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Voltage Regulator for High Voltage Conditions


cwr
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We're staying long-term at a campground where we just moved into our new 5th wheel. I purchased a Progressive Technologies EMS to protect the new RV.

 

Much to my dismay, every evening, sometimes beginning sometime between midnight at 3AM, the EMS kills power to the RV due to a high voltage condition. The EMS is reporting a voltage of up to 133 volts - I've seen this on both legs; but typically only one leg is at 133 volts where the other might be at 130 or so.

 

Of course, the campground is totally unwilling to invest any real troubleshooting into the problem, but I suspect one of their transformers is probably delivering too high of a voltage and during the day, when everyone is using lots of electricity, the voltage drops to acceptable levels. At night, when everything is off except air conditioners, the load is reduced on the faulty transformer and our voltage creeps up. The only thing the campground did after complaining was to send a security officer out with a digital multimeter to check the voltage of our pedestal - during the day when we don't have the problem. His meter's reading matched pretty closely what the EMS was reporting, so that made me feel a little better in knowing that maybe the problem is real and not just a faulty EMS. (When I checked with my low-end radio shack meter, I was seeing voltages about 4 volts less than what the EMS was reporting).

 

Being a bit of an electronics enthusiast myself, I am mostly familiar with DC components and systems, but in that realm, it is not uncommon to have voltage regulators that can take a higher voltage input and regulate them to a lower, consistent voltage output.

 

I've been searching for a similar concept to use in RV applications; but the only thing I'm finding are "voltage regulators" that BOOST low voltages; they appear to be of no use for slightly high voltages.

 

I know that even if such a device did exist, it isn't the "right" solution -- that would be for the campground to fix their problem; however, they probably won't do anything about it, and I'm in a bit of a pickle because we're not in a position to move somewhere else just yet.

 

Any suggestions?

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52 minutes ago, cwr said:

Much to my dismay, every evening, sometimes beginning sometime between midnight at 3AM, the EMS kills power to the RV due to a high voltage condition. The EMS is reporting a voltage of up to 133 volts - I've seen this on both legs; but typically only one leg is at 133 volts where the other might be at 130 or so.

If there were some way to know that the voltage would never go above the 133V level, it would probably be of very little concern but we really have no way to be sure. 

52 minutes ago, cwr said:

've been searching for a similar concept to use in RV applications; but the only thing I'm finding are "voltage regulators" that BOOST low voltages; they appear to be of no use for slightly high voltages.

The reason for this is that high voltage is a very rare problem is nearly always the fault of the power company. Voltages that sag as the load gets high is a pretty common problem in older RV parks because the park system has aged and developed poor connections and such which drop voltage in them and that loss increases when current load rises. There is very little need for this and the cost is significant.

9 minutes ago, cwr said:

I was under the assumption that the electric utility supplied high-voltage service to the campground, which in turn, stepped it down using their own transformers. Maybe this is incorrect; I'm really not sure.

That is possible and may exist in some locations but most RV parks are supplied two phases of 120V each, much as a house or office would be. Even if the park does own a transformer, it is probably not an autotransformer but a fixed step-down which would still be directly influenced by the supply. I suspect that most large parks that have transformers in them are leasing that equipment from the power company. The biggest part of the problem with RV park electrical issues is that most park owners have very little understanding of electrical principles but do understand profit margins. 

Edited by Kirk Wood
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This is a classic problem for campgrounds with poor wiring.  As the OP observed, the park has its transformer set to pump more voltage to handle the high loads when the park is full.  Drop the park occupancy or eliminate the AC  needs and the voltage rises.

The problem is in the transformers ability to handle changing load and keeping the voltage in range.  Who delivers the transformer is who is at fault.  It could be purchased by the park which already shown poor investment in the wiring.  Or it could be the power company.

The tough thing is high voltage is what takes out electronics.  Low voltage takes out motors.

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Well, I just spent the last 30 minutes walking the campground and speaking with as much staff as I could in an attempt to "map" the infrastructure.

I also called the electric utility, and they were willing to put in a work order to look at it, but they required a meter number, which is why I set out on my journey.

After collecting intelligence, I am almost 99% sure that the campground owns and "maintains" their own transformers. There are probably close to a dozen or so small transformers located throughout the park, usually accompanied by a breaker panel. I could find only a handful of electric meters; only one near a breaker panel for a handful of sites (which did not include mine). The other meter I found was on a large, utility-owned high voltage transformer, which I suspect supplies the 480V or 240V feeds to the smaller transformers scattered throughout the park.

The park's transformers are so old, the manufacturer's (GE) placard is completely faded on every unit I checked.

Staff suggest that the power company can't do anything because the utility does not own the transformers. On the other hand, staff is completely uninterested in having a qualified electrician do anything about it. One guy, knowing I have a new rig, asked if it had "one of them surge protectors." I said yes, and of course he lit up and said, "well, that's your problem right there!" Ugh.

At this point I suspect my original hypothesis is correct - the transformers are tweaked to put out voltages higher than they should to make up for crappy wiring and high occupancy during peak seasons. Right now, the campground is pretty sparsely populated, and since the problem happens when everyone's asleep, I'm almost positive this is the issue.

One of the many "joys" of the full-time lifestyle, I guess. My last recourse is to track down the senior-most "maintenance" guy (security guard) who might know more, but he isn't working for the next few days.

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Two or three years ago a friend and I had the same problem, our Progressive EMS units were intermittently shutting off power due to high voltage.  We talked with the campground and they notified the power company.  We believed the power company would respond better to them as they are the direct customer and would have more clout.  The power company is also the responsible party for the campgrounds transformers.  A couple days later the campground was told by the power company they increase the line voltage 3 or 4 volts during the summer (Gulf Shores, AL) due to heavy loads and lower it in the winter months.  They hadn't yet lowered the voltage.  That's what we were told.

Also, my friend talked with Progressive and he returned the computer board (about 7 years old) from his EMS and they recalibrated it at no charge.   We used two quality meters compared to his EMS and believe it was reading a couple volts high.    Greg  

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19 minutes ago, Big Greg said:

Also, my friend talked with Progressive and he returned the computer board (about 7 years old) from his EMS and they recalibrated it at no charge.  

I actually called Progressive first. The rep I spoke with was borderline rude and obviously in a hurry to get me off the phone. My question was simple, what is the tolerance of the voltage sensor in the EMS units? Like anything else, I can only assume that they are only accurate within a certain threshold. I asked if they could be calibrated. He didn't want to hear any of it, and simply told me its a problem with the campground. Not too impressed with Progressive so far. My unit is brand new, so hopefully its OK. I'm going to do some research and upgrade my El Cheapo multimeter to something that can be calibrated by a certified shop.

 

9 minutes ago, Mark and Dale Bruss said:

For some parks, ignorance is bliss.

Also, for a lot of campers, it would seem. As I walked the park, it seems I'm probably the only one that has an EMS.

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CWR, great questions, let me start by providing some basic information, but not being there and not knowing what equipment the RV park owns and its specs and what the utility owns and its specs I'm pretty much restricted SO NO WARRANTY.

 

1) As far as what the utility is providing, say pole mount transformers or even pad mounts, those transformers "may" be equipped with TAP CHANGERS which allow like a 2 1/2 % change and if so perhaps they need lowered 2 1/2% ????? They may well be break before make and the utility would have to come out and de energize them before switching MAYBE THATS WHAT THEY HAVE AND MAYBE A SIMPLE TAP CHANGE WILL CURE THE PROBLEM no way I can tell....................In the event the RV parks owns several scattered about DRY TRANSFORMERS themselves which uses Utility say 480 and steps it down to 120/240 at certain locations, they may well NOT have tap change capacity. HOWEVER if the utility transformer that feeds all those non adjustable dry transformers has changeable taps and they were lowered say 2 1/2% THAT COULD STILL BE A CHEAP CURE ?????????  

2) They make what are called BUCK BOOST Transformers which as well as raising voltage can also LOWER it but I haven't taken the time to see what's out there for you application (many are only low voltage out) or if you can even get any type of automatic tap changer (make before break, NON interrupted). I don't view that as a solution for the problem you described but Ive been away from the trade too many years. I don't see those as providing AUTOMATIC output regulation for variable input either, more fixed type UNLESS equipped with auto tap changers and they would have to be make before break.

3) They make CONSTANT VOLTAGE TRANSFORMERS or FERRO RESONANT (Ferro) TRANSFORMERS which pump sufficient energy in and heavily saturate the iron core such that the output remains fairly constant regardless if the input varies. While that sounds like a good solution THEY MAY BE TOO EXPENSIVE TO BE PRACTICAL for RV use.  As I recall we used some automatic tap changer (make before break)  transformers as a means to regulate output voltage in some Dry Transformers for our computer rooms BUT THEY WERE QUITE EXPENSIVE !!!!!!!! Probably more then practical for single RV use.

It seems to me its the parks and/or utility provider problem and adjusting voltage down a tad (tap changers IF so equipped ????) may help. Even if you can find ???????? No Idea,  a Buck Boost or Constant Voltage or Ferro Transformer that can regulate as high as 134 VAC in down to 120 VAC out may be cumbersome and expensive and heavy and NOT very practical.

 MAKE THE RV PARK FIX IT    (Good Luck with that one lol)

 

John T Too longgggggggggggg retired power distribution design engineer and sooooooooooo rusty on this

Edited by oldjohnt
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55 minutes ago, cwr said:

Also, for a lot of campers, it would seem.

No question about that. As long as things work and no smoke comes out, it must be OK.....   About all that you can do if they don't respond is to leave, and then share your experience here and also with RV Park Reviews and also with Campendium .

Edited by Kirk Wood
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You are there temporarily. You have an EMS that is causing problems. Why would they want to start a process that will be fixed when you move on down the road. Do NOT turn off the EMS. I did that once at the encouragement of a master electrician. It took out my inverter. Turned out the problem was the transformer. At my current location (daughters house) we were getting higher voltage on one leg and low on another. Classic bad neutral. Power company checked voltage and stated all was good. When I called back ad told them it was bad neutral, he came out and hooked a device with a hair dryer motor in to the lines. One rose to 150v the other dropped to 58 v. He fixed the problem. 

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31 minutes ago, Ronbo said:

Classic bad neutral

Indeed, if there's excess resistance in the Neutral there's an I x R Voltage Drop in the circuit leaving less voltage on leg then the other. His problem sounds more like VOLTAGE IS JUST TO DARN HIGH

Regardless, if it were a loose Neutral or perhaps transformers simply needed a tap change, the RV park and/or the utility provider SHOULD BE THE ONES TO REPAIR IT. The OP could invest in a constant voltage or ferro transformer or an automatic tap changer transformer voltage regulator, but that's an expense and a bulk to carry with you at all times !!!!!!!!!!!!!

John T   

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Sorry you're having a problem... Interesting read. A couple of suggestions:

1) Move to a different campground:)! (If possible...)

2) Turn your power off at the pole when you go to sleep, and back on when you get out in the AM. (Use the batteries some at night:)!)

3) I thought that the owners manuals and some spec's in them on different units? Suspect you should find the values on your Progressive by doing some Google investigation. (And a shame that they could not just give you the info over the phone.)

Best of luck to you,

Smitty 

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I only have had the problem once.  I was the only one that lost power.  And it was my EMS that cut the power off.  I let the campground know about the issue and they called the power company out and had the problem fixed.  If the campground will not help, maybe you should look for another long term place.  

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Think about this. How many campers are there?  How many do not have any type of surge guard?

has anyone report issues in the coach ?

Most of the electronics can handle 135 Vdc,  this is due to the electronics inside that convert the AC to DC.

AC motors can handle the 135 Vac they will run faster. 

 

And yes it is the utility company that is responsible for the transformer setting. Complain, do not forget to inform the manager of what you are doing. 

 

 

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On 9/29/2017 at 10:15 AM, oldjohnt said:

CWR, great questions, let me start by providing some basic information, but not being there and not knowing what equipment the RV park owns and its specs and what the utility owns and its specs I'm pretty much restricted SO NO WARRANTY.

 

1) As far as what the utility is providing, say pole mount transformers or even pad mounts, those transformers "may" be equipped with TAP CHANGERS which allow like a 2 1/2 % change and if so perhaps they need lowered 2 1/2% ????? They may well be break before make and the utility would have to come out and de energize them before switching MAYBE THATS WHAT THEY HAVE AND MAYBE A SIMPLE TAP CHANGE WILL CURE THE PROBLEM no way I can tell....................In the event the RV parks owns several scattered about DRY TRANSFORMERS themselves which uses Utility say 480 and steps it down to 120/240 at certain locations, they may well NOT have tap change capacity. HOWEVER if the utility transformer that feeds all those non adjustable dry transformers has changeable taps and they were lowered say 2 1/2% THAT COULD STILL BE A CHEAP CURE ?????????  

2) They make what are called BUCK BOOST Transformers which as well as raising voltage can also LOWER it but I haven't taken the time to see what's out there for you application (many are only low voltage out) or if you can even get any type of automatic tap changer (make before break, NON interrupted). I don't view that as a solution for the problem you described but Ive been away from the trade too many years. I don't see those as providing AUTOMATIC output regulation for variable input either, more fixed type UNLESS equipped with auto tap changers and they would have to be make before break.

3) They make CONSTANT VOLTAGE TRANSFORMERS or FERRO RESONANT (Ferro) TRANSFORMERS which pump sufficient energy in and heavily saturate the iron core such that the output remains fairly constant regardless if the input varies. While that sounds like a good solution THEY MAY BE TOO EXPENSIVE TO BE PRACTICAL for RV use.  As I recall we used some automatic tap changer (make before break)  transformers as a means to regulate output voltage in some Dry Transformers for our computer rooms BUT THEY WERE QUITE EXPENSIVE !!!!!!!! Probably more then practical for single RV use.

It seems to me its the parks and/or utility provider problem and adjusting voltage down a tad (tap changers IF so equipped ????) may help. Even if you can find ???????? No Idea,  a Buck Boost or Constant Voltage or Ferro Transformer that can regulate as high as 134 VAC in down to 120 VAC out may be cumbersome and expensive and heavy and NOT very practical.

 MAKE THE RV PARK FIX IT    (Good Luck with that one lol)

 

John T Too longgggggggggggg retired power distribution design engineer and sooooooooooo rusty on this

Hey John T

I look forward to reading your explanations.  I learn something every time.  Just read it again and learned some more. 

Thank you

JT

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9 hours ago, J-T said:

Hey John T

I look forward to reading your explanations.  I learn something every time.  Just read it again and learned some more. 

Thank you

JT

Thanks for the kind words, I try the same as so do many other fine gents on here (many of whom I couldn't pack water to lol)  who have helped me.

John T 

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