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Old 07-12-2007, 10:23 PM   #1
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Question Electrical woes

Just started weekending in my new (someone else's old) '84 international. It's parked, blocked and plugged into service about 200 ft down the driveway.

Every weekend, some new electrical issue arises:

Lights that worked don't anymore.
Running on campground power causes the power to go out completely.
Bathroom sink no longer pumps.

I've changed some fuses (20 and a 50) and when the "Battery Charger" light is on with the campground power, all seems well in the world, save for an incredibly annoying buzz.

I wonder if anyone can help out a newbie on this one.

Could there be a problem that I have a 200ft run of extension cord (I use 2 100 foot ext cables)?
Should camp power just runt the airstream or does the charger have to be on as well.

I also have solar panels on top with a "silent charger" indicator on the panel, and I wonder if switchign this on and off could cause a problem.

Anyone with insight into the proper electrical settings, you'd be doing a great favor to someone who is really starting to enjoy his Airstream, but is completely in the dark (no pun intended) when it comes to proper shore power.

Thanks!
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:50 PM   #2
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Hi. The BUZZ is your Univolt, which takes shore power and converts it to 12V's. This charges your battery and runs the 12v accessories in the trailer - like most of your lights and your water pump. The 12v will not work if your "charger" or univolt is not working.

I think it's time for a new univolt. Search univolt and you will find that the Intellipower or Paralax units will fix your woes (AND make for a quieter evening... no buzz sound!). "Bestconverter.com" is one good vendor with prices for forums memebers
Good luck!
Marc
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Old 07-13-2007, 10:33 AM   #3
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univolt vs extension cord

I found an intellivolt 9100, but am likely going to order the 9200 with the charge wizard (whatever that is...)

Are these things easy to install?

Also, the 2 extension cord, 200ft run from my temp service outlet to the camper can't be helping things - is there a way (short of moving the camper or the service outlet) to get more juice?

Thanks,

Josh
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Old 07-13-2007, 10:38 AM   #4
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You may want to ditch the extension cord and just go with 12/2 coax household wire. Get a 250 foot roll and add heavy inlet/outlet plugs to the ends.
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Old 07-13-2007, 10:46 AM   #5
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can you explain this a bit more? I build XLR cables (I used to be a sound guy) so I understand the concept, but what's this cable, where can I get it it and what makes it carry the power to the camper better?

Thanks for the quick response - Ohio rules! Spent last thanksgiving there & loved it.
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin
You may want to ditch the extension cord and just go with 12/2 coax household wire. Get a 250 foot roll and add heavy inlet/outlet plugs to the ends.
At a run of 200' I would consider using 10/2 with ground instead of 12/2. specially if you will be using the air conditioner. 200' will produce a measureable voltage drop due to the internal resistance of the wire.

You can get this wire at any HD or Lowes. Buy a good 3-prong plug and socket, attach to the ends after you roll out your wire and you should be good to go!
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 'Streamer
I found an intellivolt 9100, but am likely going to order the 9200 with the charge wizard (whatever that is...)

Are these things easy to install?

Also, the 2 extension cord, 200ft run from my temp service outlet to the camper can't be helping things - is there a way (short of moving the camper or the service outlet) to get more juice?

Thanks,

Josh
Josh,
I have a Yellow Jacket 10-2 100' extension cord out to my trailer and it takes care of all electrics with the exception of the AC. If you are running 200' of something like 18-3 outdoor extension cord then you may be asking for more than the cord can give you. Are you using a microwave in addition to your charger, lights, fans, etc? Your best bet is to have someone lay in some underground cable and set up a 30 amp RV box. If it is 200' away then you are going to have to run a large wire. Johnhd or others should be of help here suggesting what size wire to run.

I also noticed that you are using solar. What size panel or panels do you have?
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:32 AM   #8
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I agree with Lew. That is quite a run and might be causing your Univolt to struggle. Go with the good stuff. I'm also surprised your not tripping the breaker at the source as well. That cord must be hot to the touch.
If you must run an exterior extension cord, you can probably find a source for the 30 Amp service cord in bulk but I would run 10/2.
The Inteli-Power is an easy install and you can call me if you have any questions even if you didn't get it from us.
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:48 AM   #9
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If your running extension cord it's likely 16 gauge and that's to small to carry power over such a distance. Plus, each plug in the cord will cause a minor power bottleneck. You would be better to use just household wiring in one long piece.

Basically your using standard wiring to make a very long extension cord. The larger wire will hand the power better. Don't be tempted to think larger would be even better. You never want to feed 12 gauge with 10 gauge for example.

Some parts photos - from Home Depot. The end plugs should be rated at least 15 amps. Good Luck....

(On edit - note what Craig says above about the A/C - don't try to run it with this setup.)





250' 12-2 UF-B

with Ground

Outdoor Electrical Wire
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:21 PM   #10
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One other item on the setup above. if the outlet your plugging into has prong slots like this one - go with the cable ends above rated 20 amps. The plug in will have prongs different than pictured above - one will be sideways.



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Old 07-13-2007, 01:46 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone! This forum is amazing.

Now if you could only come up and empty my black water tank this weekend...first time for me - should be interesting.

I'll get the cable and make the run tomorrow. will report back with the results.

Thanks again and happy trail(er)s!

Josh
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Old 07-13-2007, 04:41 PM   #12
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Smile RV maintenance 101

From the nature os your questions, I sugest you do a search for RV maintenance at Amazon.com. There are several books (All about the same )that will take you though the basics and provide you with valuable information for as long as you own your RV. Understanding the RV systems make trouble shooting so much easier
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Old 07-13-2007, 04:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 'Streamer
Thanks everyone! This forum is amazing.

Now if you could only come up and empty my black water tank this weekend...first time for me - should be interesting.

I'll get the cable and make the run tomorrow. will report back with the results.

Thanks again and happy trail(er)s!

Josh

Your trailer has a 30 amp cable.

If as an example you want to run 10 amps maximum for two hundred feet, the electrical manuals call for a minimum wire size of # 8 and that's only good for 180 feet.

15 amps at 200 feet call for # 6 wire which is good for 190 feet.

20 amps at 200 feet call for # 4 wire which is good for 230 feet.

25 amps at 200 feet call for # 2 wire which is good for 290 feet.

30 amps at 200 feet call for # 2 wire which is good for 240 feet.

12 gauge wire at 200 feet is good for 3.5 amps which is not enough for a univolt.

10 gauge wire at 200 feet is good for 6.0 amps, just enough to power the univolt, and not much else.

8 gauge wire at 200 feet is good for 9 amps.

18 gauge wire at 200 feet is not even in the book.

Invest in the heavier wire and you won't be disappointed.

Running anything electrical except light bulbs, either LED or tungsten, under voltage, is not a good thing.

The above numbers are based on 120 volts AC, single phase and with a 2 percent voltage drop.

Andy
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:19 PM   #14
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Right on Andy - I might add that low voltage increases the current flow and can destroy equipment, A/C being the biggest casualty and high current can cause a fire hazzard
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