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Hughes Autoformer - Repair the old unit, or go with the newer model?


Smitty77_7

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We bought one of the last generation Hughes 50A Autoformers from a fell Country Coach owner that was coming off of the road.

 

On our 2014 Alaska trip, a poorly run campground had their backup generator feeding power that somehow either spiked, or something, and toasted the unit.

 

As it was inline between shorepower and the OEM TRC Surgeguard protector, I've had the Autoformer bypassed until I could get it out. Checking with Hughes they know longer offer any repair service.

 

I understood from reading older posts a few years back, that the older model of the 50A Autoformer was 'better' than the newer model. (Can't recall the specifics, but had to do with better components.) Does anyone know if this is really so, and if it is, is the difference worth the effort of finding a local electrician to poke around to see if they can repair the older model?

 

The new ones is pricey, so if I can repair this older, supposedly better model for a few hundred dollars - it might be the way to go! (I admit that I have not even looked inside of the Autoformer, for all I know - I may have a mass of melted mess inside:)! But, I suspect it was a component up front in the electric flow direction, that was toasted, not the full unit.)

 

Thoughts on trashing it? Finding a local shop to determine if it is repairable, and for how much?

 

Opinions please!

TIA,

Smitty

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Please let us know what you find out. I have one that I have had for a number of yours; I have had absolutely NO problem with it, it work well, but it would be interesting what you find out. I promise to "feel your pain" as you go through the process.

 

I don't know as I have read about anyone attempting to "re-do" a unit.

 

Good Luck and be Blessed!

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When our Autoformer died and released its magic smoke this fall, I found out they did not repair. I was debating going without, but the universe put us into a couple campgrounds with lousy 50AMP power to make us understand an autoformer was needed where we camped. So I looked at other brands and only Powermaster looked good, http://www.powermasterrv.com/products.html. They were more expensive and I knew no one who had one, so I decided to go with the tried and true. I ended up getting a new Hughes Autoformer from PPL Motorhomes. It has been working well for us the last few months.

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Well I went back and reread the topic. If you still have the old unit you might consider the following.

Somewhere in the deep dark past I read that someone did open theirs up and found that the incoming line varistors in it had died due to some overvoltage spikes. I have also read that someone else had a bad pc board in one that wouldn't adjust the voltage. If you are not intimidated by the electrical part I would sure look at the line varistors first. They should be easy to find and replace and the most likely part to go bad. Cheaper too. Beyond that I would say the unit would be a total loss if the company or someone with the proper knowledge doesn't do repairs on the units.

Good luck, good health and safe travels!

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We had a situation with a weak leg on a 50amp hookup at a track and after the "electricians" determined it couldn't easily be repaired we purchased the Power Master and have used it now for 5 years at every hookup we go to, and with multiple different gensets. The 50amp can be used with any 15,20,30,or 50 amp power source, with adapters. For the small price difference I feel this is greatly offset by the personal, knowledgeable, and experienced service offered. This unit was designed by an RVr. Can't recommend enough !! Use link above in Bill's post.

 

Patrick

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I have our coach in having some cabinet work and other items. The tech and I were talking on the phone late yesterday afternoon, and I mentioned the Hughes Autoformer. He told me to give him a half hour and he'd take a look and call me back. He said it looked like someone had taken a flame torch to the unit! Figured it must have been one heck of spike of power. Singed components and wire insulation melted together in places. (We smelled the burnt electrical for over three months after it was zapped.)

 

So it sounds like this is going to be salvaged out!!

 

He asked me what I thought was a good question. He said with our battery bank and solar panel system being so robust. And with the coach electrical still being protected by the TRC. Why would I spend the money for a new Autoformer for the few times we hit a campground with power supply problems? Just run off the battery bank for those few times...

 

That got me to thinking, that I knew of only one time that we were able to keep the power on in the coach with the Hughes Autoformer, while others in the same park had to run their generators to run their AC units. (Not saying the Autoformer did not help us at other times unknown to us. This was obvious due to other RV owners asking me how our AC was running without our generator being on.).

 

I've run for about 9 months now without the Autoformer. I do now have the 800AH battery bank and 1200W of solar panels. So I'm tempted to not replace the Autoformer.

 

Any thoughts on if having robust battery bank and solar panels available for times of weak campground power, offsetting the need for an Autoformer?

 

Thanks,

Smitty

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We often didn't connect the main power cord when we were somewhere with bad power or long distances to power. What we did was connect our converter, it was happy to be fed anything from 80 to 135 volts, and let it charge the batteries. While that wouldn't run a heater or the air conditioner it was plenty of power to meet our needs. We only had 400 watts of solar and 4 T-105 batteries so using that alone wasn't enough for us to use our inverter for as much as we'd have liked to.

 

If we needed air conditioning we'd move to somewhere with good power but that only happened once so we never bought an autoformer.

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I have our coach in having some cabinet work and other items. The tech and I were talking on the phone late yesterday afternoon, and I mentioned the Hughes Autoformer. He told me to give him a half hour and he'd take a look and call me back. He said it looked like someone had taken a flame torch to the unit! Figured it must have been one heck of spike of power. Singed components and wire insulation melted together in places. (We smelled the burnt electrical for over three months after it was zapped.)

 

So it sounds like this is going to be salvaged out!!

 

He asked me what I thought was a good question. He said with our battery bank and solar panel system being so robust. And with the coach electrical still being protected by the TRC. Why would I spend the money for a new Autoformer for the few times we hit a campground with power supply problems? Just run off the battery bank for those few times...

 

That got me to thinking, that I knew of only one time that we were able to keep the power on in the coach with the Hughes Autoformer, while others in the same park had to run their generators to run their AC units. (Not saying the Autoformer did not help us at other times unknown to us. This was obvious due to other RV owners asking me how our AC was running without our generator being on.).

 

I've run for about 9 months now without the Autoformer. I do now have the 800AH battery bank and 1200W of solar panels. So I'm tempted to not replace the Autoformer.

 

Any thoughts on if having robust battery bank and solar panels available for times of weak campground power, offsetting the need for an Autoformer?

 

Thanks,

Smitty

 

Bad power & the need for A/C - Autoformer is only salvation. Sacrificing my comfort & convenience to save a few $$$ is not a viable option. If mine goes South, I'll replace it post haste.

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Like Stan, we will run off our battery bank if the power is that low/bad. And use our converter to charge the bank simultaneously. As Stan said - you can throw just about anything at the converter and it will operate fine, and stay within specs.

 

Even on our new coaches where I have a large inverter/battery bank/solar array, I have a converter wired in - strictly for that purpose. It won't help you with air conditioning, though. (It is also there if you have an inverter failure).

 

I do have a 30 amp Hughes autoformer. But not a 50 amp. I "could" use that in specific circumstances to power my air conditioning (perhaps only one) and let my hybrid inverter boost my other power needs. But that is such a specific set of circumstances that it is unlikely to happen, and I'm certainly not going out of my way to create "support" for it.

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So the question is? Has anyone found a repair shop for an old Hughes Autoformer? I have not. When my unit died, several years ago I was able to return it to Hughes for repair. Shipping cost was a bear. Repaired unit is still working. Please post is you discover someone.

 

Safe Travels!

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....... " we will run off our battery bank if the power is that low/bad. And use our converter to charge the bank simultaneously "

 

That is a great idea. I have two 45 amp IOTA chargers hanging on the wall that are not plugged in to 120V AC since the Magnum inverter manages the batteries now. I will have to mount a duplex box with a male power plug on it. Plug the IOTA chargers into the duplex outlests and hook an extension cord to this box if I have weird power somewhere. Most likely never happen, but it can be one of my "just in case" provisions. ;)

 

 

Great tip - thanks

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