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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We haven't been able to use the AC side of our electrical at a campground yet, because both times we tried, we tripped the campground's ground-fault breaker. The system works fine on a non-ground-fault outlet. There is a regular 20-amp breaker in the line.

Suggestions where to look for the problem?
 

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A neutral and ground mixup? Never trust a campgrounds wiring either!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm just parroting what my husband tells me: ground and neutral are tied together at the grounding terminals in the breaker box.
 

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Yes they are BUT any poor ground or ungrounded connection can shunt a signal to ground and trip the GFI. is your system grounded to the chassis? Is the battery grounded? Is the inverter/converter grounded? It should be or the voltage floats which can create a voltage difference between the van and the reference ground the GFI is monitoring.
 

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I'm no electrician but I do know that the grounds and neutrals are typically connected together in a home. All I can tell you is I've never blown a breaker in my conversion but I don't actually have a 110ac panel either. I have an external RV type receptical outside my van that I connect directly to to the campgrounds power post with a grounded extension cord. It then feeds to a gfi inside the van that is in turn fed by a dpdt switch that either connects the gfi to either the gfi on the inverter or the gfi on the campground power post. Does that make any sense to you?

I'm sure one of the real electricians or electrical engineers here can explain it better and hopefully solv your problem.
 

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I'm assuming you have tried it out at home and it also trips the gfi? Do you have any actual breakers or only the Gfi inside? I have no breakers in my set up only the gfi.
 

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I'm just parroting what my husband tells me: ground and neutral are tied together at the grounding terminals in the breaker box.
Neutral and grounds should be separated at your panel in your van. By tying them back together at the panel in the van the GFI breaker at campground thinks there is a ground fault . GFI breakers sense leakage to ground and that is what is happening by tying them together in van panel.
 

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i agree but didn't she just said her setup is like mine, just a gfi and no breakers inside the van? My gfi and downstream recepticals are nothing more than an extension of whatever gfi outlet they are plugged into. Actually the gfi in my van is only an added safety in case the extension cord isn't plugged into a gfi to begin with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I must have misunderstood, KOV. We do have breakers. 15 amp breaker for the inverter, 20 amp breaker for straight shore power.
 

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I think falconed is correct. With a meter you can see if there is continuity between neutral and ground in your van. If there is a low resistance you can unplug and disconnect things from system to find the culprit. As long as you don't have them connected in your breaker box that is, if that is a possibility that is the first place to look.
 

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Neutral and grounds should be separated at your panel in your van. By tying them back together at the panel in the van the GFI breaker at campground thinks there is a ground fault . GFI breakers sense leakage to ground and that is what is happening by tying them together in van panel.
That sounds right to me too.

The good news is that it behaves the same way at home, so if you untie the neutral and ground at the 100V panel in the van, you can test it at home to see if the home GFI circuit accepts the new configuration.

Seems to me I googled this a while back and found lots of discussion on this. I also do not have a 110V panel. My outside van plug feeds an inside GFI outlet inside the van, so it's basically a GFI extension cord. Then all my outlets in the van are basically extensions of the outlet at the back of the van. At home I plug into a GFI outlet on the house and it has no issues. Like KOV, no breakers, just a GFI on the incoming line.

Disclaimer... I'm not an electrician, but I played one on TV. (Actually, I taught Electricity classes as a shop teacher in high school for many years)
 

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Actually the term Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is a true MISNOMER!

:laugh:

A GFCI measures the difference between the amount of current going into a tool, appliance, light, etc. via the "hot" wire and the amount of current coming back out on the "neutral" wire. If there is a difference in current, usually 6mA or more, between the two, the GFCI will trip. The ground has nothing to do with the actual function of a GFCI device's sensor. That's why a GFCI will function properly even without a ground wire connected to it (line side).

As far as the ground and neutral wires touching:

Take for example a main panel in which the ground and neutral wires are landed on the same bus bar (they only need to be separated in secondary load centers, outlet boxes, etc. by code). If I install an outlet box directly below the panel and run a green (ground) from the bus bar to the ground screw inside the box and then to the screw on the GFCI. Then run a separate white (neutral) and black (hot) to the appropriate screws on the GFCI, it will work perfectly. This is the line side. However, if the ground, or neutral, or hot wires touch each other in any combination, on the load side, it will trip.

Also, I never install GFCI's when a motor (fridge, washing machine, garbage disposal, dishwasher, etc.) on a GFCI when at all possible because the "start-up" may sometimes cause the GFCI to sense a difference in hot-neutral current. That's why you never see them installed for those purposes and you still pass inspection! However, bath or kitchen counters are different because the primary purpose of these outlets is for "human interaction" convenience which makes it necessary...

There may be a slight current leak within the A/C which is causing the "trip", or the motor may be causing it without any "real" problem with the unit. Also, if there is a GFCI built into the A/C cord itself, sometimes GFCIs don't like to have GFCI's connected to them. Does it have one?

I hope this helps.

P.S. If someone disagrees with me, that's fine. Just use a little tact and everything will be fine ;) lol

 

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I knew an electrician would explain it for us!

Ed and I both seem to believe in the KISS theory tho!
 

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Also, I never install GFCI's when a motor (fridge, washing machine, garbage disposal, dishwasher, etc.) on a GFCI when at all possible because the "start-up" may sometimes cause the GFCI to sense a difference in hot-neutral current. That's why you never see them installed for those purposes and you still pass inspection! However, bath or kitchen counters are different because the primary purpose of these outlets is for "human interaction" convenience which makes it necessary


I just want to say that in the state of MA you must put arc fault and GFCI protection for dishwashers,disposals,microwaves,refrigerators and washing machines or you will not pass inspection. I have had issues with microwaves tripping arc fault breakers and there is nothing I could do as the inspector says his hands are tied.
 

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As a retired custom home builder in MA (for over 40 years) it goes without saying we all know the solution when the inspector says "My hands are tied"!>:D
 

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Think about the motors not having a GFCI when you are using table saws, drill motors, etc. GFCIs keep you from being electrocuted by faulty equipment. If your motor loads are tripping the GFCI, the insulation is failing or faulty. I know that's common but it isn't good. I know Arc fault and GFCI breakers can be PITA but better than being a human voltage tester or arc blast shield. From another electrician that survived (just barely) to retirement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Certainly, every tool in my shop is on a GFI outlet and some of them like table saw and miter saw have heavy start-up loads. One outlet is so finicky it can trip if I don't plug something in just right. If the van will work on that one, I will consider it fixed.

Unfortunately, my husband isn't as anxious as I to get to the bottom of this, so I wait…
 
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