I need a ground - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-17-2012, 12:34 PM   #1
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I need a ground

I'm in the process of installing red minature led lights on several switches to indicate power on condition. The main disconnect was easy, I was able to tap into the main 12v ground behind the converter. Now I'm installing one on my 12v heat pads, under my bed for my tank heaters. I have found the source/juice for the light on the pad switch. But now I need a ground.
Can I use the propane copper tubing? what about a nearby 120v outlet with a metal box? Both of these make the bulb work. Would either of these be a problem? I have access to some white,red and black 12v wires but my led wire is really small like 24 gauge and I do not think those "taps" will work with such small wires. If so, which is ground, the red or white or black? thanx
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:06 PM   #2
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How much do the heat pads draw? If they are substantial, you might consider running a new circuit for them.

You don't need a ground, but a positive and negative wire. The negative side of the battery has a ground connection.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:18 PM   #3
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I'm with Jim. Anything that makes heat will draw a large current. New #14, or larger wire makes sense. Don't forget a fuse, or breaker.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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The pads were factory installed and there is a switch to turn them off/on. The switch is a toggle type and the pads are have been wired and operative. What I'm doing is adding a LED "on" indicator lamp so that when I throw the switch on, the pads come on and the red LED lamp comes on. When I turn the pads off, the little led light will go out. Thus I tap into the switch for my power on the on side, but I need a ground to illuminate my little LED indicator light.
Here is a picture for one I installed on the water heater switch to remind me it is "on" I was able to tap into th heater ground wire for this one, but there is no bare ground wire under the bed where the 12v heat pad switch is located and wired. Just the propane line and a 120v outlet. There are some sheather 12v wires red and black to from the rest of the trailer. I just need to ground the little led lamp for it to operate.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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I had no idea that witches would put up with red lights on them...
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:08 PM   #6
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Jim, there should be a negative from the heating pads to tie into, if they are available. If not, there is a bunch of them under the bed. I have tied into a couple already.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:29 PM   #7
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Jim, there should be a negative from the heating pads to tie into, if they are available. If not, there is a bunch of them under the bed. I have tied into a couple already.
There are a bunch of red/black 12v wires there but these led wires are real thin and I'm not sure a t connector would work and there is no play to cut and splice. If the propane pipe is already a ground, why can't I tape the ground wire to it? Any thoughts?
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:34 PM   #8
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While using the propane pipe for a conductor will work, current flow through a gas line is not safe. A break in the line would be accompanied by a spark. Not good. Mind you, the amount of current would be very small for an LED. Probably not enough energy to start a fire. Still, I wouldn't do it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:00 PM   #9
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Jim
There is a block at your fuse location that has ground connections and the safest bet is always to return there for the connection.

I would also urge you to avoid any propane lines and I wouldn't use the house power box either.
Ground loops are notorious for causing all sorts of Gremlins in an electrical system and along with the "Witches" Gremlins would be no good!

I know it is more work but go to the ground block and be done with it and avoid trouble down the road.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I'm in the process of installing red minature led lights on several witches to indicate power on condition. The main disconnect was easy, I was able to tap into the main 12v ground behind the converter. Now I'm installing one on my 12v heat pads, under my bed for my tank heaters. I have found the source/juice for the light on the pad switch. But now I need a ground.
Can I use the propane copper tubing? what about a nearby 120v outlet with a metal box? Both of these make the bulb work. Would either of these be a problem? I have access to some white,red and black 12v wires but my led wire is really small like 24 gauge and I do not think those "taps" will work with such small wires. If so, which is ground, the red or white or black? thanx
I see the problem. Witches not like to be grounded...
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:06 PM   #11
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You could use an in-line mechanical splice with an 18g wire, connected to the black from the heaters, and run it back to the lead on the LED and connect with a wire nut there.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:08 PM   #12
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You could use an in-line mechanical splice with an 18g wire, connected to the black from the heaters, and run it back to the lead on the LED and connect with a wire nut there.
Some RVs use Black as Hot?
Don't know about the Escape but easy enough to make sure with a meter before committing to it!

On the other hand as you have one I will hope you know this for sure?
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:20 PM   #13
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I touched it to my water line and it works, I attached it with some putty to the brass elbow and I feel safer than using the propane line. Now all I need to do is take a shower and see if I get all tingly inside. Note, the draw is something like .03 milliamps. Until I find a better ground or negative I'll leave it. It is only on when the pad switch is on, off rest of time.
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:06 PM   #14
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I had no idea that witches would put up with red lights on them...
The ones the live and work in the red light district might not mind it but as Byron says grounding them so they cant fly on their broom sticks might be another matter.
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Old 10-17-2012, 05:12 PM   #15
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Tomorrow I'll tap into a black wire, check it's polarity and then splice with a 12 ga wire and then butt splice into the real small maybe 18 ga wire. That should make everything kosher.
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Old 10-17-2012, 05:31 PM   #16
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Solder, shrink tubing, and tape might be a better choice.. Raz
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ed Harris View Post
Some RVs use Black as Hot?
Don't know about the Escape but easy enough to make sure with a meter before committing to it!
Black is always hot. There is a saying to remember whenever you are doing 120V AC wiring that has always stuck in my head, before I ever got into the trade. "Black is hot, white is not".

With 12V DC, the most common convention by far is red is positive, and black is negative. Escape, and most trailer manufactures, use this. There have been the odd exception in the past, and if unsure, a polarity test is advised. I know in lots of marine wiring they use white as positive, and black still as negative. Boaters are weird though.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:05 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Black is always hot. There is a saying to remember whenever you are doing 120V AC wiring that has always stuck in my head, before I ever got into the trade. "Black is hot, white is not".

With 12V DC, the most common convention by far is red is positive, and black is negative. Escape, and most trailer manufactures, use this. There have been the odd exception in the past, and if unsure, a polarity test is advised. I know in lots of marine wiring they use white as positive, and black still as negative. Boaters are weird though.
Your first paragraph is correct for house AC wiring.
Your 12V DC is mostly correct. However, Scamp uses house hold wiring conventions. Black is positive and white is negative.

The only real convention followed the biggest percentage of the time is that green is ground (earth type of ground).

The best advice is to always check with meter.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:13 PM   #19
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Solder, shrink tubing, and tape might be a better choice.. Raz
I saw someplace that you claimed to be an engineer (EE). I make that same claim and disagree with you as does manufacturing, including automotive wiring, truck wiring, etc, etc. A properly crimped connection has been shown time and time again as the better. Soldering has some inherent problems and is more technical than most people think.

My experience is I've seen hundreds of solder joint failures, but I don't recall ever seeing a crimped connection fail. That's after 45 years in electronic manufacturing.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:06 PM   #20
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Wire the lights across the loads

Jim,

If you wire each light across each respective load you will effectively be tied in correctly. At the switch you are picking up the normally off side of the switch that goes hot when turned on. One of the heating pad wires terminates there. This should be 12v+ when the switch is energized. On the heating pads, for them to work properly, the other wire must be tied to a 12v- point. This is where you want to tie the other light lead whenever possible. Don't worry about the wire size you tie into because the lights don't draw enough to be concerned. Any type of crimp connectors will be fine. I hope this helps!

Steve
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