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Old 11-19-2014, 10:57 AM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
Seneca , South Carolina
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Electrical Advice for permanent hookup

I have just begun the process of restoring/remodeling a 1977 Sovereign to serve as my permanent guest house. I am looking for any advice on electrical considerations. For example, one old hand told me that I shouldn't leave the power on full time since it will ruin the power converter. Also, I may go ahead an replace the original converter since it has a lot of years on it. What recommendations would you have based on my planned use, no batteries, permanent connections, etc.? Basically if there is any wise advice I would appreciate it.

Thanks for all the help.


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Old 11-19-2014, 11:51 AM   #2
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The original converter is basically a single-stage charger to convert 120vAC to 12vDC. Leaving it hooked up and turned on all the time won't damage the converter so much as it would any battery you've got connected to it. You'll cook any battery by charging it 24/7 with a single-stage charger.

You need a battery in the 12v system for the same reason an engine has a flywheel; it smooths out the fluctuations. It would be a good idea to replace the original converter with a modern multi-stage temperature-controlled charger with an AGM battery bank. A setup like that CAN be left hooked up all the time without cooking the batteries.

As long as your trailer is still on wheels, I would keep the shore power cord in stock condition as well, rather than going to a residential power hookup directly to the trailer. It's a lot easier to wire residential power to a weatherproof service pedestal and just plug in, and it gives you the option of easily hooking up to a portable generator to the shore power cord in the event of a power outage.

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Old 11-19-2014, 01:21 PM   #3
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Modern converters do not need a battery in order to provide the 12 volt power to your coach.
If you do not plan to travel with the coach. Don't waste your money on a battery.

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Old 11-19-2014, 01:27 PM   #4
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In practice the 1977 converters will work OK without a battery. I don't believe they'll fail much sooner if kept powered on all the time.

If you want, you could replace it with a newer one, which would be smaller and quieter. They're not expensive but the installation can be fiddly.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:00 PM   #5
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1986 34' Limited
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Conifer , Colorado
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Hi Tom and welcome to Air Forums. I think you will find answers to your questions concerning your new 77 Sovereign right here, but not likely from me!

I often leave my trailer hooked to shore power with the battery disconnected. Old style converters over charged batteries, the new ones are better. But you won't be boondocking soon, so no battery needed. But don't tow your trailer without a battery. It powers the emergency brakes.

I assume you will also have city water available, and a sewer connection. Dumping waste water tanks is a real pain. If your guests include teenagers, you can expect long showers using 30 gallons of water. Then the 1500 watt hairdryer starts up. You will use all of your 30 amps running the AC on a hot day. Make sure you have at least 30 amp service to your rig. You might like electric heat for cool nights. An on demand electric water heater might be nice. Oversized propane tanks with automatic switching would give you extra time before running to fill the tanks.

Old Airstreams leak. Many old Airstreams, like mine, have rotted plywood floors due to the leaks. You're going to have to check for rain water leaks and rotted floors. Learn how to reseal seams, windows and doors. Please don't use silicone calking. I wouldn't worry about axles, brakes, shocks and bearings if you are not going to tow your trailer. Your tires will dry rot in 5 years or so.

Do get a 115v circuit checker from your hardware store and check every outlet in your trailer to insure you are properly wired and grounded. Make sure your bathroom, kitchen, and outside outlets have ground fault protection. Upgrade your 115v electrical system if needed. You don't want your guests ending up with curly hair!

Our Airstream has been used as a spare bedroom before. It works great, and kinda fun for visiting family members. I remember my son asking why there was 5" of water in the shower pan! Water usage while camping is different (much less) than water usage at home.

Again welcome, and enjoy getting your Airsteam ready for your guests.

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Old 11-19-2014, 10:32 PM   #6
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I upgraded my 'converter' to a 'modern one' after the 'original' let all the magic smoke out... thankfully before roasting my batteries.

My AS stays plugged in to 'shore power' the whole time. Each of my electronic devices (Microwave, Fridge, Converter) have a plug in 'surge protector'... right on the outlet where they are plugged. Those are the places I need "protection".. it is not as important on the AC or Water Heater....

But, if you are wanting full trailer protection, buy a protector you 'mount' inside and connect the inbound and outbound cables to... that way you can 'plug' in when you have 'company'.. don't forget to occasionally plug in for power to charge the batteries for your 12VDC uses...

Also, jack the trailer and set on 'solid blocking' where the tires are suspended off the ground.. and treat for insects and rodent issues... then enjoy!

When our Grandkritter's Keepers bring the Grandkritters for a visit, they usually want to 'driveway camp'... which we allow as long as they clean up the waste tanks under my supervision before departure. It is great to have that flexibility to give the Grandkritters a break from their captors...
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Old 11-20-2014, 05:07 AM   #7
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We gotta love them Grandkritters! Great term that I hadn't heard before.

Great advice on protecting your "cottage" from more primal critters. You don't want uninvited guests!

Tom, I hope we haven't overwhelmed you and your project. All you wanted to do is park it in your back yard and run an extension cord to it, and then make the beds.


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