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Old 04-21-2014, 07:52 PM   #1
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1994 Southwind electric system

ok, I'm new to the RV neigborhood so did some research when my electric outlets on 1994 southwind went inoperative when unplugged from a source. I'm told by Fleetwood that 1994 models were not made with the technology to keep the electric flowing from coach batteries to electric sockets when unplugged, that one either must be plugged in or use generator to power electric outlets (not even solar panels are an option). Sooo, I refer to this seasoned group for an ingenious, I-did-it-myself answer; does anybody know of any NEW technology that will get/keep me "boondock" level powered? I'm saddened by this discovery. Thanks RV family.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:50 PM   #2
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You could install an inverter but that will only work until your batteries get low
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:43 PM   #3
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Inverter

An inverter changes 12v DC to 110v AC. Fairly simple technology. For the most part, an inverter will not operate your air conditioner. (not impossible, but close enough to count) Inverter is what you need to be researching. With enough studying, it could be DIY. Best of luck, and welcome to the forum.

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Old 04-22-2014, 09:19 PM   #4
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Check out Xantrex inverters with an auto gen start, you won't regret it! I put one in an 84 Pace Arrow we had years ago, Ebay is a great source for them.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:08 AM   #5
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Much thanks, since hearing your suggestions I did some further research including calling Fleetwood back to consult. According to them my 1994 is not wired for an inverter (wrong gauge?) I would first have to shell out "thousands" for re-wiring. I don't doubt their response, but wonder if you have been faced with and overcame a similar obstacle. I'm still plugging away with this dilemma, don't want to be married to my expensive gas guzzling generator for power. Thanks again.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:46 PM   #6
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Fleetwood is correct in that a full blown system could cost thousands installed. But you will need to think about what you need the 120v power for while off the grid. Many start out with a small inverter with one or two outlets and power their TV at night for a movie or maybe run your computer. A small inverter running off a cigarette lighter plug might be all you need for that. You could be running water heating and refrigerator on propane. If you needed microwave or coffee pot or hair dryer, you could start up the generator. If you do not have solar, you will need to run generator periodically to keep batteries charged anyway. Like much in an RV, how much you spend might depend on your needs and your pocket book. Much good info here on Forum. You might look on boondocking site here.

Enjoy.

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Old 04-23-2014, 11:52 PM   #7
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I'm beginning to understand. Didn't know I could charge batteries with generator. I guess what I'd need the extra power for would be, just as you say, coffee maker, hair dryer, microwave. I did purchase two small electric space heaters that I had big plans of saving me money and power, but nix that. I guess I can always look for shore power spots to plug into.

I must thank you again, for a great answer and taking the time to answer. When you're in the dark, a glimmer of light is a beacon. Thanks for being my beacon. Hope I can help you out someday.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronspradley View Post
Fleetwood is correct in that a full blown system could cost thousands installed. But you will need to think about what you need the 120v power for while off the grid. Many start out with a small inverter with one or two outlets and power their TV at night for a movie or maybe run your computer. A small inverter running off a cigarette lighter plug might be all you need for that. You could be running water heating and refrigerator on propane. If you needed microwave or coffee pot or hair dryer, you could start up the generator. If you do not have solar, you will need to run generator periodically to keep batteries charged anyway. Like much in an RV, how much you spend might depend on your needs and your pocket book. Much good info here on Forum. You might look on boondocking site here.

Enjoy.

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Then you don't think an inverter is totally out of the question? I found an owner's manual for a Xantrex 400 power inverter, perhaps from previous owner, that would indicate to me that I my rig could actually accommodate such a convenience. Do you agree?

Thanks!
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ShelleyFunny View Post
Then you don't think an inverter is totally out of the question?
Depending on one's outlook, nothing is 'out of the question'. It is simply a matter of time, money, and effort.

I have a '94 Pace Arrow, I suspect it is wired very similar to your rig. I have replaced the original dumb charger/converter with a smart unit (here), added 650 watts of solar (here), and am using a 400 watt, direct wired inverter for my minimal needs (laptop computer, DVD player, satellite receiver). When boondocking, the microwave and coffee pot is not used. Instead, I have a stove top percolating coffee pot. Other than the above, everything runs off 12V.

Forget the electric heaters unless plugged into shore power (even then, be very careful with them - you can exceed the wiring capacity of the rig). I use the house heater when able and a Mr. Heater propane heater for localized heat.

To add a big inverter to power my entire rig, I would need to add two more six-volt batteries (increase 220 amp hours capacity to 440 amp hours), larger cables from the battery bank to inverter/electric panel, and the inverter, of course. A good 2000 watt inverter (with transfer switch, to make it easy) is not cheap. Doing the labor myself, this can be done for something around $1,500 dollars ($1k for the inverter and the rest for cable/wiring). For me at this point in time, it is simply not worth it. I would encourage you to spend some time camping without this change and I bet you'll find that you can be quiet happy without it with a few easy adjustments.
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:17 AM   #10
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Adding to my above comment... It is sometimes surprising the number of devices that you own that are actually 12V. Many folks just plug the wall wart (power supply) into the wall without thinking. Take a look at these 'can't live without' devices - often you just need to find the appropriate chord. For example, my LED TV is 12V, it is direct wired in my MH. I simply tossed the 110V power supply in the trash. Similar can be done with cell phone/tablet chargers - you don't need 110V, just get a car/cigarette lighter charger instead. In fact, get a handful of cigarette lighter to USB chargers and you'll be in very good shape (get descent ones with adequate output (like 1 amp)).
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:41 AM   #11
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JFNM is very right about how many things these days can be powered directly from the 12V system and thereby eliminate the overhead from converting to 110V and back again.

That being said, it could still be convenient to energize all of the 110V outlets from the batteries. If you want to do that on the cheap, here is how. Get an inverter of the size you believe you will need. I had a 400W in the garage that I bought along time ago as an impulse buy.

Then, you mount the inverter right next to your batteries and wire it to the battery bank. When you want to use it, you first unplug the power converter that is in your coach, then make sure that everything that can be on propane is on propane. Last, you run the shore power cord up to the battery bank and plug it into the inverter (With a simple 30amp to 20 amp adapter of course.) If you are going to use the generator to charge the batteries, you will have to plug the Power Converter back in during charging times. If you are using solar, the solar system should have its own charger.

Anyhow, that's the cheapest way to do it but you really need to sit down and figure out what you want to be able to power from the inverter when boon docking and how you will recharge the batteries. You will also want to look at the difference between modified sine wave and pure sine wave inverters. The modified are usually a lot cheaper but there are still some devices that don't run well on them.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:30 AM   #12
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Geat responses here. You can test what your boondocking electrical needs are by camping where electric is available, like a campground or your driveway, then just not plugging into the power pedestal. See what your electric requirements are. What you can run on 12v, like maybe your TV. Or charge computers via a 12v cigarette lighter plug to USB. Anyway, when your batteries need charging, just plug into the available power. This will be just like using your genset when out in the boonies. Usually you would not use genset in a campground that has available power. Genset is for times when the noise they make will not bother any neighbors. Keep up the research, there is a way to get to the place you want to be. Happy trails.

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