solar issue - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-10-2008, 04:11 PM   #1
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Hi everyone. The boler finally has a battery and is supposedly set up to charge off van while driving and solar while plugged in to the panels. I didnt actually use the panels yet, but did run off the battery briefly. I noticed that my plug on the inverter (the only electrical outlet) didnt work while set up for battery use, only the lights did. I need that plug to be operational, any suggestions on how to do this or what the problem could be?? Also, the lights only ran for 15 minutes, then went out. I went to bed and was going to deal with it in the morning, but then they were fine again. Thanks for helping sort this out.
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Old 08-10-2008, 06:58 PM   #2
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Hi Cyndi,

Does your inverter plug work when you are plugged into shore power? What brand/model inverter is it?
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:40 PM   #3
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Converter/Inverter two different things.......Are you talking about the onboard converter? (the item that gets plugged in to an ouside electric source that converts ac to dc and usually charges your battery while using dc items in the camper)..... If that's the case then the AC plug in your camper will only work when plugged into an outside source thru the converter.
An Inverter is an item that is usually small and hooks into dc power and converts it to ac power and the ac plug is usually on that box itself...... they use lots of battery power.
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Old 08-12-2008, 11:27 AM   #4
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I have a "15 volt converter" on my Scamp and need a little basic training in what the heck the thing does. When no shore power available I use the 220 switch on the converter to on to run lights, water pump etc. Problem is after about 20 minutes the lights begin to dim and then "poof" go off. The next AM I still don't have lights. Please explain what's going on and what I can do to assure 220 power.

I read the diff between a converter and inverter and still don't get it. I'm so not in my left brain and know there's several excellent electricians out there to rescue me from myself.

PS why can't my "new" marine battery just work the lights like I thought it would?

thanks for any and all info
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Old 08-12-2008, 11:48 AM   #5
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I am learning about the entire process so I will give you my two bits and Pete D. will correct me later in the day =).

Depending on the year of your trailer/converter and the 12v/110v system you have in place your built-in converter can be doing a few things. 110v is your standard household power.

If you do not have a 12v battery system in place then primarily your converter when plugged into shore power will 'convert' the incoming 110v AC to 12v DC to run your internal RV lights/pump. If you have any 110v outlets then the converter will also be acting as a breaker box for those outlets. 110v outlets will 'generally' only work when you are plugged into shore power. If you have a 12v battery system AND your converter is correctly setup to then it should charge your 12v battery while plugged in.

An inverter does the opposite. It converts power from a 12v DC system into 110v AC. You can buy cheap little units that plug into cigarette lighters or more built in inverters. My understanding is that converting 12v to 110v is not very efficient in any case.

I think by 15 volt converter you might mean 15 amp converter. I also don't know why you should be flipping a '220' switch. There could be several reasons why your battery power isn't work.

First, your converter isn't charging the battery correctly. Second your battery isn't holding a charge. Or third, your converter isn't even connected to your battery to charge it. I have learned how to trouble shoot this system on my trailer but it does require a bit of learning on how to use a multimeter and understanding on what wires go where. Might be time to get a good mechanic or rv shop to look it if you don't want to go that route.
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Old 08-12-2008, 12:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Cyndi
Converter/Inverter two different things.......Are you talking about the onboard converter? (the item that gets plugged in to an ouside electric source that converts ac to dc and usually charges your battery while using dc items in the camper)..... If that's the case then the AC plug in your camper will only work when plugged into an outside source thru the converter.
An Inverter is an item that is usually small and hooks into dc power and converts it to ac power and the ac plug is usually on that box itself...... they use lots of battery power.
Joe
It is a suburban ??? watt converter. (i will look up more details about it later today, maybe post a pic) I think it is common on the bolers though. I did see an 'inverter' yesterday for a cheap price. What does it mean the inverter uses a lot of power? Is it the inverter itself, the appliances being used, or both? I also dont understand the little knob, pull on push off etc. Red means on green off (I am not quoting exactly here, just generally, i'll look up details later today) Can an inverter be wired up to the plug itself, or set up permanantly mounted in another kitchen location to run off battery when you need electricity?? I hope so. That was the main reason i got the solar set up. I dont need lights, i could have used my lantern for that That's a pretty expensive lantern i just bought
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:01 PM   #7
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Any time you convert power there will be energy loss (for example currently there is a 50% loss converting electricity to hydrogen which is why hydrogen is a failing storage technology). The loss of energy converting from 110v to 12v is not a big issue as you are plugged into shore power. However, since you want to conserve your battery power. Loss of energy converting from 12v to 110v is an issue - all the inverters leak a lot of heat which means energy loss.

Right now we use only our lights in our trailer but I also need to charge my kid's ipods and my cellphones. The two best options seem to be installing a 12 cigarette lighter and using 12v chargers or buying a standalone Power Pack that I charge when I am connected to shore power.
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Any time you convert power there will be energy loss (for example currently there is a 50% loss converting electricity to hydrogen which is why hydrogen is a failing storage technology). The loss of energy converting from 110v to 12v is not a big issue as you are plugged into shore power. However, since you want to conserve your battery power. Loss of energy converting from 12v to 110v is an issue - all the inverters leak a lot of heat which means energy loss.

Right now we use only our lights in our trailer but I also need to charge my kid's ipods and my cellphones. The two best options seem to be installing a 12 cigarette lighter and using 12v chargers or buying a standalone Power Pack that I charge when I am connected to shore power.
OK, i finally had time to open the box and even read the instructions (digesting them and understanding will have to be later on-no time now) It comes with an inverter OK, but still don't have a clue how to use it, or alter it to suit my needs. it is supposed to run off the cigarette lighter, but i want that plug in the trailer not in the van. Can it be wired right to the battery of the trailer? I'm sure the 3 panels is enough to run a cappuccino machine every a.m. and lights at night, that's all i want. It also came with a dash solar charger for the van battery so that may help keep things topped up if i absolutely have to use power inverter in the van. I'm sure it can be altered though, if they can put a man on the moon electricity can be put in a trailer.
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:39 PM   #9
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As I've said before, if you don't understand electricity take it to somebody that does. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches.

Would you go in and rewire your house, or add a light or two. How about rewiring your car. If not then don't mess with trailer wiring either.

You read about RV fires all the time. Yesterday I saw a motor home being towed that was pretty well burned out. I often wonder how many of these fires are caused by wiring problems created by non-knowledgeable people messing the wiring. Just because 12 Volts won't shock you doesn't mean it's not dangerous.

I recently read something about a vehicle fire every 90 seconds or something like that. A bit more research indicated that 25% were electrical fires.

Don't rely on the advice on an internet forum. Many that will respond have no more knowledge than you do. Those that have the knowledge are often discouraged from responding. So again, unless you have a pretty good understanding of electricity, take electrical problems and questions to somebody that does understand.

Where do you find such a person? I don't think many mechanics know enough, so possible resources are; Local college or community college electrical engineering department, maybe a local Ham Radio Club.

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Old 08-13-2008, 06:56 PM   #10
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As I've said before, if you don't understand electricity take it to somebody that does. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches.

Would you go in and rewire your house, or add a light or two. How about rewiring your car. If not then don't mess with trailer wiring either.

You read about RV fires all the time. Yesterday I saw a motor home being towed that was pretty well burned out. I often wonder how many of these fires are caused by wiring problems created by non-knowledgeable people messing the wiring. Just because 12 Volts won't shock you doesn't mean it's not dangerous.

I recently read something about a vehicle fire every 90 seconds or something like that. A bit more research indicated that 25% were electrical fires.

Don't rely on the advice on an internet forum. Many that will respond have no more knowledge than you do. Those that have the knowledge are often discouraged from responding. So again, unless you have a pretty good understanding of electricity, take electrical problems and questions to somebody that does understand.

Where do you find such a person? I don't think many mechanics know enough, so possible resources are; Local college or community college electrical engineering department, maybe a local Ham Radio Club.
I never said i was going to do it myself, i asked if anyone had done it. I'm pretty sure electricity in a trailer can be done, and done safely. It's just a matter of figureing it out. Many resources 'out there' do not understand trailering etc. and that is why this is usually the place i start. Wiring home and trailer is different in my eyes. I have done my lights and fans, but wont touch a battery b/c i dont have a clue. Thanks for the safety reminder though. I will keep searching for info, and when wired up (hopefully), post how it is done.
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Old 08-13-2008, 07:48 PM   #11
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Hi Cindy,

I think a bit of the problem I am having (maybe others too) is I am not sure what the history is behind this project. You mention in your first post that you have a battery that 'should be charging from the van' and solar panels that should plug in. Did you have the battery and wiring for charging from your van as well as your solar panel plug in professionally done? Could you ask the installer of those items to wire in a 12v power point to plug in your inverter?
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Old 08-13-2008, 08:27 PM   #12
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I'm pretty sure electricity in a trailer can be done, and done safely. It's just a matter of figureing it out. Many resources 'out there' do not understand trailering etc. and that is why this is usually the place i start.
Cyndi,

I found a book called Managing 12 Volts by Harold Barre to be very helpful. It is written for RV's and boats, much of it applies to us.

ISBN 0-9647386-2-7 Lists at $20

(sure miss being able to use an ampersand here)
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:28 PM   #13
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Wiring home and trailer is different in my eyes. I have done my lights and fans, but wont touch a battery b/c i dont have a clue. Thanks for the safety reminder though. I will keep searching for info, and when wired up (hopefully), post how it is done.
There is one difference between home wiring and trailer wiring and only one. House 120VAC trailer 12VDC, that's about it.

120VAC can shock you, 12VDC won't.
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:47 PM   #14
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Hi Cindy,

I think a bit of the problem I am having (maybe others too) is I am not sure what the history is behind this project. You mention in your first post that you have a battery that 'should be charging from the van' and solar panels that should plug in. Did you have the battery and wiring for charging from your van as well as your solar panel plug in professionally done? Could you ask the installer of those items to wire in a 12v power point to plug in your inverter?
Yeah, emails and text are not the clearest methods of communication. I had it done at an RV manufacturer. I did ask briefly and am pretty sure they said they didn't understand about inverters. I will ask again though, and hopefully now that it's had it's test run we will be able to figure it out. I'm not that concerned about the red light etc. Strange, but my gut tells me that it's just a glitch somehow and not to be concerned b/c i know it is a brand new battery, and even though it's red i have power. I will try and phone the manufacturer to make sure though. There are a lot of parts and accessories with it that i haven't had time to sort out. Hopefully when winter comes i will make some headway. I've actually been spending most of my days off camping, so at least it's not all work.
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