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Old 02-16-2018, 11:10 AM   #1
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1956 22' Caravanner
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Recently Bought Airstream with only 20amp 110v Setup

Hey everyone,

Brand new here. I just bought a restored 1956 22' Carvanner that was gutted and re-done as an office use--all it has is some lighting and nice new wood floors (no refrigerator, no hot water heater, no nothing).

My question revolves around it's electrical set-up:

The wiring, plugs, receptacles, etc. (including the plug you'd use to connect to shore power) are all standard 20amp 110v plugs. It also has solar panels.
Everything seems to run through the Yeti 1250 battery. We're putting in a coleman mach-8 with heat pump and plan to use it as an office. We'll probably be running 1 or two computers with a couple of monitors, then basic stuff like bluetooth speaker, etc. We also plan to take it on the road a fair amount.

My question is:

1. I plan to install a stand alone 20amp breaker to plug it into at my house. Is this sufficient or do I need to run it off of 30amp? If so, can I simply replace the 20 amp plug on with a 30amp plug and plug it in (assuming the cord is the adequate gauge)?

2. If we hit the road and add things like a refrigerator, or any other appliances that might come with travelling with 2 adults and a child, am I going to run into trouble?

Any advice would be MUCH appreciated!
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:35 AM   #2
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The size of the service depends on the amount of demand. Most AC units will require 30 amp service, but a small umit might get by with 20 amps. If I was going to start from scratch, I would go with 30 amp service and a multi stage converter to charge the battery.
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Old 02-16-2018, 01:14 PM   #3
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Ditto on the 30 amps.

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Old 02-16-2018, 02:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster View Post
The size of the service depends on the amount of demand. Most AC units will require 30 amp service, but a small umit might get by with 20 amps. If I was going to start from scratch, I would go with 30 amp service and a multi stage converter to charge the battery.
Thanks for the response. I am wondering how much work it would be to convert everything to 30 amp? I wouldn't really say I am starting from scratch on the electrical wiring, as it's been totally re-wired already. However, it's all for 20amp service.... I do not want to have to redo all the wiring....
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:37 PM   #5
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In going from 20 amp to 30 amp, you are only talking about changing the trailer's 120-volt circuit breaker panel, and the umbilical cord to your house's new 30 amp outlet supplying the trailer. Hopefully the circuit breaker panel in your house has enough extra capacity to make the switch from 20 to 30 amp.

The 120-volt interior wiring inside the trailer, if it was done correctly, should already have the correct AWG wiring for each outlet or appliance, based on the amps for each. So you should not have to change the interior wiring -- just hook each circuit up to a new circuit breaker in the new 30-amp breaker panel you will be installing in the trailer.

A 30 amp panel will let you add more uses, perhaps an air conditioner, without exceeding the 20 amps you currently have available.
[ . . . "currently" . . . get it? ]



A licensed electrician should be used for all this work IMO. He or she can explain this process in better detail, and most will come to your house to give you a free estimate. Money well spent . . .

Good luck!

Peter
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Old 02-17-2018, 07:09 AM   #6
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You also need wire rated for 30 amps from the shore power inlet to the new 30 amp AC distribution panel you'll need to install in the trailer. You can't just change the shore power cord to 30 amps and throw in a new 30 amp panel inside the trailer, without also having the properly rated wiring from the shore power inlet to that new 30 amp panel.

If the person who rewired your trailer used the minimum wire gauge for 20 amps (12 gauge), you'll probably need to replace that with 10 gauge for 30 amp service.

That's probably the most problematic piece of your puzzle, since in most trailers that wiring isn't in an exposed location.

Jim
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Old 02-17-2018, 09:05 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by airstreamjim View Post
you also need wire rated for 30 amps from the shore power inlet to the new 30 amp ac distribution panel you'll need to install in the trailer. You can't just change the shore power cord to 30 amps and throw in a new 30 amp panel inside the trailer, without also having the properly rated wiring from the shore power inlet to that new 30 amp panel.

If the person who rewired your trailer used the minimum wire gauge for 20 amps (12 gauge), you'll probably need to replace that with 10 gauge for 30 amp service.

That's probably the most problematic piece of your puzzle, since in most trailers that wiring isn't in an exposed location.

Jim

^^^^^^^^^^^^^ this!!
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:14 AM   #8
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I installed a Coleman Mach 8 Cub on my 27' Overlander (lots of detail and pictures of the install on the blog) and I can run the AC on a 15A outlet. If you're using a larger heat pump model, you will likely need 30A. But I'm not sure you need a bigger AC for a 22'. It depends on where you'll be spending your summers.

My propane/electric absorption fridge adds about 3A to the power draw when on electric. The AC and fridge combined are too much for the 15A service, but 20A service might be just enough. As it is, I just don't run the fridge on electric unless we're plugged into 30A.

Regardless, I think upgrading the service to 30A is worthwhile if you're going to be spending much time with hookups. It's nice to be able to run all the things at the same time.
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Old 02-18-2018, 04:54 PM   #9
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Start out right with a 30 amp service....20 amp would be marginal...Not enough power
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Old 02-18-2018, 05:29 PM   #10
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The breaker panel should say what size breakers can be installed. If it is compatible with a 30A main breaker, or if it doesn't have a main breaker and a regular breaker is backwired as a main breaker you might not have to change the panel, just the breaker that is serving as the main breaker.

As previously mentioned, the hardest part might be pulling a properly sized wire for the shore power input. Or you could simply abandon the existing one in place and add a new exterior connector wired to the breaker panel with properly sized wire (#10 or larger).

Al
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