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Post Info TOPIC: Modifying WFCO panel for inverter install.


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Modifying WFCO panel for inverter install.


I am about to start phase two of my solar install and would like some feedback on an idea I have for installing an inverter.

 Looking at installing a Magnum Energy MS2812 inverter on a 2013 235RLS Fox Mountain 5th wheel. Currently have six Kyocera 140 watt panels, Morningstar TSMPPT 60 charge controller and two Interstate "Dual Purpose 27" 12V batteries. Phase three will replace the Interstates with two GBS III 200 amp lithium batteries. 

The MS2812 has a built in transfer switch which will enable me to feed everything with the exception of the air conditioner, water heater and possibly the fridge. Will probably put the fridge on the inverter side and control it with the Off/LP/Gas switch on the fridge itself. I think I could do this with the existing breaker panel. 

In scoping out the project I opened the WFCO8955 30 amp panel and noticed the buss bar under the breakers. After removing the breakers I see that by cutting the buss bar or "Stab bar" as they call it and adding a neutral buss bar I could make this work without adding a separate sub panel.  I would have six breakers on one buss and four on the other. Has anyone heard of this being done before? Any thoughts would be welcome. Just wondering if there is anything hovering just out of view that might come and slap me upside the head when I least expect it.

The hot buss bar is held in place by three screws so it should be pretty easy to remove, cut and replace. There is also plenty of room to install the second neutral buss. The MS2812 isolates the neutral when it goes into inverter mode so ground loops should not be an issue and splitting the buss bar isolates the inverter's ac input so no feedback issues there. I think. Famous last words.

 Here is a schematic and pictures of the panel.LINK

 



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Can't help you on the details, but I will recommend you look at the Magnum Hybrid MSH3012M instead of the MS2812. We love ours, especially the "hybrid" part. Ours replaced a 2000 watt inverter/charger with its own subpanel.

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bjoyce,

Thanks for the response. Yes. the hybrid feature is nice but at around $800 more it would not be worth it for us. Our plans are to boondock if at all possible and use full hookup campsites as a last resort and the generator for the occasional air conditioner use and battery charging due to clouds/shade.

 

 



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Can't help you on the panel either, sorry but wanted to let you know where I got my inverter . Not  sure how much your paying for the 2812 but just got my 3012 Hybrid last week from these guys. Their out of stock right now but were out of stock when I ordered and took a week to get.paid $1,600 for it with free shipping.

 

http://www.imarineusa.com/MagnumEnergyMSH3012M.aspx

using this inverter would make a much easier connection. You can run your incoming power through the inverter and then to panel. This would eliminate having to modify panel other than disconnecting charger.  Manually switch to run your W/H and fridge on gas and only run a/c when hook up to outside power. Hope this helps.



-- Edited by Mobile Greg on Thursday 24th of September 2015 02:22:20 PM

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Thanks on the link Greg. That is where I was looking at the 2812! I initially searched for the MSH but must not have gotten a hit for I Marine till i started searching for the MS. That is a only a $170 difference as the MS2812 is selling for $1404. Will have to revisit this. 



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Without a long dissertation, I’d really suggest not modifying the power panel.  While your plan “should work fine,” you seem to understand what you are doing, I’d opt for a separate panel or, as you suggested, feeding the main panel via the inverter change over switch.  I’d really do the separate panel.  This also eliminates the possibly of accidently running the fridge off the batteries when you don’t realize it.

I’d also suggest you think about just how much power the RV fridge, on 120VAC, will draw.  Your battery size, even with the upgrade, really isn’t the best choice to run the fridge even for a day. I’ve got real world numbers to substantiate that opinion. RV fridges use so little LP it really makes more sense to just run them off LP except when you have plenty of shore power.

Using a separate panel also allows you to run the inverter in the UPS mode if you want without concern for flatting the batteries if the HVAC is running and the power dumps.  That's the mode I always use to protect the TV, satellite and IT equipment.

Sometimes the simple way, a separate panel, really is the best – and the safest.  It will also be less work in the long run, IMO.

BTW, so far we are pleased with the MS2812, but I would but in a Trimetric 2025 battery monitor.  Just simpler to use than the MS2812’s optional unit and I think it’s a little less expensive.  But that’s a rather minor point.



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A sub panel would be ideal. There would be a lot of work involved as I would have to relocate all the circuits that would be fed through the inverter. In this camper most of the wiring is in the floor and it comes out right behind the panel. With fridge above, the stove to the right and the steps to the left it would be a challenge splicing these feeds through the panel opening to extend them to a location suitable for a sub panel. Which is why I was exploring other avenues.

Using the MSH3012 would enable me to run everything through the inverter but yes the potential to end up with discharged house batteries is definitely a probability.

I have no clue what the fridge draws on AC but figured throwing it on the inverter side gave me the option.

A Trimetric was the first thing I put in it. Nice to know how much everything draws and how much the solar is pumping into the batteries. Don't know how it is going to work with the BMS for the lithium batteries. Something else to research.

 

Thanks for your input. It's all food for thought.



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Good point about drawing down the batteries if you lose shore power. Since I mostly dry camp and only use a small generator that would usually not be a problem. 

Something to look into, and The next thing I will research, is if the 3012 is capable of charging and passing shore/generator power through wihile the inverter is turned off And will not allow the inverter to come on line if there is a power interruption. I know chargqing and invertering are  separate functions on remote panel.

if that's the case it would seem a sub-panel would not be required. I guess a call to Magnum customer support is in order.



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Reads like that is the case.

Chapter 3.1 of 3012 manual;

"Inverter OFF – When the inverter is OFF, no power is used from the batteries to power the AC

loads, and the status LED will be OFF. If AC power from an external source (shorepower grid or

generator) is connected and qualified on the inverter’s AC input, this AC input power will pass

through the inverter to power the AC loads. However, if this AC power is lost, the AC loads will no

longer be powered because the inverter is OFF"



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Great

looks like you already know more than I do on this unit and don't have yours yet. Guess I should get to reading since I plan on installing mine pretty soon. Something I always seem to wait until the last minute to do. Looks like that would solve the problem of batteries getting drained.

So if you get the MSH3012 wIll t his change your original installation design plans?



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Yes, I would probably just wire it between the source and the panel. That would be the least destructive route and if it causes too many issues i can go from there. I need to read through all the specs and make sure the 3012 can be configured for use with lithium batteries before I would say I am going with it for sure.  In the manual it states that the AC input and output of the inverter must be protected with a max 60 amp breaker. Would this be the breaker on the generator or shore power panel for the input and the camper main breaker for the output? i need to read more. 

 

 

 



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Actually since the MSH 3012 has totally programmable charge capabilities this would work best for lithium since they only need a 2-stage charging cycle. Would just need to know charging parameters from battery mfg. and set those in the MSH 3012. This was one of the reasons i chose this inverter, for optimum charging of any battery type I decide to use.

Google "Magnum MSH3012 lithium batteries" Lots of info on different set-ups



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TheHermit wrote:

Yes, I would probably just wire it between the source and the panel. That would be the least destructive route and if it causes too many issues i can go from there. I need to read through all the specs and make sure the 3012 can be configured for use with lithium batteries before I would say I am going with it for sure.  In the manual it states that the AC input and output of the inverter must be protected with a max 60 amp breaker. Would this be the breaker on the generator or shore power panel for the input and the camper main breaker for the output? i need to read more.  


Let me (strongly if I may) suggest if you are going to put the inverter directly on the output of your shore power to feed the panel you install a Progressive Industries HW50C inline before the Magnum.  In fact you should install one of these on the output of the shore cord regardless. (Before the generator changeover switch if you have one.)  Second to tires it is the most important device to protect your rig.

http://www.progressiveindustries.net/#!ems-hw50c/cjk6

These are available from many sources for far less than the quoted price on the PI home website.

I’ll bet you already know about these but if not a read of the manual on the website should do the information trick.  Readout is very handy for monitoring loads and rationing available amps.

As to the breaker – they just want the usual input draw and output load breaker to protect the wire and the Magnum respectively.



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Bill and Linda wrote:
TheHermit wrote:

Yes, I would probably just wire it between the source and the panel. That would be the least destructive route and if it causes too many issues i can go from there. I need to read through all the specs and make sure the 3012 can be configured for use with lithium batteries before I would say I am going with it for sure.  In the manual it states that the AC input and output of the inverter must be protected with a max 60 amp breaker. Would this be the breaker on the generator or shore power panel for the input and the camper main breaker for the output? i need to read more.  


Let me (strongly if I may) suggest if you are going to put the inverter directly on the output of your shore power to feed the panel you install a Progressive Industries HW50C inline before the Magnum.  In fact you should install one of these on the output of the shore cord regardless. (Before the generator changeover switch if you have one.)  Second to tires it is the most important device to protect your rig.

 

http://www.progressiveindustries.net/#!ems-hw50c/cjk6

 

These are available from many sources for far less than the quoted price on the PI home website.

 

I’ll bet you already know about these but if not a read of the manual on the website should do the information trick.  Readout is very handy for monitoring loads and rationing available amps.

 

As to the breaker – they just want the usual input draw and output load breaker to protect the wire and the Magnum respectively.


 X2

To me, that's a mandatory item.



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Mobile Greg wrote:

Actually since the MSH 3012 has totally programmable charge capabilities this would work best for lithium since they only need a 2-stage charging cycle. Would just need to know charging parameters from battery mfg. and set those in the MSH 3012. This was one of the reasons i chose this inverter, for optimum charging of any battery type I decide to use.

Google "Magnum MSH3012 lithium batteries" Lots of info on different set-ups


 I think I am good on the MSH3012M. Excellent timing as I was just about to pull the credit card out for the MS. Off to Google I am.



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The EMSHW30C has been on my list. May as well install it while I have everything torn apart.



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Great idea. A lot of good info. Ran across an interesting thread about alternators and house batteries. My RAM has two alternators and I have no clue how much of that is making it to the batteries but with lithium I can't take the chance. I 'spect i will have to find where that lead taps into the battery circuit and put a switch on it or redirect it to the generator battery. Never ends.



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TheHermit wrote:

Great idea. A lot of good info. Ran across an interesting thread about alternators and house batteries. My RAM has two alternators and I have no clue how much of that is making it to the batteries but with lithium I can't take the chance. I 'spect i will have to find where that lead taps into the battery circuit and put a switch on it or redirect it to the generator battery. Never ends.


To utilize all those available amps from the second alternator you will need to run a bigger, dedicated cable to the rig batter bank, IMO.  Seen this done and if you travel a lot it can charge the bank really well during the travel period.  If you don’t travel much – or relatively short time length periods – might not be worth the effort.  Do the math as they say.



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My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.



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TheHermit wrote:

My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.


 Good point. Just wanted to let you know IMarine has one MSH3012 in stock right now @ 1575.00. i know they usually have trouble keeping them in stock



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TheHermit wrote:

My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.


Luis:

I truly believe you may be over thinking this. (“Ask me how I recognize this tendency.”)  If you just use the charge wire that is in the 7 way connector, pin number 4, all will “just work fine.”  You really don’t need to do a thing except make sure the in-vehicle fuse is installed that feeds this line.  Some OEM’s don’t always install this fuse.

Like you will have with the Trimetric, I’ve been monitoring the batteries with the “pin 4” charging for years and have never seen the batteries overcharged even after a long day of travel.  The only way this might happen slightly is if the truck batteries were really flat, the trailer bank were not, but the trailer bank would still only take so much through the wire.  The first and second alternator will output only what is required by the 3 stage regulator in the truck.

Just traveled close to 400 miles today and when we arrived the battery bank was at its usual 100% on the Trimetric with the battery temp at 82 degrees and the ambient at 85. (That's with the solar panels working on a fully sunny travel day as well.)  Just not a problem in the real world, IMO, as the new trucks actually have “smart” 3-stage chargers in them as commented above - basically like better quality solar controllers.

BTW, I do disconnect the truck at night so the truck batteries are not part of the house battery bank in case of a power outage and the inverter kicks in. (That’s one reason.)

My 2 cents

Bill



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Bill and Linda wrote:
TheHermit wrote:

My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.


Luis:

 

I truly believe you may be over thinking this. (“Ask me how I recognize this tendency.”)  If you just use the charge wire that is in the 7 way connector, pin number 4, all will “just work fine.”  You really don’t need to do a thing except make sure the in-vehicle fuse is installed that feeds this line.  Some OEM’s don’t always install this fuse.

 

Like you will have with the Trimetric, I’ve been monitoring the batteries with the “pin 4” charging for years and have never seen the batteries overcharged even after a long day of travel.  The only way this might happen slightly is if the truck batteries were really flat, the trailer bank were not, but the trailer bank would still only take so much through the wire.  The first and second alternator will output only what is required by the 3 stage regulator in the truck.

 

Just traveled close to 400 miles today and when we arrived the battery bank was at its usual 100% on the Trimetric with the battery temp at 82 degrees and the ambient at 85. (That's with the solar panels working on a fully sunny travel day as well.)  Just not a problem in the real world, IMO, as the new trucks actually have “smart” 3-stage chargers in them as commented above - basically like better quality solar controllers.

 

BTW, I do disconnect the truck at night so the truck batteries are not part of the house battery bank in case of a power outage and the inverter kicks in. (That’s one reason.)

 

My 2 cents

Bill


Bill,

What type of batteries do you have? I think Luis was planning on using Lithium batteries which have a very different charging parameter than lead acid. I read they do no liked  being charged at too high of a voltage and if they are it can shorten the life. Not sure if the alternator will put a higher voltage that lithium can handle but at the cost of litlium would definitely want to be sure. 

Luis, 

If you are going lithium batteries, you might want to check if the battery management system (BMS) will make sure the voltage  from the alternator does not exceed acceptable limits. That would be a good question for whichever mfg. you choose



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Mobile Greg wrote:
Bill and Linda wrote:
TheHermit wrote:

My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.


Luis:

 

I truly believe you may be over thinking this. (“Ask me how I recognize this tendency.”)  If you just use the charge wire that is in the 7 way connector, pin number 4, all will “just work fine.”  You really don’t need to do a thing except make sure the in-vehicle fuse is installed that feeds this line.  Some OEM’s don’t always install this fuse.

 

Like you will have with the Trimetric, I’ve been monitoring the batteries with the “pin 4” charging for years and have never seen the batteries overcharged even after a long day of travel.  The only way this might happen slightly is if the truck batteries were really flat, the trailer bank were not, but the trailer bank would still only take so much through the wire.  The first and second alternator will output only what is required by the 3 stage regulator in the truck.

 

Just traveled close to 400 miles today and when we arrived the battery bank was at its usual 100% on the Trimetric with the battery temp at 82 degrees and the ambient at 85. (That's with the solar panels working on a fully sunny travel day as well.)  Just not a problem in the real world, IMO, as the new trucks actually have “smart” 3-stage chargers in them as commented above - basically like better quality solar controllers.

 

BTW, I do disconnect the truck at night so the truck batteries are not part of the house battery bank in case of a power outage and the inverter kicks in. (That’s one reason.)

 

My 2 cents

Bill


Bill,

What type of batteries do you have? I think Luis was planning on using Lithium batteries which have a very different charging parameter than lead acid. I read they do no liked  being charged at too high of a voltage and if they are it can shorten the life. Not sure if the alternator will put a higher voltage that lithium can handle but at the cost of litlium would definitely want to be sure. 

Luis, 

If you are going lithium batteries, you might want to check if the battery management system (BMS) will make sure the voltage  from the alternator does not exceed acceptable limits. That would be a good question for whichever mfg. you choose


 

Lifeline AGM’s 6 volt.  Indeed, do check your charging parameters but I don't think this is a problem.  Advise if you find otherwise.  If it is, just pull the fuse in the truck.



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Mobile Greg wrote:
TheHermit wrote:

My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.


 Good point. Just wanted to let you know IMarine has one MSH3012 in stock right now @ 1575.00. i know they usually have trouble keeping them in stock


 Thanks for the heads up. I have been watching it and going back and forth on picking that up but over the last couple of weeks i ordered all the components for this next phase and now realized I am just about tapped out for the month. At least I have everything i need to make it inverter ready.



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Not sure if you inow about these guys but seems they have some pretty good info on setting up lithium batteries

http://elitepowersolutions.com/index.html



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Bill and Linda wrote:
Mobile Greg wrote:
Bill and Linda wrote:
TheHermit wrote:

My concern is with over charging as I cannot turn the alternator off. Hopefully the drop in voltage with the thin wire is enough to make it a none issue. Will have to put a meter on it and see what is getting to the batteries.


Luis:

 

I truly believe you may be over thinking this. (“Ask me how I recognize this tendency.”)  If you just use the charge wire that is in the 7 way connector, pin number 4, all will “just work fine.”  You really don’t need to do a thing except make sure the in-vehicle fuse is installed that feeds this line.  Some OEM’s don’t always install this fuse.

 

Like you will have with the Trimetric, I’ve been monitoring the batteries with the “pin 4” charging for years and have never seen the batteries overcharged even after a long day of travel.  The only way this might happen slightly is if the truck batteries were really flat, the trailer bank were not, but the trailer bank would still only take so much through the wire.  The first and second alternator will output only what is required by the 3 stage regulator in the truck.

 

Just traveled close to 400 miles today and when we arrived the battery bank was at its usual 100% on the Trimetric with the battery temp at 82 degrees and the ambient at 85. (That's with the solar panels working on a fully sunny travel day as well.)  Just not a problem in the real world, IMO, as the new trucks actually have “smart” 3-stage chargers in them as commented above - basically like better quality solar controllers.

 

BTW, I do disconnect the truck at night so the truck batteries are not part of the house battery bank in case of a power outage and the inverter kicks in. (That’s one reason.)

 

My 2 cents

Bill


Bill,

What type of batteries do you have? I think Luis was planning on using Lithium batteries which have a very different charging parameter than lead acid. I read they do no liked  being charged at too high of a voltage and if they are it can shorten the life. Not sure if the alternator will put a higher voltage that lithium can handle but at the cost of litlium would definitely want to be sure. 

Luis, 

If you are going lithium batteries, you might want to check if the battery management system (BMS) will make sure the voltage  from the alternator does not exceed acceptable limits. That would be a good question for whichever mfg. you choose


 

Lifeline AGM’s 6 volt.  Indeed, do check your charging parameters but I don't think this is a problem.  Advise if you find otherwise.  If it is, just pull the fuse in the truck.


 Bill, over thinking? Me? More like my middle name! I currently have two Interstate 12v lead acid but yes I am setting this up to install two GBS III 200 amp lithium batteries. GBS III Link.  I have a tendency to get a little paranoid about charging sources. From what I have read lithium is not very forgiving.  So is pin 4 only used for charging? 

The BMS will monitor for over discharge as well as over charge. I am installing two contactors that will be controlled by the BMS, one on the positive cable from the batteries and one on the negative right after the shunt. However I want to avoid having the BMS tripping the over charge contactor if I can help it. I plan on using the over charge contactor to isolate the negative battery terminal from the Inverter and the solar charge controller. This way the loads won't be affected.DC Electrical Plan Link.



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Yes I have spoken to them a couple of times. I was going to buy them there however with taxes I can get them shipped here from Batteryspace.com in CA cheaper. Elite makes the BMS and i will be buying it from Batteryspace.



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TheHermit wrote:

 Bill, over thinking? Me? More like my middle name! I currently have two Interstate 12v lead acid but yes I am setting this up to install two GBS III 200 amp lithium batteries. GBS III Link.  I have a tendency to get a little paranoid about charging sources. From what I have read lithium is not very forgiving.

 So is pin 4 only used for charging? 

The BMS will monitor for over discharge as well as over charge. I am installing two contactors that will be controlled by the BMS, one on the positive cable from the batteries and one on the negative right after the shunt. However I want to avoid having the BMS tripping the over charge contactor if I can help it. I plan on using the over charge contactor to isolate the negative battery terminal from the Inverter and the solar charge controller. This way the loads won't be affected.DC Electrical Plan Link.


 

Pin 4 is designated to feed 12 volts to a trailer from the tow vehicle.  Just +12 “all the time” from most vehicles. I.e. not usually on the ignition key but YMMV.  How it is used, if at all, in the rig is determined by how they wired it.  But in the past 40 odd years I’ve been doing this I’ve always found the +12 from the connector in a trailer going right to the 12 volt bus (hopefully via a fuse) just like it were a battery charger or converter.  If you removed the trailer batteries you would still have +12 to run lights, etc. from the truck’s +12 - (albeit not for very long).

BTW, trailer batteries are used to supply the +12 to the emergency brake-away switch.  I’m sure you know that but just commenting . . .

All the 12 volts, via a fuse panel, is usually tied together one way or another unless there is a diode isolation stack which is sometimes present in motorhomes to isolate the vehicle batteries from the house battery bank so you can start the motorhome if you run down the house batteries.  Never seen one in a trailer from the OEMs.  Just keep all in mind with your design as might be appropriate.



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Good to know. I requested electrical schematics from the manufacturer and what I got was a couple of Fleetwood (which the camper is not) floorplan drawings with a bunch of hand drawn lines and scribbles. Could not believe it. Called and asked if they had real schematics and they said no. I am sure they have something better than what they sent but then again when I pulled out the breaker panel and looked inside it looks just like what they sent. A mess.

Anyway, I will have to plug it into the truck and see what it sits at. Like you said it may not be an issue. 



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The Hermit

2013 Ram 2500 4x4 6.7 diesel shortbed crew cab

2013 235RLS Fox Mountain by Northwood

 



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 2070
Date:

TheHermit wrote:

Good to know. I requested electrical schematics from the manufacturer and what I got was a couple of Fleetwood (which the camper is not) floorplan drawings with a bunch of hand drawn lines and scribbles. Could not believe it. Called and asked if they had real schematics and they said no. I am sure they have something better than what they sent but then again when I pulled out the breaker panel and looked inside it looks just like what they sent. A mess.

Anyway, I will have to plug it into the truck and see what it sits at. Like you said it may not be an issue. 


 

Welcome to the real world of RV’s.  No, I seriously doubt they actually have anything much better than what they sent you and this has nothing to do with any particular manufacture or price point – at least any price point I’ve been involved with.  Just saying . . .

In the "old days" Airstream did a pretty good electrical schematic manual.  Not saying there are none now, but I haven't seen one that is rig specific in sometime.



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Bill & Linda



RV-Dreams Community Member

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Posts: 19
Date:

Well I finally picked up the MSH3012. Got it from Imarine. Still $1575.00. Installed it last week along with the EMSHW30C . That inverter was a beast to install in the pass-through! Looking at ordering the batteries and BMS tomorrow. More fun awaits.

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The Hermit

2013 Ram 2500 4x4 6.7 diesel shortbed crew cab

2013 235RLS Fox Mountain by Northwood

 



RV-Dreams Community Member

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Posts: 19
Date:

BJoice, are those GBS lithium batteries you are charging with that Magnum? If so how did you configure your Magnum? I think it is CVCC but there are an awful lot of parameters to set in that thing. Appreciate any info you could share.

 

 



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The Hermit

2013 Ram 2500 4x4 6.7 diesel shortbed crew cab

2013 235RLS Fox Mountain by Northwood

 

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