Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector) - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 06-18-2011, 11:55 PM   #1
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Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

I have read some interesting stories on how bad the power in some campgrounds can be. Campers have experienced reversed hot and neutral lines, 220 volts on a 110 volt circuit, low voltage, plus a whole lot more. The result is usually damaged air conditioners and any electronics that are plugged in are often fried. There is an interesting thread here that describes a few people’s experiences: http://www.heartlandowners.org/showt...-Power-Testing and there are lots more out there.

Although I never stayed in campgrounds with electrical services with our old trailer, I can certainly see it happening in the future now that I have a spiffy new Escape 19 that can actually make use of the power. Rather than wait to personally experience problems, I installed a Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C power monitoring system http://www.progressiveindustries.net/ems_hw30c.htm in my new trailer. It is rated at 120V/30A and is supposed to protect the trailer’s electrical system from: surges, high & low voltage, reverse polarity, open neutral, open ground and AC frequency variations. The voltage, frequency, and current draw of the trailer are shown on a remote display. This unit is probably overkill, but I do love my electrical gadgets and this one should provide hours of amusement as I watch the monitor.

The installation was fairly easy and only required buying 3 ft of 10/2 cable in addition to the Electrical Monitoring System with remote display. I cut the main power wire going from the shore power cord receptacle to the breaker panel and wired it into the input side of the EMS. Then I used the piece of 10/2 cable that I had bought to wire from the EMS box to the breaker panel. The original wire might have reached, but I didn’t even bother trying since I dislike having to work with wires that are almost long enough.

I had Reace install a 25 ft communications cable for the remote monitor from the “electrical room” to the cupboard above it when he built my trailer. Unfortunately, the remote didn’t work with the 25 ft cable so I replaced it with the 15 ft cable that came with the remote. It reached, but there was very little slack left over.

The first picture shows the EMS installed under the dinette bench. The second picture shows the remote monitoring panel installed above the dinette bench. The top monitor is for the EMS, the second one is for my Xantrex charger/converter, and the bottom one is a battery voltage display. I will cover the lower two in another post at another time. The switch on the monitor allows me to bypass the EMS in case the unit is damaged.

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File Type: jpg EMS-monitor.jpg (38.7 KB, 193 views)
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:23 PM   #2
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

Sounds like a good purchase.

You mention an open neutral, this is not normaly talked about but is a real devil on electronics if you are plugged into a 220 volt outlet.

Last time I had this problem was many years ago in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut (NWT)

Doug
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:39 PM   #3
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

I really like the idea of the electric monitor but I'm afraid it's out of our price range. I do, however, plan to install analog battery voltage and current meters. I'd be worried that the voltage requirements of the digital versions (5-7vdc) would put an unnecessary and constant drain on the battery, unless a meter bypass circuit was incorporated.

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Old 06-20-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

Quote:
Originally Posted by NuthatchBC
I do, however, plan to install analog battery voltage and current meters. I'd be worried that the voltage requirements of the digital versions (5-7vdc) would put an unnecessary and constant drain on the battery, unless a meter bypass circuit was incorporated.

Doug
The digital voltmeter that I'm using only draws 13 mA which is probably less than the self discharge rate of the trailer battery. The meter is one of the Murata DMS-20PC series and I bought it online from Mouser Electronics. I just looked at their online product listings, http://www.murata-ps.com/cgi-bin/cd4...N/Catalog/1013, and I see that they also make a DC ammeter with external shunt in the DCA5-20PC Series that only draws 10 mA.
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:48 PM   #5
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

Harold,

That looks like a good insurance policy for $300, and you get hours of entertainment also! I tend to over gadget everything I own, but you can never have to many gadgets!
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:51 AM   #6
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

Harold, how did you determine that you would purchase/install the 30A rather than a 50A system? What about the portable units? It seems that one problem with those would be accessibility and the potential for being stolen. This is all a bit overwhelming at this point, but your links were interesting and power issues can definitely cause some expensive damage! Thanks for sharing the info!
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:02 PM   #7
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

The trailer only has a 30A service so buying the 50A unit would give no additional benefit. I considered getting one of the portable units but I had the same concerns about theft that you do. Now that the unit is installed, I like that it requires no action on my part for it to do its job. Otherwise, if I were setting up in a rainstorm or were in a rush for some other reason, I might consider not bothering with using the portable unit which would invariably be the one time that I needed it.
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Old 07-05-2011, 03:18 PM   #8
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

I read on one of these blogs about someone who fried his electrics fried by improper connections on the plug. This will prevent that for a nominal fee. You just have to remember to use it! You also can get an adapter 20 to 30 amp with the proper sex.

http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...ductId=3099774

Another hint, always run the water from your water hookup before connecting. I ran some into a container and was astounded to see several insects swimming around!!
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:54 PM   #9
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger C H
I read on one of these blogs about someone who fried his electrics fried by improper connections on the plug. This will prevent that for a nominal fee. You just have to remember to use it! You also can get an adapter 20 to 30 amp with the proper sex.
http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...ductId=3099774
Harold, what would be missing by using one of these to check the current beforehand, or perhaps one of these from Camping World (http://www.campingworld.com/shopping...k-shield/18337).
Convenience for sure, because you would have to consciously use it, but what else?
Thanks (for all those electrically compromised who would never attempt to install the one you put in)
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:20 PM   #10
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Re: Electrical Monitoring System Installation (Surge Protector)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HokieEscape
Harold, what would be missing by using one of these to check the current beforehand, or perhaps one of these from Camping World (http://www.campingworld.com/shopping...k-shield/18337).
Convenience for sure, because you would have to consciously use it, but what else?
As far as I can tell, all that is missing is protection from low voltage (also known as a brownout, caused by everyone in the park is running their air conditioner and the service not being able to handle it), and AC frequency variations. The $8 device that Roger mentioned detects wiring errors and does a lot for what it costs. The surge protector from Camping World protects against voltage surges, usually caused by lightening striking a power line, and also protection against ground faults. Surge protection is actually quite inexpensive to provide and most power bars for computer have it built in so the cost must be in the ground fault and waterproof features. I think that the brownout protection is the one feature that is missing from these two units combined that is the most important. I would suggest that you should get the $8 circuit tester for sure and leave it at that if your budget is tight. If you want more protection, I would recommend buying the LCHW30 http://www.lawrencerv.com/proddetail.asp?prod=LCHW30 which is just like mine but without the remote display for $219 with free shipping.
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