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Old 06-20-2013, 02:57 PM   #1
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Why won't my wall sockets work on battery power?

I could have sworn when I did limited boondocking (parking lot etc) in the past they did! (guess I might be mistaken)

I'm on my Mtn top, and the fans, 12 volt pump, lights etc all work fine (should I leave the pump on, or just turn it on when needed BTW?)
But none of my wall sockets have power.

When I plug into my Geny they have power... By not off battery power.
Can't find anything in the manual about this???

(Need to be able to charge the cell and laptop to write reports... Currently using the inverter I keep in the truck)

1996 Excello
Thank you for the help.
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:02 PM   #2
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Your wall outlets WILL NOT WORK from simple battery power when off-grid................UNLESS....................(wait for it).................

YOU HAVE AN INVERTER!

An inverter will take 12VDC battery power and 'invert' or change it into 120VAC house current.

Depending on how you wire said inverter to your existing 120VAC distribution system, you could have the entire coach powered or a few selected outlets. What it will NOT run is your roof A/C, fridge on electric or any resistance type heating appliance (at least not for very long).

That's the simple answer. There are many ways to connect an inverter to your power systems. If you are not familiar with AC and DC circuits, you should have this type of work done by someone who is well qualified to do so.
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:04 PM   #3
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The reason they don't work is because they deliver 120 volt electricity, which comes from shore power or your generator. Your battery provides 12 volts to your low voltage systems. You're power converter takes the 120 volt from shore power and charges your battery and converts down to 12 volt to run the low voltage systems. When you unhook from shore power, your battery takes over.
I would be cautious using your generator as a means to provide power to charge your phone and computer. You can get a USB charger to plug in to a 12 v adapter (like a cigarette lighter) that then charges the phone and computer from your low voltage system.
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:29 PM   #4
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So if I understand this correctly I have an inverter between shore power and my plugs, but not between my batteries and my plugs?
(because they work fine on shore power or the geny)

Regarding the potential for the geny to damage my devices with a power surge or drop:
I plugged the 30 amp plug into the geny.

Then used a surge protector/strip to plug the phone/laptop into.
(it has lights which tell you if it's working or not)

IIRC this should protect them from the modulating power of the geny.
(someone please correct me if I'm wrong)



I've got the 200 watt inverter in the truck (cig lighter adaptor as described, no cig lighter plug in airstream) that I power my printer, cell and laptop off of on trips. I'll keep using it till I get this fixed.
Ive also got a 800 watt inverter which connects directly to the battery I keep around for other needs. (powered my mother's freezer during a storm etc)
So I understand, I just didn't know I only had an inverter 1/2 the time (if I'm understanding correctly.

Clarification, and information thusfar appreciated.
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadic1 View Post
So if I understand this correctly I have an inverter between shore power and my plugs, but not between my batteries and my plugs?
(because they work fine on shore power or the geny)

Regarding the potential for the geny to damage my devices with a power surge or drop:
I plugged the 30 amp plug into the geny.

Then used a surge protector/strip to plug the phone/laptop into.
(it has lights which tell you if it's working or not)

IIRC this should protect them from the modulating power of the geny.
(someone please correct me if I'm wrong)



I've got the 200 watt inverter in the truck (cig lighter adaptor as described, no cig lighter plug in airstream) that I power my printer, cell and laptop off of on trips. I'll keep using it till I get this fixed.
Ive also got a 800 watt inverter which connects directly to the battery I keep around for other needs. (powered my mother's freezer during a storm etc)
So I understand, I just didn't know I only had an inverter 1/2 the time (if I'm understanding correctly.

Clarification, and information thusfar appreciated.
NOPE! Not quite that way...............

You have NO INVERTER in your trailer. You get 120VAC from your 30 amp shore power connection, or your 30 amp generator connection. If neither of these are NOT connected...........................(wait for it)..................YOU GET NO 120VAC SHORE POWER.

IF you want 120VAC shore-type power in your trailer when you are NOT CONNECTED to your house outlet or your generator.......then you NEED an inverter to create 120VAC shore power from your batteries.

Otherwise, your trailer only has 12VDC power in it and NO 120VAC if you are not plugged in.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:03 PM   #6
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Your trailer probably came with a CONVERTER. It converts 120 volt to 12 volt when the trailer is plugged in and chargers the battery. If you are running on battery alone you don't have 120 volt unless you have an inverter like the one you have in your truck. It wouldn't be too difficult to wire a cigarette lighter into the circuit on the AS.

What type of generator do you have? Some provide cleaner power than others, the surge protector may or may not protect electronics from "dirty" power that some generators put out.

If you have something like a Honda or Yamaha Inverter generator you will be fine.

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Old 06-20-2013, 04:05 PM   #7
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MOST of us do not have an inverter. Some have installed one to give them some additional flexibility when roughing it. But the stuff you are most likely to plug into the inverter are likely heavy electric users and most probably upgrade their batteries for that additional power need. Absent the inverter the information above is spot on. Personally I have not felt the need so I don't have one. SO, in summary, if you are not plugged in to a shore power source OR using a generator you DO NOT have any 120v power. Only the 12v supplied by your, hopefully, fully charged batteries.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:16 PM   #8
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I've got a pair of Honda eu200i's (both companion variants so I can plug either into the 30amp plug) which has a circuit protector built in.

airstream does have a converter according to my memory of reading the manual this morning.

I've also got the factor solar on the roof which I'm looking to upgrade.

I'm also using deep cycle batteries (a pair)

Looking to do the best I can...
Sounds like my best bet is to install a 12 volt plug, although it sounds like I'm ok using the Honda and my surge protector when the geny is on.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:42 PM   #9
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My trailer has a 12 volt cigarette lighter type outlet in the bedroom and living area for a 12 volt television to plug in. Check inside the cabinets in the living area to see if you have one of these 12 volt outlets.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadic1 View Post
I've got a pair of Honda eu200i's (both companion variants so I can plug either into the 30amp plug) which has a circuit protector built in.

airstream does have a converter according to my memory of reading the manual this morning.

I've also got the factor solar on the roof which I'm looking to upgrade.

I'm also using deep cycle batteries (a pair)

Looking to do the best I can...
Sounds like my best bet is to install a 12 volt plug, although it sounds like I'm ok using the Honda and my surge protector when the geny is on.
Those generators are fine for charging electronics. I would double check to make sure you don't have a 12v cigarette outlet somewhere. Look anywhere you might put a television, they were pretty common for that purpose.

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Old 06-20-2013, 04:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner3 View Post
My trailer has a 12 volt cigarette lighter type outlet in the bedroom and living area for a 12 volt television to plug in. Check inside the cabinets in the living area to see if you have one of these 12 volt outlets.
(removes egg from face) I have one in the living area above the microwave next to the cable TV input.

I don't use the cable, and grew up without TV, and assumed (since it looked a little odd) that it was something for that!

Don't see one in the bedroom, but the one is enough.

I'll need to get another inverter for my truck as its now in the airstream!
Thank you.


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Old 06-20-2013, 05:02 PM   #12
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Just in case you do have an inverter installed by a previous owner. It will only work on some of the outlets, and of course must be switched on. Is there a switch that you do not normally use? Jim
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:08 AM   #13
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omg. It's a good thing there are patient people in the Airstream world. Otherwise, we would fry our Airstreams and/or blow ourselves up.
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:14 AM   #14
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I read this thread and have no idea of what you are attempting to do.

There is no way you ever had power on the 120 volt wall sockets when you were boon-docking unless you were running a generator.

What are you trying to run that requires 120 volts AC. That will determine the size of the inverter you will need to install. Even if installed and hard wired it is unlikely you will be able to power ALL sockets in the trailer unless you have a very large bank of batteries.
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Old 08-14-2013, 01:10 PM   #15
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All newer AS have converters, some, a few, have inverters also, either owner installed or newer factory units. Jim
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:58 PM   #16
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Thanks for this thread y'all I'm a total noob. This is my first post and first airstream ('75 land yacht 25'). I understood "that" 110 didn't work unless on shore but not "why" until now. I found the ciggy adapter in the bunk section. So if I have a 12v to 110 inverter I could run a tv or charge phone, or better yet a blender, right? I just need to make sure that inverter can take the load right? boonbocking is one thing but tailgating without tv and blender is uncivilized.
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Old 10-10-2013, 11:35 PM   #17
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Most modern digital television will require at least 65 watts of power. A blender will require much more than the television. Long story to follow. But the short story is "the blender is out". The ciggy outlet can NOT provide the required power.

The cigarette lighter adaptor as you call it. Can not provide the large amount of current required when using an INVERTER of any size.
Most of the 12 volt DC outlets are made from plastic and most have warnings on them NOT FOR CIGARETTE LIGHTER USE.
These devices are also rated in capacity measured in watts or amps.
For example: a 1200 watt inverter will require 100 amps @ 12 volts. It will provide about 8.5 amps at 120 volts, which is 1020 watts when you take into account the losses thru the inverter.
A person should understand how to determine the power (watts) required of any device plugged in to an INVERTER powered outlet.
By reading the nameplate on most appliances, you can determine the power requirements. One must keep in mind that an appliance with a motor, such as a blender, requires a relatively high start up current. Which is not listed on the label. If the INVERTER does not have the rated capacity, it will normally just shut down.
There are 2 types of INVERTERS on the market today. A "modified sine wave type" and a "pure sine wave type". The latter provides "cleaner" power and is considerably more expensive than the former.
It pays to do your home work on the differences between an INVERTER and a CONVERTER. They are 2 totally different animals.
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:35 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Nomadic1 View Post

airstream does have a converter according to my memory of reading the manual this morning.
All Airstreams after 1965 have converters. A converter converts 110volt ac power(shore or generator) to 12 volt dc power(battery) and puts it into your battery. An inverter turns 12volt dc power(battery) into 110volt ac power(wall plugs). Inverting power takes a great deal of energy and if you run a blender or hair dryer on inverted power, you will drain your battery very quickly. I am not a fan of inverters and do not install them in my clients trailers.

Airstreams after 1963 used all 12 volt lighting before that the International models had dual bulb fixtures.
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:59 AM   #19
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Basically, all Airstreams except for really old ones have two sets of wiring. You have a 12v system wired to the lights, water pump, radio, furnace, refrig (if there is a 12v option) and ignitor for the hot water heater-all your basic needs. This is all powered by the batteries. You have another 120v system wired to the outlets, refrig, air conditioner, and a converter. When you plug in to shore power, you power up the 120v circuit, and the converter charges the batteries. Unplug the trailer, and you are on 12v only again. If you have a generator, you are providing 120v when you plug in to it. Hooking up an inverter to the 12v system, through a lighter outlet or directly to the batteries, provides a third system for getting low amounts of 120v power.
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:06 AM   #20
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Regarding the water pump question, you should be able to leave it turned on when you are in the trailer. It pressurizes the system and should then shut off, coming back on when a pressure drop occurs. If it is running continuously, you have a problem, and the pump will run down your battery. Turn the pump off if you leave the trailer for any period of time, so that if a leak develops it doesn't pump all of your water through it.
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