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Old 05-28-2016, 12:27 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Washington state
Posts: 16
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Gmc
Engine: 5.7l 350 v8, gmc
Rated Cap: 41 passenger
what do i need for electrical system?

so i am somewhat new to the skoolie game starting from scratch right now on my 88 gmc bluebird, and i am looking at starting the electrical setup, i plan on making a 4 to 6 battery bank to run everything in the cabin off of and have the separate single battery for starting the bus itself. i want to be able to connect to shore power to charge and run everything when possible. not planning on have a generator (but will still most likely get one to be more prepared), but i do plan on adding a solar setup to it eventually but that's in the future.

i haven't been able to find anything step by step on here as far as everything needed to build the system, inverter, converter, what size amp panel, outlets, how to connect it all, how to also charge battery bank of alternator, etc...

im just looking to start purchasing the parts i need for the project but i have no idea where to begin and really how much power i need and what is generally standard for motorhomes.
im thinking probably 3 outlets for running low powered things like charging phones, coffee maker, led lighting and all other necessities.

i already have a wood stove for heat, and i plan on setting up a roof mount a/c unit for travel in warm weather, which i hopefully can run off of the motor.

so main question is what all do i need for the whole shibang?
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:15 AM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Miami
Posts: 167
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: MVP
Engine: CAT 3116
Rated Cap: 84
That is a pretty broad question. There is some good info in this thread:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f10/ho...ms-ac-448.html

Mike Sokol's No Shock Zone is also good reading:
The Shocking Truth About RVs | No~Shock~Zone

I found this to be a good simple write up:
https://skywagonskoolie.wordpress.com/electrical/

I bought the Black and Decker Complete Guide to Wiring, and it has been very helpful also:
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-C.../dp/159186612X

I don't think you will be able to run your rooftop A/C from the engine, you will probably need a generator to run it when you are driving. However, if you throw enough solar panels and batteries at it, it is possible to run a small A/C during the day:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/bu...er-8860-2.html
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:21 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Washington state
Posts: 16
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Gmc
Engine: 5.7l 350 v8, gmc
Rated Cap: 41 passenger
Ya I know this is a pretty broad question but I haven't been able to find any current posts on what is fully needed to set up legitimate power, just bits and pieces of people's issues along the way. Thank you very much for any help!
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Old 05-28-2016, 02:13 PM   #4
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Location: North carolina
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Detroit 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
Quote:
Originally Posted by Majikfoolbus View Post
Ya I know this is a pretty broad question but I haven't been able to find any current posts on what is fully needed to set up legitimate power, just bits and pieces of people's issues along the way. Thank you very much for any help!
I have a book called
Managing 12 volts how to upgrade,operate,and troubleshoot 12v electrical systems. Written by Harold Barre.
It covers almost every aspect from alternators,generators,solar power,wind power, batteries,switches,chargers and all.
It has helped me understand a lot.
Also the no shock zone is a must read.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:57 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Washington state
Posts: 16
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Gmc
Engine: 5.7l 350 v8, gmc
Rated Cap: 41 passenger
So how do rvs run their a/c during travel? That's all I'm want air conditioning for. And hope to do a roof mount as my bus has no current a/c
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:05 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Miami
Posts: 167
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: MVP
Engine: CAT 3116
Rated Cap: 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Majikfoolbus View Post
So how do rvs run their a/c during travel? That's all I'm want air conditioning for. And hope to do a roof mount as my bus has no current a/c
Generator.
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Old 05-29-2016, 12:13 AM   #7
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
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Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
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Or...a monster alternator and inverter system.
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Old 05-29-2016, 03:10 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Washington state
Posts: 16
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Gmc
Engine: 5.7l 350 v8, gmc
Rated Cap: 41 passenger
Looks like I'm getting a generator linked to the gas tank after all.
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Old 05-29-2016, 03:38 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Kent, WA (Seattle)
Posts: 387
Year: 1987
Engine: 6.9L Diesel
I also strongly reccommend visiting handy bob's page and reading the RV battery charging puzzle. for a basic understanding. I also second Piersg's recommendations, I would suggest the same links.

I'm no expert and I'm still working on my system myself but I will try and break down for you a rough checklist. First you need to establish your wattage needs, an AC will take a lot of wattage, as will hair dryers, induction stoves, space heaters, (things that mess with temperature) so all of these would be good to avoid if possible. It's also worth noting that if AC is very important to you, then you should take insulation very seriously assuming you are concerned about the long term game plan. That said I decided on about 1000watts, which is convenient because I have a nice 1000watt honda generator I impulse bought with my tax returns . My big needs are my rice cooker which is rated at about 1000watts, and my wifes hair dryer which is rated at about 1200watts. Both of these are a bit of a gamble, but I am assuming that the hair dryer on low will be below 1000watts, and the rice cooker will be below 1000watts when it's not cooking.

INVERTER: You need this to turn your 12VDC battery electricity to 120VAC. For my 1000watt needs, I will be using a magnum mms1012 pure sine wave inverter charger. This is probably a little expensive/excessive, but since I'm not an electrician I figure reducing parts is good. You can save a lot of money by buying a modified sine wave charger instead of a pure sinewave, but it seems that it's in general better for your devices to use a pure sinewave charger.

CONVERTER/BATTERY CHARGER: If you do not get a inverter charger like myself, it's within your best interest to get a device that will turn AC wall power into 12VDC to charge your batteries.

POWER SOURCE: Whether you go with a generator, solar panels, wind charger or all of them, that's up to you. However you will want to make sure you have enough power to sustain your electrical needs.

BATTERIES: Flooded "golf cart" batteries, seem to be the cost effective solution, make sure to keep them in a well ventalated area because they release hydrogen gas that is explosive.

CHARGE CONTROLLER: This is necessary if your chargers do not regulate their charge, your batteries will probably have special charging needs and this will protect/aid them in keeping a long life, also it will be necessary for solar panel charging. I will be using the trimetric sc2030

BATTERY MONITOR: You'll want to have this so you can see how much juice your batteries have in them. The trimetric 2030 is what I will be using.

BREAKER PANEL & SUB PANEL: This will middleman between your power source and your battery charger, it will protect your electrical system from overcurrent. My conceptual knowledge kind of tapers off around here but I believe you will want a sub panel to divide your electrical distribution: A dedicated switch for your AC, a switch for your kitchen, a switch for your bedroom/living room, a switch for a dryer in the bathroom, maybe a switch for using tools outside?

you should also consider a water cooler this diy swamp cooler which will be a considerably lighter load on your electricity

In case I didn't clarify my credibility: I have no certifications, no professional work experience in carpentry/tradesmen skills, and do not have electricity installed in my bus yet. There are a lot of people on this forum who I would trust over my word, however maybe my ramble can help you find some direction.
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Old 05-29-2016, 03:51 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Washington state
Posts: 16
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Gmc
Engine: 5.7l 350 v8, gmc
Rated Cap: 41 passenger
Thank you so much! This is exactly the type of info I was looking for. I just dove head first into all of the information already on this website that is electrical setup. And it was just way to much and super confusing to start. This is a great base for someone that doesn't know where to really begin.
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