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Old 05-13-2010, 09:13 AM   #1
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WFCO 55 AMP distribution center

I just bought a used 24' car hauler that I want to turn into a toy hauler. It has an AC unit and electric hearers already mounted but all the wiring has been torn out and the I'm starting from scratch. I want to be able to run the AC or heaters at night without having to run the generator if possible. I plan on adding a few receptacles in the living area for maybe a TV, coffee maker, or other things. It has two ac florescent light fixtures I want to take out of of the living area and put them in the back shop area.

I plan on adding a 25 gal water tank for an outside shower and will run that off a Surflow 12v pump. I plan on adding some 12v lighting in the living area but other than these things that will about be all I need at this time.

My question is will two large 6 volt batteries be enough to supply my needs? I know I probably wont be able to run the AC or heaters and coffee maker at the same time but I would like to be able to watch TV and run a light or two with the AC running.

Right now I can do pretty much anything as far as making space for extra batteries because the trailer is stripped while I add insulation to the walls. I guess for now I'm just wondering if this 55 AMP converter will be all I need to do what I posted above.

I know I could get by with just buying a converter and a deep cycle battery but I don't want to be like so many of my friends that have done this and are always having problems with their setups while we are at the track.
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:38 AM   #2
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It sounds as though you are planning on installing an inverter as well? To run the coffee maker, flourescent lights, etc. from battery power? Or will you have shore power or a generator for that? You will not be able to run the a/c at all via inverter+battery - that takes a huge amount of power.

A pair of 6V golf cart batteries will provide about 220-230 amp-hours of usable power (assumes a max discharge to 50% level). You need to estimate how much you will run and for how long to determine if the batteries will last.

If using an inverter, be aware that it takes 10 amps at 12vdc to produce 1 amp @ 120V, so a appliance like a coffeemaker that draws 8-10 amps (1000-1200 watts) can really suck the amps out of a battery.

Tell us more how you plan to camp and use the available power and we can probably help further.
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Old 05-13-2010, 05:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by RV Roamer [Gary] View Post
It sounds as though you are planning on installing an inverter as well? To run the coffee maker, flourescent lights, etc. from battery power? Or will you have shore power or a generator for that? You will not be able to run the a/c at all via inverter+battery - that takes a huge amount of power.

A pair of 6V golf cart batteries will provide about 220-230 amp-hours of usable power (assumes a max discharge to 50% level). You need to estimate how much you will run and for how long to determine if the batteries will last.

If using an inverter, be aware that it takes 10 amps at 12vdc to produce 1 amp @ 120V, so a appliance like a coffeemaker that draws 8-10 amps (1000-1200 watts) can really suck the amps out of a battery.

Tell us more how you plan to camp and use the available power and we can probably help further.
Well according to the guy I got the unit from he said this unit should run everything but I did have my doubts and did plan on running the heavy use equipment with the generator running. I would however sure like to be able to run the AC on really hot nights though. If that is not possible I guess I could run the generator at least long enough in the evening to cool down the walls and then run a fan and could get by. I mainly need the AC for comfort in the daytime. We Race motocross and and it would sure be nice for the riders to be able to rest and cool down in-between motos especially in mid summer when the temps get upward to 100 degrees.

We have been making it in a tent for several years and it has been fun but it sure would be nice to be able to have room enough to stretch out or sit for awhile without the bugs eating us alive.

I would only run the Florescent lights while the gen is running or on shore power. I plan on putting two units in the shop area for times when I have to rebuild a motor at night after a bad day at the track or reseal a shock or forks so re can race the next day. I hate to work in the dark and most of the time we can get by running the gen until 10:30 or 11:00 before the neighbors start to fuss and that is long enough in most cases. If it takes longer than that we probably ain't going to get it fixed at the track anyway and we will be partying with the neighbors or helping someone else get their bikes ready.

I would like to be able to use the DC lights and maybe a computer or TV and a fan off dc power for a couple hours at night. Please tell me I'll be able to do that.
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Old 05-13-2010, 05:30 PM   #4
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Oh, I forgot to mention this unit is a three in one kind of deal. It's a charger, inverter, and a switching device that automaticly switches when the gen comes on .
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:29 AM   #5
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fluor lights will operate on 12v dc. the ballast is different in a dc fixture than in ac fixture, but the lamps are the same. you get more light per watt (lumens) with fluors whether ac or dc than with incandescent lights. they operate cooler also.
led lights draw even less power per lumen but are very expensive.
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Old 05-14-2010, 07:24 AM   #6
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fluor lights will operate on 12v dc. the ballast is different in a dc fixture than in ac fixture, but the lamps are the same. you get more light per watt (lumens) with fluors whether ac or dc than with incandescent lights. they operate cooler also.
led lights draw even less power per lumen but are very expensive.
Wow, I learned something that I didn't even pay for.

Okay, when I run the wires to the panel I guess I just run the flour lights to the dc side and they will power up just fine?

Also is there anywhere I can find a wiring diagram showing what parts and how to wire them together in a basic simple rv with a few ac and dc circuits from frame to light fixture? I'm hung up on what I need to start the job. I have the wiring diagram for my inverter/charger/switching unit but it does not go into much detail as far as the whole system. Do I need a disconnect fuse panel between the shore power plug and my inverter even though the inverter has breakers or do I just wire it straight from the plug to the distribution center? Should the batteries negative be grounded to the frame? And should there be some kind of fuse at the batteries? This is the type of stuff I need to know. I don't want to go up in smoke and I don't like to have problems with blowing fuses and smoking wires when we are racing. If something is going to break I would rather it to be one of the dirt bikes because working on them is fun.
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Old 05-15-2010, 01:45 AM   #7
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mx...
you didn't understand my post. i said dc ballasts are DIFFERENT from ac ballasts. you need to have the right ballast for your power source. sometimes dc ballasts cost as much as the whole light fixture. the lamps (bulbs) are the same, you can get them at wally world, lowes, home depot, ect. BUT NOT THE DC BALLAST, they are harder to get.

Thin-Lite DC Lights & Iota DC Ballasts

19 Thinlite Indoor Lights

here is some info about the second part of your question. have fun reading. if you need more info, i have more references in my bookmarks.

http://www.rvcruzer.com/electrical/tutorial.php

http://www.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/12volt/12volt.htm

http://www.dasplace.net/RVWiring/wiring.html
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DAN L View Post
mx...
you didn't understand my post. i said dc ballasts are DIFFERENT from ac ballasts. you need to have the right ballast for your power source. sometimes dc ballasts cost as much as the whole light fixture. the lamps (bulbs) are the same, you can get them at wally world, lowes, home depot, ect. BUT NOT THE DC BALLAST, they are harder to get.

Thin-Lite DC Lights & Iota DC Ballasts

19 Thinlite Indoor Lights

here is some info about the second part of your question. have fun reading. if you need more info, i have more references in my bookmarks.

Electrical Tutorial

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

RV Wiring
Shucks! I thought that would be too easy. Anyway I'll probably just use the AC flour fixtures in the shop area because most of the time when I'm working in there the geni is running anyway. And yeah, I know about the cost, it's always cheaper to just change out a fixture than it is to replace a ballast.

Thanks for the links but I have already read all of those several times and I still can't seem to be able to connect the dots. I still can't get an answer as to exactly what I need. I have a 30 amp shore power cord. I have a 30amp plug that I am mounting to the side of my trailer. This cord will be connected to my geni when needed. I have this WFCO WF8955 (55amp) distribution center. This unit has an AC side with 6 circuits that can be attached. It also has a dc panel that you can connect up to 12 dc circuits. It is a batt charger/inverter. the unit is supposed to have a auto switching device that switches from ac to dc when needed or so the rv guy said.

Do I need an additional auto switch if I am only going to use my geni and probably never a camp ground power center?

He also said I needed a auto switch at my inlet plug for some reason I never could understand why but that is what he said. I don't know if he was just trying to sell me another $200 piece of equipment or if I'm just not understanding what he saying. That's why I was looking for a diagram that shows how this all hooks up.

There is a hatch with a large opening on the side of the trailer and today I'm going to frame up a box on the inside of the house that will hold my geni and a battery bank. I will have enough room for my equipment and batteries down low and also a couple of shelves for supplies and junk along with a space for my power distribution center and a area behind it all for wires to run. I have time and can add what I need to add to my power supply if I can ever figure out just what it is that I really need to add.

One p
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:12 PM   #9
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one p...
lots of folks put a plug on the output of the genny to plug into the distribution box. then, the auto switch you mentioned would switch to genny power from shore power.
probably the best way to do it manually is to hook up the shore power cord to the box permanently and either plug it in to your genny or shore power.
about your box, maybe this will help.


Batteries -- and Other Electric Stuff by phred
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:02 AM   #10
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I think there is some confusion here. The WFCO 8955 does not have an inverter, at least not according to the WFCO specs on their website.
WFCO - New world of power ideas - WF-8955 55 Amp Power Center

It is a power center and does have AC and DC circuit breakers as well as a 3-stage charger, but no inverter. You have to add that as a separate unit. Easy enough to do, but it wires direct to the battery bank.

The auto switch he is talking about is a transfer switch to change from external (shore) power to generator. You need it if the generator is hard-wired to the trailer 120v electrical system because you must NEVER allow both external power and generator to be active at the same time. The switch does that automatically by always taking pwoer from the generator when it runs and disconnecting the trailer from shore power. But if you hook in the generator by physically plugging your 30A cord into the generator's own power outlet, then you don't need the transfer switch because you have already disconnected it from external shore power.
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DAN L View Post
one p...
lots of folks put a plug on the output of the genny to plug into the distribution box. then, the auto switch you mentioned would switch to genny power from shore power.
probably the best way to do it manually is to hook up the shore power cord to the box permanently and either plug it in to your genny or shore power.
about your box, maybe this will help.


Batteries -- and Other Electric Stuff by phred
That's why I was have a hard time with why I needed this auto switch. My geni will not be hard wired and I would plug my shore power cable into the geni or maybe to a shore power pedistal if I could find one at a track but never would I try to use both at the same time.

Thanks for clearing up this for me that is one more thing to not have to worry about.
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Old 05-16-2010, 12:24 PM   #12
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I think there is some confusion here. The WFCO 8955 does not have an inverter, at least not according to the WFCO specs on their website.
WFCO - New world of power ideas - WF-8955 55 Amp Power Center

It is a power center and does have AC and DC circuit breakers as well as a 3-stage charger, but no inverter. You have to add that as a separate unit. Easy enough to do, but it wires direct to the battery bank.

The auto switch he is talking about is a transfer switch to change from external (shore) power to generator. You need it if the generator is hard-wired to the trailer 120v electrical system because you must NEVER allow both external power and generator to be active at the same time. The switch does that automatically by always taking pwoer from the generator when it runs and disconnecting the trailer from shore power. But if you hook in the generator by physically plugging your 30A cord into the generator's own power outlet, then you don't need the transfer switch because you have already disconnected it from external shore power.
You bet there is. I stay confused especially when I have a project like this and am going by what somebody that's trying to sell me something is telling me. I'm just a boat mechanic so what do I know.

Now that I read the destructions again I see what you are saying. I thought this thing was too light and cheap to have an inverter in it. You know what they say if the deal seems to good to be true........well you know the rest. This guy told me it did and I had no reason to question it until now. I could have gotten the same type unit from one of my suppliers probably for less money and it probably would have looked better but I'll just do with what I have for now and not worry about it.

Thanks for your help and it did come at a good time because I have not finished framing the power panel closet yet so I can reserve space for the extra equipment that I now know that I need. Now I just have to save some more pennies to buy me an inverter.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:03 AM   #13
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I suspect either you or the sales guy confused "CONverter' with "INverter". It's a common mistake.

A moderate size inverter-only is not real expensive. You can get 1000 watts for under $100. But you aren't going to run the a/c with less than 2000 watts and you will need several large batteries as well. I suggest forgetting about using the a/c on inverter and just buy enough capacity for your routine needs. Battery capacity is going to be the issue, for price, space and weight reasons.

http://www.theinverterstore.com/the-...ry.php?cat=MSW
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:13 AM   #14
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I suspect either you or the sales guy confused "CONverter' with "INverter". It's a common mistake.

A moderate size inverter-only is not real expensive. You can get 1000 watts for under $100. But you aren't going to run the a/c with less than 2000 watts and you will need several large batteries as well. I suggest forgetting about using the a/c on inverter and just buy enough capacity for your routine needs. Battery capacity is going to be the issue, for price, space and weight reasons.

A great selection of MODIFIED SINE WAVE POWER INVERTERS
Yes, I suspect you are right. before I bought this part I told the guy what I wanted to do but it is hard to explain anything on the internet especially for me anyway. He just told me what I wanted to hear and I took it from there.

I'm sorry for all the confusion but as I said I have a problem with explaining things and you have been very kind and patient and now I have a pretty clear view of what is involved here. I will find a inverter somewhere in the 1500w range and with two 6 volt batteries and my Coleman geni I should be able to live the good life while out on the road.

Thanks for all your help.
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