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Old 04-03-2013, 03:44 PM   #41
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henukaw
I'm not at all familiar with electrical systems, and hearing so much biased information is confusing me on exactly what I need.
You're going to need to do a LOT of research or find someone that knows AC and DC systems. You can self-teach this stuff but it takes time.

When I first started on my bus adventure I knew a fair bit about house AC electrical wiring but didn't know much about DC at all. Trying to mix the two in one vehicle took a lot of reading and questioning to get my head wrapped around the subject.

To charge your house batteries from the alternator you need to connect your house batteries to the chassis batteries with a battery cable at least as thick as the cable going to the chassis batteries from the alternator. If the new cable is going to be a long one you should go up a size or two. The house bank will need to be grounded to the vehicle frame or back to the chassis batteries. Put in a switch or automatic relay to disconnect the house and chassis batteries when parked or you may well drain both and be stranded.

To charge from shore power you need some sort of battery charger to take 120 volt AC current and make DC current. The Intellipower panels have one built in.

You'll definitely need breakers and fuses. These keep your wiring from burning up if something goes wrong.

As far as wire sizes go, you size the wire to the current draw of the appliance or circuit. If you go too small the current draw will burn up the wire (and maybe your bus). For example, small DC loads like lights can use small (16 gauge) wire while large battery cables may use 4/0 cables as thick as your thumb. Most AC appliances will be fine with 12 gauge wire while air conditioner units typically need 10 gauge or even 8 gauge (lower numbers have thicker conductors). I'm sure that made perfect sense to someone.

Trust me, your head will spin at first but keep at it and it will start to make sense.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:45 PM   #42
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
...
I don't have an inverter in my rig but there should be some way to connect the inverter to the AC breaker panel, though I would assume both shore power and the inverter cannot be active at the same time...

... We plug our generator in at the shore power receptacle. That way there's no chance of both being active at the same time.
What we did...

We have a 30 amp power cord that is wired to the power bar in the panel box. We do not have a main breaker. This cord will plug into the power... either generator plug or power pole plug. This prevents us from doing something stupid. Like, after running down the road for several hours, pull into a campground while very tired and only interested in getting set up as fast as possible, plug the bus into the power pole while still plugged into a running generator. Lots of folks who knew better have done it. So we have a "po-lock proof" set up. Plug into the power pole OR plug into the generator. Can't do both.

From the panel box, a line is run from a breaker to a duplex outlet in the electrical bay (one of the two original battery bays). The smartcharger and the heat cable for the plumbing are the only things that plug into the receptacle on this circuit breaker. From smart charger to batteries in their own bay... NEVER PUT ELECTRONICS IN THE SAME BAY AS BATTERIES.

From the batteries to the inverter in the electrical bay.

From the inverter, an AC line (can run two per inverter as there are two receptacles per inverter) is run to what ever (in our case lights and duplex feeding the range electrical and the power vent over the range). The circuits are already protected with a breaker in the panel box. This allows us to make sure we do not run double power to anything by mistake.

This means the inverter stuff is always running off the batteries. POWER SOURCE DOES NOT MATTER... shore or generator (or in some folk cases - solar panels). We don't need an exterior power source for the inverter stuff. We do not have much running off of our batteries either. We do not have to watch every amp we use. Our goal is to be able to run down the road for several hours, pull into a parking lot for the night (up to 3 nights in a row), crank up the generator for an hour or so to start chilling the freezer & refrigerators down after opening the doors to dig supper out, heat water for bathing & cook/clean up supper. Shut down generator, watch a movie & go to bed. Next AM, get up, run generator for an hour or so (to get ready, chill refrigeration down again after opening doors again). This should be enough to recharge the batteries. Our storage tanks (waste & fresh) are sized to 3 days. 3rd or 4th night would be spent in a full hookup campground to dump waste, refill fresh tank and recharge batteries, both bus & ours, do laundry if needed and run the dishwasher... we loathe doing dishes and don't care for paper plates.

I think that's everything. Hope it helps. When we are ready to put the TV on an inverter we will wire another inverter to the battery bank, plug a heavy duty extension cord into the inverter plug, run the plug over to the TV and wire a duplex receptacle to the extension cord. That would leave everything on the same circuit the TV USED to be on still running thru the panel box. I like inverters. I can buy and replace regular AC appliances most anywhere without being held a slave to pricey DC stuff.

We've been doing this long enough to know how we live and travel. Not everyone lives & travels like we do. This is only to give you some ideas. I am not telling you what to do. We are also set up to handle a surprise snow day (or three) as well. Lived too many years in mountains where early fall/late spring snows aren't all that uncommon at the higher altitudes.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:55 PM   #43
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henukaw
... I'm not at all familiar with electrical systems, and hearing so much biased information is confusing me on exactly what I need...
If I may suggest....

Buy a good basic house wiring book. Don't get fancy. You do not need dimmers & three way switches.

Start off with AC, smartcharger and an inverter (for your lights). You will be running very few dedicated 12vDC stuff (like maybe those $$$ DC lights if you insist and a water pump). Later you can add in the solar. If you set it up right, you can add solar panels later with very little modification to your "house" electrical. If you go with AC house then once you get your solar panels, you can add in a big inverter (compensating for inverter loss) to power the thing and never miss a beat. I personally like the little dedicated inverters but we don't "do" solar.

Don't buy cheap 12vDC lights. I did that once. They all burned out in less than 6 months... one by one. And scorched the ceiling too.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:32 PM   #44
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
We have a 30 amp power cord that is wired to the power bar in the panel box. We do not have a main breaker. This cord will plug into the power... either generator plug or power pole plug. This prevents us from doing something stupid. Like, after running down the road for several hours, pull into a campground while very tired and only interested in getting set up as fast as possible, plug the bus into the power pole while still plugged into a running generator. Lots of folks who knew better have done it. So we have a "po-lock proof" set up. Plug into the power pole OR plug into the generator. Can't do both.
Mine is set up just like this as well for the reasons Lorna has outlined.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:05 PM   #45
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by browncrown
Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
We have a 30 amp power cord that is wired to the power bar in the panel box. We do not have a main breaker. This cord will plug into the power... either generator plug or power pole plug. This prevents us from doing something stupid. Like, after running down the road for several hours, pull into a campground while very tired and only interested in getting set up as fast as possible, plug the bus into the power pole while still plugged into a running generator. Lots of folks who knew better have done it. So we have a "po-lock proof" set up. Plug into the power pole OR plug into the generator. Can't do both.
Mine is set up just like this as well for the reasons Lorna has outlined.
Because you're Polish too? Or do you just have your "Polish" moments?
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:08 PM   #46
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Because sometimes I can be stupid Lorna and I have to save myself from myself
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:07 PM   #47
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Po-lock proof - I like that.


How you intend to use your rig will influence how you wire it. Lorna full-times and is plugged into shore power most of the time so her electrical system is set up mostly for AC power. It makes perfect sense for her to do that. It also gives her the ability to enjoy a lot more creature comforts.

We, on the other hand, are weekend warriors and will rarely be plugged in so I setup ours to run mostly off DC battery power. That means we pinch the watts until they scream. No microwave, hair dryer or coffee maker. Our lights are all LED, we can heat the thing using no electricity at all if need be. Water is heated with propane. We have a very small inverter for charging phones and computers but that happens mostly when we're driving. Shore power is mainly used to keep batteries charged up between trips. If we drive any distance between campsites the alternator will take up the slack and we shouldn't have to plug in at all to keep the batteries charged.

For Lorna, battery power is the backup, for us AC power is the backup. It all depends on how you'll use your rig.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:07 PM   #48
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
... It all depends on how you'll use your rig.
Ain't that the truth!
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:29 PM   #49
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

When wiring 12 volt stuff you need to be aware of the voltage drop through the wire. With higher currents the line loss can be a significant proportion of that 12 volts. So the wire might need to be sized greater than that for just current carrying capacity. So, if you multiply the current by the wire resistance you get your voltage drop. So, if your run of wire had 0.1 ohm of resistance and carried 100 amps, your voltage drop would be 10 volts. You'd then only have 2 volts of juice to run your load. Just something to be aware of in 12 volt circuits.
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Old 04-11-2013, 04:01 PM   #50
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Re: My New Skoolie Lifestyle

Thank you everyone for the feedback!

I'm becoming more familiar with the electrical in and outs, but I still need to study more on it. I found some .pdf files that explained more or less what I'm looking for. I'll figure it out eventually!

I'm still trying to find out how I should run my electrical wiring throughout the bus. For instance, I'm not sure how to run wiring to the passenger side. I feel that running the wiring under the flooring is my best bet. I don't want to run it overhead, and I've considered running it under the chassis. However, once it is under the flooring it wont be easy to change it ( should I make an error or change something down the road).

I've read of others running it in grey pvc under the floor, and I feel that's probably my best bet. I'm putting in 1 1/2" of insulation and furred with 2x2 every 16", so I'm sure I will have the space to go that route. However, I think I'm going to have a bitch of a time getting around the seat rails.

On a brighter note, the wifey and I spent a few hours purchasing the bulk of the lumber for our interior. Tomorrow I am removing a great deal of windows and prepping them to be painted, and cleaning the bus interior for a coat of Ospho. I barely have any rust, yet there's nothing wrong with a little maintenance.

Work, work, work...
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