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Old 09-21-2021, 03:14 PM   #1
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Floating neutral trips 30 amp main breaker

I have an igen 4500 Westinghouse generator. It works just fine.

The problem is when I plug the 30 amp RV cord into the generator and then into the bus, IT flips my house AC 30 amp breaker.

This does not happen if I used one of the 20 amp generator receptacles.

My generator has a floating neutral. If I take a jump wire between the neutral and ground of one of the receptacles on the generator, not when the generator is running, I get continuity because now the generator is a bonded neutral.

I know I can make a 20 amp plug that acts as a bonding neutral as a workaround, and I've contacted Westinghouse support asking if there's a procedure for changing from a floating to a bonded neutral. So I think I've got that part handled.

What I don't understand is why does it trip the breaker when plugged into the 30 amp plug on the generator but it doesn't trip the breaker when plugged into the 20 amp? And yes I get that there's 10 amps of different, but it seems like it should still see the open neutral and cause the 30 amp main to trip.

Thanks to anyone who can help explain this.

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Old 09-21-2021, 03:28 PM   #2
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Have you confirmed the wiring for the 30a plug? Unless itís a ground fault breaker it seems like it shouldnít trip regardless. You may have bad wiring on the 30a side thatís unrelated to neutral bonding.
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Old 09-21-2021, 03:40 PM   #3
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Thats just cheating the safety device. Fix is elsewhere.

The same bonding fake out is true on old two wire (no ground) 120v, single phase. We can fool the system by jumping a neut & ground on a gfci. The gfci tester will work, as the neutral is a grounded conductor. Not a good place to fool our own safety devices.
Since its not the actual earth (ground), we might also back-feed, all devices & appliances, etc which have a third prong, or green wire, all of the well considered grounding and bonding, the metal fridge handle, the metal housing on our pioneer..... all bonded to the neutral.

So, what does the overcurrent protection device use to compare? Exposed neutrals now everywhere. The new shortest path to ground? First shoeless animal.
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Old 09-21-2021, 04:12 PM   #4
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I'm slightly confused here.

Plugging your bus into a 30 amp house outlet trips the house breaker?

Plugging your bus into a 20 amp outlet on the generator doesn't trip the generator breaker?

Plugging your bus into a 30 amp outlet on the generator trips the generator breaker?

The generator has a floating neutral?

Am I following correctly?

If so, I'd say something is wrong with your 30 amp cord/cord connections. Check for continuity between the 3 wires while it's plugged into your bus. With the bus panel's breakers off, there shouldn't be any continuity between any of the wires.

Does the panel in your bus have the ground and neutral bonded? Do you even have a panel in your bus?
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Old 09-21-2021, 08:16 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback. I hear your concerns about "fooling" the circuitry, yet it appears to be a common thing amongst generator manufacturers with many offering how and when instructions to set the generator up as a floating vs bonded ground.

Clarification:
1) If I plug into my home 20A receptacle with a 12ga extension cord into my bus 30A that then connects to a 30A main breaker that then feeds a panel with 20A GFCI breakers, then all works just fine.

2) If I plug into one of the 20A generator receptacles using a 12ga extension cord into my bus 30A, all works just fine.

3) If I plug into my 30A generator receptacle with my RV heavy duty cord into my bus 30A, the bus 30A main trips.

With scenario 1 or 2 I have run my mini-split AC/Heat pump, my 120v house bank battery charger and my 700w Instant Pot all at the same time with no issues.

The small 70A sub-panel that holds my 30A main breaker is attached to the metal of the outside storage bins with two screws.

My research tells me that if you do not have a true earth ground than bonding the generators neutral and ground is suggested so you do not have an open ground, which the surge protector detects, and apparently the 30A main breaker does too.

The reason you want a floating neutral on a home connection, that goes through a transfer switch into the homes main panel, is because the main panel already has its own earth ground.

Again, why does it work when plugged into the generator 20A receptacles but not the generator 30A?
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Old 09-21-2021, 08:31 PM   #6
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Maybe I'm missing something but how is your house and generator connected in the first place? They should be absolutely isolated from each other by some form of transfer switch.
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Old 09-21-2021, 09:06 PM   #7
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Is the bus 30a breaker a standard breaker? Could be a bad generatorÖ can you try to power anything else from the gen 30a outlet? Iíd get a meter on those wires cause it seems like that port on the generator may be bad
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Old 09-21-2021, 11:21 PM   #8
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Maybe I'm missing something but how is your house and generator connected in the first place? They should be absolutely isolated from each other by some form of transfer switch.
Grin, you're definitely missing something.

My house is where I get shore power from. When I plug into a standard house receptacle and plug it into my bus everything works fine.

My generator, which is not connected to my house in any way shape or form, Powers my bus just fine if I'm using the 20 amp receptacle. But if I try and use the generators 30 amp receptacle to power the bus, it trips the main breaker on the bus.

Again, the main point is all works fine on 20 amp circuits, but the minute I plug it into the generators 30 amp it flips the buses 30 amp main.

I'll start the generator tomorrow and test output.
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:27 AM   #9
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Grin, you're definitely missing something.

My house is where I get shore power from. When I plug into a standard house receptacle and plug it into my bus everything works fine.

My generator, which is not connected to my house in any way shape or form, Powers my bus just fine if I'm using the 20 amp receptacle. But if I try and use the generators 30 amp receptacle to power the bus, it trips the main breaker on the bus.

Again, the main point is all works fine on 20 amp circuits, but the minute I plug it into the generators 30 amp it flips the buses 30 amp main.

I'll start the generator tomorrow and test output.
I had a feeling I misread something. You're pretty familiar with electrical circuits.
I have the same generator as a back up. I use the 30a outlet to power up one side of my bus panel. I know the floating neutral can cause issues with GFI outlets but I don't have any installed. I don't see how a source could trip the breaker especially the same L1 at a higher amperage.
Shore power is grounded at the source (should be) generator is grounded at the generator. As it becomes the source the neutral should be bonded.
I know of no way to trip a breaker without both line and. load unless it is GFI protected breaker
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:07 AM   #10
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Okay,

Are you using your RV heavy duty cord in any scenario aside from the 30 amp plug on the generator? I'm think the cord is the issue, maybe it's got a wire flipped between connector terminals or something else goofy.

I don't really know, but process of elimination tells me if the cord is the only difference between the 3 tests, the cord or generator outlet is likely at fault.
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Old 09-22-2021, 11:36 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
Okay,

Are you using your RV heavy duty cord in any scenario aside from the 30 amp plug on the generator? I'm think the cord is the issue, maybe it's got a wire flipped between connector terminals or something else goofy.

I don't really know, but process of elimination tells me if the cord is the only difference between the 3 tests, the cord or generator outlet is likely at fault.

I think this is right, any part of the cable that youíre not using the other way or the output port on the genset is probably miswired, OR you have a fancy breaker on the bus, a gfci or something perhaps thatís acting funny, but I think the first scenario is more likely.
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Old 09-22-2021, 11:50 AM   #12
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I believe he does have "cascading" GFCIs, some in the bus and one on the genny. That can sometimes pose an issue, but it's odd that the issue only happens with the 30A receptacle. My suggestion was to shut off all the breakers in his panel and try plugging the bus into the genny's 30A receptacle...and see what happens. Then try turning on circuits, one at a time, to see if that narrows the search.
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:48 PM   #13
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I believe he does have "cascading" GFCIs, some in the bus and one on the genny. That can sometimes pose an issue, but it's odd that the issue only happens with the 30A receptacle. My suggestion was to shut off all the breakers in his panel and try plugging the bus into the genny's 30A receptacle...and see what happens. Then try turning on circuits, one at a time, to see if that narrows the search.
That's a good suggestion. You'll then see if it's a specific load on the house panel causing the interference.

Cascading GFCI's can certainly create weird issues, but I don't think one of them is instant tripping when connected. If so, I was always under the assumption they could be reset afterwards with no further issue. Also, if cascading GFCI's were the issue here, I'd think it'd be an issue regardless of the power source. It might be a contributor to the issue, but not the sole cause of it.

I've got no specific experience regarding this, and I'd consider myself only a hobby level electrician, but if the hot/neutral were flipped in the cord, along with a neutral ground bond, your gfci might be seeing stray current and tripping. The threshold to trip a gfci is tiny fwiw, so any sort of stray current loss will trip them.
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:33 PM   #14
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All true, Booyah! I got the impression, though, that his 20A receptacle on the genny was not a GFCI but the 30A was. I may be completely wrong on that, though.

I've seen GFCIs trip when connected to any device with capacitors, which was a common issue we had with grid-tied inverters. The GFCI compares the number of pixies moving in each direction on the line (hot) and the neutral...well, it's actually current of course, but the vision of pixies flying down the wires is more fun. If there's an imbalance, the assumption is that the current is going elsewhere...perhaps through a body...so it trips. Since capacitors take a charge and store energy, the input and the output won't match until the capacitor is charged up. So in those cases, we had to reset the GFCI a time or two until the cap charged. I say all this to remind myself that I didn't suggest Steve try resetting his genny GFCI again and see if it stays on.
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Old 09-24-2021, 11:47 AM   #15
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Did you ever sort this out? Iím curious as to what you end up finding.
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Old 09-26-2021, 05:39 PM   #16
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Sorry, since school started, things have been nuts. We're so short of drivers we've had one day where none of our 5 dispatchers were in the office and mechanics were driving buses too...in their grey overalls!

Some clarifications:

30A main breaker has a test button, so I'm pretty sure it's GFCI (sorry, I can't remember what I bought eons ago).

All the panel breakers are NOT GFCI.

All the 20A receptacles are GFCI.

The generator is NOT GFCI, but it's an inverter generator.

I have a manual transfer switch for Gen, Off, Shore.

Rob and I tested this once and we were able to get everything to work. That's 120v battery charger, A/C, refer.

I just tested it again and recreated the problem. The 120v battery charger is plugged into a 20A GFCI. If the panel breaker for the charger is turned off, I can start the generator, use the 30A cord, run the refrigerator and A/C, no problems. I turn off the refrigerator and A/C, plug in the charger and boom, main trips.

I will switch out the 20A GFCI receptacle for a Non-GFCI and see if things improve.
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Old 09-26-2021, 06:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Sorry, since school started, things have been nuts. We're so short of drivers we've had one day where none of our 5 dispatchers were in the office and mechanics were driving buses too...in their grey overalls!

Some clarifications:

30A main breaker has a test button, so I'm pretty sure it's GFCI (sorry, I can't remember what I bought eons ago).

All the panel breakers are NOT GFCI.

All the 20A receptacles are GFCI.

The generator is NOT GFCI, but it's an inverter generator.

I have a manual transfer switch for Gen, Off, Shore.

Rob and I tested this once and we were able to get everything to work. That's 120v battery charger, A/C, refer.

I just tested it again and recreated the problem. The 120v battery charger is plugged into a 20A GFCI. If the panel breaker for the charger is turned off, I can start the generator, use the 30A cord, run the refrigerator and A/C, no problems. I turn off the refrigerator and A/C, plug in the charger and boom, main trips.

I will switch out the 20A GFCI receptacle for a Non-GFCI and see if things improve.
Have you tried a bonding plug? Standard 5-15r replacement plug. Jump the neutral and ground and plug it in to the generator's duplex outlet. That will satisfy your GFI main. The generator is the source and neutral should be bonded at the source,
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Old 09-26-2021, 06:39 PM   #18
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Have you tried a bonding plug? Standard 5-15r replacement plug. Jump the neutral and ground and plug it in to the generator's duplex outlet. That will satisfy your GFI main. The generator is the source and neutral should be bonded at the source,
I was initially looking at that, yet was warned away from it (read some of the posts on this thread).

So, I'm trying to address it without having to bond, but, nobody has piped up about if they've done that and how it's worked for them. Have you done this on your bus gen setup?

Just trying to be safe and not turn the bus into a conductor!
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Old 09-26-2021, 07:04 PM   #19
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I was initially looking at that, yet was warned away from it (read some of the posts on this thread).

So, I'm trying to address it without having to bond, but, nobody has piped up about if they've done that and how it's worked for them. Have you done this on your bus gen setup?

Just trying to be safe and not turn the bus into a conductor!
I didn't say ground the generator. The neutral ang ground should be bonded. At the service entry, just like your house. At the source they're the same. The source is your generator in this case
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Old 09-26-2021, 07:22 PM   #20
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And, yes, I have a bonding plug in my Westinghouse i4500.
I don't have a GFI main, just a standard Eaton 80 amp panel and with a rotary transfer switch below it. My original panel had a 60 amp main and the neutral and ground were on the same lug. I did not bond the panel as I also have the option of shore power. I have built in generators and haven't tested the output yet. Because or the technology when they were built I'm leaning towards a 60 amp line conditioning transformer
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