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Author Topic: Inverter/Charger Piercing Sound 2008 2551  (Read 824 times)
GeorgeB
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« on: June 22, 2013, 09:54:28 pm »

A little background before getting to the point:  I was dozing while the wife was driving down the highway of life in our PC, so I didn't notice when she took an unexpected off-ramp.  Next thing I know, we're no longer full-timers, but now home-owners and part-time RVers.  All in less that 30 days.

Our base of operations when we started full-timing was the Oregon coast, 90 miles away; our home port is now on the I-5 corridor.  That original base was also where we had paid for RV storage thru Oct of this year; but we were actually storing our non-towable van while out in the PC.  The coach is temporarily there now, making it a little tricky to work on my problem, especially while we're trying to move everything out of storage and get settled in the new abode before hitting the road again.

The coach was in storage for about 16 days when we went by to check up on it, and exercise the generator.  All was fine, except that the house batteries were very low, and wouldn't start the generator.  I finally figured out that if I turned on the ignition, the generator would start (and I could shut off the engine).  During this preliminary exercise, I somehow triggered a very piercing sound.

I've since researched the forums here and found lots of good info, but it does take some digging.  But this is one problem that I haven't seen addressed:

Something in the inverter/charger or the remote panel for it (both Tripp-Lite) started squealing like the proverbial stuck pig for 3 to 5 seconds (actually, it's similar to a smoke alarm sound, which is what I thought it was at first).  This happened a couple of times, and I was never able to determine the exact sequence of events which triggered that sound.  And it was so piercing that I couldn't really locate it's source.  Other obligations meant we couldn't stay and work on this longer.

I have downloaded PDF manuals of units which look exactly like what I have, and no mention is made of any such sounds for either unit.

There seems to be some correlation with the door battery kill switch, which can either start the sound or stop it.  But maybe no relation.

Once the sound stopped, I ran the generator for 20+ min, first with the A/C on (too cold, kept shutting off), then with the heat strips.  Everything else seemed to work fine.

For the record: for the prior 2+ weeks, the battery kill-switch by the door was in the "store" position, and the inverter/charger was set to "line/charge only".  While running the generator, the kill switch was in the "use" position, the inverter/charger in the "auto invert" position.  Obviously, it seems I needed to disconnect the battery.

I'm no diagnostician so I haven't figured this out yet; and this set-up seems to be alien to the repair techs I've talked to (one of the few downsides to living in the Pacific NW?).

If anyone has any insights whatsoever, please pass them along.  Monday (or Tuesday latest), I'll be back at the RV, with tools (didn't have any with me last trip, boy was that dumb).  I was rattled enough that I didn't think to disconnect the battery post, so I may be looking at buying new batteries (I've read Ron D.'s post on this several times -- again -- just a brain cramp); I also appreciate the post on battery types..  Once I've opened everything up, and verified what I have, I'll try to call Kermit.  So even suggestions as to what to ask him would be appreciated.

And apologies for being so wordy, just wanted to cover all the bases.

Thanks,

GeorgeB

--p.s.:  I could find no mention of the audio-style plug connector (which Ron D. refers to) in the downloaded manuals.  I'll check my remote, but which I can get to, but if it's on the back side of the inverter/charger, then I'm in trouble (it's mounted to the floor under the refrig).
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2013, 10:51:19 pm »

George,

I wonder if I too had that alarm go off on one occasion or another.  To determine the exact source of the alarm, the next time it goes off, turn off the inverter using the little switch on the inverter itself.  I seem to recall that our alarm turned out to be the propane gas detector close to the inverter under our bed.

Whenever your motor home is in storage, it is good practice to turn off the inverter using that little switch on it.  That assure no power drain from it.  But for reasons I cannot explain, with the inverter killed and the switch by the entry door killed, I still get a spark when hooking up my batteries.  So there is something wanting 12v power.  It is a very common thing across many brands of motor homes and nobody has a logical explanation for it.

Also when in storage, it is very important to close the valve on the propane tank.  Maybe a small amount of gas is accumulating in your rig during storage, causing that alarm to go off when the interior is powered up.  Just presenting wild ideas here.

BTW:  unscrew your Tripp-Lite wall mount control unit and pull it away from the wall.  You should have two connectors, the audio jack and an oversized telephone jack called an RJ45.  If no audio jack, maybe the previous owner disconnected it already and it is down below there somewhere.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 10:54:56 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2013, 11:49:34 pm »

Good points, Ron.  The propane leak detector is about 12-inches from the Tripp-Lite.  I did double-check the propane valve, it was mostly off, turned just a tiny bit.  Oh, except it happened again after I was done exercising the generator and the propane valve was totally closed by that time, and the coach door had been open during the testing.

But that makes me think of something else:  maybe the propane detector has a battery backup, and it's gone dead?  I'll have to look into that (all the books are in the van, of course!).  And/or maybe that need to be replaced like smoke detectors, etc.

You recommend that the little switch on the inverter be turned off.  On the front of the control panel, there is no on/off switch, just a slider for "auto invert" or "line/charge only".  Exactly which little switch are you referring to?  And other than inconvenience, what's the downside to disconnecting the battery negative terminal while in storeage?

I'll look for those two input jacks.  The 2-page owner's manual I downloaded doesn't make any reference to either that I can see.

Thank you for the quick and helpful reply,

GeorgeB
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2013, 08:02:56 am »

Hi George,

On my 2007 Tripp-Lite, the switch is top-right on the inverter itself.  I have a 3 position switch, the 3rd being "off".  Are you sure you don't have an "off" position?

There is no notable downside to disconnecting the batteries, even the chassis battery.  It is the best practice during long term storage.  I don't do it but that is because our rig stays at home in our garage where I maintain them with a secondary charger at a low 4 amp setting.
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2013, 10:34:11 am »

Interesting thread,,, i'm voting on one of the detecters being bad,,, they are loud when they go off,,, Propane- would it help after closing the tank, make sure all of it out of the lines??/  Is'nt the gas one down by the bed  furnace?? has slight leak... I'm doing this from memory,,, just trying to think of some stuff
GENERATOR-  when in storage, I always  run the engine for 5 to 10 minutes, I saw this on another forum,,, according to the  that post, helps get a quick charge into the coach batteries prior to starting the genie,, just some thoughts, probably not much help
Keep us posted
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2013, 11:21:18 am »

George B

Propane alarm also has a low voltage alarm.  This might be the source of the sound.

Barry
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GeorgeB
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2013, 04:47:50 pm »

Driving over tomorrow to visit the coach.  In the meantime, online searching resulted in thinking that my propane leak detector is a CCI Model 7770, designed specifically for RVs.  Unfortunately, the company went out of business in 2009.  Fortunately, I was able to download the instruction manual (I think I also have one in the rig).

If I do have the CCI 7770, according to the manual it doesn't have a low-voltage alarm, only a warning LED.  I'm pretty sure I haven't seen that warning light.

Also according to the manual, you can test the alarm by using a butane lighter, without the flame, pointed at the detector.  Anyone tried that and lived to tell about it?  Grin

There are some direct replacements being offered, Safe-T-Alert for one.  If anyone has any experience with replacing the propane leak detector, please let me know what you bought, also, how easy was the installation (i.e., a DIY project?).

Thanks again, and cheers and regards to all,

GeorgeB
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2013, 11:38:07 am »

George,

Had what sounds like the same problem (no pun intended) about a year ago.  Ended up replacing the CCI alarm with a Safe-T-Alert one and have had no issues since.  It was about a ten minute job, very straight-forward (had to be for me to do it!).  However, the layout of our 2006 2551 may be a bit different - sounds like it may be a little harder to get at your unit.

Hope that helps.

George (from one to another)
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GeorgeB
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2013, 08:34:12 pm »

Yes, it turns out the screeching sound was definitely the gas leak detector.  It makes that noise when there is either a loss of power, or when power is restored.  Accompanied by a yellow warning LED.  Several months ago, we would get the sound whenever we pressed the "store" button while getting gas, although it didn't make the sound when switching to "use", until this recent incident.   It's mounted under the bed on the driver's side, about 12 inches from the inverter/charger.  Unless you've got your ears right near the detector, down near the floor, it still sounds like it's coming from the inverter/charger.  Strange acoustics in the coach, I guess.  But I will be changing this out before we head out on the road again.

Thanks for the info about the Safe-T-Alert, George.  I forgot to get the CCI model number today, and there are several variations of the 7770, with variations in the Safe-T-Alert replacements.  I'll be ordering one when I know which model to get.

We ended up replacing the coach batteries.  Possibly due to my neglect or inexperience, but definitely beyond hope; but I'm not ruling out a bad battery (at least one very bad cell).

Ron Dittmer:  fiddling with the plug behind the wall-mounted Tripp-Lite remote was more than the wife wanted to deal with, so with the new batteries, we had a cut-out installed, purchased from Napa Auto Parts; it's easily accessible, and meets the requirements of the family-mandated KISS principles.  Because of the battery compartment configuration, it had to be installed on the positive terminals, and they had to account for the fact that the batteries are wired in parallel.  But initial testing indicates that it is working like we want it to.  If anyone is interested, ask me again in 6-months if we're still pleased with this set-up!   Smile

One other point about my inverter/charger:  it doesn't have a plain ol' on/off switch.  It has a 3-position slide switch, Auto-Remote, DC Off, or Charge Only, in that order left-to-right.  It's set for Auto-Remote, been working fine for the past 8-months, so will leave it be.

I really appreciate the pointers to the gas leak detector.  Since the manual didn't mention any audible warning sound, I didn't really look at that as the source of the problem.  Greatly relieved that it's nothing to do with the Tripp-Lite!

Thanks again for all the input, feedback and hand-holding.  It's nice to know we're not alone out here.

Cheers and regards,

--GeorgeB

p.s.-- so now I count 4 George's.  Can't decide if that's good or bad...  LOL

UPDATE re: master "OFF" switch on the Tripp-Lite:  something kept nagging me, so I went back thru the owner's manual I'd downloaded for the PowerVerter MRV DC-to-AC Inverter Charger; I'm guessing/hoping that it is the same as what I have, crawling around on the floor trying to get the m/n was too tough, expecially considering eyesight & lighting.  Anyway, that manual refers to the "Operating Mode Switch" which I'm pretty certain is what Ron Dittmer was referring to, and has the following regarding the "OFF" position:  "OFF (most models)", and "DC OFF (select models)", obviously I don't have a "most model", but a "select model" -- whoo hoo!!  Now we know why I was confused.  But I'm still not changing any settings.  For the foreseeable future, anyway.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 11:57:20 am by GeorgeB » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2013, 10:43:13 am »

George B.
 Good post and good follow up.. hopefully everyone will follow your example and do a final solution so all us can learn. Since I voted on a detector first I get some credit even though I had no ideal what the heck I was talking about hahah,, just kidding...    I have been getting some beeps on my detectors,, I replace all the 9volts,, but will keep an eye on them a little closer..especially since I am that 5year area of age now..
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GeorgeB
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2013, 12:11:45 pm »

George B.
 Good post and good follow up.. hopefully everyone will follow your example and do a final solution so all us can learn.

Plus it will be a lot easier for me to find in the future if the info's all here rather than on my local PC.   Smile

Quote
  I have been getting some beeps on my detectors,, I replace all the 9volts,, but will keep an eye on them a little closer..especially since I am that 5year area of age now..
David Sparks
2008 PC 2350
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I knew that smoke detectors had a maximum 10 yr life, and just read that propane leak detectors should be replaced every 3-5 years.  (Side note:  here in Oregon, smoke, gas leak, and similar detectors must have a 10-year battery if they are not wired to AC power; have gone thru many 10-year batteries every 2-4 yrs.  And they've cost me anywhere from $7 to $10.)

But I do confess that I'm having issues with considering advice/recommendations on propane leaks from someone named "Sparky"!  Grin

Cheers and regards,

GeorgeB
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Accidental Full-Timers 8/2012-6/2013, Now Just RVers
-={carpe cervizi}=-  ...perfecting the art of procrastination...
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