Massive Electrical System Failure - help please

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Massive Electrical System Failure - help please

Postby txtrevor on Sat May 22, 2010 3:17 am

I desperately need assistance to resolve an issue with Prevost. We own a Prevost bus conversion. Following is a brief summary of the problems we have had. At this point Prevost is claiming that the Ample Power "Smart Alternator Regulator V3, Model SARV3-24P, S/N K05360012 -- 2.6) caused the system failure. I would like to find out how to confirm this. Is it possible to send the alleged "defective" regulator to Ample Power for testing and analysis?

Summary of problems:
- We left our bus with Prevost for repairs. The only major electrical system related repair was the "battery boost system" (uses coach batteries to start engine). THE MAJOR ELECTRICAL SYSTEM WAS FULLY OPERATIONAL WHEN WE LEFT THE BUS WITH PREVOST.

- Two days before our scheduled pick up we were informed that the coach had "electrical problems". This ended up meaning that the entire DC side of the motorhome was inoperable. The DC side includes a Crestron system that controls almost everything on the motorhome.

- We were also informed that the shore power (50AMP AC power) had failed at some point.

- We were also informed that battery chargers were used on the coach batteries

- After weeks of waiting for the electrical system problems to be resolved, Prevost ended up replacing or repairing:
** Ample Power SARV3-24P (Prevost claims that the voltages were 28.5V/16.5V. Their claim is that the 12V side was high and that the coach alternator was "overcharging at 69 amps)
** Both Inverters (Trace)
** Both battery equalizers (Vanner)

- Prevost then refused to perform any further work (all DC systems were still inoperable) since they do not perform service work on the Crestron power distribution system.

- After taking the motorhome to another service outlet additional damage was found:
** Generator control module damaged
** Entire DC power distribution panel damaged
** Power supply for DC distribution system damaged
** All coach batteries (Lifeline 8D AGM) damaged. Two of the batteries had warped (melted) tops
** Almost all light bulbs in the coach were damaged. The "light strips" melted the plastic tubing that contains the light elements.

Currently Prevost is trying to charge me > $10,000 for repairs . The work performed after leaving Prevost (not finished yet) is estimated to exceed $18,000.

I would like to find a way to have Ample Power perform tests to determine if it is possible that the Smart Alternator Regulator is the root cause of these failures. I am willing to pay to have this analysis done. After phoning Ample Power I was told that the first step is to contact via this message board.

Your response and help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much in advance
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Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 7:07 pm

Re: Massive Electrical System Failure - help please

Postby Coulomb on Sat May 22, 2010 3:07 pm

Without knowledge about how the coach is wired, diagnosing the problem isn't possible. However, 28.5V as mentioned in you email is a normal charging voltage for a 24V bank -- most certainly not a cause of your problems.

You mentioned the voltage as 28.5/16.5. I'm guessing that you have a 12V system as well as the 24V system. A voltage of 16.5 Volts on a 12V set of batteries would be destructive if applied for more than a few minutes. You mention a Vanner equalizer, so I'm guessing again that there is really only one 24V battery bank, with a 12V tap on it which is maintained by the Vanner equalizer. In that case, the operation of the equalizer should be evaluated, because the 16.5 Volts would come from it.

What operating voltage does the Creston system use?

You also mention damage to the AC shore power system. Given the extensive damage you have observed, I'd suspect that the system took a huge surge voltage from the AC system. This happens when lightning strikes power lines, even 100 miles or so away. Small RV campsites generally won't have the surge protection devices equipped to safely dissipate lightning strikes.

You can send the SAR V3 in for testing. Given the other damage you report, the SAR V3 may also be a victim.
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Re: Massive Electrical System Failure - help please

Postby txtrevor on Wed May 26, 2010 2:20 pm

Hi Coulomb...

I did a little more digging. Here are some comments and questions:

- Yes there is a 12V and 24V system (battery equalizer providing 12V)
- Components were damaged on the 12V side and 24V side. On the 24V side the inverters were damaged (rated for 33VDC but manuf. says they can typically withstand 40VDC). Also on 24V side both equalizers were damaged (actually melted), they are rated for 34VDC.
- I am just now tracking down the max V/A ratings for the 12VDC side so that I can estimate how high the surge was on that side. Everything downstream on the 12V side had fuse protection.
- From the SARV3 there is a 3A fast blow fuse on "batt volts" terminal of the SARV3, and a 15A fast blow fuse on the B+ terminal

No AC components were damaged in the system at all.

I have already replaced the SARV3 with a new unit (and replaced the equalizers, inverters, etc.). How do I send the old SARV3 to you for testing and diagnosis... I am looking to answer the following questions; Was it really damaged/faulty? What was the probable cause of the failure? What was the failure mode (i.e. voltage regulation high, etc.)

Appreciate the help and the fast response - thanks
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Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 7:07 pm

Re: Massive Electrical System Failure - help please

Postby Coulomb on Wed May 26, 2010 5:48 pm

Testing and Repair

Some products can be repaired, but that can only be determined after inspect and test. Inspection costs $75.00. Repair is billed at time and material. Time to repair is billed at $125.00 per hour.

Send products for repair to:
Ample Power Company, LLC.
6315 Seaview Avenue, NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Include name, address, purchase information and contact phone or email.
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