Electrical Question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-07-2011, 10:38 AM   #1
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Name: Howard
Trailer: 1986 13' Burro
Arizona
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Electrical Question

I am new to this and own a 13' Burro. I know there has been allot of discussion about the electrical systems but here is one more. My trailer currently has a 110 plug in which runs to a double electrical outlet that appears to have 2 15 amp breakers built in. The PO ran a separate line from this outlet to another outlet located towards the front to run an A/C. When we looked at the trailer he had it all plugged in and running, didn't seem to be an issue. But what I would like to do is add another inside outlet (for a tv) and a outside outlet, but am concerned about overloading the system. I guess the question I have is do you think it would overload the system? I know a regular house has alot more outlets then this on one line. Also, I want to add a battery to power lights. Looks like PO took all that out. So, thought about running a separate 12v system and charge battery using a battery tender/charger. Any thoughts?? Thanks
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:49 AM   #2
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The AC should be on it's own circuit. You can run multiple plugs on a circuit with the same load precautions you would use in a home. Ideally, this should all go through a breaker box which includes a main breaker. The PO got by with it by being careful how he loaded the system.

You can add the battery system too. If you think you may do that in the future, get an AC/DC breaker box so everything goes through one hub.

David
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:09 AM   #3
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Trailer: 1986 13' Burro
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Thanks David, I guess you are saying I should add a separate breaker box to the system before running these extra circuits. Will I need to upgrade electrical to a 30amp or can I just leave it as a 20 amp (I believe that is what it currently is, household type plug in)?
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralefan46 View Post
Thanks David, I guess you are saying I should add a separate breaker box to the system before running these extra circuits. Will I need to upgrade electrical to a 30amp or can I just leave it as a 20 amp (I believe that is what it currently is, household type plug in)?
Howard,
I would install a real breaker box, but as long as you have a breaker somewhere, it is not absolutely necessary. Standard circuits are 15amp, although it is not uncommon to find 20 amp breakers in a 15 amp circuit. A true 20 amp plug is actually different. I don't know what your AC draws, I'm assuming less than 15 amps. It will draw higher at startup. You can use what you have, and just not use the outlets on that circuit when the AC is on. I like having a main breaker somewhere too. If nothing else, you can kill all the power quickly if needed. I like to have each permanent appliance (ac, battery charger, etc) on it's own circuit. Since the system seems to be nontypical, I would go through it all and make sure the wire gauges are correct, breakers are correct, proper grounding, etc.

David
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:34 AM   #5
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Name: Howard
Trailer: 1986 13' Burro
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That sounds like the best way to go, installing a breaker box. Appreciate the help =)
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:30 PM   #6
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You can have 6 circuits in a panel before the code requires a main disconnect . A main breaker is a wise investment , you protect your service conductor from overload as well as having a single point to disconnect power in the case of an emergency. ( You could use the cord as the disconnect but not very practical and is dangerous if you open the load under fault.) Any time an appliances current rating
exceeds 50 % of the circuit rating it should have it's own circuit. The rating of the circuit is determined by the overcurrent devices rating . A 20 amp circuit requires a 20 amp breaker, 20 amp or larger rated wire and devices rated for use on a 20 amp circuit. Air conditioners , dishwashers, water heaters ,furnaces , microwaves ,electric heat , laundry , well pumps , ranges or other appliances are normally on seperate dedicated circuits. In a trailer your air conditioner + (space heater) , kitchen counter appliance plug (coffee pot & toaster) should be on seperate dedicated circuits
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:15 PM   #7
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Also, be cautious of the gauge of the wire when sizing circuit breakers. A 15 amp circuit requires at least 14 gauge wire. A 20 amp circuit requires at least 12 gauge wire. A 30 amp circuit requires at least 10 gauge wire. If you have a 20 amp breaker with 14 gauge wire to your outlets and you pump 19 amps through it, the breaker won't blow, but the wire will start to heat up and could cause a fire. Think of having the inside of a toaster inside you rig!

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Old 12-07-2011, 01:53 PM   #8
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Also, be cautious of the gauge of the wire when sizing circuit breakers. A 15 amp circuit requires at least 14 gauge wire. A 20 amp circuit requires at least 12 gauge wire. A 30 amp circuit requires at least 10 gauge wire. If you have a 20 amp breaker with 14 gauge wire to your outlets and you pump 19 amps through it, the breaker won't blow, but the wire will start to heat up and could cause a fire. Think of having the inside of a toaster inside you rig!

Spanke
Spanke is correct ! I should have spelled out wire guages with their ampacity,
Most fires start at a termination points not in the middle of a conductor run ( unless the conductor is pinched or hit by a screw or nail)
Be carefull when splicing wires at junction boxes or terminating wires at devices or equipment. .Connections must be TIGHT. Use wirenuts not just tape when splicing . Wrap wires around the screws on a receptacle , watch polarity (black to brass ), wrap wire in correct direction and tighten screws TIGHT. DO NOT backwire a receptacle, it is a poor connection
subject to vibration and overheating , Lastly use the proper size junction box based on the size of the conductors, number of conductors entering the box, number and type of devices your mounting in the box.
Too small of a box leaves no room for the 6 inches of free conductor
required by the code at each termination point and puts strain on the wires and the device your installing.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:08 PM   #9
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Steve,

I agree about NOT back wiring outlets. It's very common in RV's and should not be done. Over the years I've seen two wires come loose that were back wired.
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Old 12-07-2011, 03:28 PM   #10
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Although I agree that the "push to connect" back wired (stab type) receptacles are junk, there is a version that is better than side wired. They are commercial grade, and require inserting the wire into the back then tightening the side screw. They are more expensive, more difficult to find, but in my opinion are the most secure. In addition, they work with stranded wire.

Check Side vs Back Wired Outlets for more information.

As to the original question, a 15 or 20 amp feed to your trailer is probably undersized if your are going to run much else in addition to your AC. Although you can add additional outlets, it doesn't increase the overall capacity which is limited by your shore power cord.

If it was mine & I was redoing wiring I'd upgrade the power cord to 10/3, add a small breaker panel with a 30 amp main & individual breakers that match the wire size for the individual circuits. I'd put the AC on its own breaker. The rest of the outlets could all go on one breaker, but if you plan to use other high current devices such as a microwave, toaster, hair dryer, etc it would be an advantage to separate some of them.

The outside receptacle should either have a GFCI breaker or be a GFCI receptacle, as should be any receptacles near the sink. You can put a GFCI receptacle near the sink, then feed the outside from the output of the sink receptacle. This generally works better than putting a GFCI receptacle out in the weather...

As to the 12 volt side - depending on how far you want to go, the best solution would be to add a converter. This could be a separate device, or combined with the 120V AC distribution panel. If that is more than you want to get into, there is no reason you can't add a 12V system that you recharge as necessary. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation for the battery - during charging it produces hydrogen gas & a spark could ruin your day!

Combined 120V AC & 12v Distribution Panel with converter
Converter only
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:27 PM   #11
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Thanks

Check Side vs Back Wired Outlets for more information.

Jon,

Thanks for that great info. Something to learn every day.
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:14 PM   #12
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Jon,
Sorry to butt into this thread unannounced --
Thanks so much for this well written reply. I found everything in it that I need to know about rewiring my old trillium.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Vermilye View Post
Although I agree that the "push to connect" back wired (stab type) receptacles are junk, there is a version that is better than side wired. They are commercial grade, and require inserting the wire into the back then tightening the side screw. They are more expensive, more difficult to find, but in my opinion are the most secure. In addition, they work with stranded wire.

Check Side vs Back Wired Outlets for more information.

As to the original question, a 15 or 20 amp feed to your trailer is probably undersized if your are going to run much else in addition to your AC. Although you can add additional outlets, it doesn't increase the overall capacity which is limited by your shore power cord.

If it was mine & I was redoing wiring I'd upgrade the power cord to 10/3, add a small breaker panel with a 30 amp main & individual breakers that match the wire size for the individual circuits. I'd put the AC on its own breaker. The rest of the outlets could all go on one breaker, but if you plan to use other high current devices such as a microwave, toaster, hair dryer, etc it would be an advantage to separate some of them.

The outside receptacle should either have a GFCI breaker or be a GFCI receptacle, as should be any receptacles near the sink. You can put a GFCI receptacle near the sink, then feed the outside from the output of the sink receptacle. This generally works better than putting a GFCI receptacle out in the weather...

As to the 12 volt side - depending on how far you want to go, the best solution would be to add a converter. This could be a separate device, or combined with the 120V AC distribution panel. If that is more than you want to get into, there is no reason you can't add a 12V system that you recharge as necessary. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation for the battery - during charging it produces hydrogen gas & a spark could ruin your day!

Combined 120V AC & 12v Distribution Panel with converter
Converter only
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Old 12-07-2011, 09:03 PM   #13
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Trailer: 16 foot Scamp
Oregon
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Great points about backwiring! I've been using the industrial outlets for years. It's not just the connections that are better. The plug sockets are MUCH more secure and positive. The problem is finding them locally. When a residential outlet is under 2 bucks, nobody wants to pay 8 to 10 for the better product. It IS worth it though. I haven't replaced my Scamp outlets yet, but this thread will get me moving. They are all residential backwired .

David
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:47 AM   #14
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Name: Howard
Trailer: 1986 13' Burro
Arizona
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WOW Thanks everyone, allot to think about, and allot learned. I think I am gonna take Jons suggestion and upgrade to a 30 amp circuit, adding breakers. Seems like the safest thing to do, and will give me more versatility in the future. As for the 12v system, for right now think I will make that an independent circuit that I will just charge as needed. Heading to Home Depot to see if I can find a breaker box that will work. Thanks all
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