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Old 12-31-2016, 11:21 AM   #1
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New 2109S

Happy New Year fellow campers.

We picked up a new 2109S last month and I have been busy with lots of projects getting it ready for our maiden voyage. I've been redoing the battery connections to make that more robust (and safer), added a small inverter for the TV and a computer, installed an energy monitor - sort of a fuel gauge for the battery - and a prelude to installing a REAL solar charging system that will provide a rated 260W, not that joke that is prewired at the factory.

Let's see if I can attach photos from my phone. Looks like it. So let's start with this custom entry mat I made from stair tread material obtained at the hardware store. It is exactly the right width.
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Old 12-31-2016, 11:50 AM   #2
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Here's some shots of the inverter, computer and energy monitor. The monitor measures Amp Hours discharged & charged to give a much more accurate measurement of the battery state. It also has a Bluetooth connection that allows me to monitor the battery state from my phone. The same company makes the solar controller I'm going to use and that also has a Bluetooth interface.

The Windows 10 Compute Stick is that candy bar sized object above the IRV radio. It has an HDMI output that I routed to the front HDMI input of the IRV by a hidden cable.

The TV and computer plug into the mini power strip and then that is either plugged into the inverter or wall outlet. The inverter is powered by the 12 volt circuit marked Television in the power center and only powers the antenna pre-amp.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:09 PM   #3
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OK - the battery wiring. First - lest start with the cabling as delivered. As I said, I think most of this was done at the dealer level, or at least I would hope that it WASN'T done at the factory.

The top wire is the "jumper" that connects the 2 - 6 volt batteries in series to get 12 volts. 6 volt golf cart batteries are about the most robust lead acid batteries available for deep discharge duty like on a trailer.

While the jumper is 4 gauge wire, it is over twice as long as needed (if the batteries are positioned so the terminals needed to be connected are closest to each other). It also has ring terminals for 3/8" studs but the studs on the batteries are 5/16", further increasing the resistance (battery power enemy #1) in addition to the excess length.

The other 2 wires are 8 gauge - the same size wire as feeds the entire power to the trailer - going to the battery switch and ground. That isn't a mortal sin, but in particular I would like to at least see a heavier ground connection to trailer frame, since poor grounding seems to be the root of most electrical problems and since resistance is enemy #1, I'd like to see BOTH heavier - like 4 gauge.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:13 PM   #4
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So I mentioned ground. Since my experience with low voltage systems in boats, automobiles, aircraft, etc. has consistently shown that the root of most electrical gremlins is related to ground, or specifically poor ground. Motors overheat, higher current devices try to find ground by other paths through other devices. All kinds of problems are caused by low voltage and low voltage is a result of poor connections and undersized wire.

In the previous photo, the terminal on the left end of the black wire was the frame ground connection. It was connected to the frame with a 1/4" self drilling metal screw - "ZIP - good to go" - NOT! I'm sure it wouldn't take many miles of travel for that connection to work loose (I don't believe the paint was cleaned off the frame to provide a good metal - to - metal contact - but upon closer examination it may have been the "official" connection. It's just in such an awkward location that it is difficult to tell). On the other end of that wire, as well as both ends of the longer red wire below it, are 3/8" ring terminals. Again, the batteries have 5/16" studs. So - from ground to the batteries and on to the battery switch there are 6 ring terminals and 4 of them are the wrong size.

The pink line points to the preliminary new ground stud I installed on the front cross piece of the battery support that is in turn welded to the frame. The white box on the right houses the shunt for the battery monitor.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:14 PM   #5
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This will be the permanent ground stud.

Starting at the head of the 3/8" bolt, there are internal serrated lock washers that go on both sides of the frame. The paint on the frame needs to be scraped off (I only did the bottom) so good solid contact can be made. Next come a flat washer so the tightening of the nut doesn't damage that lock washer, then a spring lock washer under the nut that when tightened, will sandwich the frame between the two serrated washers.

Then, the ground wire from the battery with the proper size (3/8") is sandwiched between the 2 serrated washers that are sandwiched in between 2 flat washers (the red lug is at that position) followed by another flat washer then a Nylock nut that won't vibrate loose.

Why the manufacture of the frame doesn't weld on a connection stud to the frame in the area of the battery tray baffles me.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:18 PM   #6
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Now for the batteries themselves. I mentioned making the system more robust and safer. Read on as to what the problem is as delivered.

The #4 interconnecting cable is going to be replaced with 2/0 (big as your thumb) for even lower resistance. The other cables are #4 - two gauges up from originally #8. There is now a 60 amp (soon to be 100 A) fuse right at the battery to protect them and the trailer wiring in case of a dead short.

Speaking on that subject - there was NO FUSE between the batteries and where the +12 volt wire enters the trailer via a hole in the metal frame before it reaches a thermal circuit breaker that is behind the hatch on the bottom of the trailer. That means IF that wire were to short out at the frame (there is some grommet material around the hole, but...) things would get very hot until one of the wires completely turned into molten metal. And that's the best scenario.

I'd be willing to bet that that is contrary to the RVIA wiring standards. I KNOW it is in the standards for boats by the ABYC. A wire passing through ANY bulkhead (even wood or fiberglass) MUST have a fuse close (I can't recall the exact maximum distance) to the power source.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:23 PM   #7
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This should lower the loss up to the thermal breaker by at least 10% - maybe 20% - which means I have effectively increased the battery capacity by that much.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:41 PM   #8
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There were some housekeeping improvements too.

A plethora of Sterilite baskets to keep things in the cabinets organized and a dandy black "foot locker" to hold all the black tank stuff. Sorry for the last sideways photo of the road side hatch
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Old 12-31-2016, 07:31 PM   #9
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Cz10, those look good. I used the same stuff that you used for a runner at the entrance to line all my storage compartments. The pass through floor, along with all my other outside storage compartments that didn't have carpet. I also used it inside wherever the bare floor was the bottom of a storage cabinet, like under the bathroom sink for example.
I totally agree that the wiring is to be polite, weak! My set up is 3 group 31 batteries (12volt) and 4/0 cables to the frame ground with a bolt similar to yours. The posivitive cable runs to the shut off switch. From the switch back to the circuit breaker is #4. I plan on doing more as time permits. Still working out the inverter set up. For example, one company's 1000 wattMSW inverter takes twice as much stand by current as the 1500 watt model from the same company. For right now we just use a 400 watt Peak unit that plugs into the lighter socket by the tv. I know it won't put out the 400 watts when plugged into the 12v socket, but the tv is only like 35-40 watts and seems to run just fine. I even think that the Play Station will work also, just haven't tried it yet! Jay
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Old 12-31-2016, 10:12 PM   #10
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Thanks. I used a piece that I purchased for a project that went a different way.

If your plugged into a 12v lighter combo 2 USB outlets - that is located on the road side of the bed in mine. It is part of the hokey solar prewire near as I can figure and is fed by that other 30A fused circuit of 12 gauge wire (anything wrong with that picture?) connected to the battety disconnect switch.

Stay tuned for the solar install. Should give my about 40 - 50 AH/day from a single ground mounted panel
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Old 01-01-2017, 05:41 PM   #11
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Yep that's the one. On my 2504s that USB/ 12volt socket is in a compartment right below the tv. All I have to do is open the door unplug the tv from the wall outlet behind the tv, and plug it into the inverter which is plugged into the 12volt socket. The inverter is rated for 400 watts but you can only get about 150 watts if you use the lighter socket plug supplied with the inverter. I dont think what I am doing will work for you because of the location of your 12v port. I don't know what the zamp plug is connected to, (yet) I do know that if you shut off the batteries the power at the zamp plug dies. I wish that it didn't so I could plug in a floater battery charger without turning on the camper. Jay
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:06 AM   #12
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I used the circuit that powers the TV antenna preamp to power the inverter.

My Zamp was hooked to the battery side of the disconnect switch. Look for a red wire with a white stripe going to a 30A ATC fuse at the disconnect. I've removed that wiring and for now the lighter/USB is powered off the water pump circuit.

I'm going to work on the solar after we get back from our maiden voyage this week.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:14 AM   #13
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Thanks for the tip on what wire at the disconnect switch is for the zamp plug. I'll have to check when we have a halfway nice day here. There were several smaller wires hooked to the shut off, at the time I just left them where they were. Do you know if that red/ white wire is only hooked up to the zamp plug and nothing else? Jay
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Old 01-02-2017, 11:33 AM   #14
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Yes. The wires go from the outside port to the lighter/USB to the disconnect switch. The ground (white) went to a screw into the frame near the thermal breaker accessed via the hatch and the red positive wire went forward to the battery side of the switch. There is also an orange wire connected there that goes to the break-away switch for the brakes. On the load side of the switch is the 8 gauge going to the thermal breaker then on to the distribution panel, and a black wire that is the +12v to the tongue jack. The brake switch and the jack are grounded near the thermal breaker - I think inside a 4" square electrical box that I have yet to take the cover off of.

As I mentioned, I've for now powered the lighter/USB off the water pump circuit since it draws a max of 7.5 A and it is a 15A fused circuit (there's also a 10A fuse at the pump) there's enough overhead. I used these

https://www.amazon.com/222-413-LEVER.../dp/B000JJPA66

to make those connections at the pump and also ordered a spare pump so it can be easily swapped out in case of failure. I plans on redoing the useless coverings of the pump an water heater with sliding access panels and maybe wall off the compartment so the road side holds all the "utility" stuff - water hoses, black tank stuff & power cords and the other side is the camping gear in containers.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:09 PM   #15
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Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cz10 View Post
Now for the batteries themselves. I mentioned making the system more robust and safer. Read on as to what the problem is as delivered.

The #4 interconnecting cable is going to be replaced with 2/0 (big as your thumb) for even lower resistance. The other cables are #4 - two gauges up from originally #8. There is now a 60 amp (soon to be 100 A) fuse right at the battery to protect them and the trailer wiring in case of a dead short.

Speaking on that subject - there was NO FUSE between the batteries and where the +12 volt wire enters the trailer via a hole in the metal frame before it reaches a thermal circuit breaker that is behind the hatch on the bottom of the trailer. That means IF that wire were to short out at the frame (there is some grommet material around the hole, but...) things would get very hot until one of the wires completely turned into molten metal. And that's the best scenario.

I'd be willing to bet that that is contrary to the RVIA wiring standards. I KNOW it is in the standards for boats by the ABYC. A wire passing through ANY bulkhead (even wood or fiberglass) MUST have a fuse close (I can't recall the exact maximum distance) to the power source.
Looks clean. Did you use battery cable type wire (fine strand) and for the fuse would it be better to use a 100 amp circuit breaker. Also did you use stainless hardware for your ground stud. Where did you buy your cable. Thanks
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Old 01-02-2017, 04:46 PM   #16
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Thanks.

Yes, I used battery cable from NAPA but I'm not impressed with the insulation. It looks like it may not hold up from UV exposure. My neighbor is getting the identical trailer in a few weeks and at that time I am going to re-do mine while we do his using Ancor Marine cable which I know hold up well from experience. The lugs will also be tinned instead of bare copper and sealed with adhesive lined shrink tubing. The wire came from West Marine and the lugs, heat shrink, etc. came from Amazon as they were less.

A breaker would be bulkier and may not holdup as well with exposure to the elements. I have used these in the past.

Blue Sea Systems 7187 285-Series Circuit Breaker - Surface Mount 100A

But the fuse is less expensive, more compact and I think might hold up better If that fuse blows there are big issues anyway that are going to have to be fixed. I just carry spares in case

I'm going to source either bronze or stainless hardware for the ground.

All connections will receive a thin coating of a copper infused grease that increases conductivity and fights. corrosion.
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Old 01-02-2017, 05:53 PM   #17
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On my unit the 12volt outlet is a long way from the zamp plug. I'll check on the routing of the zamp wires. When I find out I'll report back. Jay
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Old 01-02-2017, 06:14 PM   #18
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I think the concept of IR losses may be unclear to FR, especially when it came to installing that solar circuit.

There would likely be around 20% loss between the output of the panel controller and the batteries - and the biggest one is only 160 watts. I'm going a completely different route using a single standard 60 cell panel like used in residential/commercial systems that should give me a max output of 20A @ 12v for 2 - 3 hours per day and I'm sure not going to use 20% of that to heat up the wires. Plus my cost will be about the same as the 160 w Zamp "solution"

The one thing that does help them compared to boats is chassis ground. Effectively that is a big ground buss that has very low resistance -12v connection to the power distribution (I need to investigate where that is grounded to confirm my theory) but I'm seeing less then .05 volt difference between the battery terminals and the inverter input under no load and only about .3 difference under the 6 or so amp load of the TV & Computer
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Old 01-05-2017, 02:07 PM   #19
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Yes, I used battery cable from NAPA but I'm not impressed with the insulation. It looks like it may not hold up from UV exposure. My neighbor is getting the identical trailer in a few weeks and at that time I am going to re-do mine while we do his using Ancor Marine cable which I know hold up well from experience. The lugs will also be tinned instead of bare copper and sealed with adhesive lined shrink tubing. The wire came from West Marine and the lugs, heat shrink, etc. came from Amazon as they were less.

A breaker would be bulkier and may not holdup as well with exposure to the elements. I have used these in the past.

Blue Sea Systems 7187 285-Series Circuit Breaker - Surface Mount 100A

But the fuse is less expensive, more compact and I think might hold up better If that fuse blows there are big issues anyway that are going to have to be fixed. I just carry spares in case

I'm going to source either bronze or stainless hardware for the ground.

All connections will receive a thin coating of a copper infused grease that increases conductivity and fights. corrosion.[/QUOTE]

Are you going to change the 8ga wire from the switch to the panel. 100 amp is way more then the rest will handle.
8ga =40-55 amp and 4ga = 70-95 amp depending on temp.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:47 PM   #20
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No. The fuse at the battery is crowbar protection for the batteries and 4 gauge from short circuit at the point where it passes through the frame. The 8 gauge is protected by the thermal breaker just past that point. It looks like it would be difficult to replace the 8 gauge from there back. The improvements in the battery cabling, grounding. and the added safety of a fuse is a big improvement. Unless I wanted to power something like a larger inverter the 8 gauge should be fine.
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