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Old 05-30-2018, 07:51 AM   #1
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RV electrical 101 - The Basics

By the regularity that folks post questions concerning the hows and where for's about the electrical systems in their RV. Its been 45 years since my first rv, a pop-up, but I can still relate to all the questions. To bad that dealers don't do a better job bringing newbies up to speed on the electrical basics in their new RV. Part of the problem though is that so many people have come to expect things to turn on or operate with the flip of a switch or connection to an outlet. The weakness isn't limited to just RV's. Electric service contractors report that a significant % of service calls are solved by resetting a breaker.

In an RV some things [most lights] work on 12V and others only when a 110v AC source is supplied. Most of us don't expect to become electrical experts, they just want to understand the basics in their RV. In an online world, there is a wealth of material available to us but its tough to find what you need without ending up on unwanted and annoying mailing lists and marketing emails.

My hope in starting this thread is that members will share the best RV electrical basic 101 overview summaries that they have found. So many of the ??'s that are raised on the forum relate back to the mystery so many of us find ourselves when we flip that switch and nothing happens.
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:15 AM   #2
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YouTube is great for ALL sorts of RV educational videos from electrical to plumbing to propane systems, etc.... No annoying mailing lists after the fact either.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:52 AM   #3
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Even with a home you have to know the basics about; electrical and plumbing. For an RV it would be no different. Now your stuff and learn about it. Don't wait till it breaks down.
Online there's a lot of information, print it and put it in a binder if relates to your unit.
Hang close to the electric panel a description of the breakers and fuses, so the anyone can act upon trouble. Anything electrical you take apart, write down the wiring colors and their designated spot. Even if you remove the battery, see so often on this forum and others, that people reverse the battery hookup. Maintain and know your equipment and be ready to troubleshoot. Happy Camping!
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Old 05-30-2018, 10:42 AM   #4
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A trailer electrical system is fairly straightforward. You have two systems 12 volt DC and 110 volt AC. They are essentially separate systems but they are connected together at the converter.

12 Volt System
This system runs off your batteries and powers
-Lights
-Furnace
-Fans
-Radio
-Refrigerator electronics (propane cools the fridge)
-Water pump
-Tongue jack
-CO and Propane alarms
-Smoke alarms are usually on their own battery
-Water heater electronics (propane will heat the water)

The 110 volt system will only run if you are plugged in to shore power or a generator. It powers:
-Outlets
-Refrigerator depending on the switch (will run on gas or AC)
-Microwave
-Air conditioner
-Converter will charge/maintain battery
-Water heater (Can run on gas or AC)

Converter-this converts 110v AC to 12v DC to charge/maintain your battery

Inverter-This is not usually a stock item unless you get a residential fridge option. An inverter changes 12v DC power back into 110v AC so you can use household appliances in your trailer or motorhome. This can be a small unit that only powers a tv or lets you charge a laptop or it can be a large 2000+ watt unit that can power your entire RV including microwave and air conditioner if you have a large enough battery bank for it.

Distribution panel-this is usually a panel that houses all your AC breakers, DC fuses and the converter. Two other fuses to be aware of are the main 30amp re settable fuse or breaker up near the battery and a separate fuse for the tongue jack on trailers.

Hope that helps.

Cheers
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Old 05-30-2018, 11:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subaru297 View Post
A trailer electrical system is fairly straightforward. You have two systems 12 volt DC and 110 volt AC. They are essentially separate systems but they are connected together at the converter.

12 Volt System
This system runs off your batteries and powers
-Lights
-Furnace
-Fans
-Radio
-Refrigerator electronics (propane cools the fridge)
-Water pump
-Tongue jack
-CO and Propane alarms
-Smoke alarms are usually on their own battery
-Water heater electronics (propane will heat the water)

The 110 volt system will only run if you are plugged in to shore power or a generator. It powers:
-Outlets
-Refrigerator depending on the switch (will run on gas or AC)
-Microwave
-Air conditioner
-Converter will charge/maintain battery
-Water heater (Can run on gas or AC)

Converter-this converts 110v AC to 12v DC to charge/maintain your battery

Inverter-This is not usually a stock item unless you get a residential fridge option. An inverter changes 12v DC power back into 110v AC so you can use household appliances in your trailer or motorhome. This can be a small unit that only powers a tv or lets you charge a laptop or it can be a large 2000+ watt unit that can power your entire RV including microwave and air conditioner if you have a large enough battery bank for it.

Distribution panel-this is usually a panel that houses all your AC breakers, DC fuses and the converter. Two other fuses to be aware of are the main 30amp re settable fuse or breaker up near the battery and a separate fuse for the tongue jack on trailers.

Hope that helps.

Cheers
Very nice write up. Others will chime in but this is succinct and accurate.

Cheers indeed
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Old 05-31-2018, 10:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Vasquez Kid View Post
Very nice write up. Others will chime in but this is succinct and accurate.



Cheers indeed


Thank you for the best info to a newbie like me!!
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Old 05-31-2018, 10:45 AM   #7
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Excellent indeed! 15amp circuits will not support much. Last January ended up in Arlington, Tx arrived in 60 degree temps, dropped in short order to 18 degrees. I had installed heat strip in the AC, and used it and space heater to keep the place 65-68 degrees...and it was not a trailer with an arctic package. Left water dribbling to prevent freezing. Got up, turned on coffee maker and promptly blew a breaker. Either or, not both. Had most of the stuff at home to add a dedicated 20amp plug for the heater, so I did it. In April used heater in dedicated 20amp GFI circuit on a separate power feed from the generator at Texas Motor Speedway, as it got down to 34 degrees the night before the race. Problem solved! Marinco 20amp shore power plug, some 12 gauge Romex, add-a-box, 20amp GFI plug and you're in business. Did that just last week to Stretch, have a plug between the slide and the couch in the rear of the coach, took less than 8 inches of wire to get there.
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Old 10-03-2020, 08:26 AM   #8
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Hi ,looking for advice on how to remove the electrical panel on my jayco 24rbs..it is located under the stove.The inverter i believe us located behind this panel as well.
Thanks
Wayneb
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:59 AM   #9
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Although we are not new to RVing every time I get a new RV I pick a nice day and open all the access panels And any other places something is so when a problem does occur I have an idea where to look. It also allows Me to plan for mods.
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Old 10-26-2020, 09:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WayneB View Post
Hi ,looking for advice on how to remove the electrical panel on my jayco 24rbs..it is located under the stove.The inverter i believe us located behind this panel as well.
Thanks
Wayneb
WayneB, did you find your answer yet? The 12VDC, 120VAC and the converter all integrated into the same panel.

On my TT, there are four screws that hold the electrical distribution panel in place. With the ALL of the power disconnected (both shore power and battery). Remove the screws, carefully pull the panel forwards, may need some twisting it will not come all they way out at first. Then you have to reach in with it partially removed, and remove the wire clamp that holds the shore power cord (on my TT it could not see the screw at the same time my hand was in the hole. Once the screw was removed, I could fully remove the electrical panel.

When you have the panel out, make sure to check all the terminals to ensure the lugs are tight. Jayco has been known in the past to have them really loose, which causes issues.
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Old 11-25-2020, 03:03 AM   #11
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New guy

Have a 9 1/2 truck camper, plug has power but no break lights. No light or power for that matter. Any advice?
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Old 11-25-2020, 08:33 AM   #12
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Bad bulb, loose wire, bad ground, fuses. Even cheap multi meters are a must. Start at source of no power and work your way back. Check your fuses, may look good but not.
That should get you started.

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Old 11-25-2020, 08:10 PM   #13
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Ah, a camper. I used a Lance camper for 25 years and loved it.

Since it appears all of your 12 volt items are out, the common thing is the ground feed. There should be one terminal in the connector that feeds ground. All other pins will be for various items.

One pin will be for the +12 volts to your camper for everything in there. Another pin will be for left turn signal, another for right turn signal, another for running lights. Each line is independent of the others. The turn signal feeds may be also the brake lights or they may be separate.

You could lose a single line and it would not affect the others. If you lose the ground, you lose everything.

I assume the lights are working correctly on your truck but the camper is dead. You can measure each pin to see what it does. When measuring with a meter or even a test light, if you are measuring from the pin to metal on your truck, that will not test the ground feed. It could be used to identify what each pin is though.

To test the ground you first need to identify the constant 12 volt feed. Once you find that then you will measure from that pin to whichever pin is the ground. If you can measure 12 volts from the pin to truck metal but not to the ground pin in the connector, the ground line is bad. Chances are it broke lose from its connection to the frame.
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:54 PM   #14
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Anyone, even us seasoned guys need to buy a copy of Mike Solkol's book, No Shock Zone. It's available on Amazon for $15. I was a registered EE and found it useful and informative. It covers both voltages
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Old 11-26-2020, 08:41 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Subaru297 View Post
A trailer electrical system is fairly straightforward. You have two systems 12 volt DC and 110 volt AC. They are essentially separate systems but they are connected together at the converter.

12 Volt System
This system runs off your batteries and powers
-Lights
-Furnace
-Fans
-Radio
-Refrigerator electronics (propane cools the fridge)
-Water pump
-Tongue jack
-CO and Propane alarms
-Smoke alarms are usually on their own battery
-Water heater electronics (propane will heat the water)

The 110 volt system will only run if you are plugged in to shore power or a generator. It powers:
-Outlets
-Refrigerator depending on the switch (will run on gas or AC)
-Microwave
-Air conditioner
-Converter will charge/maintain battery
-Water heater (Can run on gas or AC)

Converter-this converts 110v AC to 12v DC to charge/maintain your battery

Inverter-This is not usually a stock item unless you get a residential fridge option. An inverter changes 12v DC power back into 110v AC so you can use household appliances in your trailer or motorhome. This can be a small unit that only powers a tv or lets you charge a laptop or it can be a large 2000+ watt unit that can power your entire RV including microwave and air conditioner if you have a large enough battery bank for it.

Distribution panel-this is usually a panel that houses all your AC breakers, DC fuses and the converter. Two other fuses to be aware of are the main 30amp re settable fuse or breaker up near the battery and a separate fuse for the tongue jack on trailers.

Hope that helps.

Cheers
Except, typically, the AC control board runs off 12v.
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Old 11-26-2020, 08:42 AM   #16
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Info like this is always helpful, if for nothing else but food for thought. There will always be a moment when you need to think about this stuff, for example the girls canít run the blow dryer while the AC is running ( have to switch to fan only) as the breaker will pop. Wouldíve been nice to have a more robust solution, but no one feels like changing the wiring as that would be a major if not almost impossible endeavor.
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Old 11-26-2020, 11:01 AM   #17
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And in most Class A's, at least there is in my 2014 Precept there is one outlet that can work on 12v DC normally near the passenger seat. You will find it like I did by accident when I had a space heater running in the cockpit area and shut the generator off. The heater continued to run which quickly started draining the house batteries and of course I quickly unplugged it. I suppose it is for laptop or cell phone charging etc. Now I know......
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Old 04-30-2021, 07:43 PM   #18
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electrical diagram

diagramme ťlectrique de vr.jpg
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Old 04-30-2021, 08:03 PM   #19
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hi bassdogs, at the top of all pages, on the tech talk thread , there is great thread from SPIKE99, labeled,,,,, rv wiring diagram, and it show a nice scheme, of rv wiring diagram,
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Old 05-12-2021, 09:36 AM   #20
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110V 15A male connector 2020 Seneca

Can anyone tell me what this 110V 15A male power connector is for? Itís located on the driver side door steps. The guy at the dealership told me its for their techs, so donít worry about it.
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