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Old 02-15-2010, 01:11 PM   #15
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Unfortunately you will be at your max amp draw trying to run the AC, converter (Univolt), and hot water heater on electric at the same time.

What I would do is install a separate breaker and use that breaker as an ON/OFF switch if in a bad location install a wall switch and run the wire through the switch so you have control and can switch between AC & propane as you wish.

You can run the HW on propane for years before you would get payback upgrading to 50 amp service. 50 amp is generally for 2 AC's and washer dryer.
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Old 02-15-2010, 01:21 PM   #16
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....................What I would do is install a separate breaker and use that breaker as an ON/OFF switch if in a bad location install a wall switch and run the wire through the switch so you have control and can switch between AC & propane as you wish.
You know, that raises a good question, how does one normally control which heating source gets used? Like Gary suggests, or is there another method.
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Old 02-15-2010, 04:28 PM   #17
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Good question.
Mine is gas only and works off 12V switch in the RV.

I would suspect 120VAC & gas combination would work off a dual 12V switch in the RV with a 120V relay in the HW compartment.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:13 PM   #18
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I added a 15A breaker to the existing panel. There was room for several more in the panel. Looked at the existing breakers found that they were GE brand. Went to home depot with a description and model of the breaker box. The nice man there pointed me to the breaker I needed. It was about 3 feet from the breaker box around the back of the toilet to the new water heater. Bought a four foot "armored cable Lighting whip" which is a ready made piece of flexible conduit with two conductors and a ground wire in it as well as attached connectors that would fit in the punch outs in the breaker box and water heater. I used the flexible conduit rather than romex because I ran it outside of the wall concealed behind the cabinets around the toilet and felt that the flexible conduit would be better able to handle the constant vibration and abrasion when going over the road. The whip is rated for 15A which is adequate for the dedicated circuit to the water heater element.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:29 PM   #19
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My 68 Trade Wind has room in the existing panel box for 4 breakers, 3 were being used. I added a new dual mode water heater and just added an additional breaker to the old box. Had to remove the knock out on the box cover, easy.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:37 PM   #20
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Here is what I have. I am going to assume, based on the nature of the POs other "refinements" that this is a disaster waiting to happen. The Atwood water heater is listed as 1400 watts (is that 11.6 amps?), the carrier low profile is listed at 14 amps.
Am I correct in thinking it may be possible to add a couple circuits to this? I see the spaces but it also looks like the shared connection point on the right for the white wires is full.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:51 PM   #21
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Aluminum wires...

Those looks like aluminum wires to me, I think I would feel better if the major power users in the camper were on newer circuits.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:04 PM   #22
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I am a "do-it-yourself"er with wiring with a little training so, I guess, I am dangerous to listen to... I have correctly wired a separate breaker box in my shop with 60amp service and added a switcher for a generator to run the house when the power goes out. Our AS had 6 breaker outlets in our box, 3 being used. I added a 4th for a 4 plug outlet to run the microwave separately from the fridge.

Looking at your photo, Gen, you have 2 more spots for breakers. On the white wiring, that bar just connects all of them together. You could either add a second bar that wires into the first bar for additional pigtails but make sure it is safely mounted so it will not touch anything black or metal. If it were me and I only had one white to add, I would double use one of the slots. As long as both wires are tight and cannot pull out, it should be fine.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:10 PM   #23
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Looking at your photo, Gen, you have 2 more spots for breakers. On the white wiring, that bar just connects all of them together. You could either add a second bar that wires into the first bar for additional pigtails but make sure it is safely mounted so it will not touch anything black or metal. If it were me and I only had one white to add, I would double use one of the slots. As long as both wires are tight and cannot pull out, it should be fine.
So adding two more circuits dedicated to the AC and water heaters sounds reasonable to you? The more I think about it, the more I am uncomfortable with the big power users on those aluminum wires.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:13 PM   #24
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Looks like the top neutral bus (top large one on right side) is empty.
Also looks as if you can add 2 new breakers.

Is the ground wire (looks copper) going down towards the bottom of the box connected to anything?

Is the main wire coming into the box copper?

Can't tell from the picture if copper or aluminum.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #25
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Is the ground wire (looks copper) going down towards the bottom of the box connected to anything?

Is the main wire coming into the box copper?

Can't tell from the picture if copper or aluminum.
I will have to go out and look to see what the ground wire is attached to, I assume it is attached. The main wire coming in is copper I believe.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:38 PM   #26
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So adding two more circuits dedicated to the AC and water heaters sounds reasonable to you? The more I think about it, the more I am uncomfortable with the big power users on those aluminum wires.
That sounds reasonable to me. I would feel safer having them on separate breakers but I tend to overdo it in everything though. My thinking is like in a house, the big ticket items have their own breaker. A/C, HW and Microwave are the 3 big tickets in the coach (maybe fridge as well). Our Microwave was tied into the outlet that serviced the fridge and I was uncomfortable with that. I added the 4 outlet box, just outside the breaker panel to a new breaker to be sure 1) that the wiring was new and reliable in size and 2) that the MW was on a separate breaker from the fridge. We haven't camped in it yet and may need to watch running the A/C, fridge (if we run it on AC) and Microwave at the same time. Tthis may overload the service and flip a breaker.

I also didn't trust some of the outlets in our 1979 either. The wire connections looked suspect with the way they were crimp wired (or when they shove the wire into metal blades for contact). I replaced them all with shallow blue boxes and house outlets.

Here is the 4 outlet box we put in. The breaker panel is to the right, just out of the frame. The Microwave has a GFI outlet that will plug into this mounted in the shelf it sits on.


The GFI plug for the MW:
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:53 PM   #27
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The issue with aluminium wire is not the power capacity of the conductor (aluminum wire is just as effective as copper at these power levels as a conductor) but the amount of expansion of the wire as it heats up when conducting electricity. This constant expansion then contraction when power is off forces the connectors to loosen and then you have a power arc situation. Aluminum wire requires special types of connectors and fixtures that take this expansion into account and can hold the wire firm. Toss in the vibration of a travel trailer and that just makes things worse.

One tip I use on the wire buss bar is to not only tighten the screw securly but bend the wire end that sticks out at an angle so it will not pull back out.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:01 PM   #28
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You probably know this but the red jumper on top makes all 4 breaker slots available. So there are 2 slots available on the left side.
You could add one breaker for the HWH.
From the HWH (use 12 gage wire) connect the hot (black wire) to the bottom screw on the new breaker, neutral (white) wire to the top empty slot on the right (neutral) bus bar and ground (bare) to the bus bar on the left.
Unless you are having problems with the AC it is already on a breaker probably the one on the far right.

Make sure you are NOT plugged into shore power when working on the breaker box.

If it convenient the breaker can be turned on and off just like a switch to power the HWH.
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