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Old 11-11-2006, 07:56 AM   #1
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110v change to 220v? HELP!

Sorry, complete novice at this and just need to be pointed in the right direction. There may be a thread on this here somewhere but I havn't found it.
I am just about to purchase an Airstream from Europe, but it has come over from the States and I just wondered what was involved in changing the whole electrics to 220v or does it need to be done at all?
Also can you please push me in the right direction on how it all works? ie Toilet, water, heating, electrics. How does that all work?
Thankyou for your time and looking forward to joining the comunity when I am 'trailered up'
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Old 11-11-2006, 08:08 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by romanywg
Sorry, complete novice at this and just need to be pointed in the right direction. There may be a thread on this here somewhere but I havn't found it.
I am just about to purchase an Airstream from Europe, but it has come over from the States and I just wondered what was involved in changing the whole electrics to 220v or does it need to be done at all?
Also can you please push me in the right direction on how it all works? ie Toilet, water, heating, electrics. How does that all work?
Thankyou for your time and looking forward to joining the comunity when I am 'trailered up'
There are a couple of things that will need to be changed out ASAP, one being the converter. Also unless you step the power down to 110v you will be unable to use the Aircondtioner (not sure if it will run anyway on the differences in cycles) Try PM'ing Remcolent or Brunoffrance they both have converted Airstreams for use in Europe. Your water and 12 volt stuff will work with no changes as long as you have a way to charge the battery. What year and type of Airstream did you end up with?

Aaron
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Old 11-11-2006, 08:15 AM   #3
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Hello romanywg -- and welcome to the Forums!

What year Airstream are you getting? "Univolt" tends to be the name we all use for the original voltage converter. It takes in 110v and converts it to 12v for all interior lights, furnace, water pump, water heater control & refrigerator control. You may have a 2-way fridge -- operates on either LP or 110v. When a 110v plugin is available while camping, you will have several 110v outlets and the fridge will operate off 110v. The air conditioner runs off 110v but only if you have at least a 30 amp service (common in U.S. campground plugins but not at American homes). Depending on age of trailer, many people end up replacing old Univolts with more modern converters.

From my long ago days as a military dependent in Europe I remember heavy transformers the size of a shoe box that we'd use for our American appliances. I imagine you'd have to research that on your side of the pond. Or ask member 68 Overlander (Randy) here if he has any ideas -- he's also a good source for Univolt replacements. I don't know what to say about a transformer large enough to allow running the air conditioner!

All your other questions? I'd suggest browsing, posting to any relevant thread you might find or starting individual threads on issues as they arise. We'll be glad to have you aboard!

[on edit: link corrected]
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Old 11-11-2006, 08:35 AM   #4
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Thanks for those speedy replies. I havn't actually bought it yet but the one I am going to see and hopefully purchase is a 57 Overlander.
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Old 11-11-2006, 09:23 AM   #5
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You'd surely want to replace the ancient battery boiler ... er, Univolt in any Airstream that old.

I had 68 Overlander's business website open when I was answering this thread an hour ago. Something caught my eye as I went to close it just now -- look along the lower left column at http://www.bestconverter.com. PM him -- he does have a 220V converter.

Good luck in your quest! A '57 will probably need a major overhaul unless it received much TLC along the way -- but a prize in the end!
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Old 11-11-2006, 05:24 PM   #6
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With a 57 you most likely have to replace all electrick app.
Than just preplace them with 240 volt units.
The ac ia 110 only also the univolt is 110 onlt
The fridge you can get a 240 volt heating element for
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Old 11-11-2006, 05:58 PM   #7
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A 1957 did not originally come with any battery charging device. Almost all lights were 120 volt, you should be able to just replace the bulbs. If the refrfigerator is LP only, you don't need to do anything to it, if 120 volt, you would need a converter or replace the fridge, the same goes for the air conditioner and other 120 volt stuff. Most every fan is 120 volt as well.
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Old 11-11-2006, 10:49 PM   #8
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If it had extensive 110V appliances I'd say just buy a transformer, as it looks like you can get a 5kW transformer for only $100 or so - http://www.220-electronics.com/Trans...s/stepdown.htm - and run new wiring for the 240V sockets. But as it sounds from what people are saying that you probably don't have much except the lights that runs on 110V, if that.

So, you can probably safely re-use the existing 110V wiring, including any 110V light sockets, and just replace the 110V flat-pin outlets with 240V square-pin sockets, and put in a new 240V breaker box and new external power connector.

The one thing you must keep in mind is that American wiring uses a different colour code to the British standard. In the American system, black is live, white is neutral, and green (or often unsheathed copper) is ground. There are two British systems, and in the old one, black is neutral, red is live, and green is ground; in the new one, brown is live, blue is neutral, and green-and-yellow is ground. So, you have to translate that at every point where the old wiring contacts British-standard wiring. I would make sure to put a note at least at the circuit-breaker box where the outside supply comes in, and preferably at every new socket you install documenting the translation. This will help the next owner (or you, having forgotten what you did) keep the wiring correct. Re-using the American cable rather than putting in new British-standard cable may also be illegal.

If you don't have the faintest idea where to begin, either buy a good book on electrical wiring, or hire an electrician (although they may be unwilling to work on non-standard wiring and want to install their own from scratch).
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Old 11-11-2006, 11:28 PM   #9
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Oh, and if you find that the 110V cables don't have a ground conductor, just one white and one black conductor, I would definitely pull it out and replace it with new 3-conductor grounded cable, which will make the colour-coding point moot.
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Old 11-12-2006, 04:58 AM   #10
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Gee. You guys are so helpful! That is just the sort of information I need.
Thankyou so much.
As for some other questions here. The Airstream has been restored already so there shouldn't be too much for me to do although my wife is an Interior Designer and we intend, over the years, to completely redo the interior to showcase her work. The fridge is a 1956 electric only or block ice application as far as I've been told.
I will keep you updated with pics if and when I get it.
Cheers for all of your help.
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Old 02-03-2007, 03:37 PM   #11
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romanywg,

In North America we get 220 volts by using two phases of three phase power. In Europe, I suspect (but I certainly don't know) that your 220 volts is from one phase to ground.

If you don't understand the above statement, please consider having a professional electrician advise you on exactly how to wire your trailer.

If your 220 volts does come from a single phase, your wiring conversion should be simple and straightforward.

Good luck,

Loren
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Old 02-03-2007, 06:22 PM   #12
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Loren, that's just plain wrong. We use a split phase system in the US.
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Old 02-03-2007, 07:08 PM   #13
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Standards around the world

Here's a link to a website that has all the "standards" for around the world.


Electricity around the world: everything about plugs, sockets, voltages, converters, etc.
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Old 02-05-2007, 10:33 PM   #14
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Paul,
That was a great link. A great summary of interesting stuff.

We do have the 220 volt converters and send quite a few of them to Europe but that doesn't make the whole Airstream 220 volt mains. Just the 220 AC from the converter to 12 VDC.
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