I've slowly been converting my 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 conversion van to allow me to camp less primitively. I had been traveling with a powerpack to meet my lighting needs or rolling an extension cord out the window and plugging it into 20 am service on site. Over the winter, I also purchased a small generator that will provide 20 amp service when electric service isn't available.
I'd love to do a bit of wiring that will give me a few interior plugs for my small microwave, my laptop, a fan (or even a small heater to take the chill off;-) and have them connected to an exterior plug so I don't have to hang a cord out a window.
I'm hoping some of you will have some economical solutions to offer. I'm taking a week long trip to MO at that end of the month and would love to have something worked up before then.
My stepson suggested just drilling a hole in the floor and dropping an extension cord down. That idea just doesn't thrill me ;-)
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Unless you have electrical skills I would suggest that you hire a licensed electrician to do the work for you. You will need the power cord first off, Then a breaker box with appropriate breakers, lots of wire and receptacles. You need to know how to calculate load for each circuit to be sure that you do not overload one and start a fire.
See, it is not all that complicated is it?
I would just do froogle.com searches for a 30amp WFCO panel...w/ small converter as a base...and go from there. You can always elect to use a 20 amp to 30 amp adapter...but you might find having the room for 5 branch circuits handy down the road. Use caution...some include a converter...some don't. For example...you can find 30/50 amp boxes for under $60... As long as you realize...a converter is separate if you want one.
With a converter you can run 12v circuits as well...vent fans, led lighting, stereo, fire alarm/co detectors...
I just think it gives you so many more options.
Have a friend with a 30 amp trailer show you his box... They usually have a dedicated circuit for air conditioning, microwave, etc... You don't have to use them all...but they are there for future needs.
I just think putting in metal enclosures are going to limit your flexibility..and just not save you anything in the long run.
Later, you could add a transfer switch for the generator, you could wire in house batteries and inverter, you could tie in solar panels...
Other than looks...a 20 amp inlet device isn't gaining you much over the hole in the floor and extension cable.
* This post was
edited 04/12/12 11:34am by chuggs *
I think they make an inlet-outlet box for such uses, but you may need to go to a commercial electric supply house, and they may not sell to the un-credentialed public. My untutored self would suggest a GFI socket on the inside. However yhou do it, get a licensed electrician to at least inspect it before putting it to the smoke test. Maybe even see if one will discuss the idea with you beforehand.
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I have a 8 foot 12 awg extension cord wired to a 9 outlet power strip/ surge protector.
The extension cord male end passes through the body, in my case behind arain protected flap in the front grille, under the headlamp. Just the 3 prongs stick out. I just take my 12 awg 100 foot extension cord and plug it in. Simple, effective, safe enough.
Here is a PIC I stole from WVVan's 40 page thread that shows a nice solution for the body pass through:
I keep the power strip right next to my inverter. When I don't have access to the grid and need 120 v AC, I pull a devices cord from the power strip and plug it into the inverter.
I also have a standard 120 volt outlet in the rear. I wired it so it can either plug into the power strip, or the inverter. I used a 12 awg power tool replacement cord for this.
The 67 Shasta trailer I had only had a 20A hookup. Much cheaper for a power cord, any normal outdoor extension cord will work. 30A ones are crazy expensive. I'm glad my van has a long one hard wired in! Might not ever need to buy an extension cord. You can get a $5 adapter to plug into 30A service if need be but usually RV parks have 20A and 30A on the post.
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Wide range of $uggestions! Every one much appreciated. If I go with a complex system, No worries, I've an experienced 'lektrician in the family. He'll be doing the work so I don't let the smoke out of any of the wiring or appliances.
Much to think about. I don't have plans for using much power, at most, the microwave at 1050 watts or a blow dryer for short periods of time (how long does it take to burn popcorn?). No TV, no air conditioner. I'm using LED battery powered puck lights for most of my lighting which suits perfectly.
Right now I'm using a Sears Diehard 1150 portable power pack with a 2nd battery I can wire in parallel if needed and that can carry my laptop, Kindle Fire and wifi device if needed. I've had to use the "portable" part to jump start my vehicle twice. Do the hardwired batteries have the capability to do the same?
Landyacht318, are you a member of one of the Dodge Forum? your forum name looks familiar and that person was helpful with my questions regarding the conversion van company that constructed this van. (couldn't get power to the sofa bed). I like what you've suggested here and could be a good jumping off point that I could build off of as time and finances permit.
Once I win the Lotto, I plan on buying one of those grand RV's that get 2 miles to the gallon but include a hot tub, a wet bar and a pool table and all the battery and generator power I need ;-) Until then... I'll just try to muddle through in my little conversion van and an extra long extension cord ;-)
I had a 03 Ram Van conversion that I did almost the exact same thing as Landyacht suggested with one exception. I incorporated a screw in 20 amp fuse in line.
I was able to run my cable under the threshold/rear doors/ through rubber grommets and mounted my plug beside license plate for easy access. Worked like a charm. I would still be using it had I not found a good deal on a Roadtrek.