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smidsy

Electrical Help - Electrician Advice Needed(For An Idiot)

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smidsy

dsc0357ka.jpg

 

Click the pic for massive size.

 

Im not sure if this is in the correct forum, so Mods, feel free to move it.

 

Im in need of advice. Im a complete novice when it comes to electricity, except the very basics.

 

I bought a campervan, which has a deep cycle battery, installed on the cheap, by an admitted novice. I cant critise his work, cause by the looks of it, I wouldnt have a hope of getting as far as he did.

 

There are several loose wires, in pairs(just black/black, no different colours), around the van, and I have yet to check all the outlets. Its possible that these wires were attached to something, which has since been removed. Or its possible they are just loose wires.

 

Im assuming, that only by using the invertor(loose on the side of the pic), will it become 240V. And as such, I can play around with the loose wires to find out if they are live??

 

Also, as you can see from the pic, a fuse has been removed, perhaps thats intentional, or not???

 

How do I figure this out, without ripping out wires all over the place ??

 

Is there some kind of cheap tool I can get to test, will it work on 12V?

 

Does 12V appliances(chargers and the like), have positive & negative, does it matter?

 

How can I figure out if the deep charge battery is charging correctly, and if there's anything I need to fix?

 

Iv never seen a battery with 4 terminals, can I assume that everything on the 2 left terminals(one is blue) is negative, and everything on the right terminals(one is red) is positive?

 

Im going to be on the road for probably 6 months, so id like to learn the layout now, to make repairs/upgrades easier when I need to do them.

Edited by smidsy

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Paul
http://yfrog.com/0ndsc0357kaj - link to pic, which can be zoomed into.

 

Click the pic for massive size.

 

Im not sure if this is in the correct forum, so Mods, feel free to move it.

 

Im in need of advice. Im a complete novice when it comes to electricity, except the very basics.

 

I bought a campervan, which has a deep cycle battery, installed on the cheap, by an admitted novice. I cant critise his work, cause by the looks of it, I wouldnt have a hope of getting as far as he did.

 

There are several loose wires, in pairs(just black/black, no different colours), around the van, and I have yet to check all the outlets. Its possible that these wires were attached to something, which has since been removed. Or its possible they are just loose wires.

 

Im assuming, that only by using the invertor(loose on the side of the pic), will it become 240V. And as such, I can play around with the loose wires to find out if they are live??

 

Also, as you can see from the pic, a fuse has been removed, perhaps thats intentional, or not???

 

How do I figure this out, without ripping out wires all over the place ??

 

Is there some kind of cheap tool I can get to test, will it work on 12V?

 

Does 12V appliances(chargers and the like), have positive & negative, does it matter?

 

How can I figure out if the deep charge battery is charging correctly, and if there's anything I need to fix?

 

Iv never seen a battery with 4 terminals, can I assume that everything on the 2 left terminals(one is blue) is negative, and everything on the right terminals(one is red) is positive?

 

Im going to be on the road for probably 6 months, so id like to learn the layout now, to make repairs/upgrades easier when I need to do them.

 

First, you need a good multimeter. I always owned quality meters, a (image link) Simpson 260 and a couple of (image link) Fluke 77's, over time.

 

Regarding your blade fuse holder. It was probably removed due to the guy removing some sort of appliance, 12volt lighting, etc., that he removed prior to selling you the caravan.

 

If you power the inverter with 12vdc from the battery, it will produce 220vac from the "australian" style power point. BE VERY CAREFUL, as you can get shocked from that. However, with the size of that unit, it won't power a heck of a lot, rest assured. Make it a point to read the ampere rating on the inverter prior to plugging anything into it.

 

In my opinion, I would remove all of the blade fuses, individually, and check various circuits throughout the caravan to see what works and what doesn't, when voltage is removed from each circuit.

 

To find out if a 12vdc battery is being charged (not necessarily whether it is holding a charge), is to check the voltage with the engine running. With the alternator not charging (engine off), the battery should read somewhere around 12vdc. With the alternator charging (engine running), it should be somewhere upwards of 13.8vdc, or so.

 

I used to own one of these types of (image link) load testers to check my batteries. What you do is, turn off the engine and all loads being drawn from the battery. Put the battery clamps on it from the load tester (red to positive, black to negative), and hold the switch for about ten seconds. If the voltage drops below about 11vdc, the battery is not good. If it drops slowly, but stays above 11vdc, then the battery is good.

 

The terminals you see on that battery are the same. Two positive (each side by side) and two negative (each side by side). They are only different types of terminals, with the larger battery terminals being used for the heavy loads being drawn from the battery. The smaller terminals are for the lugs (being properly used as shown, except the wrong color of wire) for smaller circuits that can be attached to the battery. Basically, it just gives you more "lug" space to attach the wires for additional (auxiliary) circuits that you may need to run for the caravan.

 

My advice regarding any further circuits you may need: Run red wire only from the positive (red) side of the battery. Run black wire only from the negative (black) side of the battery. When you run the same color wires, that tends to lead to trouble down the road. You really do not want to confuse the positive and negative sides.

 

Also, in my opinion, I would fuse BOTH sides of any circuit (same size fuse). This may prevent you from burning up a low voltage appliance, catching the caravan on fire, etc., due to reversing the polarity by mistake. Just put a fused circuit on the negative side of the battery, as you have shown there on the positive side.

 

Another thing I just noticed is, that is only a 12 month warrantied battery. Of course, you are coming into cold weather there. So, unless you are heading north in Australia, I would advise you to consider getting another battery. It appears as though that battery was replaced in April of 2009. That leaves it at one year now. Just food for thought.

 

I ran dual (image link) Optima Yellow Top Batteries. Those boys kicked ass, mate. If I ever got back into off-roading or anything that needed heavy voltage draw, I would go back with them again in a second.

 

When I was off-roading a lot in the US, I had a 1990 Jeep YJ that was rewired completely by me. I ran marine grade wiring throughout the Jeep, marine battery switch, and lots of water proofing. Of course, I did a lot of water crossings too. So, I think tht would be a bit much for you to consider. Thanks for helping the old memories resurface again. smile.gif

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Paul

Here is a photo of my Jeep after I did the initial modifications to it. I did more, a LOT more, prior to selling it. Unfortunately, I lost those photos many years ago.

 

Paul's Pride & Joy - "Redhead"

 

42_1.jpg

 

That old YJ had an electrical system second to none! :notallthere:

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smidsy

Thanks for the info Paul.

 

It points me in the right direction, and focuses how to get the job done much better.

 

There's one of these on the side

 

volts.jpg

 

Im guessing its a built in load tester, which you mentioned above ? (note: the engine wasnt running, when I took the pic) There's a switch for each battery. They are both at the same level, but thats probably cause we havent used the Bord battery yet.

 

Also, those multimeter's seem really cheap(just googled them). If I get one for around 10 dollars, does it matter ?

 

On the Inverter, I just went out and got it from the van. It says its 300 watt continous, 600 watt peak. Should I buy a second one, or a better one ? Around 40 dollars each for the cheapest one, iv overspent on accessories already by several hundred, so id prefer not to if I dont need one.

 

We plan to run the fridge on 12V when driving, gas or 12V(whichever is more practical) when parked overnight, or 240V if on a powered site. Those things are expensive, im glad I dont have to buy one.

 

The Invertor will be used only when we are in unpowered sites. So using 1 or 2 appliances at a time. Maybe Rice cooker, laptop charger, the odd kettle boil, but we can minimise our use. I could imagine we might have a couple of things charging from it(laptop/camera batteries etc).

 

I thought that, like when at home, you just plug stuff in and it works? Does some stuff work, and then others dont, or does nothing work, unless you plug something out of the socket board. Or worse, the volts/amps/watts(?) varies, and can damage equipment.

 

We can work around whatever way it has to be, whats your advice?

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smidsy

42_1.jpg

 

When I settle down here, I plan to do some serious off roading, and buying something like that. That Jeep looks like it could tackle anything!

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Paul

Thanks for the info Paul.

 

It points me in the right direction, and focuses how to get the job done much better.

 

There's one of these on the side

 

volts.jpg

 

Im guessing its a built in load tester, which you mentioned above ? (note: the engine wasnt running, when I took the pic) There's a switch for each battery. They are both at the same level, but thats probably cause we havent used the Bord battery yet.

 

Also, those multimeter's seem really cheap(just googled them). If I get one for around 10 dollars, does it matter ?

 

On the Inverter, I just went out and got it from the van. It says its 300 watt continous, 600 watt peak. Should I buy a second one, or a better one ? Around 40 dollars each for the cheapest one, iv overspent on accessories already by several hundred, so id prefer not to if I dont need one.

 

We plan to run the fridge on 12V when driving, gas or 12V(whichever is more practical) when parked overnight, or 240V if on a powered site. Those things are expensive, im glad I dont have to buy one.

 

The Invertor will be used only when we are in unpowered sites. So using 1 or 2 appliances at a time. Maybe Rice cooker, laptop charger, the odd kettle boil, but we can minimise our use. I could imagine we might have a couple of things charging from it(laptop/camera batteries etc).

 

I thought that, like when at home, you just plug stuff in and it works? Does some stuff work, and then others dont, or does nothing work, unless you plug something out of the socket board. Or worse, the volts/amps/watts(?) varies, and can damage equipment.

 

We can work around whatever way it has to be, whats your advice?

 

No, that is a voltage meter. When the switch is to the left, that is the battery for your camping appliances, etc. When the switch is flipped right, that is for your engine (running) battery. You need to see if that switch also switches a solenoid that isolates both batteries. If it just tests them, then it doesn't separate them.

 

You don't want to be running your caravan loads from your running battery or you could end up stuck somewhere. So, definitely make sure you have a way to switch from battery to battery. There were better ways to set it up on my Jeep. But, I just used a simple (image link) Guest Dual Marine Battery Switch for my application. But, any sort of high rated solenoid will work too, that you can use to separate loads. Just remember, if both batteries are connected in parallel, they are both being drained. They sell (image link) dual battery isolators too, by the way. This is how they work:

 

 

3356_G.jpg

 

They keep the vehicle battery (battery 1) separated from your auxiliary battery (battery 2) to prevent you from being stranded.

 

regarding your volage inverter. For example, that little jewel isn't gonna be big enough to run your rice cooker. That cooker probably draws upwards of 400 to 600 watts, or more. If so, it will need a rather large inverter. Typically, they are not cheap. Keep in mind volts x amperes = watts. You need an inverter large enough to carry the load you will draw. I would guess, just by seeing that one adjacent to the battery that is it about 100 to 150 watts? You will need one a LOT bigger than that, to power the rice cooker and/or other appliances. Peak voltage isn't for continuous use, remember that. If you plug something in, the peak voltage is only for a momentary surge. I stand corrected on your inverter. I see now, where you posted that it is a 300 watt unit. I would suggest buying a smaller rice cooker, in that case, rather than a larger inverter.

 

Here is an image that you should keep in mind, so you can check the power requirements for various different AC appliances:

 

voltge-info.gif

 

Of course, Australia is going to be all 220vac, rather than the US standard of 110vac.

 

You do not want to plug an appliance into an inverter that is not rated for it. It could damage either the appliance or the inverter. Also, bear in mind that you can't run heavy draws for a long time just on the auxiliary battery, if you are away from power points, 220vac power at a campground is what I mean. You will probably be able to run it for an hour or two, tops, if drawing heavy loads from it, depending on the amperes drawn.

 

Oh, my multi-meters were fairly costly. But, you don't have to spend a ton of money on one. They all will basically do the same job. Just always do as a carpenter says, measure twice, cut once. What I am saying is, always make sure the settings are right on your mulit-meter, before putting the probes anywhere. For example, make double sure that it is set for 12vdc, if measuring any battery circuits onboard. Make sure it is set for 240vac if measuring anything that would be plugged into the converter power point.

 

I hope I am helping, rather than confusing the issue here.

Edited by Admin

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Paul

42_1.jpg

 

When I settle down here, I plan to do some serious off roading, and buying something like that. That Jeep looks like it could tackle anything!

 

You should have seen it with the modified suspension, lockers front and rear (I may have had lockers in differentials at the point you see it in the photo, but I don't remember.), etc. It was a baaaaaaad little bitch. :notallthere:

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smidsy

 

I hope I am helping, rather than confusing the issue here.

 

Its a HUGH help. I really appreciate your response, and its obvious you spent some time making it! :thumbsup:

 

Its true what they say, truckers know everything ! :D

 

However, its 3.30 am here, so my head is a little mushy :notallthere: . I read your post, but need to digest it, and read it again in the morning. Then use google a lot. Its all new to me, so Iv got to absorb it a bit at a time. But ill get there!

 

Im glad I asked this stuff before I went poking around, thanks a lot for your replies !!

 

EDIT: Forgot to say, the lady who sold it to me, told me that even when the second battery is dead, the van stills starts. So it might have an isolater, or it could have been a sales pitch.

Edited by smidsy

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Paul

Happy to help, mate, anytime.

 

Take care and let me know if you have any other questions I may be able to assist you with.

 

I'm sure others on the forum here are certainly qualified to help as well, perhaps a lot more than I am! :notallthere:

 

Later, I think I'm off to bed for a couple of hours too. Or, maybe not. :thumbsup:

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smidsy

Here are some pages I found to help you out:

 

Link 1 - Dual Battery Systems

 

Link 2 - Power Inverters 12vdc to 220vac

 

The company is in South Australia, perfect information for what you need.

 

Iv saved them to my bookmarks to digest tomorrow, thanks again.

 

lol, we naively bought a cheap toaster today. At 1,500 watts, looks like we can forget about it, unless we're on a powered site. The kettle is probably around the same. Have to get a traditional whistle kettle!

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aux27us

Happy to help, mate, anytime.

 

 

 

I'm sure others on the forum here are certainly qualified to help as well, perhaps a lot more than I am! :notallthere:

 

 

Don't think so Paul. I'm rated as a CET and was waiting to jump in but you covered it as well or better than I would have. The diagrams were nice and something I probably wouldn't have taken the time for.

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SkyMan

Thanks for the info Paul.

 

It points me in the right direction, and focuses how to get the job done much better.

 

There's one of these on the side

 

volts.jpg

 

Im guessing its a built in load tester, which you mentioned above ? (note: the engine wasnt running, when I took the pic) There's a switch for each battery. They are both at the same level, but thats probably cause we havent used the Bord battery yet.

 

Also, those multimeter's seem really cheap(just googled them). If I get one for around 10 dollars, does it matter ?

 

On the Inverter, I just went out and got it from the van. It says its 300 watt continous, 600 watt peak. Should I buy a second one, or a better one ? Around 40 dollars each for the cheapest one, iv overspent on accessories already by several hundred, so id prefer not to if I dont need one.

 

We plan to run the fridge on 12V when driving, gas or 12V(whichever is more practical) when parked overnight, or 240V if on a powered site. Those things are expensive, im glad I dont have to buy one.

 

The Invertor will be used only when we are in unpowered sites. So using 1 or 2 appliances at a time. Maybe Rice cooker, laptop charger, the odd kettle boil, but we can minimise our use. I could imagine we might have a couple of things charging from it(laptop/camera batteries etc).

 

I thought that, like when at home, you just plug stuff in and it works? Does some stuff work, and then others dont, or does nothing work, unless you plug something out of the socket board. Or worse, the volts/amps/watts(?) varies, and can damage equipment.

 

We can work around whatever way it has to be, whats your advice?

 

No, that is a voltage meter. When the switch is to the left, that is the battery for your camping appliances, etc. When the switch is flipped right, that is for your engine (running) battery. You need to see if that switch also switches a solenoid that isolates both batteries. If it just tests them, then it doesn't separate them.

 

You don't want to be running your caravan loads from your running battery or you could end up stuck somewhere. So, definitely make sure you have a way to switch from battery to battery. There were better ways to set it up on my Jeep. But, I just used a simple (image link) Guest Dual Marine Battery Switch for my application. But, any sort of high rated solenoid will work too, that you can use to separate loads. Just remember, if both batteries are connected in parallel, they are both being drained. They sell (image link) dual battery isolators too, by the way. This is how they work:

 

 

3356_G.jpg

 

They keep the vehicle battery (battery 1) separated from your auxiliary battery (battery 2) to prevent you from being stranded.

 

regarding your volage inverter. For example, that little jewel isn't gonna be big enough to run your rice cooker. That cooker probably draws upwards of 400 to 600 watts, or more. If so, it will need a rather large inverter. Typically, they are not cheap. Keep in mind volts x amperes = watts. You need an inverter large enough to carry the load you will draw. I would guess, just by seeing that one adjacent to the battery that is it about 100 to 150 watts? You will need one a LOT bigger than that, to power the rice cooker and/or other appliances. Peak voltage isn't for continuous use, remember that. If you plug something in, the peak voltage is only for a momentary surge. I stand corrected on your inverter. I see now, where you posted that it is a 300 watt unit. I would suggest buying a smaller rice cooker, in that case, rather than a larger inverter.

 

Here is an image that you should keep in mind, so you can check the power requirements for various different AC appliances:

 

voltge-info.gif

 

Of course, Australia is going to be all 220vac, rather than the US standard of 110vac.

 

You do not want to plug an appliance into an inverter that is not rated for it. It could damage either the appliance or the inverter. Also, bear in mind that you can't run heavy draws for a long time just on the auxiliary battery, if you are away from power points, 220vac power at a campground is what I mean. You will probably be able to run it for an hour or two, tops, if drawing heavy loads from it, depending on the amperes drawn.

 

Oh, my multi-meters were fairly costly. But, you don't have to spend a ton of money on one. They all will basically do the same job. Just always do as a carpenter says, measure twice, cut once. What I am saying is, always make sure the settings are right on your mulit-meter, before putting the probes anywhere. For example, make double sure that it is set for 12vdc, if measuring any battery circuits onboard. Make sure it is set for 240vac if measuring anything that would be plugged into the converter power point.

 

I hope I am helping, rather than confusing the issue here.

Per Wikipedia:

 

In 2000, Australia converted to 230 V as the nominal standard with a tolerance of +10% -6%.[5], this superseding the old 240 V standard, AS2926-1987.[6] As in the UK, 240 V is within the allowable limits and "240 volt" spoken as "two forty volt" is a synonym for mains in Australian and British English.

 

The tolerance allows 220-240V, however.

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Paul
Don't think so Paul. I'm rated as a CET and was waiting to jump in but you covered it as well or better than I would have. The diagrams were nice and something I probably wouldn't have taken the time for.

 

Thanks, mate. I appreciate that very much!

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fredanna

First take on the picture just looks like a crappy voltage distribution system to send battery volts to different parts of the RV.

Fred

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