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Old 04-24-2006, 02:42 PM   #1
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Shoreline connection

I am starting simple with my conversion... and one of the first things I want to do is have some functioning outlets inside that can be connected via shoreline to a campsite hookup.

Do I need a panel box or will some sort of pigtail do the trick? I am electrically challenged, so any info appreciated. Don't assume that i know the basics of wiring...
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Old 04-24-2006, 05:32 PM   #2
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electrical wireing is very simple, but if done incorrectly can be dangerous. There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to "the safest" way to do the electrical in a skoolie. Most of the differing opinions revolve around what to do with the 3rd wire also called the ground.

All of your appliances that run off of house current (120 volts AC) only need 2 wires to work. They are usually colored: one white, one black. If you hook those wires up backwards, everything still works just fine. Most appliances also have a 3rd wire, usually green. This is the ground. All appliances work without this wire, and there is much debate about what to do with it in a bus. In your house, it is connected to a copper rod that is literally driven into the ground. In the case of a short circuit, the ground should give the current a path to follow, rather than electrocuting the user. Electrocution hazard really isn't that great from 120 volts. Not that it is pleasurable getting "poked" by hosehold current, but the chances of dying are very slim. That being said, the most dangerous path for the current is in one hand and out the other since the electrical current will pass through the heart and could potentially interrupt the intrinsical impulses of the heart muscle...that's obviously bad, but is very unlikely. I've been shocked dozens of times with 120 volt current....you would think i would have learned my lesson by now.

if you hook the white and black wires up backwards, the appliance will continue to work, but the "hot" wire might connected to a less desireable place inside the appliance, especially if it is metal ie: referigerator and would increase the chance of getting a shock while touching another metal surface and the frige at the same time.

one short little digression: (usless trivia) is that toasters only have 2 wires. They never have 3. The 3rd wire would increase the chance of being poked by the 120 volt current if you were to stick a metal object inside while the toaster was on.
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Old 04-24-2006, 06:03 PM   #3
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lets break the bus 120 volt electrical system down so it is very basic.

So you want to plug in an extention cord that feeds power to some outlets in the bus. That is no different than plugging in a power strip (or surge protector) it's just that the outlets in your case will be more spread apart.


Someone will correct me if i'm wrong....To get your polarity correct, look at the outlet. you'll notice that the standard plug from any appliance usually has one spade that is bigger than the other. The smaller one should be connected to the black wire on the outlet. In this photo, the bigger spade is on the right



once you've ran all the wires from your various outlets to one common place, you can now find a an extention cord that is suitable to run all the appliances in your bus.



I would suggest at least 12 guage, and no longer than 25 feet. Cut the female end off of the extention cord, and connect the white/black/green wires inside the cord to the proper colored wire inside your bus.

Does that make good sense? A good place to keep the cord when not in use is wound up inside the battery box, if there is room.

As for connections, i do not like wire nuts.
They are the most common means of connecting 2 solid core copper wires.



I think that in the skoolie enviroment it is far better to solder each of the wires together.



Buy a good soldering iron for at least 20 bucks, you'll regret it if you buy a cheaper one.

feel free to ask questions
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Old 04-24-2006, 06:10 PM   #4
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i'm sure lots of people have suggestions on safety. I didn't go into great detail on this subject as everyone has their own opinion.

This setup will work, and will be no more dangerous than running an appliance off of an extention cord...since that is in fact what you are doing.

I think that for an added measure of safety, connecting all the circuits in the bus to a GFI is a cheap simple and effective method to keep everyone safe from electrical shock.

A GFI is a special outlet that shuts off current within 50 milliseconds to a circuit in case of a short circuit. They are required by the electrical code for outlets in a bathroom or outside. You can protect all of the electrical outlets in your bus with just one GFI, but it's important to make sure you wire it properly. There are good directions that come with the unit. Here is aphoto of a GFI

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Old 04-24-2006, 10:56 PM   #5
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I used standard house wire & house outlets in my bus. I have 5 outlets & 5 florescent lights (which each have outlets built into them) all on one circuit with the male end going into the battery box. I used standard house type wire nuts wrapped in electrical tape. I don’t have a GFI outlet or a circuit breaker onboard, I figure whatever I’m plugged into will. I wouldn’t be able to run multiple hi draw devices at the same time like a microwave & a vacuum cleaner, but the bus is a small enough area that I can keep an eye on that easily. With all my low wattage florescent lights on at the same time it draws less than 100 watts total.

I also have my inverter in the battery box right next to the batteries, so going down the road I just plug it in & I can run my "stuff" while on the road. My inverter even runs my mini fridge while driving.



This photo was taken before I had the inverter or trickle charger hooked up. Also I have newer batteries thanks to one of them shorting out & spewing fart smelling acid everywhere... but that’s another story.

When I get to wherever I'm camping I unplug from the inverter, shut it off & plug into an extension cord. I also have a little T where the extension cord meets the bus power cord that is plugged into a trickle charger. When my bus is parked next to the garage that’s how it’s hooked up.
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Old 04-26-2006, 10:37 AM   #6
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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'm not picking on you...really! But that's just a mess in there and no one should copy any part of it. Especially new folks here that are trying this stuff out for the first time. AC power is nothing to mess around with...it'll kill you if not done right.

BTW...I love the paint job!
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Old 04-26-2006, 10:51 AM   #7
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Jody...

Buy a book or two about bus conversions or even marine electrical systems. They're not all that expensive and provide a wealth of information. There's only so much we can cover here and you need to become familiar with the basics before answers and ideas here will make much sense. You also need to learn enough to make your own descisions about what might or might not work for you.

I design electrical system for boats and yachts as part of my work. I'm a safety nut and fussier than most but honestly you shouldn't rely on my answers or anyone else's here without checking things out before implementing them. In the end it's your bus and you and your family's safety that's on the line; you have to make sure you're absoutely comfortable with each decision you make.

I'll always err on the side of safety and conservatism but that doesn't make it the best choice for everyone or the only way to do it (and it's never the cheapest way).

Just because you read it here doesn't make it "OK"; from me or anyone else.
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Old 04-26-2006, 11:59 AM   #8
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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'm not picking on you...really! But that's just a mess in there and no one should copy any part of it. Especially new folks here that are trying this stuff out for the first time. AC power is nothing to mess around with...it'll kill you if not done right.

BTW...I love the paint job!
Would you please elaborate on what part is deadly in my setup? All I see is an extesnion cord plugged into a male end of an electral wire, which goes to some outlets & lights inside the bus. Nothing more than one extensoin cord plugged into another. Whatever I'm plugged into will have some sort of ckt braker which would trip if thers a problem.

What mess are you talking about? Those jumper cables are just sitting in there, there not connected to anything. Anyway thats an old photo, this is how the set up looks now.



We got some paint on the stuff in there when we painted the bus. It still needs to be tidy'd up but I wouldnt consider it deadly.

As I recall Jody was looking for simple functioning outlets inside that can be connected via shoreline to a campsite hookup. Other than running extension coards all over the bus, it wouldn't get much simpler than what I've done. If you have a better simple set-up solution please post it.

I'm not going to get into an arguement here but if your going to say stuff like that about my set-up at least say whats wrong with it.

You must be kidding me; thats the deadlyist & scarriest set up you've ever seen & I should warn others who enter my bus? I've seen way worse, & I've never had a problem with my setup.

Edit* here I tidied it up a little bit, the inverter has rubber washers so it has about a 1/8" gap between it & the wall its mounted on

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Old 04-26-2006, 12:24 PM   #9
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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'm not picking on you...really! But that's just a mess in there and no one should copy any part of it. Especially new folks here that are trying this stuff out for the first time. AC power is nothing to mess around with...it'll kill you if not done right.

BTW...I love the paint job!
I've seen Phill's bus... He did good quality electrical work. Come to think of it, I helped him with some of it! I am not afraid to be in it, and that battery box only looks dangerous. I trust his work. I am very well versed in elecrtical and electronics work. This is my first hand account and educationally weighted opinion.
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Old 04-26-2006, 02:09 PM   #10
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Also, get a circuit tester for about $5.00. Get the kind that has LEDs that indicate what the problem is with a circuit (if there is one).

Besides the fact that my plumbing didn't leak when I turned it on...

And besides the fact that my gas line didn't leak either...

I was very proud of the fact that when I threw my 60 Amp breaker for the first time, there were no problems with any of my electrical outlets! The circuit tester will give you some peace of mind when you are done with the wiring (in addition to pinpointing troubles).
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