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Old 03-31-2013, 02:54 PM   #1
BassinDmax's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Turlock, CA
Posts: 36
Upgrade Travel Trailer Electrical

I hope Iím posting this in the correct forum, new to the site and shopping for our first travel trailer. Iíve been researching our first TT purchase and think I know what we want and how weíre going to set it up. Weíre looking for one in the 24í range, not necessarily new, but in good shape. Sorry if this post is long winded, but I figure a little background would help with your opinions.

Iíve camped all my life on mostly National Forest land in any spot we could back in and set-up a tent. We live in California and 90% of our camping has been boondocking on National Forest land and 10% dry camping in National Forest campgrounds. Now that weíre getting older and closing in on retirement, in less than 10 years, we want to move into a little more comfort for our trips. However we donít want to change where we camp. We still want to hit those quiet spots on National Forest land that Iíve been using for years. Several of the areas are big enough to get a mid-size travel trailer into.

I donít have much experience with travel trailers other than camping with friends over the years that own them. So thatís where finding this site has been invaluable for the wealth of information it contains. After spending time on-line and doing the research Iíve got some ideas that I would like to get your opinions on.

Since Iím still working the majority of our trips wonít be more then 3-6 days. So with a little conservation, water and waste shouldnít be a problem. After years of tent camping we know how to conserve water. However, I know Iím going to have to do some modifications to the electrical system to give us some of the creature comforts of home while weíre boondocking.

My plan is to upgrade the battery bank and add an inverter so we can enjoy those comforts while in the boonies. I sleep with a CPAP machine and the opinions seem to be mixed on running them on modified or pure sine wave. So it would probably be smart for me to go with pure sine wave and not have to worry about it. In addition the inverter would be used for a little TV, laptop use, coffee pot and other small appliances, charging electronics and occasional microwave usage.

I think the ultimate goal would be to go solar, but I would plan on phasing in my modifications over several years. I think solar would come later as we get closer to retirement and weíre sure this size trailer is what we are comfortable with. Right now the plan is to go with four 6v golf cart batteries, add a 2,000 watt inverter and 2,000 watt generator to keep the batteries charged.

Based on the research Iíve done on-line Iím leaning towards the Magnum line of inverter/chargers. I think this unit would more than meet our needs. I know I canít run the AC, but the elevation we camp at doesnít require AC.

Considering the size trailer weíre looking for, my assumption would be the unit would have a 30 amp service. My thoughts are to not use the converter in the trailer, just bypass it with the inverter/charger. I want the inverter to directly supply the 120v distribution panel. I know this wouldnít work with a 50 amp service, but I should be able to run everything but the AC in a 30 amp service correct? Of course I know I canít run everything at once, but should have the power to run any one item other than the AC.

If this doesnít work or the unit has 50 amp service, my assumption is I than need a sub-panel to power what I want from the inverter correct? This complicates things for me at this point. Can I still do away with the converter? If I have separated the 120v distribution panel such as outlets and microwave to the sub-panel to be powered by the inverter how do I power them when hooked to shore power? Does the shore power need to go into the 120v distribution panel to supply 50 amp service and still be able to go into the inverter/charger for charging the batteries and supplying 30 amp service to the sub-panel? This is where I start getting confused.

Here are a couple of pictures, one for what I envision a 30 amp service to look like and the other for a 50 amp service. Am I on the right track? Am I looking at this correctly?

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Old 03-31-2013, 05:52 PM   #2
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If you will be running primarily from batteries and planning on solar, conservation should be of primary importance i.e. using LED's, not using resistance heat appliances. Things like a CPAP can often be found that will run from 12V. My recommendation is HandyBob's Blog ę Making off grid RV electrical systems work as a web site that while a bit opinionated is right on. We have a large teardrop set up for boondocking that is entirely solar powered including the recharger for flashlight etc batteries.
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:53 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Good question. Begin with the end in mind. I'm in a somewhat similar situation. Just got a 31' TT upgraded to 2 6V Costco batteries, installed a small LED TV and DVD player for the kiddos, want to boondock, mostly and be comfortable running things as needed. I will stay tuned and hope you get some good advice.
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electrical, travel trailer, travel

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