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Author Topic: Electrical Breaker Panels  (Read 2381 times)
Highway Yacht
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« on: September 21, 2011, 12:26:26 PM »

I'm just wondering what most of you guys used for your 110V Electrical Panel Breaker Box in your conversion? Did you use a prebuilt residential breaker box from a big box store like Lowes or Home Depot and then just add the needed breakers, or did you build your own from scratch??

Jimmy
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Bussman84
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2011, 12:35:27 PM »

Jimmy, I purchased mine from an rv salvage. Got a nice 50 amp box with all the breakers and it also has a built-in 12 volt fuse panel for the 12 volt items I am planning to use. Gave them 100.00 for it figured I would probably spend more than that to build one up my self. Seem to work perfectly for my application... Billy
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2011, 12:53:42 PM »

I purchased a panel from an electrical supply house I use for work. I purchased only the breakers I needed as I went along.

Good Luck,

Mike
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Mike Everard
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 01:46:45 PM »

 I used two panels.  The first one is the AC distribution panel that is part of my DC charger/converter.  It runs the non-inverter powered AC loads and is fed from my first automatic transfer switch, that selects between outside power and the generator.  The second one is a four position pony panel.  It is fed from the automatic transfer switch that is fed from the inverter and the output of the first ATS.  I only run about 5 AC circuits in the bus, one is the 20 amp for the air conditioner, and the other four are just outlets for the kitchen, bath, fridge, etc.  I have them split up in what seemed like a logical progression at the time.

Anyway, the reason I used two is so I could logically and simply separate the circuits that are just powered from the generator or outside power from circuits that are powered by the inverter as a third choice.  The reason I used pony panels is I didn't need a lot of positions and they come with neutral separate from ground, you don't have to figure out a way to float neutral.  The big house type load center I ripped out and tossed had neutral permanently bonded to ground, there was no way to un-bond them.  The logic of my system is designed to limit choices so mistakes are hard to make.  For example, it's completely impossible for me to plug my battery charger into my inverter, or to run the fridge on AC power from the inverter without extension cords.  While I can conceive of a reason to run the fridge on AC from the batteries, there really isn't a reason to charge the batteries from the inverter which is getting it power from the batteries...  so I made it really hard to do that.  That may change if I decide to install more batteries to support an AC only fridge, in future.  Right now running my fridge on AC would drain my batteries too fast for my liking.

Brian
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 01:56:49 PM by bevans6 » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 01:58:42 PM »

I used a 240 volt 125 amp panel to get enough breakers to do the job. and put in a seperate 40 amp 340 breaker panel as the main with split breakers to hadle each side of the two feed 50 amp curcuits/ Jerry
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 01:59:39 PM »

I used a GE panel from HD. Works great, and use Allen Bradley 3 phase contactors to switch between shore and generator.
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 03:49:30 PM »

Mine are Square D panels from Home Depot.  I used three of them.  One for selecting shore or generator (4-50amp breakers with a slider to prevent both to be on at the same time), main circuit breaker with 16 slots-of which I'm using 12 now; then the 30amp breaker box with 6 circuit breakers for the inverter powered items.  Works well, and don't have to worry about specialized breakers since they can be bought at any big box store.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2011, 04:22:53 PM »

I am also at this step.  To deal the ground bonding issue, I was thinking of mounting the white wire bus bar on a lexan spacer (with plastic screws) to separate it from the green ground bus bar.  Did anyone do anything special for the neutral? 
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Rick A. Cone
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2011, 05:53:39 PM »

I used Square D load panels (& not the homeline series). The neutral comes isolated, it's connected to the box ground by a screw. The sell a ground bus bar that fits the box. You'll also need the kit if you're going to use a backfed breaker, otherwise known as a main circuit breaker. It's just a block of plastic to prevent an idiot from pulling that breaker.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 05:56:54 PM by Brassman » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2011, 07:19:31 PM »

I used Cutler-Hammer (now Eaton) BR series panels.  They come with a piece of metal and a screw that gets removed to isolate the neutral.  I had to buy a ground bus bar separately like others have mentioned.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2011, 08:18:27 PM »

I know everyone likes photos, especially the person asking the questions.  Of course this will always open the responder up to criticism, there is always someone who will tell you ya did it all wrong.

This is how I did it, and it worked terrific for 12 years (don't have the bus any more).

The 120V boxes, and the breakers to fit them, were from a local electrical supply store.  The box on the left is the main breaker for the incoming shore power 120V 50A supply.  The wire (large orange covering) coming out of the main breaker box  went to the 50A automatic switch box (which is the aluminum silver box).  Some people prefer separate plugs to manually plug the shore line or generator into their respective spot.

I never installed a generator so it never had to switch "back and forth", but when I plugged in the landline cord into the shore supply you could hear the auto switch box kick in.

Wiring then went to the branch panel on the right of the main breaker box.  This branch panel contain the supply circuit breakers for things like the air conditioners, 120v AC lights inside the coach, the 120v supply to run the water heater (the water heater was 120/propane), the 120v duplexes inside the coach, and the outlets in the bays, etc, etc.

The box mounted on the far right, which is silver with the yellow colored trim, was a 2500W inverter.  If we were off shore power dry camping, and using the inverter the outgoing 120v ac power from the inverter went into the branch panel mount on the right of the auto switch box.

I also had the coach configured to run the front air conditioner off the inverter while traveling down the road, and the 8V71 generator would charge the batteries faster than the air conditioner would use them.

The inverter branch panel controlled all the 120v items we would use while on the inverter.  We had a full size Kitchen Air refrigerator in the coach which was 120v only.  This is one of the items we would run off the inverter if dry camping.  Also a duplex in the bedroom was put on the inverter to run an electric blanket if dry camping in the winter.

The 12V DC "stuff" was put through the black square blade fuse terminal panels mounted above the 120v main breaker box.

The 120V items were purchased locally, and the 12V fuse boxes were either purchased locally (probably Napa Auto) or online from Wrangler.

There are many of the guys on this board have much more knowledge and experienced in the electrical arena than, I..........but this worked well for us during the time we used the bus.

Where ever you get your AC panel tell them you want an isolated ground bar for the panel so you can keep the neutral and ground separate.  You may get a few funny looks until you tell them about your "project", then most will sort of nod as it sets in.

I've included several pictures.

Hope this helps you,

Chris
(former GMC 4905 busnut)
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Chris & Cheryl Christensen
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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2011, 05:21:36 AM »

Nice and clean Cris.

glen
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2011, 06:59:22 AM »

What is the frosted white plastic thing mounted to the front wall by the door in the 2nd photo?
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2011, 08:45:15 PM »

I bought the same panels that belfert did - a 100 amp 10 space 20 ckt for the main, and a 125 amp 8 space 16 ckt subpanel.  The whole grounding strip thing is way simpler when you are looking inside them.  I went with these because they are smaller in size and both identical externally, which I think will make for a cleaner install.
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Rick A. Cone
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« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2011, 04:12:30 AM »

I bought the same panels that belfert did - a 100 amp 10 space 20 ckt for the main, and a 125 amp 8 space 16 ckt subpanel.  The whole grounding strip thing is way simpler when you are looking inside them.  I went with these because they are smaller in size and both identical externally, which I think will make for a cleaner install.

Maybe I'm missing something here.. Why would you need a 20 Circuit Main panel and then a 16 circuit Sub?? I would think a main would only need one main 50amp breaker that feeds your Sub, unless you had 2 subs.. In the case of 2 subs, I would think your main would have (2) 25amp breakers. Forgive me for sounding stupid but I'm trying to learn..and plan at the same time..

Jimmy
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« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2011, 06:14:19 AM »

Using many circuit breakers-at least I like to have more or less a separate circuit breaker for each appliance and plug.  Much the same as having a dedicated pipe (hose) for each plumbing appliance with separate ball valve to cut that appliance off if you have problems with it-this so you can continue your trip-but just without that particular appliance if you have a failure.  Wiring or plumbing a motorhome is just not the same as a house.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2011, 12:15:35 PM »

Using many circuit breakers-at least I like to have more or less a separate circuit breaker for each appliance and plug.  Much the same as having a dedicated pipe (hose) for each plumbing appliance with separate ball valve to cut that appliance off if you have problems with it-this so you can continue your trip-but just without that particular appliance if you have a failure.  Wiring or plumbing a motorhome is just not the same as a house.  Good Luck, TomC

I understand the number of possible curcuits needed for appliances and outlets, etc but my question was referring to his statement about his "Main" panel with 20 circuits feeding a Sub Panel with 16 more circuits. If you look at the pic chris4905 posted, It appears his Main Panel has ONE breaker which feeds his Sub Panel with multiple breakers that feeds his appliances and outlets, etc.. The way chris4905 explained it is how in my mind I thought it went. 

Shorepower--->Main Panel---->Sub Panel--->Outlets & Appliances

Jimmy
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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2011, 12:28:20 PM »

The reason for two sets of distribution breaker panels, whether in a main/sub or sub/sub configuration is to separate the inverter powered circuits from the rest.
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« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2011, 12:54:18 PM »

Well, my electrical plan has stuff pretty well divided up, and I have 10 ckts off the main panel (powered by shore power / genny) and 6 ckts off the inverter (which is what the subpanel is for).  Anything with less circuits only had like 2 space / 4 ckt.  And room to grow is always good.  The main line breaker is in the main box, and I'm putting a 30A or so bkr in the main box that branches off to the subpanel via inverter passthrough.

My schematic is:

shorepower----ats----main-----outlets
                       I         I
genny-----------I         I------inverter------outlets
                                               I
          solar array---batt bank----I
                                   I
       bus alt-----------isolator--------start batt's

Does this make any sense?

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Rick A. Cone
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« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2011, 01:05:08 PM »

Len is right about inverter circuits being on a separate panel, at least in my case.  I used two 8 space panels.  One is for generator/shore loads and the other is for inverter loads.  I am actually running out of space in the shore panel and I have started to install the breakers that have two circuits in one space.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2011, 03:22:01 PM »

Well, my electrical plan has stuff pretty well divided up, and I have 10 ckts off the main panel (powered by shore power / genny) and 6 ckts off the inverter (which is what the subpanel is for).  Anything with less circuits only had like 2 space / 4 ckt.  And room to grow is always good.  The main line breaker is in the main box, and I'm putting a 30A or so bkr in the main box that branches off to the subpanel via inverter passthrough.

My schematic is:

shorepower----ats----main-----outlets
                       I         I
genny-----------I         I------inverter------outlets
                                               I
          solar array---batt bank----I
                                   I
       bus alt-----------isolator--------start batt's

Does this make any sense?



Yes..It makes perfect sense now.. I was just thinking too simple since my setup will only be using shorepower at this point. Thanks for explaining it..
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« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2011, 06:38:57 AM »

Jimmy,

Many years ago I visited RV salvage yard in Liberty, NC.  They had a barn full of stuff including electrical.  I'm not sure were Locast is in relationship to Liberty, both are way West of me.  The name is National Recovery Service, 336-622-7285.  If you find out something about them, please post.

Art
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Art & Cheryll Gill
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« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2011, 07:40:03 AM »

Joe,

I believe your referring to the inverter.  Looks like plastic in the picture, but actually it's metal.
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Chris & Cheryl Christensen
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« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2011, 09:22:08 AM »

From what I have read on other sites.. it appears that a 50 amp pedestal is wired for 240 volts. Meaning that if you separate the 2 hot wires in your Bus's electrical panel, that you'll actually have access to 100 amps at 120 volts.. Is that right?? and if so, can you use all 100 amps in your bus by wiring it that way?

Jimmy
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« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2011, 09:29:04 AM »

From what I have read on other sites.. it appears that a 50 amp pedestal is wired for 240 volts. Meaning that if you separate the 2 hot wires in your Bus's electrical panel, that you'll actually have access to 100 amps at 120 volts.. Is that right?? and if so, can you use all 100 amps in your bus by wiring it that way?

Correct.  I can't quite imagine using all 100 amps at 120 volts unless you have five rooftops or something.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2011, 10:32:16 AM »

Quote
Correct.  I can't quite imagine using all 100 amps at 120 volts unless you have five rooftops or something.

Neither can I... but I just wanted to make sure I was understanding it correctly.. Thanks..

Jimmy
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« Reply #26 on: September 25, 2011, 11:51:30 AM »

I agree with a couple of previous posters.  I prefer the Square-D type QO panels (NOT Homeline) over most other brands. Well made and reliable.
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« Reply #27 on: September 25, 2011, 07:22:25 PM »

For what it is worth, I bought my IOTA breaker boxes from Mastertech inc.

www.mastertech-inc.com or 800-848-0558
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Steven
81 MCI MC9
Hudson, Florida
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