March 29

Up in smoke: our RV inverter flamed out

On Thursday, we had a a fire in our inverter/charger.

I know, as an open, that was lacking. To be fair, I had worked on a few opens, including a poetic reference to campfires to contrast electronic fires. I considered an analogy to Apocalypse Now (“I love the smell of Naplam in the morning…”). Then I decided the direct approach made the most sense. So there you have it.

burned out inverter
up in smoke: the burned out inverter

The good news is everyone is safe and we contained the damage to the inverter/charger. The less good news is that all power to the “house” part of our RV runs through that device. Without it, we’re literally dead in the water. We plan to address that this week.

Thursday Morning Fire

Thursday morning (a few days ago) was full of sunshine and started much like other days. As we set about our morning routine, we were alerted by a warning of the electrical system overheat. When I stepped outside to investigate, I was met with the distinct smell of electronics burning and a billowing cloud of smoke escaping from a rear compartment bay.

I opened the bay and heard — but didn’t see — the fire. The sound of crackling electronics was different than campfires and less relaxing.

So I emptied the contents of the bay (hey, my tools are important to me), got everyone out of the coach and grabbed one of our many fire extinguishers. I believe in being prepared, and I found that while I realized it was important to put the fire out (no kidding), no one in the family panicked. I walked back to the inverter/charger to see visible flames (still inside the housing), pulled the safety pin and put the fire out. I had to shoot through the vents to put the fire out, but it went down without a fight.

I turned off power at the main pedestal/breaker and then assessed the damage. With the coating from the fire extinguisher fresh in the bay, I noticed a lot of spider webs and wonder if one happened to build a web inside the housing (it was warm) of the unit — causing a possible short. We hope to do some analysis this week to see if we can figure it out.

The Amazing RV Community

Within five minutes we had a handful of concerned and helpful neighbors at our coach checking on us. I cannot stress how amazing the RV community is, and Thursday simply proved it again. From others who have been through similar events, we talked about potential causes, solutions, costs, repair centers and the like. And we quickly confirmed we were all okay, will be okay and in the scheme of life, this was no big deal.

And it’s not a big deal. It simply is. No one was hurt, the fire was contained and now we have to engage in a straightforward (for someone else) repair before heading back on our way.

What it means now

We’re lucky that we are still in Myrtle Beach; we have use of a family-owned condo that makes it easy for me to work, the kids to school and life to go on. We expect to be here a few weeks to get it diagnosed, repaired and have a few other repairs completed, too. Meantime, we’re relaxing in the condo and looking forward to an opportunity to catch up with a dear family friend this week. In fact, we wouldn’t have that welcomed opportunity without the fire.

We seek to live simply and collect experiences instead of things. Now we have a new experience.

Once the repairs are made, we’re back on the road with planned stops in Atlanta, Dallas (tentative), Bentonville, Sioux City, Indianapolis, and Hershey Park for Memorial Day weekend.

cross posted at Catalyst onTour


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    1. You and me both!

      It was one of those events where I simply responded and put the fire out. But a few hours, and a few days later, I realized it could have been worse (and bad).

      But it wasn’t. Everyone is good…

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