I don't know where to start.

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I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:19 pm

I hope I am posting in the correct area. In building my teardrop the only system I am nervous about is the wiring. I have done some house wiring in the past and find it somewhat easy, but the thought of wiring a camper seems difficult to me and I have a few questions. Does anyone sell a kit that has all the necessary items I will need? I want all the usual things included in a travel trailer - Electric brakes, charging while driving, possibly solar, tv stereo, lights, etc. Can I use 14 gauge wire or should I use romex? I have seen both and am wondering the advantages and disadvantages of both. Is pulling wire to a central area and figuring out how to hook it up later the wrong approach? Any info you can give me will be a tremendous help.
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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby dancam » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:59 pm

Do you want a battery in the trailer? Best way to figure it out is calculate all your loads including lights. Using led or halogen and how many you use makes a big difference. Then once you have the loads figured look at what distances the wire has to travel to the load from the source. Then put that in to a wire size calculator that factors in distance, amps, volts.
Pay attention to what the insulation on the wire is rated for. 14awg wire can have different temp and load ratings based on what insulation it has.
For exterior lights, brakes, ground and simple battery charging you buy this: Image
Has 5x 14awg wires and 2x 12awg.
Use split loom insutation over anything exposed outside

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:02 pm

Yes I do want a battery. Thanks for the info. It is a starting point.
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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby dancam » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:07 pm

jgerqano wrote:Yes I do want a battery. Thanks for the info. It is a starting point.

You want to charge it off the car battery only while your driving, and have it disconnected from the car battery like 99% of people do right? Thats the way to go, its a lot harder to wire the other way.

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby tony.latham » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:51 pm

Your next decision is whether you want just a 12 volt system or 12 volts plus a 120 volt system. 120 volts is more complicated.

We mostly boondock (no access to power and have a hatred for generators) and have no need for 120 volts, so all's we have have is a 12 volt system for lights, charging phones, watching a movie, and preheating the bed with a (12v) electric blanket. It works great for our needs.

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:12 pm

dancam wrote:
jgerqano wrote:Yes I do want a battery. Thanks for the info. It is a starting point.

You want to charge it off the car battery only while your driving, and have it disconnected from the car battery like 99% of people do right? Thats the way to go, its a lot harder to wire the other way.

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This is why I asked so that I learn the right questions. Thanks I will look into it.
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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:14 pm

tony.latham wrote:Your next decision is whether you want just a 12 volt system or 12 volts plus a 120 volt system. 120 volts is more complicated.

We mostly boondock (no access to power and have a hatred for generators) and have no need for 120 volts, so all's we have have is a 12 volt system for lights, charging phones, watching a movie, and preheating the bed with a (12v) electric blanket. It works great for our needs.

Tony

I do want 120 volts so some sort of inverter will be needed. Suggestions are welcomed.
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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby bobwhite215 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:59 pm

You need to really think about the inverter. They are extremely inefficient. Running 120v devices off your 12v battery can deplete your battery in no time.

What you probably want us a dual system. All your LED lights, USB devices, phone chargers, etc, will be on 12v system. If you have shore power, this will come off a dc power supply from the 120v shore power. If you don't have shore power, you run off the battery.

For the 120vac system, that is strictly off shore power. If you don't have an electrical connection, the you just do without 120.

Please note, this is just my opinion, and how I am used to RV wiring working.

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby dancam » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:15 pm

^ yes, you are better off buying everything that you can in 12v. There are threads about 12v televisions. Try to install your larger loads as close as you can to the batteries or the batteries as close as you can to the big loads. This reduces the thickness of wire that you need and voltage drop.
For 120 volt most things that you cannot buy 12v plugs to run them require a lot of power. We want to use a toaster. Its 750 watts. Thats 63amps at 12v but inverters are only 85-90% efficient. So it actually takes a 75 amp load off the battery to run the toaster and toasters run for a while. Inverters also shut off when the battery drops to a certain voltage, usually 11volts. Inverters also take 1-2 amps when they are on but not being used. So consider it carefully, buy all the 12v appliances you can. Spending more on them is worth it as the extra battery size you need to run an inverter, wiring for it and the inverter itself cost a fair bit.

Easiest is probably 2 good deep cycle batteries, one 12ga wire from the tv to charge them while the tv is running-never when its not running, a battery charger hardwired to the trailer batteries for when you have shore power. All 12v appliances if you can.

Where you plan to camp- what % of the time will you have shore power?
What specifically do you want to use thats 120v?

This has some good info it it.
The RV BATTERY CHARGING PUZZLE | HandyBob's Blog
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the ... -puzzle-2/

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:33 pm

dancam wrote:^ yes, you are better off buying everything that you can in 12v. There are threads about 12v televisions. Try to install your larger loads as close as you can to the batteries or the batteries as close as you can to the big loads. This reduces the thickness of wire that you need and voltage drop.
For 120 volt most things that you cannot buy 12v plugs to run them require a lot of power. We want to use a toaster. Its 750 watts. Thats 63amps at 12v but inverters are only 85-90% efficient. So it actually takes a 75 amp load off the battery to run the toaster and toasters run for a while. Inverters also shut off when the battery drops to a certain voltage, usually 11volts. Inverters also take 1-2 amps when they are on but not being used. So consider it carefully, buy all the 12v appliances you can. Spending more on them is worth it as the extra battery size you need to run an inverter, wiring for it and the inverter itself cost a fair bit.

Easiest is probably 2 good deep cycle batteries, one 12ga wire from the tv to charge them while the tv is running-never when its not running, a battery charger hardwired to the trailer batteries for when you have shore power. All 12v appliances if you can.

Where you plan to camp- what % of the time will you have shore power?
What specifically do you want to use thats 120v?

This has some good info it it.
The RV BATTERY CHARGING PUZZLE | HandyBob's Blog

I am planning on having shore power or a generator 100% of the time. I never considered running everything off batteries. I an planning on running the tv and lighting off of 120V as well as the air conditioner and heater. Is this a bad plan?
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the ... -puzzle-2/

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby dancam » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:41 pm

jgerqano wrote:
dancam wrote:^ yes, you are better off buying everything that you can in 12v. There are threads about 12v televisions. Try to install your larger loads as close as you can to the batteries or the batteries as close as you can to the big loads. This reduces the thickness of wire that you need and voltage drop.
For 120 volt most things that you cannot buy 12v plugs to run them require a lot of power. We want to use a toaster. Its 750 watts. Thats 63amps at 12v but inverters are only 85-90% efficient. So it actually takes a 75 amp load off the battery to run the toaster and toasters run for a while. Inverters also shut off when the battery drops to a certain voltage, usually 11volts. Inverters also take 1-2 amps when they are on but not being used. So consider it carefully, buy all the 12v appliances you can. Spending more on them is worth it as the extra battery size you need to run an inverter, wiring for it and the inverter itself cost a fair bit.

Easiest is probably 2 good deep cycle batteries, one 12ga wire from the tv to charge them while the tv is running-never when its not running, a battery charger hardwired to the trailer batteries for when you have shore power. All 12v appliances if you can.

Where you plan to camp- what % of the time will you have shore power?
What specifically do you want to use thats 120v?

This has some good info it it.
The RV BATTERY CHARGING PUZZLE | HandyBob's Blog

I am planning on having shore power or a generator 100% of the time. I never considered running everything off batteries. I an planning on running the tv and lighting off of 120V as well as the air conditioner and heater. Is this a bad plan?
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the ... -puzzle-2/

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Oh, ok. If your going to have shore power or a generater all the time is there anything you need to run with 12v? Or can you just do it all for 120 shore power?

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:18 pm

dancam wrote:
jgerqano wrote:
dancam wrote:^ yes, you are better off buying everything that you can in 12v. There are threads about 12v televisions. Try to install your larger loads as close as you can to the batteries or the batteries as close as you can to the big loads. This reduces the thickness of wire that you need and voltage drop.
For 120 volt most things that you cannot buy 12v plugs to run them require a lot of power. We want to use a toaster. Its 750 watts. Thats 63amps at 12v but inverters are only 85-90% efficient. So it actually takes a 75 amp load off the battery to run the toaster and toasters run for a while. Inverters also shut off when the battery drops to a certain voltage, usually 11volts. Inverters also take 1-2 amps when they are on but not being used. So consider it carefully, buy all the 12v appliances you can. Spending more on them is worth it as the extra battery size you need to run an inverter, wiring for it and the inverter itself cost a fair bit.

Easiest is probably 2 good deep cycle batteries, one 12ga wire from the tv to charge them while the tv is running-never when its not running, a battery charger hardwired to the trailer batteries for when you have shore power. All 12v appliances if you can.

Where you plan to camp- what % of the time will you have shore power?
What specifically do you want to use thats 120v?

This has some good info it it.
The RV BATTERY CHARGING PUZZLE | HandyBob's Blog

I am planning on having shore power or a generator 100% of the time. I never considered running everything off batteries. I an planning on running the tv and lighting off of 120V as well as the air conditioner and heater. Is this a bad plan?
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the ... -puzzle-2/

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Oh, ok. If your going to have shore power or a generater all the time is there anything you need to run with 12v? Or can you just do it all for 120 shore power?

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I was thinking it would be nice to have batteries in case I pull in someplace and just want to sleep. Lights would be nice in this case so yes I think I should have a 12volt system as well. So my original estimate of having a generator or shore power 100% of the time is inaccurate. The number is probably more like 90%.
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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby dancam » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:51 pm

jgerqano wrote:
dancam wrote:
jgerqano wrote:
dancam wrote:^ yes, you are better off buying everything that you can in 12v. There are threads about 12v televisions. Try to install your larger loads as close as you can to the batteries or the batteries as close as you can to the big loads. This reduces the thickness of wire that you need and voltage drop.
For 120 volt most things that you cannot buy 12v plugs to run them require a lot of power. We want to use a toaster. Its 750 watts. Thats 63amps at 12v but inverters are only 85-90% efficient. So it actually takes a 75 amp load off the battery to run the toaster and toasters run for a while. Inverters also shut off when the battery drops to a certain voltage, usually 11volts. Inverters also take 1-2 amps when they are on but not being used. So consider it carefully, buy all the 12v appliances you can. Spending more on them is worth it as the extra battery size you need to run an inverter, wiring for it and the inverter itself cost a fair bit.

Easiest is probably 2 good deep cycle batteries, one 12ga wire from the tv to charge them while the tv is running-never when its not running, a battery charger hardwired to the trailer batteries for when you have shore power. All 12v appliances if you can.

Where you plan to camp- what % of the time will you have shore power?
What specifically do you want to use thats 120v?

This has some good info it it.
The RV BATTERY CHARGING PUZZLE | HandyBob's Blog

I am planning on having shore power or a generator 100% of the time. I never considered running everything off batteries. I an planning on running the tv and lighting off of 120V as well as the air conditioner and heater. Is this a bad plan?
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the ... -puzzle-2/

Sent from my SM-G920W8 using Tapatalk

Oh, ok. If your going to have shore power or a generater all the time is there anything you need to run with 12v? Or can you just do it all for 120 shore power?

Sent from my SM-G920W8 using Tapatalk

I was thinking it would be nice to have batteries in case I pull in someplace and just want to sleep. Lights would be nice in this case so yes I think I should have a 12volt system as well. So my original estimate of having a generator or shore power 100% of the time is inaccurate. The number is probably more like 90%.

Ok, if lights are all you would need that you wouldnt want to start your generater for would you consider battery powered lights? You can get ones that stick or screw on, are led so they hardly take any power and are real bright, and get good batteries that will last several years unused. Look for lights that take aa batteries or bigger.
That would save you a lot of money, weight and time as well as some space.
However if you want to use other stuff with the generater off then were back to at least 1 battery and all that wiring. :)

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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby jgerqano » Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:52 pm

dancam wrote:
jgerqano wrote:
dancam wrote:
jgerqano wrote:
dancam wrote:^ yes, you are better off buying everything that you can in 12v. There are threads about 12v televisions. Try to install your larger loads as close as you can to the batteries or the batteries as close as you can to the big loads. This reduces the thickness of wire that you need and voltage drop.
For 120 volt most things that you cannot buy 12v plugs to run them require a lot of power. We want to use a toaster. Its 750 watts. Thats 63amps at 12v but inverters are only 85-90% efficient. So it actually takes a 75 amp load off the battery to run the toaster and toasters run for a while. Inverters also shut off when the battery drops to a certain voltage, usually 11volts. Inverters also take 1-2 amps when they are on but not being used. So consider it carefully, buy all the 12v appliances you can. Spending more on them is worth it as the extra battery size you need to run an inverter, wiring for it and the inverter itself cost a fair bit.

Easiest is probably 2 good deep cycle batteries, one 12ga wire from the tv to charge them while the tv is running-never when its not running, a battery charger hardwired to the trailer batteries for when you have shore power. All 12v appliances if you can.

Where you plan to camp- what % of the time will you have shore power?
What specifically do you want to use thats 120v?

This has some good info it it.

The RV BATTERY CHARGING PUZZLE | HandyBob's Blog

I am planning on having shore power or a generator 100% of the time. I never considered running everything off batteries. I an planning on running the tv and lighting off of 120V as well as the air conditioner and heater. Is this a bad plan?
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/the ... -puzzle-2/

Sent from my SM-G920W8 using Tapatalk

Oh, ok. If your going to have shore power or a generater all the time is there anything you need to run with 12v? Or can you just do it all for 120 shore power?

Sent from my SM-G920W8 using Tapatalk

I was thinking it would be nice to have batteries in case I pull in someplace and just want to sleep. Lights would be nice in this case so yes I think I should have a 12volt system as well. So my original estimate of having a generator or shore power 100% of the time is inaccurate. The number is probably more like 90%.

Ok, if lights are all you would need that you wouldnt want to start your generater for would you consider battery powered lights? You can get ones that stick or screw on, are led so they hardly take any power and are real bright, and get good batteries that will last several years unused. Look for lights that take aa batteries or bigger.
That would save you a lot of money, weight and time as well as some space.
However if you want to use other stuff with the generater off then were back to at least 1 battery and all that wiring. :)

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That is a really good idea. Are you suggesting I wire everything for 120 just like a house with no inverter. Oh man that would make everything super simple.
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Re: I don't know where to start.

Postby troubleScottie » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:05 pm

Look through the electrical secrets part. There are several layouts for systems, etc. And lots of possible components eg fan, lights, USB charging ports, radio, TV, frig, water pump.

The 120VAC system can be wired several different ways. The simplest is using extension cord/power strips with surge protectors. The other end is a power distribution box with 50 amp power inlet on the outside wall with multiple circuit breakers and a DC panel with 6-20 fused DC circuits and a charger for your battery/batteries and solar and tow vehicle charging. And lots in between.

The DC system is always separate from the AC system. There are two cross-over points: a battery charger and an inverter.

The DC system can be charged by (1) the tow vehicle (2) shore power (3) solar panels or (4) generators. You really need to have at least a charger if you have battery. Good for while parked at home or in storage.

Charging from the tow vehicle can be a direct connect to the battery, more likely with a solenoid to disconnect the vehicle battery when the vehicle is not running. Again lots of other options.

Also you want to have GCFI outlets to protect you. Of course circuit breakers for AC and fuses for the battery are always required.

Technically the trailer's lights eg stop, turn, running lights represent a third circuit.

When doing the design work, you need to decide where you want to place the various components, where to run wiring, etc. Most people want the wiring inside the walls/roof/floor or some combination. Battery can be placed on the tongue, in the galley or under the trailer. Generally DC wire runs should be short. AC does not really matter for this size trailer.

BTW remember appliances requiring resistive power eg heater OR clean power eg air conditioners, motors OR lots of power mean you are going to need AC power.
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