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Old 06-14-2013, 12:38 PM   #1
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Things I think I know about my 12 volt system

Hello everyone,

I recent started a renovation of a 1976 22' Argosy and I am about to start rethinking the electrical system. I am a total novice at electrical systems aside from hooking up a few car stereo systems. I would like to shoot out a few things that I think I know and see if anyone can affirm or call me out on them. I also have a few questions.

1. All 12 volt power comes from the battery setup.

2. All 12 volt power runs through a fuse distribution panel.

3. Each separate 12 volt device in the trailer has it's own fuse.

4. Each fuse is rated to the wire and not to the 12 volt device.

5. The battery is recharged by the converter which is plugged into 120 volt power.

Feel free to call me out. So here are some of my questions:

1. How do I determine what gauge wire to use?

2. How do I determine what size fuse to protect that wire?

Some considerations.

I am planning on keeping all the current electronics installed but I want to add a few more items. I have already installed 2 - MaxxAir Fans. I plan to install a 12 volt LCD television. Finally I want to add a CD player and speakers. Are there any special considerations I need to take?

Thanks for any help on this matter. I have done a ton of searching and I either come up with nothing or something that feels too technical...
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Old 06-14-2013, 01:31 PM   #2
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12 volt is provided by the converter and the battery....primarily the converter when you are also using 110v which is "converted" to 12v. Fuse size is determined by the fixture using the power. If you use one size wire it simplifies things....use a 12 gauge and your covered. Ground (neutral) is either at the fixture or a white wire run to a ground point. If you standardize the wire colors it is best....black power....white neutral grounds. The tv and player need no special connections.
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Old 06-14-2013, 01:53 PM   #3
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That is great info! Thanks!

How do I determine what size fuse to use per fixture? For instance, a 22" 12v LCD television?
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Old 06-14-2013, 04:27 PM   #4
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1. All 12 volt power comes from the battery setup.
From converter when plugged into 120V otherwise yes.

2. All 12 volt power runs through a fuse distribution panel.
Should, not definite if you're not the original owner.

3. Each separate 12 volt device in the trailer has it's own fuse.
No multiple things on some fuses.

4. Each fuse is rated to the wire and not to the 12 volt device.
In most cases, not all a few instances have the fuse size determined by the device often the radio (that is sometimes a second fuse that is inline for the radio).

5. The battery is recharged by the converter which is plugged into 120 volt power.
Yes.

1. How do I determine what gauge wire to use?
Here is a chart with wire sizing.
Wire Sizing Chart and Formula - RES Supply

2. How do I determine what size fuse to protect that wire?
See chart
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Old 06-14-2013, 04:48 PM   #5
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Thanks Wazbro! Helpful info. So when you say multiple items are on one fuse, that could be all 12v lighting on one fuse?
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
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energy efficient lights

crabbey1, I used these LED's and they're really not too bad. 12V Warm White LED Puck Light. I wish they had a cool version also for the kitchen area.
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:42 PM   #7
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Those are pretty cool but I don't think we will be doing any lighting changes. Maybe swapping bulbs. My GF wants to stay as close to the original as possible... Since we split the Argosy, she wins this battle.
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Old 06-14-2013, 07:31 PM   #8
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Thanks Wazbro! Helpful info. So when you say multiple items are on one fuse, that could be all 12v lighting on one fuse?
I would hope not all lights in any trailer were on the same circuit, that would be poor planning, 1 fuse goes and total darkness.

I'm sure not all Airstreams are the same. In mine the radio, control center and front reading lights are on 1 circuit. In an Airstream I helped a friend with his fridge and the light over the sink were on the same circuit for 12V.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:47 PM   #9
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So his fridge was able to run on 12v?
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:15 PM   #10
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So his fridge was able to run on 12v?
Newer 2-way absorption fridges have a 12v control board, none that Airstream uses is a 3-way with a 12v cooling cycle.
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:18 PM   #11
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Ok thanks! I have the original Dometic 2 way and it runs on 110v/LP...
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:21 PM   #12
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Those are pretty cool but I don't think we will be doing any lighting changes. Maybe swapping bulbs. My GF wants to stay as close to the original as possible... Since we split the Argosy, she wins this battle.
I have had good luck with warm-white LED replacements for the bulbs in my Argosy's light fixtures. The ones I've bought so far aren't particularly cheap (I think I've averaged about $7/each) but I just took a risk on 2 lots of 10 lamps each on eBay that seem to be the same lamps that I've used already for about $3.50 each including shipping. My new 28' center-bath Argosy project has fixtures for 22 1156 bulbs, and would have 3 more if the original bathroom light were still there.
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Old 06-19-2013, 06:17 PM   #13
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So his fridge was able to run on 12v?
Quote:
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Newer 2-way absorption fridges have a 12v control board, none that Airstream uses is a 3-way with a 12v cooling cycle.
That's right just the control board.
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:39 PM   #14
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While I know you want to stay original, there are so many advantages to moving towards LED's. Not only are they much less power hungry they generate virtually zero heat. It's also possible to keep the same fixtures....
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:48 PM   #15
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Yeah I am cool with that. I plan to boondock quite a bit so every little bit counts...
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:39 PM   #16
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Last night I had a break through with the book: RV Electrical Systems

I am not sure if the book got better or the glass of Jameson was helping my learning curve but something finally clicked last night. I can say that I am starting to understand the DC Electrical System. I now have a new list of things I know about DC Electrical Systems in RVs.

1. When not plugged in to Shore Power, the battery supplies DC current.

2. When plugged in to Shore Power, the Converter/Charger supplies the DC power and simultaneously charges the batteries.

3. Both the Battery Bank and the Converter/Charger are run into the DC Distribution Panel or DC Fuse Panel.

4. DC Current then runs out to the circuits. Each Circuit is protected by a blade style or glass tube fuse.

5. The Wire for each DC circuit needs to be a high enough gauge to provide the amps needed for the device it is powering. The full circuit length must be calculated to determine this.

6. The fuse protecting the circuit must be just higher than the amps of the devices on the circuit totaled. It also must not be higher than the wire on the circuit.

I feel like I am getting close to rewiring the DC side of the trailer... If anyone sees any glaring mistakes, feel free to correct me. Also, if I missed something important, let me know...

Pretty soon I will be able to tackle this.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:39 PM   #17
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That sounds pretty good. 1 suggestion since you are rewiring it would be a good idea to switch to blade type fuses, they are less vulnerable to corrosion and are easier to find when your on the road.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:26 PM   #18
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Yup. I definitely want to swap to the blade type fuses. Any recommendations on a new fuse panel? I was considering something like this Converter/Fuse Panel.

Anyone have any experience with it? I like the all in one look and I can mount it somewhere useful, as opposed to the PO's placement directly next to the plumbing and leaks...
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:40 PM   #19
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Remember that if you move the converter and/or fuse block far from the battery, you'll need heavy-gauge wires to run to the battery because of the longer run. That combo device seems like a nice choice if you're going to replace the 120v breaker panel as well.

My Argosy24 has the converter on the floor in the bathroom closet... about a foot from the city water inlet. The 120v breaker panel is higher up in the same closet.

If you're keeping the existing 120v panel and want separate devices, this fuse block should do the trick. (It's available from VTS as well, and available with more circuits if you need that.) That fuse block is what's installed in my trailer and has been faultless in my experience.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:45 PM   #20
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Yeah my original setup was exactly how you describe. I hate it being there because it is awkward to get my 6'4" body in there in the event of an outage. I would prefer to keep it in that closet but higher up on the wall, maybe at waist level or so...So about 4 feet off the ground. This way I can have easy access at anytime...

I have seen a lot of people using that other fuse block. Must be a good one...
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