Adding 15 amp breaker - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-04-2010, 10:17 PM   #1
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Thank you to all who have helped with my wiring education so far. I put out a call for 110v stranded wire and got a lot more comments than I expected.

I just made a closer examination of the breaker box that came with the trailer. It has a 15 amp breaker in it. Since I'd like to add more outlets and lights, more juice is needed. I see now that I can put in another 15 amp breaker with another line coming out the other side of the box, going to these additional outlets.

Judging by the photos below, is this assumption correct? Also I presume this is the original box and breaker. Is it necessary to replace the original 15 amp breaker for a new one?

Fran
compact II '74

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breakerbx1.jpg   breakerbx2.jpg  

breakerbx3.jpg  
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:54 PM   #2
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Hi Fran,

Generally circuit breakers divide the wiring in your house or trailer up into functions. In a house, for example, one 15 amp circuit might be used for all the outlets in the kitchen, but the microwave, stove, garbage disposal, and dishwasher each have their own, separate breaker. In a trailer it works in the same general manner. Our 5th wheel, for example, has four breakers: one for the 12v converter/charger, one for the the refrigerator, and one for the microwave.

Many older trailers, like our Surfside, have just one breaker that covers all the lights, outlets, 'fridge, and battery charger.

With that in mind I would suggest adding your new outlets to the same circuit your existing outlets are on, but would suggest that you add separate circuits for any other new equipment you might add, like a converter or 2/3-way 'fridge.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:08 PM   #3
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You can add another breaker to that box if you can find one, but watch the cost. a lot of the older breakers are just as expensive as getting a new 2 or 4 gang breaker box with breakers already in it. I was lucky enough to have extra breakers on hand for the box in my trillium, as I am an electrician, and keep all the older breakers I get (sorry, don't have your type).
I added a circuit for an outside plug, a water heater and a new charger unit.
Joe
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:31 PM   #4
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Fran, if it's a Zinsco breaker, replace it with something better. I've had bad experiences with Zinsco breakers, and of course the breaker that was in my Compact Jr was a Zinsco. Made sense -- the Compact Jr was a cheap trailer and Zinsco was a cheap breaker.

In years past Square-D was a good brand, but I have not kept up with what's good currently.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:01 PM   #5
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Hi Dana,
The breaker is a Stab-Lok by Federal Pacific Electric, and after looking it up online, it too does not have a good history- the word 'fire' came up, and the company is out of business, no surprise. I'll just get a new box and 2 breakers and start over.

Thanks,
Fran
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:28 PM   #6
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Okay...all of this talk about a larger breaker box, made me wonder if I need something larger also.
My pacer has a 15 amp breaker. Normally I would not have much on, a light or two. But there is an air conditioner hooked up. The side of the A/C says it is 6500 BTU and draws 6.1 amps. If nothing else, except maybe a light was on, do I need to up grade. Demo and building I can do, electrical stuff I'm a dud!
Thanks, Vicki
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:25 PM   #7
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Hi Dana,
The breaker is a Stab-Lok by Federal Pacific Electric, and after looking it up online, it too does not have a good history- the word 'fire' came up, and the company is out of business, no surprise. I'll just get a new box and 2 breakers and start over.

Thanks,
Fran
Oops! I bought the FPE 2-circuit box below from a surplus company online. It's a NOS unit, apparently from military surplus, made in the 1960s. (Maybe be identical to the ones they put in the new Compacts?) I thought it was a bargain at $15, until I looked into the problems that you mention.

I see that the malfunctions seem to be in connection with Stab-lok breakers. Don't know if they made "Stab-lok" breakers back then, but I guess it doesn't matter, since they could be defective regardless of whatever trade name they might have used at the time.

I hope there's a way I can just test it to make sure it's operating correctly. Otherwise, looks like I'll also be searching for a new box.

BTW, this has two 15-amp breakers ganged together, but I separated them and am only using one 15-amp circuit, since I have nowhere near 15 amps draw on AC power - no 120v heater, A/C, or microwave, etc.


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Old 01-06-2010, 06:02 PM   #8
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Okay...all of this talk about a larger breaker box, made me wonder if I need something larger also.
My pacer has a 15 amp breaker. Normally I would not have much on, a light or two. But there is an air conditioner hooked up. The side of the A/C says it is 6500 BTU and draws 6.1 amps. If nothing else, except maybe a light was on, do I need to up grade. Demo and building I can do, electrical stuff I'm a dud!
Thanks, Vicki

Vickie,
You are good to go as is...
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:13 PM   #9
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THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU !!!
Vicki
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Don H. View Post
Oops! I bought the FPE 2-circuit box below from a surplus company online. It's a NOS unit, apparently from military surplus, made in the 1960s. (Maybe be identical to the ones they put in the new Compacts?) I thought it was a bargain at $15, until I looked into the problems that you mention.

I see that the malfunctions seem to be in connection with Stab-lok breakers. Don't know if they made "Stab-lok" breakers back then, but I guess it doesn't matter, since they could be defective regardless of whatever trade name they might have used at the time.

I hope there's a way I can just test it to make sure it's operating correctly. Otherwise, looks like I'll also be searching for a new box.

BTW, this has two 15-amp breakers ganged together, but I separated them and am only using one 15-amp circuit, since I have nowhere near 15 amps draw on AC power - no 120v heater, A/C, or microwave, etc.


Attachment 25785
Too bad, Don, but perhaps it's for the good to replace it now instead of risking fire. And you have done such nice electrical work in your trailer! Seems like everyone I mention it to says to avoid Federal Pacific replacements even though the breakers are still available.

I picked up a Siemens load box today plus 2 15 amp breakers. The box does not appear to have a gruond bar, though. Where do I connect the heavy ground wire?

Best,
Fran
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:43 PM   #11
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Unhappy

That is the problem with buying used. One never knows what was done. Our first house was the same way. They had the cold air return from the upstairs going down an outside wall! I guess that guaranteed that the air would be cold when it reached the basement. LOL

Not only that, but the switch box for the porch light had BX cable coming into it. The guy must have run out of cable clamps because he had the BX attached to the switch box with a steel wire wrapped around the BX and then out and around the cover plate tongue.

The plumbing was a nightmare! He had short runs made up with 45 and 90 elbows, several of them all put together. And this was the builder! Of course he was an amateur.

I remember the guy who helped me replace the porch light saying that the switch being off was sufficient, and he proved it by touching the two wires together. But I would not touch either wire to a ground because I had no confidence that the builder had placed the switch on the hot side like he should have. Such things do make for interesting times.
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:51 PM   #12
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Fpe zinsco

Fpe losts its ul listing many years ago . You could not sell them in usa so we ordered them from canada. Fpe stab lock breakers would not always interupt at rated current and in some panels the breakers would fall out of the panel if you removed the dead front cover. They were installed because of cost not because they were a good product.
Zinsco has a simular story . I once took a 14 -2 romex cable protected by a 15 amp zinsco breaker and directly grounded the hot conductor (black wire) (bolted fault) .
The wire burned off but the zinsco breaker never tripped.
The best circuit breaker on the market is probably square d
qo series . They been making them for 50 years and are to me the cadillac of circuit breakers
thanks steve d
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
Fpe losts its ul listing many years ago . You could not sell them in usa so we ordered them from canada. Fpe stab lock breakers would not always interupt at rated current and in some panels the breakers would fall out of the panel if you removed the dead front cover. They were installed because of cost not because they were a good product.
Zinsco has a simular story . I once took a 14 -2 romex cable protected by a 15 amp zinsco breaker and directly grounded the hot conductor (black wire) (bolted fault) .
The wire burned off but the zinsco breaker never tripped.
The best circuit breaker on the market is probably square d
qo series . They been making them for 50 years and are to me the cadillac of circuit breakers
thanks steve d
I just about lost my house recently due to a Federal Pacific breaker panel. After learning the horrific problems associated with that brand and Zinsco I would STRONGLY recommend having a professional replace any panel with those names on them.

FPE breakers are widely known for not working.... at all...

There is one very important note about RV panels. Often I see the neutral and ground wires connected to the same buss. This is extremely dangerous, the only place where this connection (Called "Bonding") can occur is in the primary panel (IE your home or RV park pedestal) make sure that any replacement panel has both a neutral and ground bars separated. All RV panels are "Sub Panels" so when choosing a panel make sure it is setup properly.
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Old 06-23-2011, 03:27 PM   #14
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If you want to put your worries to rest, install a new 15 amp circuit with a CFCI circuit breaker. Any short will cut off the electric. You can add another 15 amp circuit or add additional outlets to the one you have. I think up to 10 outlets can be on one 15 amp-check your local codes for the rules. here is one Amazon.com: GE Industrial Dept. THQL1120GF Circuit Breaker: Home Improvement- please note-the one pictured is 20 amp, you will want a 15 amp
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