Hi guys,

I am trying my hardest to learn about wiring and everything that it entails, but the more I read the more my brain gets foggy and I don't know what I'm reading. HA 

With the chance of me looking completely dumb I'm going to ask anyway because I am at a stop on my project until I learn about wiring and where and how I'm going to get my power.

I have a 75 Winnebago Travel Trailer. She's only about 14 feet. She does not have a furnace, water heater, water tank, or anything. We are fixing her up and really don't plan on using that stuff. I honestly just want there to be lights, and some outlets to charge our cell phones, or plug our tablet, also a fridge if possible, and one of those stand up ACs or a window unit.

The walls in the trailer or intact and I don't plan on rebuilding them so I can not get to the wires. Can I use the existing wires to hook up to some batteries? It looks like the batteries were stored in the front where the propane tanks were being held. Is that an ideal place to have them. It looks like too small of a spot to hold 2 or more batteries. Should I relocate them to under one of the seats possibly?  Will batteries be enough to run what I need to run without doing anything fancy?  I am not wanting to do much, and I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on it.  I don't even know if my back lights work. I don't have a battery yet to test them out. Thought I would do some research first before I try and buy anything.  I have done some wiring in my house so I'm not completely clueless. I just don't know where to start to get this part of the project done.

Than you!!!  :)  

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Angie Castro,

I sent you a link in a message. Good Luck.

Ooops, nope it didnt work.

Good morning, Angie Castro;  

     Oh, boy.  You have  come up with a bit of a tall order for us.  This may not be just a quick thing that can be done in a week or two.  From all of the things that you described, this could be quite a project.  

     First, while this is my own personal opinion, it is founded on some fairly standard common practices:  

My suggestion for the location for the batteries, is to accept that there probably is not enough space in the location where the propane cylinders are stored, and THAT IS A GOOD THING in this case.  Just think about it for a minute.  

     Normally, when you are installing or removing a battery, you will be attaching or disconnecting the electrical cables to the batteries.  Sometimes there is a spark when you put the cable on the battery terminal or take it off the battery terminal.  That may not be a good thing in a place where there can be a collection of propane gas vapor in the same compartment.  Just two months ago, I watched a Class C motor home literally burn to the ground.  Just today they picked up an hauled away the major remnants of it.  The owner did have a fire extinguisher in the RV, But it was one of the models included in the Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall Notice, and the fire extinguisher did just exactly what the Recall Notice said that it would do:  It did not work.  There was nothing that we could do but watch it burn to the ground.  The Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall Notice is real.  A fire in an Recreational Vehicle is not nice.  

     Quick summary;  Do not make sparks around your propane cylinders.  

     But you asked about learning about electrical wiring and you said that you had been reading about this subject.  That is a good thing.  Can you tell me what books you have been studying?   If I know what you have been working with already, then I can try to adjust any explanations I provide using words that you may already know, so what I provide will be easier to understand.  

     Please bear with me on this path.  We are trying to convey a lot of information that I gained by growing up with it (my father was an Aviation Electronics Technician in the US Navy), and I started playing with amateur radio or ham radio when I was 14, my training in school was in electronics engineering, and I worked in electronics in one capacity or another for all of my "productive life."  I am retired now, so I have some time to devote to such a project as this one.  And I am still playing with radios, including in the motor home, along with the installation of the solar panels on the roof, plus the portable ones I can put outside to supplement those on the roof, and there is also a 12 V DC power port I can plug the external wind generator into also.  The wind generator has its own separate tripod and mast to hold it up in the air.  The wind generator is not mechanically attached or mounted to the motor home.  

     All of this might be accomplished more conveniently using a more "private" path rather than doing this on the Good Old RVs forum.  Would you like to start this with establishing a "friend" relationship here on the Good Old RVs forum?  

     You also have a selection of resources here.  John T. Nordhoff is also here, and he and I share many things in common.   I would not be surprised to see him step forward here also.  

          Enjoy;  

          Ralph, N7KGA  

          Latte Land, Washington  

          and with a venerable 1987 Winnebago Elandan WCP31RT motor home  

Hi Ralph,

Thank you for your reply. I greatly appreciate it!  I hope I'm not a lost cause!  hehe. I am trying my best ya know.

I have to agree with you. When I realized that the batteries were probably stored there after looking through the whole camper and taking stuff out. I thought that was a bad idea as well. I honestly was not going to run any propane other than my Coleman stove that takes the small tank. We like to cook outside and the stove and water heater were not salvageable so that was not going back in. I still don't want the batteries out there though.

I have been watching videos and such on you-tube about wiring, but I am far from knowing what the heck I am doing. lol. Usually I can pick stuff up pretty quickly, but this just has me lost. 

What I have learned so far is that I have to have 12V, but I can put several 6V batteries hooked up parallel to each other and in a series to get more time from my batteries.  I should use golf cart batteries? I don't know the lingo so I might be saying this wrong. I was hoping to use the existing wiring to the outlets and lights, but just upgrade to newer LED lights and newer outlets. I was also hoping I could use the existing wiring to my outside back lights, but unsure how everything hooks up.

Ralph it sounds like you are an expert and I really appreciate your response and wanting to help thank you so much. I will definitely friend you and I would love your feedback.

Hi Angela 

You can run your lights and  cellphone charger with a single 12 volt deep cycle RV battery.

You can also run a small 110 volt inverter from a 12 volt battery.

That would be enough to run a dorm room sized fridge for only a couple hours.

A.C. won't be an option unless you run it off an extension cord plugged into a 20 amp outlet somewhere.

If you're thinking about adding wiring to your camper, know that getting it wrong could cost you your life. A 12 volt RV battery has enough current to melt steel.

110 volts could stop your heart.

Do you know a licenced electrician? They'd be able to tell you about GFI and ground bonding etc.

Thank you for your reply Mike. I am definitely looking for an electrician that knows about RVs. Thank you for your help.

Hi Angela

I'm an electrician's helper who happened to work for Scott Ford years ago.

The Ford dealership was close to an RV dealership, so I got stuck doing a lot of warranty work on new RVs under base warranty. I'm comfortable working on my coach wiring having automotive and residential wiring experience. Usually you'll find someone with either one or the other. 

An RV dealer would have a guy with expertise in your wiring but they would want to run it through the shop.

If you know an electrician who sometimes wires pools and spas, they'd be comfortable with helping you and might consult with you for cheap or just for pizza and beer.

If anyone can shed some light on what these wires are and what this box does. I plan on replacing everything since the previous owner cut most of it, but just want to know what I have. Specifically what's that switch for in front there next to the breaker.

Hi Angela

Looks like you already have a lot of what you'll need for just the basics.

The first pic is a 12v power supply for a base CB or ham radio. You can use that for powering anything 12v but I don't think that it could be used practically to maintain a RV battery. It's filtered to keep down radio noise.

The second pic I think shows a 12v wire coming from the panel to the switch you asked about.

The switch looks like either a 12v breaker or a disconnect switch that feeds the 12v fuse panel. The third pic shows the main panel with what looks like a couple GFI breakers. Also shows the 12v fuse box and that switch. Above the 12v fuse panel is a grounding lug.

The last pic shows the outputs for your 12v power supply.

If there's a problem with the low voltage transformer in the main panel, maybe the Vista IV was the cheap fix.

Angie Castro,

In the pics. It appears to be a larger circumference black cable known as the "shore cord" obviously it is connect at the circuit breaker panel. Typically that cord is used to plug in to outside power and usually about 20'- 25' long with a 30 amp male RV plug on the other end. 

Different subject "flooded" batteries give off hydrogen, an explosive poisonous gas. DOT regs require batteries be in an external vented compartment. You mention a parallel circuit, thats how you calculate available power known as amp hours "Ah". EX. 100 Ah drawing more than 25% capacity permanently damages the battery. Thats why "golf cart batteries" are popular, but you cant recharge golf cart batteries in series, reliably.

I bought slightly used group 27 Interstate batteries bringing my total to 3 batteries = 480 Ah. However I have 3 solar panels.  

Obviously someone has gerry rigged a power source. Being you have no diagram it requires you reverse engineer the AC / DC.  Keep in mind, only pure sine wave assures you wont damage an AC appliance or circuit.

Your pics do reveal a return ground to frame and typical -/+ dcv wiring as well as the systems you have abandoned.

I did find a reference to 4 bolt dodge wheels! 

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