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Old 01-07-2013, 10:33 PM   #1
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Default 30/50 Amp Wire

So, currently I have a regular household Standard D breaker box in my truck. A total of 5 20 amp wires connected to it (they will never all be on at the same time, but since I had the 20amp wire, that's what I wired the truck with).
I realized after I had everything set up that I had a problem. Initially I am running a 30amp 50' cord I got for cheap into the box. (Later on, when I run a 50 amp cord into the box, this problem resolves itself). But the wire going into the box will only have 1 hot wire. So that leaves me with 2 possible outcomes. Fold the #10 wire about 3 times and twist so it's wide enough for the main bus and have only half the slots energized, or use a 30 amp breaker and backfeed into the panel using the breaker. Only downside to using the backfed breaker is if someone thought the 'main' 100 amp breaker was off, there would be no power at the panel, and not realize the panel was live.

Until I get a 50amp cord (which happens to have 2 live wires, solving the issues) I was thinking the 30 amp backfeed would be easiest. Any thoughts?
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:22 AM   #2
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Are you planning on running 50 amps of 220 or 110? A standard 50 amp 110 service will have three wires (1)Hot, (1)Neutral, & (1)ground same as the 30 amp only bigger wire. You will still be feeding your panel with only one hot wire & engergizing only one bus (half the panel). if you run hot wires from the same 110 source to both busses you will get a short if a two pole breaker is ever inserted into the panel.

Most panels are designed to be used with 220 volt, although there are some small panels available in 110 only.

Do you need more than half the spaces? you say you have 5 20amp wires (circuits) coming into the panel from the coach. If it is at least a 12 space panel you will have 5 available spaces using only one bus, and using one space for backfed main. If you connect the hot to only one buss, use every other space, and insert blanks covers into any open slots, that should work. best way to do that is to backfeed using a 30 amp single pole breaker. Make sure it is well marked as "main disconnect"

As far as connecting to the bus through the main breaker, what size is your main breaker? Code does not allow for an undersized wire to be inserted into a breaker. If you insert 30amp (10ga) wire into a bigger breaker then you lose overcurrent protection on your shore power cord, as the wire will overheat before the main breaker trips during an overload or short. Especially if you are plugged into a 50 amp campground service with an adapter.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:13 AM   #3
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The panel is designed for 220, yes. But I dont need the insanely silly 20 slots the panel has. I went with the house type instead of RV type because 1) I dont have any DC needs 2) I needed more than the 3 slots most RV types offered 3) the 20 slot, 100 amp panel was 1/4 of the price of the cheapest RV panel. I paid 39.00 for the panel. I have 5 wires running to the panel atm, and 2 of those are not even used. One was for the future Insolet toilet, and the other was when I still had pipe dreams of using an electric on demand type water heater.

I thought about losing the overcurrent protection, which is why I was leaning towards the 30 amp single pole. But I have not done that before, so I was a little cautious about it.

I dont imagine I will run into too many 50 amp services with this show. I could be wrong. I think I will be using 2 20amp cords to run everything as much as the built-in panel and 30 amp wire. Many places the show is going just wont be set up for 50 amp, another reason I went with the 30 amp wire. (OK, that and I am cheap and just dont *need* 12,000 watts. I dont have an A/C unit.

Edit: So I just had a crazy thought. Dont think I would try it, but in theory it would work. 2 20 amp wires backfed into the panel, one on each bus if I never needed more slots (cant possibly imagine needing more than 10 slots, ever. more power, maybe, more slots, highly doubt it). Obviously, the incoming 20 amp wires would have to be on different circuts, or you would still only get the max output of the circut you plugged into.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:26 PM   #4
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My concession trailer and my convert both run on 30 amps and have never more.the hardest part is find 30 amp plug ins at the shows.They ask 5-6 months in advance my power needs and I show up and it's 20 amps circuits.Why do they ask?
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:46 PM   #5
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I hear ya there. I am honestly thinking about not even bothering with the 30amp cord. For that very reason. I know I will be able to find 20amp power every stop. And I have enough 20 amp cords laying around to light up a small rock concert, lol.

On a slightly different note, but related to electrical, has anyone tried using the induction cooktop? I know it needs metal cookware to work, but it seems like a solution to having no propane tanks..
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:03 PM   #6
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seems to me that if you could wire for 30a (or even 50a) and never used it, youd
be money ahead for future upgrades that may require more current.

you can always use a plug adapter -

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Old 01-08-2013, 05:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
seems to me that if you could wire for 30a (or even 50a) and never used it, youd
be money ahead for future upgrades that may require more current.

you can always use a plug adapter -

I partially agree. But as we all know, 50amp wire is about 3 bucks a foot. 30amp wire is around a dollar a foot. And swapping that end of it out is quite easy with the current set up (no pun intended). Swapping the wire going into the box to power the RV is easy and simple. Swap breakers, and plug in.

The catch, and there is always a catch, is knowing what type of power will be available at each location. I would be wasting money to set up 50 amp wire from the breaker box to the camp power if there is no 50amp available. And you always have to be very careful if you downsize your plug at the power input. You can accidently melt adapters and burn wiring by drawing too much power through a 'lesser' adapter, ie pulling 50 amps through a 30 amp adapter, or 30 amps through a 20 amp adapter.. I would much rather play it safe, run a couple 20 amp cords, place 15 breakers in the box, and have 30 amps available on a single bus. That way I know I am not going to overburden the system coming in, because the breakers will trip if more than 15 amps is pulled into the RV per leg.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:51 PM   #8
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I ordered my first trailer with 50a service, cuz it was only $20 more than 30a service, and bigger is always better, right? But the 50a plug was a pain as there was never anywhere to plug it in, and way overkill anyway. Just go with the 30a rv style cord, they are cheap and plentiful and you can plug in directly most places. And if not the 15a adapter is only about $5 at walmart, so easy to adapt down. The 30a setup is big enough for your future needs and easy to install now instead of changing later. I would suggest just getting a 50' sealed connector rv extension cord and just cut off the camper end and wire it directly to your panel. Cheaper and easier than building the cord yourself, plus the outdoor end will be factory sealed and waterproofed. They are under $50 on ebay if you shop. On mine I looked into using a marine type sealed connection on the outside of the trailer to plug the cord into, but that stuff ain't cheap. So I just have a short cord like I described from the box rolled up in the storage compartment and I just pull that out and plug it into my 30a extension cord. I carry 100' of 30a cord, and that is more than enough to run roof air, appliances, etc. without getting hot.
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hot rod View Post
I ordered my first trailer with 50a service, cuz it was only $20 more than 30a service, and bigger is always better, right? But the 50a plug was a pain as there was never anywhere to plug it in, and way overkill anyway. Just go with the 30a rv style cord, they are cheap and plentiful and you can plug in directly most places. And if not the 15a adapter is only about $5 at walmart, so easy to adapt down. The 30a setup is big enough for your future needs and easy to install now instead of changing later. I would suggest just getting a 50' sealed connector rv extension cord and just cut off the camper end and wire it directly to your panel. Cheaper and easier than building the cord yourself, plus the outdoor end will be factory sealed and waterproofed. They are under $50 on ebay if you shop. On mine I looked into using a marine type sealed connection on the outside of the trailer to plug the cord into, but that stuff ain't cheap. So I just have a short cord like I described from the box rolled up in the storage compartment and I just pull that out and plug it into my 30a extension cord. I carry 100' of 30a cord, and that is more than enough to run roof air, appliances, etc. without getting hot.
If I use the 30amp wire, I will buy an extra 25' cord. I will cut the end off that, hardwire it into the box, that way I can put the surge protector/power conditioner at the end, and then connect the 50' cord to that and plug into the camp power. I just know the first 10 stops on the road will all not have the 30amp connector, lol. Murphy's Law.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:56 PM   #10
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The adpater for the 30 amp will do just fine I use it at most stops too. and +1 to the cord.
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