Help with installing Flush Mount USB w/Voltmeter - Fiberglass RV



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Old 05-22-2019, 02:07 PM   #1
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Name: Chris
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Help with installing Flush Mount USB w/Voltmeter

Excuse my electrical Ignorance. Looking for some guidance adding some USB/12v Plugs in our Scamp upper cabinet above the sink. I want to install (Shown Below) the USB/Voltmeter on the lower right side corner (to check volts from the door opening), and the unit with the USB and Cig plug on left side end to maybe attach a 12V TV. Both have a switch to turn off for battery drain. Can I simply splice into the factory 12V factory light lines on both sides of that cabinet? Or would something like a small TV or fast charging ipad be to much for those wires?
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Old 05-22-2019, 02:44 PM   #2
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If I were doing this in my camper, I'd use the existing wires to the light near the sink.



You should have no issues doing this.



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Old 05-22-2019, 03:24 PM   #3
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I just put one in my Bigfoot and took the power from a wire that runs out to the light outside lighting up the hitch area. I don't ever use that light so it's no problem. Are your bulbs in that light converted to LED yet? If not I would switch to LED and not give it another thought.
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Old 05-23-2019, 05:45 AM   #4
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Tapping into existing wires might work, but unless you do a lot of work its hard to know how it is wired and what else is on that circuit so its a gamble. The USB charger is not much more load but the cigarette plug can be a very large load. Chances are that the worst case is that you might blow fuse(s).

But if you have a power distribution panel / fuse block with one or more spare slots, then IMHO the best option is to create new circuit(s) for your custom add-ons. That way you know what the max load will be on that circuit, what wire gauge you will have, etc. This is the way I did it.

Specifics are dependent on your rig, but in my case the power panel and converter are separate units. First disconnect all power sources, shore power, battery and tug. Remove the power panel / fuse block and connect marine grade white wire to the ground (negative) bar, and black marine grade wire to an unused fuse slot (on the fused side of course). Wire gauge depends on the rating of the panel, the expected load, the wire length, etc. The cigarette plug will be the largest potential load so figure the max rating of it plus the power use of the USB / meter combined. 12 gauge might be what you come up with.

Connect wires to the devices and choose an appropriate fuse based on the devices, wire rating, etc. If in doubt, go with a lower rated fuse. Maybe 10 amp but thats just a SWAG since we don’t know the specs.

The nice thing about adding a circuit like this is that if you do blow the fuse, it will not affect the rest of your 12 volt system in the camper. If instead you tap into existing wiring and overload the circuit then when the fuse blows you will also lose whatever else is on the circuit.

Edit: Also note that the volt meter is of limited value for determining state of battery charge. The true voltage at the battery will always be at least a little different, and under load, lower than when the battery is at rest - maybe a lot lower. And I have found those meters to always be off by .1 to .2 volt or so, which is not trivial when judging state of battery charge. And I hope that switch turns off the meter also... the light can keep one awake at night
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Old 05-23-2019, 06:16 AM   #5
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Name: Chris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
Tapping into existing wires might work, but unless you do a lot of work its hard to know how it is wired and what else is on that circuit so its a gamble. The USB charger is not much more load but the cigarette plug can be a very large load. Chances are that the worst case is that you might blow fuse(s).

But if you have a power distribution panel / fuse block with one or more spare slots, then IMHO the best option is to create new circuit(s) for your custom add-ons. That way you know what the max load will be on that circuit, what wire gauge you will have, etc. This is the way I did it.

Specifics are dependent on your rig, but in my case the power panel and converter are separate units. First disconnect all power sources, shore power, battery and tug. Remove the power panel / fuse block and connect marine grade white wire to the ground (negative) bar, and black marine grade wire to an unused fuse slot (on the fused side of course). Wire gauge depends on the rating of the panel, the expected load, the wire length, etc. The cigarette plug will be the largest potential load so figure the max rating of it plus the power use of the USB / meter combined. 12 gauge might be what you come up with.

Connect wires to the devices and choose an appropriate fuse based on the devices, wire rating, etc. If in doubt, go with a lower rated fuse. Maybe 10 amp but thats just a SWAG since we don’t know the specs.

The nice thing about adding a circuit like this is that if you do blow the fuse, it will not affect the rest of your 12 volt system in the camper. If instead you tap into existing wiring and overload the circuit then when the fuse blows you will also lose whatever else is on the circuit.
Thanks for the info. My fuse panel and converter (one unit I believe) are just below the rear bench. Since I only have 2 12V Lights, 1 110 Light, 1 110 Outlet, Furnace and Fridge. I believe I only saw 2 fuses total. Getting wires behind that Rat Fur might be a paint, but may have to do it. The only thing I plan on plugging into that Cig style adapter is a 12-15" TV. Do those draw pretty heavy?
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Old 05-23-2019, 02:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by XBeatzX View Post
...The only thing I plan on plugging into that Cig style adapter is a 12-15" TV. Do those draw pretty heavy?
Prob not.. mine was about one amp (12-14 watts) IIRC.. the wattage should be listed on the TV.
But whatever you plan to do..someone someday may plug in something like a 12 volt hair dryer - 14 amps = fuse blown.
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:29 PM   #7
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fuses....

fuses are there to blow!....i'd use existing wires to another appliance (given your "ratfur" challenge) and see if the fuse blows..if not you're good. As someone mentioned picking a circuit you're not likely to use while watching your tv would be a good idea if you can manage it.


the voltmeter will give you information you didn't have before..but not much.
With only one number after the decimal point...you only have 4 points of information .6 fully charge down to .2 the point at which you should not use any more power because you will be damaging/shortening your battery's life.


so when you wake up in the morning, nothing running, you will get an accurate read on how much power you got left "in your tank". When your on board charger comes on the reading should be around 13.8V (over 14 would be better but that's a longer story). When your solar panel is connected (through a charge controller) voltage will vary...it'll be 14.something at times and lower other times...when it stays steady at 13.3 it should mean your battery is fully charged and controller is on "maintenance mode".....


when you turn on an appliance the voltage readout will drop dramatically...you might see 11.something even....but that is not a "reading".....a voltmeter will only be useful for battery state of charge reading when battery was "at rest" (no draw) for a period of time.


for all of the above I'm a big fan of four digit panel voltmeters....you can get a really good "feel" for how much you're using..and/or how fast you're putting it back in.


good luck and have fun
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Old 05-25-2019, 05:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Franswa View Post
...
so when you wake up in the morning, nothing running, you will get an accurate read on how much power you got left "in your tank".

......a voltmeter will only be useful for battery state of charge reading when battery was "at rest" (no draw) for a period of time...
Yes that is why the value of the voltmeter is limited. When you wake in the morning the reading might be helpful if nothing was on AND the converter / charger were not charging for a few hours. How likely is that?

But IMHO a better device for knowing the battery state of charge is a recording watt meter, which has been discussed many times in this forum. The hydrometer is best but a it is PIA - the watt meter is so easy.
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Old 05-25-2019, 07:04 AM   #9
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agree...

yeah I agree with all that....


"When you wake in the morning the reading might be helpful if nothing was on AND the converter / charger were not charging for a few hours. How likely is that?".....with me, camping unplugged, that happens ALL the time in the summer



watt meters are great...it depends how much information you want or need...


as an example, in my trailer given the use/storage/charging equation my batteries hardly ever drop below 12.4V so I decided I didn't need more detailed info. The OP has very little use other than he wanted to plug a tv in so I figure his situation is probably sort of similar.


now with my little boat project....use is high, storage is low and so is the charging....so a watt meter is essential.....otherwise I'm ROWING.....LOL
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Old 05-25-2019, 07:10 AM   #10
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picture posting problem it seems

try again??? humm...no go again (????)


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Old 05-25-2019, 11:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Franswa View Post
fuses are there to blow!....i'd use existing wires to another appliance (given your "ratfur" challenge) and see if the fuse blows..if not you're good. As someone mentioned picking a circuit you're not likely to use while watching your tv would be a good idea if you can manage it.


the voltmeter will give you information you didn't have before..but not much.
With only one number after the decimal point...you only have 4 points of information .6 fully charge down to .2 the point at which you should not use any more power because you will be damaging/shortening your battery's life.


so when you wake up in the morning, nothing running, you will get an accurate read on how much power you got left "in your tank". When your on board charger comes on the reading should be around 13.8V (over 14 would be better but that's a longer story). When your solar panel is connected (through a charge controller) voltage will vary...it'll be 14.something at times and lower other times...when it stays steady at 13.3 it should mean your battery is fully charged and controller is on "maintenance mode".....


when you turn on an appliance the voltage readout will drop dramatically...you might see 11.something even....but that is not a "reading".....a voltmeter will only be useful for battery state of charge reading when battery was "at rest" (no draw) for a period of time.


for all of the above I'm a big fan of four digit panel voltmeters....you can get a really good "feel" for how much you're using..and/or how fast you're putting it back in.


good luck and have fun

I didn't even think of that. Your rite, .xx display is a must. If they don't make one with a built in USB, I'll just use a separate unit like have shown. Just trying to keep drilling into the Fiberglass at a minimum if possible. Thanks much for the info, this is the kind of feedback I am looking for.
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Old 05-25-2019, 11:46 AM   #12
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Name: K C
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if you want to keep the drilling into the fiberglass to a minimum make a larger cutout and mount a removable panel onto it. That way you can add new devices onto that panel or even change out that removable panel face if you decide on new equipment and a new design layout.



So one big hole to be cut just one time. All the little holes go into the removable panel face. My trailer situation is a little different but that is essentially how it is handled except I have a couple of panels. I used a material, acetal/Delrin plastic, to make the panels that I can laser cut openings into that match the size needed for the different ports and displays. It all looks professional instead of an owner drilling a bunch of small holes here and there.
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Old 05-25-2019, 12:51 PM   #13
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great minds think alike....lol

yeah that's what I did too....with a piece of teak plywood....needed a larger opening to reach back there...easier to connect everything too


pictures seem to be working again....
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Old 05-25-2019, 12:56 PM   #14
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This is the third time you've posted those pix. I'm seeing them all.
Perhaps you're not waiting long enough.
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