What Hud says about gensets not having proper isolation is indeed common. Remember, a genset is often designed for portable use and "earth ground" is not an intrinsic part of that setup, unlike AC distribution systems.
Surge protectors go bad quite simply from two reasons: Cheap
stuff--often counterfeit--or spikes. They are consumable parts
, like tungsten light bulbs or fuses
, and they are actually rated to withstand "this much zap this often" and then expected to fail and be replaced.
HPS10, Portable handheld oscilloscope, 10MS/s, model #HPS10 - All Spectrum Electronics
The Velleman solid-state "scope" at $135 s a surprisingly good tool, small enough for boat use, too. If you really need to go as far as buying
So it could be simply that your genset has such a dirty AC output, that it is chewing up the surge protectors. There are some more expensive types that use inert-gas filled spark gaps and such that might last longer, but the only way to really see what is going on would be an osciloscope on the genset output. Or--if you can find someone else with the same model, try to get their output scoped. Pretty much every marine electronics
or land mobile radio
should have an ocilloscope, and if you can find any ham radio
operators there's a good chance one of them might be able to provide a scope
in exchange for a daysail or a cold drink and the challenge.
Otherwise...all you can do is try to buy a better surge protector (one rated for more "joules" of surge protection) or find specs on the generator output. The actual working component in a surge protector can be any of several types, typically they can be replaced for less than a buck apiece, you don't have to buy a whole power strip or surge box to do that.
I'm guessing that the surge protectors may have some partial leakage current
, possibly just while they are clipping spikes, possibly all the time, and that's just enough to make the sensitive GFCIs trip even though there is no real danger
at the time--just two gizmos with different agendas and different operating criterias. When surge protectors actually fail, they can do so in two different ways. They blow--like a fuse--or they slag down and become a dead short. In which case they often blow something else in fast order. Usually they just blow, like a fuse, and stop protecting anything.
You could probably take a $20 DMM and set it on the AC milliamps scale to measure any leakage current
past the surge detector. If I remember, even 5mA of current will blow the GFCIs, and a good surge protector should have no leakage current at all.