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Old 06-21-2011, 07:01 PM   #1
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Electrical conversion

I'm soliciting input on my options. We are shipping our RV to Europe for extended full timing trip. We will be traveling for up to two years. Our RV runs on 12v and 120v electrical so a conversion is required to plug into the 250v European systems.

I am removing generator and AC unit since generators are typically not permitted and adequate power to run the AC will be rare.

Simplest option is a voltage converter to convert 220-250 shore power to 110-120. But I have read many accounts of services running as low as 4 amps 250 meaning 8 amps at 120.

Next option is a marine charger designed to deliver 12v charging on shore power of 90-280v. The controller can independently charge 3 separate battery banks so I would run all 120v systems off 6 coach batteries and simply plug in to continually charge. With a quality sine wave inverter I should have 2000 watts 120v at 60htz to run RV appliances.

Then there is the solar option. A 340 watt solar array and 6 coach batteries should be adequate (I think). The same sine wave inverter for 2000 watt 60 htz 120v.

Anyone see holes, have an opinion, or simply want to tell me we're nuts?


Charles and Ruth Anne
2011 Forest River Solera

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Old 06-21-2011, 10:22 PM   #2
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One thing you need to keep in mind is the frequency in Europe is 50 hz. Any electrical item with a motor in it will fail. Even some, if not most, other electrical devices that have transformers in them will also fail.

The marine option is probably your best option if you can survive living on 2000 watts.

Enjoy your trip.


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Old 06-22-2011, 11:21 AM   #3
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Be very careful with a "converter". Most of the cheap ones are sinmply a diode which cuts off half the wave of the ac. This gets anything with an inductive load (motors, transformers in device chargers) very hot and will burn them up quite quickly.

You could go with a heavy-duty transformer with 240V in, 115 out at up to maybe 4 KW. I don't think 115V/50Hz would actually damage anything. but motors would run at 5/6ths their normal speed.

Maybe a second sinewave inverter and more battery capacity would get you 4KW, but you'd have to divide up the 115V circuitry to run on one inverter or the other.

Also, watch out for power in some of the rural areas in France. They used to be 240V DC. I doubt there are many of those small systems left, but you can't be too careful.

Your US TVs won't work over there either, since France has a SECAM system and a lot of other countries are on PAL systems. Only the areas near US Forces bases will have NTSC.
Frank and Eileen
No longer RVers or FR owners
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:35 PM   #4
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Not only will you have to worry about the Voltage (and the inability to run a generator) but your gas connection into the RV will be different as well. Another item for the conversion list.

And to top it off the weight restrictions in Europe are taken VERY SERIOUSLY (bridges, etc). Make sure you're running weight is NEVER above GVWR as they will stop you right there and unload what it takes to allow to move the vehicle again. Our Solera is not allowing a lot of additional weight so all modifications you do will add to the base weight and remove cargo capacity.

Adding a lot of batteries is going to add a lot of weight to the RV, which already is heavy. What I would consider is actually taking the marine inverter that allows for US and European input and verify you can run 240V (which is the correct European standard) on the existing wiring and outlets (meaning no 115V appliace is connected there and replaced with 120/240 versions - i.e. Water Heater). That allows you to plug in anywhere in the future (when returning home).

Keep in mind that campgrounds in Europe have hot showers and the shower in the RV itself is rarely needed (dishwashing places are available as well).

I'm usually thinking if you do this for an extended trip it is more cost efficient to buy an RV in Europe and sell it afterwards. The conversion needs are significant and you will have to convert everything back again once you return. Even so our Solera is small in the US it will be considered a pretty large RV in Europe.....

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Old 07-16-2011, 04:21 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input! We are T-30 days! Wanted to come back and post the outcome of our research before leaving then I will update after some time in Europe to report on how it all works out.

We have elected to remove the generator, AC unit and the factory installed house batteries resulting in a weight reduction of 401 pounds.

We are mounting a slide out battery tray capable of holding 6 6-volt batteries in the generator space. We are leaving with 4 batteries on board as we should be plugged in 99% of the time. Weight of batteries and tray ~340 lbs.

We are installing Xantrex Truecharge 2 60a charger that can handle voltage from 90-265 Vac / 47-63 Hz and Xantrex PROSine 1800w Inverter. We will then run off batteries while continuously charging.

I replaced all of the light bulbs with LEDs and plan to run the fridge on LP mostly so assuming our calculations are correct, we should have plenty of power for normal daily usage.

Heading Reiner's warning, I took the RV to a CAT scale today and had the empty unit weighed. I did have some concerns since I previously upgraded the suspension with 200-300 lbs of sway bar and aux springs. With full tanks of fuel and propane and empty holding tanks we weighed 9930 leaving 1,100 lbs for people and cargo. Using a luggage scale I estimate that during our US travels we were carrying about 1,500 not including holding tanks. After eliminating the unnecessary or duplicate items it appears that we can easily stay at or under the GVWR of 11030 listed on our unit. (I had 310 lbs of tools!)

So, on Aug 5 I deliver the unit to the dock in Galveston, Texas and family and I will travel to NY where we are taking the QM II to Southampton where the RV will (hopefully) arrive on Sept 5!
Charles and Ruth Anne
2011 Forest River Solera

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