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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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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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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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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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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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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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Old 09-06-2019, 11:36 PM   #11
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I thought the under hood generator versions were all lithium Ecotrek systems. Seems another odd Roadtrek system, but at this point, a battery monitor may be the only way to know for sure.
Roadtrek offered either AGMs or lithiums with the GU option. If AGMs were chosen, except I think for the Simplicity, the GU/AGM option provided two additional batteries as part of the GU package.

The shunt based battery monitor is a desirable addition but Roadtrek made this installation impractical in their multi-battery versions that used separate ground leads without a common negative bus precluding a shunt position that would monitor all batteries.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:41 AM   #12
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Roadtrek offered either AGMs or lithiums with the GU option. If AGMs were chosen, except I think for the Simplicity, the GU/AGM option provided two additional batteries as part of the GU package.

The shunt based battery monitor is a desirable addition but Roadtrek made this installation impractical in their multi-battery versions that used separate ground leads without a common negative bus precluding a shunt position that would monitor all batteries.
I will be very surprised, happily, to find that Roadtrek indeed did 4 AGM batteries but for the life of me I can only find 2 --- in passenger side exterior compartment just aft of the rear tire. But clearly I could be mistaken as I now discover that indeed the remote inverter on/off switch DOES have two indicator lights on that switch itself, very small. One confirming power is from the batteries, the other confirming power is from shore power (which is oddly spelled shoer!) -- it does appear however that the led for shore power is not working as the panel on the inverter itself confirms input at 117V and 60hz.

Thanks everyone, we are off now on first long distance trip west coast to east coast and back over next two months. I'll report back if we find the mysterious addle two AGMs or find out from Roadtrek where they would have been installed.
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:09 PM   #13
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I will be very surprised, happily, to find that Roadtrek indeed did 4 AGM batteries but for the life of me I can only find 2 --- in passenger side exterior compartment just aft of the rear tire.
Considering their chaotic production inconsistencies in 2015-2016 there is no way of knowing what you have short of a physical inspection. But at least this is the way it shows up on the order form:

1. The standard battery profile for the 210 in 2016 is two six volt (200 ah) AGM batteries located in an after compartment on the passenger side. IIRC, they sit on a slide out tray.

2. You could just order two additional 6 Volt AGM batteries (MSRP $871) which was called the B4 option. It did not include the upgrade to the high power inverter you have installed.

3. If you ordered the GU option, (MSRP $3913) you got this package: a 270 amp Nations alternator and regulator, the higher power (2.5 kw) inverter/charger plus the B4 option for the two additional batteries.
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:19 PM   #14
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I think they had two batteries in front of the right rear wheelwell, on behind the right rear wheelwell and one behind the left rear wheel well. The ones behind the wheels may have bolt on covers to get at them. Just look underneath the rear and see if you have cables there.
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:39 AM   #15
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The shunt based battery monitor is a desirable addition but Roadtrek made this installation impractical in their multi-battery versions that used separate ground leads without a common negative bus precluding a shunt position that would monitor all batteries.
I would put in two Trimetric monitors if there was no other way.
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:43 AM   #16
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So issue is how do I get some visual indicator in a convenient useful location to confirm that indeed we have shore power?

Consider buying a voltage meter that plugs into a coach 12v outlet (not on the chassis battery). If you are on shore power with the inverter/charger running you will see a reading higher than if not on shore power. Without a shunt-based SOC meter, learning to use a voltage meter to get a rough idea of battery status can be useful.
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Old 09-08-2019, 04:30 AM   #17
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I would put in two Trimetric monitors if there was no other way.
There is another way. The Trimetric shunt has to be placed in the negative lead(s). Blue Sea offers a unique SOC meter which permits it's shunt to be inserted in the positive lead at the hot side of the battery disconnect switch.
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Old 09-08-2019, 04:39 AM   #18
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Consider buying a voltage meter that plugs into a coach 12v outlet (not on the chassis battery). If you are on shore power with the inverter/charger running you will see a reading higher than if not on shore power. Without a shunt-based SOC meter, learning to use a voltage meter to get a rough idea of battery status can be useful.
This works best with a four digit meter which will provide a 10 millivolt resolution.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:21 PM   #19
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Bit of a preamble ....when i bought our 2014C190P last year,( factory solar, 750 watt inverter), I was confused about the whole inverter on/ off issue. Called Tripp Lite and was told by a technician that I have to turn on inverter to charge batteries when on shore power. (Battery disconnect switch on ie: batteries connected ) Have proven since that when on shore power all receptacles in the van are live with inverter switch off., so power just passes through inverter. Also batteries charge with inverter off. Proven by simply plugging in a 12V digital meter at the 12V socket in the media cabinet, and watching battery voltage when plugging / unplugging from shore power. Also noted that the batteries begin charging before the transfer switch passes power through to the microwave. Have also proven that solar charges the batteries even when battery disconnect switch is off. Haven't actually traced solar wiring yet see how it all connects together.
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