microwave, air conditioning and tv all at once, but if I turn on the hair drying it blows the circuit and we have to reset. I have to go back and save Karen's comment....lots of information there!

  8. Just bought a 30 amp EMS from Progressive but have only used it at home. So far, so good. Hope you get it figured out soon.

  9. The thing I don't get about what happened to you is why it didn't just flip your breakers if it was an over draw of power. Does seem like you had a lot going. We only have a 30 amp so we're used to the switch em game. One AC & Microwave but not hot water heater for instance. Two AC & Hot water heater but not MW.

    Our progressive has saved our appliances numerous times. I would never be without it.

  10. My progressive surge protector saved my a/c last year. But yes, the circiut breaker tripped every time. The surge protector saved my rig's electrical system from power surges. I have a simple old type of roof air conditioner that is manual, so when power goes off & gets restored, it comes back on.
    I do try not to run my vacuum while running the a/c though. Of course, I have a smaller rig with only 1 a/c.
    I'm thinking that maybe you just over taxed the power, but like someone else said, ask at the office if this has been an issue in the past.
    Happy 4th!

  11. Eldy and I think you were using too much power and pushing your 50 amp service to the max. Each one of the AC's pulls 20 amps, hair dryer pulls a lot of amps, we think, no doubt you were maxing out the 50 amps with everything you were running--especially if the fridge happened to kick on during that time span as well. Eldy always shuts off the inverter when using shore power so he knows when the pedestal has been tripped. Just our two cents worth. :-)

  12. Hi Karen, from your description I understand that the breaker at your pedestal was tripped and when it was reset your power was restored. The breaker's job is to limit the amount of amps flowing to your MH it has no bearing on the level of the voltage being supplied. It looks like you you were using too many items at the same time and the hair dryer was the one that put the final load over the limit of the breaker or maybe the water heater turned on at that time causing it to trip. The primary function of the surge protector is to limit voltage within a safe range so as not to damage your appliances. In your case it looks like the voltage stayed within the safe zone it was the current/Amps that went too high. The breakers function is to limit the current to prevent the wiring from being loaded beyond its capacity and getting hot and causing a fire or the wire to melt. The function of the surge protector is to limit the voltage because if the voltage is too high or too low your appliances can be damaged. It looks like everything worked the way it was supposed too. I do not think you would leave your MH with the dryer and hair dryer running which is a considerable load so the cats should be OK.

    1. Thanks Rick. It has never happened before and we have always used whatever electric item we wanted without even a thought. I couldn't simulate the problem yesterday.

  13. Karen "l Agree with Rick he exspland it very well the breakers job is to protect from over amp draw the voltage protection devices is to protect your MH and appliances from big voltage changes that would cause damage.
    I'M and electrician by trade so mabe that will put a little bit of substance in the explanation. Hope you have no more trouble. We understand the worry about the pets have two dogs of our own.

    1. Thanks for the explanation. I feel better, but will probably still worry when we're gone all day tomorrow!

  14. The purpose of the EMS system is to protect your RV from voltage that is too low or too high. It also protects against miswiring where voltage is on the negative wires, etc. It does not protect against too many amps being used. That is what circuit breakers are for. You have multiple circuits in your RV with circuit breakers on each one. If you overload one circuit then the breaker for that circuit will trip in your RV. However you can cumulatively use more amps overall than the power pedestal can provide. Then the circuit breaker on the pedestal will trip. That is what happened to you. Your EMS has nothing to do with this over usage of amps and that is why you did not get a code on it. Your animals should be fine when you are away because you will not be using the hair dryer, the dryer, the electric hot water heater, etc. Just don't go away with these all on when you have the A/C on and you should be fine.


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