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Old 09-06-2019, 02:19 AM   #1
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Question Roadtrek 210P - how to 'turn on' 120V when on shore power

Hi everyone, great collection of folks and advice on this forum, so thanks to you all. I have a question re getting shore power into our new to us 2016 Roadtrek 210P. The unit has the factory installed underhood generator, larger inverter, and solar panel. With the chassis engine on, the two AGM batteries are being charged regardless of how the house battery disconnect switch is set. To use the solar panels to keep the house batteries charged, that battery disconnect switch has to be on, i.e. active house 12V power. No problem. And to briefly use the AGM batteries when not on shore power and to briefly run the microwave, I also have to turn on the inverter. No problem or confusion there.

But the question/confusion starts when using shore power. In our 1997 Roadtrek Dodge 190P, just plugging into shore power activates the microwave as confirmed by the microwave LED coming on. But with this 2016 210P, just connecting to shore power (after first turning on the 12v battery circuit) does not light up the microwave LED. To obtain 120V power when on shore power, we ALSO have to turn on the inverter. But how then do I know we are actually getting shore power? For example the microwave LED light comes on (as my telltale monitor) when the inverter is on, regardless of shore power or not. So it is not a good monitor to confirm the van is getting shore power. If the shore power circuit is dead, how would I know?

It would appear that on this rig, it seems the only way to get 120V is through the inverter, and I have to somehow trust, when on shore power, that the inverter is being powered by shore power and not draining the house batteries. The manual is useless on this issue.

Is my question clear? I would would like to avoid, for example, have refrigerator on 120V overnight when camping only to find out next day that the campgrounds shore power was not working so the inverter drained the AGM batteries.

Thanks to everyone in advance
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:43 AM   #2
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the modern roadtreks have inverter/chargers/converters in one device. when you plug in it MUST be turned on. Shore power bypasses through it to give you the full power from your plug in. Your thinking of it just as an inverter -
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Old 09-06-2019, 04:12 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by roadbot View Post
Hi everyone, great collection of folks and advice on this forum, so thanks to you all. I have a question re getting shore power into our new to us 2016 Roadtrek 210P. The unit has the factory installed underhood generator, larger inverter, and solar panel. With the chassis engine on, the two AGM batteries are being charged regardless of how the house battery disconnect switch is set. To use the solar panels to keep the house batteries charged, that battery disconnect switch has to be on, i.e. active house 12V power. No problem. And to briefly use the AGM batteries when not on shore power and to briefly run the microwave, I also have to turn on the inverter. No problem or confusion there.

But the question/confusion starts when using shore power. In our 1997 Roadtrek Dodge 190P, just plugging into shore power activates the microwave as confirmed by the microwave LED coming on. But with this 2016 210P, just connecting to shore power (after first turning on the 12v battery circuit) does not light up the microwave LED. To obtain 120V power when on shore power, we ALSO have to turn on the inverter. But how then do I know we are actually getting shore power? For example the microwave LED light comes on (as my telltale monitor) when the inverter is on, regardless of shore power or not. So it is not a good monitor to confirm the van is getting shore power. If the shore power circuit is dead, how would I know?

It would appear that on this rig, it seems the only way to get 120V is through the inverter, and I have to somehow trust, when on shore power, that the inverter is being powered by shore power and not draining the house batteries. The manual is useless on this issue.

Is my question clear? I would would like to avoid, for example, have refrigerator on 120V overnight when camping only to find out next day that the campgrounds shore power was not working so the inverter drained the AGM batteries.

Thanks to everyone in advance
What you have is a hybrid inverter + converter/battery charger. Although it's counter intuitive, even when using shore power you have to power up the inverter to permit shoreside power to pass through to your 120 volt appliances and provide battery charging.

When off the grid, if you aren't using any 120 volt appliances, remember to shut the inverter off because it consumes around 5 amps just idling.

You mention 2 AGMs. With your underhood generator option I believe Roadtrek supplied two additional AGMs for a total of four batteries.

Is your refrigerator a 3 way absorption model or a compressor version?
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Old 09-06-2019, 04:26 AM   #4
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I suggest solving the problem by adding a shunt based battery monitor. You will then easily notice an unexpected current drain.
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Old 09-06-2019, 04:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cruising7388 View Post
What you have is a hybrid inverter + converter/battery charger. Although it's counter intuitive, even when using shore power you have to power up the inverter to permit shoreside power to pass through to your 120 volt appliances and provide battery charging.

When off the grid, if you aren't using any 120 volt appliances, remember to shut the inverter off because it consumes around 5 amps just idling.

You mention 2 AGMs. With your underhood generator option I believe Roadtrek supplied two additional AGMs for a total of four batteries.

Is your refrigerator a 3 way absorption model or a compressor version?
Good suggestions above. I thought the under hood generator versions were all lithium Ecotrek systems.

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Originally Posted by hbn7hj View Post
I suggest solving the problem by adding a shunt based battery monitor. You will then easily notice an unexpected current drain.
Seems another odd Roadtrek system, but at this point, a battery monitor may be the only way to know for sure.
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Old 09-06-2019, 05:37 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by gerrym51 View Post
the modern roadtreks have inverter/chargers/converters in one device. when you plug in it MUST be turned on. Shore power bypasses through it to give you the full power from your plug in. Your thinking of it just as an inverter -
Thanks. The challenge is that the 2016 210P printed manual is wrong on a few points. The printed manual says there is a shore power indicator light to the right of the remote inverter on/off switch to confirm receiving shore power and also a battery charging indicator light confirming batteries are being charged by shore power. But our version has no such indicator lights. Plus the manual says the inverter remote switch is a 3 way and located in the rear to the right of the AC remote control, whereas our remote switch is 2 way, located above side door, and in that location there are no such indicator lights. I did find the main led panel on the inverter itself (photo attached) shows shore power input. Last night I find that that main panel shows zero power input even when plugged into shore power at our house, so I discovered that GFI house outlet had to be reset. But I cannot reasonably rely on the inverter's main led panel to discover the problem due to the inverters locations. So issue is how do I get some visual indicator in a convenient useful location to confirm that indeed we have shore power? Are there remote LED panels that connect to the 2500W inverter, for example, similar to the inverters remote on/off panel?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Inverter Main Panel when no shore power.pdf (5.91 MB, 10 views)
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Old 09-06-2019, 05:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cruising7388 View Post
What you have is a hybrid inverter + converter/battery charger. Although it's counter intuitive, even when using shore power you have to power up the inverter to permit shoreside power to pass through to your 120 volt appliances and provide battery charging.

When off the grid, if you aren't using any 120 volt appliances, remember to shut the inverter off because it consumes around 5 amps just idling.

You mention 2 AGMs. With your underhood generator option I believe Roadtrek supplied two additional AGMs for a total of four batteries.

Is your refrigerator a 3 way absorption model or a compressor version?
Thanks, our 210P has absorption refrigerator, and only two AGM's that are in external lower compartment passenger side between side door and rear wheel. If there are additional AGM, I have no idea as to where. I hope, when RT reopens, I can get the buildout/MSRP list for this unit to confirm.

I can understand why the inverter has to be on if indeed shore power passes through it, but I can see that will create another problem in that the inverter unit immediately becomes rather loud with shore power active (maybe fan?) -- and we certainly can't be sleeping on that sofa bed with that noise directly underneath.

All this said, we really love this 210P. Although we loved our 1997 Dodge 190P (no generator) and got along just fine -- being mostly on west coast, no need for AC unit and just did w/o using the microwave and did without any hookups for 13 years. But with all the new tech, and now traveling more extensively and seeing the need for the coach AC unit will arise often, I just need to figure out the 120V system, find a way to have shore power without loud inverter under my darling sleeping wife's side of the bed. This week will test if Arizona's desert sun and the solar panel are sufficient to keep batteries charged while using the AC unit.
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Old 09-06-2019, 06:00 PM   #8
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Thanks for that suggestion. I start a LA to DC road trip tomorrow and will use rest stops to research "shunt based battery monitor". And if I can figure out the manufacturer of the inverter, see if they have a remote monitor that is accurate.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:46 PM   #9
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Plus the manual says the inverter remote switch is a 3 way and located in the rear to the right of the AC remote control, whereas our remote switch is 2 way, located above side door, and in that location there are no such indicator lights.
In the early production of their high power inverter, the remote switch had three positions - on, power save, and off. The power save mode would make the microwave beep every time it interrogated so in later production, the power save switch position was eliminated.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:09 PM   #10
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Thanks, our 210P has absorption refrigerator, and only two AGM's that are in external lower compartment passenger side between side door and rear wheel. If there are additional AGM, I have no idea as to where. I hope, when RT reopens, I can get the buildout/MSRP list for this unit to confirm.

I can understand why the inverter has to be on if indeed shore power passes through it, but I can see that will create another problem in that the inverter unit immediately becomes rather loud with shore power active (maybe fan?) -- and we certainly can't be sleeping on that sofa bed with that noise directly underneath.

All this said, we really love this 210P. Although we loved our 1997 Dodge 190P (no generator) and got along just fine -- being mostly on west coast, no need for AC unit and just did w/o using the microwave and did without any hookups for 13 years. But with all the new tech, and now traveling more extensively and seeing the need for the coach AC unit will arise often, I just need to figure out the 120V system, find a way to have shore power without loud inverter under my darling sleeping wife's side of the bed. This week will test if Arizona's desert sun and the solar panel are sufficient to keep batteries charged while using the AC unit.
Check to see if there are two additional batteries where the deleted Onan generator was located.

As mentioned, although the inverter has to be powered on for shore power to deliver, it isn't actually inverting. Rather it serves to detect a shore power connection and activates the converter transfer switch permitting shore power to pass through to your AC loads. While not noiseless, the unit shouldn't express the noise level you cite. Typical suspects for this condition are noisy fan bearings or a noisy transfer relay.
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