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Old 11-28-2006, 11:20 AM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
Anacortes , Washington
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Lightbulb Too much AC power?

Hi there,
This is my first post, probably of many. I just bought my first airstream a couple of weeks ago and am already underway with a pretty exciting major interior renovation to support some full-time living. Several major appliances such as the fridge and heater look in need of replacement. Right now my goal is to get the trailer set up for the most comortable living possible with AC access available. Do I dare try and run a fridge, oven, water heater, heater, lighting all on AC or should I be splitting between AC and propane for the sake of the wiring and the trailer's power capacities? I don't want to be melting anything within the walls. Thanks for any advice.


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Old 11-28-2006, 11:56 AM   #2
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Try and run all those appliances and you'll need 100 amp service in your Airstream, which only has 30 amp wiring. General rule, is anything that heats, run on propane. Well, except your microwave oven. So, run stove, water heater, heater, oven on propane. I have 120 vac fridge in my A/S. Most RV's have propane powered fridges as well.

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Old 11-28-2006, 01:38 PM   #3
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Not all area actually using AC..


From your list above, only the refrigerator is actually using 110V AC power. The furnace, water heater, lighting and stove are actually propane and 12V powered, and consume small amounts of current, except when furnace blower is running... If you remove Airstream's furnace and substitute an electrical high-wattage heater, then it will get dicey... You can calculate the approximate 110V loads by looking at wattages and dividing by 100 for Amps. Thus a 1500 Watt heater will consume about 15 Amps when running. A toaster or coffee maker might be another 6 to 10 Amps... You have 30 to work with at any point in time. The Air Conditioner is going to take 22 to 25 just to start and then run the compressor when it's hot outside...

You won't melt any wiring having lights on and furnace running and refrigerator on when parked and plugged in, if total is less than 30 Amps, nor will you overload the trailer's power converter (takes 110V AC and converts to 12V to charge and maintain batteries which are storage for 12V power..) running interior lighting and water heater and furnace circuits.

What harm you could do is limited to warm weather, when a full electrical load will overwhelm a household 20 Amp circuit you may be plugged into, and low current to the trailer when attempting to tun the Air Conditioner can cause harm to the Air Conditioning compressor. Commercial campgrounds usually supply 30 Amps or more on their hookups. Be wary of any typical household sockets.. Oh, and beware also of orange outdoor extension cords coiled up and powered up in hot weather. They can and will melt and start sparking and flaming.. (Don't ask..)

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Old 11-28-2006, 01:56 PM   #4
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I would say do it! If you are doing a major interior renovation then now is the time to plan ahead.

Someone else on these forums asked the same question about 6 months ago. Her problem was a sensitivity to the potential danger of propane.

The only thing that requires some thought is how to get warm air into the nether regions of your airstream to keep the pipes from freezing. Hard to do that with an electric space heater, unless you add some muffin fans.

Many larger campgrounds have 240V/50amp service, more than enough to run a stove, oven, water heater, AC, microwave, and most anything else you need.

You will need to replace your main power inlet, main electrical panel, and add several circuits to do this. It's easy if you are doing major interior work and have the inside skins removed.

Best wishes!
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:48 PM   #5
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Your Sovereign probably came with a combined two-way 110v AC/propane fridge. With the exception of the 110v sockets, air conditioner, maybe an aftermarket microwave and the fridge on 110v operation, most everything else you see is operated and controlled with 12 volts -- lights, water pump, HW heater, furnace, fridge controller, ceiling vent fan, electric hitch jack. A good RV tech should be able to check suitability of the old fridge, furnace & HW heater -- probably advisable! Each of these subsystems was standardized across the RV industry back then and same size replacements are available today.

For economic reasons one often sees a small 110v fridge installed in place of a bad two-way fridge. You might find you restrict your traveling & camping options the more you convert previous 12v systems to 110v. It really depends on what you want to do.

Now -- the Univolt converter in systems this old definitely should be replaced! 68 Overlander (Randy) is a good resource. See his business links at

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 11-29-2006, 05:30 PM   #6
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for all of the advice. I'll keep you posted on what really happens. So far I'm seeing the basic options of keeping the existing Propane stove/oven, HW heater, fridge and heater with minimal work, or getting underneath the inside skins to do some re-wiring for enough AC to replace the propane. I wasn't planning on working on what are inside the skins, I'm still taking out furniture. Not sure how much bigger of a project I want this already big project to go. We'll see..

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