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Saturday, March 26, 2011

With power to spare!

While we have been at home, I took on a project of installing a 50am plug for the RV.  I already had a 30amp one on the side of the shop, but it required a long 30 amp extension, then a 30 to 50amp adapter and then the full 50 amp cord.  Between the length of that run and the fact that whoever did the 30amp install may not have done it correctly, I was glad to get the 50amp installed.

Our RV has an electronic load control system.  When on 50amp shore power, we can run whatever because the 50amp is really two legs of 50amp for a total of 100.  When you use a 30amp supply, the system monitors the amperage and when it gets over 30 for any length of time, it starts shedding loads like the reefer and one or both heat pump/AC units, depending on how much is needed to shed.

Well, when at home, the load system would always read very low, yet while on the road it worked fine.  That told me that whoever installed the 30amp plug may not have done it 100% correctly.  Once I opened up the power panel in the shop, I could see a problem.  The neutrals and grounds were all tied together.  This is fine for a residential installation, but since the RV senses current on the neutral line measured against ground, if they are tied together, the reading will be wrong.  Unfortunately, unless I wanted to rewire the shop and isolate the neutrals from ground, there would be no easy fix.

So by installing the 50amp, it bypasses the problem as the load control system is offline when on 50amp.

I started the project by digging a trench of about 40 feet.  I also had to tunnel under some walkways that had gravel on top.  Unfortunately, I could not go as deep as I wanted.  It is suggested that you go down 18 inches to bury the cable, but because our topsoil only goes about 8 inches down, and then you start hitting rocks of 3 to 5 inches wide, you just can’t go further.  I will be putting about 3 inches of gravel over the top, so that should help.

After getting the wire buried (you have to use a special underground #6 cable for 50amp that is really a pain to work with), I mounted the box on the pole and put in concrete to hold the post.  Then I installed a 50amp breaker on the panel and wired it all in.

After double checking the wiring with a meter (Who wants to risk burning out the electrical system in an expensive RV???), I plugged in the bounder and all is well!

Now, once it stops raining and we are home for a bit, I will put in the gravel and be done with the project.

Meanwhile, we are getting ready to hit the road on Monday.  Going to Cape Disappointment State Park in WA, then up to Bothell to visit our son for his birthday, and then home after about 2 weeks.  Should be fun!  Stay tuned.


Donna K said...

Well, I'm impressed! We still have not run power to the RV and it is something we would like to do at some point. Glad to hear you got yours all fixed up properly. I hope you and Carol have a lot of fun next week and that you get some sunshine.

I.M. Vayne said...

Somewheres between the 50 amp shore power and the load control system bein' offline y'all lost me. Then when ya plugged it in and yer Bounded didn't go a boundin', but did what it were supposed to do, I got caught back up. Have fun on yer trip.