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Old 07-12-2017, 02:09 PM   #1
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Recommend a 110v ac distribution panel

I'm at the part of the resto where its time to start re-assembling, and I need to get my wiring wrapped up before going much further. I'll be replacing the original 70's univolt with a modern converter/charger, of course, but also moving things from the original location by a few inches to make things more easily accessible, and also adding a couple of circuits for convenience.
I was looking at the 110 panel that I have, and realized that it doesn't have a 30 amp main breaker; its really just a "sub panel" box, with 2 20amp breakers in it. (this box is a replacement...but I found pictures of the original, and it didn't have a "main" breaker, either). 1 of the circuits is dedicated to the air conditioner; the other is for "everything else" in the trailer. I'm adding circuits mostly because it would just be easier that breaking the existing daisy-chain of outlets; not expecting to actually consume any more electricity at any given time. Anyway...I'm thinking that whatever box I'm using, it should have its own "master" breaker that will limit to 30 amps; I've been relying on the fact that whatever external source one would be plugged into would be protected by its own 30 amp breaker, but this still leaves the cable potentially unprotected. So, the problem is:
I can't find an appropriate small power distribution box.
The ones online that are marketed to "RV" use all appear to be these large format panels that are meant to be installed in a rather deep cabinet well. I need something I can hang on the wall, like the original.
All of the 12v DC and 110vAC wiring terminates in a closet located in the aft curbside corner, which forms a closet. My plan was to just mount everything on the wall of the closet so it would be out of site, but easy to reach if needed. (originally, its all kind of stuffed into the back corner, making it hard to access.). My original plan was to toss the old univolt, and replace it with a stand-alone converter, connected to one of the readily available 12v DC fuse panels. Those seem easy enough to find. But the ac box--not so much.

What do you all recommend?
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:24 PM   #2
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Here's a pic I'll add from my gallery, illustrating the original layout.

This is me standing in the middle of the bathroom, at the back end of the trailer, large rear window to my right, looking into the curbside corner.
The closet wall/door is (obviously) removed, but the bulkhead wall that forms the bathroom is still in place. It was very hard to access the 110 panel with it mounted here, and the univolt wasn't much easier. my thought was to mount everything on the wall above the battery box cover, where you could see and reach it easily. a second battery could conceivably be placed where the univolt is sitting.

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Old 07-12-2017, 02:27 PM   #3
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If you are plugged into a 30 amp source that is the breaker that will protect your cable and panel. The only reason to have a separate 30 amp main in the panel would be if you were plugged into a 50 amp source via an adapter.
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:30 PM   #4
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Here's a second pic for context, with everything removed:

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Old 07-12-2017, 02:37 PM   #5
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Code may require a single main breaker, I dont know. Further, I'm not sure I want to trust my trailer to the often poorly maintained campground pedestal.

What was done in my trailer appears to be a single phase, 120 volt 4-slot distribution panel without a main breaker slot. The breakers all have one side terminated on a bussbar and the other side with screw terminals. The left-most breaker is labeled "main" and the incoming hot wire is connected to that breaker's screw terminal. When closed, it supplies power to the bussbar which is distributed by the other breakers. It must have met code at the time, but I don't know if it would pass inspection today.

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Old 07-12-2017, 02:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
...The only reason to have a separate 30 amp main in the panel would be if you were plugged into a 50 amp source via an adapter.
yeah, well, that actually happens. In fact, there's a campground that my wally unit visits regularly that has all 50-amp pedestals, and you need an adapter to connect.
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:58 PM   #7
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I just read NFPA 70 section 551 for RV's. A main disconnect is required in the panelboard in the RV. It doesn't specify details, so I suspect that the arrangement I described above would work.

An interesting note. If you have more than 4, 15 or 20 amp branch circuits, NFPA70 requires 50A service.

If you want to read the code, it is available on-line for free access. Google NFPA70. IIRC the RV section is 551. You have to establish an account by giving them an e-mail address and setting a password which will result in your receiving some spam about classes and seminars, but it doesn't happen often.

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Old 07-12-2017, 03:42 PM   #8
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Power up!

All sorts of choices.. I upgraded our 1999 34' to 50 AMP. I chose to exceed "code" for wiring where possible.. then install proper Circuit Interrupters (breakers) If you use Square D brand then choose the standard breaker, NOT the Homeline (cheaper) version, you will have best chance at successfully upgrading for a long time.

Yes, I installed a "main" breaker at 50 AMPs.. each phase feeds 1/2 of the "load" in the distribution box.

When you go to a "30AMP" pedestal, use the familiar "dog bone" to adapt 30-50 connectors which feed both sides of your distribution panel on one "phase". In this case, the pedestal breaker will limit your power to the whole AS... one AC, and no hair dryer, curling iron and Microwave...at same time. Cutting off / managing your power load in the AS will become obvious... Now, if you rarely need all those "necessary " items, just set up for 30...
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:55 PM   #9
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yeah, I don't think I need the capacity of the 50 amp service. What I need is a box...and can't seem to find one. Unless the items on the bestconverter.com site under "distribution panels" are my only options.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:22 PM   #10
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I think (at least in the 6 Airstreams that I have owned) Airstream installs Square D type QO six circuit distribution panels. They use a 30 amp breaker just like the other breakers as a main breaker, not a built in main breaker. In other words, the five other breakers, 15 and 20 amp, feed out to the receptacles and air conditioner. The load wire of the power cord is connected to the 30 amp breaker which feeds the distribution panel.

I'm pretty sure this is the exact panel that is in my trailer from the factory:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D-...0SCP/100148926

This is an alternate that would work:
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Square-D-12...enter/50085326

Note that the QO is better quality than the less expensive Homeline, both are Square D products.
AND .....
BE CAREFUL when purchasing. The breakers are not interchangeable between these two load centers.
The QO is the one I would recommend.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:39 PM   #11
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Chick,
I just did this, ok finished doing this in my trailer. I'll try to cover a few things for you.

Breaker panel with more spaces. You're wanting to add more circuits. So did I, I ended up with 8 circuits plus a main breaker. I had all the inner skins out so I added some circuits for reliability and convenience. I ended up with 2 living area circuits, kitchen, dinette/outdoor outlet, bath, converter, air conditioning, water heater and a main 30 amp. I moved my panel from where yours is to above the water heater for easier access, possible since everything was opened up. I'll link the breaker panel I used below. Except for the ac/water heater and main breaker I put in all either AFCI or AFCI/GFCI breakers.

The main breaker is just a normal 30 amp breaker in the panel. It's wired as a backfeed breaker. This is done by connecting the hot from the shore power cable to the hot connection on the breaker. When the breaker is closed current flows backwards through it to power the bus in the panel. A normal house breaker doesn't care what direction the current flows. It still provides over current protection.

The panel
I used. It wasn't much bigger than the original one but had more circuits.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CO...236_SY340_QL65

Hope this helps a little.
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Old 07-13-2017, 07:44 AM   #12
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Thanks, guys, that's perfect.
I think part of my confusion is that the info on the product (for most of them) doesn't clearly specify if the individual boxes can be configured with a main breaker vs. just a single bus with individual breakers. (maybe it does, but I just don't know how to interpret it! )

Anyway...not that I'm against using one of those all-in-one type RV units; I'm just not sure if they're wall-mountable. Or maybe I should make a plywood box to hang on the wall that will provide the necessary recess for such a unit.
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Old 07-13-2017, 03:56 PM   #13
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Don't know if someone posted this yet. What is typically done with these small panels is to use a back-fed breaker in a 2 pole panel (60 amp).

In your case a 30 amp breaker that feeds the other breakers. You connect the shore power to the pole with the 30 amp breaker. Then by wiring from the "output" side of the circuit breaker (the side with the screw) and wrapping a wire to the second panel pole. Hence the breaker is wired in backwards and feeds the other panel pole. Make sure your install the load circuit breakers only on the other pole. You can test this to be correct by checking the circuits with the 30 amp breaker off. All of the other breakers should be off.
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Old 07-13-2017, 05:39 PM   #14
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If you use the one I mentioned it has the ability to use double pole breakers so if you backfeed through a single pole breaker(recommended) you have to run a wire to connect the 2 buss bars in the panel. Easy to do if you know to do it. Otherwise you only get power to half the breakers.
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Old 07-13-2017, 06:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiJoeSilver View Post
If you use the one I mentioned it has the ability to use double pole breakers so if you backfeed through a single pole breaker(recommended) you have to run a wire to connect the 2 buss bars in the panel. Easy to do if you know to do it. Otherwise you only get power to half the breakers.
I think that this is also true for those load centers I suggested (the ability to accept a 2 pole breaker).

But DO NOT use a 2 pole breaker in a 30 amp RV 120v AC circuit. Install only one single pole 30 amp breaker as the main. Use a jumper (10 ga copper min - red or black) between the two load busses so that all breakers are energized.

Disclaimer: My statements are incomplete general advice, intended for someone qualified to do electrical work. Anyone who does not understand clearly what my advice means should seek help from someone who is qualified
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Old 07-13-2017, 07:43 PM   #16
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Thanks, guys. I'll be sure to heed all disclaimers, and insure that adequate adult supervision is retained.
For now, I just need to know its ok to relocate the wires a bit, so I can get things closed up. I'll likely re-visit the thread when its time to actually start connecting things.
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