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Old 04-15-2017, 04:54 PM   #1
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First Skoolie Electrical

I am a new member and getting our first bus. We are converting it and don't know where to start with the electrical. We would like to have standard rv hookups so if we do end up stopping at a camp ground we can hook up to their electric and water. Any suggestions on what to buy and the easiest way to install them?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-15-2017, 05:02 PM   #2
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You need to assess your power needs first. Are you planning to have a washer/dryer or anything that needs 220 v.
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Old 04-15-2017, 05:03 PM   #3
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No. We will have a mini fridge and just need outlets for our phone chargers and maybe a small tv.
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Old 04-15-2017, 05:56 PM   #4
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That's not much of a power draw. Your electrical needs will be minimal concerning putting together an electrical system for your bus.

I can understand you wanting to be able to plug in at campgrounds. Most of those have either 50 amp or 30 amp connections. The majority of people set up for a 50 amp connection, but they are probably running clothes dryers and other heavy draw appliances.

I'm not an electrician, but my electrical needs are about the same as yours. What I've done is to get a 50 amp to 30 amp dogbone adapter. The dogbone adapter plugs into this 30 amp by 50 foot electrical cable that goes to the bus. That will allow you to also connect to a generator, at a distance of up to 50'.

Most people don't buy a 50' 30 amp cable, but I don't stay in campgrounds much. I'll have a generator and can put it away from the bus if it's noisy. I can also run the 30 amp power cord from my house to the bus when I'm home.

As far as plugging the high amp extension cord into the bus, you'll find either RV or marine grade electrical plugs in your proper amperage that can be permanently mounted to the exterior of your bus in a discrete location on the left rear side of your bus. All these parts are readily available at RV stores or on Amazon and ebay. I found the best prices to be on Amazon. The marine grade plugs are noticeably better than RV plugs.

When it comes to the electrical boxes and things you'll need inside your bus, I am not the right guy to ask because I haven't made it that far with my bus yet.

You can get 32" TVs with blue-ray players that run off of 12 volt. It's not hard to charge phones from 12 volt systems either. I'm going with a 12 volt system as much as possible, which will require a couple house batteries to avoid using the bus battery. You can charge your house batteries off of your alternator, or you can charge from a charge controller when you're hooked up to the grid. There are so many options for power. It's good to be capable of being flexible for your power needs.

I like things kind of simple. I don't want to buy the charge controller or solar panels. A small set of (two) house batteries should be enough for your needs. There are so many varying ways to address your power needs in the builds on this site. You can get as complicated as you want, but it sounds like you guys have chosen to go the minimalist way like myself.

The less complicated the electrical system is, the better for me. I'm either plugged into the grid or I'm running on 12 volt. I do use 110 volt appliances like a toaster oven and double hotplate. I like a biscuit now and then. When I'm boondocking I use a butane gas burner that works from the cans of fuel. Each can lasts about 5 or 6 hours at about a dollar per can. No biscuits while I'm camping obviously, but I can fry the beegeebees out of some trout. I don't even carry a fridge anymore. Eggs last for a good number of days. Most everything else is fresh food. What needs cooling can go in a plastic cooler for a few days without needing more ice.

Subscribe to the KISS theory.
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:31 PM   #5
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That's very helpful, thank you! How would I go about setting up a battery bank? I think we were thinking about solar panels. I'm no electrician so I'm not sure how to hook the system up to be able to charge the batteries or anything like that.
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:39 PM   #6
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Your best bet is to talk to the electrically minded people here and/or read threads about how people built their electrical systems. You're going to have to become a bit of an electrician to set up your bus, but then you'll know how to fix it too.

There's a lot of knowledge on this site. It may take a day or two before there is enough information on this thread to get the electricians interested.

Electrical, Charging and Solar - School Bus Conversion Resources
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Old 04-15-2017, 09:14 PM   #7
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30 amp service is plenty for your planned draws.

We used a Marinco 30 amp twist lock shore power inlet connected to a Progressive Dynamics 4045 Power Center. The power center has AC breakers, DC fuses and an AC to DC converter with a 3 stage 45 amp battery charger for the two 6v deep cycle batteries (connected in series to give 12 volts). Used 10 ga. stranded cable between the marinco inlet and the progressive power panel, 12 ga. armored cable to the AC dulpex outlets and 14 ga. stranded primary wire to the DC lights and outlets.

If you want wall switches for your lights get DC rated switches such as these:

Switch Assemblies for RV, Trailer, and 5th Wheels

Assuming you have a steel bodied bus, be sure to ground the power panel to the bus body to avoid the dreaded "hot skin" condition.
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