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Old 05-23-2016, 10:02 AM   #1
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Autoformer, EMS, Proper Order, Weather Protection

Hey Gang,

Okay, so I've been thinking about this topic for easily over 2 years now on and off. What's the best way to order your electrical protection between the pedestal and the coach? How do you protect your various objects from theft. Some of them can get wet, some of them shouldn't.

Its enough to make your head spin.

I'm in the camp that believes a Autoformer is a must-have piece of kit. Low voltage will fry your motors and electronics, and camping in the heat w/o my air conditioner is just a no-go for my family. We're on vacation, we're going to enjoy all the amenities that our coach offers.

So - the question of sequence comes in. Autoformer --> EMS, or EMS --> Autoformer. There are valid reasons for both ways to order them.

The former allows for both items to do their jobs. The Autoformer boosts voltage, the EMS interrogates the power from the Autoformer and keeps your coach safe. The Autoformer has some pedestal checks in it, the EMS has them all. The coach has corrected voltage coming in and is protected from all the bad stuff. The downsides: The Autoformer takes the hit for a surge and must be sent back in for service. The Autoformer should probably be locked down to something so it doesn't walk, and Hughes advises you put a bucket over the AutoFormer if its raining. What a pain !

The latter allows your EMS to sit at the pedestal and the Autoformer can fit in your electrical bay if you have room. You still might want to lock the EMS up somehow, but the Autoformer is 'hidden'. The Autoformer still provides voltage correction down to the cut-out limit of your EMS. Your EMS provides the surge protection first, likely saving your Autoformer. If the Autoformer is in your electrical bay, you don't have to worry about securing it or the bucket. It's supposed to be able to 'breathe' so I always left the bay door cracked. Its not very hidden if the wind blows the right way and your bay door opens.

This works, but you don't get the full worth of the Autoformer. Like I said, there are many in both wiring camps. I was in the latter, but this year I find myself prepping to rig the former way.

So - my Autoformer goes first. I have a nice chain to lock it down, but frankly the bucket is a pain in the backside. Plus it calls attention to the unit, and I understand some parks don't allow Autoformers. What to do?

I'm thinking of taking my extra 25' cord and running it from the post to the Autoformer. I'll put the Autoformer under my coach, and chain it to the leaf spring of my rear wheels/axle. From there I'll take another run of cord and pull that up into my electrical bay where I'll have my portable EMS. EMS plugs directly into the coach.

The Autoformer is now 'covered', it can breathe, its presence is obscured, and its chained to the rig underneath.

Adding the first 25' run of cord from the pedestal to the Autoformer will net me a ~2v drop, nothing the Autoformer can't fix. If this works out well, I can always cut the 25' cord down and add new ends.

What do you guys think?
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Old 05-24-2016, 06:54 AM   #2
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Not the most popular topic I see ...
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Old 05-24-2016, 07:27 AM   #3
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I read your post yesterday and it seems you've done lots of thinking on the subject, so maybe no one can improve on it. For me, I had to find out what the Autoformer was. Never knew about them.
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Old 05-24-2016, 07:45 AM   #4
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I too had to research what these devices were... its seems to be a solution looking for a problem.
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Old 05-24-2016, 07:49 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rustysocket View Post
I too had to research what these devices were... its seems to be a solution looking for a problem.
I'm going to assume your're considering the Autoformer here and not the EMS. Most folks wouldn't be without a EMS.

If you ever camp anywhere there is low voltage, you'll understand the value of an Autoformer. Last year I was at a campground that had 100-102 volts coming off the pedestal. The campground was full and I had no recourse but to stay in the site I had booked. The Autoformer had me running at 110 - 112 volts all week. Without it, I would have been causing slow damage to my onboard electrical system and various motors (A/C, Microwave, etc.).
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Old 05-24-2016, 08:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jopopsy View Post
I'm going to assume your're considering the Autoformer here and not the EMS. Most folks wouldn't be without a EMS.

If you ever camp anywhere there is low voltage, you'll understand the value of an Autoformer. Last year I was at a campground that had 100-102 volts coming off the pedestal. The campground was full and I had no recourse but to stay in the site I had booked. The Autoformer had me running at 110 - 112 volts all week. Without it, I would have been causing slow damage to my onboard electrical system and various motors (A/C, Microwave, etc.).
Yes, I permanently install a meter in our coach and just have never seen it happen. Not saying it can't. I spent a lot of time in India so my perception of the quality of our power grid has a different frame of reference than many.
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Old 05-24-2016, 08:19 AM   #7
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I currently only use an autoformer. It's stowed in the bay where the power cord goes. I cut off the existing cord and made it short enough that I could stow the autoformer under the MH if need be. I've seen posts like this previously and it seems like the best order would be the EMS to the post and then the autoformer. This would protect the autoformer but would result in loss of power earlier than the other way around. It's a tough call really.

FYI, I've also checked the temperature of the autoformer while stowed in the bay and it doesn't seem to generate much heat even when stepping up the voltage. So I'm considering it safe to stow in the bay for now.

My reason for going with an autoformer was the same as yours. Last year I was at several marginal voltage sites and damaging the AC was a real concern. I even fired up my generator at one point as the temps outside were over 100 and the voltage was down to 104.
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Old 05-24-2016, 08:30 AM   #8
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I'm going to have to pay more attention to this than I have. It's possible I may just not be aware of what is really happening under loads.
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Old 05-24-2016, 09:03 AM   #9
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Proper order would be (from the power post) a surge suppressor... then an auto former... then an EMS... then power line to the coach.

Why? Auto formers have surge suppression in them (via MOVs only). If they are damaged in a surge, the entire unit must be sent back in for repair or replacement. A standard surge suppressor will protect the far more expensive autoformer.

If you run an EMS before the autoformer, your overall operating voltage is greatly diminished as the voltage monitor in the EMS will shut off before your autoformer can boost enough.


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Old 05-24-2016, 09:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by J.Lockhart View Post
Proper order would be (from the power post) a surge suppressor... then an auto former... then an EMS... then power line to the coach.

Why? Auto formers have surge suppression in them (via MOVs only). If they are damaged in a surge, the entire unit must be sent back in for repair or replacement. A standard surge suppressor will protect the far more expensive autoformer.

If you run an EMS before the autoformer, your overall operating voltage is greatly diminished as the voltage monitor in the EMS will shut off before your autoformer can boost enough.


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I suppose if you want the utmost in electrical protection you are correct. I had considered this, than I was wondering if I was going crazy on the topic.
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