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Old 05-17-2019, 12:56 AM   #1
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Hi,

Purchased a Progressive Dynamics converter. While disconnecting and pulling out the white wire from within the breaker switch section - the back of my palm inadvertently hit the black (hot) wire disconnecting it from one of the breakers. The problem is I didn't see from which one.

In the attached picture, I'm guessing (which I hate to do with electrical) the new hot wire (black)would connect to the breaker that's marked "Battery Charge & Side Door Rec. 15 Amps"?

If not... I would appreciate any help in determining which breaker it would connect to. (My 2nd thought... it would have been the main breaker, green switch (but again ... not sure) Thnx for any help.

Rod Moser
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File Type: jpg Breaker Switches and Panel.jpg (117.5 KB, 45 views)
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:31 AM   #2
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Is the hot wire that got disconnected still in the photo but tucked in behind? (3rd hot from the right)

I've seen the converter/charger sharing a breaker before but it is done using what I'd call a pigtail. You only attached a single short piece of wire to the breaker then a wire nut is used to connect the other two hots to the new short wire.

Breakers typically aren't meant to hold two wires securely. It's easy for one to come loose if done that way which seems to have happened in your case.

When I first came across breaker sharing like that (with the pigtail) it seemed odd but I recall looking into it and am pretty sure I found it was permitted at least in the converter manual.


EDIT: found this in a PD manual


Quote:
If the utility pigtail was used on the original installation, two short lengths of 14AWG wire and a wire nut may be used to provide the utility pigtail. DO NOT install (2) wires into the breaker.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:49 AM   #3
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Thank you markopolo for the quick reply. The new converter has not been installed yet so therefore the new black and white wires are not inserted into the breaker section. And no, there was not a pig tail in the section. Wish there was, that would have been an indicator of where the new black hot wire should go.

Perhaps I should use a pig tail. If so... which breaker would it connect to?

Out of curiosity, Does a pigtail act as some sort of a defense against overloads or something? Does connecting directly to a breaker damage it?

Anyways, thnx again.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:55 AM   #4
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OK, After some research it seems:

"A two-pole breaker (vs a one-pole) should be dedicated for whatever appliance it protects.

The problem is when the lug (of a circuit breaker) is not rated for two wires...possible arcing and overheating may occur. Since two wires can be pigtailed with one wire going under the lug, there isn't an issue of a possible bad connection. The wires will still be protected properly by the OCPD (Over Current Protection Device)."

This makes sense. So, even though there originally wasn't a pig tail in there (would have noticed), perhaps I should use one... but does it matter which breaker I connect it to?
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:06 AM   #5
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The charger would share the breaker you indicated. A pigtail is just a short piece of wire to extend the connection to the breaker so that only one wire attaches to the breaker.

There are some breakers designed to take two wires. They'd be labeled for that though. This link - Double Tapped Circuit Breakers - StarTribune.com - explains a pigtail & shows a breaker that is designed for two wires.

Are the fridge and dinette receptacle circuits also sharing a breaker? Another pigtail needed?

The interlock on breakers 3 & 6 would be for the microwave duplex receptacle. Two hots sharing one neutral in a duplex receptacle I'm guessing. Each one capable of 15A. Both would trip at the same time. They have to be tied together like that to prevent a shock when working on that receptacle.

I count 7 hots & 6 neutrals. You'll end up with 8 hots on 6 breakers when the converter is connected.

You need more/better advice than I can give. You want to be sure of what is there & what is incorrect.
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:26 AM   #6
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Yes markopolo, it appears the fridge and dinette receptacle are sharing the #5 breaker lug. This panel is from a 1995 Dodge Roadtrek. The dual wiring into the #5 breaker is original.

I will probably go with using a pigtail on the #4 breaker lug combining the wire that's there with the new black wire (hot) coming from the new converter (which is also the charger).

There will also be 7 (6 + the added white wire from the new converter) neutrals.

Below is a picture showing more of the underside of the breakers.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:19 AM   #7
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Wish my memory was better. I recently installed the PD upgrade into a Magnetek on my 97 PW. But I'm pretty sure there was a pigtailed connection in the original. The PD conversion uses the original breaker panel so those didn't have to be touched except to get the power in.
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Old 05-17-2019, 12:29 PM   #8
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What I referred to earlier as an interlock is actually known as a handle tie. It's important to keep it setup that way if you ever have to replace one of those breakers.

I can't tell if those breakers are designed to take two wires or not. It kind of looks like they could be. If it was mine, I'd take one out and have a good look at it.

If they are meant to take up to two wires then #5 is ok provided both wires are the same type & material etc. is my understanding.

The next question is can you mix stranded and solid conductors on breaker #4 (assuming that the converter wire is stranded). This is where an experts knowledge is needed. From what I've read, it appears that if the breaker is approved for two conductors and the wire are the same size and material etc. then it is permitted. If the wires are different size or material etc. then it is not permitted and the solution would be to use a pigtail. I'm leaning toward not permitted to mix stranded and solid conductors on one breaker.

As mentioned, advice from an expert would be the best way to go.

Given that the converter wire already fell out then a pigtail seems like the better way to go to me.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo View Post
What I referred to earlier as an interlock is actually known as a handle tie. It's important to keep it setup that way if you ever have to replace one of those breakers.

I can't tell if those breakers are designed to take two wires or not. It kind of looks like they could be. If it was mine, I'd take one out and have a good look at it.

If they are meant to take up to two wires then #5 is ok provided both wires are the same type & material etc. is my understanding.

The next question is can you mix stranded and solid conductors on breaker #4 (assuming that the converter wire is stranded). This is where an experts knowledge is needed. From what I've read, it appears that if the breaker is approved for two conductors and the wire are the same size and material etc. then it is permitted. If the wires are different size or material etc. then it is not permitted and the solution would be to use a pigtail. I'm leaning toward not permitted to mix stranded and solid conductors on one breaker.

As mentioned, advice from an expert would be the best way to go.

Given that the converter wire already fell out then a pigtail seems like the better way to go to me.
And just for grins I would check the wire hold down tightness on each breaker as long as you are in there.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
And just for grins I would check the wire hold down tightness on each breaker as long as you are in there.

great advice
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:01 PM   #11
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markopolo,

Each of the 3 new converter wires that lead into the AC breaker section are 14 AWG stranded with flux/soldered ends. The original wires that are connected to the lugs of each breaker (except the MAIN breaker which is 10 AWG) are 14 AWG.

I'll go to a nearby electrical shop and see what they have say. Thnx for the advice. You've been a tremendous help.

SteveJ,

I'll do just that, test the tightness of each hold down. Thnx for the tip.

GallenH,

So far it looks like a pig-tail is the way to go as markpolo mentioned but we'll see. Thnx for the info.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:36 PM   #12
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This is a good topic & I'm glad you shared your photos.

RE: tinned or soldered ends - I think current thinking is that it's not good. Sounds odd I know. It's something to do with thermal expansion and contraction and the soldered tip deforming over time in a clamp type connection. Also, the solder (softer than copper) is said to crack or creep under pressure. The thinking is that you will end up with a loose connection.

Properly installed ferrules on the ends seemed to be the recommended method if the wires will be directly under a screw. In a clamp type connection bare copper wires seem to make a good long term connection also.

I'm not telling anyone what to do - just sharing info.

Anyone on the forum who is up to date on current codes or best practices should jump in here. The more we all learn the better.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:33 PM   #13
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Update: I spoke with a electrician and he said that pig-tailing into the #4 breaker lug would be fine as long as I used the same gauge wire.

He also said a ferrule wouldn't be necessary but to use what they called NOALOX on the aluminum tinned tips to prevent oxidation and such. Apparently aluminum wires aren't as resilient as copper wires.

Thnx again.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kr4ftw3rk View Post
He also said a ferrule wouldn't be necessary but to use what they called NOALOX on the aluminum tinned tips to prevent oxidation and such. Apparently aluminum wires aren't as resilient as copper wires.
Your van has aluminum wires? That would be odd. It hasn't been used in residential branch circuit wiring since the early 1970s.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Your van has aluminum wires? That would be odd. It hasn't been used in residential branch circuit wiring since the early 1970s.
No sir, only the wires coming from the new converter unit are aluminum.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:08 PM   #16
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No sir, only the wires coming from the new converter unit are aluminum.
Are you sure that they are not "tinned"(solder) copper?

Aluminum wiring definitely does not belong in a moving vehicle. It's pretty much only used for heavy cabling, such as entrance service to a house/building, I think.

If in doubt, check with PD, but I highly doubt that they are aluminum. The one I installed a few years ago had copper wires, I would not install any kind of aluminum wiring in a vehicle for any reason. Very problematic stuff to deal with.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:26 PM   #17
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The wire would be copper for sure. If silver color then they're tinned as mentioned above.

I'm sure when I installed a PD unit in my van years ago I just used the wires as it came. But, this topic is a good reminder that I should go and check those connections to see if any have loosened up.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:00 PM   #18
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It was the electrician who said they were aluminum. If they're tinned copper wires that look like aluminum then I should think twice about what he said.

Given that Progressive Dynamics makes this particular converter for RV's I don't want to overthink this.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kr4ftw3rk View Post
It was the electrician who said they were aluminum. If they're tinned copper wires that look like aluminum then I should think twice about what he said.

Given that Progressive Dynamics makes this particular converter for RV's I don't want to overthink this.



Those looked like they may be solder dipped ends, not just tinned wire like all marine wiring is. That is the old school "improvement" that recently has fallen out of favor with most experts.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:09 PM   #20
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I agree that there is almost no chance that they are aluminum.
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