Post by ontheroad716 on May 27, 2021 17:28:22 GMT -8
I recently acquired a 1968 Blazon travel trailer. The gentleman who owned it before I did had gotten it as a pandemic project. He ran all new electrical throughout the whole camper... but he was planning for all 120VAC. The setup as it stands right now is:
1. 120VAC power inlet on outside of camper
2. Breaker box with 2 circuits, each breaker rated at 15A
3.1 Circuit 1 powers 2 ceiling light fixtures (switched) as well as 5 standard power outlets along the interior wall of the camper
3.2 Circuit 2 powers an outlet under the sink and also an outlet mounted to the exterior of the camper
I currently have plans to run as much off 12VDC as possible. I have two deep cycle batteries, and plan to add a solar panel at some point in the future. The camper currently has NO appliances, and is pretty much a blank slate save for the electrical he ran. So, I am looking for some opinions on:
1. If you were starting with a blank slate, what electrical appliances/devices would you plan on?
2. If you acquired a camper with the electrical situation stated above, what would you do going forward to meet your needs?
To get the ball rolling, I will answer both of my own questions so you all know where I'm at. Then, feel free to chime in with your own opinions!
1. Lighting, refrigeration, fan, air conditioning (not necessary, but would love to have it), audio/video for entertainment, charging for devices, microwave, water pump (maybe-- not sure what our plumbing plans are yet), water heater (maybe-- ditto)
2. My current thought is to disconnect circuit 1 from the AC panel. I can connect that circuit to DC, run 12v bulbs in the light fixtures, and replace the standard outlets with usb/12v outlets. Then, I will have an open spot in my breaker box for wiring a second AC circuit, which would definitely be required if we eventually got air conditioning. Pros: Would not need to run new wiring for a DC light circuit. Cons: The current circuit that's wired (6 outlets and 2 light fixtures) is not exactly ideal for a 12v run.
Add a new breaker box and use the original 110 wiring as circuit #1. At that time, you can add a breaker for your 2nd (and 3rd) circuits if desired. Breakers can be bought as "twin" that support two circuits, so there should be plenty of room in a 4 slot breaker box.
I think A/Cs should be plugged in separately from the camper, saving your trailer 110 electrical system for running the system inside. You can also add a couple of 12 volt lights in the ceiling/under cabinets if you like and run them off a separate 12 volt system: battery and fuse block to your circuits. Use a maintainer to charge the battery or a converter.
What specifically isn't right about the light and outlet circuit? If it's iffy for 12v it's probably iffy for 110 too.
That said, I would do 12v lights, they won't work without shore power otherwise.
Wether or not to put the ac on separate shore power depends on your connection. A 30 amp inlet with approriate wire will work ac without problems.
The way I see it, wire, fixtures, fuses and breakers are cheap, add more than you think you'll need now. Much easier than adding more later. Adding a power center is a smart move even if you don't use it, the next owner might.
I agree on the 12v lights. I run as much 12v as I can. The outlets are the only 110v I have and I have an inverter to use while boondocking. I do run a 110v fridge but it doesn't draw much. Propane for water heater. You have plans for batteries and solar already so that's good. Just add a trickle charger to the system so when you are plugged in to shore power it will keep the battery charged.
Post by wisconsinjoe on Jun 1, 2021 10:58:23 GMT -8
For me the question is always "What little can I get away with when boondocking?" I guess that means having a few lights (12 volt LED dimmable, max 3 watts per light), a 12 volt fan (3 watts), DC power to my LP fridge (very small load), and maybe charging a cell phone or two every day. I'm not planning any A/C (don't like super hot weather camping), any heat (will plug into shore power and run a small space heater running off 120 volts...also don't like super cold camping),and no water pumping (...we do all water work outside of camper).
So now I'm just wondering what kind of battery system to put in. It will be charged by a converter/charger plugged into shore power. I'm leaning toward two group 30 AGM batteries, each with 205 amp hours. Or one Lithium Ion battery with 100 amp hours. The latter basically equals the real run time of the former, but at twice the price and with other advantages such as space and weight saving and longevity.
My goal is to fairly comfortably live at least a week off grid, minimizing my usage, and doing without any high load appliance (plug in fridge, microwave, AC, blender, etc). I want camping to be simple, not necessarily complicated or high tech.
If you start by thinking of boondocking, it may influence your overall needs.
Post by ontheroad716 on Jun 3, 2021 7:34:27 GMT -8
To answer ruderunner about the light/outlet circuit: There are 5 outlets along the wall and two ceiling lights coming off of the existing circuit. If I were to convert it to 12 VDC, my plan was to convert the existing ceiling lights to 12 V, as well as convert two of the wall outlets to 12 V light fixtures as well. This would give me 2 ceiling lights, 2 wall sconces, and three wall outlets at 12 V. The wall outlets I would probably just replace with USB fixtures, and perhaps leave one with a standard 12 VDC outlet just to have one. I don't think that this would be crazy for a single circuit, but if I were to have wired it personally I would have gone all lights on one outlet and then USB/outlets on another.
As for vikx's suggestion about leaving the 120 VAC: this would be the simplest solution, and I tend to think simpler is better. My main concern is having the two main lights in the trailer run off AC rather than DC. I have considered getting a small inverter to run lights and perhaps a small fridge when we are not connected to shore. Most of the inverters I've found are modified sine wave and tend to run very inefficiently at low power. Running two lights and even a small fridge would probably only use a small percentage of the rated power for even a modestly sized inverter, leading me to think I'm better off converting my main light fixtures to DC and finding a 2- or 3- way fridge.
Inverters tend to drain the batteries if they have a fan and many good quality inverters do. I like the idea of USB outlets. There's a lot of USB appliances these days; that seems to be the wave of the future. I say make it easy on yourself and add them now.
There "used to be" dual purpose ceiling lights which were 110 and 12 volt. It would be easy to add a 12 volt light source in the existing fixture. The best of both worlds. As said, I like to keep the 110 fixtures (most are not on the ceiling but under cabinets) and add 12 volt lights. Two on the ceiling give enough light when off grid.
Post by wisconsinjoe on Jun 4, 2021 5:57:39 GMT -8
My '63 Friendship was wired exclusively for 120 volt shore power. I re-routed that to a few 120 volt outlets, one of which has a charger/converter plugged into it. The charger/converter is connected to a deep cycle battery which in turn (through fuses) sends 12 volt dc power to all the wires that were originally intended to run shore power. Although the heavy wire is overkill, all I needed to do was replace the light bulbs with 12 volt LED versions. E-6 "corn cob" lights are easy to find on the web. You get the lumens of a 40 watt bulb for only 3 watts. Less if you use dimmers.
So, lights work when plugged to shore power (which is charging the battery) and when boondocking (running on battery alone). Trick is to use only low wattage LEDs and avoid high wattage devices that might need a power eating inverter when boondocking.