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Old 12-16-2018, 06:33 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
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Feedback on Electrical Plan (V1)

Electrical has taken me some time to start to get my head around. I've put together a wiring diagram which I think will hopefully get me where I want to be. I'd love to hear some constructive feedback on it - I'm 100% sure there are errors. I'll most likely be paying an electrician to install the AC side, though I want to fully understand it. I'll also be running the wires to save cash. DC is all me.

Solar system is TBC in Spring, when money allows and I can actually get on the roof again.

I'm cramming a lot into one post here, hopefully it will help people if they are getting started. But definitely don't copy me. And sorry for the non-textbook wiring diagram, I hope you appreciate the African Nations flag colours in my AC system.

Notes -
- 30a Inlet as 50a cable is a significant expense (and heavy to lug around) and I'm not sure if we'll be going anywhere nice enough to cater for 50a. I've future proofed the wiring with 6/3 NM in case this changes, hopefully this means a simple inlet/cord change up.
- Inverter/Battery Bank (& Solar Charger when installed) will be close together in the basement, wired with #4 wire. Short as possible. Battery wiring connectors are going to be the same length.
- #4 wire from batteries to DC fuse board
- #14 wire for all DC wiring, apart from the fridge which calls for #8 wire
- 8/3 NM wire for all AC after the sub-panel
- All AC wiring will be stranded (as opposed to solid, supposedly better for vibration)
- I've got 3 DC Ground Bus Bars on this diagram, I'd like to decrease this if I'm able but will have to see where things end up. I guess I could individually ground the DC negative from appliances but I'd rather keep things nicely organised.
- There's a couple of blanks in the fuse sizes, I'll fill those in according to manuals etc.
- I don't really get the Trimetric wiring, though I haven't got it in hand and haven't studied the manual so I'll fill that in later.
- 12v and 120v wiring runs will be separated to avoid all that voltage fluctuation.

A couple of questions I had, appreciate anyone's help! -

- Battery choice is either MotoMaster Nautilus AGM batteries from Canadian Tire or the Matrix Infinity AGM (MA-AG1002) from a solar dealer. AGM because I'm lazy/don't have a clue. Anyone any experience with either of these/care to comment on their appropriate-ness? I don't have a huge choice as we live quite remote.
- The inverter (Go Power IP-2000) calls for a 'Class T' fuse, but I've never seen anyone use one of these. I usually just see ANL fuses. I can't find anything about this online, any insight?
- I don't fully understand the 'Separator', I've seen this described as a. I'm trying to trickle charge my bus starter batteries through shore power/solar (when installed) after the house batteries are full. This is important for us because it's getting cold here and I want to keep our starters alive over the winter.
- If anyone knows of any white 12v USB double outlets, or even better a 120v/12v combo outlet, then please let me know.
- I've ripped out the front heater (long story) so I was thinking of getting a DC Electric Heater/De-mister and wiring it into my bus battery panel. Anyone had any experience of this?
- No DC switches apart from the pump (via the Seelevel monitor panel). Is this a mistake?
- Anything you'd include now that you didn't think of when designing your system?

Be nice.
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Old 12-16-2018, 09:13 PM   #2
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Nice to see you planning things out. That way you will know how to fix it if ever.
30A inlet is lots of power for anyone if distributed properly. Doesn't connect to well directly to the 3c#6 you plan on using. The #6 cable is also going to be hard to wire to a male end for the service connection to the grid power.
I would use just 3c#10 cabtire, type SO. It is stranded and made for tough useage.


In general your wire sizes seem way too big for connecting to breakers in the panel. You show #8 when #14 would be ample, for example. No way they fit a 15 amp breaker. If me, I'd use #12 at most for those runs but #14 is even easier to connect to receptacles and switches.


I may have more thoughts but it is late here. But that's a start to your understanding. More later from others I hope too.


Not keen on 3 way Norcold fridge either, been many fires with that one.


John
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Old 12-17-2018, 06:03 AM   #3
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Howdy Curious Slug,

I can't see the diagram very well so commenting only on your text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curious Slug View Post
- 8/3 NM wire for all AC after the sub-panel
That strikes me as needlessly 'robust' as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curious Slug View Post
I don't really get the Trimetric wiring, though I haven't got it in hand and haven't studied the manual so I'll fill that in later.
It is very straightforward. The shunt is placed in the negative cable between your battery bank and everything else. A multi-strand cable connects shunt 'sense' lines to the Trimetric.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curious Slug View Post
- I don't fully understand the 'Separator', I've seen this described as a. I'm trying to trickle charge my bus starter batteries through shore power/solar (when installed) after the house batteries are full. This is important for us because it's getting cold here and I want to keep our starters alive over the winter.
There are a variety of options but I'm not sure any of them operate to that requirement ('after the house batteries are full'). Here is one option.
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:18 AM   #4
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Ok just a few questions to get clarity.


Have you developed a floor plan yet? Without that you cannot develop an electrical plan to build from.


Have you got a budget in mind for electrical work as you say you may have an electrician do all the ac side and I am not saying air conditioning but alternating current? You might be very surprised at the hours involved in this build, the costs of materials chosen. You say that you will run wires to save "cash." That doesn't work for any electrician who has to rethink what kind of spaghetti you have left him throughout the bus. Big hours getting the communication channels open. better off letting the guy do it all. All you do is buy what he suggests or if he has the material, pay him for supplying everything. You save bigtime.
I have not as yet seen one conversion here that has been totally framed before insulating and installing wiring. That means so many trips back to the bus for an electrician and probably leads to mistakes and loss of interest. Be prepared for one to not just show up anymore. Where does that leave you.

Now before we do any work, you have to get the electrical plan down pat, for anyone to install everything. Lights where you want, receptacles too, kitchen layout, bathroom, hotwater tank, outdoor receptacles if any etc.

All this must be thought out well ahead of framing and ceiling closure if any.
One last question for now...what have you done electrically and mechanically to insure your bus is worthy of converting? If not, a lot of time and money spent for a big heartache.


I know your intentions are good in moving forward but somethings have to be done right. This is one of them.


John
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Old 12-17-2018, 05:37 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. I’ve had a look at the diagram and it definitely isn’t clear on here, the wires aren’t as visible for some reason. I’ll try to get something better up later when I’m at a computer.

I chatted with an electrician friend earlier and he’s also given me some feedback, similar to what you guys are saying. He advised #14 for the 15a outlet circuits. Also suggested #12 for the kitchen outlets, to be run on a 20a circuit.

I don’t know where I got the 8/3 idea from.

I do have a plan (lighting, outlets etc), again on a computer.

The bus is insulated, and mostly framed. Enough for me to get 90% of the boxes mounted. Our AC wiring is fairly straightforward - we’re not using a water tank, air conditioning, TVs or anything else like that. Just the microwave and fridge wired in, then the kitchen outlets for occasional toaster/kettle usage (when on shore power, naturally). The rest of the AC outlets will mainly be for small electronics - laptops are the only thing we have currently but wanted to future proof a bit.

I’ll put up some more drawings later
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:48 PM   #6
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"I chatted with an electrician friend earlier and he’s also given me some feedback, similar to what you guys are saying. He advised #14 for the 15a outlet circuits."



Also suggested #12 for the kitchen outlets, to be run on a 20a circuit."


Herein lies a problem, kitchen outlets do not get fused or breakered for 20 amps ever. They state right on them 15 amps only.
#12 wire will carry 20 amps for sure. But using it cuts down on resistance in the circuit, making more of the available 15 amp feed. Contributes to less voltage drop too from your panel to the outlet. Overfusing as you suggest leads to fires.

They are also supposed to be split receptacles, or 2 circuits in each outlet.
The brass link on the hot side has to be removed or you get a dead short, not good.

That means a 15 amp, 2 pole breaker that will allow for both handles to be connected so that if one trips, the other goes off too. This is a maintenance item also so as not to get fried when opening the outlet up.


Curious as to what type wire you are using because kitchen outlets need either 3c/14 or 3c/12 where the neutral is shared by both the red and black circuit. Not 2 individual runs of 2c/14 or 2c/12.
You mentioned NM in your first post, non-metallic? That sounds almost like Romex for sure for housewire, which is solid,not good.



If these basic steps aren't followed you have no insurance in the event you have an electrical issue, fire. Ins companies know this stuff happens and are reluctant to insure these conversions, precisely for these reasons.
They make give you a policy and not have to pay up if the situation arises.


I wish you luck man and hope it turns out a good job, good workmanship.
Sure makes it easier to go to bed at night and sleep.
Any smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detector in your plans?


John
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Old 12-19-2018, 09:36 PM   #7
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I believe that there may have been a miscommunication here, though I do definitely have some more research to do.

I was originally thinking 8/3 NM - I think I read this somewhere on this forum, my bad for not looking into it more!. I had Romex in mind, though I had assumed that they would do a stranded wire version. I'm aware of the ongoing discussion about stranded/solid core. As mentioned in my original post, I'm planning on using stranded.

Probably worth stating again that the above is a plan in progress and I appreciate the feedback so far.

For peace of mind, CO2, Smoke and Propane alarms will all be present.
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Old 12-20-2018, 08:32 AM   #8
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Miscommunication happens a lot when discussing bus electricals. The words and terms are often like a foreign language to most bus people. It's just not something they are used too or spent much time studying. It is vital though to get the terminology correct when posting to avoid confusion and misinformation.
Glad you are discussing your plans here, not only for your benefit but the whole group.

Thanks,


John
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Old 12-20-2018, 07:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Herein lies a problem, kitchen outlets do not get fused or breakered for 20 amps ever. They state right on them 15 amps only.
It's common practice in the US to install several 15 amp-rated outlets on a circuit protected by a 20 amp breaker. There's a little discussion about it on the Mike Holt forums, for instance. Maybe this practice isn't allowed in Canada (?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
They are also supposed to be split receptacles, or 2 circuits in each outlet.
The brass link on the hot side has to be removed or you get a dead short, not good.

That means a 15 amp, 2 pole breaker that will allow for both handles to be connected so that if one trips, the other goes off too. This is a maintenance item also so as not to get fried when opening the outlet up.

Curious as to what type wire you are using because kitchen outlets need either 3c/14 or 3c/12 where the neutral is shared by both the red and black circuit. Not 2 individual runs of 2c/14 or 2c/12.
The technique BlackJohn describes is called "multi-wire branch circuit" in the US NEC. It's optional here, and I have to expect it's optional in Canada too. It's a good technique for reducing installation labor and materials cost (though I personally have not yet owned a home that actually used this technique).

However, there are some critically important details to be observed when using MWBC, and it isn't appropriate for (most of) our buses (see Mike Holt writing for Electrical Construction & Maintenance).
  • neutral overload. The two hot legs must be connected to opposite sides of a split-phase service (exactly as BlackJohn described). In this way the neutral current will be the difference between the two hot leg currents. But a bus using a single-phase 30A service, or even one wired for split-phase 50A service but powered through a dogbone adapter, doesn't have split-phase service. If outlets are wired in the MWBC way but powered from a single phase then the neutral wire carries the sum of the two hot leg currents and can end up significantly overloaded at 2x its design capacity.
  • neutral interruption. When using the MWBC technique, the neutral wire cannot pass "through" the connections on the side of an outlet. Instead the neutral must be joined with a connector (wire nut) and a pigtail used to connect to the outlet. This is so that removal of the outlet cannot interrupt the neutral connection to the rest of the circuit. If not so, devices downstream could have a floating neutral and find themselves facing extreme high or low voltage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Any smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detector in your plans?
I'm glad you mentioned this. It's so easy to overlook!
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:00 PM   #10
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family wagon, "It's common practice in the US to install several 15 amp-rated outlets on a circuit protected by a 20 amp breaker. There's a little discussion about it on the Mike Holt forums, for instance. Maybe this practice isn't allowed in Canada (?)."


In Canada, for many decades now, you can put as many 15amp rated outlets on a single circuit, but the breaker or fuse for that must only be 15amps itself, not and never 20amps. With 20 amp breaker, there is no protection for the wire if loaded to the max, thus it melts the insulation first and then a fire in the junction box which spreads deadly fumes. Not my kind of safe.


All kitchen outlets use 3 wire and bare ground, ie: Romex or BX.



Good point about the neutral needing a pigtail connection to the receptacle itself.
I guess the codes differ somewhat country to country in many situations, this being one area. Your method is unheard of this side of the border.
Thanks for pointing that out.


John
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