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Old 10-31-2012, 08:01 PM   #11
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

We are a fulltiming couple who tend to stay long term in RV parks. Our bus is 30 amp. We stay in parking lots when we travel (2-3 nights wallydocking/1 night in W/E hookup campground). We need to have a generator (looks like it will be LP) to power the homestyle freezer, refrigerator, 120VAC water heater. We set up our bus electric to reflect how we think we will use our bus. It works for us.

120VAC/8WATT single tube fluorescent lights powered by a little 750watt inverter. The inverter also powers the AC requirements of my LP range (electronic display & burner ignitors) and 120VAC range vent fan. I found that the 120VAC lights plus inverter were roughly 1/2 the cost of installing the same number of 12VDC Thin Lites. We have a Progressive Dynamics 3 stage battery charger for the house bank (bestconverter.com had the best price + shipping). I need to buy 3 Deep Cycle 12Volt Marine/RV house batteries. Only 12VDC stuff we have is the water pump, fans on the hydronic heat exchanger, the CB and automotive AM/FM/CD player (possibly one other thing I have forgotten). I haven't decided for sure if we will power the TV/DVD player off an inverter or not. Probably will. Individual dedicated inverters are pretty cheap.

Since we stay in one place long term, I want to be able to have lights, cook and watch TV if the power goes out... like it did in Albuquerque for over a week due to a winter storm. So far we have only experienced power outages of less than 1 day. We also have electric heaters (electric is included in our site rental), LP space heater and the "whole house" hydronic system is set up for AC/LP. We need to be a little flexible in our power sources.

BTW, LP generator (7KW?) because we rarely need to use a generator. An LP generator will sit for years then crank right up without any problems. Since we use LP anyway (three 20# BBQ tanks on a manifold plus one 20# BBQ tank on an auto change over as a back up) it will be a simple matter to run a gas line back a little farther to hook up a generator. Much less hassle than trying to find a space for the fuel tank gas or diesel generators require.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:54 PM   #12
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

Lorna, I rolled over on the lp genny and had a small gas tank fabricated for the genny--mostly because I could find a nook to put it in and no more room for a larger lp tank. I agree that lp makes better sense but oh well. I don't think I'll be able to use all of the output my 3KW genny produces so a 7KW sounds like way over the top to me. Just my two cents worth.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:36 AM   #13
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

So when using an all in one converter/charger/power distrubution center if its not pluged in to 120vac you can still pull 12vdc through the panel fused circuits from the house batteries right?

Also how about your inverter? Is there a spot to tie this in to the converter/distrubution center? I assume it self explanatory when you get the distribution center but never done this before and want to know what I am getting before I buy.

Thanks In Advance
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:54 AM   #14
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
I don't think I'll be able to use all of the output my 3KW genny produces so a 7KW sounds like way over the top to me.
I have a cheap Champion brand 3.5KW generator that is like new, and when my 15,000BTU air conditioner cycles, it sometimes kills the generator. I tried installing a hard start capacitor on the AC to no avail. It's a bummer.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:07 PM   #15
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by rex_1_mn
So when using an all in one converter/charger/power distrubution center if its not pluged in to 120vac you can still pull 12vdc through the panel fused circuits from the house batteries right?
Correct. When you're plugged into shore power the charger tops off the batteries and the converter converts 120v AC to 12v DC to power whatever 12 volt stuff you have turned on. Just make sure your all-in-one panel has enough amp capacity to handle both loads. When unplugged you're running strictly from the batteries.

An inverter takes 12v DC power from the batteries and makes 120v AC power. The inverter connects directly to the battery bank (fused) and should be wired with as short a cable as possible to keep cable voltage drop as small as possible. Mount your inverter outside the battery enclosure to avoid corrosion from the battery fumes.

Both AC to DC CONverters and DC to AC INverters lose about 15% in the conversion process. This isn't a big deal for the converter, since you're plugged into the power grid or a generator, but inverters will tend to suck your battery bank dry in a hurry.

To avoid that 15% inverter "tax" I set up our bus to run almost exclusively on 12v to get the most out of our two 6v golf cart batteries. I did install two 120v AC plugs for use when we're on shore power. We use a small inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket for charging phones and computers but mostly use it when we're driving to avoid draining the starting batteries.

We're weekend warriors and don't mind leaving the hair dryer and microwave at home so our power needs are minimal and the battery bank is sized to match, but if we were full-timing I would want a much different setup (and a much longer bus).
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Old 11-01-2012, 03:45 PM   #16
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
... I don't think I'll be able to use all of the output my 3KW genny produces so a 7KW sounds like way over the top to me. Just my two cents worth.

12 cf AC electric freezer, 8 cf total AC electric refrigerator, 20 gallon AC electric water heater. I also want to be able to dry my hair with the electric hair dryer, wash clothes (LP dryer), watch satellite TV/movies and basically experience no loss of comfort during a power outage since I doubt the excuse of "we have no power" would fly as a reason to not go to work. Of course that point will be moot once we win the lottery (gotta buy a ticket first ). We want to be able to power EVERYTHING and still hold the generator at 50% for most economical fuel usage. I would rather have too much generator than not enough.
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:30 PM   #17
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

So because the charger/converters I am looking at is also going to be my distribution panel it makes sense to wire the inverter to the AC input side and only turn it on when I need it. Will it work to wire the inverter as well as the shore power connection to the input AC side? I suppose I will need to use a selector switch to isolate thenm so when one is on the other is no connected.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:59 PM   #18
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Re: All 12VDC for lighting

You will need a switch. Remember also that when you use shore power you must use shore ground and when you use the inverter you must use inverter ground. Shore and inverter must never be mixed together--it will let the magic smoke out of the electrical system and if done just right, you too.
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Old 03-02-2016, 06:57 PM   #19
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DoEs the converter /charger plug into the battery only, or are there 12 volt leads also, I have a converter from 1978 that doesn't charge batteries but has 4 12 volt leads ,
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Old 03-02-2016, 07:59 PM   #20
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I am going with the KISS method
I do know electricity( commercialy ) SHOW IT RESPECT.
Mine will be ran seperate with no converters or inverters or whatever switches?
I do plan on full time eventually
If I have a problem with my 12v system I won't have to worry about anything but it
Which is completely seperate from my bus batteries that way I know if the bus don't start then it is in that wiring and not a switch,converter,inverteror other drain from somewhere else.
For now
For my 120 I have a 10 guage extension cord 100' long that can be used short as shore power or can be stretched out to get the generator noise away from the bus and I have a 50$ Schumaker charger/maintainer in my house battery compartment to take care of the 12v including of course a seperate extension cord that can reach the same generator.
Through my construction experience
You always earth ground a generator/welder and with my set up when I have a problem with a specific system? I know exactly where to go and if I have set so long that my bus batteries ain't enough then I already have a battery charger on board ready do what I need.
No convert/invert/switch?
Money/time/later on problems? Forget it. At worst I have to work on a sears/Roebuck genny that I have had forever and already had to so no biggie.
Electric wise
If you get fancy then you need to earth ground everything including the 12v because you can/chance get high voltage back feed through your convert/invert when it mucks up?
OK all you sparkles in our world here please correct me if I have made bad choices?
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