Saturday, September 25, 2010

PHASE II -- Electrical

The infrastructure is complete.  Aside from the water tanks, which I ordered from a shop three miles from my house (imagine that), the framework is ready for the electrical install.  I think I broke the budget for that line item on my spread sheet, this afternoon.  After taking a deep breath, I handed my credit card across the counter to the friendly girl at West Marine.  But, the system will be top notch.

Here's what I got!

Starting with the A.C. inlet...

That is one buff receptacle, and not something you'd find at Camping World.

Here are the 60amp fuses that protect the charge controller from both sides.  I had no idea they came in the bayonet type that you'd find in your car's fuse block.  They're just much BIGGER!

And, that fuse fits nicely right in its own block!  Gotta love that!

For the inverter fuse, I needed a 100amp unit!  Wow.  It just amazes me sometimes how much larger everything becomes at 12 volts.  But West Marine had an answer for me, there, too.

The fuse rests right on top of those two bolts...

...and a plastic case snaps into place for your safety and mine.

Cool stuff.

Which brings me to the 12 volt distribution block.

It has its own protective cover, as well.

Now, this is one of the most amazing things.  I definitely have never seen one of these.  I'm not sure how long they've been around, but they're really cool. 
250 amps of protection is what I'll need, should the batteries begin to completely melt down -- the disaster fuse.

It slips over the terminal post...

...and that whole metal bar slides right down over the battery terminal.  Then I'll continue my circuit by dropping a wire over the top of that terminal post and screwing that down.

I read in an electrical book that the disaster fuse should actually be placed between the battery and the chassis on the negative side -- not what you would intuitively consider right off the bat, but I'll go back and confirm that.  I guess the logic is that you want to break the connection to the chassis for ultimate protection, as every other circuit is already protected with its own fuse.

The guy at the West Marine extended his warm hospitality by letting me crimp these wires at his work table.  If you've ever had to crimp 2/0 wire, you'll understand how awesome a gesture this was.  He saved me a bundle of money by not having to buy my own crimper, and a lot of time as well. 

But here's the finished result. 

That's cable worth 195 amps of electricity, according to the AWG table.  You may wonder what the heck I'd need that much for, but again, at 12 volts, the amperage draw can jump up pretty quickly with a 2000 watt inverter and a 60amp charge controller.  And, then you've got your 12 volt accessories.  Right now, with my 1000 watt inverter and  my 220 watt solar panel with 45amp solar charge controller, I'm looking at 150amps of electricity flow, with circuit protection of 160 amps.  I haven't even begun with my 12 volt accessories  It's amazing!  If I want to upgrade that inverter to 1500 watts, in the future, I'd be on the edge with the 2/0 cable.  And, that's not even taking into consideration a solar upgrade with at 60amp charge controller!  

And, what's funny, is that in everything I've read by RVers who have personal experience with solar systems, the authors have mentioned with uncanny consistency, that many RV manufacturers and installers will use inefficient wiring and will also routinely place components such as charge controllers and inverters much too far away from the battery  banks, thereby further taxing the system through line loss.  If you want some corroboration, check out my link to some "Grandfatherly advice on solar," and pick up a copy of "RV Electrical Systems" by Moeller.  There is also a self proclaimed cowboy who blogs from Montana.  He describes with some great humor and wit his whole solar conversion and wiring system in his 5th wheel.  I think I found his link on ""  Those three sources were the most memorable of all that I've read regarding this topic.        

But, enough of that!

I picked up a main disconnect...

...some bus bars...

And, there you have it. 

Today I'll be laying out the whole system on a piece of wood that will be the back wall of the electrical closet. 

Once I've drilled everything down, I'll remove it all, set the wall in place and put everything back!

Oh, here's the roof rack, installed.

I'm going to place the panel over those bars like a canoe, so I can install beside the panel a groovy black basket for other stuff I may want to load up during my extended camping trips.

My girl came up with a great idea.  She suggested that I find a way to make the back wall above the bed open to the outside for those nights beside the ocean. 

So, when I open the back door, all people will see is the storage area below the bed.  Above it will be the framed out set of closed doors to be opened at my leisure.  I'm actually pretty excited about it.  It might just be my favorite feature about the whole enterprise. 

Off to electricland!






  1. Holy crap! That's a fuse?? Did you ever get the feeling you were....shrinking??? ;)

  2. Yes! So happy to see good stuff going in there! It's looking great, can hardly wait for the next installment.


  3. Sounds like you know what you're doing - Greek to me. But maybe I'm learning a little as I read through your posts. I just love your excitement and the way your mind works. This is going to be SOME RV when you're done. Hope to see it in an RV park some day and get a tour!

  4. Steve,

    That fuse looks like it takes up your whole hand, in the picture, but it's probably 1.5 inches wide, which is still pretty giant for a bayonet fuse. Yes, it's all big, like Texas!


    I thought you'd appreciate it.


    Maybe I'll have a housewarming party for everyone to see! If you're're invited!