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Old 06-09-2017, 09:49 AM   #1
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Help Greatly Needed-Shore/Gen Power Wiring Info

Hello All!!

I am attempting to wire my bus this weekend and after reading for what seems like forever now, I am still completely lost.

Let me preface by saying, NO...I am NO electrician. I am actually quite ignorant to all of it and it is like Chinese to me mind. So many of this may seem stupid or simple to you that understand, but I am quite simply trying to utilize this amazing site for help and appreciate any advice or tips you have and apologize for my lack of understanding on the subject.

With that said: This is my goal. I am converting my Thomas Vista 3600 in Delaware( where my parents live) and traveling back to San Diego, CA (where I live) after to do small work and upgrades and travel quite a bit. I've decided for the journey out and for the first 2 months I will run off Shore electric and a Generator until I can save and convert the entire system to Solar. (It's MUCH cheaper to do in Southern California than here!)

I ran "regular" 10 house wire for my outlets and light switch. I have a water pump that I know has to be hooked up to a deep cycle battery and I know I need an AC breaker box. Outside of that I am lost. I have purchased the exterior inlet for shore power and the hook-up cord but am unsure of what to do for the next step.

What are the other components I need to complete this system? (Like all the parts, for I am totally clueless). What is the most simple way to wire since I will be changing the system soon in a few months. Can I purchase just a simple RV power center to run and convert my 12v house battery and then be good to go?

I would like to Not run anything off my alternator/bus battery bank if possible (that may be a stupid statement) since I have no mechanical skill. ( Something I want to change but in a time crunch currently).

The more detail the better, if you can leave nothing out. I have run into the same problem when asking about plumbing because people that Know... assume others do too. When I ask what I need they say, water pump, water heater, tanks. But they don't mention the valves you have to purchase for dumping tanks, the adapters, the type of lines the connectors ect...To many like I said, may seem obvious.. but I am self-teaching with every step and and am quite out of my realm. Hahaha.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Kind wonderful humans for your help!
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Old 06-09-2017, 10:06 AM   #2
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Good luck, that's a real ambitious goal. they ought to give skoolie merit badges for electrical. i'm still working on mine.

its sounds like you got the theory down. wire the bus like you would a house, back to a main service panel. the input to that service panel will be you shore cord, probably hooked to your generator.
add an additional circuit to the 120 service panel for a 12v converter/ battery charger. if you get a big battery bank, you will add an inverter and a switch that lets you switch between the shore cord or an invert as inputs to your 120v system.

ask plenty of questions, however "how do i do electrical?" is to broad of one.


good luck
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:19 AM   #3
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Exactly what Turf said. Based on your power requirement needs you'll start building your electrical system. When you know what you need, people will be able to answer specific questions to get things put together correctly.
Electrical needs vary greatly depending on what appliances you plan to use in the future.

It's the same with plumbing. It depends on what you're installing. I'm not sure I'd go with the composting toilet inside the shower, but then again I have no plumbing in my build. Like the composting toilet though.
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:49 AM   #4
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Sounds like you're on a tight time table. Following are some suggestions that you can take or leave; maybe they'll be appealing or maybe they'll merely be food for thought.

Don't spend time on transfer switches and stuff now; there's extra cost and extra time in thinking about how you want it to work. So, keep it simple for now. Build for shore power only and plug the shore cord into the generator as needed.

You've got conventional AC outlets and wiring already done. How about a circuit breaker panel? If you don't already have one, pick up a small "load center" in the electrical department wherever. I like the 12-space size because they're not too big, but yet provide ample room for working inside. Also IIRC that's the smallest 2-pole (240 volt) size made. I don't care much whether it's a "main breaker" or "main lug" style, though there is an electrical code that basically says if there are more than 6 breakers then there needs to be a disconnect or main breaker somewhere in the building (or bus).

Keep the grounds and neutrals separated from each other, including in the load center. Connect only the ground at the load center to the bus body. Run wires for the hot, neutral, and ground from the load center to your shore power inlet. If you have a 240 volt load center but intend to have a 120 volt shore power inlet, connect the two hot lugs of the load center both to the hot connector of the inlet. Use appropriate cord and connectors from inlet to shore power/generator.

Note that many generators don't have their neutral and ground bonded together, so make yourself a bonding jumper as described by Mike Sokol and keep it plugged into a spare socket on the generator.

Build the 12 volt system separately from the 120 volt system. An easy solution for charging is to use a set-and-forget smart charger. Many battery chargers will default to do nothing, or maybe charge at their lowest rate, when plugged in to mains power. You have to push buttons to make them do anything meaningful. I've really liked the Battery Doctor model 20085 because it remembers and resumes its last settings. You can hard-wire it to a battery, set the preferred charge rate and battery type, and every time it's plugged in to mains power it'll recall that setting and get to work with no manual intervention. If you left it plugged in so it's powered whenever there's mains/generator power available, you'd almost never have to think about battery charging again.

There do exist many other converters, chargers, etc that are designed for permanent install in an RV and will do a fine job. Better in many ways than this Battery Doctor charger. But if you start feeling squeezed for time, can't figure out which converter/charger is the right one for you, costs are getting out of control... it might be nice to fall back on. Besides, everybody who keeps and maintains vehicles needs a battery charger from time to time.
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Old 06-09-2017, 01:49 PM   #5
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I ran "regular" 10 house wire for my outlets and light switch. I have a water pump that I know has to be hooked up to a deep cycle battery and I know I need an AC breaker box. Outside of that I am lost. I have purchased the exterior inlet for shore power and the hook-up cord but am unsure of what to do for the next step.

So you have these components purchased already. Can you give details of your power cord, size, 110volt or 220volt length? Will it match to the exterior plug you bought too? If that is all good the next step is to mount the exterior plug, preferably somewhere on the left rear area of the bus. The end is good to or on the side. When that is mounted you have to know the location of your electrical service panel. Any idea of that and distance from the outlet/inlet?
The cable needed to go from the inlet to the panel will be the equivalent in size to the power cord for the supply but can be a lesser grade inside in dry conditions. So routing is of the utmost importance, keep it short but plan on concealing it later as you finish the bus.
If you can answer this and try and do what I have mentioned then we can go to the next step. Will you have a generator mounted somewhere and what size would it be in kilowatts? It will have to be sized for future considerations unless you have one that you can manage to do until you get home.
One thing about what you used for receptacles. #10 wire is very hard to wire up a receptacle but is great between receptacle boxes. At the boxes use #14 to wire your receptacle and marrette the #10 and #14 together in each box.
Takes a bit of finesse but you can make it work.

John
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Old 06-09-2017, 04:59 PM   #6
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Thank you !

Thank you ALL so much for your info and help!!

What I will be running in the bus is as follows:
Iphone charger
Laptop charger
2 sets of Christmas lights (Sparingly)
2 burner cooktop 1800watts (Sparingly)
7.5 amp 12v water pump
80 Watt Mini Fridge
1 Led Puck light (the rest are battery and solar powered)
1 Fan (not going with AC until Solar power hooked-up)

As for the parts I've ordered they are as follows.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I wanted to get a different inlet plug but it was going to take 2 weeks for shipping or a $200 fee!

I was planning to mount that on the left rear as you said. I was going to then build a "power station" right above that on the inside of my bus because I have a storage container on the outside that would be perfect for my batteries. So just above that near the side hatch door I was planning to install my breaker box ect... This will be only abou 2 feet away from the exterior plug.

As for the generator, I was planning on mounting that when I get back to SD. I have one there already and it was too pricey to ship it out. I assumed I could manage on the park shore power and battery until then.

If I purchase an rv "power center" such as :
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Does this take care of the charging and converting for me?

Thank you Again SO Much to all! Sorry if I left out obvious info, as you can tell I'm a bit in over my head! )



Side Note: My toilet is only in the same room as the shower but they are separate
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Old 06-09-2017, 08:50 PM   #7
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So just so that I understand you, you have ordered but not received the parts you listed? If me, I would cancel the order if possible. It's all Chinese and the power centre would work but for how long? Pretty terrible reviews on the power centre. Short life so if I was you I would hold off and shop for the same things on your way back to SD. All those things are better quality if built in the US., in my estimation. You will see lots of trailer dealerships heading home so check them for prices and get advice from their staff. Yard or garage sales might get you what you want too.
The 25 ft coed would be fine in a campground usually. For your generator, does it have that type of receptacle similar to the cord or a couple of regular 110V outlets. If the latter you will need an adapter cord to feed the outlet to feed the bus panel. Keep it as short as possible for the best efficiency electrically. In other words your generator will be able to keep up with the load up to its rated output in KWS. This shorty cord should be #10 cabtire for wet conditions too. you could make it up yourself likely. You just need a female connector for 30amp and twistlock. The other end will be a male 110 V plug in made for #10 awg wire size.
Doesn't help much for this weekend but sounds like you could wait till home.
My 2 cents,

John
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:35 PM   #8
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Actually, Blackjohn, Chinese manufacturing is on a very high level of quality. I WOULD, however, go for a 50a circuit instead of a 30a. Better too much than not enough.
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptSquid View Post
Actually, Blackjohn, Chinese manufacturing is on a very high level of quality. I WOULD, however, go for a 50a circuit instead of a 30a. Better too much than not enough.

Capt,
Is it on a high quality level? The Champion gen isn't one of them. Not too many good reviews is what I'm saying. Maybe there are other products produced that way but these are not built to last.

I'm only trying to get him running,I didn't wire the bus but sounds like he should definitely change the service.

John
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Old 06-13-2017, 06:13 PM   #10
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I do have to wire one circuit for 240VAC in order to run my German hot water heaters. The rest can survive on 120VAC and 12VDC.
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