Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Floating neutral

Have one of those seemingly ubiquitous Honda 2000eu generators? And does it successfully drive your inverter?  You're in the minority, apparently.  Over on s/v Letitgo, they have the solution.  And it's one time when a short is a good thing...
So far this has been one of my most frustrating item, I just crossed it off my list so it deserves its own post! Don’t you think?

I am really hoping that the knowledge I just gained will help others who have the same issues on their RV or Boat. It was a nonstop fruitless search to find a picture showing exactly what to do, so hopefully what is to follow will be of help to you!

What do we need to look for? What is the symptom? You will not see it, you will not hear it. The generator works perfectly, you plug it, and it works or so it seems… As when you put the fancy charger inverter from a boat, it simply doesn’t recognize the electricity produce as clean. So here is the problem: the setup of the Honda and lots of other generators as a matter of fact is a floating neutral, also referred as a floating ground (not proper apparently). Hence, something is floating and the device only recognizes 68 volts and shuts everything down. In the house your ground is linked to the main box to the neutral, well,  not on a boat. This is all done for safety purpose, which is completely understandable but it made me scratch my head for quite a while!

So solution: Which is actually against everything you learn in life so far- “short” the plug inside the generator or outside via a cable. The principal is the same, we will only use ours on the boat, so I did a permanent fix internally.

You will need the proper set of tool to crimp two cables, one about 3 inches and one 7 inches. Finish it with open U shape connector and you are ready.

Once you have those two, you will need to install them as per picture below. I have made a label to indicate that the output has been modified on the casing itself.

If you put a regular household tester, it will show that the neutral is open. But once you plug it on your regular R/V or Boat AC input, magically it registers 128 Volt and everything work like magic.

It took me a long time to really trust myself and my reading. I would like to thank Ron for his professional advice and hand holding during the entire process. You see for a “normal” human being to create a short in a plug is not natural at all.

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