Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

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Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby Boreal » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:00 pm

So let me preface this by saying that I can wire residential, work at the circuit box, and know how to wire a three-way switch. So far so good, right? (I also build houses, so this should be a cinch! :) )

Having said that, the wiring for my new TD is a bit intimidating. Here's what I'd like to get out of this deal:

  • The basics - running light, brakes, etc. etc. Not too worried about this, actually, since I can mimic what's already in place.
  • Set up for DC appliances: cabin, porch, galley, reading lights, USB chargers, fan, etc.
  • Ability to charge deep cycle two deep cycle batteries while motoring.
  • Ability to connect to shore power to charge and run stuff.
  • Ability to (in the future) install solar voltaics to top up charge stuff.
  • Biggest load would be an optional (as in, future) DC cooler style fridge
  • No real need for 120AC.

We are tent campers, backpackers, adapting to a scenario where the TT will simply allow us to get out more often. So we do not need extreme luxuries. I'm designing a hybrid foamie, so the idea of running wiring through my highly flammable and potentially toxic walls scares the willies out of me. To the point that I want to make sure everything is properly protected. My intent is to locate my batteries up front in the tongue box. I am ambivalent as to where the fuse box/panel ought to go, but I'd prefer it (I think) in the box up front.

I know I'll need a converter (no inverter because no 120AC required) and a fuse protection on all my circuits, grounding , etc etc,

So I have a lot of questions. I'll add that I've done a lot of reading on the forum, including this threadhttp://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=11272, but it's old and many links are dead now. (There are still links to Tripod.com, for any that remember that place.)

1. Is there any particular reason NOT to locate the fuse panel in a weatherised tongue box, up front with the batteries?

2. Speaking of batteries, is "two" a reasonable number? A bit of extra weight, but a bit more extra storage for the fridge (whenever we choose to get it). Can my car adequately charge this while on the go (pulled by a 2016 Mazda CX5)?

3. If we do install an AC/DC fridge, I suppose I should have one AC circuit with 14-2 down to the galley, right? Or could I simply rely on shore power to keep the batteries topped up, to run the fridge?

4. My plan is to embed conduit and either string (to pull wire with) or the actual 14 ga. wire to and from all my devices into the tongue box (and to switches, as required, ofc.). Any problem with just running the wire and sorting through everything after things are built?

5. DC circuits don't require flash boxes, right?

6. What if... I wanted to pre-wire the option to charge batteries with a roof-top solar array. Would it be good enough to run wire to a weather-proof box on the roof and let it sit until required? Are there any examples or tutorials on installing solar-voltaics? I'm sure there are, but my cursory searching hasn't found them yet.

I know I'm going to have to do the math and figure stuff out, but it would be nifty if I could design to be sustainably off-grid. The biggest draw would be an Engle or ARB, up to 2.5 amps for some such. (Actually, 0.87A for the ARB, which is quite the feat, and quite the selling feature. Might even make up for the outrageous price!)

7. Is there any up-to-date resource that will walk me through the steps to get this job done? Parts lists (at least, the basics to get me started)?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby mustangcats » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:03 pm

Since you have knowledge about electrical wiring, wiring up your trailer should be a "piece of cake". Others are probably more qualified than I am to answer your questions, but I'll input my thoughts into a couple of them. Personally I would want the converter/power box completely out of the weather and inside the trailer. Even though you plan to have a weatherized box, you never know when a seal could fail and allow water into the box. For my trailer, all my ac wiring is 12/2. You mentioned using 14/2, but since you never know what you might want to plug in...it's best to go heavier. Using a converter is the easiest way to go since it will give you both 12v dc and 120v ac. I really enjoyed wiring my trailer; in fact, it was the most fun part of the build. Just be sure to put in plenty of outlets, both 12v and 120v. Even though you don't think you will have much need for ac...that is today...and tomorrow is always a different story. :)
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby m.colley » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:20 pm

Here's a good briel tutorial that might help you with your Solar questions. viewtopic.php?f=30&t=11275.

and here's a good basic wiring diagram that might help make sense out of your other wiring questions. 139980. I found the diagram a while back here on tnttt and have been saving it

Martin
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby Boreal » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:12 am

Thanks Martin!

And... I found this thread: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=64888&start=135
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby m.colley » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:34 am

There's also another wiring diagram floating around here on TnTTT that incorporates the solar controls you'll need and how to wire them in. Alot of people including myself swear by the Progressive Dynamics PD4045 for a combo converter/charger and power distribution box. It makes the wiring of these little trailers pretty foolproof but is overkill on some designs, depending on your needs. A suggestion is to draw out your floor plan design and approximate wiring locations, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. This will help you when it comes to laying everything out so that you don't leave anything out. I took the approach of running a few extra sets of 12v wires into different locations and capping them off for future expansions.


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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby Shadow Catcher » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:34 am

I would suggest you might want to reconsider 120 AC. Our tear is set up for serious boondocking relying on the 12V propane system or 120V. When we are in camp grounds with 120AC the electric fry pan comes out along with the coffee maker and when we wish the air conditioner and the water heater goes on electric...
One thing brought up by some one else it increases resale value.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby Boreal » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:17 pm

Shadow Catcher wrote:I would suggest you might want to reconsider 120 AC. Our tear is set up for serious boondocking relying on the 12V propane system or 120V. When we are in camp grounds with 120AC the electric fry pan comes out along with the coffee maker and when we wish the air conditioner and the water heater goes on electric...
One thing brought up by some one else it increases resale value.


Thanks for the comment, Shadow.

It's not that we're not considering what you say, however I just read your note to my wife... we looked at each other, and just shook our heads and said "Nahhhh". :lol:


We will very rarely, if ever, rent a serviced campsite. Shore power will be for charging up at home, for use during sleep-overs, and (very potentially) for resale). It's the minimum I think people might want. I cannot even imagine a time we'd be camping with an electric fry pan or coffee maker. No offence, but it's just not us. :thumbsup:
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby CAJUN LADY » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:16 pm

Boreal wrote:
Shadow Catcher wrote:I would suggest you might want to reconsider 120 AC. Our tear is set up for serious boondocking relying on the 12V propane system or 120V. When we are in camp grounds with 120AC the electric fry pan comes out along with the coffee maker and when we wish the air conditioner and the water heater goes on electric...
One thing brought up by some one else it increases resale value.


Thanks for the comment, Shadow.

It's not that we're not considering what you say, however I just read your note to my wife... we looked at each other, and just shook our heads and said "Nahhhh". :lol:


We will very rarely, if ever, rent a serviced campsite. Shore power will be for charging up at home, for use during sleep-overs, and (very potentially) for resale). It's the minimum I think people might want. I cannot even imagine a time we'd be camping with an electric fry pan or coffee maker. No offence, but it's just not us. :thumbsup:


It may not be for you, but, like mentioned, it would make it more appealing to a buyer should you ever decide to sell. Looking forward to seeing what you do. :thumbsup:
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby yrock87 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:35 pm

there is a ton of information out there on battery charging. https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/ Handy bob seems to have done his homework. if you are able to get past his somewhat ranting way of blogging, he has a lot of good information on batteries, boondocking requirements, and solar. the key is keep your runs as short as possible and plan for voltage drop. ie, don't have your converter 15 feet of wire away from your batteries.


I am in a smilar stage as yourself and I am currently planning on planning for solar for next year. the below from amazon seems like it would work perfect for the budding teardropper. (the system can be expanded to 3-4 panels as well. just be sure that if you prewire, you account for the amperage you will be feeding from the panels)
http://www.amazon.com/WindyNation-Compl ... ndy+nation
The SJ Cruiser, my 5x10 Benroy build http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=64944
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby dmdc411 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:52 pm

I am decent at wiring both 12VDC and almost anything AC. I ran 2 outlets in the galley area, and 1 inside for a small flat screen TV, and a stubby outlet strip for small charging phones. Everything else is 12VDC, Fantastic fan, all LED lighting. Used a desktop computer power supply as a source. I have no battery as of yet. This will be the first year to put her to use. So, it may get a battery.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby H.A. » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:59 pm

[qea it.
Last edited by H.A. on Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby Boreal » Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:52 pm

m.colley wrote:Alot of people including myself swear by the Progressive Dynamics PD4045 for a combo converter/charger and power distribution box. It makes the wiring of these little trailers pretty foolproof but is overkill on some designs, depending on your needs.


Alright, Martin, your forbearance please.

Here's the unit (I think) you're referring to.

What exactly does this do (and here's where I tread on very very thin ice as regards DC wiring)?

Here's what I think I need:
  • hook up to my batteries (two deep cycles in parallel)
  • keep my batteries from being worn down to zero volts?
  • provide DC circuit protection
  • master cut off switch
  • allow (with the proper 9 pin connection) for charging by my car's alternator while moving
  • an AC outlet or two (GFI protected, of course)

Will this be the only major piece of gadgetry that I need? The price is fine, even if it is a bit overkill for my eight or ten DC circuits.
Last edited by Boreal on Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby Boreal » Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:59 pm

5, Dont know what a 'flashbox' is. Maybe a regional vernacular ??
Anyway, All devices should have a backbox or suitable enclosure unless its designed to be embedded or surface mount without.


Just a metal (or plastic) electric box.

My understanding is that DC switches are surface mount.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby H.A. » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:36 am

Boreal wrote:
5, Dont know what a 'flashbox' is. Maybe a regional vernacular ??
Anyway, All devices should have a backbox or suitable enclosure unless its designed to be embedded or surface mount without.


Just a metal (or plastic) electric box.

My understanding is that DC switches are surface mount.


There are about a million and two different designs of 'DC' rated switches.
Some are intended for surface mount. Some are not.
Choices are nearly endless for ALL switches for that matter.

Assuming you are building for use within N.America,
might as well utilise 'gang type' backboxes for all flushmounted devices.
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Re: Wiring is Scary! 1st time TT Wiring questions.

Postby bobhenry » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:05 am

I made my own lighting and gave them both ac and dc capabilities.

Image

Image


I am currently building these with ac / dc capabilities for the caboose

Image

I used a blank cover and drilled for a toggle and a rotary switch this way I can tell in the dark whether I an flipping on the toggle (DC) or the rotary (AC) by feel

Image
Growing older but not up !
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