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Old 08-27-2009, 03:48 PM   #1
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30 amp to 50 amp Electrical Upgrade

I've searched and read the threads on this subject and I have a few questions. Before I ask the questions - I also read Bob Hatch and Wolfswords web pages on upgrading/modifying. both websites and latest posts are a couple years old - so here goes!

Background: '96 Winnebago Adventurer, 6500 genset, 30 amp service, original converter, no inverter, living in RV full-time (Monday-Friday) resident/geographical bachelor; first-time RV owner (since March 2009) and residing in Travel Park with 50/30/20 amp pedestal. I'm highly talented in the DIY department.

1. The RV 30 amp ac electrical panel (Magnetek Series 6300 A, Model 6345) will only power one roof airconditioner at a time; and I understand why. I'm in south Alabama and it gets hot, so I want to have the ability to run both A/Cs at the same time.

2. During the late spring months temps dropped in the lower 20's (really cold for LA - that's Lower Alabama); the on-board LP heater just didn't heat enough and I'll use electric heater and electric blanket to assist LP heater next season.

3. Since purchasing the RV, my wife and I have made a few weekend trips and really enjoyed them, so I see more trips in the future, and eventually traveling after both wife and I retire in a few years.

4. Probably will make the Bob Hatch TV upgrade - haven't checked if LCD TV requires more amps that conventional TV.

Questions:

1 - Is it worth the expense to just bite the bullet and upgrade the electrical panel to 50 amp and new converter; therefore not having to worry about overload when using additional electrical appliances, i.e. heater, electric skillet, etc, etc. - Verses a Wolfwords modification? What Brand and size panel do you recommend?

2 - How big of an Inverter should I install to operate TV/DVD player while driving down the road?

3 - Should I add an ATS? What brand do you recommend?

4 - How about an upgraded electrical monitor panel to monitor electrical systems? - don't have one now. What would you recommed?

Thanks!!
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Old 08-27-2009, 07:55 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikwallace View Post
Questions:

1 - Is it worth the expense to just bite the bullet and upgrade the electrical panel to 50 amp and new converter; therefore not having to worry about overload when using additional electrical appliances, i.e. heater, electric skillet, etc, etc. - Verses a Wolfwords modification? What Brand and size panel do you recommend?

Is the converter for 12 volts or for 120 volts, too? When I did my conversion, I had a standard 100 amp 240/120 volt breaker panel. All I had to do was replace the 30 amp single breaker with a double 50-amp breaker. Make sure you use #6 wire to replace whatever was used for 30-amp.


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Originally Posted by mikwallace View Post
2 - How big of an Inverter should I install to operate TV/DVD player while driving down the road?
Walmart has a 450 watt one for about $80. I imagine that would be more than you'll need. Add up the total power consumption of the TV and DVD player. That's the size you need.

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Originally Posted by mikwallace View Post
3 - Should I add an ATS? What brand do you recommend?
Are you sure you don't have one? If you do, make sure it's at least 50 amps. If it was me and there wasn't one, I would get one. Every coach I had already had one it in, so I can't recommend one brand over another. Maybe someone else can.

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4 - How about an upgraded electrical monitor panel to monitor electrical systems? - don't have one now. What would you recommed?
I have a Powerline EMS. I had one in my last coach, too. If you spend any appreciable amount of time in parks with less than 50 amps, you'll be glad to have it.
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:46 PM   #3
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Hi Mike,

Depends a great deal on how far you want to take it. At the least, you will probably want an Auto Transfer Switch. This makes thing a lot easier connecting to Generator, 30 Amp. and 50 Amp. services. Of course, the cheap way of switches or breakers works fine but is not as convenient and requires a Ďmust followí procedure to avoid lots of arcs and sparks.

For an inverter, are you sure you only want the TV and DVD or would you like to have TV, DVD, Direct TV, and to heat up a cup of coffee in the microwave while driving down the road? If so, I think you will need about 2 kVA and I will always recommend a pure sine wave inverter. The modified sine wave inverters are okay for resistive heaters and possibly the microwave but for sensitive transformer-less modern devices like laptops, rechargeable flashlights, etc. the inrush current at the leading edges of the square waves is unacceptable to the point of burning up some devices (Rechargeable Coleman flashlights come to mind). You will probably want a larger battery bank if you plan to use the inverter while dry camping and of course, an inverter/charger will be most helpful and will eliminate the need for the converter.

A load shedding device makes managing current a breeze. I just fixed a bug (read Winnebago booboo) that has irked me since we got this coach. In fact, Iím pretty sure the bug was in both the Adventurer and the Journey as well. The Intelletec Load Management system thought the second compressor was the high fan and the high fan was the second compressor. I had to pull the control board with the relays on it and cut the traces from the relay contacts to the connector pins and then solder jumper form the right relays to the proper connector pins. Now it works as advertised. I have looked at the schematics for all Horizons form 2000 to 2007 and the error is there if the Intelletec board is the same. It therefore by default must be in all Vectraís and my guess is itís in all coaches that use the RV Products basement air conditioner with or without the heat-pump option, unless the controller boards digital code was changed sometime after 2004.

The costs are adding up as well as the man-hours of research and installation time. Iím thinking to bring your RV up to the electrical configuration of, say a 2008 Journey, you could very well sink $10,000 to $15,0000 dollars into the job.

You may be just as well off finding a nice 2004 to 2006 or later model that already has the correct wiring and devices that you could trade up for.

Can this be done? Well, Iím a disabled 40-year electronics field service engineer and even I would have second thoughts about trying to upgrade a 30 Amp. service to a full featured 50 Amp. service. But, you say you are very handy so the first place to start is comparing the schematics of your coach with the ones for a later Adventurer with the features you have in mind. Then you will know what wire, devices, and work will be involved.

Trying to go with something generic as far as an upgraded wiring will wind up being much more difficult than just matching what the Winnebago engineers came up with for your model over the years. Remember that the coach structure didnít change that much over the years so the wiring changes were designed to match what was there structurally.

I wish you luck, My Friend.
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Old 08-28-2009, 02:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikwallace View Post
I've searched and read the threads on this subject and I have a few questions. Before I ask the questions - I also read Bob Hatch and Wolfswords web pages on upgrading/modifying. both websites and latest posts are a couple years old - so here goes!

Background: '96 Winnebago Adventurer, 6500 genset, 30 amp service, original converter, no inverter, living in RV full-time (Monday-Friday) resident/geographical bachelor; first-time RV owner (since March 2009) and residing in Travel Park with 50/30/20 amp pedestal. I'm highly talented in the DIY department.

1. The RV 30 amp ac electrical panel (Magnetek Series 6300 A, Model 6345) will only power one roof airconditioner at a time; and I understand why. I'm in south Alabama and it gets hot, so I want to have the ability to run both A/Cs at the same time.

2. During the late spring months temps dropped in the lower 20's (really cold for LA - that's Lower Alabama); the on-board LP heater just didn't heat enough and I'll use electric heater and electric blanket to assist LP heater next season.

3. Since purchasing the RV, my wife and I have made a few weekend trips and really enjoyed them, so I see more trips in the future, and eventually traveling after both wife and I retire in a few years.

4. Probably will make the Bob Hatch TV upgrade - haven't checked if LCD TV requires more amps that conventional TV.

Questions:

1 - Is it worth the expense to just bite the bullet and upgrade the electrical panel to 50 amp and new converter; therefore not having to worry about overload when using additional electrical appliances, i.e. heater, electric skillet, etc, etc. - Verses a Wolfwords modification? What Brand and size panel do you recommend?

2 - How big of an Inverter should I install to operate TV/DVD player while driving down the road?

3 - Should I add an ATS? What brand do you recommend?

4 - How about an upgraded electrical monitor panel to monitor electrical systems? - don't have one now. What would you recommed?

Thanks!!
how about adding the switching unit that will allow you to run both air conditioners, one at a time?
i upgraded my factory 300w modified sine wave inverter to a 750w modified sine wave inverter to run the front: tv, digital converter box-vcr-dvd recorder-player. rear: tv, digital converter box, dvd player. i removed the automatic switching unit for the inverter. the inverter now runs the entertainment devices full time, even when hooked up to shore power.
lcd tv's require considerably less power than crt tv's.
i used 3 small cube heaters on their 750w setting almost exclusively for heat last winter while hooked up to shore power. the temperature was in the lower 20's. this worked quite well.
my dw made a pair of insulated blankets to install in the windshield area with velcro when the temperature dropped below freezing.
i used 3 100w trouble lights in the water tank compartments to keep the plumbing from freezing. i installed 4 inside-outside temperature gauges to monitor basement temperatures. i found that the fwd compartment that houses the water heater did not require any supplemental heat.
i used my basement heat pump infrequently. it is noisy while sleeping and doesn't work well when the temperature is below 40 deg.
my powerline electrical indicator panel has never indicated properly. the problem is probably the circuit board ($200). it does not show total amp draw. all my electrical stuff seems to operate as it should. i don't know if the load shedding system works. i can live with erroneous indications. i certainly would not advise purchasing a unit like this.
i hope this helps.
the rest of your questions i cannot answer.
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:09 AM   #5
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I am surprised you can only run one AC at a time. Our '02 Itasca is equipped with a basement 2-compressor Coleman unit. When both are running, they draw about 23A. We rarely have 50A service and the 30A operates both adequately.

But, we do have a load shedding panel. Perhaps that is the difference.
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Old 08-28-2009, 09:36 AM   #6
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The least expensive and probably most practical thing to do it, is to intercept the second circuit from the generator. This only provides power to the second AC on most 30 amp RVs. The easiest way is to terminate the generator output in a receptacle. Then attach a plug to the cable going to the breaker panel. Wire a 20 amp receptacle to a cord with a 20 amp plug that can be plugged into the power pedestal. Plug the cable going to the breaker panel into the receptacle from the generator for generator use or into the receptacle powered by the pedestal for park use. This will probably cost about $20. You can use the same circuit to power a 1500 watt space heater in the winter time.
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:18 AM   #7
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I am surprised you can only run one AC at a time. Our '02 Itasca is equipped with a basement 2-compressor Coleman unit. When both are running, they draw about 23A. We rarely have 50A service and the 30A operates both adequately.

But, we do have a load shedding panel. Perhaps that is the difference.
The load shedding controls is the key to running 2 ACs on 30A. I noticed the other day that when I ran the microwave it shed one of the AC units also.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:07 PM   #8
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Hi Ho: You probably already know this, but the difference is not between 30 and 50 amps, but between 30 and 100 amps. (Why they call it 50 amps I don't know) Standard single phase power has two legs that are 180 degrees apart. If your pedestal has 50 amp service you can run your 30 amps from one side and attach to the other side for the second ac. You can even do this if only 30 and 20 outlets are available.

This is simple, and there are even adapters that do this, but the key as John has explained is to rig your second ac to have a connection that can be run to the pedestal.

Before spending large sums on updating the electrical and entertainment systems you could check to see if simply upgrading to a more recent coach (if only a few years) makes more sense.

Good luck, Dirk
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:25 PM   #9
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Well. if you want to know if it's worth the expense to upgrade a Magnetek 6300.. the answer is yes, a Progressive Dynamics 9200 or a Xantrex True Charge XADC will give you greater battery life and the first time you do NOT have to replace your boiled dry batteries it will pay for itself.

Now as for the upgrade from 30 to 50 amps.. That is another question. however the upgrade, if you do not have a generator, is not that expensive. I will make ONE suggestion.

(If you do have a generator it's more expensive)

If you do not have a generator, and if your power cord is hard wired to your breaker box, as is often the case in trailers

Run a SHORT 50 amp cord to the compartment where the cord is stored, and then use an extension cord from there. iF you are on a 30 amp site, you can use a dogbone adapter there and 30 amp cords

That way you don't have as much cable to wrangle.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:58 PM   #10
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Milwallace,
I upgraded from 30 to 50 (100) amp service in our 2000 Winne Adventure. I replaced the existing IOTA ITS-30R transfer switch with a ITS-50R (Ebay new $80.00 + freight). Replacement 30 foot, 50 amp power cord (Ebay = $90.00 + freight). 40 feet #6 SJ cable from transfer switch to panel board (circuit breaker box) = $110 from local electrical supply house. Replacement main breakers = $18.00. Misc. other required hardware = $40.00. The hardest part is replacing and wiring the transfer switch. Reaching into the rear of the compartment is a very hard position for the back. Installing the new #6 SJ cable was a "dirty job" but not that hard. Total conversion time required approx. 12 hours. I am a retired electrical engineer and a licensed electrician so factor that in the equation if you decide to tackle the project. I have detailed pics and documentation I will gladly share, just email me. If you just need the second A/C, I suggest installing a male/female plug/socket junction on the A/C line on the genset second winding and using a high quality 20 amp extension cord to power the second A/C as suggested by John Hilley in a previous reply. I went that route and it worked very well for 4-5 years before I did the 50 amp conversion. (I also have pics and document ion on that project if you want them.) If you feel comfortable with AC wiring, and plan it out in advance, it's a feasible DIY project. Good Luck, David
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:04 PM   #11
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Thanks EVERYONE for your input. I just completed the upgrade and here's what I did:

After reading all the responses (and thanks again from everyone), I decided to first satisfy my immediate requirement of getting both A/C's working at the same time from shore power.

To do this:

1. I cut the 20 amp wire from the GenSET and added a 20 amp female twist lock recepticle in the basement area where my electrical shore power cord is located.

2. Then added a 20 amp female twist lock recepticle (from shore power with 20 amp circuit breaker and 15 feet of 12/3 wire).

3. And finished with a 20 amp male twist lock recepticle from rear A/C mounted in a 4x4 junction box in the basement area where my electrical shore power cord is located using 18" 12/3 wire.

So to operate both A/C's from shore power I have my 30 amp cord (original equipment) and NEWLY ADDED 15 feet 20 amp cord plugged into the power pedestal. Then plug my 20 amp male plug from 2nd A/C into the 20 amp female outlet that's fed by the 20 amp female recepticle from shore power in my basement; and all works well. To make everything run off the GENSET, I unplug everything from the pedestal and plug the 30 amp into the Original Equipment plug then plug the NEWLY INSTALLED 20 amp male plug from 2nd A/C into the NEWLY INSTALLED 20 amp female recepticle that's fed from the GENSET. AND ALL IS WELL AGAIN!!

OVERKILL I KNOW!! However, all new wiring is 20 amp rated and plugs/recepticles are 20 amp twist locks. I could add another recepticle for a space heater this winter that would run off the new 20 amp circuit from the pedestal if I wanted.

While I had everything taken apart, I pulled the AC/DC box out and found that the power converter has gotten HOT at some time and discolored the floor below it. I'll post a picture if I can figure out how!!?? So, I'll probably eventually upgrade the power converter at some point in time!


Total cost $130

thanks EVERYONE
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:13 PM   #12
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That sounds like a good safe reliable solution. It never hurts to go up a bit in capacity, the 20 amp rather than 15 amp wiring and devices was a good choice.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:24 PM   #13
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Here's the pictures!
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:20 PM   #14
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I wouldn't worry about that. It just got the protective plastic on the carpet hot. Might be a good idea to cut the plastic out and mount it on a couple of short 1 x 2 cleats across the width of the converter though.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:33 AM   #15
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Hi Mike,

I assume itís Mike. Sounds good to me. Not exactly automatic but who cares if the price is right. Adding the outlet for a space heater is a winner also. We heat the whole RV with two radiator type heaters in the winter. My son in Pa. had extra power connected to his coach via an extra 50 Amp. service that is only used for space heaters. Itís cold enough there to really need them.

Is there carpet under the toasty plastic in the picture? If so, you may want to remove it from under the box and add something to shield the flooring from any future heat. Fires in RVs are horrendous! Iíve seen whatís left of a Class C after it caught fire and all that was left was puddles of Aluminum and melted steel.

Happy trails.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:51 PM   #16
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Hi Mike,


Is there carpet under the toasty plastic in the picture? If so, you may want to remove it from under the box and add something to shield the flooring from any future heat. Fires in RVs are horrendous! Iíve seen whatís left of a Class C after it caught fire and all that was left was puddles of Aluminum and melted steel.

Happy trails.
Yes, there's carpet under there and it's deteriated from the heat and like dust!! I'll remove and replace soon. Just gotta figure out what to put under there? Any suggestions?

Mike Wallace
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:17 PM   #17
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Yes, there's carpet under there and it's deteriated from the heat and like dust!! I'll remove and replace soon. Just gotta figure out what to put under there? Any suggestions?

Mike Wallace
how about a shallow foil baking pan or cookie sheet, upside down?
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:17 AM   #18
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Dave I was looking into upgrading my power service in my 2000 Fleetwood bounder. I have similar credentials. Retired EE and retired Navy CPO. This is our first RV we purchased used and I have been adding electrical equipment. My load calculations getting close to the limit on 30 amp power. It seemed strange to me to equip the vehicle with a 7.5 KW gen set and the put a 30 amp service input. The power sharing panel is for the 50 AMP service which again questions why 30 amp input service. I would appreciate you pictures and suggestions on my planned renovation.
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