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Old 07-23-2013, 11:40 AM   #1
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Electrical Questions

Hello,

I am looking to purchase a school bus and work on converting it.. I am stuck on one thing.. I am looking into the best way to hook up the electrical. I would like to have it so I can use shore power and generator power. I am not looking to have a converter set up in the bus..

I need direction on doing this, I am a computer programmer as a day job so this is a little bit out of my league but I have always wanted to do this..

Can someone tlel me the best way of doing this and what parts people have had the best luck with?
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:58 PM   #2
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Re: Electrical Questions

You need to read the topic RV Electrical Safety and all the little articles linked to within the thread. Mike Sokol has been kind enough to keep up with the thread and keeps posting more info. BE SAFE!!!!

The easiest way is to run your interior wiring to a small panel box. Plug into the power pole OR plug into the generator. No switches.


http://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D-...0FCP/100148341
Ours is a Square D brand Load Center QO6-12l100S with 6 useable spaces (2 are voided for wiring unlike the one shown and linked to) filled with 6 double space 20 amp breakers. Could have used the super skinny breakers and put two in each slot but that would have been very pricey and wasn't needed. Our panel box has been discontinued but looks like the one above. We had thought about using Progressive Dynamics all in one panel box (combines 12VDC and 110AC in a single box) but we wanted/needed more circuits that the PD allowed. The Progressive Dynamics Smart Charger w/ Charge wizard is powered by a dedicated 20 amp breaker in the box. The cable runs from the power load box to the 30 amp receptacle power pole in the campground OR it can be plugged into the 30 amp receptacle on a generator. We do not have our generator yet. But we will wire a receptacle in the electrical bay that will be fed by the generator. The Bus will the plug into that for generator power. It's an "either/or" idiot moment proof set up. This way allows us to not a have a stupid moment and plug the bus into shore power WHILE being plugged in the the generator (or vice versa). That would cause a lot of damage.

Get a panel box that uses breakers that you can buy anywhere (and carry a couple extra with you). I had a friend in CA who had to order his breakers for his vintage RV online. Whereas I had the same GE panel box in an RV manufactured by a totally different manufacturer within the same decade. I bought my breakers locally, not online. I don't think it's as big a deal as it used to be since I know that I can buy many of the same breakers here in the Southwest that I could in the Southeast (GE, Square D, Siemans). But it's something to keep in mind. Always test your breakers, they should not be "silent" when they trip/reset. A silent breaker may be a bad breaker. Yes you can buy a shiny unused bad breaker straight from the factory.

We have only three 12vDC items and that is the water pump (Shurflo 2088 Classic) and the 12vDC fans on the rear heat exchanger plus the hot fluid pump also on the rear heat exchanger. A dedicated inverter (currently only the one) powers the 110vAC LP Gas range lights/electronics, 110vAC thru-the-wall-mobile-home exhaust fan over the range (our version of a better working hood vent) and all the 110vAC fluorescent lights. The smart charger charges our "house" battery bank (currently our one and only cranking battery) while on shore power or while on generator (when we get one). Once we are ready to buy a house bank, it will be two to four 12vDC deep cycle marine batteries. It will be set up to crank the bus via a switch or run all four batteries as a house bank with the smart charger keeping them up as needed. I might put the TV on a dedicated inverter. Not sure. We have wired to where we can easily make the change. We like to watch a movie when Freedom Parking. And we could do that with the battery bank we have planned without running the generator.


This set up took a bit of thought on our part. Our setup is not like others on here. We are working fulltimers (I have a job at Home Depot). Our bus is our Residential Vehicle, not Recreational, and is set up as such. I have a 30" LP gas range, 8.8 cf AC refrigerators, 12 cf AC upright freezer, 10 gallon AC water heater on board... the 24" wide standard dishwasher, top loading washer and LP gas dryer have not been bought and installed yet but they have been planned for and space allotted to them. This is our only home, not a weekend play toy. It does not move until we are ready to leave. We have been in our current location since December 2011. We will move to Texas in September 2015 where I will get another job plus start another shoestring business of our own (I don't like working for others). We need to be self contained on our moves since we tend to stay in parking lots when we travel, only pulling into a campground every 3 to 4 nights to dump and refill tanks (my fresh auto fills). This is how we live and travel. Not everyone does. It's a large part of the reason we converted a skoolie. Before you run the first wire, build the first wall or cabinet, you need to figure out HOW you will use your bus both now and in future years. This will save you a great deal of headaches if you have a good plan and are armed with knowledge (or speculation)
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:50 PM   #3
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Re: Electrical Questions

I went and purchased one of those today, Now I am looking to only hook up to 30 amp I believe. I am only really wanting to be able to power a air conditioner right now and a stove. So correct me if I am wrong but 30 amp should be fine correct?

When I go to wiring this up, Do I just get a male 30 amp plug, mount it and hook up to a breaker in the box correct?
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:49 PM   #4
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Re: Electrical Questions

You can't power an electric stove off 30 amp.

We run...
5050 btu window air condition plugged into the 20 amp outlet at the power pole and will keep that set up. Adding a 20 amp outlet from the generator in addition to the main 30 amp outlet from the generator

30 amp outlet handles...
desktop computer and monitor
all in one printer scanner
2000 watt electric heater that we plug in 15 minutes before we need it and then unplug after the 15 minutes
12 cf upright freezer
4.4 cf refrigerator
4.4 cf refrigerator (yes, we have two refrigerators)
30" lp gas range that requires 120vac to run the electronic display and burner ignitor
Thru the wall exhaust fan
Microwave/grill oven
25" tv/dvd player
6000 btu window air conditioner that we turn off overnight
Plus the flourescent lights

We will add a washer, lp dryer and dishwasher later this year

The rear air conditioner has not shut off since we put it in. Our past month power bill showed up yesterday afternoon. $98.88 6/12 - 7/12 855 kwh we have $60 allowed for electric and when we go over we pay the differance.
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Old 07-25-2013, 06:37 AM   #5
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Re: Electrical Questions

what kind of stove?

We run a couple of the 700w electric burners (small stove eyes) they are about 6/7 amps each so they both run off a single 20amp breaker fed by 12ga wire(good for 20 amps of 120v)
another 20 amp breaker feeds the front air conditioner/heater and couple outlets for lights and chargers etc.(in the winter we plug in our heaters to the circuit that ran AC's in the summer)
since we went 50 amp hook up

we have an extra 120 leg coming in, so we divided the Bus into two zones

what we have to have (ac/heater in bedroom, fridge and cooking is on one leg basically 30 amp circuit)

and the other leg supplies "extra's" the front ac/heater extra outlets for cooking (we can use rotisserie and both burners and have both ac's running with everything else

when plugged into 30 amp the adapter plug will supply 30 amps total to all the circuits, so we are just careful in what we choose to use and when we use it

we can still run both ac's (both small 5000btu) and fridge and coffee pot, I normally just turn off front ac to use the microwave (or if I remember to, we can plug in a 25amp extension cord to the pedestal like Lorna does

Decide what you want to run and then add extra for the future (I have 4 more receptacles to put in...we keep saying wouldn't it be nice to have one here?)
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:35 AM   #6
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Re: Electrical Questions

Something to keep in mind...

Most public campgrounds are still 30/20/15 amp. Some have some 50 amp sites. These are generally the more expensive sites.

Private campground tends to charge quite a bit more for 50 amp sites. We have personally run into price differences of $10 to $100 per month higher than 30 amp. Our current campground will boot you out if they catch you using any adapters. We carry an adapter that allows us to plug our 30 amp plug into a 50 amp service (needed in TX for 50 amp only service in Rockport-Fulton campground and Corpus Christi mobile home/RV park).


We are cheap. We know we can live on a 30 amp service if we spread the loads out.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:33 PM   #7
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Re: Electrical Questions

So,

I am going to seperate the AC from everything else and run it on its own... Then I am going to use a 30amp for a fridge and other things in the bus...

Now.. The biggest thing I need help with and I haven't really seen anything on.. Is HOW I go about hooking up the Male 30 AMP Plug to the Breaker Box?

Can you please give me some insight on this? Does it just get hooked up via a breaker?
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Old 07-25-2013, 03:01 PM   #8
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Re: Electrical Questions

I told you. The stranded black positive on your power cable is screwed to the positive bar (black), the stranded white negative goes to negative bar (white) and the stranded green ground is screwed to the ground screw or ground strip in the panel box. Crimp on ring terminals or tin the stranded wire first before making the connections.

If the AC wiring is freaking you out, then go to a bookstore and pick up the NEC book on house wiring or a basic book on wiring up lights, switches and receptacles along with panel boxes
(DIY remodeling books). The NEC is a bit more technical. You may prefer a DIY book. Flip thru the book to make sure that what you need is covered.

Edited because I am dyslexic when it comes to remember my + & -! Thanks Chuck!

And I really am slightly dyslexic. Getting worse since I cleared 50!
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Old 07-25-2013, 03:02 PM   #9
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Re: Electrical Questions

You do not need a main breaker. The load distribution panel box is all you need.
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:42 PM   #10
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Re: Electrical Questions

Yep, just like Lorna said: a plug, a cord, a breaker panel (a "subpanel" type, rather than the "meter main" or "main" type which, appropriately enough, include a main breaker and possible a socket for a meter). Your shore power cord will plug into a receptacle somewhere, and upstream from that receptacle will be a breaker. You could think of that as your "main breaker." Inside the subpanel box you'll see a pair of silvery "bus bars" with screw lugs. With a 30-amp shore connection you're probably doing just one hot leg, so you could connect the hot wire from your cord to one of the bus bars. Then you can install breakers in the slots that connect with that bus bar, or you can connect a jumper wire between the bus bar lugs and then put breakers in any/all of the slots.

Though it's not necessary, you could have a "main" breaker in your panel if you wanted to. You could do this by selecting a panel that already has a main in it, or one that has an option for it (plus buying the corresponding breaker), or POSSIBLY by using a normal breaker in one of the slots and reverse-feeding it. Before reverse-feeding you'd want to verify that your intended breaker is rated for that usage. For example, Eaton has a document listing which of theirs are suitable for reverse feed. Also would be a good idea to tag the wires in some way so it's obvious to anybody who comes along later that those are the conductor(s) supplying power to the box.

So far as the cord itself is concerned, there are several options. You could buy something that already has the TT-30 plug end molded on it and lop off whatever might be on the other end, or you could buy a replacement cord end plus a length of cord. Personally I'm quite partial to the SOOW type cord because it's so durable/rugged. Yeah there are cheaper options, but IMHO it's worth the one-time investment to use the good stuff.
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