After long research, we decided to buy a shore power monitor or auto generator start. This comes in handy when shore power disappears for whatever reason while our dog was in the RV. She would then be deprived of heating or cooling depending on the current condition. It is also important to keep the fridge going. An alert alone does nothing to solve the power issue, this monitor is a more robust solution.
THIS IS A FIVE STAR SOLUTION!
However be aware that it will not prevent malfunction of your furnace, AC, or fridge or any alerting to that. Unless you have an internet-enabled thermostat as we do. (Still, the fridge has no option to alert us.)
The best and simple to install option was the Shorepower monitor from RVautomations.com, it is a straight forward solution without bells and whistles. There are more advanced solutions that have so many functions that make it hard to install and are also prone to failure because of all the conditions that can occur and settings they have.
This will start the generator as soon as the shore power disappears and stop the generator when shore power comes back. Our heat and cooling will kick back on after switching either way. We have an Ecobee thermostat (Internet-connected) that takes care of that. This thermostat will also email us with high or low temperatures out of a boundary that we have programmed.
After installation, I tested it by just flipping the breaker of the pedestal on and off to disconnect shore power. It worked flawlessly. In between switching, there was enough time for the running AC to stop or start without a problem, this way the AC is protected from damage or failure.
Do not forget to switch the monitor off when you break up camp otherwise your generator will start after disconnecting shore power 🙂 guess how I know.
RVautomations website has instructions on how to install and connect this monitor.
Here is a review of the installation and testing of the shorepower monitor;
MAKE SURE ALL ELECTRICAL TO AND IN YOUR RV IS OFF BEFORE STARTING INSTALL
Not all the used material is included in the package. You need to buy wires (check the size) of the right length to connect to the generator and auto transfer switch.
Included in the package:
- Shorepower Monitor on rail
- On/Off Switch
- Wiring diagram
Added by me;
- 45ft of 18AWG wire (4 wires) (To generator)
- 44ft of 3/8 inch Split Wire Loom Tubing Wire Conduit – Black
- 7 feet of 14AWG wire (3 wires) (To auto transfer switch)
- Some more Posi-taps for future projects
- Electrical tape
- Metal screws
- Zip ties (not pictured)
The first thing you should do is find the best spot for the monitor and switch
The reason I chose to install the shore power monitor into the electric bay, instead of close to the generator, is that when setting up on a campground I have the electric bay already open. My shore power cord is fixed to the RV on an electric reel and connected to a surge guard in the electric bay. I have to wait until the surge guard has checked the power and feeds it to the ATS that is in the same bay. Then I can activate the shore power monitor without going to the front of the RV where I would have to open a hatch to have access to the generator. That hatch has no lock. Now I have everything in one place and it is easier to not forget switching it on or off and I can lock the bay door if I want to, in this way nobody can switch off the shore power monitor (They could stop the generator but that will restart automatically when the shore power is still off my testing showed!)
Route of the cable:
In my 40 ft RV, the generator is in the front behind the grill and on a rail, while the electrical bay (with the ATS, shore power cord and surge guard) is behind the drive wheels in the back. I had to route the 4 wires from the electrical bay forward to the generator over the back axle and the front axle while also avoiding the exhaust from touching the wires. Before install, I put the split loom over the wires. This took 2 hours to finish while crawling under the RV finding the best route and getting very dirty! I used zip ties to fasten the split loom. If I had chosen to mount the monitor close to the generator I needed to run the 120 volts wires to the back, I found it to be safer to run 12 volts to the front instead of 120 volts to the back in case the wires got damaged while on the road. The work of routing the cable would be the same effort in either way.
After routing the wires it was time to install the shorepower monitor in the electrical bay. I took 12 volts from the bay light and connected the common to chassis.
I labeled every wire on the monitor end and the generator end.
Her is a picture of the 10 pin generator connector. I connected the (labeled) wires with Posi-taps to the generator 10 pin wiring harness on the coach side.
The lettering on this connector was a bit vague so I edited the picture to see it better. The F is on the other side of the connector.
- A: GND
- C: START
- E: STOP
Next was adding the wires to the ATS (Auto Transfer Switch)
Make sure you connect the black wire from the monitor to L1 of the shore power cable And the white ground wire from the monitor to the ground of the shore power cable. You can connect the green ground wire to any ground connection.
NOTE: The black cable (to L1 on the shore power cable) will detect if the shore power is off or on, this is a signal to the monitor to stop or start the generator. The monitor has to be switched on to have that ability.
Now that everything is connected its time to test it.
Before you switch on the monitor make sure you are connected to shore power. In my case, I have a surge guard (Sure Guard 34560 0 Amp) that has a delay of 2 1/2 minutes while it checks the power quality and correctness before it feeds the power to the shore power cable. After the surge guard is active, switch on the Shorepower monitor. The lights on the power module and the monitor are now both green. To fake a shore power interruption disconnect from shore power and the shorepower monitor will start the generator after a few seconds. I have a diesel (Onan 7.5 Kw) so it takes a little to warm up the glow plugs before it starts. I tested this scenario several times with AC on or Furnace on and also checked the fridge. It never failed to work.
The final view:
An easy to install shore power monitor (Auto generator start) that switches between the generator and shore power with ease. It does not need any setup. You have to remember to switch it off before breaking up camp and switch it on when setting up camp so add it to your checklist!
Use the above steps and added tips to install. Also, print the appropriate wiring diagrams from their website it gives you all the information you need.
5 stars for this solution, works as promised!