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RV Battery Wiring with Inverters/Chargers

I had mentioned on one of my threads (Purchasing 46.5 Acres Near Kingman, AZ) that I had the inverter/charger fail on the RV while camping. Its a Prosine 2.0 made by Xantrex and lasted about 15 years so I can't complain. I purchased a new unit from Xantrex and its being shipped. Most of the camping I do is dry or boondocking. RV has 600 watt solar system along with the inverter so it does very well for extended stays off grid. I pulled the old unit out and don't like the way the batteries are wired, so I think that's going to be a redo and relocation of half of them. RV is a 35' Class A that is a very well maintained 18 years old.
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The batteries for the system are 4 GS2 group size or golf cart batteries. I am upgrading to AGM's because they last twice as long, charge faster, discharge slower and have no maintenance. They are still heavy mothers though, about 65 pounds each. The current set up which was not installed by me has the inverter/charger in the storage compartment directly in front of the entry door, where most of the electronics are located. Good protected spot. There are two batteries in the entry step well, along with the chassis battery. There are two more in the storage compartment directly behind the step well. What I don't like about that is all the weight of the batteries is all in one spot, on one side. I also don't like how it was wired. I am going to relocate the batteries in the storage compartment to the driver side storage compartment directly across from the step well. It will even out the weight distribution, and free up valuable storage real estate since that is one of the few compartments you can easily access with the slides out. That part should be relatively simple; get a new battery box that is in line instead of side by side, mount it and install the batteries.

The wiring should be simple as well. The current set up has one in line 300 amp fuse that is located in the step well. The batteries in the step well connect to that fuse lug with a very short length of 4/0 welding wire, all good. The batteries in the storage compartment connect to that same lug with about a 4-5' length of same type/gauge wire that runs along with the main wiring harness for the coach. Not so good as there is nothing to protect that section of wire from shorting. From the 300 amp fuse is another 5-6' length of same type/gauge wire that goes to the inverter. Also not so good as there is nothing to protect that section of wire from shorting and frying the inverter. To make it much safer, there should be two more 300 amp in line fuses, one at the other set of batteries and one just before the inverter. The wiring from both battery locations should meet at that fuse with a short length of wire to the inverter. The relocated batteries will have the wiring inside the storage area, since its a full width pass through type compartment. I can use the existing wiring from the step well battery location that already goes to the inverter location for that half.

I found everything on eBay, can't believe how much wire has gone up in the past few months. $4 a foot for 4/0.
 


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Mbrooks420

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If you have cause you be in there working I might tin them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

I’ve installed 1,000s of 120v-480v circuits in spring terminals and have never seen anyone tin a solid wire. If they were stranded I’d be mildly concerned.
 


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BKennedy

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I think they might say to tin them in part for retention and also because this inverter/charger is used in marine applications. I did a couple practice runs on some scrap solid copper wire and realized how easy it is to tin them, so I am going to go ahead and do it so I don't think about it anymore. I am also going to solder the stranded wire for the box ground wire so I don't have to think about that anymore.
 




BKennedy

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The saga continues. I removed all power, then let it sit for an hour or so. I flipped those retainer levers up and could not wiggle the wires out of the holes. I called Xantrex tech support for hopefully the last time. Tech told me there are little holes above the larger holes to wiggle a pick into to release the wires once they are locked down to prevent accidental disconnects. If they were not coming out with a little force they are in there solid and to just leave it alone, so that's what I am doing. Tinning is to aid in retention and doesn't help with conductivity in any way. Should have listened to Mbrooks and not bothered. I am going to call this little project completed.
Xantrex Freedom XC Pro - $1200
Inverter Remote - $80
Battery Temp Sensor - $30
4 AGM 6 Volts - $950
Genset Tuneup - $80

Total = $2,340
Yep, still cheaper than a new RV.
 




Mbrooks420

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Hey, with electricity it’s always better to be safe than sorry if you aren’t sure. I think it all looks solid, and I’m always pretty critical of wiring.
 




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I got these cheap digital volt meters in yesterday so I installed them today. Put a switch in the center to interrupt the ground so I can turn them on and off. Blue for house, orange for chassis. I don't like the "orange" colored meter because its so dim so I ordered the green version. This should work fine for when the inverter is off and its not plugged into shore power as a way for me to quickly check the batteries. Its at eye level when walking up the steps, perfect place for a quick look when entering or leaving the coach.
Everything on
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Inverter on shore power, meters off
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Inverter off, meters on
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I painted that panel three times today. First with a gray "hammered" look, which looked like crap when against the inverter remote, then flat black, then with this textured gray. I basically decided I was spending way too much time on it and called it good.

I will check the amp draw of the meters when I replace the orange one with green.
 




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I have a question for you wiring geeks.

The RV has 600 watts worth of solar panels on the roof. They feed through a Renogy controller to the positive / negative terminals of the original bank of battery's location. That was how it was originally wired from the factory and I haven't changed that part. Since both battery banks are connected they both get charged from the panels. I don't think it matters, but my German genealogy is at odds with my Irish side. One is telling me to extend the wires to where both battery bank's cables meet up. The other side is telling me it will make no difference in the amount of charge going to each bank as electricity flows freely through those big 4/0 cables, and to go drink some single malt scotch whisky like a good Irish lad.

So the question is am I right in thinking that it doesn't matter where the solar panel charge wires connect?

The solar panels have 10 gauge wire from each panel to where they meet up on the roof, then 10 gauge down to the controller. The original wires running from the controller appear to be 10-12 gauge wires. I have considered changing them out but its not as easy as it sounds as they run through the body of the RV from a control panel about centered in the middle of the coach. I have had no issues with the wires getting hot or not charging the batteries so I think I am going to leave well enough alone.
 




Mbrooks420

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Where they attach to the circuit should have a negligible difference. The current setup would not concern me one bit.

Think of how dual batteries are typically wired. Often the alternator charges the main battery directly, and then your cables go to the second battery through the isolator or controller, and are often in the trunk with an additional 20 feet of cable.
 




BKennedy

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Now that you mention it, the alternator is connected to the same battery bank as the solar, which is directly connected to the second battery bank. Since all four batteries are identical and purchased at the same time there is no need to isolate them.
 




Mbrooks420

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Now that you mention it, the alternator is connected to the same battery bank as the solar, which is directly connected to the second battery bank. Since all four batteries are identical and purchased at the same time there is no need to isolate them.
Absolutely.
 




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Today I ran the RV generator for about 1.5 hours with the rear AC running for its monthly exercise. I ran it a few weeks ago for an hour after replacing the fuel pump and it ran fine. It ran fine this entire time, so I am fairly certain it was the fuel pump that was flooding the carb after running for about 30 minutes.

When I went inside the RV to turn it off, I could smell burnt wiring. Crap. I shut everything off, including the coach battery disconnect. The top electrical panel was hot to the touch and when I opened it I found this burnt mess. I have no idea why the breakers didn't pop.
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No idea what could have caused this, but I have had the coach plugged into the new inverter/charger for weeks and there was no issue. I don't know if its the generator or the AC unit, or the wiring. At a minimum, I need to replace this entire panel. I remember probably 15 years ago my parents had a burnt wiring issue with this same coach, and it was while they were out at Lake Havasu with both AC's running constantly.

This panel only services the incoming 50 amp, water heater and both AC units. The microwave, fridge, entertainment system, etc., all are off another panel that goes through the inverter/charger. The orange romex on the right in the box also goes to the inverter, but its also the least effected wire.
Lower panel
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Rick

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It looks like there is a lot of corrosion on the ground buss screws and wires. Were any of the screws on the fried wiring loose? Our generators inverter smoked some wiring when one of the terminals shook loose. Once it's loose it starts arcing and melting wire.
 




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The grounds are corroded, I am thinking of replacing the entire panel and seeing if it acts up again. I didn't see any loose wiring, but that's possible.
 




Mbrooks420

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A burned neutral wire is almost always due to arcing because a connection loose, or a poor high resistance connection.

I’d replace the ground and neutral busses at a minimum , or toss in a new panel like you mentioned.

I’d guess it was a long term “overload” that was close to the breakers rating allowing the wires to slowly overheat, if it wasntv
 




tdavis

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orange = 30 amp NM
yellow = 20 amp NM
white = 15 am NM.

Corrosion killed it. When you put it back together, see about using this; water is getting in there, and staying.

Amazon product
Hopefully, there's enough wire below the box to cut and pull up..
 




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Rick and Brooks were right, the first white wire was loose in the socket, and it was also the most fried. I think that, and corrosion killed it. I was going to post that I don't see how moisture could be getting into there because its in the center of the coach, but then realized its mounted behind the shower enclosure and the shower drain vent is directly behind it. You can see it in the last picture. Its not wet back there so no leaks, but it would create condensation. I'm going to have to run the shower with the access trim panels removed to make sure.

Its strange that the lower box is showing zero corrosion, and the upper panel is a mess. The upper box is only four years older than the lower box. The lower panel was installed when the Xantrex Prosine 2.0 was put in there and it was 15 years old when it went bad, which is the reason I started this thread.

I sure hope there is enough wire to cut and pull up. I can lower both boxes a few inches if there isn't.
 




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Looks like I can get the same box and all the other parts through Home Depot shipped to the house for $125. I went out and looked a few more times and I can lower that top box 1 inch without any modifications to the cabinet, and 3-4 inches with a little trimming of a support piece, which should give me plenty of clean wire.
 




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I removed the box and cut the wiring off at the melted parts. I will definitely need to drop the new box a few inches. I need to cut out a piece of wood that blocks it from dropping into the lower part of the cabinet. One thing about these Dolphin coaches is the cabinet work is very nice. The breakers all appear to be functional so I will keep them for spares.
Labeled all the wires from left to right and took a bunch of pictures.
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In this pic you can see that inside piece I need to cut out without damaging the facia so the box can drop down. Worst case scenario is I will cut out that entire cross piece and remount it lower down.
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I reached way back under the shower and there is no moisture back there. I will run the shower for a while and recheck before I install the new box.
 




Mbrooks420

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I’m sure square d makes a version of these that would be less prone to the corrosion, and wouldn’t technically need the anti-corrosive paste since there wouldn’t be dissimilar metals.
 




BKennedy

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While I was pulling everything apart I noticed all of the corrosion is at or above the common (white) lead bus bar. I think that one wire was loose and was causing heat over a long period of time whenever I used the rear AC, which caused smoke and the corrosion. It could have been like that for years, but I don't remember smelling the burnt wiring. The breaker mount was melted above the breakers. Everything below that bus bar is clean, except for the melted part that was in contact with the bar, like there is a line drawn across the box. You can see the ground wires have surface corrosion at that same point and up, but everything below looks dry, clean and shiny. Even the breakers appear untouched. I am not sure that any moisture was getting in there, but I am going to brush on some of that stuff Tom recommended.

I rarely use the AC, I think I have ran it three times in the past few years. Last year I was using it in June for five days straight when I was at a RV park looking at property in Kingman. When I was back in AZ in April I ran it while plugged in at a RV park. I actually left it on and went out for the day both times, could have burnt the coach to the ground. The next trip in May I was camped on my property and that's when the generator and inverter were both acting up. I tried to run the generator and use the AC just to cool the coach down in the middle of the day, but the generator would surge and shut off after about 30 minutes. I did a tune up (plugs, air cleaner, oil change) on the genny when I got home and ended up replacing the fuel pump because I think once it got warmed up after about 30 minutes it was pushing too much fuel pressure. Its a issue with these older Onan's. Inverter took its last breath, which is the reason I started this thread.

I got that wood cross piece out mostly intact. After I install the boxes where they need to be for the wire I have left, I will glue that back in.
 


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