Electrical help needed - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-18-2007, 03:07 PM   #1
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OK, so I've pulled all the 30 year old wiring out of my trailer (85 Uhaul). I also removed the 15 amp gfi plug which was the only 'circuit breaker' in the trailer (it showed signs of having overheated in the past). There is a battery holder (w/battery) and the original converter battery charger (still works). The only electrical plug in trailer was the gfi plug that I removed.

I've installed a new 30 amp power inlet on the trailer to replace the old pull-out type of power cord. Now I want to put in a 30 - 50 amp power panel so that I can run AC electric. I might consider installing some sort of combo (12v/ 110v) control panel to make use of battery and the converter that already exists in the trailer, but I really don't want to camp rustic, so don't know if it makes sense for the extra work and money to set up an alternative 12v system. (The RV panels that I've found seem pretty expensive.)

I'm also having a problem finding a 50 amp panel that has 4 circuits. I've been told that I need one with a main lug that I can put a GFI main breaker into, with 3 additional circuits but I can't find a 50 amp that has this setup. (If I try to set up ac/dc combo system, I have no idea what to get.)

The idea is that I want to keep camping simple. I don't want to bring electric coffe makers, microwaves, curling irons, or things like that. This is going to be weekend camping, single person in the trailer (with a small dog). The only major appliances I will use will be heater (1500w) and a small (5000btu) window air conditioner. I want the conditioner and heater to share one dedicated circuit (15 oe 20 amp?) with the idea being that I would be either heating, or cooling, but never both. The other 2 circuits would be used for 4 dulplexes and the lights.

Any advise, links, recommended reading would be appreciated. Does this sound like a job that a newbie can accomplish? (I can rewire a lamp, install duplexes/switches, so I understand some electrical basics) Even if I decide to have this work done at a trailer place, I want to go in prepared and informed. Thanks to you all in advance, and sorry for the long post!

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Old 11-18-2007, 04:36 PM   #2
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The Parallax converter that comes with the Casita has a joint 120v/12v panel. If I were to do it over again as you are, I would consider marine hardware. However, I'm not sure it would be any cheaper.

I redid the box area my my sailboat a couple years ago and I think it's similar to RV applications. Perhaps a little harsher. I used Blue Seas equipment. Blue Seas I purchased from a large marine store, West Marine.

I sprung for a 5 position 120v panel with analog meters (AC voltage and AC current). (No. 8409) 2 spots are used for the 30A AC circuit breaker, one for the charger (in your case the converter), one for the two outlets on one side of the boat and one for the two outlets on the other side of the boat.

Then I bought another modest DC panel for the DC loads.

I also bought the plastic back covers so as to not have exposed wiring in the back.

Note that one of the AC breakers runs the converter. Also, you use a two position "ganged" breaker for the main input breaker (30A) and probably 15A for the rest of the AC loads (wiring sized appropriately).
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Old 11-18-2007, 05:13 PM   #3
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The 12VDC comes in handy in and emergency and you could put the cigarette lighter type receptacles to make it really accessible should need it. I would also run nothing smaller than 12 gage for the AC and nothing smaller than 10 gage for the DC and it should not be much of a hassle when you are doing the wiring. Use a different color combination for the DC so it will be easy to distinguish later.

This will also give you some added resale value when the time comes.

Go to the following ebay seller who has items from a local RV builder and from scraped campers and you may be able to find what you need on the cheep. Send them an ask the seller mail in ebay and they will reply.

http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ2...Q3aMEFSQ3aMESOI

If you run the extra wire now, you can always connect it later after you finish the insulation, etc. That way, it is already there.
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Old 11-18-2007, 05:35 PM   #4
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I hope this link works - there is a cutler hammer 50amp main 12vdc on ebay. Does this look workable?

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Breaker-Box-Cutler...1QQcmdZViewItem
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Old 11-19-2007, 06:42 AM   #5
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Yes, I believe that would work nicely. Probably want to put it somewhere out of sight for appearance reasons. The price is right if you can get it for what the last bidder did!
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Old 11-19-2007, 09:54 AM   #6
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I strongly recommend that what ever you use automotive wire. Any 12 Volt wiring that's connected to the tow vehicle is subject to "load dump" voltages. Under certain conditions any vehicle can through a 600 Volt spike into the electrical system.

1. All electric equipment and wiring must with stand that spike without damage. For wiring this accomplished by the type of insulation.
2. Automotive wiring also must with stand a certain amount of abrasion.

3. The wire insulation has to meet standards to reduce the chance of wiring fires.

For safety sake it is well worth the extra cost.
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:35 PM   #7
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I've installed a new 30 amp power inlet on the trailer to replace the old pull-out type of power cord....

I'm also having a problem finding a 50 amp panel that has 4 circuits...
Maybe I've misunderstood something here, but if the inlet is capable of handling 30 A, then why would the distribution panel need to handle any more? Indeed, a 50 A main breaker in the distribution panel seems pointless to me, and would not protect the inlet cable from overload (protection which I realize ideally comes from a breaker further up the line).

My stock Boler setup has a very small AC panel attached to the side of the converter, with one main breaker (30A), plus branch circuit breakers to feed the outlets and the converter.
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