Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let There be Light! And Power!

Before we discuss getting power into our trailer, be sure to go back and read the previous post, regarding the new door latch, if you have not done so already, as it has been updated with more pictures and details about that installation.

The access fitting that I am using here is probably twenty years old, but it has been safely stored out of heat and sunlight, so it still looks and works like brand new. It was originally bought to go down through the floor of a full-sized van that we were going to convert, but never got that far with it. Here is a brand new one just like it on Amazon.

In this case, we are installing the fitting in the left rear corner of the trailer, within the 20-inch deep storage area that will be behind a bulkhead. The bicycles will go back here, along with the power cords, hoses and any other "utility" type things that we have room for.

For those unfamiliar with RV standards, it is pretty much normal for all RV's to have their utility hookups on the left side, usually from the middle toward the rear. For many years, there was no standard, and some of the old campgrounds that haven't been updated in the last fifty years may have their electric, water and sewer connections almost anywhere. You should always have at least 50 feet of every utility hookup you use, just in case you run into one of those parks. But most places have now gotten on the same page, and place utilities where the RV's have also decided to put them...on the left side. The only exceptions would be parks that are in extremely rocky ground, or near lakes, in which case they put the utilities where it is easier to dig. And on RV's, the decision as to middle or rear of that left side is often decided by the floor plan.

For our use, we wanted the opening as near to the left side and rear corner as we could get it. Before cutting any holes, we had to reach underneath the trailer and find out where the framing members were, so we didn't accidentally cut into one of them. The electric cord(s) will hang on the wall of the trailer, and will attach to a multi-outlet, surge protected and breaker protected power strip, like any computer would use. We can easily reach around the corner of the trailer and feed the cord down through the access opening once we get parked where there is power available.

The electrical access door installed through the trailer floor.
When the fitting is closed, it seals out weather and bugs. We could even stuff some insulation into the cup if we needed to.

The electrical access door closed for transit.
When the cord is run through it (we will be using a #12, 3-wire cord on our rig, which is the size shown), the lid seals around the cord. If it leaves a slight gap, we can wrap some thin foam around the cord, and then close the lid, to make sure ants or anything else can't get though it.

The electrical access opening with the cord run through it.
That's pretty much all there is to that. Our power requirements for this trailer will be small. We will have a small 34-inch high refrigerator mounted on top of the countertop at eye level (we hate having to bend over to see what's in a refrigerator at floor level), a microwave (which won't be used if we're out boondocking without power), the Fantastic fans, and lights and chargers. That's about it. We may add a portable air conditioning unit if we see a need for it, but we plan on traveling with the weather.

However, we have to keep our puppy (he's seven years old now) cool if we have to leave him in the trailer for awhile, otherwise he goes where we go.

And later on, if we find that carrying a piano around with us isn't practical, we may use that space for a Spendide washer and dryer combo unit. We've had two of them before, and love them! Who knows...we may even add an apartment sized dishwasher next to it. Maybe. And still have enough room left to add another pantry to carry more food. If we don't do that, we may put a table and chairs in that space. How many rigs under 30-feet have you seen that have a washer/dryer AND a dishwasher, let alone a spinet piano? Not many, I'll bet!

As far as power for the refrigerator, we plan to eventually add enough solar to the roof, and batteries, to provide constant power for the refrigerator. We have a 1500-watt inverter to convert the 12 volts from the batteries to 120 volts for any other power we need. When we plug into a land line, a relay will switch everything over to that source automatically, although that may come later. The other appliances (other than our chargers) we can simply "not use" if we're out boondocking. We have choices. Choices are good. I like choices.

The next post will be about the blocking within the walls and ceiling, which is currently under way, but not yet done. It will be installed at all edges of paneling, around openings (like the Fantastic fans), and anywhere that anything will be attached to or hung from the walls or ceiling, for extra holding power. And we have picked up the insulation that we needed, so as soon as we can get the blocking installed in one section, the insulation will follow. Since we only have so much room in the trailer, it is easier to do one wall or the ceiling at a time, before we start another section.

I know some of you are going to say I should have used a different type of insulation, but as I said many times, we don't intend camping anywhere where it's below 30 degrees, nor above 100 (and preferable not that high). The insulation is more for sound than anything else, and if it helps keep it warmer or cooler, that's a bonus. It doesn't take that much heat or cooling for 72 square feet of space!

We will have a catalytic heater for boondocking (which uses no electricity), and a small electric heater for when we have power, and that will be the only other thing that may use electricity. Half wattage of 750 watts will be more than enough to keep us comfortable, and that still leaves plenty to run the refrigerator and even our 700 watt microwave. If we run into a problem, we'll simply shut the electric heater off, otherwise we can run the refrigerator (200 watts maximum) and microwave at the same time, and still have enough left for lights and chargers. Problem solved.

So hang in there. I have to stop and fix some dinner, and then I'll try to start on the next post tonight yet, so I can feel like I'm caught up!

As always, let me know if you have any questions. I'm here every day!

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