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Old 01-24-2021, 05:30 AM   #1
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Lights Flicker With Inverter

Have been working through a Lithium conversion and noticed that when running the inverter my lights are flickering. This happens only when running the inverter, not when on shore power. As part of the conversion I did swap out the converter for a PD4655LIV. Any thoughts on troubleshooting steps? I have the Escape installed GP-ISW1500 inverter.

I'll also note that I don't think I ever ran the inverter prior to the swap to confirm that this didn't happen before or to notice how loud that thing is.
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Old 01-28-2021, 06:30 AM   #2
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Tested the inverter again today with the same result, flickering on all 12v lights. Since both the inverter and shore power flow through the transfer switch it seems logical to me that the problem can't be anything beyond that, meaning the converter is fine. So am I somehow getting bad power out of the inverter?
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:12 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by tacchino View Post
Tested the inverter again today with the same result, flickering on all 12v lights. Since both the inverter and shore power flow through the transfer switch it seems logical to me that the problem can't be anything beyond that, meaning the converter is fine. So am I somehow getting bad power out of the inverter?
Let's start with the basics - your lights are 12v and your inverter has nothing to do with them flickering as it supplies 120v only.

So, when you are not on shore power, the converter is off and all 12v power is being supplied by the batteries. If the lights are flickering, that indicates a wiring problem in the battery circuit. Since you just converted to lithium batteries, that would be the first place I would look for a faulty 12v wiring problem - ie. the places that you worked on last.

Go back and check all the battery connections looking for a connection that is loose.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:12 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by tacchino View Post
Tested the inverter again today with the same result, flickering on all 12v lights. Since both the inverter and shore power flow through the transfer switch it seems logical to me that the problem can't be anything beyond that, meaning the converter is fine. So am I somehow getting bad power out of the inverter?
Your lights run on 12 volt DC. They don't run on 120 volt AC, which is what shore power and your inverter provide.

Most likely you have a bad connection somewhere between the battery and your inverter and distribution panel. When your inverter is running it draws more 12 volt than the connection can maintain.

Similar to the problem encountered here: 2015 Escape 19 battery system fail...and fix

Assuming you have new connections since your lithium upgrade, it is likely a loose connection or poor crimp, rather than corrosion. The result however will be similar.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:51 AM   #5
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Let's start with the basics - your lights are 12v and your inverter has nothing to do with them flickering as it supplies 120v only.

So, when you are not on shore power, the converter is off and all 12v power is being supplied by the batteries. If the lights are flickering, that indicates a wiring problem in the battery circuit. Since you just converted to lithium batteries, that would be the first place I would look for a faulty 12v wiring problem - ie. the places that you worked on last.

Go back and check all the battery connections looking for a connection that is loose.
Ah, somewhere I got the impression that with the inverter supplying 120 it ended up being converted and energizing the 12V side as well similar to being on shore power. Both are supplying power through the transfer switch are they not? How does the behavior change between the two?

Regardless, when on battery with no inverter load the lights are fine.

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Originally Posted by TTMartin View Post
Most likely you have a bad connection somewhere between the battery and your inverter and distribution panel. When your inverter is running it draws more 12 volt than the connection can maintain.

Assuming you have new connections since your lithium upgrade, it is likely a loose connection or poor crimp, rather than corrosion. The result however will be similar.
Yeah, I did put together some new cables. Other than a connection being loose how is a bad crimp identified / defined? I feel like I did a pretty good job there, but clearly there is a problem somewhere.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by tacchino View Post
Ah, somewhere I got the impression that with the inverter supplying 120 it ended up being converted and energizing the 12V side as well similar to being on shore power. Both are supplying power through the transfer switch are they not? How does the behavior change between the two?

Regardless, when on battery with no inverter load the lights are fine.



Yeah, I did put together some new cables. Other than a connection being loose how is a bad crimp identified / defined? I feel like I did a pretty good job there, but clearly there is a problem somewhere.
When on battery with no inverter load, there is not much current going through your battery cables. When you turn on the inverter with bad battery connections, the voltage drop across the battery wiring increases and drops the voltage going to the lighting making the lights flicker.

What type of crimper did you use for the battery cables? A hammer crimper is notorious for making bad crimp connections. I use a 10 ton hydraulic crimper for all wiring crimps larger than 12 gauge. Also, what gauge wire did you use for the battery cables? I install 2/0 for all the inverter battery cables and 6 gauge for the battery to WFCO DC fuse panel.

For the wiring that is smaller than 10 gauge, I crimp the connections using a Klein Tools 1005, solder, and heat shrink all crimp connections.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/Insulated-Non...43605CCK8326KR

Troubleshooting a bad crimp connection is not something I want to do - it's a pain I could do without, so I make sure that all my crimp connections are solid.

So, how do you test a crimp connection? You measure the battery voltage at the batteries, record it, then turn on your inverter with a load and measure the battery voltage at each point from the battery to the WFCO fuse panel. The voltage will drop more than the rest across the bad crimp connection. If all the connections have about the same voltage drop but the voltage at the end device, you are using too small a wire gauge for the wiring run.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
What type of crimper did you use for the battery cables? A hammer crimper is notorious for making bad crimp connections. I use a 10 ton hydraulic crimper for all wiring crimps larger than 12 gauge. Also, what gauge wire did you use for the battery cables? I install 2/0 for all the inverter battery cables and 6 gauge for the battery to WFCO DC fuse panel.

For the wiring that is smaller than 10 gauge, I crimp the connections using a Klein Tools 1005, solder, and heat shrink all crimp connections.
I used that same crimper per your suggestion elsewhere

2/0 for connecting the batteries and for battery --> inverter and 8 gauge everywhere else, used the big crimpers on all of that.

Understood about the inverter load dropping voltage and surfacing the problem. I'm still curious though about the inverter and converter interaction. If it's true that when on shore power the converter is active and powering 12V loads how is it not the same when the inverter is generating current? Just for my education.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:15 AM   #8
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Ah, somewhere I got the impression that with the inverter supplying 120 it ended up being converted and energizing the 12V side as well similar to being on shore power. Both are supplying power through the transfer switch are they not? How does the behavior change between the two?
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Originally Posted by tacchino View Post
If it's true that when on shore power the converter is active and powering 12V loads how is it not the same when the inverter is generating current? Just for my education
When on shore power the 120 volt AC power comes in to the trailer and goes to the transfer switch AND the power distribution panel. Shore power is sent by the transfer switch to the two outlet circuits in trailer. Shore power that goes to the power distribution panel is sent to the other AC loads in the trailer (air conditioner and electric water heater) it also powers the converter which converts the 120 volt AC power to 12 volt DC and runs your trailer 12 volt circuits and charges your battery.

When running your inverter, 12 volt power is drawn from your batteries, to goes to your power distribution panel and your inverter. When you turn your inverter on it goes to the transfer switch which sends 120 volt AC power out to the two trailer outlet circuits and that's it. No 120 volt power goes back to the distribution panel, so NO 120 volt DC power goes to the air conditioner, the water heater or the converter. Since the converter isn't powered, all 12 volt DC power comes from the batteries. It goes from the batteries through the distribution panel and out to the 12 volt DC circuits in the trailer.

edit: Correction, per tdf-texas's wiring diagram the shore power goes through the power distribution panel before going to the transfer switch. The fundamental concepts remains the same.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:29 AM   #9
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I used that same crimper per your suggestion elsewhere

2/0 for connecting the batteries and for battery --> inverter and 8 gauge everywhere else, used the big crimpers on all of that.

Understood about the inverter load dropping voltage and surfacing the problem. I'm still curious though about the inverter and converter interaction. If it's true that when on shore power the converter is active and powering 12V loads how is it not the same when the inverter is generating current? Just for my education.

Thanks for the help!
Maybe this would help. Attached is my trailer wiring diagram. If you trace the wiring going to the +12v WFCO DC fuse panel terminal, you will see that two connections are made to it. One wire is coming from the batteries through the battery disconnect switch and the other wire is coming from the converter.

When on shore power, the +12v circuits are powered from the converter. When shore power is disconnected, the +12v circuits are powered from the batteries.

The inverter only powers 120v circuits that are connected to the transfer switch. Since the converter is not powered by the transfer switch, it is dead along with the AC, water heater, and 120v to fridge when shore power is disconnected.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:32 AM   #10
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Ah! That makes sense, I was forgetting about the splitting of loads that the inverter will handle. Thanks for the explanation!
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:35 AM   #11
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And missed the separation in your diagram of the two 120 panels.

Thanks again!

Guess I'm off to measure voltage drop
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:46 AM   #12
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Is it possible for a bad inverter to create some type of harmonic distortion on the 12V side which would affect any instantaneous loads that the battery is trying to satisfy (i.e. lights)? Also the ISW1500 has a chassis ground lug on the inverter. Does Escape use this lug with an independent ground and would it even matter?
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Old 01-30-2021, 11:09 AM   #13
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Went out and checked for any drops today. Tested both with and without the inverter on. Voltage was rock solid all around. The only place I saw any drop was across the battery disconnect (something I haven't worked on) but that was only 0.04v and was not consistent. I saw it and have seen it before but then it went away.

FWIW, I tested with my negative probe on the load side of the shunt and checked voltage across all breakers and fuses and at the inverter. Just realized that I didn't check input on the WFCO so I still have one more place to look.

Does anyone think that 0.04 v drop at the disconnect is meaningful?
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Old 01-30-2021, 11:17 AM   #14
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One simple check to determine whether the flicker is caused by the current load of the inverter or by the electronics is to try running it with no load. Since you describe it as Loud, I suspect you have a significant load on it since the fan only runs with high loads.

I'd try it with the cable to the transfer switch unplugged. If you still get the flickering, I'd contact GoPower & ask why.
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Old 01-30-2021, 11:25 AM   #15
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One simple check to determine whether the flicker is caused by the current load of the inverter or by the electronics is to try running it with no load. Since you describe it as Loud, I suspect you have a significant load on it since the fan only runs with high loads.
Load was ~7-8 amps 120, generated from the heat gun I was using for shrink wrapping cables.

Does the inverter actually come on with no load? Was thinking there is a automatic power saving feature in there that keeps it shut down if there is no demand. I'll give it a shot. Thanks
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Old 01-30-2021, 12:32 PM   #16
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Is it possible for a bad inverter to create some type of harmonic distortion on the 12V side which would affect any instantaneous loads that the battery is trying to satisfy (i.e. lights)? Also the ISW1500 has a chassis ground lug on the inverter. Does Escape use this lug with an independent ground and would it even matter?
Yes, a faulty inverter could induce a AC ripple in the battery supply voltage which could cause the light to flicker. You would probably hear a hum in the stereo if installed as well.

The reason for checking for voltage drops first is to eliminate that as a cause. Easy to do and that takes any wiring issues out of the equation.

Jon Vermille suggested that the inverter may be bad and causing the flickering. Maybe measuring the inverter input wires for any AC voltage would be a good idea. Any induced ripple from the inverter in the battery wiring would show up as AC on the DC wiring. Switching the voltmeter to AC on a low voltage range and measuring across the inverter input would tell you if it's causing the ripple.
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Old 01-30-2021, 08:44 PM   #17
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It may be that the sine wave on the 12V side is corrupt or out dated inverter.
I wouldn't use a pc. or such till it's fixed. or replaced.
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Old 01-31-2021, 07:31 AM   #18
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It may be that the sine wave on the 12V side is corrupt or out dated inverter.
I wouldn't use a pc. or such till it's fixed. or replaced.
I assume you meant to say on the 120V AC output.
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:24 AM   #19
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Load was ~7-8 amps 120, generated from the heat gun I was using for shrink wrapping cables.

Does the inverter actually come on with no load? Was thinking there is a automatic power saving feature in there that keeps it shut down if there is no demand. I'll give it a shot. Thanks
The inverter will always draw some current, load or not. Less if you turn on the power saver switch. See page 31 in the manual.
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:19 PM   #20
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I assume you meant to say on the 120V AC output.
Don't the interior lights use 12V.? The inverter steps down to 12V some where.
I'm not sure how that works.
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