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Old 08-16-2022, 07:42 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Toledo OH
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Electrical cabinet is TOO BIG, redesign ideas?

Hi all, so around this time last year I planned and built my electrical cabinet. I opted to put it in the front of the bus behind the driver's seat, as I had thoughts of putting all the batteries in an enlarged battery bay some day. Plus I just thought I knew better than everyone else who had put all their electrical stuff in the back

Anyway, I was in a bit of a hurry and really didn't have the floor plan worked out with my partner yet, so I pitched this basic design and she agreed without really understanding what it would actually look like. To be fair I made some mistakes when I constructed it, so it's actually a few inches taller than it should have been in the first place.

Anyway, you can see how it looks in the attached pictures. It takes up a good quadrant of our front seating area, and the only value it adds to the space is a flat surface on which to put tools and crap. There's a LOT of empty space in side the cabinet as well.

Going forward, we've discussed what we can do and determined that I really do not want to rebuild the whole thing, it just way too much work at this point. So the idea with the redesign is to rework the existing cabinet with only minimal moving of wiring related items. I don't really mind about moving items on the side panels, but the back panel with all the DC power distribution stuff really needs to stay as-is.

Ideas we've had:
- Create cubbies in the front door of the cabinet which can open outward to access the equipment in the back. Cubbies would be like 2/3 the depth of the cabinet and could be used for coats, small items, little stuff while we're out traveling.
- Create a large cutout for a "cozy chair" or other seat. Again, this would open up/out...somehow, not sure how. I'm not a master carpenter.
- Extend the cabinet upward, delete all the windows behind the cabinet, and make it a huge forward storage area. I'm not a fan of losing those windows but they're already half covered anyway.
- Other ideas...

This is where you all come in, I'm curious what you all would do in this situation. I feel like I'm inhibited by my unwillingness to redo all my wiring work, so I need some outside motivation. I'd appreciate your thoughts!
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Old 08-16-2022, 07:55 PM   #2
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Looks like you AC panel fits right in there at the bottom, under the other gear. Battery charger, power strip, its all there. You do have everything in one place, for sure. I see all good components, too. Will you cover it with metal or more wood?
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Old 08-16-2022, 07:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
Looks like you AC panel fits right in there at the bottom, under the other gear. You do have everything in one place, for sure. I see alot good components in there, too. Will you cover it with metal or more wood?
The AC breaker panel and inverter mounting are more or less temporary, they just take up so much space. The plan is an all wood cabinet generally. We were trying to think of what to do with the space from the top of the batteries up, and from the front edge back to within maybe 6 of the back.
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Old 08-17-2022, 11:51 AM   #4
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I don't know if it helps, hurts, or doesn't apply. But for numerous reasons, space being one of them, our electric system components are not all in one place. Our SCC, for example, will reside in a cabinet above the driver seat, along with bus bar to combine the two incoming panel inputs and a fuse on the output. Our inverter, batteries, dc-dc charger, battery cutoff switch, and AC dbox (plus all associated bus bars / fuses / breakers) are going to be housed under the front dash area. Finally, our DC fuse / dpanels will be on either side of the bus inside the cabinetry. I opted for one on either side of the bus as it would allow us to easily add circuits in the future without having to worry about running new wires from one side to the other.

Arranged like this, you can literally shut off the battery bank, and / or disconnect everything downstream of the inverter, with a stretch from the drivers seat, or from outside the front door. Plus it makes use of all that hard to use space near the firewall. There are, however, challenges regarding the shape of the space, heat, and the fact our batteries pretty much have to be mounted over the tranny access panel. But I think I've got pretty good solutions planned.
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Old 08-17-2022, 04:38 PM   #5
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My stuff

Under the bus. Batteries, manual cut off switch, battery isolator, all outside. The inverter is outside too, but that could change. Equipment is getting too hot. I might vent the air conditioning from inside to the cooling fan port on the inverter.
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Old 08-19-2022, 03:25 PM   #6
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I have seating there with the inverter, it's circuits, and 12v system all there under the seats and it still has room for all my tools and then sit on top. Main AC panel and breaker is at the back where hookups are and generator lives.

Batteries are outside under the bus.
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Old 08-20-2022, 02:07 AM   #7
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I'm currently making a cabinet for my two Paneltronics circuit-breaker panels (one for DC, one for AC), and for the two Morningstar charge-controller panels and two eventual battery-status gauges and the Magnum inverter control panel and any other future gauges. The cabinet is 33" high x 13" wide x 5" deep, and it has separate removable front sections for each group of panels or gauges, so if I change something in the future I need only change just that individual section of the cabinet's front. The whole thing is made of 1/8"-thick 5052 aluminum, and it will attach to the closet wall using the K&V shelf bracket system that's already there. It's bigger than I originally had in mind, but it will be convenient to have all house electrical functions readily accessible in one place inside.

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Old 08-20-2022, 08:11 AM   #8
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like some others, i have seating in that spot. the wheel wells lend themselves to short sofas.
a bulkhead wall behind the drivers seat could give you a verticl surface to mount all those controls. you big batteries are a problem though, doesnt leave much space for the battery.

my battery is outside, underneath, in its own sealed travel compartment (my old spare tire carrier). when i up graded the battery to lfepo, the battery is much smaller(1/4) and could fit inside my front sofa. i haven't moved the battery yet, but maybe next season i will. i'll bring the lifepo inside for the winter, next year when i re-install, maybe i'll run wires up to that sofa seat and get that battery in the living compartment of the bus.
my front sofas are right at 54" wide. iirc, the wheel well was 48" with a chunk of plywood as a spacer to raise the battery up, i can fit the new battery next to the wheel. i'll need about 7" for it to fit.

good luck!
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Old 08-22-2022, 03:38 PM   #9
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I think the plan we arrived at was to remove the second and third windows from the front, and black out the lower portion of the first window. We will actually extend the cabinet upward to the ceiling to install a TV and more storage in the front area. I'll lower the top of the existing structure a bit to make more of the first window visible and maximize the upper storage, and also probably put some more storage in the "void" above the batteries in the lower area as well.

Need to draw a picture...
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