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Old 06-02-2013, 01:30 PM   #1
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Electrical Question

I don't quit understand how the electrical system of RV's work. The lights are 12 volt as is the fridge, fans etc. Then on the other hand you have your TVs, toasters, and other items that plug into 110 volt plugs and work. If I tap into say one of the 12 volt light fixtures, am I tapping into 12 volts or 110 volts? I am thinking of adding small fans in each of my four bunks. Each has a light. Do I need 12 volt fans or 110 volt fans? TIA
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:43 PM   #2
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My understanding is the lights are 12 volt and the plugs are 110 volts. If you want to tap into the light then you would be tapping into 12 volts. I just added a fan in the fridge hooked up to the light and it was 12 volts.
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:35 PM   #3
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My understanding is the lights are 12 volt and the plugs are 110 volts. If you want to tap into the light then you would be tapping into 12 volts. I just added a fan in the fridge hooked up to the light and it was 12 volts.
I also added a fan to the fridge. The funny thing is it is simply a computer fan. Mine is hooked up to 12 volt as well, however when that same fan is in a computer, it is running off 110!
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:36 PM   #4
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Generally, your fridge will not run on 12 volts, unless it's a three-way one. The two way ones, run on gas and 110/120. I believe that the lights run on 12 volts, even when you are plugged into shore power. I think the inverter changes the 110/120 somehow into direct current for the lighting.
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:38 PM   #5
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Generally, your fridge will not run on 12 volts, unless it's a three-way one. The two way ones, run on gas and 110/120. I believe that the lights run on 12 volts, even when you are plugged into shore power. I think the inverter changes the 110/120 somehow into direct current for the lighting.
So, would I need 12 volt fans to tap into the lights?
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:53 PM   #6
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You have 2 power systems in your trailer. A 110 v AC system that your standard duplex plugs, TV, Microwave, A/C And some other items run off of. And A 12 v DC system that your Lights, Furnace, Slides, some refers, radio, and other other items and Power points (cigaret lighter) adapters run off of. Your 12 v is made by the converter charger when plugged into shore power and runs off the battery bank when dry camping.
When doing ANYTHING to your power system, know which one you are working on (test with volt meter) and know what you are doing. If unsure, have a professional help or do it for you. Doing the wrong thing with power can, burn up appliances, trailers, or kill you or others.
Most Computer (PC) fans are 12 v.
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:04 PM   #7
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When you plug into shore power, that current (AC) is sent to the converter, as well as direct to the 110 powered receptacles and any other equipment that is run on AC. The 110 current is converted to 12V by the converter, and is used to keep the camper's battery(s) charged. All lights and other 12V powered equipment then gets its power from the battery. Meanwhile, the 110 current runs things like the fridge, ceiling fan, A/C compressor, microwave, etc.

If you tap directly into the wires powering the 12V lamps, you will only get 12V to power the fans. If you tap into the wires powering the receptacles, you will get 110V, which will run 110V fans.

If your fans have their own lights, and are 110, then why not keep it simple and just plug into a receptacle ? Or if there are none nearby, tap into the nearest receptacle and run house wiring (14-2 or 12-2 Romex cable) to a location that you can install a new receptacle.

If your fans are 12V, then you can tap into a nearby existing light. Just be sure that the fan/light does not pull more amps than the existing wires are rated for, or you risk an overheat/potential fire hazard. Alternately, if your power center isn't too far away, you could tap into the 12V output from the converter, and run wires of proper size to the fan/light locations.

If you are unsure that you can handle the job safely and within code specs, I would recommend finding a professional electrician to do the job for you, for your safety.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:09 PM   #8
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Thank you for the help. I may just buy the fan/light combos made for popups, and replace the present lights in the bunks with those.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:27 PM   #9
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12V circuits have different considerations than 110V. Wiring needs to be sized with resistance and voltage drop in mind. The longer the run, the larger the wire needs to be even though the amperage draw may be the same. Also, while a 10% voltage drop is acceptable for lights, motors will not tolerate a drop of more than 3%. Besides less than desirable operation, you also risk overheating of the wiring and fire with undersized wire.

Before tapping lighting circuits for a fan, you should see what the voltage is at the light. You should check this both with any other lights that may be on the same circuit turned on. You may get by with operation a small fan if no lights are turned on, but may find that the fan runs slow or not at all when you start turning them on. We can hear our factory installed hatch fan slow down when the bathroom light is turned on.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krackeer View Post
I also added a fan to the fridge. The funny thing is it is simply a computer fan. Mine is hooked up to 12 volt as well, however when that same fan is in a computer, it is running off 110!
Actually not, it is running on 12 volt as the power supply in the computer power to DC low voltage as computer hardware is all low voltage.

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