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Old 10-28-2018, 11:01 AM   #1
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1987 34' Excella
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Complete rewire to 50 amp service

We have a presently gutted 34' Excello. I've had two electricians say they'd be willing to completely rewire but then both backed out. We will be almost completely stationary with this, other than to pull out for the occasional hurricane. Thinking of rewire ourselves. But we find task daunting. Anyone done this? Nightmare? We own a construction company, many years, and have general knowledge but typically don't touch electrical.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:36 PM   #2
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Hi

The AC side of things is very much like wiring a house. Many of the components are identical to what you would use in a residential setting. There are some oddities like shallow boxes and low profile outlets. The waterproof inlet stuff is a bit unique to a boat or RV.

The 12V side is a bit like wiring up a car or truck and a bit like doing 120V stuff. For that side, there are some fairly RV specific items that get used (converter / chargers , power panels ).

Indeed there is a lot of work involved wiring everything up. There's a lot of work involved in doing a gut job on an AS. There also are many trade/craft skill sets involved. It's a very rare individual who has deep knowledge of all of them ahead of their first rebuild.

There are tools associated with each area of work you do. For electrical, wire cutters, crimpers, strippers, and a meter (or three) are pretty much essential. For plumbing or woodwork, there are different tools. Don't scrimp when it comes to the tools. If anything a newbie needs better tools than somebody who has a lot of experience.

Caution is good. Working safe is good. Checking what you are doing is good. Getting it right before you button it all up is quite important. None of this is rocket science. On a scale of one to ten, most of it gets just over an "average" level skill set wise. Go slow, double check stuff, you can get it all done.

Bob
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Old 10-28-2018, 01:10 PM   #3
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I have seen a older Airstream that was redone and converted to 50 amp and 2 air conditoners (they live in Texas). It was very well done and seemed to be a perfectly done conversion. I think their rebuild involved taking out the interior Al panels to access the wiring.

If you need two AC's or the extra power for something like a dryer it would be a good change. But if you are only going to run 1 AC and have not planned to pull the interior Al panels it might be better to forgo that that change.

I do not think the wiring itself would be as hard as emptying the trailer and removing the interior panels. And I do not think you can add circuits or pull wires inside the walls without taking out the interior panels.

Having looked at the size and weight of the 50 amp cables I am sticking with my 1 AC and my 30 amp wiring. Though we have eaten cold dinners because my wife would not switch the AC off long enough to microwave.

I bet if you have the trailer sitting there with the interior Al removed and the wiring exposed you could get someone to do the job.
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Old 10-28-2018, 03:21 PM   #4
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Complete rewire to 50 amp service

It is my understanding that 50 amp service in a trailer works like this;

There is a 30 amp leg and a 20 amp leg.

The thirty amp leg runs the entire trailer and one air conditioner.

The 20 amp leg runs the second air conditioner and thatís all.

Therefore; rewiring for 50 amp can mean using the existing 30 amp service AS IS, adding a second breaker box with a single 20 amp breaker running to the second air conditioning unit, and a new four conductor shore power cord with the 20 amp leg running to the new breaker box.
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Old 10-28-2018, 06:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
It is my understanding that 50 amp service in a trailer works like this;

There is a 30 amp leg and a 20 amp leg.

The thirty amp leg runs the entire trailer and one air conditioner.

The 20 amp leg runs the second air conditioner and thatís all.

Therefore; rewiring for 50 amp can mean using the existing 30 amp service AS IS, adding a second breaker box with a single 20 amp breaker running to the second air conditioning unit, and a new four conductor shore power cord with the 20 amp leg running to the new breaker box.
RV 50 amp service consists of two separate 50 amp legs. Thats why the breaker on the pedestal is a double-throw 50A breaker. It's not a 30 and a 20.

Here's the top Google result for "RV 50A wiring", but there are any number of pages you could reference.

http://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/50amp_Service.htm

You'd need to run larger gauge wire from the shore power outlet to the breaker box for both legs. Reusing the existing 30A shore wiring with a 50 amp breaker could cause a fire.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatleys View Post
RV 50 amp service consists of two separate 50 amp legs. Thats why the breaker on the pedestal is a double-throw 50A breaker. It's not a 30 and a 20.

Here's the top Google result for "RV 50A wiring", but there are any number of pages you could reference.

http://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/50amp_Service.htm

You'd need to run larger gauge wire from the shore power outlet to the breaker box for both legs. Reusing the existing 30A shore wiring with a 50 amp breaker could cause a fire.
Minor correction. It is a double pole breaker. Not double throw.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:17 PM   #7
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Minor correction. It is a double pole breaker. Not double throw.
That's right. I stand corrected.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TheGreatleys View Post
RV 50 amp service consists of two separate 50 amp legs. Thats why the breaker on the pedestal is a double-throw 50A breaker. It's not a 30 and a 20.

Here's the top Google result for "RV 50A wiring", but there are any number of pages you could reference.

http://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/50amp_Service.htm

You'd need to run larger gauge wire from the shore power outlet to the breaker box for both legs. Reusing the existing 30A shore wiring with a 50 amp breaker could cause a fire.
Note that the wire size chart in that link shows #8 AWG for 50 amps with no mention of wiring method or insulation type which could easily lead some to believe they could use #8 NM which would be incorrect.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:40 PM   #9
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I stand corrected.. I (suppose Iíve never looked at the big breakers on the stands as Iíve never plugged into a 50 amp RV service)

I read that on here at one point, I guess I should have looked it up.

Still, all the same, assuming the existing panel is rated at 50 amp capacity, by running a 8 gauge shore line to the existing breaker panel, connecting one leg in place of the existing 30A shore line, and running the other leg to a new panel with a single 20A breaker to run the second air conditioner, in my view thatís really all that needs to be done.

I guess my point is, it doesnít really have to be a complicated ordeal.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:57 PM   #10
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Yes, you could do that, but that wouldn't really give you 50A service. A simpler way to do it like that would be to simply wire the second a/c into a separate 20A circuit and use a separate 20A extension cord for it. If you were going to be in a place where you needed the second a/c you would plug in the second cord.


True 50A service provides two 50A legs, which means that you can run the a/c AND the microwave at the same time. Remember that volts x amps = watts, so 120 volts x 30 amps = 3600 watts. 120 volts x 50 amps x 2 legs = 12,000 watts.


Most of the airstreams we've looked at have only a single a/c, which means that they most likely have 30A service. We'll upgrade to 50A service and a second a/c fairly soon after we get the coach.
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Old 10-28-2018, 08:30 PM   #11
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Well it seems to me that if a person is running both air conditioners and the microwave at the same time, two of the three would be on one leg anyway.

Additionally, say a person visits a campsite that only has 30 amp service, how much would that person want hooked up to the leg he canít power?

As a practical matter does a person really need two full fifty amp legs to run an Airstream?

Say each air conditioner draws 15 amps, the charger converter draws 10 amps (at full charge) and a microwave draws 15 amps, how much extra money and effort should be spent trying to make full use of both 50 amp legs? Where is the practical upside when there is still ten amps leftover to run everything else?
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Old 10-28-2018, 08:34 PM   #12
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Complete rewire to 50 amp service

Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
Well it seems to me that if a person is running both air conditioners and the microwave at the same time, two of the three would be on one leg anyway.

Additionally, say a person visits a campsite that only has 30 amp service, how much would that person want hooked up to the leg he canít power?

As a practical matter does a person really need two full fifty amp legs to run an Airstream?

Say each air conditioner draws 15 amps, the charger converter draws 10 amps (at full charge) and a microwave draws 15 amps, how much extra money and effort should be spent trying to make full use of both 50 amp legs? Where is the practical upside when there is still ten amps leftover to run everything else?


I have read on this forum (more than once) that when Airstream builds a 50 amp trailer, the only thing on the second leg is the 2nd air conditioner.

Is that true or is that misinformation?
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Old 10-28-2018, 08:56 PM   #13
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If you are talking about a motor home you are correct a 30amp service is 30 amps from the campground pedestal with a 30 amp main breaker. The motor home will has a generator two outputs one 30 and one 20 the 20 is for the rear AC only.

For a travel trailer to go from 30 amp to 50 amp service requires a new 100amp load center (breaker box) and a new power cable. A total rewire of the trailer is not required.


You are misinformed about 50 amp factory wiring the 220 input is split into two 120V lines set up to balance the load.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:01 PM   #14
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If you are talking about a motor home you are correct a 30amp service is 30 amps from the campground pedestal with a 30 amp main breaker. The motor home will has a generator two outputs one 30 and one 20 the 20 is for the rear AC.



For a travel trailer to go from 30 amp to 50 amp service requires a new 100amp load center (breaker box) and a new power cable. A total rewire of the trailer is not required.


That is incorrect.

If the existing breaker box is rated to carry one of the fifty amp legs, and the other leg is routed to a second breaker box with at rating of at least 50 amps a full rewire of an otherwise sound system would NOT be required.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:03 PM   #15
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That is incorrect.

If the existing breaker box is rated to carry one of the fifty amp legs, and the other leg is routed to a second breaker box with at rating of at least 50 amps a full rewire of an otherwise sound system would NOT be required.


Furthermore, even IF a new breaker box is required, a full rewire of an otherwise sound system would NOT be required either.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:20 PM   #16
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I had our 30 amp 2008 Airstream 34 converted to 50 amp by Airstream service at Jackson Center while our trailer was in for major repairs. We added a second A/C in the bedroom.

They did not need to rewire the entire trailer. They changed out the braker panel to handle the two 50 amp legs and rewired from the new panel to the service inlet on the side of our trailer to a 50 amp connector. They also changed how the circuits were wired in the panel.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:21 PM   #17
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That said, if a new breaker box was desired, (and the rest of the existing wiring is sound and made of copper), a new panel could be used to replace the existing panel simply by properly wiring in the the existing circuits.

Which 50 amp leg any given circuit would run on could simply be chosen by the circuit breaker location in the new box.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:26 PM   #18
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I wired my trailer about six years ago, I used most of the same Romex that came out of the trailer and added several circuits into a new fuse box.

If I had it to do over again I would use 1/2Ē metal conduit and wire with stranded wire.

That will be my next trailer.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:40 PM   #19
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I am in the middle of a complete gut/renovation on our '88 345LE. I had the electrical upgraded to 50A which also included a power take up reel, full solar kit, and new 2000 watt inverter. As I am having the project professionally done - http://thervclinic.com - I couldn't tell you all of the details, but I know for a fact the interior panels were not removed.
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Old 10-29-2018, 11:40 AM   #20
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Hi

First off, what you have is a 230V 50A circuit. It very much should come into a ganged 50A "double breaker" so that if one trips, they both trip. That way, it power is off, *all* power is off. (safety first ....)

On a modern AS trailer, the loads are distributed between the two sides of the 50A 230V circuit. It is not a "one on this side / all on the other side" kind of setup. The reason is pretty simple, you want to balance the load and minimize the neutral current. That keeps up your efficiency.

If you are going to put in a 50A service, put it in correctly. Run the right size cables to a 50A / 230V panel and go from there. One AC goes on each side. Microwave goes on one side, converter/ charger goes on the other side. Fridge goes on one side, furnace goes on the other side. Work on down the list of loads and distribute them. Remember that the goal is < 40A (80%) on either leg.

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