need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

solarpowernovicesolarpowernovice Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭
I have a large travel trailers AC cord plugged into my small portable solar system, when I plug the cord from the travel trailer into my inverter I'm seeing 40 watts on the kill-a-watt meter. Nothing is plugged in and no lights are turned on in the trailer but I'm still seeing 40 watts on the kill-a-watt meter. I took out all of the fuses in the fuse box then turned on the breaker and it still consumes 40 watts.... Is there any way to stop this problem?

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Question: has this trailer got a Voltage converter in it? That is basically a large DC power supply for running 12 Volt devices from shore power, and it would probably be active any time the shore power is connected. It would also likely draw 40 Watts even doing nothing.
  • solarpowernovicesolarpowernovice Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Yes, it does have an AC to DC converter. I want to buy LED replacement bulbs for inside the trailer to conserve energy and I think they are 12v. I'd just like to keep the trailer plugged in while I'm sleeping and it not take 40 watts all night or maybe even find a new converter that takes less than 40 watts and doesn't use power when nothings turned on. What do you think I should do?
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Well the power has to come from somewhere.
    If you want to drain the batteries while connected to shore power (to make use of 120 VAC items) you can find the AC input to the converter and shut it off (it should have a breaker on it anyway). Then you run the risk of the batteries getting too low before you realize it and reactivate the charging.

    My personal preference for RV applications is to remove the converter and replace it with an inverter-charger which is more efficient and eliminates issues that can occur when you try to have both the converter and an inverter.
  • jimindenverjimindenver Solar Expert Posts: 59 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    How old it the Trailer? Newer rigs have control boards for the fridge, water heater, there is a propane detector too. All of them draw power while in use.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    the inverter will draw power even if there is nothing being plugged into the ac side of the inverter when turned on.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    niel wrote: »
    the inverter will draw power even if there is nothing being plugged into the ac side of the inverter when turned on.

    True, Niel. But an OB FX draws half that 40 Watts so he'd be ahead there.
  • TucsonAZTucsonAZ Solar Expert Posts: 136 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    My guess would be the converter too, they really kind of suck! Can you hook it up with a timer? That may allow you to run on battery power without the concern of draining them too low.

    Also, you mentioned LEDs, I bought some and they were a really awful blue, fine for a work light or something but not for a living space. Make sure when you order you buy from someplace that you can read reviews and know that won't be an issue, I ended up buying on Amazon, got it right on the second try and they were $4.40 each in a pack of ten.
  • solarpowernovicesolarpowernovice Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    I think I'm just gonna have to live with the 40 watts when I use power in the trailer because I think you guys are right, its the converter. When I go to bed I'll just have to shut off the breaker so its not pulling 40 watts all night. The trailer is a 1987 model but still in good shape... I went to this place that sells RV's yesterday and they told me it might be a bad solonoid? I have a refrigerator hooked up to my solar system but it will not turn on when in power save mode, only when its out of power save mode and then it takes 15 watts continuously. I'd love to figure out how to get my fridge to turn on when in power save mode because it only draws 2 watts in powersave :grr does anyone know why my fridge wont cut on in powersave? heres my inverter http://www.samlexamerica.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=127
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    You've answered your own question: it only draws 2 Watts. That's the bare minimum to "wake up" the SA and it is probably just below the threshold. Add a small light bulb to the refrigerator's post-thermostat wiring to up the current draw a bit when the T-stat turns on and it should wake up the inverter.

    Not sure what "solonoid" your RV dealer is talking about. He probably isn't either. :roll:
  • solarpowernovicesolarpowernovice Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    oh okay so its not the compressor that tells the inverter to turn on, its the thermostat in the fridge? I am planning on getting a deep freezer that takes 200kwh a year and buying an external thermostat so i can use it as a fridge. I'll have to figure out how to add a light to thermostat wiring next ...lol this project never ends :p does anyone know of an external thermostat that takes more than 2 watts so it will actually pull my inverter out of powersave? I'm having trouble finding one


    if not can somebody post a link that will tell me how to wire a light into the thermostat wiring? I cant find anything.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    oh okay so its not the compressor that tells the inverter to turn on, its the thermostat in the fridge? I am planning on getting a deep freezer that takes 200kwh a year and buying an external thermostat so i can use it as a fridge. I'll have to figure out how to add a light to thermostat wiring next ...lol this project never ends :p does anyone know of an external thermostat that takes more than 2 watts so it will actually pull my inverter out of powersave? I'm having trouble finding one

    A thermostat is just a switch (usually) and does not draw any power per se. (Electronic thermostats notwithstanding.)

    It's more like: the T-stat connects compressor to power, it tries to draw current, the inverter senses the current draw above the trigger level and turns on. When the draw is eliminated by the T-stat turning off the inverter drops back into standby.

    If you add the light in the right place then when the T-stat says "on" the current demand of the compressor + light will be above the threshold for the inverter.

    Note this assumes the refrigerator does not have electronic controls that simply turn off completely if no power is present. My refrigerator works in power save mode because it has no fancy electronics in it (also the Outback has a lot of programmable variables for standby - other inverters do not). I don't use it because the amount of power it saves is miniscule in the course of a day.

    So whether or not the 'frige can trigger the inverter to come out of standby depends on the particular refrigerator and the particular inverter. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and use the power to keep the inverter always on.
  • Mustang65Mustang65 Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Take a look at your RV's power controller. It should be a combined unit with your AC distribution panel. I isolated the AC power lead from the DC charge controller and since my AC breaker panel had a spare slot, I purchased an AC breaker and wired the Travel Trailer's DC charge controller to it. (Just in case I would need to use it in the future). Now the only PARASITIC drain is only the Fridge electronics, CO alarm, radio display, and water heater electronics. Since I installed SOLAR on the Travel Trailer, I have not had to turn on the Travel Trailer's internal converter, and yes it draws between 30 and 40 watts idle.

    Don

    2013 Jayco Eagle 284BHS
    250Watt Grape Solar Panel, MorningStar MPPT 60 Charge Controller
    1500 Watt Ramsond PSI, 2 Trojan T145 Batteries (260Ah)
    2 - AirSight Wireless IP Cameras (used as rear view cameras)
    EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
    MagicJack Internet Phone
    2012 Ford F150XLT, EcoBoost w/3.73
    157" Wheel base, HD Towing Package
  • solarpowernovicesolarpowernovice Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Sorry for not clarifying my setup earlier guys... Right now I am parking my 12v solar system thats in my cargo trailer beside the RV, which needs new tires and hasn't been moved in a very long time. My cargo trailers solar system consists of four 6v batteries, a charge controller and inverter(and solar panels of course). I was thinking I might be able to to run a cable from my batteries, seeing they're 12v, to the 12v breaker in the RV. This way I could just bypass or disconnect the converter in the RV.

    If I did it this way I'd still have to run the extention cord from my inverter(in the cargo trailer) to the AC power cord of the RV in order to use AC appliances in the RV. I'll also have to hook a second wire from the 12v breaker in the RV to the batteries in the cargo trailer(with alligator clips) for lights and the pump. Would this be the best way to do it?
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    My cargo trailers solar system consists of four 6v batteries, a charge controller and inverter(and solar panels of course). I was thinking I might be able to to run a cable from my batteries, seeing they're 12v, to the 12v breaker in the RV. This way I could just bypass or disconnect the converter in the RV.

    If I did it this way I'd still have to run the extention cord from my inverter(in the cargo trailer) to the AC power cord of the RV in order to use AC appliances in the RV. I'll also have to hook a second wire from the 12v breaker in the RV to the batteries in the cargo trailer (with alligator clips) for lights and the pump. Would this be the best way to do it?

    Trying to transmit 12 volts for any distance is not a good idea. And using alligator clips is a really bad idea. Use Anderson connectors if you need a temporary connection.

    If the power center is your cargo trailer, and you need 12 volts in the trailer, perhaps you should lose the converter and just get an inexpensive and efficient 12 volt power supply for the RV. How many amps of 12 volt DC do you need in the RV?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • solarpowernovicesolarpowernovice Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    I am not sure how many 12v amps I will need in the RV as I have not ordered the 12v LED replacement bulbs yet. All I will be using 12v for in the RV is the lights and the pump... I am assuming the pump is a DC pump. I'm not sure if anything else in the RV runs on DC power, but these are the only 12v essentials that I really need.
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Absolutely do not go from 12 volts DC, to 120 volts AC, just to go back to 12 volts DC using the camper's converter. The 40 watts you are seeing is a combination of internal use/loss within the converter, LP detector, charging the camper batteries, fridge brains (if it is a newer fridge; older ones did not need 12 volts... one area where camper technology went backwards in my opinion).

    With the fridge on LP mode and LED lights in place you'll only need a few amps @ 12 volts to run the LEDs, LP detector, fridge brains, and water pump (which is 12 volts, yes). Jump from your trailer to your camper with large-gauge wire (8 or 10) and you'll be good for now.

    - techntrek.... camper expert, RV forum admin.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • ChrisChris Solar Expert Posts: 135 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Furnace fan is also 12 volt DC, mine pulls about 6 amps wile running.
  • PlowmanPlowman Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Re. the phantom load problem, I just measured my 1996 Skyline 5th wheel with a Kill-A-Watt. It draws ~15W when nothing is on or plugged in. I'm assuming this is the CO meter and converter. I have the water pump and fridge running on a separate system not connected to the RV's internal wiring.

    Once I start pulling fuses from the DC distribution panel (where the converter is), that figure goes down. Once all the fuses are pulled but main switch left on, the draw goes down to zero (with occasional bounces to 0.3W).

    40W seems awfully high. Is it possible the fridge is plugged in? But based on what others are posting, maybe some RV converters do draw that much power. Dunno, this is the only RV converter I've owned.

    Re. LED lamps, I recently tested an LED 1141 I got on either eBay or Amazon (can't remember), it draws 0.13 amps. I measured a standard incandescent 1141 at 1.43 amps in the same fixture. LED light is whiter and not as bright, but plenty for an RV, especially if you're running 2 or 3 of them.
  • PlowmanPlowman Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    Sorry for not clarifying my setup earlier guys... Right now I am parking my 12v solar system thats in my cargo trailer beside the RV, which needs new tires and hasn't been moved in a very long time. My cargo trailers solar system consists of four 6v batteries, a charge controller and inverter(and solar panels of course). I was thinking I might be able to to run a cable from my batteries, seeing they're 12v, to the 12v breaker in the RV. This way I could just bypass or disconnect the converter in the RV.

    If I did it this way I'd still have to run the extention cord from my inverter(in the cargo trailer) to the AC power cord of the RV in order to use AC appliances in the RV. I'll also have to hook a second wire from the 12v breaker in the RV to the batteries in the cargo trailer(with alligator clips) for lights and the pump. Would this be the best way to do it?

    I have a very similar set up, living in RV with my solar electric in/on a cargo trailer. But my RV is in full shade, so I had to site my cargo trailer about 100' away. That requires 120V. I just run an extension cord from the inverter into the RV.

    I don't use the RV's internal wiring, I run the extension cord straight into the RV and draw most of my power from that. It would be nice to use the RV's lights, but that's the only thing I miss. I use propane space heaters, the furnace draws way too much power (and is noisy).

    I wired the fridge and water pump directly to an old worn out 12V 150 ah deep cycle battery that I charge with a small AC charger. Not the most efficient system, but it works. My 12V draw is quite low, so I don't have to charge the battery all that often.

    I recently did some calculations and found that using my RV converter instead of the 12V battery would draw a bit more power, but not a lot. I'll probably try it once my old 12V battery gives up the ghost.

    ETA: I second the motion not to use alligator clips. Don't do it.

    I use bus bars on my batteries and Powerpoles on pretty much everything. I love Powerpoles.

    I used to stack everything directly on the battery terminals. This makes for a very clunky system that's a pain to work on. Bus bars are much easier to deal with. I'm happy with my Outback bus bars, really like the screw compression terminals.
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    Chris wrote: »
    Furnace fan is also 12 volt DC, mine pulls about 6 amps wile running.

    Catalytic heater is the solution, used by many off-grid RVs. Quiet and zero amps. Olympian Wave is one option, it comes in several sizes.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper

    Plowman, the fridge will draw over 100 watts AC or DC, for a smaller one. Larger RV fridges won't have a DC mode and will draw much more.

    40 watts is about right for a converter at idle (not currently charging). Mine draws about 35.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • ChrisChris Solar Expert Posts: 135 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    techntrek wrote: »
    Catalytic heater is the solution, used by many off-grid RVs. Quiet and zero amps. Olympian Wave is one option, it comes in several sizes.

    I did look into these......but was told that it wasn't a good idea to run one in a confined space
  • TucsonAZTucsonAZ Solar Expert Posts: 136 ✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    Not sure what "solonoid" your RV dealer is talking about. He probably isn't either. :roll:


    My favorite thing I've read all day! I bet he know's how to fix it and just how much to charge for fixing it though (:
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: need help identifying/stopping parasitic load in camper
    Chris wrote: »
    I did look into these......but was told that it wasn't a good idea to run one in a confined space

    Also an easy solution, keep the vent and a window cracked open to allow some convective air flow. My camper is sealed so well I must always keep the vent and a window cracked when boondocking to prevent moisture buildup, especially in cold weather. Even at 10 F keeping them open a little causes little heat loss.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
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