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Old 04-26-2006, 03:06 PM   #11
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THANKS for all the helpful information. I am still in 'remove the seats' mode, and scheduled to take the bus into a mechanic in the morning for a once over, but once i get past that stuff, it's time for some flooring and basic wiring.
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Old 04-27-2006, 12:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
Phil! You're absolutely the scariest dude I've ever met! That mess in your battery compartment is enough to give me heart failure. Please tell me you staged that photo as a gag! If not...shame on you. You're free to kill yourself but you owe it to anyone coming aboard your bus to warn them of the hazardous conditions!
I now feel scared for my life! You should have warned me Phill!!

ok, all sillyness aside

what are you talking about les? I think phill has a great setup
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Old 04-28-2006, 10:30 AM   #13
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OK, I'll tell ya!

Looking at the first photo it looks like the orange extension cord just disappears into hole in the sheet metal with no protection for the cord (a direct short waiting to happen). In the lower right the cord looks burnt (like the insulation overheated) and what's with all the electrical tape at the plug? If the insulation is broken loose there the cord should be replaced.

The grey cable appears to be solid wire (not stranded) and it too disappears into an unprotected hole; it has much less abrasion resistance then the extension cord and will move around consideraly more due to its construction.

I did realize the jumper cables were just sitting there.

The holes really need to be grommeted and the wires need to be secrued in place so they don't move around constantly while the bus is in motion.

I see nothing in your setup up that looks as though it's designed or rated for an explosive atmosphere; which a battery compartment must be considered if it has wet cell lead-acid batteries in it (which yours appear to be). When the batteries outgas from charging and if a spark occurs from the equipment you've placed inside the compartment it could be an interesting situation to say the least.

You need a main breaker and an AC panel in the bus unless you're running a single appliance on an appropriately rated extension cord. The reason the breaker exists is to protect the wiring "downstream" of it. If you're plugged into a typical 30-amp service at a park that breaker protects the 30-amp shorpower cord to the bus; it does not protect the wiring inside the bus or the small loads on those circuits. It's entirely possible to create a nice fire (or shock hazard) on substantially less than 15-amps that would NEVER trip the shorepower service breaker. Each circuit inside the bus needs a correctly sized breaker installed to protect it. That's why when you open the breaker panel in your house there are lots of breakers; not just one big one.

I spent several years as an electrical fire investigator; I am unfortunatley intimately familiar with what starts electrical fires and/or results in shocks. Poor connections and loose wires lead to high resistance situations which in turn lead to heat which damages insulation and can eventually lead to a short and fire.

You can get angry and defensive because I point these things out; that's your perogative but it's not why I posted the information and wasn't my intent (and still isn't). The reason I spend the considerable time I do when I post is so that folks can end up with an electrical system that meets their requirements and is safe. Yours is not.
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Old 04-28-2006, 10:41 AM   #14
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Thanks Les. Do you know of a good referance for how to appropriatley size an AC breaker to any given area or appliance group? Hopefully somthing online. I took a peak however I would like a referance from somone who seemingly knows what they are talking about.

-Richard
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Old 04-28-2006, 11:07 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
OK, I'll tell ya!

Looking at the first photo it looks like the orange extension cord just disappears into hole in the sheet metal with no protection for the cord (a direct short waiting to happen). In the lower right the cord looks burnt (like the insulation overheated) and what's with all the electrical tape at the plug? If the insulation is broken loose there the cord should be replaced.
Ok let me start here, the orange cord that disappears into the unprotected hole should be corrected, as that is just a bare metal hole, with no grommet. That cord stays plugged into the garage (doesn’t travel with me) & therefore doesn’t bounce around or chafe against the side.

The brown you see on the cord is not from being burnt, the cord is dirty because when I pull the bus out I unplug it from the bus & toss it in the dirt & run it over on my way out.

The tape is on there because the outer insulation started to separate from the plug. The insulation on the inner wires never wore through. I don’t see that as a problem.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
The gray cable appears to be solid wire (not stranded) and it too disappears into an unprotected hole; it has much less abrasion resistance then the extension cord and will move around considerably more due to its construction.

The holes really need to be grommeted and the wires need to be secrued in place so they don't move around constantly while the bus is in motion.
This hole does have chafing protection; it is the same hole that my battery cables run through. I do agree that the wire should be secured so it doesn’t chafe on the side, thank you for pointing that out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
I see nothing in your setup up that looks as though it's designed or rated for an explosive atmosphere; which a battery compartment must be considered if it has wet cell lead-acid batteries in it (which yours appear to be). When the batteries outgas from charging and if a spark occurs from the equipment you've placed inside the compartment it could be an interesting situation to say the least.
Interesting point, although I had a case such as this about a month ago where one of my batteries was spewing acid & sulfur gas everywhere. Luckily I had no explosions. I did replace both batteries with new ones, so I'm not too concerned about them leaking. The compartment has to big holes in it so I would think it has enough ventilation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
You need a main breaker and an AC panel in the bus unless you're running a single appliance on an appropriately rated extension cord. The reason the breaker exists is to protect the wiring "downstream" of it. If you're plugged into a typical 30-amp service at a park that breaker protects the 30-amp shorpower cord to the bus; it does not protect the wiring inside the bus or the small loads on those circuits. It's entirely possible to create a nice fire (or shock hazard) on substantially less than 15-amps that would NEVER trip the shorepower service breaker. Each circuit inside the bus needs a correctly sized breaker installed to protect it. That's why when you open the breaker panel in your house there are lots of breakers; not just one big one.
This would certainly be the case if I lived in my bus, however I only use it for camping trips & such. The outlets are only there so I don’t have to run extension cords everywhere. I don’t run things off it the same as I would in my house. I see what you’re saying about the breaker not tripping the same as a house breaker as it is rated 2 times the load capacity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
You can get angry and defensive because I point these things out; that's your perogative but it's not why I posted the information and wasn't my intent (and still isn't). The reason I spend the considerable time I do when I post is so that folks can end up with an electrical system that meets their requirements and is safe. Yours is not.
Oh I'm not angry now that you've pointed out what I need to correct. I was angry when you said I've created a death trap that I should be ashamed of, without pointing out what's wrong with it. I appreciate your concern with others trying to duplicate faulty parts of my setup, but if your intentions are to educate, then please focus more on that and less on criticizing.
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Old 05-04-2006, 10:39 AM   #16
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Wiring diagrams

Okay back on track. I have a 15,000 BTU roof mounted AC and a RV guy told me I would do better with a 30 amp shore connection because of the high amperage needed to fire it up. I thought I would also put a 15 amp connector in case 30 amp wasn't available. I also have a 3000 watt generator. And no clue how to wire the stuff. I have a 55 amp converter with two 30 amp fuses for the DC side which plugs into an outlet I guess from the shore or generator.

My question is can the 30 amp, the 15 amp and the generator all go to one junction box and be connected together with an outlet to plug in the convertor, or should they be separate? Should the AC, then, go to a circuit breaker box like in a house?

On the DC side the other end of my converter just has black and red posts. I assume these go to the battery isolator and the isolator to the bus and house batteries. Where does the house DC lights and outlets tie in here? Do they need a circuit breaker box, or can they all just run in series? I want the lights to run in parallel, I guess, so that one switch can go to one light.

I guess I am electrically challenged, but would like to get the AC installed since I have replaced all the windows with sheet metal at this stage of the game and it gets a bit toasty.

Thanks for any help here.

shaggy (Tim)
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Old 05-04-2006, 02:43 PM   #17
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electrica

Okay, Here's a stab at this. Now this is the schematics (on paper still) for my bus. I am using a tripp inverter which is able to act as a converter and has a 75 amp charger on it. So it will be a bit different.

Lets start with power sources or where power enters your bus.

1) Shore power 30 amp. If you are going with a 30 amp setup which can handle your massive ac unit and you have access to only 15 amp, you can get an adapter that plugs into the end of your shore power cable for very little money. However be aware you have access to only 15 amps. Not enough for your ac.

2) Generator. Either a 15 or 30 amp connector. If it is perminently mounted instal the appropriate size extension cord that runs from the geni to where your shore power cable connects with the power system. Be sure to have the appropriate ends on the cable. So lets assume your geni only has 15 amp outputs (as mine does). The geni end has a 15 amp plug, then other end has a 30 amp plug.

next step. You can either have a manual plug, like vonslat (i think) has in his unit. This is a fool proof system to ensure you do not have multiple power sources entering your electrical (ac) system. What you do is install a 30 amp plug somewhere dry and clean which you then maually plug either your shore power or generator into. Only one thing can be pluged in at any given time. The other option is an automatic transfer switch. With this unit you are able to perminantly wire your shore power and your generator in and the ats is able to dertimine which is most suitable or able to supply power. This is a handy system if you have a perminantly installed geni and don't want to exit the vehicle to switch your power over. Great if you're on the road, and want to make a cup of coffee or fire up your air conditioner and you forgot to plug in your geni before leaving home or your campground.

So, we have ac power in the bus, Where does it go?

Using the tripp converter/inverter/charger the ac is hardwired into it. From there it runs into a small (or large) ac breaker pannel. This is the same type that is used in homes. In the ac pannel you decide what your needs are. I have four breakers:2 15's, 1 20, 1 30. The kitchen outlets will get the 20, the ac will get the 30, interior plugs get a 15 and exterior plugs get the other 15. This is a very simplified breakdown.

Using a traditional converter, you would run the power from your ats or plug to a breaker pannel. from that you would choose one of the breakers to run your converter. Create an ac outlet and plug the unit in. Be sure the breaker and the plug will work with what requirments the converter needs. On the other side of your converter there should or may be a row of fused outputs. These are what you create your dc system from. If you only have to wires coming out you would create one positive and one negative fused terminal that yoy are then able to run dc appliances off. However it is at this point that I open it up to the group because I have no first hand knowledge of these units. Please correct or modify as you see fit all.

Back to my system. So we have the ac power taken care of, and shore power. What about DC?

Alternator power comes from the engine, to a solonoid that is wired to the ignition. When on the power is distributed to both my starting battery and my deep cycle house batteries. When not engaged it stops the transfer of power. So no power is being robbed from my starting battery. The power runs from my deep cycle batteries to a "guest" battery disconnect which is good for up to 350 amps. This is a marine style unit that allows me to turn off all dc power entering the house system. Good in case of emergencies or maintinance. Next is a large inline fuse (300 amps). Both of these are on the positive lead and large cable. I use 1 guage welding cable with soldered brass conectors. This helps any voltage drop in the system. After the fuse the sytem tee's off. One lead returns to the tripp inverter/converter/charger. The other goes to 12 v fuse bus which is the main power distrobution center for all 12 v leads. Each of these is fused. Again I used marine equipment. It's a bit pricey but far better in regards to what design and quality.

Solar (the wild card ). Solar systems are made up of pannels, conectors and regulators. Mount the pannel(s) on your roof, run the power cable to the regulator, install and inline fuse and run it directly to your house deep cycle batteries.

I hope this is helpful. It took me a long time to get it right in my head. I travelled to many sites online, asked questions and finally was able to have journeyman rv technicians clear up a few fuzzy area's. I feel the system described here is safe, well thought out, not too expensive and makes sense. However I am sure there will be other who disagree. God bless the internet and it's forums. . Don't install wiring or gas till you know it's right and others who know what they are doing agree. It's too dangerous to cut corners.

-Richard
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Old 05-04-2006, 06:58 PM   #18
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Thanks!

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