12V system options on U-haul remodel - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-30-2011, 09:44 AM   #1
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Name: Pat
Trailer: U-Haul CT13 ('Pearl')
SW Ohio
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12V system options on U-haul remodel

Time to totally remodel the U-haul, no more excuses. I have a nice warm garage, time, a little money and have no clue what I am getting into. Thank goodness for this forum. Windows are way easier than this decision.

I know that I need 110 ac and 12 vdc. I will do some boon-docking and would like to have solar.

There is almost too much info here on systems.
My brain hurts!

I need to relocate the battery (current design under back bench), new inverter/charger (old transformer is 15 lbs) and decide what to do.

I think wiring mostly 12 vdc is the way to go with a few outlets for 110 ac. Two outlets on kitchen cabinets, one exterior and one on lower kitchen front. Relocating the battery to the back bumper is an option unless there is a sealed fume-less one.

Yes, I am going LED, but I hate the cool color of the lights. I will post a schematic as soon as I figure out how to resize my pictures.
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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Name: Pat
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SW Ohio
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Should I include a 12v outlet? 12v jacks? switched of course. Does anyone use them?
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Old 10-30-2011, 01:43 PM   #3
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I highly recommend a 12 volt outlet-looks like a cigar lighter outlet- for charging cel phones and powering 12 volt radios, etc. Real easy to install, just drill the right sized hole and badda badda bing -ready to install. We also bought a meter that plugs into the 12 volt outlet that lets us know the residual charge in our battery. There are LED lights that are a warm or slightly yellow color not the cold blue color. We found some at marine supply houses on line. If you like your existing light fixtures for about $25/ bulb you can get led bulbs that fit 12 volt incandescent sockets. If you boondock you will appreciate how little juice they use and they are supposed to last "forever".
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:41 PM   #4
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
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I would leave the battery where it is. The original battery setup has it in a box with a cover and a vent hose out the rear of the trailer. With the new sealed batterys I wouldn't worry about fumes. Someone on here mentioned they bought a WFCO ultra III power center, WF-8725P. I looked it up and it appears to be a nice unit and it also charges the battery. The Uhaul converter also charges the battery. If you look in the Uhaul repair manual it tells of an update to the 110 wiring at the outlet above the sink. This is something the Uhaul service guys should have done, but it was not done to ours. The cord on the side of the trailer where you connect 110 is heavy duty and goes directly to that outlet, then another wire to the converter from there. I removed the original outlet, installed a double outlet, and a switch to disconnect the converter if I want, as it makes noise at times. The light over the sink was inoperative so I bought a replacement from Camping World, about $14. I installed a couple 4" round 12 volt dome lights mainly to cover up some holes where there had been speakers. Uhaul also had an update to install a battery condition meter, but ours doesn't have it. Actually there were a bunch of update/improvements made to the early model trailers and they are described in the repair manual. I also ran a couple wires and a plug out from the battery so I can charge the battery with an external automotive type charger without having to get right at the battery to connect to it. Bob
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:48 PM   #5
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Name: bob
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Almost forgot, someone had installed a cigarette lighter type 12 volt outlet between the top cabinets, nice job as it has a chrome faceplate. I'm trying to do some updates without cutting or drilling holes, as a previous owner had butchered that up already. I used the ashtray location to install a shutoff switch for the furnace. Now I need to figure how to get a TV cable in. Bob
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Old 10-30-2011, 06:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mary and bob View Post
Almost forgot, someone had installed a cigarette lighter type 12 volt outlet between the top cabinets, nice job as it has a chrome faceplate. I'm trying to do some updates without cutting or drilling holes, as a previous owner had butchered that up already. I used the ashtray location to install a shutoff switch for the furnace. Now I need to figure how to get a TV cable in. Bob
We went to Lowes and purchased a metal, water tight flip up covered box and mounted a cable plate in it. Works great. We did drill a hole thru the fiberglass. It actually looks like part of the trailer because it's white.

If you wanted to do it with out making a bole in the visible fiberglass you could drill a hole thru the floor in the bottom of a cabinet and run a short piece of cable thru the floor and when you need it connect another piece of cable to it.

We've drilled a number of holes thru ours for an outside outlet, inverter cables and the like...

Any holes I drill I paint and seal with caulking.
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat B Ohio View Post
I think wiring mostly 12 vdc is the way to go with a few outlets for 110 ac. Two outlets on kitchen cabinets, one exterior and one on lower kitchen front. Relocating the battery to the back bumper is an option unless there is a sealed fume-less one.

Yes, I am going LED, but I hate the cool color of the lights. I will post a schematic as soon as I figure out how to resize my pictures.
Hi Pat,
yes, yes, and yes. Yes, it is very handy to have a 12V outlet in the cabin somewhere for appliances when you are running on 12V. It is also great for monitoring the battery voltage without having to open up the battery compartment. Before I installed my solar system, I also used it for charging my battery with my electric battery charger when we were plugged in to shore power. Very handy to have. Now I have a rechargeable LED lantern that I made out of a Coleman battery operated lantern, and we used the 12VDC outlet to charge that even when we are boon docking. Because the solar system is constantly charging the trailer battery in the daytime, we can charge up our lantern (which uses a 26-LED bulb) in the daytime for use at night without affecting our power reserves.

Yes, have 2 or 3 110V outlets around for when you are attached to shore power. There is nothing like the convenience of electrical outlets nearby. Ours are in the kitchen counter near the stove, and at the rear wall where the big table is. I also installed a 6 outlet power bar with circuit breaker inside one of the kitchen cupboards, which gives us more flexibility.

Yes, I would definitely go with LED lights. You can get warm white LED lights now that more or less match the colour of incandescent lights. The main problem is brightness, and I ended up putting 2 (or more) of the 26-LED bulbs in each socket, except for a new entry door light which has just one LED bulb. I now have 15 LED light bulbs consuming about 1 amp of electricity at 12 volts, in 5 light fixtures, which is less than a single 1141 or 1156 type light bulb. Together they use about 1/10 of the power the old incandescent lights used, meaning that we can run all our lights all night and not run the battery down very much, if we ever wanted to do that.

In my first Boler I had dual 12V and 110V lights and separate electrical systems, which worked OK but was a bit complicated. In my current trailer I have only 12V lights, and a converter installed. The converter changes 110V to 12V, meaning that the same light bulbs (and also TV and DVD player) are running all the time no matter which source of electricity (110V shore power or 12V battery) we are using. It is quite simple and convenient.

By the way, my 12V outlet is connect directly to the battery through a fuse panel. Therefore, it is always connected to the battery even when we are running the converter on shore power. I decided to do it that way so that I could charge the trailer battery when running on shore power. The 12V for the fridge is also connected directly to the battery through the fuse panel. When we have shore power, we always use the 110V setting on the fridge so we only need 12V for that when running on battery (which we rarely use since we have propane for the fridge as well).

As for cable TV, I installed a cable outlet in the exterior cable hatch in the Boler, but it would not fit into the cable hatch in the Trillium. So, I installed it in the wall going into the exterior fridge lower vent, where the 110V outlet is for the fridge. We have never used cable TV while travelling, but we might some day.

Have fun!
Rick G.
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