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Old 01-13-2015, 11:07 AM   #1
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Post Fill Tank from City Water Hook-up using clever Electric Solenoid Valve Setup?

I have a Electrical Engineering project on my hands but there's a problem... I'm no Electrical Engineer! I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Here's an overview of what I'm trying to accomplish.

I'm renovating our '79 Excella from the frame up. In redoing the plumbing I'm adding the ability to fill the Fresh Water Tank via the City Water hook-up. Normally this is done JUST with the gravity feed through the access port on the outside:

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My plan is to use a Solenoid Value (bought this one) that would allow city water to flow to the water tank with the press of a button when I'm connected to city water.

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With this Solenoid, powered = open (switch is "on"), unpowered = closed (switch is "off"). I want to take this one step further by using the existing water tank sensors to automatically cut power to the solendoid value and close it when the tank is full. The existing tank sensors (similar setup pictured here) aren't being use anymore (I switched to the SEELEVEL system) so I can use them for whatever I want without screwing anything else up!

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If you're not familiar, the way these sensors work is that when water reaches the sensor probe, it completes a circuit and when power is applied (usually via a button in the cabin) and light lights up to indicate the tank is at that level (usually 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full).

I am trying to figure out the best way to accomplish my goal of using the "full" sensor to automatically cut power (close) the solenoid valve. Should I be using some sort of 3-way switch setup? Or perhaps a setup that uses a relay?

Any direction you can provide would be appreciated. Thank you!
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:27 AM   #2
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I really admire your intent.

I would keep this simple and go the route used on our Monaco 5er. We fill the FW tank using the city supply connection as you intend. The difference is that the valve is manual on and manual off. I would be hesitant to use the tank sensors as a trigger to shut off the valve as most RV level sensing systems are notoriously unreliable. You may end up either under filled, or over filled tank depending on the whimsy of the sensor.

I know that our FW tank is full when water runs from the tank overflow. If it were me I would opt for simplicity in this instance and follow your idea sans electronics.

Just my 2¢
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:52 AM   #3
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Sounds complicated and prone to failure. I'd stick with the KISS principal!
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin245 View Post
I really admire your intent.

I would keep this simple and go the route used on our Monaco 5er. We fill the FW tank using the city supply connection as you intend. The difference is that the valve is manual on and manual off. I would be hesitant to use the tank sensors as a trigger to shut off the valve as most RV level sensing systems are notoriously unreliable. You may end up either under filled, or over filled tank depending on the whimsy of the sensor.

I know that our FW tank is full when water runs from the tank overflow. If it were me I would opt for simplicity in this instance and follow your idea sans electronics.

Just my 2¢
Ditto.

I was thinking the same thing. Our Avion has a manual valve that works just fine. I wouldn't want to rely on the sensors to shut off the flow of water.

For a non-engineer, you sure tend to over-engineer!
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Old 01-13-2015, 12:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin245 View Post
I really admire your intent.

I would keep this simple and go the route used on our Monaco 5er. We fill the FW tank using the city supply connection as you intend. The difference is that the valve is manual on and manual off. I would be hesitant to use the tank sensors as a trigger to shut off the valve as most RV level sensing systems are notoriously unreliable. You may end up either under filled, or over filled tank depending on the whimsy of the sensor.

I know that our FW tank is full when water runs from the tank overflow. If it were me I would opt for simplicity in this instance and follow your idea sans electronics.

Just my 2¢
Exactly what we have done.

Really trust a sensor on a tank? No thanks!

Tim
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Old 01-13-2015, 03:12 PM   #6
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Even the electrical valve would be okay - it's the relying on the sensor that makes me hesitate.

Also, be sure you have a way to drain/blow out the line when winterizing.
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Old 01-13-2015, 04:52 PM   #7
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KISS Principle:
I have one of these:
http://www.etrailer.com/RV-and-Campi.../CAM22463.html
I screw the male fitting on the brass end into my municipal water inlet. I screw my potable water hose to the brass female fitting. Then I screw another hose into the plastic male fitting. I can run that second hose anywhere, including to my freshwater tank fill port, or (with a different hose, of course) to my black tank flush fitting, or to a spray nozzle for cleaning my barbecue grill, or whatever.
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Old 01-13-2015, 05:54 PM   #8
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Only thing not covered is what happens when solenoid doesn't get the signal to close?
How much pressure can a plastic water tank handle? and will the air relief valve vent enough not to have it rupture.
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Old 01-14-2015, 04:36 PM   #9
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The Airstream classic motor homes came standard with this feature. The only difference is it would shut off at 3/4 level. You could change that to filling it up full by changing the sensor wiring from the 3/4 pin to the full pin.
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Old 01-14-2015, 04:53 PM   #10
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/atta...9&d=1411933669

This is my duplication of the plumbing that was originally installed in our trailer, it has a manual approach to filling tank from city connection
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Old 01-14-2015, 08:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
KISS Principle:
I have one of these:
http://www.etrailer.com/RV-and-Campi.../CAM22463.html
I screw the male fitting on the brass end into my municipal water inlet. I screw my potable water hose to the brass female fitting. Then I screw another hose into the plastic male fitting. I can run that second hose anywhere, including to my freshwater tank fill port, or (with a different hose, of course) to my black tank flush fitting, or to a spray nozzle for cleaning my barbecue grill, or whatever.

With vacuum breakers on each line at the hose bibb to state what was left out. Back flow preventer.

Probably the only time I'll get to correct Protagonist (said lightly).
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Old 01-14-2015, 10:29 PM   #12
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With vacuum breakers on each line at the hose bibb to state what was left out. Back flow preventer.

Probably the only time I'll get to correct Protagonist (said lightly).
Well, you're the second one today. The first was on a different thread. Nobody's perfect, least of all me.
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Old 01-14-2015, 11:32 PM   #13
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Fill Tank from City Water Hook-up using clever Electric Solenoid Valve Setup?

Yes, but your track record makes your posts good as a go-to for anyone.

As a man nearing retirement I'm sure the old saw about the teacher learning more than his students applies. Your impressions at that change in life I am already looking forward to as you care to relate them in re the travelling life.

The details may trip us up from time to time, but we already know the satisfaction in managing water. Including the workarounds. Or any other system.

Some days it's the trees, and on some it's the forest.
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Old 01-15-2015, 10:46 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Kevin245 View Post
I really admire your intent.

I would keep this simple and go the route used on our Monaco 5er. We fill the FW tank using the city supply connection as you intend. The difference is that the valve is manual on and manual off. I would be hesitant to use the tank sensors as a trigger to shut off the valve as most RV level sensing systems are notoriously unreliable. You may end up either under filled, or over filled tank depending on the whimsy of the sensor.

I know that our FW tank is full when water runs from the tank overflow. If it were me I would opt for simplicity in this instance and follow your idea sans electronics.

Just my 2¢
I remember this feature from my Monaco.
The only problem with using the same idea on an Airstream is that there is no space in the trailer behind the city water connection to mount the valve.
You could mount a valve in the cold water connection under the sink and pipe the water to the tank. In my AS the tank sits under the sink. Then again you could fill the tank manually which is minimal work. Particularly if you have a hose splitter valve on your city water connection with a hose long enough to fill your tank mounted to it.
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Old 01-15-2015, 11:01 AM   #15
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The theory is sound. As mentioned above, several rigs came this way. Our '91 350LE MH is so equipped.

The only problem I see is perhaps in the SeeLevel system.

I expect the signal from the 3/4 or full sensor on the tank is not a simple 12 volts.

It is probably some very low level voltage, more like microvolts, or to be more technical "logic" level signal.


The rub will be converting this logic signal to something useful and able to switch your valve on and off.

Transistors, resistors, and diodes kind of stuff.

Even if the sensors were a full 12 volt simple on/off signal, one would need a relay to turn off the valve after the manual turn on is switch activated.

A sperate level sensor for pump turn off, not part of the SeeLevel system might be easier to deal with.



Certainly not impossible, but a some knowledge and a trip to a well stocked Radioshack store would be required.


Regards,

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Old 01-15-2015, 11:18 AM   #16
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Trekerboy,

Here's how I would do it, but only if I wanted it really bad.

Put two "T"s in the water line one coming from the tank to the pump, and one on the output of the pump. The pump acts as a check valve between the system and the tank, so install the valve in parallel with the pump....in the on position, water will flow around the pump and into the tank, and in the off position, it will not.

Then install a switch to send power to the pump thru a self energizing relay, single pole, double throw. Then on the ground side of the pump, route the ground thru the relay, normally closed side, with the center pole of the relay to an additional sensor you install in the top of the tank. When the water touches this sensor, it will then be ground, and have that signal interrupt the self energizing part of the relay, turning off the valve.

Now, the way I would really do it if I wanted such a system....I would install a manual valve in the same way, parallel with the pump, but route the lines so that I could mount the valve in a convenient to access location. To turn on the flow the tank, open the valve till water runs out the filler door, then close the valve.

Good luck.
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Old 01-15-2015, 11:57 AM   #17
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Thank you everyone for your input; there are some great solutions here!

I've decided to go the manual route instead of trying to turn off the valve automatically when the tank is full. Since I'm not an Electrical Engineer I'd be in a tough spot if the fully automatic solution broke down while I was one the road. Keep it simple (stupid) right?

Thanks again everyone for pointing me in the right direction!
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