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Old 03-13-2016, 08:22 PM   #21
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 17
Question

Ok.
So I have the walls off, used an 1/8 drill bit and labeled all my skins, removed all the insulation, and got all the old AS equipment out (generator, furnace, other mystery objects). The shell will be off soon, all the frame restoration and that stuff I've got down, no problem, I do some of it for a living, easy peasy.
My problem: electrical. I have been reading since I bought the thing, 2 weeks, and I'm not even close to grasping what I need to plan for. It's starting to give me mild anxiety attacks. Trying to understand converters, inverters, chargers, solar, AMG batteries, generators, shore power, all this stuff, its just too much for my little brain. Searching the forums helps with bits and pieces. But I've noticed most people posting need help with the end of a project. There isnt really anyone out there in my same situation explaining the electrical process from beginning to end. Any resource that you've found to be helpful? I can read a damn book now. Pretty good reader. But I'm not finding anything. At this point I either need a guru standing by or a good book.

It seems like such an essential part of the process but I'm finding the least amount of information for it. Would anyone, for example, have a modern wiring diagram showing how solar, would tie in to a system set up for shore power/solar/propane? Should I seek out a professional and just be prepared to pay someone else to have the headache? Anyone else out there who knew relatively nothing about electrical going in but managed to pull it off in the end?

How about a breakdown of where the power goes once it comes into the trailer? Sometimes if I can conceptualize visually it helps me understand intellectually.

This is obviously a post of desperation and has very little substance, so excuse that.
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Old 03-14-2016, 08:25 AM   #22
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jontemple View Post

How about a breakdown of where the power goes once it comes into the trailer? Sometimes if I can conceptualize visually it helps me understand intellectually.
Here's some diagrams that will hopefully be helpful. I did a major re-wire of my trailer, so I don't really know how some of this relates to existing systems. This is basically the way that I did things, many will have different opinions, and you will probably have some special instances where you'll need to modify to suit your install.

I consider the Xantrex inverter/charger to be the heart of the system. Perhaps if you think of what you need to feed that, then what to do with the result, it'll become clearer. It may be painful going now, but if you throw your hands up, the next time that some electrical gremlin rears it ugly head, you'll be just as confused!

Let's start with the 120V- You'll have plugs inside to hooks up lights and tools.

I used Blue Sea panels and breakers, marine grade, but you can use regular household breakers. Your shore power runs into your 30A (or 50A, much better) main breaker. Run separate 15A circuits for your fridge, A/C1, A/C2, inverter/charger, and a non-inverted utility 120V circuit. This last circuit is for large power tools, that big espresso machine, and if your inverter ever craps out on you. I used a different color of plug so that I know which is which.

Be sure to label all of your wires, both ends! Run more wires than you think you need, there is no penalty to leave them unattached. The second A/C may seem silly now, but if you full-time in the desert, or in the South, suddenly your mind will change! Leave plenty of slack in the wires, in case you decide to run an additional plug somewhere.

So maybe you don't need an inverter, just a smart charger will do. I run a lot of electrical doo-dads, so lots of battery is a necessity. I'm rockin' 4 Trojan 6V T-105s, about 450 total A/H. You can always upgrade at later dates, get at least get a Group 27 deep-cycle battery to start. Whatever you decide to go with, there will be a very detailed wiring diagram of how they want you to install the thing. Use very large cables for your battery connections, I used #2 AWG.

Coming out of this whole business is your 12V main panel (or fuse block). Figure that all of your lighting inside the trailer will run on 12V, so there's a circuit or two. Buy a larger panel than what you initially need, so you can add circuits as needed. I like using terminal blocks at key points, and running a larger gauge (#10) wire up to them. Though the more breaks that you have in a circuit, the more chances of failure. Run wires for your solar, even if you don't install it right now. Try to initially make your system as simple as possible, and get it going hopefully without the skins on. You can refer to the factory wiring diagram to get ideas about what you want to provide power for.

Hopefully some of our "elder statesmen" will weigh in on this topic, and amplify or correct what I've written here. Good luck!
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Old 03-14-2016, 09:09 AM   #23
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzyHomemakr View Post
Here's some diagrams that will hopefully be helpful. I did a major re-wire of my trailer, so I don't really know how some of this relates to existing systems. This is basically the way that I did things, many will have different opinions, and you will probably have some special instances where you'll need to modify to suit your install.

I consider the Xantrex inverter/charger to be the heart of the system. Perhaps if you think of what you need to feed that, then what to do with the result, it'll become clearer. It may be painful going now, but if you throw your hands up, the next time that some electrical gremlin rears it ugly head, you'll be just as confused!

Let's start with the 120V- You'll have plugs inside to hooks up lights and tools.

I used Blue Sea panels and breakers, marine grade, but you can use regular household breakers. Your shore power runs into your 30A (or 50A, much better) main breaker. Run separate 15A circuits for your fridge, A/C1, A/C2, inverter/charger, and a non-inverted utility 120V circuit. This last circuit is for large power tools, that big espresso machine, and if your inverter ever craps out on you. I used a different color of plug so that I know which is which.

Be sure to label all of your wires, both ends! Run more wires than you think you need, there is no penalty to leave them unattached. The second A/C may seem silly now, but if you full-time in the desert, or in the South, suddenly your mind will change! Leave plenty of slack in the wires, in case you decide to run an additional plug somewhere.

So maybe you don't need an inverter, just a smart charger will do. I run a lot of electrical doo-dads, so lots of battery is a necessity. I'm rockin' 4 Trojan 6V T-105s, about 450 total A/H. You can always upgrade at later dates, get at least get a Group 27 deep-cycle battery to start. Whatever you decide to go with, there will be a very detailed wiring diagram of how they want you to install the thing. Use very large cables for your battery connections, I used #2 AWG.

Coming out of this whole business is your 12V main panel (or fuse block). Figure that all of your lighting inside the trailer will run on 12V, so there's a circuit or two. Buy a larger panel than what you initially need, so you can add circuits as needed. I like using terminal blocks at key points, and running a larger gauge (#10) wire up to them. Though the more breaks that you have in a circuit, the more chances of failure. Run wires for your solar, even if you don't install it right now. Try to initially make your system as simple as possible, and get it going hopefully without the skins on. You can refer to the factory wiring diagram to get ideas about what you want to provide power for.

Hopefully some of our "elder statesmen" will weigh in on this topic, and amplify or correct what I've written here. Good luck!
wow, thanks man. I really appreciate you taking the time. I'm starting to grasp it a little better. I think I need to get a book on RV wiring so I can learn all this stuff.
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Old 03-14-2016, 09:19 AM   #24
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Tell me if I'm on the right track. A converter converts 120v to 12v, which most of my lights and outlets will run on, besides one I should have at 120v for power tool maybe on the outside of the trailer. I can run that circuit straight from the breaker panel, everything else has to go through the converter first. I took an electrical class a long time ago, but I can't remember what determines the amps, is it the fuse, the wire, something else? An inverter, if I had one, would be used to take the 120v and charge the batteries? Which is where I hook the solar up?
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Old 03-14-2016, 09:33 PM   #25
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jontemple View Post
Tell me if I'm on the right track. A converter converts 120v to 12v, which most of my lights and outlets will run on, besides one I should have at 120v for power tool maybe on the outside of the trailer. I can run that circuit straight from the breaker panel, everything else has to go through the converter first. I took an electrical class a long time ago, but I can't remember what determines the amps, is it the fuse, the wire, something else? An inverter, if I had one, would be used to take the 120v and charge the batteries? Which is where I hook the solar up?
Hi Jon,

The other half of Minno here. Kay told me you needed some electrical help, and I'm more than happy to offer help and suggestions. I'll tell you up front though that I have no experience with solar. My recommendation regarding solar would be to contact Lewster if you want a roof mounted system as he can answer questions and set you up with a solar system that will work properly from the get-go. If you want a portable system, there are some out there you can buy and connect to your trailer. But again, I have no experience with those systems either - I just know they exist.

The converter converts 120 VAC to 12 VDC. 12 VDC will be used to power lights, roof vents, and potentially many of your appliances. The fridge and water heater for example, even if they are two-way and can run on 120 VAC or LP Gas, the circuit boards need 12 VDC power to work, at least on LP. There are pure LP fridges out there that require no electricity, but most RV fridges will have a circuit board and there for need 12 VDC to work. If you install an RV furnace, that will need 12 VDC as well as LP. A catalytic furnace just uses LP, but they use up oxygen inside the trailer, so they need a fresh air supply when operating, something as simple as leaving a window cracked open. One thing that took me by surprise was that our roof a/c needed 12 VDC as well 120 VAC. The 12 VDC powers the climate control system that our a/c needs.

Some converters come with built-in chargers as well. But, some don't. So be aware of what you're buying. Best Converter is a great place to get help in figuring out what you need. We have the Progressive Dynamics converter which includes the 120 VAC breakers, a built-in tri-stage charger, and the 12 VDC fuse panel. I bought the 65 amp model because it was on sale at the time. Buy a tri-stage (also called a smart charger) as that will save your batteries. Many have a jumper to install of move depending on the battery type you have (wet cell vs. AGM), while others figure that out on their own.

The 120 VAC system supplies shore power into the trailer and throughout the trailer feeding the 120 VAC outlets and roof a/c unit(s). If you even think you might at some point want two roof a/c's, then install a 50 AMP service in the trailer now. 30 AMP service will power 1 a/c unit, but not two at the same time. We went with 30 AMP service mostly because we live in Minnesota, but also because when we first brought Little Girl home, the single roof a/c was able to keep her comfortable inside even in 97 degree sunny days. Since then, we have coated the roof with a white ceramic paint, and that has also helps keep her cooler inside on sunny days. But, I digress a bit...

An Inverter converts 12 VDC to 120 VAC. Typically, the inverter will be tied to a special 120 VAC outlet or two in the trailer where you might need to plug in a 120 VAC TV, computer, printer, etc. An inverter will NOT run your a/c. If you need the a/c and you're off-grid, then investing in a generator is a good option as well. If you get an inverter, be sure it has a switch to turn it off when not in use so it doesn't needlessly drain your batteries.

There's another 12 VDC system in your trailer that's not tied to anything I've talked about so far. That's the 12 VDC circuits that come from the umbilical cord and tow vehicle. They power the running lights, brake/turn signal lights, electric brakes, and help to charge the battery while towing.

Somewhere in our Little Girl thread I posted wiring diagrams that I made to wire our trailer. If you want, I can email them to you.

Wire size determines the operating amps of the circuit. For 120 VAC:
10 gauge - 30 amp
12 gauge - 20 amp
14 gauge - 15 amp

12 VDC wires can carry a tad more amps for the same gauge wire but, if you use the wire sizes above for your 12 VDC circuits and fuses, you'll be safe. And safe is important.

You'll probably have more questions after reading this. Feel free to ask. Also, feel free to PM me anytime with questions. I'm more than happy to help.

Chris
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Old 03-14-2016, 11:41 PM   #26
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Hey Jon. This is Jim. First of all, welcome to the madness. We have a '73 Overlander and did basically what you are doing now, with some exceptions. We live in the Atlanta area and visit Fred Gannon/Rocky Bayou State Park near y'all once a year. Susan's family lives in that area. Love the Panhandle.

Here's a link to folks who have tackled a full restoration like the one you are going after: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...ons-35399.html

It's a lot of reading, so pick one on the list that is near to your year and model (like ours) and read those thru. There's a lot of tips in there. My thread will show you what I did and the mistakes I made (a bunch ).

Also, I purchased an Airstream shop manual for our year Airstream. It covers all models. let me know if you want to do the same. They run about $75. Or maybe I can reproduce a page or two for you. A word of caution about these old manuals, they've been copied so many times, sometimes the text and pics are a bit hard to read.

Let me know what questions you have. You've been given some excellent advice so far. Folks around here are very helpful. A great bunch.

Jim

P.S. We'll be down there in June for a wedding (without the Airstream). Maybe we can get together at Dewy Destin's for a beer and a shrimp sandwich, then take a walk around your 'Stream Project. Sound like a plan?
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:54 AM   #27
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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Chris, I can't tell you how much your reply helped me. Just a straight forward basic explanation of some of the systems that I can build off of. I really need that, thank you
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:02 AM   #28
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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Jim, thanks a lot buddy. I love Fred Gannon and grew up on that bayou sailing and hiking those woods. We should definitely meet up and any excuse to go to Dewey is a good one. We used to live right down the road from the old Dewey location before me and my girlfriend moved to Pensacola. Btw she is from Atlanta so we love it up there too. When we get everything in working condition we plan to spend a lot of time north of there around Dahlonega where I was born. Hit me up when you're in the area.
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Old 03-16-2016, 06:50 PM   #29
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Hey Jon,

I found the PDF files I posted on our thread: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f185...-50967-21.html

Post #289 has two PDFs showing the frame and floor plan worked off of. Post #292 has the remaining PDF files that show plumbing, 12 VDC wiring, and 110 VAC wiring.

Chris
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