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Monday, October 19, 2009

Excessive Current Usage

I have a 28-foot, 1994 Fleetwood Flair. At the campground, my electricity bill is three times higher than all my neighbors. I may run two lights, a flat screen TV and the refrigerator when plugged in. The batteries are two years old and test good. All the 12-volt runs good. Can my convertor be the problem? I know it’s working but could it be drawing way too much power?
John, (Parker, AZ)

John, I believe you might be confusing the AC with the DC system; the inside lamps would be 12-volt DC while the refrigerator and flat-screen would be 120-volts AC. If your campground bills you for electricity, it would be for the 120-volt AC electricity delivered through the shoreline power cord, not the 12-volt DC produced by the batteries or the convertor. But without more information it would be next to impossible to determine where the excess AC power draw originates. One question I have – are you running any appliances periodically that may be high draw items? This would include excessive use of the rooftop air conditioner, microwave, toaster, hair dryer or curling iron or similar high demand appliances. The best method of measuring current draw on any of the AC circuits is by using a clamp around ammeter. They may be pricey for the typical do-it-yourselfer, but professional RV technicians could not exist without one. It is a current measuring device that simply and easily clamps over the “hot” wire of any AC circuit. It is not necessary to disconnect any wiring. If you can obtain one, the easiest test to perform is at the panelboard distribution box (breaker box). Remove the cover to expose the 120-volt wiring going into each breaker. Carefully clamp the meter around the black wire going into each breaker one at a time. Make sure the clamp closes completely around the wire. The meter will indicate how much current is being drawn for that circuit. Possible causes of excessive power draw are a failing convertor module, faulty rooftop air blower or compressor, incorrectly wired inverter or a short in the electrical system. You’ll want to avoid any potentially dangerous situations.


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