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Old 08-17-2017, 12:02 AM   #1
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Addition of 12V power panel

I noticed that there are were no 12V outlets in my A-frame. This concerned me because I use a CPAP, and if I ever go boondocking, I will need a 12V outlet to power the CPAP. Furthermore, it would be nice to have USB charger ports and and a voltmeter to check the charging and discharge states of my battery.

I found this power panel for $48 on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XFNKZQM
There seems to be quite a number of these on Amazon in all sorts of configurations. They all seem to be somewhat universal, mix and match.

One of my main goals was to lower the parasitic 12V load as much as possible to extend the length of boondocking on battery power. I used my multimeter and made these determinations by pulling the DC fuses in the converter box and taking mA readings at the battery:

===================
A-frame parasitic total 150mA
------
Converter 20mA
Water heater 0mA
Furnace controls 8mA
Lights 0mA
Pump / gas/CO detector 60mA
Radio 45mA all wires connected
Radio 10mA dimmer wire disconnected
Radio 0mA ACC wire disconnected
===================

Purchased 12V power panel parasitic loads
It could be as much as 56mA if everything is on
------
12V outlet 0mA
USB charger 9mA
Voltmeter 7mA
6 lower dash lights 21mA total
1 upper switch light 3.5mA each
Everything on 56mA
===================

I decided to use the switches on the power panel to switch off some devices to reduce parasitic load.
Switch 1 - Radio. Putting this on a switch saves 45mA. With only the radio power wire connected, a negligible amount of power is needed for the clock and station memory. So little, it actually measured 0mA.
Switch 2 - 12V outlet. Some 12V outlets have a LED in them to light them up. This one does not, but I decided to put the 12V outlet on a switch anyway.
Switch 3 - Voltmeter. Putting this on a switch saves 7mA.
Switch 4 - USB charger. Putting this on a switch saves 9mA.
Switch 5 - spare
Switch 6 - spare

I decided to not hook power up to the 6 lower dash lights to show that the switches are in the off position. This saves 21mA.

So with the 12V power panel in place and all switches off, I am reducing the total parasitic load 45mA (radio) from the stock camper. From originally 150mA down to 105mA.

Pictures to follow showing installation.
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:04 AM   #2
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The pictures from top to bottom:

12V power panel wiring as shipped. I did do some minor additional wiring. As I tied the radio dimmer and ACC wires into the first switch, and wired switches 2, 3, and 4 to switch off the 12V outlet, voltmeter, and USB charger.

Holes drilled before cutting. I made the cutout no larger than I absolutely had to since the backing material is so thin.

Glueing a 1"x1" board on backside so bottom screws have something to screw into and to also stiffen up the wall. The top screws will screw into the existing board at the top that the counter top is fastened to.

Power panel installed. 3rd switch on to demonstrate voltmeter. Notice it is displaying 13.2 volts, which is showing my converter is in float mode. It is much easier to read than the picture shows. Also notice radio backlight is off because the first switch is off.

Showing the entire sidewall.
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:29 AM   #3
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Nice
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:25 AM   #4
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Thats a nice setup
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:32 AM   #5
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Very Nicely Done !!! Thank you for sharing your measurements, as well
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Old 08-17-2017, 02:53 PM   #6
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Very nice job. I did nearly the same thing almost as soon as I got my camper home.

I didn't get the panel with the switches. I got one with USB/DC 12v and a voltmeter and put it below my radio, which is mounted higher on my unit.

I mounted a second one with just USB/DC socket over near my cooktop.

Amazon links to the parts:
https://goo.gl/G5LCwx (with voltmeter)
https://goo.gl/jtpa4d (without)

I mounted them without any backing. I had a holesaw the same size as the jacks, so I drilled holes for each socket. The faceplate is also screwed in place, but is really only for looks.

I've found them to be very handy for charging phones, etc. and I have a small fan that plugs into a DC socket.

The only downside I found was the little blue LED staring me in the face, inches away if I sleep at the dinette end. I'll just have to put my feet at that end from now on...
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:18 PM   #7
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I installed the 3 panel set from HF on top of the roof. I have a Rockwood Freedom used the control panel for it . Has volt meter and plug in for cigar lighter two 12volt plug in's 1/4" phone, a USB plug a 3volt & 6volt . Keeps battery's up while sitting at home stored. Without hooking up to house wiring. Haven't yet dry camped with it.
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:19 PM   #8
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Looks nice, good job. My parasitic load was the CO/smoke detector. The device is very power hungry as compared to 9v smoke detectors. RV manufacturers suffered a large lawsuit. I'm a safety first type of guy but more confident and trustful of personal safety practices. Nowadays, most are not proficient in such systems and solely rely on electronics to alert them of danger. They read of horror stories such as propane will blow you up and it will, but the risk is almost zero.

Also, I hacked the electrical system for 12v. Meaning I have ac and dc bulbs to switch out. I have a basic checklist to preform, but since we mostly boon dock not much of chore. I unplug and shut all circuit breakers off. Utilize a short jumper from the 12v plug to 120v plug. Then flip on circuit breaker for outlets. On our rig this allows every outlet to be powered 12v DC. Our TV is 12v or with adapter 120v AC. Our ceiling fan is 12v as well as fantastic fan. We have quick connects to utilize plug or cigarette plug for computer and other battey devices. It's just another option, but handy. Best to make as simple as possible and practice a standard procedure. Everything is fused. We do use AC power from 1kw generator for battery recharge, hair iron, and hair dryer. We avoid the converter as just to wasteful. Most campers are learning to power up on DC. We have many options. I have a 70 amp hour battery that works fine. I use it for the inflatable catamaran fishing trolling motor, too.
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:25 PM   #9
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You right the detecter will run two 24 class battery's down in about two weeks.
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:36 PM   #10
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The stock A-frame has a 150mA parasitic draw. A Deka marine size 24 battery has a capacity of 65 Amp hours. 65 Amp hours / 0.150 Amps = 433 hours. 4333 hours = 18 days until fully discharged. 9 days until 50% discharge, which is the maximum recommended discharge.

Wow, just wow. Not using anything in the camper will result in a battery 50% discharged in just 9 days.

The 60mA draw for the CO/Propane gas detector is quite substantial. Safety is paramount though. My wife is so concerned about CO, that she had me add an additional CO detector. I installed a Kidde battery powered CO detector with digital display that I mounted on the roof panel next to the battery powered fire alarm. We wanted the digital display so that we could see if there is any CO, even at very low levels, and get an actual numerical reading.
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