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Old 06-09-2024, 08:40 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jun 2024
Posts: 6
Advice on a camper type setup

Hey everyone, bought a bus and in beginning stages of building (I still need to upload pics to my intro thread). So basically ended up with a 2004 Blue Bird with a CAT C7, it's about 36' bumper to bumper.

I have a decent understanding on electrical systems and how they work. I am not a electrician by any means, but can run wire and install a basic system. And that is what I am here for, some assistance with a basic system.

So here is my goal: Our bus will be used as a camper. We will be taking it to campgrounds and using shore power. I have no interest in solar at this time. I plan on wiring for a 50 amp shore power setup. What I am wanting to set up is a power system that will run a fridge and some basic electronics while driving (TV, charging phones, etc.) and when we reach our destination, plug into shore power, which will then run a couple window AC units and water pump/heater, cooking, etc.

I have a 3 battery bank already on the bus, with 2 in there for starting/engine. I have space for a third. I guess what I'm wondering is what makes the most sense to accomplish what I am after? Until I get a fridge, I guess I won't know what is needed for that, but assume a mid-size residential fridge/freezer? And I guess assume say an 8 hour road trip?

I'm already planning on an inverter/charger that will switch from battery to shore. Guess I'm just a little lost on what would be ideal for this scenario. Any input is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much in advance!

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Old 06-10-2024, 02:15 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Bly Oregon
Posts: 544
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: Cummins 350 big cam
Rated Cap: 86 passengers?
Is it feasible to mount a second alternator on your engine? I did that on my "new Crown" and it supplies more than enough power for all of my needs. The other advantage is NOT taking power from the original bus electrical system. While Crowns are overbuilt it is a good idea to not tax the electrical system of a school bus. Make a mistake about power management and you may have dead starter batteries at an inconvenient time. I ended up with batteries almost too weak to start the bus when it was time to leave after a day of racing at Ventura, Ca.

By the way, my 1 Kw solar array on the roof has kept both the coach and starter batteries fully charged for a second winter in a row.

Also, an RV charger for your coach batteries as a great idea while you are connected to shore power. They are common in camper trailers and RVs.
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Old 06-10-2024, 08:07 AM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2024
Posts: 34
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Ward - Volunteer
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466, Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 8 Window
Originally Posted by IApartsguy View Post
I have no interest in solar at this time......
........I'm already planning on an inverter/charger that will switch from battery to shore.

As a solar guy I'd say you are most of the way there already. That said the idea you have is pretty easy. Build your inverter loads and your shore loads out of different boxes. Tie your charger into your shore box and just let the inverter do it's thing for your fridge and light duty loads. Your fridge will appreciate the high quality power all the time and it will simplify (save money) on the build.

I've lived off grid with 1k solar for 17 years. Power management and paying attention to parasitic loads can save thousands on battery based power builds.
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