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Old 08-03-2013, 10:13 PM   #1
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Default Moby's electrical

UPDATE: We're still busy working on the Moby project. We're finally about ready to fire up the APU generator for the first time come Monday - in fact, Maggie has signed off on the project (photo). The other photo is of the panel, which I wired the generator to (for the 8 circuits we'll have inside). There are four wires coming off the generator, two black and two white. The two blacks are wired into each branch of the panel, and the two whites are joined in the panel. The panel comprises 8 each, 15A circuits (110V circuits).

I haven't wired these up yet, but the breakers are in place and ready. I'm figuring one circuit each for outside outlets, inside outlets, an overhead light circuit, a potable water-pump circuit, microwave circuit, refrigerator circuit, plus 2 more since something will undoubtably occur to me (e.g. a use for those two remaining circuits). Anyway, but this is what I've thought of thus far.

I've also bought a cut off so I can break the circuit between the generator and the panel. The basic idea behind this is to let me plug the truck into shore power, e.g. a 220V 50A circuit. Since we're plumbing for shore water, when the truck is parked either at our building, or at a campground, we can attach a water hose and the 50A extension (a 25' 8/4 with 4-prong twist lock connectors at each end). This means electricity for keeping beer cold as well as the microwave for popcorn, plus lighting, etc. A matching 4-prong twist lock in a box beneath the truck and an RV outlet attached to the side of our metal building complete the set up.

Of course, I won't have AC in the box unless the APU is running since it's a mechanical system, which is pretty much identical to what is in a car. E.g. an engine driven compressor, the condenser paired with the radiator, along with an evaporator and a heater core with a fan mounted inside the box (instead of under the dash of a car). It's a pretty nifty setup. Thus, I'm thinking of getting one of those portable AC units for the purpose of keeping the box cool by running it off shore power when the truck is plugged into the building. There, that's one of the two remaining circuits used up - and I'm bound to think of something else for the other - maybe a circuit dedicated to AC chargers?

Our model airplane and helicopters fly with 50V 5A battery packs and charging a few of these will run a battery down to nothing in no time. Speaking of chargers, Moby has a battery bank comprising four type-31 batteries wired in parallel, a massive 12V battery. Best fo all, the APU has a 60A alternator and will autostart and recharge if the voltage goes too low. Thus, we should have plenty of juice for charging our model's battery packs!

What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Tempus fugit.
Attached Thumbnails
APU installed Maggie (2).jpg   Generator wiring - panel (1).jpg  
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:56 AM   #2
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are you gonna use a converter/charger ? to run 12v items (water pump, lights, fridge, car audio) ? if so youll want a circuit for the converter/charger.

in our coach all of our lights are 12v.
110v outlets are zoned but all are GFCI'd.

will the APU's air conditioning be enough to keep the coach cool ?
im thinking youll get tired of running that APU (fuel is $) - wont take long to get a ROI from a roof top A/C unit when your camped for a week and connected to someone else's (shore) power.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:12 AM   #3
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Hi Don,

Good morning. I just had a late breakfast and am now enjoying a cup of java and because I'm bored with Sunday AM news spending so much time on the Weiner race for NY City mayor, I turned to my computer to check my email, instead. Anyway, I hope you too are having a pleasant morning.

I'm 'not' unsure how we'll use the truck and frankly, camping somewhere for a week 'other' than for work, e.g. the fun flies in support of my business, is a rather unlikely scenario. If we wanted to camp, i.e. vacation and spend time seeing America, we'd be more likely to rent a coach, a real coach with all the ammenities. They're available reasonably inexpensively here in central Florida ($1000/week plus variable costs), and I wouldn't be surprised if they're available at many other places across the country.

However, if I want to avoid the tedium of long distance driving (I usually do) this means we'll fly where we're going and rent the unit. If I did this twice a year for 20 years it amounts to $40,000 and in the meantime I'd not have to worry about maintaining it and more importantly, I'd not have to contend with the cost of money, e.g. the rate at which I rent it, but the opportunity cost (e.g. where I could better deploy a few hundred thousand dollars, etc.). As you know, these are real costs associated with an asset, which is very illiquid 'and' depreciating. Obviously, I make exceptions to what follows (hence my 35 year marriage and the fact we own a Bonanza), but as a respected old boss once said . . . if it floats, flys, or fucks, it's better to rent.

Thus, if the goal is to go see something like Arches National Park, or Mammoth Caves, or Isla Morada Key, we're far more likely to fly our Bonanza there and subsequently rent a car to poke around. This, because there's nothing quite like seeing America from the skies to let you appreciate the grandeur of where we live. Plus, we can get there quickly, do it, and move on (or come home). This is especially important to me because I am not yet retired (when my use of a coach may well change). However, for now, I am tethered to work considerations and thus, getting back is important.

Alternatively, if the drive were a big part of the experience for us, maybe we'd rent a real coach for a week or three, e.g. for that express purpose. However, that's not really why we're building Moby. Moby is for me to attend fun flies in style and comfort.

Also, and FWIW, while I like the outdoors as much as the next guy, I'm not a 'camp' type person because I had my fill of that as a kid. Both my Father and Stepfather liked camping in a tent, making a fire before we could cook, rising early to fish, etc. which has never really been my cup of tea. Me? I prefer to have my dose of outdoors in short concentrated bouts like, for example, trail riding on an enduro bike in the woods. And I love to go fire roading all day with friends. Or maybe enjoy the day in the company of friends while at the field flying models.

However, after this, I want to come home because I look forward to a hot shower, maybe a soak in the Jacuzzi, plus a toddy, and an early night (or maybe a Netflix movie). This versus fetching firewood and battling mosquitos. Speaking of a hot shower, I briefly toyed with the idea of a small Jacuzzi in the truck and desisted in favor off small-ish shower stall instead (48" x 34"). What I am thinking of is an instant-on type gas water heater plus a 20# propane bottle for the purpose. This should easily last a week and I can exchange the bottle nearly anywhere in the country, or refill if needs be for <20 bucks.

Anyway, I haven't really fleshed out the idea of 12V power in Moby, which is why I am asking you guys. E.g. yes, I did plan to let the APU run all the time so as to have 110V AC . . . just like at home. My only use for 12V at present is in terms of a source for power to recharge the batteries in the models. This is because we fly in the summer, when it's hot as Hell and thus, I am going to want the AC 100% of the time. This implies the APU is going to be running all the time too and thus, why would I want to complicate my life with 12VDC?

Believe me, I am not being facetious, or a smart ass, when I ask this question, I really want information. For example, I had first thought to buy an RV type refrigerator, which could run on 12VDC (and propane) as well as 110VAC However, a dorm-room size 110V unit is $60 while an RV type is many hundreds of dollars. Ditto a microwave, especially because all of these things seem to run on 110VAC. Thus, folks run pricey inverters expressly to create 110VAC from 12VDC, which seems like an unneccesary complication for my purposes. Why not run 110VAC all the time, instead?

Of course, if I am wrong and an interest develops in us for camping or being in in the company of others with RV (unlikely as I am somewhat solitary by nature), I can always deploy a 12VDC lighting system, later.

by the way, your comments sparked the realization I'll gain a 110V circuit because the potable water pump will be part of the a 12VDC system. I guess I need to investigate this 12V business further.

Anyway, please continue to explain about 12VDC because now is the time when I am spending the money outfitting Moby. For example, last night we purchased LED lighting for the bathroom (we've already purchased the LED lighting for the main workshop area). Speaking of the bathroom, I think I'd better dedicate a separate circuit for the wall outlets in there because a hair drier can be 1000W easily.
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Old 08-04-2013, 11:06 AM   #4
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youre camping style suites me just fine....even as a mid 40s adult i tent camped...put a motorcycle in the back of my f350, tossed in my tent, coolers etc and off i went (usually to the vintage fest at barber motorsports park) OR i rode my tourer (tent & sleeping bag strapped to the pillion seat)....and in my younger years as a Boy Scout (before they got diluted like they are now), i camped at least once a month and most of my entire summer break (50 mile hikes etc).

BUT....(here it comes & you knew it would).....

I like luxury too (even when i tent camped, i ate & drank well...and as much as my friends who joined me laughed...they too appreciated some luxuries - even if it was only in our belly).

we purchased our coach knowing we would (continue) to make runs back and forth to the northern tip of virginia (from houston)...ours is used more like a station wagon than anything.

my wife is happy, being able to see & spend time w/ her parents more - and im happy being in our own "home" (w/ a cool beer) in FRONT of my mother in laws house on the curb

running our 10k generator can be expensive...and i (too) like my Air Conditioning....if i didnt, id pitch a freekin' tent (again).

even in front of my MIL & FIL's house i can grab some A/C current from the 20a outside receptacle and easily run ONE of my air conditioners, the fridge, my basement cooler & the converter charger, as well as an LCD tv....in those scenarios we use propane for the water heater.

I find (when dry camping at a race track), during the day, i can survive on the batteries for lighting & running my basement (duel voltage 65qt) cooler....generally (at the tracks) we dont need air conditioning during the day, since we're not usually inside during these events....then in the evenings ill run the generator for air conditioning etc...but primarily to charge the batteries while we sleep.

im considering adding some solar panels on the roof to reduce if not eliminate the need to run the generator (unless we need air conditioning, the microwave, coffee pot or TV).

ive learned to like the 12v lighting - its bright and efficient and for us, it means we dont necessarily need to run the generator, especially if were going down the road (at night)....we tend to travel at night a fair amount & i found it necessary to add some 12v RED LED lighting (at the cabinet toe kick) - so i dont get blinded by the glare while my wife & kids move about in the "house".

the only ISSUE with this is....because there is so much 12v lighting (and a few appliances, like the fridge & water pump) it means you HAVE to have a converter charger. The converter charger CONVERTS ac current to dc (for the lighting) & recharges the batteries when youre on shore power.

the converter/charger is NOT an inverter. a converter/charger does NOT convert dc to ac.
in fact a converter/charger does the opposite....it converts AC to DC so you can run the 12v powered circuits.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:35 AM   #5
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Hi Don,

Yes, I am planning on using the truck for model events which nearly exactly match the profile for attending a race and parking in the infield sans hook ups.

Anyway, I saw this response last night and mulled it overnight (trying to make sense of it). Basically, since I have four type-31 batteries onboard, why do I need to make (convert to) 12VDC from 110VAC? Especially for low draw thingies like LED lighting? Wouldn't I just apply the load and just let the canned recharge autocycle proceed as needed? After all, the APU autostarts to recharge the bank of batteries when it detects low state of charge.

Regardless, if the need arrises, I already have a 80A 10VAC-to-12VDC converter, like this one: RV Inteli Power 9200 Series RV Converter Charger 80 Amp | eBay which I purchased off eBay a couple years ago for about $150-200 I think (mine is a PD9280). Anyway, this device is really for coach-use but I purchased it for my model workshop because it has enough capacity to let me charge several high capacity Lithium Polymer battery pack at the same time (for example, I'll charge four, 5Ah-50V batteries at a time, in about an hour).

So once again, with a bank of 4 rather large type-31 batteries onboard, why can't I always run 12V accessories off these and simply let the APU do its start up and charge the batteries thing if they deplete to the autostart charge cycle voltage?

I'm confused but all ears.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:28 AM   #6
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given the way you "camp" you probably dont need to make 12vdc from 110vac BUT....as i say (w/ a 10kw gen)....im a slut for an outlet.

next week when we're at my inlaws (virginia) or my brother in laws (ft walton beach) - ill run a cord to an outlet (instead of running our Gen)...doing so is quieter & cheaper than running our Gen.

since some items are 12v (water pump, lights and a few other items) you need to either convert 110vac to 12vdc (to run those appliances) or keep the batteries charged (the converter charger does both).

i agree let the apu charge the batteries as you deplete them....but if youre running 110vac for appliances why not use the converter/charger keep the batteries up ?

truth be known - once i get parked, i shut off the house batts & let the converter/charger supply the needed 12vdc on its own via the incoming 110vac supply (its an old habit, that i developed to prevent over charging or boiling dry the batteries).

my only issue is when you need Air Conditioning you HAVE to run the APU....if you had a roof top AC unit you wouldnt have to run the APU (and therefore save on fuel).
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:49 AM   #7
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12v vs. 110v lighting. While it sounds easy to just start the apu, if you are running all 12v lighting it works the same all the time. Shore power/no shore power, apu running/not running. You'll be amazed how often you end up just needing to look for a tool or something by the side of the road or a rest area, or just walk through the coach, and it is sure nice that the light always just comes on when you hit the switch and not have to start anything. When I got our race/living quarters trailer, I didn't think I'd like the all 12v lighting vs. the 110v in the old trailer, but I quickly figured out it is much more convenient.

12v in general. Definitely needed in a situation where you are using rv equipment. As other posters mentioned the demand pump will need 12v. Also required for an RV type refrigerator, which is well worth the investment. Spent almost a grand on ours, and haven't regretted a penny of it. When we are on shore power or a generator at an event it runs on 110v, as soon as we unplug it automatically switches over to propane and keeps the beer cold and ice cream frozen when we are without power or rolling down the road. So if you want your burgers and beer cold when you get there, you'd need to run your apu constantly while driving to keep that 110v only fridge running. And those cheap apartment units aren't big on good insulation, they will warm up way quicker than you think if the power is off for a short time. If you can afford the rv unit now, you will be happy in the long run. It will pay off in saved fuel, ice, and lost food, and certainly convenience. We keep ours stocked with food/beverage all the time just like the fridge in the house and it is always cold and ready to go when we leave and when we arrive at the events on the weekends.

converter/charger. I upgraded to an intelli power unit after my old one failed, that is a good unit and you will like it in your truck. Again, convenience. You can certainly use the battery bank in the truck for your coach battery as well. Normally you wouldn't want to do that or else you eventually will run down the batteries too far and find out the truck won't start, but your apu is a fail safe for that situation in your case. The converter/charger in your case will basically replace the apu for keeping the battery bank charged while plugged into shore power or sitting in your driveway. My fridge for example will run the batteries down if it is not plugged in to power for several days. It is just way cheaper to use the inverter charger for that instead of letting the apu do it in your case. And particularly you already have a good quality unit, just go ahead and install it. Your unit won't ever overcharge the batteries and also have a maintenance mode that automatically runs from time to time.

Shore power. I wouldn't even consider wiring for 220v for shore power. The only place you are going to find to plug that in is at your own shop. A 50 amp service is far overkill for what you are doing anyway, just use a standard 30A rv plug that is available at any campground, and can be dropped down to a standard 20A plug with a cheap adapter if needed. Not all campgrounds have 50A service, and many that do charge extra for a 50A site. Don't overthink it, just use the common 30A stuff. You can pick up a 50' 30A RV extension cord online for about $75, why go to the trouble of making up your own setup and then having something non-standard that you can't plug in everywhere? I carry 100' or 30A cord which is more than enough for our needs with one a/c unit, and an extra 200' of 20A cord in case we are setup really far from a pole at an event and don't need the a/c.

We also thought we'd never be in a campground as we are normally at a fairgrounds or racetrack for our events, but we found that we do stay in a campground from time to time between events, or stay over when we are in a place where there some sightseeing to be done when we have a little extra time before/after an event.

good luck!
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Old 08-06-2013, 06:01 AM   #8
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I'm not locked into anything, which is why I'm asking. Let's nail down some further details.

First, 12V lighting sounds smart because I believe you when you say I'll need to see when the APU isn't powered up and the truck isn't on shore power. What's the recommended source for 12V LED lighting fixtures, if any? My fetish for LEDs is just because of their efficiency and the fact they are cool to the touch.

Next, 12V for the potable water pump also seems smart, again for the same reason, to shower or wash my hands while the APU isn't running.

But surely the LEDs and the pump will run off the battery bank for the short time I am showering, right?

You mention roof top AC. I am reluctant because I'm already at 13' and not keen to stick up further. Moreover, the thought has been flitting through my mind of ripping the roof off and making a walk-around deck (yes, there are plenty of complications, like a stowable hand rail system, amongst others, though in my defense it's still just an idle thought).

You mention a real RV refrigerator. I believe you. Is there concensus on brands? What about piping the propane, any gotchas? I understand the ammonia systems are quite thrifty in their use of gas as well as 12VDC, is this true?

Shore power - 30A - 110V? Twist lock connector? How many prongs are standard at an RV parking spot? I wonder because the 30A 25' cord I picked up at Lowe's was $110 and has 4-prongs. I just assumed it was for 220VAC. Souns like 25' isn't long enough sometimes, eh? I hadn't thought in terms of anything longer because I was just thinking about plugging in here at the shop. Is the 50' cord the go to unit? You mention a 100' 20A cord, once again, how many prongs?
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:59 AM   #9
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nothing wrong w/ being a van of LED's, theyre expensive...bright and generally efficient (not all bulbs are created equal)....ive installed cheap LED strips all over our coach, in every basement bay, under the cabinets, in the overhead mirror etc....just google 12v LED lighting or LED strip youll find tons of cheap solutions.

they make slim or low profile a/c units for roof tops too, i think mine are only about 12 or so inches high - if you cant find a slim (enough) unit, i would consider one of those house hold SPLIT units

the 30amp oulet you want is NOT a twist & lock - you can put that on your coach side but 99% of the 30a source outlets that youll find are like these - 30 amp Extension Cords from PPL for Sale - PPL Motor Homes



50 feet is generally plenty of utility supply cable - i have an extension cord for places its not (like my mother in laws curb)....

camping world has 30a, 50ft extension cords on sale for 69 bucks RIGHT now, normally theyre STILL cheaper than what you paid for one at lowes

PPL & Camping World might not be the cheapest source for all your RV parts/appliance needs but theyre a good place to look and discover your options when it comes to refrigerators, water pumps etc.
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:34 AM   #10
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A 30A RV cord is different than anything they sell at Lowes, bushpilot has the right picture above. 50' is about right for campgrounds, etc., as the outlet is not necessarily sitting in just the right spot to be next to where the cord drops out of your truck. The placement is pretty random from site to site, but almost all are on the left (drivers) side and towards the rear of the unit. My cord drops out about 30' from the rear of the trailer, and by the time you go down to the ground, across, and up the pole, the 50' cord has always served. I carry lots more because we are in unusual situations at events. The 20A cords are just your standard 110 3 prong, just heavier wire than your run of the mill 15A cord. You really need the 20A cord vs. 15A for longer runs if you are pulling any kind of load. But that one standard 30A RV cord will suit in most situations, and always carry the adapter to get you down to a standard 110 wall outlet just in case.

You should never have a need for a 4 prong connection (220) on the road, just take that sucker back to Lowes and put the money towards standard stuff. Bushpilot gave good links for those cords online. Your local RV store will have them on the shelf, but they are generally crazy expensive there.
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