Adding a transfer switch (either whole trailer or individual outlets) for inverter? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 11-14-2018, 10:55 PM   #1
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Adding a transfer switch (either whole trailer or individual outlets) for inverter?

I have a 2014 Escape 17B with the factory Samlex 1500 watt inverter and Microwave. Not being able to use the Microwave on the inverter is driving me nuts.

What does it take to solve this?

1) I can easily plug the exterior outlet into the inverter. Without the ability to turn off the converter (charger) this will create a wasteful loop, so this is out. There are many cheap $30 transfer switches that just plug in-line and autosense which would otherwise work here

2) I can pull the plug for the inverter and put it hanging out under the bed. I can then connect it to the normal or Inverter outlet.

3) I can put the power legs for the microwave breaker on a single pole dual throw switch.

Is the AC to the Wyco panel fed separate from the AC to the converter stage? If so separating it here and a run of the mill household generator transfer switch should do the truck.

What does the factory do?

Suggestions please.
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:02 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by pc500 View Post
1) ...There are many cheap $30 transfer switches that just plug in-line and autosense which would otherwise work here.
An automatic transfer switch is the obvious solution. At $30 this sounds like a portable device; if so, I wouldn't want a mess of cords to connect the microwave through one of these to inverter and regular outlets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pc500 View Post
2) I can pull the plug for the inverter and put it hanging out under the bed. I can then connect it to the normal or Inverter outlet.
I assume you mean the plug for the microwave, not for the inverter. Sure, this would work.

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Originally Posted by pc500 View Post
3) I can put the power legs for the microwave breaker on a single pole dual throw switch.
Yes, with one side to the inverter outlet and the other to a regular outlet; however, you should switch both line and neutral, because the inverter neutral is probably not supposed to be connected to the shore power neutral. If you're going to do a bunch of wiring, why not just get a transfer switch to be built in and do the whole thing properly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pc500 View Post
Is the AC to the Wyco panel fed separate from the AC to the converter stage?
...

What does the factory do?
In the factory configuration with transfer switch, one branch circuit in the WFCO Power Center distribution panel feeds the converter, and a separate branch circuit feeds one input of the transfer switch. The inverter feeds the other input of the transfer switch. The automatically-selected output of the transfer switch goes to a second distribution panel; that second panel contains two (or more) circuit breakers for the circuits which feed all of the accessible outlets and the microwave outlet.

Because the converter, refrigerator, water heater (if you have the dual-power water heater), and air conditioner (if you have that) are all connected to breakers in the WFCO panel, they cannot be powered by the inverter, which is a good thing.
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pc500 View Post
I have a 2014 Escape 17B with the factory Samlex 1500 watt inverter and Microwave. Not being able to use the Microwave on the inverter is driving me nuts.

What does it take to solve this?

1) I can easily plug the exterior outlet into the inverter. Without the ability to turn off the converter (charger) this will create a wasteful loop, so this is out. There are many cheap $30 transfer switches that just plug in-line and autosense which would otherwise work here

2) I can pull the plug for the inverter and put it hanging out under the bed. I can then connect it to the normal or Inverter outlet.

3) I can put the power legs for the microwave breaker on a single pole dual throw switch.

Is the AC to the Wyco panel fed separate from the AC to the converter stage? If so separating it here and a run of the mill household generator transfer switch should do the truck.

What does the factory do?

Suggestions please.
A WF30 30 Amp TCO Transfer Switch mounts to the back of your converter.

Here is the installation manual: http://wfcoelectronics.com/wp-conten...ors-Manual.pdf

The output from your inverter is connected to the "generator" connection on the transfer switch.

The "to panel" connection goes to a small breaker box that feeds all the circuits that you want to power off the inverter. You will need to disconnect the circuits you want to be powered by the inverter from the converter breaker panel and relocate them to the small breaker box.

The "from shore" connection is connected to 120v power from a 30 amp breaker installed in your converter breaker panel.

Here is a pic of the small breaker box my trailer has. The yellow jacketed cable going in on the right side of the box is from the T30 "to panel" connection - the white jacketed cables coming out of the left side of the box are the circuits being powered by the inverter.
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:16 AM   #4
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Hi Brian,

Thanks for the great reply.

It looks like I'm back to a sub-panel and a typical generator transfer switch with the delay removed. Both of these appear to be time-consuming, expensive, and more surgery than I'd like. I was hoping the Wyco panel had built in 120 volt separation of the converter/WH/AC or offered an easy way to snip a bus bar to do so. It doesn't sounds like this is the case. Furthermore, I'm not a huge fan of all in one power center boxes, nor Wyco stuff in general.

Additionally, I did not realize the nuker was on a separate 120 volt breaker outlet than the rest of the RV. The semantics of this mean a 30 amp input is going to be needed, and since we're talking multiple sub circuits, a subpanel.

Perhaps the cheapest/simplest options is to just purchase one or two of these: https://www.boatandrvaccessories.com...ransfer-switch

One for the nuker.
One for the general household 120v feed (If I ever decide I really have a use for this, it's a 17B).

These would plug into the inverter outlet and simply switch over that leg to inverter when it has a feed and the AC outlet doesn't. No need for a subpanel.

Do you see any reason this is a bad idea?
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:29 AM   #5
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not a fan of integrated power centers ? huh. so you like a mess of cobbled up wiring of devices that don't quite work right together, instead? And whats wrong with the WFCO power center, IMHO, its nicer than the Parallax one that Casita and others use.

the correct way to wire this is to have the converter so it only gets power from the exterior power cord, and the transfer switch between the power cord and power breakers, and the inverter. The Air Conditioner breaker also should be on the non-transfered side, since the inverter can't supply enough power for it anyways.

this way, the inverter /never/ powers the converter, but the inverter can power all internal A/C accessories and outlets, including the microwave.

so...

external AC cord ->
-> breaker for power converter input
-> breaker for air conditioner
-> transfer switch line input

inverter output -> transfer switch inverter/generator input

transfer switch output ->
-> breaker(s) for outlets
-> breaker(s) for microwave outlet
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pc500 View Post
Hi Brian,

Thanks for the great reply.

It looks like I'm back to a sub-panel and a typical generator transfer switch with the delay removed. Both of these appear to be time-consuming, expensive, and more surgery than I'd like. I was hoping the Wyco panel had built in 120 volt separation of the converter/WH/AC or offered an easy way to snip a bus bar to do so. It doesn't sounds like this is the case. Furthermore, I'm not a huge fan of all in one power center boxes, nor Wyco stuff in general.

Additionally, I did not realize the nuker was on a separate 120 volt breaker outlet than the rest of the RV. The semantics of this mean a 30 amp input is going to be needed, and since we're talking multiple sub circuits, a subpanel.

Perhaps the cheapest/simplest options is to just purchase one or two of these: https://www.boatandrvaccessories.com...ransfer-switch

One for the nuker.
One for the general household 120v feed (If I ever decide I really have a use for this, it's a 17B).

These would plug into the inverter outlet and simply switch over that leg to inverter when it has a feed and the AC outlet doesn't. No need for a subpanel.

Do you see any reason this is a bad idea?
The WFCO T30 ($70) and a small subpanel ($20) is going to cost less than $100 and handles the circuit to the microwave along with other circuits you may want powered by the inverter.

Seems to me that would be the way to go.
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:43 AM   #7
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The Wyco is pretty common in most trailers $15k-45k. The issue I take with them is the quality of the converter, and in turn the difficulty their integration presents is easily upgrading it. The converter on them leaves a lot to be desired, and is generally known to not do a proper three stage charge to quickly and fully charge your batteries. Since it's built in, replacing them with something better like Progressive Dynamics or a smart charger is a difficult proposition.

I know, they have to hit a price point so they are "acceptable" for where they are at, but a converter upgrade option from the factory would be very nice.

Anyways, off topic!

Thanks for suggesting the Wyco box. Inexpensive and to the rescue, most transfer switches I was finding were $200 or so. The subpanel is probably the best way to do it, but a side impact is it requires a bit more electrical knowledge than the in-line solution.

I also need to cut up the bench to mount it, but I could just hide it underneath.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
not a fan of integrated power centers ? huh. so you like a mess of cobbled up wiring of devices that don't quite work right together, instead? And whats wrong with the WFCO power center, IMHO, its nicer than the Parallax one that Casita and others use.

the correct way to wire this is to have the converter so it only gets power from the exterior power cord, and the transfer switch between the power cord and power breakers, and the inverter. The Air Conditioner breaker also should be on the non-transfered side, since the inverter can't supply enough power for it anyways.

this way, the inverter /never/ powers the converter, but the inverter can power all internal A/C accessories and outlets, including the microwave.

so...

external AC cord ->
-> breaker for power converter input
-> breaker for air conditioner
-> transfer switch line input

inverter output -> transfer switch inverter/generator input

transfer switch output ->
-> breaker(s) for outlets
-> breaker(s) for microwave outlet
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Old 11-15-2018, 01:39 AM   #8
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The photo and description from Tom (tdf-texas) shows the extra panel which I described.

John's description of a suitable order of components is what Escape does.

I agree with Tom, that by the time you've bought two $50 15-amp switches and wired them in you might as well have spent the extra time and money to do the whole trailer properly. It's not really a huge amount of work, compared to mounting two transfer switches and wiring them individually in two circuits:
  1. mount the transfer switch, and wire the inverter output to it
  2. add a second breaker panel, and wire the transfer switch output to this panel's input
  3. move the cables of all branch circuits to be run by the inverter (typically only two in a stock Escape setup) from the WFCO to the new panel
  4. re-use one of the available WFCO branch circuit positions to power the other input of the transfer switch
My only suggestion to improve on the factory Escape setup is to put the new panel in the face of a cabinet, rather than buried under a dinette seat. In a previous description some people agreed with that, while others thought that the buried panel was fine; I note that at least a couple of people have been unable to troubleshoot a power problem without the forum's assistance because they didn't know about the buried panel (or forgot about it, or didn't notice a tripped breaker in it because it isn't very visible). The challenge is finding a reasonable small panel with a cover.

The converter of the WFCO Power Center isn't really very integrated - it's just housed in the same box. If you want a different converter/charger you can easily wire one in, and if it fits you can put it inside the power centre where the WFCO converter was. A few Escape owners have done this, with a Progressive Dynamics converter/charger.

Small 120V distribution panels suitable for RV use are not common, so the practical way to put the required components in a small RV is an integrated power centre such as the WFCO (or the PD Inteli-Power® 4000 Series).
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Old 11-15-2018, 01:51 AM   #9
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That makes sense. This is the first time I've seen the converter integrated, the 12v/120v panels were common but my introduction to RV's was 2005 model year and later (I'm younger than most).

My 4-person side has been made into a perma-bed so wherever I put this, it will be challenging to see.

Do you have a recommended 120v panel for the sub panel before I hit up home depot?

Right now I think the subpanel is best if I want to integrate everything and do both circuits. If I decide to just do the microwave the $50 solution might be cleaner.

Thanks for everything!
-Paul

Quote:
Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
not a fan of integrated power centers ? huh. so you like a mess of cobbled up wiring of devices that don't quite work right together, instead? And whats wrong with the WFCO power center, IMHO, its nicer than the Parallax one that Casita and others use.

the correct way to wire this is to have the converter so it only gets power from the exterior power cord, and the transfer switch between the power cord and power breakers, and the inverter. The Air Conditioner breaker also should be on the non-transfered side, since the inverter can't supply enough power for it anyways.

this way, the inverter /never/ powers the converter, but the inverter can power all internal A/C accessories and outlets, including the microwave.

so...

external AC cord ->
-> breaker for power converter input
-> breaker for air conditioner
-> transfer switch line input

inverter output -> transfer switch inverter/generator input

transfer switch output ->
-> breaker(s) for outlets
-> breaker(s) for microwave outlet
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
The photo and description from Tom (tdf-texas) shows the extra panel which I described.

John's description of a suitable order of components is what Escape does.

I agree with Tom, that by the time you've bought two $50 15-amp switches and wired them in you might as well have spent the extra time and money to do the whole trailer properly. It's not really a huge amount of work, compared to mounting two transfer switches and wiring them individually in two circuits:
  1. mount the transfer switch, and wire the inverter output to it
  2. add a second breaker panel, and wire the transfer switch output to this panel's input
  3. move the cables of all branch circuits to be run by the inverter (typically only two in a stock Escape setup) from the WFCO to the new panel
  4. re-use one of the available WFCO branch circuit positions to power the other input of the transfer switch
My only suggestion to improve on the factory Escape setup is to put the new panel in the face of a cabinet, rather than buried under a dinette seat. In a previous description some people agreed with that, while others thought that the buried panel was fine; I note that at least a couple of people have been unable to troubleshoot a power problem without the forum's assistance because they didn't know about the buried panel (or forgot about it, or didn't notice a tripped breaker in it because it isn't very visible). The challenge is finding a reasonable small panel with a cover.

The converter of the WFCO Power Center isn't really very integrated - it's just housed in the same box. If you want a different converter/charger you can easily wire one in, and if it fits you can put it inside the power centre where the WFCO converter was. A few Escape owners have done this, with a Progressive Dynamics converter/charger.

Small 120V distribution panels suitable for RV use are not common, so the practical way to put the required components in a small RV is an integrated power centre such as the WFCO (or the PD Inteli-Power® 4000 Series).
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Old 11-15-2018, 02:04 AM   #10
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Do you have a recommended 120v panel for the sub panel before I hit up home depot?
I haven't seen a particularly good one, but if you give up on a panel with a cover door mounted in a cabinet face, whatever is smallest and fits the brand of breakers you want to use will work.

There is some nice hardware from marine suppliers. An example is the Blue Sea line, but they're not covered and don't use breakers that can be found in a building centre.

If I had to start from scratch for a 30-amp trailer with an inverter, I think I would use a PD5500 AC panel in a 30/30 split configuration (one side for shore-power-only circuits, the other for inverter-powered circuits), plus a PD6000 DC panel, and separately mounted converter/charger and inverter. There's no need to start from scratch, though.
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Old 11-15-2018, 08:55 AM   #11
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I added an inverter and transfer switch after the fact. Not hard at all to do, and probably took me 4 hours to do both. I can't imagine wanting to do it another way, as once this is installed it is super smooth operating.
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:45 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
[*]move the cables of all branch circuits to be run by the inverter (typically only two in a stock Escape setup) from the WFCO to the new panel
Escape typically installs only two breakers in the subpanel for their all outlets option but I think this is a mistake.

Per code, the microwave should be on a dedicated breaker from the other circuits. That would leave one breaker for the rest of the trailer. By installing four breakers, you can distribute the loads better. It helps when you have a coffee pot going and the wife wants to use a blow dryer and the outlets happen to be on the same breaker!
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:52 AM   #13
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Escape typically installs only two breakers in the subpanel for their all outlets option but I think this is a mistake.

Per code, the microwave should be on a dedicated breaker from the other circuits. That would leave one breaker for the rest of the trailer. By installing four breakers, you can distribute the loads better. It helps when you have a coffee pot going and the wife wants to use a blow dryer and the outlets happen to be on the same breaker!
Here a microwave only needs a dedicated breaker if it is a built in one, and technically the Escape installed one is just a braced free standing model.

I too questioned only having two circuits, but have yet to have a breaker trip. We don't have a microwave though. I did add a circuit for my electric heater that was a must, and roughed in one to use in at the galley if needed, but have yet to feel the need to connect it.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:29 AM   #14
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Here a microwave only needs a dedicated breaker if it is a built in one, and technically the Escape installed one is just a braced free standing model.

I to questioned only having two circuits, but have yet to have a breaker trip. We don't have a microwave though. I did add a circuit for my electric heater that was a must, and roughed in one to use in at the galley if needed, but have yet to feel the need to connect it.
For the OP (as he lives in the US),

In the US, NEC article 220 defines the branch circuit requirements. Per NEC article 220, the following Escape circuits should be dedicated circuits.

* Microwave circuit
* Air conditioner circuit
* Water heater circuit (if 120v/propane model)
* Converter circuit
* Subpanel circuit (if installed)

* If the owner has installed a permanent heater, it should also be on a dedicated circuit.

* Kitchen outlet circuits should be on a separate circuit from the other outlets.

Paul (pc500), if you decide to install a subpanel - you might as well do it correctly per code. Most trailer manufacturers violate code when doing trailer wiring but that still doesn't make it right.

I rewired my trailer to meet code but it didn't require running any new wiring - just replacing the single pole breakers with tandem poles and undoing the doubled up circuits. Escape had individual circuits run for the outlets and but then double tapped them using pigtails on the breakers so it was easy to fix.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:41 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
  1. mount the transfer switch, and wire the inverter output to it
  2. add a second breaker panel, and wire the transfer switch output to this panel's input
  3. move the cables of all branch circuits to be run by the inverter (typically only two in a stock Escape setup) from the WFCO to the new panel
  4. re-use one of the available WFCO branch circuit positions to power the other input of the transfer switch
As you know I'm a fan of pictures. I believe this is what you guys are describing if one uses the WFCO T-30 transfer switch or something equivalent. Comments please as I may take this on myself one day down the road.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
The converter of the WFCO Power Center isn't really very integrated - it's just housed in the same box. If you want a different converter/charger you can easily wire one in, and if it fits you can put it inside the power centre where the WFCO converter was. A few Escape owners have done this, with a Progressive Dynamics converter/charger.
Not hard at all...
Progressive Dynamics 14.8v Charging Rate
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:44 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
For the OP (as he lives in the US),

In the US, NEC article 220 defines the branch circuit requirements. Per NEC article 220, the following Escape circuits should be dedicated circuits.

* Microwave circuit
* Air conditioner circuit
* Water heater circuit (if 120v/propane model)
* Converter circuit
* Subpanel circuit (if installed)

* If the owner has installed a permanent heater, it should also be on a dedicated circuit.

* Kitchen outlet circuits should be on a separate circuit from the other outlets.

Paul (pc500), if you decide to install a subpanel - you might as well do it correctly per code. Most trailer manufacturers violate code when doing trailer wiring but that still doesn't make it right.

I rewired my trailer to meet code but it didn't require running any new wiring - just replacing the single pole breakers with tandem poles and undoing the doubled up circuits. Escape had individual circuits run for the outlets and but then double tapped them using pigtails on the breakers so it was easy to fix.
I'll add to this - if you carry a plug in electric heater, during the build ask Escape to add a receptacle in the location where you plan to plug the portable heater that is wired directly to the converter panel rather than through the sub panel (where all the AC receptacles are wired). This will save the contacts on the transfer switch from the relatively heavy load of the heater even when not using the inverter. Not absolutely necessary, but I believe it only cost me $50.00...
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Old 11-15-2018, 11:04 AM   #18
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As you know I'm a fan of pictures. I believe this is what you guys are describing if one uses the WFCO T-30 transfer switch or something equivalent. Comments please as I may take this on myself one day down the road.
I hate to keep beating that horse, but you really need at least 3 breakers - not 2.

Microwave outlet, kitchen outlet, and a circuit for the other outlets. Four breakers would be better.

A 70 Amp 2-Space 4-Circuit Indoor Surface Mount Main Lug Load Center plus ground bar with two tandem circuit breakers works fine.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Square-D-4-...Center/3131007
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Square-D-Lo...ar-Kit/3129237
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Square-D-QO...reaker/3127875
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Old 11-15-2018, 03:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
I hate to keep beating that horse, but you really need at least 3 breakers - not 2.

Microwave outlet, kitchen outlet, and a circuit for the other outlets. Four breakers would be better.

A 70 Amp 2-Space 4-Circuit Indoor Surface Mount Main Lug Load Center plus ground bar with two tandem circuit breakers works fine.
I hear you, but I'm dealing with existing wiring. I think the best I can do is move the converter to my 15A spare breaker in the WFCO power center, put the fridge/microwave circuit on the inverter (never plan to run the fridge on 120V from the inverter- would use propane) with breaker in the sub panel, put "outlets" on the inverter with another breaker in the sub panel, put my dedicated 20A outlet on the inverter with yet another breaker in the sub panel and call it a day.

From top to bottom in the power center this is what I have:
30A: Main
15A: Fridge / Converter / Microwave
15A: Outlets
15A: Elec Hot Water Heater
20A: Old overhead A/C circuit (now a dedicated GFI outlet inside medicine cabinet for hair dryer)
15A: New mini-split A/C unit
15A: spare

The 15A double on the bottom I added. The rest is factory.
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Old 11-15-2018, 03:40 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
As you know I'm a fan of pictures. I believe this is what you guys are describing if one uses the WFCO T-30 transfer switch or something equivalent.
Yes

... but I agree with Tom's position regarding the number of circuits in that subpanel. While adding the transfer switch and subpanel would be a good time to split up the two circuits into more, but at a minimum the (usually two) existing circuits are moved to the subpanel.
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