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Old 04-07-2018, 02:27 PM   #1
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Name: Frederic
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How to wire camper

At the stage of wiring overall camper: never did any wiring! Should we hire electrician or do it yourself kinda job. We have 1976 beachcomber.
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Old 04-07-2018, 02:50 PM   #2
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really depends on what you want to wire...

you certainly COULD do it yourself, *IF* you are willing to learn enough about electricity and wiring to know what you're doing.

a camper typically has 3 sorts of wiring.

1) driving and brake lights, and trailer brakes if its over ???? lbs gross.

2) DC 'house' wiring

3) AC wiring for when you're in a camp that has hookups.
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Old 04-07-2018, 02:52 PM   #3
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I just rewired mine. I have some electrical experience, but nowhere near an expert. Far better than the previous owner, I think.

It depends on your comfort level and which circuits you are doing. Most trailers have three, almost separate systems.
1. Tail, stop, turn signals, lights etc that are part of the towing system. This could also include the braking system.
2. Interior 12v system. This can be simple, as in my case, or fairly complex. This usually includes lights, pump, and fridge but could include other 12v appliances.
3. 120v system. This may be a place to invite an electrician to help. This starts with the shore power, should have a breaker box, and usually will feed the converter, air conditioner, fridge, microwave and other household type appliances.

There are points where these circuits typically interconnect like at the battery and the converter.

In all cases, it's important to use the appropriate size wire, keep the positives and negatives straight, and use the correct fuses or breakers for the wire and the load.

Looks like Jon and I were on the same page. I just type slower (or am more verbos).
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Old 04-07-2018, 02:57 PM   #4
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It depends on many things, and is obviously not a simple answer type of question. First, do you have any electrical experience aside from changing light bulbs? Do you understand electrical theory at all? Do you know the applicable electrical codes? If you aren't comfortable with the thought of installing wiring properly, (i.e. knowing proper wiring from "Mickey Mouse" wiring which could burn up your trailer or worse, electrocute somebody.) It may be a more prudent choice to hire it out if you aren't up on these things.

You also need to ask yourself what kinds of equipment are you thinking of installing? (Such as, but not limited to,) 120 VAC outlets, 12 VDC battery and trailer lighting, a 120 VAC-to-12 VDC Converter, a battery charger, a microwave, shore power surge protection, a refrigerator, a water heater, a furnace, any entertainment equipment, (radio, TV etc?) As you can see it can quickly become overwhelming and a bit daunting if electricity isn't your forte.
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Old 04-07-2018, 04:20 PM   #5
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The thing is, electricity is really very simple, it follows some very basic rules, like ohms law (voltage = current * resistance)... I learned most of what I know about electricity when I was in the 5th grade circa 1965, and took an after school electronics shop class.

So many people are afraid of it, because they've never taken the time to learn the basics, so they treat it as magic (flip switch, light comes on, just like magic!!).
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Old 04-07-2018, 05:32 PM   #6
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If just rewiring the existing wiring go for it. I did my 79 Boler 15 years ago and it's amazing how much you can learn from just going slow and doing it yourself.
I did have the original wire diagram for my trailer I got off line. Do you have one? If not just try and trace one wire at a time and make a diagram following the color scheme that is already there.
After doing it all if I do have a light out....or wanting to replace side markers to LED's I know just where the disconnects are.
The big improvement I made was, I put in bus bars. One under front bench where it comes in to the trailer. (battery is on tongue) with off shoots to front markers / bunk bed light. Another bus bar near the furnace area to feed furnace / fridge / lights in center of camper. Then the last one in rear cubby to feed rear side makers / tail lights / lights over table.
This keeps things isolated and easy to trace any problems.
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Old 04-07-2018, 08:13 PM   #7
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if you use a modern DC converter like a PD4600, the included fuse panel provides a nice place to terminate each DC circuit *and* the PD provides all the A/C breakers you'll likely ever need.

suggestion, put the converter relatively close to the battery. use 12/3 romex for all your 120VAC wiring, and I like using marine grade 12/2 for my DC wiring. maybe 10/2 for the battery -> converter

use a separate DC fuse for each set of circuits, like I'd use one fuse for the rear DC lighting and another fuse for the DC lighting around the street side. put the water pump on its own DC fuse. if your water heater uses DC for the gas igniter and controls, then put that on its own fuse. overhead fan on its own fuse, outdoor lighting might share the same fuse as the curb side kitchen hood and lighting, assuming you have those.

for sure if I was custom wiring a trailer, I'd put DC outlets at both ends, and USB chargers next to them, as I never seem to have enough of those. I'd put each dc cigar socket + USB charger block on their own fuse. I'd consider putting a DC switch next to the USB charger so you could shut it totally off when you're not using it to prevent any parasitic current drain. I would also likely want to hard wire a DC volt meter to monitor the battery charge state, maybe with a pushbutton so it only reads (and lights) when you push the button, again to save parasitic drain.


the AC breaker panel included with the power converters gives you a main bus bar for your AC 'neutral' (white wire), and each breaker has a couple screws for the 'hot' black wire(s) for that circuit.

AC outlets can be daisy chained, so you can have a couple outlets on each breaker. any outlet near the kitchen or outside should be the ground fault interrupter (GFI) type.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:40 AM   #8
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Just remember that "Electrician's" wire houses which is AC current. Much of the wiring in a RV trailer, typically far more than half of that wiring, is for DC current.

Some will say electricity is electricity however that's now always the situation particularly when you still see campground AC pedestal's in wired wrong by licensed electricians that can cause all sorts of issues for trailer's and campers such as hot skin for metal skin trailers that can result in electric shock and death. RV's can and do have special needs when it comes to grounding and other issues.

Wiring is not that difficult for AC or DC especially if you are just replacing wire for wire. Of course that "assumes" the trailer was properly wired in the first place. Do a little reading, reviewing and go rewire your trailer. After all the wiring required for either AC or DC in a small fiberglass trailer is generally very limited and very simple.

Just don't forget the ground wires!
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:23 AM   #9
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Wiring is Easy!

Here is a good read before you start. USE Duplex wire and recommend marine grade tinned wire.

PFD of the 12 Volt Doctors Practical Handbook http://www.melody-in-blues.org/downl...lthandbook.pdf

Also learn how to do good connections
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Old 04-08-2018, 11:44 AM   #10
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I bet there are YouTube videos on DIY trailer wiring.

Here's an example of a van conversion:

Never mind, he's British system, but there are many out there. Ever see the electrical system in a British car?

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Old 04-08-2018, 12:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fvicaire View Post
At the stage of wiring overall camper: never did any wiring! Should we hire electrician or do it yourself kinda job. We have 1976 beachcomber.
It would be best to talk to, consult with or contract with someone local who understands the principles of, and has done RV wiring.

Only thing unique to fiberglass RVs is that ground (EDIT: these are 12vdc COMMON/WHITE, not GROUND) wires ARE run back to the power source, NOT through the frame. Only exceptions:

- generally the shore power ground is fastened to the frame
- in some FGRVs, brake wire grounds are fastened to the frame rather than run back to the tow vehicle connector
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Old 04-08-2018, 01:10 PM   #12
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indeed, both the shore power ground (NOT NEUTRAL), and the battery - should be tied to the frame ground.
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Old 04-08-2018, 01:45 PM   #13
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EDITED my previous comment

"Only thing unique to fiberglass RVs is that ground (EDIT: these are 12vdc COMMON/WHITE, not GROUND) wires ARE run back to the power source, NOT through the frame."
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:33 PM   #14
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I cannot imagine what it would cost to hire out the job of wiring a camper from scratch. Take your time. Research. Become your own expert. The internet is your friend. Diagrams abound. Go slow. Draw lots of diagrams, over and over. Colored low voltage wire (12v) is available in bulk on Amazon or E-bay for a fraction of the Lowes or Home Depot cost. I used extension cords (heavy outdoor 10 gauge and 12 gauge) for my household 120vac wires, rather than romex. Have fun! When it stops being fun stop for the day.
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Old 04-11-2018, 02:31 PM   #15
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These are a couple of "must haves," (Part 1 & 2,) for your reference library, and I recommend them for anyone who owns an RV, trailer, or boat, or for that matter, anyone who has any dealings with 12 VDC wiring and equipment. Incredibly good resource to add to your library.

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

The 12volt Side of Life Part 2
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Old 04-11-2018, 02:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Buggeee View Post
I cannot imagine what it would cost to hire out the job of wiring a camper from scratch. Take your time. Research. Become your own expert. The internet is your friend. Diagrams abound. Go slow. Draw lots of diagrams, over and over. Colored low voltage wire (12v) is available in bulk on Amazon or E-bay for a fraction of the Lowes or Home Depot cost. I used extension cords (heavy outdoor 10 gauge and 12 gauge) for my household 120vac wires, rather than romex. Have fun! When it stops being fun stop for the day.

I would strongly suggest automotive wire. The insulation on automotive wire is "cross-link" in common terms teflon. Much of the wire the insulation is subject abrasion and sustains fire. Automotive wire is abrasion resistant and does not sustain fire.
The biggest worry in electrical wiring is fire.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:44 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
I would strongly suggest automotive wire. The insulation on automotive wire is "cross-link" in common terms teflon. Much of the wire the insulation is subject abrasion and sustains fire. Automotive wire is abrasion resistant and does not sustain fire.
The biggest worry in electrical wiring is fire.
even better is marine wire. as I think I said earlier, 12/2 marine wire is what I'd use for most all of the DC wiring. 18/2 would be fine for LED lighting and such
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