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Old 05-13-2015, 01:20 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1964 19' Globetrotter
eagle , Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 34
Images: 1
starting over on electrical. where do i start?

I tore out all the electrical

because some was not working

what do i need for surge protection
amps, indcators, displays, etc

any help would be appreciated. i'm going to get an electrician to help with the set up, i just need to know what I need to get started.


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Old 05-13-2015, 02:54 AM   #2
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Vintage Kin Owner
Naples, FL , Hood River, OR
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 7,354
Originally Posted by idahoair View Post
I tore out all the electrical

because some was not working

what do i need for surge protection
amps, indcators, displays, etc

any help would be appreciated. i'm going to get an electrician to help with the set up, i just need to know what I need to get started.

I think that you should find a qualified (preferably certified) RV or marine technician with an extensive background in electrical installations. You are NOT wiring a house, which is what the majority of electricians are trained for. An RV is a whole different ball game...........

Lew Farber...ABYC Certified Master Marine Electrician...RVIA Certified Master Tech ...AM Solar Authorized Installation Center...AIRSTREAM Solar & Electrical Specialist...Micro Air 'Easy Start' Sales and Installations
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Old 05-13-2015, 04:22 AM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
1979 23' Safari
Wayland , New York
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A little more detail, when you say all the electrical, do you mean ALL the electrical, 120v AC and the 12v DC.
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Old 05-14-2015, 05:13 PM   #4
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1964 19' Globetrotter
eagle , Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 34
Images: 1

well the wiring is still in place we want to put in a an updated amp converter convert lights to led
new pump

and put in some fans/vents

wire lights/trailer connection
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Old 05-15-2015, 02:59 PM   #5
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1978 31' Sovereign
Hot Springs , Arkansas
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 595
Sounds like the bulk of your work is on the 12v side. Easy enough to do.

Anything "new" on the AC side I would recommend a good RV electrician. A girl was electrocuted on a local lake when she grabbed the accommodation ladder from the water. The Genset was working great, it wasn't grounded properly, and the little girl completed the circuit. It was a DIY deal. It's all straight forward, but must be done correctly, especially with the AC side. If the Electrician will let you observe what he is doing, you can pick up a lot of good skills. You have to know when to ask, you can NEVER guess, and it must be safe.
Have fun and hope it turns out better than you hoped for.
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Old 05-22-2015, 08:31 PM   #6
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Vintage Kin Owner
Missoula , Montana
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 29
I have the same question as idahoair. I've been to three large RV service places and get a similar response at each, "we don't design electrical systems here." They want me to bring in components and they'll recommend replacements but I'm doing a frame off and starting with a completely blank slate. I wonder if maybe some of you experienced folks might know an RV electrician that I/we could hire over the phone to design our system and then get someone local to install?
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Old 05-22-2015, 09:06 PM   #7
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1979 24' Airstream Excella 24
Tipp City , Ohio
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 525
I just reworked most of the wiring in my MH. Whether you do the work yourself or hire a tech I highly recommend you get the book 'Managing 12 volts' by Harold Barre.. I got mine from Best Convertors. Best $20 I ever spent. My copy is well worn and dog eared.
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Old 05-23-2015, 09:25 AM   #8
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Hello idahoair. It sounds like you are doing a significant upgrade to your vintage trailer. Airstream was a pioneer in the "univolt" system where ALL the appliances and lights ran on 12v. This allowed you to be boondocking in the heart of Africa while running the comforts in your trailer off the batteries.

Your trailer has three distinct electrical systems. 1. Exterior lights and brakes and a battery charge line all powered by your tow vehicle when you hook up to tow. 2. The 12v system which is basically everything in your trailer except the AC. A key component in the 12v system is the converter that converts 115v AC to 12v DC. This allows you to charge the battery and use your 12v system while plugged into "shore power". 3. The 115v AC system mainly is the household outlets mounted in the walls plus a line for the AC. The AC system is mostly a 30 amp system providing about 3000 watts of AC power to the trailer. The AC will pull about 1800 of those watts when it is running. Plug in a 1500 watt hair dryer and you might pop the circuit breaker.

Surge protection helps protect your sensitive 115v electronic gear from voltage spikes from the grid. I don't use one, but there are just a lot of people who do. A lightning strike at your house is likely to ruin your computer, TV, stereo, and other electronic circuit boards.

The main "indicator" you might like is a battery voltage readout. Then you know when your batteries are fully charged, and when they are not.

So things for you to consider:

Find a good converter. It is the heart of your system. There are many on the market.

Consider a new AC "breaker box". New breakers may be more reliable. Upgrade one of your circuits to ground fault interrupter, or GFI. These breakers are very sensitive to voltage leakage to ground. They prevent shocks if the ground circuit gets compromised. The outlets in the bathroom, kitchen, and outside the trailer ought to be GFI protected.

Consider upgrading your 12v fuse panel.

Consider two 6 volt "golf cart" batteries and a solar panel if you plan on a lot of boondocking. The solar panel will keep the batteries charged on a sunny day. Two 6 volt batteries have more storage capacity than one 12v battery. Remember how quickly your car battery goes dead when you leave the lights on?

My intent is to help you with some of the basics of the Airstream electrical system. I hope it helps a little.

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Old 05-23-2015, 10:02 AM   #9
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1969 31' Sovereign
Auburn , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 124
Electrical work can be intimidating when you look at the whole complex system, but if you break it down into little pieces it's really not that bad. For example say you wanted to upgrade an old water heater to a new one with direct spark ignition. They need 12v to run. Most diyers would be comfortable adding that circuit to there trailers 12v system. There are books and online resources to help you figure out wire size and circuit protection. Like anything the most important thing is a good foundation. The battery, charge converter, power distribution box (fuse box), and system ground (to the shell and chassis) is that foundation. Take your time choosing and installing these components and the rest will fall into place really easily. Good luck and there are lots of good books out there.
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:19 PM   #10
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1964 19' Globetrotter
eagle , Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2015
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thanks for the info all.

gives me a good starting point.
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Old 06-23-2015, 10:21 PM   #11
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vidalia , Georgia
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