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Old 02-15-2010, 06:51 PM   #21
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Aluminum wires...

Those looks like aluminum wires to me, I think I would feel better if the major power users in the camper were on newer circuits.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:04 PM   #22
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I am a "do-it-yourself"er with wiring with a little training so, I guess, I am dangerous to listen to... I have correctly wired a separate breaker box in my shop with 60amp service and added a switcher for a generator to run the house when the power goes out. Our AS had 6 breaker outlets in our box, 3 being used. I added a 4th for a 4 plug outlet to run the microwave separately from the fridge.

Looking at your photo, Gen, you have 2 more spots for breakers. On the white wiring, that bar just connects all of them together. You could either add a second bar that wires into the first bar for additional pigtails but make sure it is safely mounted so it will not touch anything black or metal. If it were me and I only had one white to add, I would double use one of the slots. As long as both wires are tight and cannot pull out, it should be fine.
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:10 PM   #23
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Looking at your photo, Gen, you have 2 more spots for breakers. On the white wiring, that bar just connects all of them together. You could either add a second bar that wires into the first bar for additional pigtails but make sure it is safely mounted so it will not touch anything black or metal. If it were me and I only had one white to add, I would double use one of the slots. As long as both wires are tight and cannot pull out, it should be fine.
So adding two more circuits dedicated to the AC and water heaters sounds reasonable to you? The more I think about it, the more I am uncomfortable with the big power users on those aluminum wires.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:13 PM   #24
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Looks like the top neutral bus (top large one on right side) is empty.
Also looks as if you can add 2 new breakers.

Is the ground wire (looks copper) going down towards the bottom of the box connected to anything?

Is the main wire coming into the box copper?

Can't tell from the picture if copper or aluminum.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #25
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Is the ground wire (looks copper) going down towards the bottom of the box connected to anything?

Is the main wire coming into the box copper?

Can't tell from the picture if copper or aluminum.
I will have to go out and look to see what the ground wire is attached to, I assume it is attached. The main wire coming in is copper I believe.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:38 PM   #26
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Quote:
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So adding two more circuits dedicated to the AC and water heaters sounds reasonable to you? The more I think about it, the more I am uncomfortable with the big power users on those aluminum wires.
That sounds reasonable to me. I would feel safer having them on separate breakers but I tend to overdo it in everything though. My thinking is like in a house, the big ticket items have their own breaker. A/C, HW and Microwave are the 3 big tickets in the coach (maybe fridge as well). Our Microwave was tied into the outlet that serviced the fridge and I was uncomfortable with that. I added the 4 outlet box, just outside the breaker panel to a new breaker to be sure 1) that the wiring was new and reliable in size and 2) that the MW was on a separate breaker from the fridge. We haven't camped in it yet and may need to watch running the A/C, fridge (if we run it on AC) and Microwave at the same time. Tthis may overload the service and flip a breaker.

I also didn't trust some of the outlets in our 1979 either. The wire connections looked suspect with the way they were crimp wired (or when they shove the wire into metal blades for contact). I replaced them all with shallow blue boxes and house outlets.

Here is the 4 outlet box we put in. The breaker panel is to the right, just out of the frame. The Microwave has a GFI outlet that will plug into this mounted in the shelf it sits on.


The GFI plug for the MW:
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:53 PM   #27
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The issue with aluminium wire is not the power capacity of the conductor (aluminum wire is just as effective as copper at these power levels as a conductor) but the amount of expansion of the wire as it heats up when conducting electricity. This constant expansion then contraction when power is off forces the connectors to loosen and then you have a power arc situation. Aluminum wire requires special types of connectors and fixtures that take this expansion into account and can hold the wire firm. Toss in the vibration of a travel trailer and that just makes things worse.

One tip I use on the wire buss bar is to not only tighten the screw securly but bend the wire end that sticks out at an angle so it will not pull back out.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:01 PM   #28
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You probably know this but the red jumper on top makes all 4 breaker slots available. So there are 2 slots available on the left side.
You could add one breaker for the HWH.
From the HWH (use 12 gage wire) connect the hot (black wire) to the bottom screw on the new breaker, neutral (white) wire to the top empty slot on the right (neutral) bus bar and ground (bare) to the bus bar on the left.
Unless you are having problems with the AC it is already on a breaker probably the one on the far right.

Make sure you are NOT plugged into shore power when working on the breaker box.

If it convenient the breaker can be turned on and off just like a switch to power the HWH.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:15 PM   #29
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Rodney,

The only proper way to do this is to add a main breaker. You are only allowed to run two breakers (which you already have) without a main breaker.

A main breaker is very easy to add. Buy a 30a breaker, plus the 15a breaker for your water heater. Mount them on the buss to the left of the two breakers already in place.

Next, disconnect the large black wire from the left hand lug at the top where it is co-terminated with the red wire. Connect the black wire to the bottom of the 30a breaker. You may shorten the wire or just coil it. This 30a breaker becomes your main breaker.

Retighten the lug on the red wire so you have good power across all four breakers. Wire up the 15a breaker to your water heater and your good to go. Connect the neutrals as directed. Be sure you don't cross the grounds and neutrals.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:54 PM   #30
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Rodney,

The only proper way to do this is to add a main breaker. You are only allowed to run two breakers (which you already have) without a main breaker.

A main breaker is very easy to add. Buy a 30a breaker, plus the 15a breaker for your water heater. Mount them on the buss to the left of the two breakers already in place.

Next, disconnect the large black wire from the left hand lug at the top where it is co-terminated with the red wire. Connect the black wire to the bottom of the 30a breaker. You may shorten the wire or just coil it. This 30a breaker becomes your main breaker.

Retighten the lug on the red wire so you have good power across all four breakers. Wire up the 15a breaker to your water heater and your good to go. Connect the neutrals as directed. Be sure you don't cross the grounds and neutrals.
Am I correct in thinking that this would give me one more circuit and not two?
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:02 PM   #31
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The answer to the amps on the water heater is 11.6666.

What is the black wire attached to the bar on the right—the one with all the neutrals? A black wire comes out of the romex connecter and seems to terminate with some electrical tape and it seems there's a wire bent around toward the back of the box. The black wire is not coded white (it would have some white tape wrapped around it) and may indicate something is wired backwards.

Then there are the two romex cables in one romex connecter at the lower left. It looks like one or two red or black conductors and maybe more have been taken out of the romex sheathing outside the box. Where do they go? They don't seem to have a breaker and may go to the converter.

It looks like the original wiring was aluminum and some of the things added later are copper.

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Old 02-16-2010, 06:16 AM   #32
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Am I correct in thinking that this would give me one more circuit and not two?
Yes. If you need more than one more extra circuit you'll need a larger box. They're not very expensive.

If you buy a larger box, also get a longer neutral bar.
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Old 02-16-2010, 08:48 AM   #33
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would the dual single pole breakers ("thin breaker") work?
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Old 02-16-2010, 12:33 PM   #34
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would the dual single pole breakers ("thin breaker") work?
That's a better idea, no need to buy another enclosure. In fact I think Airstream uses the 1/2" breakers.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:28 PM   #35
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Rodney, I don't have a good picture of the completed interior of the panel, but pic number one is as I was putting things back together. Basically, removed the original "double sized" 20 amp breakers and replaced them with four smaller size breakers. I believe these may be the 1/2 inch breakers MarkDoan is referring to. At ant rate, the cable from shore power is wired to the 30 amp breaker. Black wire directly to the breaker, white wire to the neutral buss, bare copper to the ground buss.

30 amp is the main breaker, I wanted one of these so that I don't have to go outside and turn power off (like in a storm for example).
20 amp for the A/C unit, another 20 amp for the wall outlets (because that's how the factory did it)
15 amp run directly to a new cable dedicated to the microwave next to the fridge.

Hope this makes sense.
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:25 PM   #36
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The new water heater has an electric heating element that will require new wiring. So, how does one go about this? Does it need its own circuit or should I tap into an existing line? I have no clue where electricity is involved .

Thank you for asking that question! I hope I can understand one of the answers as I anticipate making the same *upgrade*, eventually.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:09 PM   #37
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Since the CG pedestal will limit you to 30 amps I would just add a 3rd (15amp) breaker run the wire direct to the HWH and see how it all works out.

Long term you could replace the box or add a 30amp main to this one.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:29 PM   #38
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electrical question

is there a difference between a 120V wall switch and a 12V wall switch? thanks
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:45 PM   #39
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A 120V switch will work for either 120V or 12V - but probably not the other way around - it's at amps that will be a danger in most switches - 12 volt switches will not allow the current draw across the contacts and act like a fuse and blow.

Check the raitings on the package and what you plan to use the switch for and buy the correct one for the job.
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:05 PM   #40
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I wouldn't use a 120V AC switch for DC service. The contacts can arc and weld together.

Some switches will be rated for both AC and DC, use one of those. Avoid the standard wall switches for DC.
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