carbon monoxide alert trips circuit breaker..I think - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-30-2010, 12:36 PM   #1
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carbon monoxide alert trips circuit breaker..I think

Last night I turned the furnace on and the carbon monoxide alert kept beeping every 30 secs. I tried to reset it but it kept beeping. Since it was late I locked it up for the night but it was still beeping. In the morning nothing worked and the main circuit breaker was tripped. I reset it and now things are normal. Could the carbon monoxide security alert box trip the main breaker if it senses gas?
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Old 09-30-2010, 04:07 PM   #2
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Any device that plugs in to the 120VAC can trip a breaker should they go bad.
You R extremely lucky you R still alive because if that thing was working within prescribed limits, it was trying to tell U something.

I have 2 carbon monoxide detectors in the camper and should one go off I would turn off all devices that can produce Carbon Monoxide and then air out the egg B 4 going back to bed.

You can purchase battery operated detectors for less than $40 each.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:46 PM   #3
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I work on smoke and CO alarms for a living. Just going into alarm had better not trip your breaker! If your CO alarm is more than 5 years old (some newer ones just coming out will go for 7), pitch it and get a new one. The CO sensors inside of alarms lose accuracy as they age, and at some point they fail completely. The label on the back of your alarm should tell you what the particular beep pattern you were hearing means. It may have indicated a CO event, or it may have just been telling you that it failed its own internal self-test. If the label doesn't give you enough info to figure it out, look at the manual (if you have it) or call the manufacturer or look on their web site for a manual.

If you buy a new CO alarm, make absolutely sure the label says it's approved for RV use. Some home-only units may work, but they're not tested to withstand the road vibration and temperature extremes of RV use. Why risk dying of CO poisoning to save a buck?

Whatever you do, DON'T use your gas appliances without at least having a CO alarm. CO and propane alarms together (or a 2-in-1 if you can find it) is the way to go. Propane leaks don't just cause explosions, they can also kill you like CO. Also, make sure your alarm has been approved by UL, ETL or CSA.
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:40 PM   #4
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I work on smoke and CO alarms for a living.

If you buy a new CO alarm, make absolutely sure the label says it's approved for RV use.

CO and propane alarms together (or a 2-in-1 if you can find it) is the way to go.
Jon,

Can you suggest any makes/models currently on the market that might suit our needs? Both Single and combined.
12V only?
120V only?
12V/120V combined?

For a combined (2 in 1) where would you locate it? If I understand it correctly you want a CO up higher and the propane down lower.

Roy
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:21 PM   #5
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Jon,

Can you suggest any makes/models currently on the market that might suit our needs? Both Single and combined.
12V only?
120V only?
12V/120V combined?

For a combined (2 in 1) where would you locate it? If I understand it correctly you want a CO up higher and the propane down lower.

Roy
CO gas diffuses pretty much everywhere, which is why you see them mounted on ceilings and plugged into wall sockets. Propane and LP gas are heavier than air, so at or below your cooktop level is better. (Methane and natural gas are lighter than air, so alarms for those would go up higher, but RVs don't use natural gas.) Neither type should be mounted against an outside wall - tough thing to do in a 13 footer - because condensation from being colder, especially while cooking, can do it in or at least cause it to malfunction until it warms up / dries out again. Right above the cooktop is also bad, again because of condensation and also cooking fumes. Smoke alarms should be mounted high up and not tucked into corners. The idea is to let the convection of a fire's heat push smoke into the alarm as quickly as possible. All of these products will have mounting details in their manuals. Yes, you DO need that steenking manual!!!

I work in a somewhat different corner of the detection market (sorry, can't divulge where without upsetting my corporate masters) and only have a bit of involvement with the RV market. However, I know people who can rattle off the names of the better manufacturers from memory. I'll create a list of trustworthy models and report back in a day or two.
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:04 AM   #6
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Thanks for the insightful information and quick response Jon
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Old 10-02-2010, 02:57 PM   #7
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Sorry folks, but I can't post that list of alarms I originally promised, as much as I'd like to. Being in the industry, I have to be really careful about what I say regarding any particular brand or model. OTOH, I don't mind giving some generic brand-agnostic advice.

As I said before, only buy a unit which has been certified by CSA or listed by UL, ULC or ETL for RV use. Those of you across the big pond to the east would make sure the unit caries the CE mark (I don't think you can find ones without the mark any more) which has been certified for LAV or caravan use. The reason for this is the RV-specific models are subjected to a number of tests over and above the ones for home use due to the vibration and temperature extremes they can see in RVs and trailers. Also, mind the temperature ratings of units you buy and make sure your own usage will be inside of that range.

I know testing alarms is punishingly painful in a small trailer, but it still needs to be done before every trip. Use earplugs if you have to. Even with the RV rating, your alarm gets pretty hard use. Push that test button. Do it.

Just because you have CO and gas alarms doesn't mean you're going to be safe using your stove or oven or an unvented heater to keep yourself warm. What can happen in a confined space while burning gas is the flame will start out all nice and blue and produce almost no CO. Even if you have a vent cracked, the oxygen level in your camper could decrease as the combustion consumes oxygen and that nice blue gas flame will start to yellow-tip, which means it's producing CO. Since CO poisoning is cumulative, spending several hours in that environment can make you ill. If you go to sleep with that burner on and your alarm fails for whatever reason, you might wake up dead. People who heat their campers this way are potential candidates for The Darwin Award. The Darwin Awards

While I can't name brands and list models, I will say that I found a couple of RV-specific combination LP gas /CO alarms in the market with a simple Google search. Small glass eggs are cramped enough as it is, so having one less thing to hang on the wall is a good thing, and that's what I'll equip mine with. I'll install a separate smoke alarm higher up. I also tossed the original 1981 fire extinguisher. It was still holding pressure, but why take a chance on an old unit that could lose its charge? These things are cheap insurance. Again, as with the alarms, look for the UL or ETL mark and make sure it's listed for auto/truck/RV use.

One final word on gas alarms: My sister had an LP gas leak occur in her weekend cabin a couple of years ago and almost died from it. Luckily, there was no fire or explosion, but the gas crowded the air out of the room she was sleeping in and started to suffocate her. (The gas isn't poisonous, it's an asphyxiant. http://www.npga.org/files/public/Tec...PGA_210-96.pdf ) She felt ill from that for a few months. Mobile LP gas tubing and connections get beat up by road vibration and temperature extremes, just like any other component of your trailer. The chances of a leak in a proper installation are small, but lots of our trailers are elderly and may have been worked on by people with limited skills. Again, why take a chance?
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Old 10-02-2010, 03:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lloyd cicetti View Post
Last night I turned the furnace on and the carbon monoxide alert kept beeping every 30 secs. I tried to reset it but it kept beeping. Since it was late I locked it up for the night but it was still beeping. In the morning nothing worked and the main circuit breaker was tripped. I reset it and now things are normal. Could the carbon monoxide security alert box trip the main breaker if it senses gas?
Yikes! We've hijacked this thread from Lloyd!

To more directly answer your question: I'm not aware of any trailer or RV that gets wired to trip a breaker when the CO alarm actuates. A breaker is made to turn power off during an overload or short circuit. Not to say your Trillium doesn't have some other kind of safety shutdown wired in, but the alarm would have to be seriously faulty to trip a breaker and it wouldn't have recovered were this the case. If it was chirping, there may have been something else going on which reduced the voltage to your alarm, causing it to self-diagnose a fault. Your tripped breaker may be an indication of a basic wiring problem as much as it would be for a faulty load. It also may have tripped if the power feeding your trailer had a problem such as really low voltage or lots of noise due to problems elsewhere in the grid.

I also didn't notice at first that your Trillium is an '09, so your alarm and/or the rest of your trailer may still be under warranty. If anything like this happens again, call Trillium and find out if they'll fix it for free.
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