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Old 10-20-2010, 10:06 PM   #29
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oh - you'll need wire clamps like the one in the picture in your first post where the yellow wire goes into the metal box. 1/2" ones will work ok. One hole, one clamp, one wire please. Do not put two wires through one clamp.
Chris - you are a Godsend! Thanks so much for all your help. I'm going to tackle this job starting next week after I get through playing grandma for a while.

I'll send pictures of the progress just to make sure that I'm still on the right track.

And then we'll tackle the 12V???

Thanks again -

Lindy
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:36 AM   #30
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Lindy, you're very welcome.

Playing grandma should be fun! Spoil, spoil, spoil... We have 5 grandchildren, and being a grandparent is the best!

I think getting the 110 VAC stuff in, and then tackling the 12 VDC part is a good plan. Part of my real job is providing remote support for our field people and customers for big high speed computer networks. Since I'm not close enough to help directly, I'm happy to give you remote support.

Chris
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Old 10-22-2010, 10:42 PM   #31
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I do have a question though. I will be replacing the power intake plug (where the shore power cord is plugged in) and was wondering if I can or should use a 30A intake plug or will the 20A be ok. The one I took off of it is by Bargman and says it is 120V 35A. The replacement I'm looking at is by Hummel (?) and is 20A.

I'm posting pictures of the breaker box I bought and if it isn't the right kind I can take it back tomorrow when I go to the "big city".
The Hubbel 20a inlet will be fine and you can use a regular extension cord for your shore power cord which will save you money. Get an extension cord with 12 gauge wire. Usually 25 feet is enough.

The breaker box is fine. As others have said you want to get a ground bar for it.

Chris' advice is sound on all counts.

You will need to get a short piece of type UF cable to go from the inlet to the breaker box. Should be 12-2 or 10-2 with ground.
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Old 11-28-2010, 03:53 PM   #32
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Done! If I pass your inspection!

I have finished rewiring the trailer with 20 amp service. I've attached pictures of what I've done to see if I pass inspection. I couldn't have done it without a little (lot!) help from my friends.

What I did:
Replaced the inlet plug with the one suggested (Hubbel?)
Did away with all the original wiring (not using any of it)
Put in a breaker box with 6 spaces. I'm only using 4 right now.
Put in new lights in the front, galley and over the bed. I'll also install a new bathroom light but haven't done so yet. Have to put back the bathroom wall first.
Put in a dedicated circuit for the fridge should I have to buy a new one.
Ran ground wire from box to screw in rib (box itself is screwed into a rib)
Used a round (twisted) wire from inlet box to breaker box. Soldered each wire so they would stay together.
Put a black jumper wire between the two big screws for the circuit breakers.
All junction boxes have covers.
The wiring for the new lamps in the front are in chases that will be painted to match the walls.
All wires are "one hole, one clamp, one wire"

Anything I didn't think of? Anything look like it was done wrong?

I plugged in the trailer and everything worked and I'm still alive! Must have done something ok.

If I'm good to go, I'm ready to tackle the 12V system. Any takers?

Thanks again for all the good advice and resources. I couldn't have done it without you!
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Old 11-28-2010, 05:17 PM   #33
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Hi Lindy,

Overall it looks ok to me. I would make one change in the breaker box though. I'd move the black wire from the plug cord to the first breaker in the box, and then move the wire that's currently on that breaker to one of the two open breakers. Leave the jumper wire connected to the two big lugs like it is now.
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Doing this will put a 20 amp breaker on the input cord feeding the trailer. It's a good additional safety measure. Right now, your input cord is not protected, which is not 100% safe or in keeping with the RV wiring standard.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but is your black jumper wire the same gauge or bigger as the input wire? It looks like the jumper is 12 guage, but I can't tell what gauge the input wire is. As long as everything is 12 gauge, then you're fine.

So, what help do you need with the 12 VDC wiring?

Chris
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Old 11-28-2010, 06:29 PM   #34
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I'll make the change tomorrow. Since I have the extra breakers, might as well make it as safe as possible. The jumper wire is 12 gauge as is the input wire.

12 VDC wiring? Now that's something I know NOTHING about. What I want to do is put a battery on the tongue of the trailer (if there is space) and then have 12v available for when we're dry camping. However, if it would make life easier, I could live with a battery to run the water pump and just use my little propane light inside. Maybe have a solar trickle charger for the battery? The water pump I just bought is 12v so I know I need a battery for that. My fridge (untested still) is propane only. If I have to replace it I will replace with 2-way, not 3-way so I wouldn't need 12v for that. When we camp it is usually dry camping so we wouldn't be able to plug into anything so it might be convenient to be able to use lights on 12v.

What do you think?

And, thanks again for all your help.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:38 PM   #35
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Hi Lindy,

Well, lots of thing to consider. In no particular order:

Fridge: While your older fridge is only propane, and has no need for any 12 VDC, if you buy any new fridge, 2 way or 3 way, it will require 12 VDC to run. Even on propane. The new fridges all contain a circuit board that needs 12 VDC to operate. I doubt you can find a new fridge that did not require 12 VDC for this reason. I personally, would not spend a great of extra money to get a 3 way fridge over a 2 way. The only advantage a 3 way fridge give you is being able to run completely off 12 VDC, but the only real practical time to do that is while you are actually towing the trailer as they tend to run the battery down rather quickly.

Battery: Youíll need a deep cycle RV or Marine battery. Do not use a regular automotive type battery Ė it wonít last very long. Location is pretty much up to you. If you end up installing it inside your trailer, make sure itís in a sealed battery box thatís vented to the outside in 2 places (one low on the box and one high).

Charging the battery: Normally, a converter is installed to charge the battery while the trailer is plugged into shore power. The converter will also supply 12 VDC while plugged in. If you do not want to go the convert route, then youíll need some other source of charging power. A portable solar panel could do the trick for you based on what you say youíre going to use the 12 Volt system for. Some of these systems are very easy to install. Other solar systems are a bit more complicated. Portable ones typically simply hook up to the battery or plug into a 12 volt outlet, and you can disconnect them and put them away while traveling.

Speaking of traveling, do you have a 7 connector plug to connect the trailer to you tow vehicle? Iím asking to see if you can use the TV to charge your battery while towing.

Also, do you have electric brakes on your trailer?

Lights:

To keep battery power consumption down as much as possible, you might consider installing LED lights in your trailer instead of regular incandescent lights. That can go a long way to extending your battery life.

Furnace: You didnít mention this, but do you have a RV furnace in your trailer? Like the fridge, that also requires 12 VDC to run. It uses a lot more power while running than the fridge does though, and can impact the size of the battery as well as make a determination as to if you need a converter or not.

Kay says that since you can do the 110 VAC wiring, you can do the 12 VDC wiring too! She has faith in you, as do I.

Chris
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:57 AM   #36
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Hi Lindy,

Well, lots of thing to consider. In no particular order:

Fridge: While your older fridge is only propane, and has no need for any 12 VDC, if you buy any new fridge, 2 way or 3 way, it will require 12 VDC to run. Even on propane. The new fridges all contain a circuit board that needs 12 VDC to operate. I doubt you can find a new fridge that did not require 12 VDC for this reason. I personally, would not spend a great of extra money to get a 3 way fridge over a 2 way. The only advantage a 3 way fridge give you is being able to run completely off 12 VDC, but the only real practical time to do that is while you are actually towing the trailer as they tend to run the battery down rather quickly.

Battery: Youíll need a deep cycle RV or Marine battery. Do not use a regular automotive type battery Ė it wonít last very long. Location is pretty much up to you. If you end up installing it inside your trailer, make sure itís in a sealed battery box thatís vented to the outside in 2 places (one low on the box and one high).

Charging the battery: Normally, a converter is installed to charge the battery while the trailer is plugged into shore power. The converter will also supply 12 VDC while plugged in. If you do not want to go the convert route, then youíll need some other source of charging power. A portable solar panel could do the trick for you based on what you say youíre going to use the 12 Volt system for. Some of these systems are very easy to install. Other solar systems are a bit more complicated. Portable ones typically simply hook up to the battery or plug into a 12 volt outlet, and you can disconnect them and put them away while traveling.

Speaking of traveling, do you have a 7 connector plug to connect the trailer to you tow vehicle? Iím asking to see if you can use the TV to charge your battery while towing.

Also, do you have electric brakes on your trailer?

Lights:

To keep battery power consumption down as much as possible, you might consider installing LED lights in your trailer instead of regular incandescent lights. That can go a long way to extending your battery life.

Furnace: You didnít mention this, but do you have a RV furnace in your trailer? Like the fridge, that also requires 12 VDC to run. It uses a lot more power while running than the fridge does though, and can impact the size of the battery as well as make a determination as to if you need a converter or not.

Kay says that since you can do the 110 VAC wiring, you can do the 12 VDC wiring too! She has faith in you, as do I.

Chris
Fridge: I've had a 3-way fridge before and agree with you - it really isn't necessary. But my guess is the old Norcold that is in it probably isn't going to work. I hope to have it, my stove and the heater checked out this winter sometime.

Battery: I would really rather not punch another hole in the side of the trailer for venting so I hope there's enough room on the tongue to house a battery. I'll check it out today when it gets warm enough to go outside.

Charging the battery: I thought a converter "converted" 12VDC into 110VAC (shows how much I know!) so that I could use my 110 VAC lights off the battery. If that isn't the case then do I need to install separate 12VDC lights? If all a converter does is charge the battery then it seems that using a SIMPLE solar system might be the way to go.

Traveling: I have a 7-connector plug but it isn't attached to the cable yet. The cable is attached to wires coming out of the trailer but it really looks like a mess (see picture). I haven't even BEGUN to think about how to make all that work. Right now it has those portable tow lights with a 4-prong connector. Maybe we'll tackle this after the 12VDC?

I think I have electric brakes but haven't checked. According to the original brochure for this model, it should have them.

Lights: I put LED puck lights in the galley area and bedroom. I will put an LED light in the bathroom but put those curly fluorescent lights in the fixtures in the front of the trailer.

There is a ceiling light that I think is 12VDC - it has one of those little round light bulbs and looks like it has that little yellow wiring in it. The wiring, of course, in inside the skin so I can't trace it down to see where it comes out or what it hooks up with. I would like to utilize the light as a 12VDC light to use when we're dry camping. Think that is a possibility? I can send a picture later.

Furnace: The trailer has the original furnace that looks like it only uses propane. It is in the wall of the compartment with the fridge (just as you walk in the door) and is about 5' tall. Don't know yet if it works.

Thanks for your faith in me! It helps to have all the encouragement I can get.
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Old 11-29-2010, 03:34 PM   #37
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wiring & lights

Got the box re-wired and I like it much better! Now I can just turn off the "main" switch and everything is off in the trailer.

I'm attaching a picture of the overhead light - it is wired with a blue wire, not a yellow one. I'm wondering if it ties into the mysterious blue wires that come out to the inside at the front of the trailer. Maybe those hooked to a battery? They are next to where the fuse box and old water pump were. Is that possible?
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:34 PM   #38
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Great news on rewiring the box! Now, on to your other questionsÖ

Converter vs. Inverter. A converter converts 110 VAC to 12 VDC. An Inverter converts 12 VDC to 110 VAC. Most, if not all, RV converters have built in chargers to charge and maintain the battery as well as run all other 12 volt stuff while plugged into shore power. Some converters and chargers are better than others, and in general, the more you spend on one the better it will be. So the first question you need to answer is how much 12 volt power do you need? And how often will you camp being plugged into shore power vs. dry camping?

If all you are going to be running off the battery is the water pump, the fridge and 1 or 2 lights, you can probably get by with either a small converter or even an automotive type battery charger. Or the solar panel you had mentioned before to top off the battery during the day.

It sounds like you have a wall furnace, which probably does not have a blower (fan) in it. And it probably does not need 12 VDC to operate either. That would be good from a power requirement standpoint since the 12 volt system would not need to power a furnace.

The 110 VAC lights you mention can not run off the battery, unless you install an inverter. That load (the inverter and just 1 110 VAC light), will drain your battery fairly quickly. You would be much better off installing 12 VDC lights, using LEDs if you can to keep the power drain as small as possible.

The ceiling light you took a picture off does look like a 12 volt light. What itís connected to is anybodyís guess, and will require some investigation on your part to track down the wiring. Do you have a digital (or analog) multi-meter? Youíll probably need one to track all the wiring down and figure out where it goes.

When I first saw the umbilical wiring picture, I thought ďOh my!Ē But maybe itís not as bad as it looks. The umbilical wiring is, for the most part; separate from the rest of the 12 volt wiring. However, there are some things in common. For example, the 12 volt wire from the umbilical cord connects to the positive post on the battery. This allows the TV to charge the battery while you are towing. Also, the brake wire in the umbilical connects to the brake wire on the on the trailer, which is also connected to a breakaway switch. The other lead on the breakaway switch is connected to the positive post on the battery. Another common wire is the ground or neutral wire. But we can tackle all of that after you get the rest of the 12 volt system in place.

Question: the two blues wires on the inside of the trailer. Are they opposite where the umbilical cord enters on the outside?

So, what to do next?

Step 1: Decide exactly what you want to power off the 12 volt system. Thingís youíve mentioned: water pump, 1 or 2 lights, and a new fridge.

Step 2: Decide exactly where everything will be located. The battery, the pump, lights, and fridge for example. And a new fuse block. This will determine if you can try and use any of the existing wiring.

Step3: If you want to try and use any of the existing wiring, determine where it all goes. This will probably mean using the multi-meter to trace each wire one at a time. If you need help with that, let me know. Like your old 110 VAC wiring, it might be easier to run all new wiring inside your trailer for the 12 volt system.

Step 4: Decide how you will charge the battery while not connected to your TV. (Weíll deal with the umbilical cord later).

Once you have all this figured out, we can go on to other steps: designing and installing.

Oh, one other to look for: A panel or cover in the front of the trailer close to where the umbilical cord enters the outside. Typically, the cover would be on the inside front wall, close to the floor. I'm looking for the connectors that originally connected the umbilical cord to the trailer's wiring. If such a thing exists on your trailer and you can find it, it will hopefully make the rest of the 12 volt wiring easier.

Chris
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Old 11-30-2010, 05:53 PM   #39
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12 VDC & battery placement

OK - here we go...

Most of the time we are not in a campground with electrical power. Living in Colorado there are ample free places we can camp and so most of the time we are in the woods. That said, all we really need to power off a battery is the water pump, the fridge and 1 or 2 lights. We don't do TV, air conditioning, electric coffee pot or microwave. However, sometimes a little fan is nice to be able to use.

As for batteries, it seems that the Gel Cell or AGM batteries hold a charge the longest (AGM seem to be better) and even though they are more expensive, given our needs, it seems that the AGM would be the best choice. If I can get one that is around 7" wide then it can fit on the tongue of the trailer. If it is wider than that then it will have to go either in the already vented cabinet over the fridge (see picture) or at the back in the storage area where I would have to put it under the bed in a vented box. See the diagram I made of the floorplan to see where my options are. The water pump will be to the streetside of the fresh water tank. I would like to have the water tank switch and "on" light where the old ones used to be - on the front of the galley cabinet. I still have the original ones if I can use them.

The 12VDC lights would be at the head of the bed for reading, and, if I can get the ceiling light to work, in the ceiling. The fuse box will go wherever it needs to go. I'm assuming I won't be using the original one that uses those little glass fuses?

I have a multi-meter but don't have a clue as to how to use it. The only wires I need to trace are those two at the front of the trailer and the ceiling light, right?

I've been looking at converter/chargers and they seem to be all over the place as far as size and cost. I'm assuming I only need a 20 amp one, if I need one at all? And it would be ok to put it under the dinette seat? We already own a small inverter if I need to install it. I use it to charge my computer through the car.

I believe I would like to have a small solar panel to charge the battery during the day - they seem to be somewhat simple and not too expensive.

In answer to your question about the two blue wires on the inside of the trailer, yes, they are opposite where the cords come out of the trailer for the umbilical cord. As you look at the front of the trailer from the outside the cord is on the right (streetside) and the two blue wires are on the left inside.

There was a little riveted-on panel (3" x 4") on the front of trailer not too far from where the umbilical cord comes out but when I took it off, it was just a covered up old water fill hole. There are no other panels that I could find anywhere.

So, is this enough of a challenge for you?
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:02 AM   #40
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Multi meter use

In looking at the 2 blue wires. Are you sure they are blue? One of them looks black where it goes thru the skin of the trailer, can't tell about the other.

Do you have the instructions for your meter? If not; here are some basics. There will be 3 or 4 catagories to choose from, each of them will have a number of selected ranges. One will be AC; used for reading AC voltage, it should have ranges of something like 20 and 200 etc. Use the 200 volt range for checking your 120 volt AC circuits. The next will be DC with similar ranges; use the 20 volt setting to check your 12 volt system out. The third will be for checking continuity and reading resistance etc. It will probably have a symbol that looks like an upside down horse shoe. Set it on the 2k range or if it has it the selection where it beeps when you touch the ends of the leads together look for a symbol that looks similar to this ((((. This can be most helpful for checking continuity and identifying wires. There may be a 4th catagory for reading current. I doubt seriously that you will ever need to use this function.
A little training: Cut yourself a short piece of scrap wire and strip the insulation from both ends. With the meter set for continuity, touch the red probe to one end of your test wire, hold it there, then touch the other end with the black probe. You should hear the meter beep, if it does not have the beep function, you look at the screen to see that it indicates "0"s. This indicates that you have continuity, that it is the same wire in other words.
A word of caution: Always check the wires you are troubleshooting for a voltage (both AC and DC) being present before you use the continuity function of your meter. If there is voltage present and you check for continuity, you will damage the meter or at least blow the internal fuse.
For example the 2 blue wires you have not identified. With your meter set to DC touch the skin of the trailer with the black probe in a place that is shiny like a screw hole, then touch each of the blue wires to see if there is any DC voltage present. Then take the black probe and put it on one of the blue wires and the red probe on the other. If your meter is reading zero in either of these cases, you don't have any DC voltage present. Do the same procedure with the meter set to the AC function. If the reading is "0" then there is no AC voltage present. If you do read voltage either AC or DC then you can identify the wires by turning off circuit breakers for AC or pulling fuses for DC or turning a switch off and on to test. Again f no voltage is present go to the next paragraph.
Now set the meter to the continuity position and try the following.
The chances are that because there are 2 blue wires sticking out of the wall, that there are 2 blue wires some where else in the trailer that match these two. You first must locate other blue wires in the trailer. Once you do, go back to the 2 wires, with a jumper wire that has alligator clips, connect one of the clips to one of the blue wires then connect to other clip to a screw head that has been screwed into a shiny hole in the skin of the trailer. Now go to the other location of the blue wires, if they are terminated under a screw, disconnect the wire, then take the black probe of the meter and touch a shiny spot on the skin of the trailer. Touch the red probe to the end of the blue wire you disconnected, if the meter beeps or the screen reads "0" it's the same wire. If not go to the next wire and try it, keep repeating this process until you find the right wire.
By using this process you should be able to identify the wires at both ends. Rmemember to reconnect any wires you disconnect before going to the next wire or location.
Always get in the habit of turning your meter OFF or at the very least to one of the AC functions when you are finished using it. This way you will reduce the risk of it being set for the wrong function and damage the meter by connecting it to something that is "HOT".
If you post a picture of the meter you have I can help you thru the function selection process. Just make sure that the picture is good enough to where I can read the different functions.
Be glad to help.
Oh! One other thing about the extra battery. If your TV is a pickup, you could put the extra battery in the back of the truck, wire it for a receptacle like you have on your TV then just unplug the trailer from the TV and plug the umbilical cord into the battery receptacle. If you want to use the TV and leave the trailer just take the battery out of the truck and set it on a block of wood. Don't set it on the ground or concrete without a block of wood under it. The battery will go dead fast if you do. I do this with my trailer and truck camper as well. I have a deep cycle charger with me incase I am at a location where I can plug in and recharge the second battery. Be sure to fuse the wiring that goes to your battery receptacle. If you want to see how I did it let me know, I'll post a pic or two.
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Old 12-01-2010, 04:32 PM   #41
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battery stuff

Thanks for the quick lesson on multi-meters. I don't have the instructions for the meter but will try to find them on-line. It was in my husband's tool box and he doesn't read instructions. I did what you said to do about figuring out what the blue wires are. And BOTH wires coming out at the front are blue, BTW.

The only other blue wire I could find was on the little light in the ceiling. I did the alligator clip to one blue wire in the front and the other end to a screw in the skin. I then undid the light and put the black probe on another screw in the ceiling and the red on the blue wire coming out for the light. The meter read "0" when the jumper wire was connected to the front wire on the left and it jumped all around to different numbers when it was connected to the wire on the right. When I did all this my meter was set to DCV 20. So, does that mean that the blue wire from the light is connected to the blue wire in the front on the left? What the heck is the other blue wire for? And now what do I do?

If I were to connect the two blue wires in the front to a battery (I have an old one in the garage), would that blow up the trailer? Or would I then be able to see if the ceiling light works?

My TV is a Land Rover, not a pickup truck. But I could certainly put an extra battery in a box in the back end of it. We used to do something like you suggested with our 5th wheel (we've had every kind of RV known to humankind) and it came in handy when we spent several months camping.

As for batteries - is it best to get one 12V deep cycle or get two 6V and tie them together? Our truck camper had the 2 6V tied together but I never saw much advantage of having it that way. When they died we just replaced it with one 12V and it worked fine.
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:00 PM   #42
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,323
I usually enjoy a good challenge or two every once in awhileÖ Iíll try and provide suggestions in the order you list your questions & comments.

Fan: My suggestion would be to buy a 12 volt fan or a battery operated fan. We have several battery operated fans we travel with. The one we use most of the time contains rechargeable batteries, and it can also plug into a 12 volt outlet or a 110 VAC outlet. When plugged in to either 12 VDC or 110 VAC, it recharges itís internal batteries. It also uses 8 ďDĒ cell batteries in case you run down the rechargeable pack and canít plug it in. If interested, I can get a picture of it for you. I think we bought it at camping world 2 or 3 years ago.

Battery Type: I have no experience with AGM batteries (Iím a die-hard golf cart battery person). But I understand they are quite good from reading about them on the forums, and are probably a better choice for you than a wet-cell battery. MexRay can probably offer some insight on what size might work for you as heís a battery dealer (I think). I would opt for installing on the tongue as long as the battery will fit, or do what TG suggests if you have a pickup.

I would buy a new fuse box, yes. I bought one from here: http://www.wiringproducts.com/contents/en-us/d136.html. Prices are pretty good, and shipping to me is quick when I order from them. They are where we bought almost all of our 12 volt wire as well.

If you want a solar panel, I would buy that before buying a converter or battery charger. Then, are you use the trailer camping, or while itís in storage, if you find that you could use another charging source for the battery, you can always add a charger or converter later.

TG gave you a really good lesson on using the multi-meter and tracking down the wires.

I would plan on 4 12 volt circuits:

Fridge
Water Pump
Lights
Furnace (future use maybe)

The smallest fuse block you can get from the web site I mentioned above is a 4 circuit block (part number AF-CFB4). They also sell connectors and fuses. If you look at our thread (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f185...-50967-11.html), post 143 shows the 6 circuit fuse block all connected and fused for our umbilical cord.

Question: Have you thought about installing a propane detector? If yes, that will need to be on its own 12 volt circuit. They must be hard wired in to a 12 volt circuit Ė there are not any internal battery operated ones available like smoke detectors are. In this case, you can adjust the 4 circuits to be:

Fridge
Water Pump
Lights / Furnace
Propane Detector

Make sense so far?
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