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Old 11-12-2018, 08:18 PM   #1
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Exclamation 2001 Sunline Solaris Electrical/Furnace Issues

Hi-

I've had my 2001 Sunline Solaris for about 3+ years (2015) and have done a lot of repairs, upgraded the power center when the old converter didn't seem to be working, and repaired almost the entire roof this Summer from Wind Damage (any leads on some good awning outer legs, I'm all ears and I can fix that too!).

Anyway, the battery terminal seems to prematurely drain down, even after the new power center install. However, it provide power but to LEDs and seems to be fickle. With the low amps required for the LED lights, you'd think it would not flicker.

I just read that white and black wiring for the battery may be reverse what I've instinctively been using. Could this be true and could it have still somewhat functioned over the last two years? I put a new battery on it this past Spring or early Summer, but it has been drained dead when all three of my generators went down and my inverter to my solar array also went down. I've since repaired two generators and upgraded the inverter to 24v, so I've 3 power sources pumping reliable shore power off and on when necessary (for instance, toaster or air con during this Summer, etc).

Could a reverse polarity charge still have semi-functioned? Is white indeed negative on the 2001 Sunline Solaris? How in the world is the converter at the power center still charging this bloody thing if so?

This also leads me to the second issue -- the furnace stopped working. Now, here's why I'm thinking I've been working with the battery incorrectly connected the whole time -- I always had to use shore power ie 110v to get the furnace to crank up, but every RV forum I've read tells me 12v is enough to make that furnace ignite and spin its fan to blow hot air out the two ducts in my camper. So I'm guessing the battery was forced to provide power with the 110v system running power through the converter, even though I reversed the polarity.

If that's not the case, then it's just a battery that I let die when I was out of shore power for two months. I can take it back either way -- under warranty.

However, I'd like some help with the furnace. It currently will not spin up. Before it sounded a little grindy and like it was on a death knell for the last two years. Now it will not start. If I adjust the thermostat with it on to a temperature above ambient, an ambient click and grrrrr will be heard for a second, then nothing. It's very short, but that's my only indication. I've not cleaned it out,s o I'm thinking opening up the furnace on the outside to clean it out would be a good thing too.

Any other suggestions on the furnace? The other issue is the 110v outlets are not supplying power either anymore (even though the generator is running). Is this another symptom that could be related to either the battery being wired backwards, the converter being damaged, etc from the battery charging reverse polarity, or just coincidence and another thing to chase down later?

CBs are of course all good. I didn't check the fuses yet under the sink -- unsure how important they are, but I'm guessing they run more of the 12v system stuff? Would make sense....

Hah, I really should look at the fuses, but after finding out about reverse polarity wiring due to the white/black issue (I'm a red/black kinda guy, even though I wire my own house stuff and photovoltaics too -- should have known?!). Crike. How on Earth did my systems work so long if I've been running on reverse polarity for two years?! It certainly explains why the first converter was garbaged and required a new power center at that point, but the new one SEEMS to still be charging (very poorly) the battery. I have to run the generator maybe 10-20 hours to get the battery topped off from E, and then it doesn't hold the charge long so I'm thinking IF the battery is has been connected incorrectly the whole time that by god's grace the converter in the power center has not been damaged and I've been running on a reverse-polarity charge the entire time with less than efficient effects. May have only blown some fuses and need to exchange the battery under warranty for a good one? I've a battery tester (with load tester) and can pull it off to see how it performs with a load on it.

I'll stop rambling. Questions/Problems are:

1. Battery Terminals, connected white/black = positive/negative or negative/positive? Currently hooked up in the first position.

2. Furnace makes click, grrr sound but does not fire up, no fan, nothing.

3. 110v outlets not providing power when under generator power.

Thanks for any assistance possible!

PS: Generator is small providing 1200w continous, 1800w peak. 15 amps.
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:48 PM   #2
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Hi Kaajot,

Welcome! Glad you found us. You have a few issues going on, we need to take one at a time.

First, on your 2001 vintage Sunline, the white wire at the battery is ground (DC -, negative) the day it left Sunline. Confirm this by tracing the white wire under the frame and you should see several white wires with one going to the camper frame. Someone may have changed this so please confirm it.

The other wire at the battery could be red for the hot (DC +, positive). Red was for sure used on the 2004's and forward. Again at the battery. That said, while red was used at the battery and the long run from the battery to the converter, the color red then changed to black throughout the camper for DC positive. Meaning if you take down a light fixture you would see a black DC positive wire and a white DC negative wire.

I'm not 100% sure if the 2001's used red or black at the battery posts for DC positive but the white has been a camper DC negative a real long time. Also someone may have changed a color at the battery but odds are high not all the way through the camper from the battery area to the power converter. Do you have red or black at the power converter coming from the battery?

What brand and make new power converter do you have now? Some of the new converters sense reversed polarity and shut down. We can look up your model if you can provide. The older ones may not be as smart. If you are truly feeding reversed current into the battery that is not good. I am surprised it do not create some level of high heat in the process.

The furnace, we need to make sure the poloratity is sorted out first but I can say this, when the T stat calls for heat, the first thing that should happen is the fan should be running. If no fan runs, and at speed nothing else will work. After full fan speed and a purge timer times out, the gas valve and ignition will come on. Let's confirm the polarity is correct in the camper first before we did too deep into the furnace. Also please provide the model number of the furnace. Pic's of the unit with the outside cover off helps too.

The 110 outlets not working, there should be a GFIC in system and if that is tripped it will stop all the downstream outlets from working. There is generally on GFI in the bathroom (a wet area) that feeds most of the wall outlets other than a second GFI near the kitchen area, most likely by the stove/sink. That kitchen area outlet is seperate from the one in the bathroom. Make sure both are working and are reset.

GFI's do go bad from time to time and they will stop passing power. BUT they will also trip if the 110 neutral is connected to DC common or earth ground. This can happen in the power converter where there are white DC negative wires and white AC neutral wires. While they are white wires, the DC negative and the AC neutral should never touch or be common with each other. See if there are any solid white AC neutral wires connected to the white DC negative wires which are multi stranded wires (not solid wire). They should be on separate terminal strips in the power converter.

If you can post some pics of your power converter wiring this can help. Also the battery terminals wiring is that is still an issue. Pics go a long way in helping us see what you are up against.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 11-12-2018, 11:04 PM   #3
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Hi John, and thanks for the welcome!

Ok, that's all good information. I'll check everything out, see if any of my memory was off, correct what I can, and take pictures.

Power Center I purchased was a Parallax Power Supply (7155) Power Center with 55 Amp Converter and Distribution Panel -- slight upgrade on the amps converter, probably unnecessary to charge a battery that quickly, but thought it would be nice since the cost was negligible between that and a 45 or 35 amp converter.

It's a bit of a chore to pull it away from the paneling to show the wiring. I pretty much 1 for 1 transferred wires from various bus bars and connection points and believe I had some kind of diagram for the other side (right side) of the power center. Left side was definitely a lot of bus bars for the hot, neutral, and grounds on the 110v side. Right side was of course a distribution of 12v I believe. And of course there is the converter, supposedly going back to the battery, although I didn't follow any wires, just reattached to the new power center.

I'll definitely be looking long and hard at the battery terminal wires first as well as checking my gfcis in the camper. I hadn't thought to look and see if they had popped for some reason. Also will examine the fuses below the sink as I've not yet.

I'll grab any appropriate pictures.

Thanks again!

-Kaajot (KJ)
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:50 PM   #4
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Hi KJ,

Just confirming, this is the power center you bought and you bought a complete new power center, meaning the power converter, the DC fuse holders and the AC circuit breaker holders?

Parallax Power Supply - 7155 Power Center

Just confirming as we work through your issues.

Thanks

John

PS, while you may have bought the 55 amp converter, (a good thing as the newer ones came with the larger converters) unless you upgraded the wire that Sunline installed, you will never be putting 55 amps of DC power to the battery. The wire and fusing Sunline normally installed on your vintage camper can only at the most handle 30 amps before tripping the charge fuse. And realistically you may only get 15 to 25 amps tops heading to the battery if is is deeply discharged. The wire installed is too small to pass much more and to allow the converter to sense the proper battery resistance to boost the charge.

The larger power converter is a good thing, it allows a deeply discharged battery to be charged while use the entire DC on the camper. Back when your camper was built, LED lights where not very affordable or common which use very little power. The standard 921 incandescent light bulb could draw 1.3 amps each. 5 lights on all at once would mean 6.5 amps of DC power used just to run the lights and never run the furnace or water pump etc.
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:58 PM   #5
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Hey John-

Yes, that's the power center I purchased.

Also, makes sense -- hadn't thought about replacing the wiring, even though I do in all my other NEW applications. You're right, I may not be getting the quick-fix charge anyway.

I also noticed in the description to my power center that you linked about reverse polarity capability -- does that mean it's engineered to account for mistakes like connecting a battery incorrectly? That'd kind of explain why my camper is still semi-functional.

Haven't made it out yet, but will report back based on your initial reply with whatever I find!
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaajot View Post

I also noticed in the description to my power center that you linked about reverse polarity capability -- does that mean it's engineered to account for mistakes like connecting a battery incorrectly? That'd kind of explain why my camper is still semi-functional.
Yes, it does have a feature for reverse connections.

See bottom left on page one about blowing the fuses for reverse polarity (these are links off the Parallax site if you want to see them directly under documents on your converter. )

http://d163axztg8am2h.cloudfront.net...3b2a408188.pdf

And on this cut sheet on the lower right about the polarity fuses.
http://d163axztg8am2h.cloudfront.net...85d9136830.pdf

On some of the new power converters, they have an overload feature that will shut down the DC voltage to prevent overloading. When the overload is removed, the converter starts working again. It appears the one you bought has this feature. A good thing.

Point being, for sure confirm the battery polarity and the connections at the power converter they are correct. This polarity issue can also creep into the furnace. The DC fan motor can run backwards in some case if the polarity is reversed and it will not run correctly that way. That may or may not be your furnace issue just mentioning it.

Thanks

John
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Old 11-15-2018, 11:57 AM   #7
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So, first thing: Polarity was not reversed -- my camper has red and white, so I hooked the red to positive and white to negative, good thing it wasn't white and black or I would have been inclined to hook it the other way. This explains the relatively normal functioning of the camper before the furnace went out.

Second, I checked the fuses under the sink which are two inline fuses (30 AMP) going to the battery and then running of course to the power center distribution about 12' away. One of the fuses was blown/melted! I've not been able to extract it as I didn't have pliers -- I may have to heat it up to get it out, in which case I wonder if the fuse holder is also garbage at this point.



Forgot to check GFCIs, hoping to do that today.

Battery is definitely toast, going to take it into warranty to TSC (it's about 4.5 months old!). It just doesn't hold a good charge. Can I bring the wiring into the fuse box in the camper to give it some cold protection? That's the big problem now. Thinking about undoing the rat tails and adding an internal battery mounting solution below the sink. Thoughts?

None of the fuses in the Power Center were blown. I did find it interesting on the DC side if I removed some the circuit board would light up to indicate an open connection (assuming that's true) but in other instances the circuit board did not light up to indicate an open connection. Could my circuit board have gone bad in this case, or is it more likely the battery being weak? If not, a good indication of the wires grounding out for those circuits? I didn't even know it had this feature until I started removing fuses to inspect for damage.

Power Center



PC DC Fuses


PC 110 CBs Side


Any Pertinent Photos are all dumped publicly and labeled to help the viewer at this google drive:
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Old 11-18-2018, 10:47 AM   #8
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Something is not working on linking your pics here to see. But I followed them to your picture drive so I could at least see them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaajot View Post
Second, I checked the fuses under the sink which are two inline fuses (30 AMP) going to the battery and then running of course to the power center distribution about 12' away. One of the fuses was blown/melted! I've not been able to extract it as I didn't have pliers -- I may have to heat it up to get it out, in which case I wonder if the fuse holder is also garbage at this point.
This pic of yours (I had to download and then upload on my pic server to show it)

There are 2 fuses in that junction box.

One is for the 7 wire battery charge line from the truck. (protects for a short in the wiring between truck and camper)

The second one the converter charge fuse. (protects the wiring between the converter and the battery)

I cannot tell from the pic which is the melted one. If the fuse will out come out cleanly, you may need to replace the entire fuse holder. The fuse holder may have been bad from a previous owner event and if the socket is loose, it can create a lot of heat.

That junction box is to connect the 7 wire truck cable to the camper.
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Old 11-18-2018, 11:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaajot View Post
Battery is definitely toast, going to take it into warranty to TSC (it's about 4.5 months old!). It just doesn't hold a good charge. Can I bring the wiring into the fuse box in the camper to give it some cold protection? That's the big problem now. Thinking about undoing the rat tails and adding an internal battery mounting solution below the sink. Thoughts?
If what you are asking is, can I move the battery that is mounted outside on the trailer A frame, inside the camper under the sink?

If so, heads up. An enclosed lead acid battery compartment has to be vented to the outside. Hydrogen gas forms when the battery is charging. Technically an inside battery compartment is doable but you have to create a vent for gases to escape and fresh air to come in. It gets somewhat complex to create this in a camper.

If you are looking for a solution to protect the battery being stored outside in the cold on the camper, adding a battery minder on it will solve that issue. One of these. BatteryMINDer 1510 | 12 Volt Maintenance Charger with 10 Year Warranty

They sell them a lot cheaper from other retailers. Northern Tool, Amazon etc.

That will keep the battery at 100% charge and de-sulfate it all the time. A charged battery will not freeze, but a deeply discharged battery can freeze and kill it. The downside to this fix is you have have 120VAC to plug in the batteryminder. I have mine in a plastic case to keep the weather away from the battery minder.

You mentioned changing the wiring, need more info on the wiring you are talking about. If you mean the wiring in the little box that the fuse melted in, that can be changed if wanted just your 7 wire cord from the truck has to feed it. Either a longer cord to buy or do a splice in a junction box somewhere else.

On the newer Sunline's, they put a junction box on the frame header by the battery in place of mounting it inside. There are pros and cons to both setups. I have the outside mounted junction box. As long as I never have to get in that box buried back by the batter, it's not a problem. The day I need to get into it, there is much mumbling going on and certain select words come from it..... having to move the batteries to get in.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 11-18-2018, 11:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
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That will keep the battery at 100% charge and de-sulfate it all the time. A charged battery will not freeze, but a deeply discharged battery can freeze and kill it. The downside to this fix is you have have 120VAC to plug in the batteryminder. I have mine in a plastic case to keep the weather away from the battery minder.

You mentioned changing the wiring, need more info on the wiring you are talking about. If you mean the wiring in the little box that the fuse melted in, that can be changed if wanted just your 7 wire cord from the truck has to feed it. Either a longer cord to buy or do a splice in a junction box somewhere else.
Thanks John -- yeah, living off-grid here and maybe my new solar setup (600w, 960 amp hour 24v pure sine wave grid-tied: *generator) will work with that battery minder. I have a battery minder for the solar batteries since they're $1K a piece. It's well-vented, was aware of that, but I get lucky often and find AGMs too which would alleviate that problem. Currently the camper is a deep cycle marine flooded acid, so yes, the fumes would have to be accounted for. I guess I'm not too crazy to do this project in the middle of Winter.

Do you have a good recommendation for a 30 amp replacement in-line fuse wiring? The front one in the picture was the melted fuse (left side of fuse). I put some needle nose on it and pulled it out, but it's a little gummy/crummy in the slots and probably should be removed and replaced. I did put a 30 amp fuse back in and ran my generator again to try to top-off the battery (not accepting a charge, believe battery died from low power and cold combo you mentioned, so warrantying it today at TSC). The 30 amp fuse did not blow, so either it's working properly or it's the truck-side power harness for my 7-prong you mentioned. I can back up to it and see if my truck will power the camper's lights. If it does, the next step would be to turn off power, remove the blown fuse, and see if the truck is still powering the camper. That will tell me which fuse it is and whether the fuse is good for certain or possibly flawed. At least I can label the wiring then and know which fuse is what since they're both green 30a.

Back to the more concerning problem -- battery is dead for sure, my LEDs flicker and it doesn't have much voltage left in it even after the little champion 1200w charged it for 13 hours the day before with nothing turned on since then.

The heater: I've been watching videos about atwood furnaces and I'm going to speculate the motor which is approaching 20 years old and didn't sound too healthy when I did run it is likely dead. I would like a solid 10.5v or higher battery connected just to be sure, but think I need to order a replacement motor. The fan may have also been shredded by debris in there, it definitely never sounded very good but pushed out some air. I'll open it up today, but some of the videos mentioned a 1/8" allen wrench t-handle to get inserted fairly deep & will need to find one of those since my allen wrenches are about 4" long.

My main question about the heater concerns the 12v -- does the battery have to be charged to get the furnace to turn on, or can shore power 110v complete it? I feel like the answer is yes, 110v can get the system running even though it's a dc system. I initially was hooked up to shore power with a dead battery in 2016 and I believe the furnace worked, or possibly with no battery and I just completed the circuit with the positive and negative. So if I jumper the leads and run 110v, theoretically my generator which runs everything else and creates a solid non-flickering LED light scenario should also be able to fire up the furnace if it was not broken?

All other fuses of course are intact and not blown. I'm leaning towards the melted fuse under the sink being the truck-side because my wiring was creating issues last year, just redid the truck and its wiring is now clean and very good (just towed 7K lb storage container from PA to NY with the F-150, what a journey!).

Reading more about my furnace right now in the owner's manual, but think I should be ordering a motor and probably a new fan. I think the fan had mice in it when they ripped through my insulation in 2016. I've since patched the insulation and bottom up and killed all the mice this Fall, finally no more mice droppings, but I think my heat ducts have some insulation pushed into them from the vermin. The duct in the bedroom was constantly being cleaned out of insulation, so that fan is probably clogged or more likely broken blades from foreign objects. The air was never quite as strong as you'd want blown out. Well, I'll open it up today and take more pictures.

Apologies, Google Drive won't give me a hyperlink of the actual object, just a pointer link, which is not allowing me to link my uploads directly to the forum. I'll label pictures accordingly so they are somewhat explanatory by name.
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Old 11-18-2018, 12:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
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My main question about the heater concerns the 12v -- does the battery have to be charged to get the furnace to turn on, or can shore power 110v complete it? I feel like the answer is yes, 110v can get the system running even though it's a dc system. I initially was hooked up to shore power with a dead battery in 2016 and I believe the furnace worked, or possibly with no battery and I just completed the circuit with the positive and negative. So if I jumper the leads and run 110v, theoretically my generator which runs everything else and creates a solid non-flickering LED light scenario should also be able to fire up the furnace if it was not broken?
A quick answer on this, I'll dig later for a replacement fuse holder. The auto parts stores have them but I'll look for the type close that will fit better in that box.

If you plug the camper into 120 VAC shore power, the converter will create all the right 12 volts you need to run the furnace. It will make 13.25 or higher volts. With your new converter, it will work without a battery.

BUT, you mentioned something about jumping the leads together. Not sure what you are connecting but will pass this on. If you take the battery out, do not jumper the red battery cable to the white cable. Leave them isolated. Tape off the red one (or make sure it will not touch anything) so it does not touch the frame by accident. Crossing the red to the white battery wires will create a dead short to the converter and you will pop one of those green 30 amp fuses.

Good luck hunting on the furnace.... Darn those mice. If you know you have insulation in the ducts, the entire furnace heat chamber should be looked at for obstructions. Those little buggers may have plugged it closed = bad news when the furnace does fire up.

Thanks

John
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Old 11-18-2018, 04:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
If you plug the camper into 120 VAC shore power, the converter will create all the right 12 volts you need to run the furnace. It will make 13.25 or higher volts. With your new converter, it will work without a battery.


Good luck hunting on the furnace.... Darn those mice. If you know you have insulation in the ducts, the entire furnace heat chamber should be looked at for obstructions. Those little buggers may have plugged it closed = bad news when the furnace does fire up. n
Hi John-

Great, then I'm going to say the problem was never with the wiring since 110/120v turns everything else on. Definitely need a new motor, etc in the furnace. It didn't sound good last year and didn't sound great for the two weekends it worked this year.

Will work on clearing out the ducts and rerunning them. There are only two, so it's not as daunting a task as one could imagine. Probably will find a lot of insulation at least going towards the bedroom/back end.

Thanks for the help, will post pictures of the excavation of the furnace later!

-KJ
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:31 AM   #13
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If you plug the camper into 120 VAC shore power, the converter will create all the right 12 volts you need to run the furnace. It will make 13.25 or higher volts. With your new converter, it will work without a battery.
Hey John-

I found the inline fuses with covers (bonus, mine don't have those) on Amazon, fairly affordable. A 10-pack costs as much as buying 2 individually! Ordering 10 so I have spares for future applications or repairs and bulking up with a $8 fuse kit with 120+ fuses including the 30A I need for that particular area.

There's one detail though -- the Amazon sellers have 16 through 10 gauge. Obviously, bigger is better overall so I can just err on the side of caution. I'm familiar with resistance and voltage loss charts for the amps, just wondering if the standard was 12 gauge. The current wiring looks like 12 gauge to me, or maybe 10. 12 gauge would be what a house wire would use to get power to appliances as 14 gauge is typically your lighting unless you're going LED with no ballasts at all, in which case you probably could run 16 gauge but I prefer 14 gauge so everything is kosher and backwards compatible, plus maybe NEC wouldn't be ok with 16 gauge for lighting runs.

ANYWAY, should I just get the biggest wire in-line fuse (10 gauge) or go with 12g? The only evidence of overheating and melting was at the fuse -- current wires are not charred at all, so whatever the original gauge was is probably adequate for carrying the current.
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Old 11-20-2018, 09:43 PM   #14
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Hi KJ,

See below

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaajot View Post

There's one detail though -- the Amazon sellers have 16 through 10 gauge. Obviously, bigger is better overall so I can just err on the side of caution. I'm familiar with resistance and voltage loss charts for the amps, just wondering if the standard was 12 gauge. The current wiring looks like 12 gauge to me, or maybe 10. 12 gauge would be what a house wire would use to get power to appliances as 14 gauge is typically your lighting unless you're going LED with no ballasts at all, in which case you probably could run 16 gauge but I prefer 14 gauge so everything is kosher and backwards compatible, plus maybe NEC wouldn't be ok with 16 gauge for lighting runs.

ANYWAY, should I just get the biggest wire in-line fuse (10 gauge) or go with 12g? The only evidence of overheating and melting was at the fuse -- current wires are not charred at all, so whatever the original gauge was is probably adequate for carrying the current.
On the battery charge fuses that are 30 amp, they should have no. 10 awg wire at the fuse holder and the no 10 or larger ideally from the battery to the fuse, then the fuse to the convertor. The 7 wire cable to the truck should be a no 10 awg.

Your 2001 Sunline should have no. 6 awg. as the battery hookup red and white wires. And that no. 6 should feed one of those 30 amps fuses with a no 10 wire fuse holder and then back to no. 6 awg heading to the converter.

In the house wiring, they have 120 volts AC to start with so a slight voltage drops is not a big deal. In a camper on DC volts where we only have 12.7 volts of a fully charged battery 0.1 volts loss adds up quick. We need the wire size to handle the full amps but we also need to watch out about the voltage drop. So while there is only a 30 amp fuse in the battery line from the battery to the converter, they use that larger no. 6 wire to help voltage loss on a battery charging setup.

If you ever wanted to really pump a lot of current to the battery and use most of the power converter, ideally the convertor is very close to the battery to have the shortest DC run possible and then use very large cables to the battery. Guys who are really into off the grid high power charging off a generator do this setup. The have the long run on the 120 VAC run to power the converter but then real short on the converter to the battery and some use no 2 awg or even 0 awg. And then make sure this is all fused correctly.

Hope this helps. Your doing good in your trouble shooting mission! Keep up the good work.

Thanks

John
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Current Sunlines: 2004 T310SR - Fern Blue, 2004 T1950 - Fern Blue, 2004 T2475 - Nutmeg
Prior Sunlines: 2004 T2499 - Fern Blue
2005 Ford F350 Lariat, 6.8L V10 W/ 4.10 rear axle, CC, Short Bed, SRW. Reese HP trunnion bar hitch W/ HP DC

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110v outlets, battery terminals, furnace, not working, reverse polarity


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