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Old 05-19-2016, 02:36 AM   #1
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RV Breaker Panel vs Home Breaker Panel

I am researching around the internet and notice that most conversions seem to be using a 120v breaker panel that is combined with 12v, designed specifically for RVs. I bought a 120v breaker panel from home depot designed for homes and am intending to buy a separate 12v fuse board for everything else, primarily because nearly everything in my conversion is going to be 120v except those things that require 12.

My questions are, is it illegal to use a house breaker panel? Is there any reason I should consider a panel designed for RVs? Any recommendations?
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Old 05-19-2016, 02:51 AM   #2
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My understanding is that such designs are usually for size constraints or convenience rather than anything to do with legality.
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Old 05-19-2016, 07:25 AM   #3
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there will be a little green screw with that breaker box, DO NOT bond the neutral with the ground. the ground bus bar should be bonded to the frame. wire everything as you would a house. if you have a on board genny the nuetral and ground are bonded at the genny from the factory, on most models.
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Old 05-19-2016, 07:55 AM   #4
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there will be a little green screw with that breaker box, DO NOT bond the neutral with the ground. the ground bus bar should be bonded to the frame. wire everything as you would a house. if you have a on board genny the nuetral and ground are bonded at the genny from the factory, on most models.
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Old 05-19-2016, 08:15 AM   #5
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just finished wiring mine this am. i went with the 12v and 110 combined . this makes it possible to safe space and have all wires close.
no legalities involved that i know of.
if you gonna have your battery bank near the panel then just get the combined one to save yourself the hassel, if it not close to bank then you will want the 12v panel seperate any way in order to keep runs short. plus the combined looks very clean and easy access when finished. its all about space,
here is the one i went with http://www.amazon.com/WFCO-50-Servic...ilpage_o09_s00
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:01 AM   #6
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i have the WFCO box and i wish i got something a bit better.


check out blue sea marine for some nice high quality DC power distribution components.

https://www.bluesea.com/

good luck
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:08 AM   #7
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I am doing the 120V house breaker as well. I am running a separate line from the batteries directly to an automotive fuse panel with an inline shut off for 12v things. and then all my 12V will have fuses to protect them.
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:24 AM   #8
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120v house panel and separate 12v with auto fuses. I use a 15a smart charger for the 4 100ah batts...does double duty if I need something else charged. 200w solar kicker too.

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Old 05-19-2016, 01:39 PM   #9
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on side note, i ground a nice shiny spot on the rail the seats were attached to along bottom of wall to use for ground. good spot , bad spot?? isn't that technically the chasis? or should i ground elsewhere?
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Old 05-19-2016, 03:51 PM   #10
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Depends on what's being grounded, or in other words, how good the connection needs to be. Remember you're building an electric circuit. I'll suppose you're talking about "ground" as in the negative battery return. People are pretty good at seeing the positive side of the circuit: the battery post, clamp, heavy wire with lugs on both ends, fuse box, smaller wire going out to the load. The negative/return half of the circuit tends to be invisible. From the load you might have a short wire, a ring terminal, a sheet metal screw holding it to some body panel, a combination of sheet metal screws, bolts, and rivets holding a series of body panels together, somewhere a braid or heavy wire with lugs and bolts or screws connecting a body panel down to the frame, and finally a heavy wire with lugs and bolts connecting the frame back to the battery.

People forget all about those connections between the body components; they think of the chassis/body as a single unit. Electrically it isn't, though: anything that isn't welded together has a connection that may become loose, dirty, etc. When somebody is being really careful, perhaps because they're installing a radio transceiver or audio equipment, it's sometimes necessary to actually install jumpers between everything that isn't welded because though the mechanical connection is reliable, the electrical connection may not be. Common parts include door panels, the hood, fender panels that aren't welded, etc.

A shiny spot on the chair rail "could" be a good place for a ground.
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Old 05-19-2016, 05:14 PM   #11
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so I have a question... isnt it a bad scene to be grounding your 110 volt panels to the same frame that alot of your 12 volt stuff is grounded to? shouldnt you be running grounds to each appliance / receptacle.. and then WIRING a ground to the Generator or to the Shore power connection? and leave the Bus frame for the 12 volt stuff?
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:17 PM   #12
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Nope. If there's going to be an ac system installed in the bus, just like any other metal building construction, the safety ground should be connected to the bus body. Without that connection devices like ground fault interrupters and over-current circuit breakers can fail to operate, ie fail to clear some types of faults by automatically disconnecting the power.

Incidentally some inverters (specifically the Xantrex PROwatt model I have) instruct that their cabinet, which is connected to the ground pin on the built-in 120v receptacles, should be connected to the dc negative/ground. When I bench tested that inverter I learned the reason for this: left unconnected its chassis floats at 60v relative to the dc input. When an unsuspecting person rests one hand on the chassis and touches either battery connection with the other hand, it results in a pretty good shock!
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:10 PM   #13
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That sounds better than a car alarm. The old guys used to do that with model T coils to keep people from sitting on their car hoods.
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:37 PM   #14
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We've got the RV type, and it works pretty well. It's got a built in 3-stage charger that's completely automatic. We really don't even think about it. The biggest drawback is that it would be nice to have a few more 120v. circuits. We've got it maxed out with double breakers. That takes care of everything that we've got, but if we ever decide to add a circuit we're pretty much out of luck. I guess either way has plusses and minuses.
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:42 PM   #15
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Nope. If there's going to be an ac system installed in the bus, just like any other metal building construction, the safety ground should be connected to the bus body. Without that connection devices like ground fault interrupters and over-current circuit breakers can fail to operate, ie fail to clear some types of faults by automatically disconnecting the power.
OK, now I'm officially confused! I was under the impression that the grounding was done via the incoming shore power and not to the bus frame. I just bought a Progressive Dynamics 4560 All in One center, and the installation guide that came with it (http://www.progressivedyn.com/pdfs/110030%20English.pdf ) shows the panel's ground bar being wired to the incoming ground connection. It does not show a ground connection to the bus body?

Another reason for my confusion is that grounding it to the bus would not seem to accomplish much as the bus itself is isolated from the ground by the rubber tires..
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:48 PM   #16
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OK, now I'm officially confused! I was under the impression that the grounding was done via the incoming shore power and not to the bus frame. I just bought a Progressive Dynamics 4560 All in One center, and the installation guide that came with it (http://www.progressivedyn.com/pdfs/110030%20English.pdf ) shows the panel's ground bar being wired to the incoming ground connection. It does not show a ground connection to the bus body?

Another reason for my confusion is that grounding it to the bus would not seem to accomplish much as the bus itself is isolated from the ground by the rubber tires..
you still need to be thinking about a ground for when you arent plugged into shore. ie only running off your batteries. it does show it in your manual, your hardware has the "optional chasis ground in it" your main breaker hold down screw goes right over it. i think
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Old 05-25-2016, 08:00 PM   #17
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OK, now I'm officially confused! I was under the impression that the grounding was done via the incoming shore power and not to the bus frame. I just bought a Progressive Dynamics 4560 All in One center, and the installation guide that came with it (http://www.progressivedyn.com/pdfs/110030%20English.pdf ) shows the panel's ground bar being wired to the incoming ground connection. It does not show a ground connection to the bus body?
Right. Well, kind of. The ground-to-neutral "bond" connection is done for you in the shore power system. I'm not in a position to speak for Progressive, but I could at least speculate they don't mention connecting the panel's ground bar to the vehicle body because they're working in a world where RVs are made of wood, not metal. Of course it wouldn't make any sense to wire a wood body to the ground bar.

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Another reason for my confusion is that grounding it to the bus would not seem to accomplish much as the bus itself is isolated from the ground by the rubber tires..
That's part of the reason why it's important. Though even if it sat on steel wheels, or had metal stabilizer jacks down, it would still be a poor electrical connection to earth.

Have you seen Mike Sokol's No Shock Zone writings? They're pretty good. His part IV addresses "Hot Skin" and part VII addresses "GFCI Theory"; both are relevant to why the bus body should be well grounded.
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Old 05-25-2016, 08:02 PM   #18
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you still need to be thinking about a ground for when you arent plugged into shore. ie only running off your batteries. it does show it in your manual, your hardware has the chasis ground in it. i think
The DC side is grounded to the chasis, I understand that, and I can see an inverter being grounded if needed, but I think the panel itself is not grounded.
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Old 05-25-2016, 08:15 PM   #19
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Right. Well, kind of. The ground-to-neutral "bond" connection is done for you in the shore power system. I'm not in a position to speak for Progressive, but I could at least speculate they don't mention connecting the panel's ground bar to the vehicle body because they're working in a world where RVs are made of wood, not metal. Of course it wouldn't make any sense to wire a wood body to the ground bar.


That's part of the reason why it's important. Though even if it sat on steel wheels, or had metal stabilizer jacks down, it would still be a poor electrical connection to earth.

Have you seen Mike Sokol's No Shock Zone writings? They're pretty good. His part IV addresses "Hot Skin" and part VII addresses "GFCI Theory"; both are relevant to why the bus body should be well grounded.
OK, just read through this thread (http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f10/ho...-ac-448-6.html ) again, and downloaded no shock zone. Confusion is cleared up.
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:15 PM   #20
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The no shock zone should be mandatory reading for all us bus nuts!!!!!!

If you are using a portable generator like Honda or Yamaha you will need to change their floating grounds so that they ground back to themselves. Many portable generators have a ground lug on the control panel that the mfg suggests you wire to a grounding rod---how likely is that going to be? You can find a listing of generators with floating grounds and how to make their grounds go back to the generator rather than a ground rod. With a floating generator ground, it is possible for the "skin" of the bus to become hot (electrified). Under those conditions, should you happen to step out of your bus onto wet ground while you are still, say, hanging onto the step rail, you get to be the ground----a shocking (and potentially deadly) experience. Jack
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