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dave10a
03-03-2012, 10:03 AM
I am new to the world of fifth wheels and I am trying to determine the best approach for using a generator. My unit has the generator prep package, but I have no clue what it consists of other that a generator start switch and hour meter that is in my control panel. Are transfer switches used in 5th wheels and where is the ground and neutal bonded? If I use an external generator should it supply the bonding of the ground and neutal or should it be isolated. For some strange reason important information that I need to make sure I meet the electrical codes is very obscure :-0
Thankyou

wdk450
03-03-2012, 11:04 AM
Dave:
The generator prep consists of a mounting base and vapor isolating shroud in the front storage compartment, an automatic electrical transfer switch in the front compartment, the start switch and monitoring controls at the lighting control panel, and associated wiring. According to what I have heard about the codes, Neutral is NOT to be bonded to ground within the trailer's standard wiring, but the neutral IS to be bonded to ground at the trailer's power source (shore pedistal or generator). Trailer mounted generators are to have the neutral bonded to ground within the generator, but this is contrary to standard code for portable generators. If you have the high-end, add-on, trailer electrical protection devices added to the trailer wiring they will cut off the power supplied to the trailer if the supply neutral is NOT bonded to the ground wiring.
I guess if you want to be completely legal with a portable generator, you would open the case and bond the neutral to ground whenever you use it with your trailer, and remove this bond when using the generator in any other way. I found a discussion on the neutral/ground bonding of portable generators on RV.net, and the (controversial) solution given there was to make a jumper plug from a power plug with a neutral-ground jumper wire in it, and plug this plug into the 2nd generator outlet when using the 1st outlet to supply the trailer.
This is the story as far as I know it. I stand ready to be corrected.

Crumgater
03-03-2012, 11:20 AM
Wow. Never heard of the neutral / ground issue. Very interesting. Did hear many people mention that you can't use the electrical protection devices with the generator... so now that makes sense.

We use a portable generator (Honda EU2000), and are very happy with it. Most campgrounds we go to have power, so don't need it there - not interested in listening to a generator in the woods, either.

We use it when tailgating. The EU2000 has enough juice to run 2 complete TV setups (DirecTV/DVR/TV) and all the lights and water pumps in the RV, for about 10 hours on one tank of gas. We run the fridge off propane, and don't use the microwave. Being portable, we can move it to where it's least likely to bother people (it's also a very quiet generator), and aim the tailpipe out to the street.

Works well for us - but we don't have the generator prep in our rig, so that's not a current option.

brianharrison
03-03-2012, 12:25 PM
Bill did a great job of summarizing the issue, as I understand it as well.

Neutral/ground issue very common for portable generators. As mentioned, it creates concern when a power protection device which monitors open neutrals detects and shuts off power from the generator source. Not a concern for trailers/units without a power protection device. Some of the newer Landmarks are coming from factory with a power protection/surge suppresor device, however I am unaware of the actual start date for this option, or the particular brand/model.

I do a lot of boon docking and run a Honda gen (EU3000i) with floating neutral. I have over come this issue with installing the Progressive Industries 50 amp Hardwire Surge Protector EMS-HW50C, which allows me to bypass (shut off the power protection with remote display switch) when on generator power. The surge suppression is still active in bypass.

dave10a
03-03-2012, 08:46 PM
Thanks for the inputs and my ohm meter confirms that neutral and ground are not bonded in the trialer which is good thing and safe. I guess I have to find the transfer switch because it not in the front comparment where the hydrolics are. At least if is there it is very small ;-) It must be hiden somewere else. Anyway I am glad that 5th wheels use or intend to use transfer switch and I assume that it must be cabable of at least 50 amps. I wished the manufacturers would not play "find it if you can" with customers. It would be nice if they would make documentation like schematics and plumbing layouts available so my life could be a little more easier. I have what Heartland calls the "full timers" package which is supposed to include a voltage suppressor, but I don't know where they hide that as well--- if it really has one. I am starting to queston Heartland's credibility at this point.

recumbent615
03-03-2012, 08:59 PM
Dave - I can not help you with the location of items in your rig or what came with it -Because I own a Cyclone. When ever I have an issue I call Heartland Customer Support and they have always been able to tell me where things are and what was in my unit's build. You may want to look for the transfer switch behind the panels in the basement storage. That is where mine is.

Kevin

jbeletti
03-03-2012, 10:05 PM
Dave,

The transfer switch is located behind the utility bulkhead wall (behind the water heater if you will). Couple of screws and you'll be able to locate it.

If you haven't taken that wall down yet, there are 4 or so white painted screws in the back left corner of the UDC to remove. Then a couple of black screws on the black felted wall panel on the left side.

With the wall off, look straight back into the coach, about center. It's a silver box with three 50 amp cables connecting to it (shore in, gen in and an output). Most likely, Progressive Dynamics brand. Same brand as your Converter.

The gen input terminates in the front generator area, but outside of and to the right of the gen box. You'll see a 4"x4" electrical box. I believe that's where the gen input is terminated. It's there that you would begin to fashion your own termination for your portable gen(s). But you can always tear into the transfer switch, pull the gen in line out and route your own into it.

Have fun and be safe.

Jim

porthole
03-04-2012, 12:37 AM
Get in the basement - have someone plug your trailer in and wait a few seconds - when you hear the load "clunk" you will know where the transfer switch is.

DougS
03-04-2012, 11:45 AM
Dave, I have a 2011 LM and I believe yours might be close in layout as mine. I found it easy to get to my transfer switch by taking the white battery box out. The transfer switch on my unit is right behind this box. Taking the battery box out was a trick the first time, but I have trimmed the tabs down so it now comes out and put back in easy. I just wired in a surge protector before the transfer switch by taking out the battery box. I guess I have had the battery box out half a dozen times doing different wiring projects.

As for generators, I have two 2000 Honda gen which I run from the truck bed through a 30 amp shore line at the pin box connected to the 4 x 4 electric box that Jim talked about. I ordered my unit with just the wiring for the generator, minus the generator box in the front basement.

dave10a
03-04-2012, 04:02 PM
Thanks for the reply, I just ordered a Yamaha inverter generator to carry in the bed of the truck. It will be backup for my stick house and trailer. I have to install a switch to allow unbonding of neutral ground for my home and bonding for the trailer it comes with neutral grounds bonded. I will assume that a transfer switch exist in my trailer because I have a connection for a generator in the front compartment, but I am still wondering about the surge suppressor that is suppose be included in the full times option when using campground power. I have made a neat little tester, thanks to this forum, to confirm campground power is proper with appropriate neutral grounds and phasing. Also I have Hughes auto former to boost power when needed and I am not sure I want to build it in. So I think I am good to go....

wdk450
03-04-2012, 08:37 PM
Dave:
If you are going to use a portable generator, you don't need to use the built-in trailer transfer switch. This is installed for use with a permanent install/hard wired generator in the trailer. Just plug the trailer's power cord into the portable generator. Thus the trailer is isolated from grid AC power, and there is no danger of grid AC power feeding into the portable generator. The neutral-ground bonding in the portable generator, and grounding of the generator, can be addressed as you wish.
I am pretty sure you MUST have a transfer switch for connecting a portable generator to your home. This protects your generator when the grid AC supply comes back on line, protects power line workers from unknowingly working on live power lines (energized by the generator backfeeding the supply wires), and the dangers of explosion and fire by mixing these 2 power sources improperly.


Thanks for the reply, I just ordered a Yamaha inverter generator to carry in the bed of the truck. It will be backup for my stick house and trailer. I have to install a switch to allow unbonding of neutral ground for my home and bonding for the trailer it comes with neutral grounds bonded. I will assume that a transfer switch exist in my trailer because I have a connection for a generator in the front compartment, but I am still wondering about the surge suppressor that is suppose be included in the full times option when using campground power. I have made a neat little tester, thanks to this forum, to confirm campground power is proper with appropriate neutral grounds and phasing. Also I have Hughes auto former to boost power when needed and I am not sure I want to build it in. So I think I am good to go....

jbeletti
03-04-2012, 09:18 PM
Dave,I didn't know you had the FT package. In that case, the surge guard is built into the transfer switch. So, this may or may not complicate your plans.

This may be the switch in your coach:
http://www.trci.net/media/68883/41260%20sg%20transfer%20spec%20sheet2.pdf

Jim

brianharrison
03-04-2012, 10:36 PM
Thanks for the link Jim. I was "wondering" what HL was installing for the new OEM Power Protection/surge/transfer switch.

EDIT - There is a model one level up from TRC that also has under/over voltage, frequency protection, and remote display(optional). http://www.trci.net/media/68527/505-00038a_spec sheet for 40250-rvc.pdf

It would be "nice" for HL to allow an owner to option up to this model, or even use it as standard :) - do you know if Factory will be open to this suggestion? This model is most similar to the Progressive EMS-HW50C. Just thinking.....

Take care,
Brian

dave10a
04-06-2012, 08:05 AM
Dave:
If you are going to use a portable generator, you don't need to use the built-in trailer transfer switch. This is installed for use with a permanent install/hard wired generator in the trailer. Just plug the trailer's power cord into the portable generator. Thus the trailer is isolated from grid AC power, and there is no danger of grid AC power feeding into the portable generator. The neutral-ground bonding in the portable generator, and grounding of the generator, can be addressed as you wish.
I am pretty sure you MUST have a transfer switch for connecting a portable generator to your home. This protects your generator when the grid AC supply comes back on line, protects power line workers from unknowingly working on live power lines (energized by the generator backfeeding the supply wires), and the dangers of explosion and fire by mixing these 2 power sources improperly.

I am backfeeding at home into a 30 amp breaker with a GE interlock to prevent accidental backfeed of the generator power ito the grid and grid power into the generator. I believe that this meets code without a transfer switch and cost a lot less money. Since I already have a transfer switch in the trailer I can wire the external generator to box that accepts an internal generator by addign an external plug at the front of the trailer-- might as well use what I have :-) Now I can have a generator incase park power goes out.

dave10a
04-06-2012, 08:08 AM
Dave,I didn't know you had the FT package. In that case, the surge guard is built into the transfer switch. So, this may or may not complicate your plans.

This may be the switch in your coach:
http://www.trci.net/media/68883/41260%20sg%20transfer%20spec%20sheet2.pdf

Jim

Thanks for the info, Heartland did a good job on this...