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Old 12-02-2016, 10:02 AM   #1
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Clarification on Electrical System for Newbie

I’m a newbie here working through the build sheet on my 5.0TA and would like confirmation and clarification on the electrical system. As I currently understand things:
1. When connected to “shore power” most campgrounds have either a 30 amp or 50 amp plug. If 50 amp is available, it is desirable since it will produce a stronger flow..ie more “juice” . Does Escape provide a 30 amp connection with a 50 amp adaptor?
2. When connected to shore power, the 2-6vbatteries are charging using the built in converter (AC to DC). 2-6vbatteries are also charging when driving the Tow Vehicle or hooked up to solar panels.
3. 120v is supplied by the shore power 30 or 50 amp connection to provide power to 120v appliances and 120v outlets.
4. An Inverter (pure sine wave) converts DC (battery) power to AC 120v power and can be connected to all the 120v outets so they will essentially run off the battery.
5. Air Conditioner runs only on 120v and draws a large amount of power.

If these statements are correct, I’m planning to opt for the Solar Panels and the Inverter wired to all the plugs. That seems to give me the most flexibility to be on or off the grid and still have power.
1. Given that, is there a significant advantage to using 12v appliances rather than standard 120v appliances ?
2. If so, what 12v appliances do you use? I’m trying to decide how many plugs I need of each 12v and 120v. I don’t currently have any 12v gadgets and am having a hard time envisioning what I might need or could replace with a 12v to save power.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:13 AM   #2
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Thanks SOOO much for laying out these questions so well. I have essentially the same questions, working on my 17B build sheet, and never having had a travel trailer before. Looking forward to the inevitably insightful responses!!
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:08 AM   #3
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Look for Donna D to chime in. As I understand it, she went all 120V AC in her 2016 5.0TA, and she's super savvy on all this stuff. She should be able to give you a great perspective on what you're getting into, good and bad, with the electrical setup you're considering. Donna D?
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:17 AM   #4
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1. Escape comes with 30 amp and the 50 amp adapter and is separate aftermarket purchase. 30 amp will be enough and 50 amp only needed when that is all is available in the campground, which you will typically pay higher site price.

RV's come with either 30 amp or 50 amp power requirements and why some campgrounds offer both. Normally smaller RV's 30 amp and larger motor homes with multi AC units need 50 amp.

2. Correct, except most tow vehicles wiring is not sufficient gauge wire to adequately charge the 12 volt trailer system. There is not much left to power to use beyond the tail, brake and running lights. Some folks change out to bigger gauge charging wire on the tow vehicle that runs to the 7 pin connector.

3. Correct

4. Correct, you need to tell ETI, that you want all 120v outlets connected to inverter.

5. Correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sisababe View Post
I’m a newbie here working through the build sheet on my 5.0TA and would like confirmation and clarification on the electrical system. As I currently understand things:
1. When connected to “shore power” most campgrounds have either a 30 amp or 50 amp plug. If 50 amp is available, it is desirable since it will produce a stronger flow..ie more “juice” . Does Escape provide a 30 amp connection with a 50 amp adaptor?
2. When connected to shore power, the 2-6vbatteries are charging using the built in converter (AC to DC). 2-6vbatteries are also charging when driving the Tow Vehicle or hooked up to solar panels.
3. 120v is supplied by the shore power 30 or 50 amp connection to provide power to 120v appliances and 120v outlets.
4. An Inverter (pure sine wave) converts DC (battery) power to AC 120v power and can be connected to all the 120v outets so they will essentially run off the battery.
5. Air Conditioner runs only on 120v and draws a large amount of power.

If these statements are correct, I’m planning to opt for the Solar Panels and the Inverter wired to all the plugs. That seems to give me the most flexibility to be on or off the grid and still have power.
1. Given that, is there a significant advantage to using 12v appliances rather than standard 120v appliances ?
2. If so, what 12v appliances do you use? I’m trying to decide how many plugs I need of each 12v and 120v. I don’t currently have any 12v gadgets and am having a hard time envisioning what I might need or could replace with a 12v to save power.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:22 AM   #5
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1. It doesn't matter if the shore power supply is 30 amp or 500 amps. You're limited by the trailer circuit breaker. All using a 50 amp adapter does is allow you to use an outlet that you wouldn't be able to plug into with a 30 amp end.

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Old 12-02-2016, 11:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
1. It doesn't matter if the shore power supply is 30 amp or 500 amps. You're limited by the trailer circuit breaker. All using a 50 amp adapter does is allow you to use an outlet that you wouldn't be able to plug into with a 30 amp end.

Ron
Ron has it right. Your trailer will have a 30 amp main breaker. You "can" plug a 30 amp power cord into a 50 amp receptacle with the right adapter, but none of that makes any difference in the power the trailer uses. So the answer to number 1 is no, it's not desirable over a 30 amp plug.

On number 2, it doesn't matter if you have a single 12 volt or dual 6 volt batteries - they're charged by the charger/converter when you're plugged into shore power.

Number 3, not exactly. The shore power is always converted from AC to DC power, because all the trailer systems are 12 volt - your lights, your fan, your fridge, everything. The difference is that when you're not on shore power, your 12 volt power comes directly from the batteries, and when you are connected to shore power, the AC is converted to DC 12 volt. As for the AC outlets, they work from either shore power, or from the inverter when not on shore power.

What solar does is simply give you an alternate means of creating power to charge your batteries. It's irrelevant when you're connected to shore power.

As for the Air Conditioner, it requires alternating current, which is supplied either by shore power or by a generator. It draws a high amount of amps in order to start, but that drops once it's running. A small generator like a Honda 2000 has successfully run the air conditioner under the right conditions.

Just keep in mind some basics. The trailer is a 12 volt DC system. 12 volt power comes from the batteries, or from converting it from shore power. Converters change AC to DC. Inverters change DC to AC. The only major system on the trailer that doesn't use DC power is the air conditioner. 12 volt systems don't run from solar, they run from the batteries (or from DC power provided by the converter when on shore power). Solar provides another way to supply a charge to the batteries.
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Old 12-02-2016, 01:01 PM   #7
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Thank you everyone for the helpful suggestions. rbryan4 you have especially helped me more fully understand the electric system!

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Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
Ron has it right. Your trailer will have a 30 amp main breaker. You "can" plug a 30 amp power cord into a 50 amp receptacle with the right adapter, but none of that makes any difference in the power the trailer uses. So the answer to number 1 is no, it's not desirable over a 30 amp plug.
Thank you for this very valuable info! I'll stick with the 30 amp connector.

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Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
Number 3, not exactly. The shore power is always converted from AC to DC power, because all the trailer systems are 12 volt - your lights, your fan, your fridge, everything.... As for the AC outlets, they work from either shore power, or from the inverter when not on shore power.
Again, thank you. This helps clarify things for me. I've got to change my thinking about the rolling home electrical systems being AC with a back up battery like in our land home to what they are...DC 12v battery system with back up AC! You have been very helpful. It makes more sense now to think about adding 12v outlets and choosing 12v add on gadgets since that is the endpoint and would reduce the amount of work for the inverter.
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Old 12-02-2016, 01:59 PM   #8
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3. 120v is supplied by the shore power 30 or 50 amp connection to provide power to 120v appliances and 120v outlets.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
Number 3, not exactly. The shore power is always converted from AC to DC power, because all the trailer systems are 12 volt...
But the air conditioner is 120V AC power only (and cannot reasonably be run from the inverter),
the electric water heater element (is so equipped) is 120V AC power only (with propane as an alternative),
the microwave (if so equipped) is 120V AC only so can only run on 12V DC power by using the inverter, and
120V AC power can also be used directly (without converting to 12V DC) by the refrigerator.

Certainly not all of the trailer systems are 12 volt, but yes it is the primary electrical power source in the trailer.

I would say that the original #3 is correct, with just the addition that 120V AC power is also used by the converter to supply one source of 12V DC power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sisababe View Post
I've got to change my thinking about the rolling home electrical systems being AC with a back up battery like in our land home to what they are...DC 12v battery system with back up AC!
I think that's a good way to think of it... except for the air conditioning, which is 120V AC power only.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:23 PM   #9
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Thank you Brian
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:26 PM   #10
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... I’m planning to opt for the Solar Panels and the Inverter wired to all the plugs. That seems to give me the most flexibility to be on or off the grid and still have power.
I agree, that (with sufficient battery capacity) is the way to maximum functionality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sisababe View Post
1. Given that, is there a significant advantage to using 12v appliances rather than standard 120v appliances ?
2. If so, what 12v appliances do you use? I’m trying to decide how many plugs I need of each 12v and 120v. I don’t currently have any 12v gadgets and am having a hard time envisioning what I might need or could replace with a 12v to save power.
I would put 12 volt devices in two categories:
Electronics
Most electronic devices don't use a lot of power, but may use significant energy because they are used for long periods. Since the devices themselves don't really run on 120V AC power (they all have power supplies that convert the AC to low-voltage DC), it can be beneficial to efficiency to avoid the conversion of power from DC to AC by an inverter, by using adapters which run those devices from 12V DC power. Where ever you want to charge your mobile devices or run your computer, radio, or TV are potential locations for 12V DC outlets.

High-power appliances
Anything with a substantial motor or a heating element typically takes a lot of power. Getting a 12 volt DC version may save a bit of power (because the inverter is not needed), but it doesn't fundamentally change the energy required and it also means getting appliances which are typically ineffective, overpriced, and poorly built. For instance, instead of getting a 12V hair dryer, my suggestion be to just use a regular hair dryer on the low setting... and if you're not connected to shore power (or a generator) you won't be able to use it very much anyway before running out of battery charge, whether the appliance is AC or DC.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:30 PM   #11
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I'll stick with the 30 amp connector.
There have been odd times when I used mine. By all means carry one with you, there're only a few bucks. But, as you now know, you won't really be using 50 amps.

Ron
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:35 PM   #12
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Every Escape I have had (there has been 3) has been set up for 12v operation, in that everything can operate off propane or 12v, other than the air-conditioning. Your heat, your fan, lights, you water system all use 12v. I purchase 12v televisions, your power antenna is 12v. Thus the need to have some extra 12v outlets, in my last Escape I added 5, in my current I have a total of 4 dc outlets. Thus solar and dual 6 volts are needed. By midmorning your batteries should be full.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:42 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I would put 12 volt devices in two categories:
Electronics
... Where ever you want to charge your mobile devices or run your computer, radio, or TV are potential locations for 12V DC outlets.

High-power appliances
..... For instance, instead of getting a 12V hair dryer, my suggestion be to just use a regular hair dryer on the low setting... and if you're not connected to shore power (or a generator) you won't be able to use it very much anyway before running out of battery charge, whether the appliance is AC or DC.
Most helpful Brian. I'm trying to be mindful of what I will realistically need to plug in. Laptop, cell phone, tablet and TV/Radio are really the big ones. Everything else is integrated into the trailer...well with the exception of that hair dryer which I'm happy to give up. After all...doesn't everyone's air dried hair look fabulous by the campfire light?
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:45 PM   #14
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There have been odd times when I used mine. By all means carry one with you, there're only a few bucks. But, as you now know, you won't really be using 50 amps.

Ron
Thanks Ron, good advice to be prepared. You must have been a boy scout!
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:51 PM   #15
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Every Escape I have had (there has been 3) has been set up for 12v operation, in that everything can operate off propane or 12v, other than the air-conditioning. Your heat, your fan, lights, you water system all use 12v. I purchase 12v televisions, your power antenna is 12v. Thus the need to have some extra 12v outlets, in my last Escape I added 5, in my current I have a total of 4 dc outlets. Thus solar and dual 6 volts are needed. By midmorning your batteries should be full.
Thank you. I can see that having some extra 12v outlets would be an advantage.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:51 PM   #16
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A couple of reasons for carrying a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter even though your trailer is only 30 amps include the obvious situation where the only receptacle is a 50 amp one. This is rare, but has happened to me twice, both times in a primary residential RV Park. No 30, no 15/20 receptacles.

Another - sometimes you will find the 30 amp receptacle badly arced, broken, etc while the 50 amp receptacle is in good condition. The adapter lets you use the 50 amp receptacle.

One more - depending on how the campground is wired, you may find that during extreme hot (or cold) weather when the campground wiring is working harder than normal, the 30 amp receptacle may end up with below acceptable voltage (<104V). The larger wire & often less used 50 amp side of the wiring may provide a higher acceptable voltage.

While probably a bit extreme, I know some individuals that carry two 50 to 30 amp adapters, each wired to a different leg of the 50 amp 120/240 receptacle, and choose the one with the better voltage. I guess if it means the difference between running your AC on a hot day or not, maybe not so extreme!
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:01 PM   #17
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A couple of reasons for carrying a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter even though your trailer is only 30 amps...
Jon, thank you for such a comprehensive comment! As I'm new to the game, it's impossible to know what I don't know and therefore anticipate uncomfortable situations. I feel so lucky to have found not only an exceptional product in Escape Trailers but also this generous community for support. I see that you are a blogger and I look forward to following your travels. What advice can you offer me on connectivity on the road? I haven't tackled that aspect yet and maybe it's better approached in a separate post. I don't need full connectivity all the time but want to be able to stay in touch via cell and internet and post to a blog during extended trips. Any advice or links to existing info would be welcomed.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:18 PM   #18
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Thus solar and dual 6 volts are needed.
That depends on your camping style. I have never had the need for solar - I either stay at RV parks or use my generator. Of course, I live in Texas where it only gets cool enough to turn off the AC a couple of months during the year. Solar won't run the AC and down here the AC is mandatory.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:38 PM   #19
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A couple of reasons for carrying a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter even though your trailer is only 30 amps include the obvious situation where the only receptacle is a 50 amp one. This is rare, but has happened to me twice, both times in a primary residential RV Park. No 30, no 15/20 receptacles.
I think this is a good point, and even if there is a 15-amp or 20-amp receptacle available, using it limits what can be run in the trailer compared to the full 30-amp (or greater) capacity. This could be an issue, especially for those wanting to use electric heat, or air conditioning.

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One more - depending on how the campground is wired, you may find that during extreme hot (or cold) weather when the campground wiring is working harder than normal, the 30 amp receptacle may end up with below acceptable voltage (<104V). The larger wire & often less used 50 amp side of the wiring may provide a higher acceptable voltage.
Another good catch.

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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
While probably a bit extreme, I know some individuals that carry two 50 to 30 amp adapters, each wired to a different leg of the 50 amp 120/240 receptacle, and choose the one with the better voltage.
Although it is extreme (and certainly not necessary, and rarely done), I like this idea. Since I've never seen a 50-amp to 30-amp adapter which identifies which leg of the 50-amp service it taps, finding one of each would presumably be a matter of testing with an ohmmeter or continuity tester... or building your own.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:49 PM   #20
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All good points about the 50 amp adapter plug. We carry one just for those reasons. At only one place so far, a park that caters to the bigger rigs like motor coaches, the only available site had a 50 amp only connection. In such a case, the adapter came in handy.
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