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dbailey 07-30-2013 11:47 PM

question on running 12v
My next project is probably going to be to install the stereo I've put together. My intention is to attach it under the overhead cabinets at the front of the trailer, on the passenger side of the light fixture.

As part of the project, I'll add a couple of extra 12v outlets in the box I'll build for the amplifier.

Electrical is not my area of expertise, so I've got a couple of questions.

How do you run the wires?

I'd like to start with a connection at the outlet under the passenger-side dinette. I can tuck the wire behind the corner vinyl to get up to the overhead cabinet. But once there, what then? I could bring the wires out under the overhead cabinet (it will be mostly hidden by a speaker I plan to put there). Ideally I'd like to get the wire up into the overhead and keep it hidden there, but the corner of the overhead isn't accessible. How would I get the wire through this inaccessible corner?

How do you connect into existing wires?

I'd like to connect into the wires of the existing outlet. If this were 120v, I'd take the wires off the outlet, and use a twist cap to connect the new wire, the old, and a pigtail to connect back to the outlet. With 12v, do you do the same sort of thing? I know a twist cap isn't necessarily the right choice here, since vibration can cause the caps to come off. Does solder have the same problem? I'd think solder would survive the vibration fine. What about a heat-shrink sleeve?

How do you measure power draw?

I've got a couple of components I'd like to figure out how much power they draw. I believe to make an amperage measurement in a circuit, I need to break the circuit and close it with the meter. Is there a trick to doing this, or is the easiest way to take some of your wiring apart?

Thanks for the assistance, folks.

bvansnell 07-31-2013 01:46 AM


You are asking a lot of questions! I ran some wiring to install a battery monitor and to supply inverter power to some outlets. Here are a few answer:

1. the corner vinyl is secured with a screw that is hidden by a pressed on cap. If you carefully lift up on one side of that cap with a small flat screwdriver you can expose the screw and when you remove the corner cover you have a route to run wires from the bottom of the trailer to the top. Don't lose the small cap!
2. you are right that the corner does not have easy access. You can drill a hole into it from inside the cabinet and fish a wire through with a couple of pieces of stiff wire. It takes a bit of patience!
3. the normal way to connect 12 volt wires is with a crimp-on connector. You can buy these from most places that sell automotive electrical supplies. You will need a crimping tool. These are pretty cheap.
4. you can run wire on the top inside corner of the cabinets using cable ties with screw holes in them. You should be able to find these also in automotive electrical supply places. Be careful where you put the screws!
5. in order to measure current you will need an ammeter which sometimes is part of a multimeter. The choices are: (a) a multimeter which has a built in ammeter -- you will need to break the circuit to measure the current (b) a clamp on ammeter -- I have one but it doesn't work all that well. What current are you trying to measure?
6. you should use stranded wire -- it handles bending and vibration better than solid wire. You can look up the size you need if you know what current the wire will be carrying.

cpaharley2008 07-31-2013 08:17 AM

I recall my curb side corner in the 19' was empty space and I had to drill 2 holes to fish a wire thru it for my radio install.

dbailey 07-31-2013 08:49 AM

Thanks for the info, guys.

I want to measure the power draw on the stereo, and I also want to measure how much power a USB converter draws when there's nothing plugged into it.

cpaharley2008 07-31-2013 09:21 AM

plug in your volt meter in a 12v plug and then turn each item on and make note of the change.

dbailey 07-31-2013 09:45 AM

How do I get from there to current draw? I'd like an idea of how many amps each thing draws, so I can get an estimate of amp-hour usage.

bvansnell 07-31-2013 09:49 AM


Originally Posted by dbailey (Post 29596)
How do I get from there to current draw? I'd like an idea of how many amps each thing draws, so I can get an estimate of amp-hour usage.


Choices are
(1) hook up an ammeter in line -- you can calculate amp-hours knowing how long you will have the device connected
(2) most devices have the power draw right on the device although this is approximate
(3) I use a Trimetric TM2025RV battery monitor which records total current draw on the battery, so I can see the current change in turning on or off any device. The monitor can also measure amp-hours and can estimate state of charge which I find comforting

Jim Bennett 07-31-2013 10:22 AM

Brians description is very accurate, including the patience needed to fish from the corner (behind the corner moulding) into the cabinet. I think I got it on the 37th try. :)

The ultimate way of connecting is soldering and using heat shrink. I do this with 18g and smaller wires most of the time. With 18g and larger, I will use these Snap Lock Splice Connectors. Properly used they work great, and are super easy to use. I would never use them outside in the elements though. And though it may be overkill, I like to put a dab of dielectric grease in the connector before splicing.

Jubal 07-31-2013 11:09 AM

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