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Old 06-25-2012, 02:53 PM   #1
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Name: Ashley
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Electrical help and condensation issues

Hey Everyone,

We have the standard 110V electrical system on our Trillium and my husband wants to replace the wiring. The wiring seems quite old and one end has exposed wires. His plan is to insert a new heavy gauge electrical extension cord and attach it to a surge protector with six outlets under the sink (14-gauge wire). We plan to run the following devices off the surge protector: 110V fridge, 110V ceramic heater, charging laptops, ipad, etc. Is this recommended and considered safe? It should be noted that we no longer have 12V lighting. We're using battery powered led lights.

We are clueless when it comes to electrical. Any feedback on his idea would be greatly appreciated.

Also wanted to know if anyone else has problems with major condensation? We just took our first camping trip in 'Stella' after her complete reno and it was SO cold outside. We had so much condensation inside that the windows were dripping with water. We didn't crack the roof vent because it was so cold outside. Myself, my husband, our daughter and our dog all ended up sleeping together in the double bed just to keep warm! We were so cramped! lol
We plan on purchasing a small space heater for future trips and once we have that we can open the roof vent. Will having the roof vent open help with the condensation?

Thanks in advance for your help - hopefully it's not a faux pas to post a thread with two separate questions.


Ashley
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:44 PM   #2
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3 people and a dog in small, unventilated space will make air dump! IMHO if you cracked that roof vent an inch or so, you'd hardly loose any heat but got rid of the condensation and feel MUCH warmer.

14 gauge is not really heavy duty. It will do for hooking up to 15 Amp outlets on campsites but, that's all. More than likely, 15 Amp is all that your surge protector can handle and that may not be enough to run the heater and the fridge at the same time. Obviously, it depends on the size of the heater and the fridge.
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:54 PM   #3
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Do yourself a favor and use 12 Gauge as the smallest wire. It will run an electric heater and other stuff at the same time.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Do yourself a favor and use 12 Gauge as the smallest wire. It will run an electric heater and other stuff at the same time.
May I ask, why? Sure, 12 Gauge can have 20 Amp protection but, 15 Amp is standard campsite outlet and trying to draw more will pop the breaker on the outlet anyway. The other (campsite) standard is 30 Amp but, to hook up to that, 10 Gauge should be used.
Also; All adaptors that I have seen that allow to plug in standard cord to 30 Amp outlet are rated for 15 Amp.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew GPSMapNut
3 people and a dog in small, unventilated space will make air dump! IMHO if you cracked that roof vent an inch or so, you'd hardly loose any heat but got rid of the condensation and feel MUCH warmer.

14 gauge is not really heavy duty. It will do for hooking up to 15 Amp outlets on campsites but, that's all. More than likely, 15 Amp is all that your surge protector can handle and that may not be enough to run the heater and the fridge at the same time. Obviously, it depends on the size of the heater and the fridge.
Thanks for the info Andrew. Another reason we didn't open the vent because it was pouring rain. But it's good to know it would have made a difference. We're so amateur!
Another thing I should mention is that the campground we are going to this weekend has 30 amp hook up so we plan to buy an adaptor. Does that change any of the info you gave?
Thanks again!
Ashley
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:36 PM   #6
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You weren't the only one whose windows were dripping with condensation. At the scrambled egg meet last weekend between the cool weather and rainy conditions we also had wet windows. But if there hadn't been high winds and blowing rain we would have had our windows cracked open and that would have reduced the condensation. Ventilation is the key.

Related to your question: space heater. If you mean the ceramic heater you mentioned, they work well and they're "dry heat". If you mean the kerosene or propane kind then I wouldn't go that route (again). They are "wet" heat and put more moisture into the air.

The only negative that I can think of of going the route you suggested, cord plus several outlets is that it give the illusion that you can plug in lots of items. You can but you have to be very aware of the total load. A ceramic heater on high is almost the total load that the cord and circuit breaker can handle. As long as you're very aware of how much you've got plugged in you'll be OK.

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Old 06-25-2012, 05:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trillium.Stella View Post
Thanks for the info Andrew. Another reason we didn't open the vent because it was pouring rain. But it's good to know it would have made a difference. We're so amateur!
Another thing I should mention is that the campground we are going to this weekend has 30 amp hook up so we plan to buy an adaptor. Does that change any of the info you gave?
Thanks again!
Ashley
Get yourself a vent cover. I got one from Canadian Tire. It is virtually identical to the one linked below but, it was $15 cheaper and I'm happy with it. RV Vent Cover | Canadian Tire Because of my storage hight, I did not mount it permanently to the roof. I just slip it on when I arrive at a campsite and take it off before I leave. It can rain all it wants and I can still have my vent open without a drop of rain coming inside.

I expect your 30 Amp adaptor to be rated for 15 Amp. You may be OK to run the heater on Low (900? 1000? Watt) and have a small fridge going at the same time without popping the breaker on the surge protector but, if you plan to plug in anything else, turn off the heater. I certainly do not recommend to use your 14 Gauge extension, plugged into 30 Amp service without a 15 Amp protection breaker.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC
You weren't the only one whose windows were dripping with condensation. At the scrambled egg meet last weekend between the cool weather and rainy conditions we also had wet windows. But if there hadn't been high winds and blowing rain we would have had our windows cracked open and that would have reduced the condensation. Ventilation is the key.

Related to your question: space heater. If you mean the ceramic heater you mentioned, they work well and they're "dry heat". If you mean the kerosene or propane kind then I wouldn't go that route (again). They are "wet" heat and put more moisture into the air.

The only negative that I can think of of going the route you suggested, cord plus several outlets is that it give the illusion that you can plug in lots of items. You can but you have to be very aware of the total load. A ceramic heater on high is almost the total load that the cord and circuit breaker can handle. As long as you're very aware of how much you've got plugged in you'll be OK.

Ron
Hi Ron,

We were thinking of joining that meet up but didn't plan properly. I'm glad we didn't with all the kinks we need to work through.
We are planning to use a ceramic heater. I found a cool touch heater on usedvictoria and just waiting to hear back. We are camping in Whistler this weekend so we want that heater forsure!
I don't think we'd need the heater on high but I guess you never know. We'd need to have the fridge plugged in and running at all times and then the heater in the evening and overnight.
Hopefully we can get something together for this weekend!
Thanks for your help!
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:45 PM   #9
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Extension cord

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trillium.Stella View Post
Hey Everyone,

We have the standard 110V electrical system on our Trillium and my husband wants to replace the wiring. The wiring seems quite old and one end has exposed wires. His plan is to insert a new heavy gauge electrical extension cord and attach it to a surge protector with six outlets under the sink (14-gauge wire). We plan to run the following devices off the surge protector: 110V fridge, 110V ceramic heater, charging laptops, ipad, etc. Is this recommended and considered safe? It should be noted that we no longer have 12V lighting. We're using battery powered led lights.

We are clueless when it comes to electrical. Any feedback on his idea would be greatly appreciated.

Also wanted to know if anyone else has problems with major condensation? We just took our first camping trip in 'Stella' after her complete reno and it was SO cold outside. We had so much condensation inside that the windows were dripping with water. We didn't crack the roof vent because it was so cold outside. Myself, my husband, our daughter and our dog all ended up sleeping together in the double bed just to keep warm! We were so cramped! lol
We plan on purchasing a small space heater for future trips and once we have that we can open the roof vent. Will having the roof vent open help with the condensation?

Thanks in advance for your help - hopefully it's not a faux pas to post a thread with two separate questions.


Ashley
Extension cord by design and by code (NEC) must be visible along their entire length after installation and is not allowed as a permanent concealed method of wiring. Use 14-2 or 12-2 NM, (ROMEX) it is approved for the purpose and is much less expensive than cord. It takes the same amount of time to install 14-2 as 12-2 NM so material costs are the determining factor
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham
Extension cord by design and by code (NEC) must be visible along their entire length after installation and is not allowed as a permanent concealed method of wiring. Use 14-2 or 12-2 NM, (ROMEX) it is approved for the purpose and is much less expensive than cord. It takes the same amount of time to install 14-2 as 12-2 NM so material costs are the determining factor
Hi Steve,
Thanks for your reply.
What you just said is completely foreign to us. We know nothing about electrical, hence the power cord idea. It would probably be less safe for us to play around with electrical than to have a concealed power cord.

Ashley
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:23 AM   #11
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Andrew said: May I ask, why? Sure, 12 Gauge can have 20 Amp protection but, 15 Amp is standard campsite outlet and trying to draw more will pop the breaker on the outlet anyway.

It's just plain safer in the long run by being over engineered and the cost is totally minimal.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Andrew said: May I ask, why? Sure, 12 Gauge can have 20 Amp protection but, 15 Amp is standard campsite outlet and trying to draw more will pop the breaker on the outlet anyway.

It's just plain safer in the long run by being over engineered and the cost is totally minimal.
Well, so why go with 12 Gauge and be under engineered for 30 Amp service when one could go for 10 Gauge and be safe plugging into higher Amp service? IMHO 14 Gauge is good for 15 Amp service and going to 12 Gauge is just a waste of money, added weight and bulk and it does not allow one to do anything more or better than 14 Gauge would.
YMMV
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:14 PM   #13
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I am half dozen of one and six of the other on the subject of over sizing wire. While it will not allow you to draw any more current out of a 15 amp breaker, it is a bit of a safety factor.

The wiring on my Trillium 4500 is showing its age. There are places that the wire has corroded up to an inch under the insulation. Some wires broke when I touched them. A high resistance point on a circuit, caused by corroded wires, will lead to heat at that point, thus causing additional corrosion and eventually breakage of the wire.

The additional copper in an over sized wire would delay the need to replace the wire.

I would also recommend solder and heat shrink on all splices, but there are other schools of thought.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:35 PM   #14
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Dave said: A high resistance point on a circuit, caused by corroded wires, will lead to heat at that point, thus causing additional corrosion and eventually breakage of the wire.

Dave is correct and when the wire finally breaks it could start arching and then that could cause a fire.

Over sizing your wiring could also be a plus should you use an adapter to connect to a 30 or 50 amp service in a campground where if you were to overload a circuit in your camper it would not trip the campground breaker and this would over heat your wiring in the camper and may cause a fire.

The above is a scenario where you would not have your camper wiring fused inside the camper. Fusing (Breaker box) is something that all wired campers should have to protect against such things.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:06 PM   #15
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The simplest solution, (imho) would be to get a new power cord form an RV centre, 12 gauge minimum, and a new mini breaker box, wire the cord to feed the breaker-box, from the breaker box feed one receptacle, then plug in the power bar to that receptacle.
this should be a cheap fix, even at an RV dealership, about 2 hours labour, and maybe $200. in parts, even at dealer pricing.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
You weren't the only one whose windows were dripping with condensation. At the scrambled egg meet last weekend between the cool weather and rainy conditions we also had wet windows. But if there hadn't been high winds and blowing rain we would have had our windows cracked open and that would have reduced the condensation. Ventilation is the key.
Ron, you really need to pick up at least one Maxi Window vent cover for the rear side windows. It allowed me to open my side window up a few inches and as a result I as you know where in the same conditions but I didnt have any condensation issues. I did though have an lot of water on the floor of the shower which was the result of having left the bathroom window wide open when the big wind & rains hit and it blow the rain right into the bathroom! LOL it was a wild storm!
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:46 PM   #17
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David and Darwin,
I fully agree with you when it comes to the permanent trailer wiring. My comments about using 14 vs 12 gauge were in regards to an extension cord because this is what the OP intends to use instead of permanent wiring. In case of the extension cord, I rather spend on getting sufficient gauge (14) but good quality cord than, for the same money an over-sized gauge, lower quality cord. A good quality cord will remain flexible at higher range of temperatures and will be more resistant to elements and will serve a long, long time. Cheap cords... well, they are cheap. Used outdoors, in a short time insulation will get brittle and will start to crack, plug / receptacle will be getting hot (poor connection = voltage drops). Basically, in short order they will become unsafe to use.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:08 PM   #18
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wire size

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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Andrew said: May I ask, why? Sure, 12 Gauge can have 20 Amp protection but, 15 Amp is standard campsite outlet and trying to draw more will pop the breaker on the outlet anyway.

It's just plain safer in the long run by being over engineered and the cost is totally minimal.
The over sizing of conductors is not necessarily safer but is always more expensive . ( wire cost , box size etc. etc) When I was in Vocational school this principle was described as over built and under engineered .. Since the length of wire used in most trailers is short , voltage drop (120 VAC) is not a factor , cost and amperage load are the deciding factors. The limiting factor in our small trailers is the 30 amp feed . The Air conditioner heat strip in my Scamp draws 1750 watts or approx 15 amps leaving 10 to 15 amps for other uses. All the 20 amp circuits in the world will not solve this problem
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:08 PM   #19
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As a quick fix so you can use your camper before doing electrical work extension cord and power strip will work. On the power strip get one that has a). a circut breaker. b). has what look like regular wall plugs coming through the housing.

b) is because the flat plastic power strips with the plug slots molded in are incredibly low quality inside. The ones that are a box with real outlets in them are much better, and safer.

As noted by others you will have more plugs than your extension cord/circut breaker can handle, fridge draws extra power to start, anything that produces heat like a heater, coffee pot, toaster, blow dryer etc. will draw a lot. Charging you cell phone or laptop not so much.

So brewing coffee, with the heater going and having the fridge start I'm pretty sure will trip your breaker.

Long term you really want a small box that has a circut breaker or two, with a really heavy "pig tail" extension cord of moderate length wired to the circut breakers. You pass the pig tail out of the trailer (through a cord port I'm sure you have) to plug in, only use an extension cord outside on that pigtail if your not close to electric hookup.

Wiring in a breaker box and a couple of outlets and lights is not a complicated job, I bet you know someone who has added an outlet or light to their home, not any different in the camper. Invite them over to help, make em something good on the BBQ grill.

Do one outlet and light with help I'm sure you you can do the rest. But it's always easier to get started with a little help and advice on the scene. Do a little google time on wiring a plug, and you will see it's not as difficult as a lot of things you are already experienced at. Just new.
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:04 PM   #20
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This is the stock electrical config on an older scamp. Thought the picture might make it clearer.

The black wire coming off the left is a heavy extension cord feeding the circut breaker box (regular 3 prong plug on the other end)


White wire is standard romex house wire going to the plug.


You can not see another wire running off the top of the box, wire runs behind the ensolite and goes to a light over the sink.

Yes Scamp put the main outlet under the sink, fridge 110 cord and plug is run to this outlet.

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