7'x16' Enclosed Trailer Conversion - Electrical Panel & Breaker Design

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Rick and Sharon of the YouTube channel Gonagain travel the western US from their home in Montana using a SUV and a converted cargo trailer. The have a Playlists page that includes their cargo trailer build. They also do equipment reviews and just today posted a review of a Bluetti AC200L.

You may find some useful information in their videos.

Also, be aware that most if not all states require a trailer to have brakes (usually 1500 lbs and above, but it varies with the state) and part of this is an emergency break away system that will set... and HOLD the brakes for (if I recall correctly) 15 minutes. Which is one good reason for going ahead and setting up the trailer with some sort of battery. Many cargo and utility trailers use sealed lead acid batteries for this purpose, but you will do well to set up a larger one for other uses, which can be swapped later for bigger/better/different.

A modern power converter is mult-stage, having various voltage levels to bulk charge a lead acid battery, then drop to a lower level during normal use, and a even lower level to maintain and possibly desulfate the battery without cooking it. I leave my trailer plugged in 24/7 and the battery dates back to about 2018 and shows no signs of quitting. A transformer will simply cook batteries and not be useful with future lithium batteries either. Many new converters will multistage maintain lead acid and can be switched to lithium ion, making it a once and done investment.

The power panel I suggested (and most other similar panels) have 12 to 14 fuse/circuit locations for 12v DC circuits, more than enough for everything conceivable in a small cargo trailer. True RVs are regulated by the National Electric Code article 70-551, which establishes limits on the number of branch circuits and many other factors in an RV electrical system.

Charles
Thanks, Charles! A lot of great info in your post, and I’ll follow up on your recommended resources when I’m ready.

I wonder if I’ve been unclear in what I’ve shared so far because folks keep encouraging me to get a 12v battery (batteries). I have a 2000kW portable generator/battery already (Jackery - similar to the Bluetti you referenced, and I’ve seen DualEx, on YouTube, wire up a Bluetti, too). There are five states I imagine the trailer in: (1) parked, disconnected from my truck, and connected to a campground’s shore power for electricity; (2) parked, connected to my truck’s on-board generator for electricity (boondocking overnight); (3) parked, connected to my 2000kW Jackery for electricity (pulled over for lunch/dinner/relax and don’t want to have the truck’s generator burning gas); (4) parked and unpowered completely (when it’s not in use); or (5) hitched/towing and connected to 2000kW Jackery for electricity. In all parked configurations above, my Jackery can be charging from available 120v sources or solar (I have two, 200W panels).

I had NO idea about the electric brake laws you referenced. That makes sense, now, why I’ve seen so many trailer listings reference electric brakes. I definitely need to do my research there, but, coincidentally, I think my state (5), above, will satisfy the power need.
 
OK - Here's a thought - On early coaches (like mine) there is no switch between shore and generator. The A/C electric panel has a 15 foot cord with a 30 amp male RV plug on it. The generator simply has a female box outlet. When using shore power the cord is plugged into the shore receptacle. When generator is used the A/C plug is simply plugged into the generator female feed box.

I am sure all of us will still recommend installing at least 2 batteries and a traditional power converter/charger - It won't be wasted especially when you get to phase 2.

In addition a 400W or so inverter is hooked up to the batteries.

This way for your GF - She knows that when she switches a light switch (12V DC) the light comes on. If you are not plugged into shore or generator she still has a 400W A/C outlet she can plug her laptop, charger or other light load even if the generator is not running or you are not plugged into shore power.I even run my tv and wifi off the inverter and battery when I need to.
Appreciate your reply! I understand what you mean about not needing a switch between shore power and generator because the 15ft cord can only be connected to one at a time anyway. That makes sense when you have two, mutually exclusive sources of power. I may not have been clear in my description, but I will have three, potential sources of power and there is a chance (human error) that the third could be connected simultaneously with either of the first two. That’s why I need that switch.

Like your example, a campground’s shore panel and my truck’s on-board generator are the two, mutually exclusive power sources. The 30A cord can only be connected to one at a time. BUT, I will also have a 2000kW, portable, solar generator/battery (Jackery), that I want to use when I’m not at a campground and I don’t want to have the truck’s generator burning fuel. Thus, my two inputs to the switch will be (1) the 30A, 10AWG 15ft cable that can be connected to EITHER shore power or my truck’s generator, and (2) a 15A, 12AWG, 15ft cable that can be connected to the Jackery’s 120V output receptacle. The 30A cable will be landed on a 30A breaker and the 15A cable will be landed on a 15A breaker. The switch will prevent me from ever having the 30A service energized while the Jackery’s 15A receptacle is energized even if we make the mistake of having both breakers on and everything connected at the same time. Does that make sense, now?
 
One 10 gauge cable with a standard 30 amp RV plug and a dogbone to plug it into a standard NEMA 5-15 receptacle would be lightest and least clutter.

69283_W3.jpg


Here it is in use in my Winnebago View. Hardwired shore cord. In the shop where it was parked I used an extension cord and the dogbone. It saved me from pulling out the shore cord every time I parked it in the shop. Anyhow, you get the idea, shore cord plugged into the dogbone, which is plugged into a 120v receptacle. Much better than having two shore cords. (of course, I carry a 40 ft 12 gauge cord, a 50 ft 14 gauge cord, a 10 amp-25ft shore extension cord, and several dogbones and adapters, in addition to my regular 36 ft shore cord.)

Charles
 

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BUT, I will also have a 2000kW, portable, solar generator/battery (Jackery), that I want to use when I’m not at a campground and I don’t want to have the truck’s generator burning fuel.
How much battery storage does this thing have?

Just consider that you may "boondock" in a place that has no shore power and limits generator run time past a certain hour - usually called quiet time.

I am not trying to talk you into anything but you are describing 3 separate power sources you want to keep separated and as Lou says you can achieve that with no breakers and no switches just by configuring the cords and plugs.
 
Or just have one power cord you can plug into the shore power, the generator or the Jackery.
Shore power or on-board truck generator are outside and the Jackery will be inside. Respectfully, I feel like this is ultimately a matter of preference, and I prefer to do it the way I’ve described above. If there is an electrical hazard or safety issue resulting from how I plan to do it, I’d love for you to educate me on that. I’m much less inclined to go back and forth about preferences.
 
How much battery storage does this thing have?

Just consider that you may "boondock" in a place that has no shore power and limits generator run time past a certain hour - usually called quiet time.

I am not trying to talk you into anything but you are describing 3 separate power sources you want to keep separated and as Lou says you can achieve that with no breakers and no switches just by configuring the cords and plugs.
I’ll put a link to the product’s webpage below. I’m not affiliated with them or anything, it’s just what I have at the moment. It’s got just over 2000kW of storage and has a max output (peak) of 4400W. I’ve gone camping with this thing and brought it on 2-day, overnight fishing trips, and have run hot plates, chargers and heated blankets from it. Never got it below 50% from full, and never had my 400W of solar panels connected to it while in use. It’ll absolutely hold me over through a night if I’m boondocking and can’t run the generator, and I can simply run the generator to recharge the Jackery the next day.

 
Shore power or on-board truck generator are outside and the Jackery will be inside. Respectfully, I feel like this is ultimately a matter of preference, and I prefer to do it the way I’ve described above. If there is an electrical hazard or safety issue resulting from how I plan to do it, I’d love for you to educate me on that. I’m much less inclined to go back and forth about preferences.
This is an interesting thread to follow, even though I would never do such a conversion. Just not a use case that would appeal to me.

That said, I don't see this as others imposing their preferences so much. More a case of "been there, done that" experience talking. Decades of it from what I've seen.

Now, I'm new to rv's but not new to the world. I also have a habit of being stubborn and doing things the hard way, so I get where you're coming from. What I've learned from that is that simple > complicated. Complications then tend to multiply in use, and become exponentially more difficult to troubleshoot when they fail.

Another thing I've observed is how fast advances in these devices are coming. I put together a solar solution for two semi trucks, beginning two years ago. Just in that time, I already see superior products on the market that would have made for better options in the first place had they existed or I knew about in a few cases. I guess the point of that is: I also am reading you're doing a 5 year plan. It's probably a good idea not to get too invested in an approach now, when better options may become available years in the future when you're ready to click the "buy" button.

One 10 gauge cable with a standard 30 amp RV plug and a dogbone to plug it into a standard NEMA 5-15 receptacle would be lightest and least clutter.

69283_W3.jpg


Here it is in use in my Winnebago View.
I like how you did that, nice and clean. I'd do the same in my TT if the 30A receptacle was inside or near enough to a storage compartment. As it is, I do something sort of similar at my storage parking. The 120V shore outlet is at the left rear. I still have to drag the 30A cord out, but leave it coiled and hang it off the rear stabilizer jack to keep it tidy and off the ground, hopefully preventing an insect vector.
 
I’ll put a link to the product’s webpage below. I’m not affiliated with them or anything, it’s just what I have at the moment. It’s got just over 2000kW of storage and has a max output (peak) of 4400W.
It's more clear to me. I wasn't understanding fully what the "Jackery" was.

My only other confusion is when you talk about your truck's on-board generator is this a stand alone generator mounted on your truck or some truck version with an integrated generator (separate engine from the truck engine) or are you talking about the truck's alternator?

I might be considering how to permanently integrate the truck's alternator into the system so that if you overnight somewhere you can just take off and the truck's alternator will charge the Jackery while you drive.
 
I like how you did that, nice and clean. I'd do the same in my TT if the 30A receptacle was inside or near enough to a storage compartment. As it is, I do something sort of similar at my storage parking. The 120V shore outlet is at the left rear. I still have to drag the 30A cord out, but leave it coiled and hang it off the rear stabilizer jack to keep it tidy and off the ground, hopefully preventing an insect vector.
Shore cords are a PITA to handle. If you have a twist lock power inlet on the side of the trailer, get an adapter to plug into a regular extension cord. No chance of the expensive shore cord becoming damaged, stolen, etc, just to maintain a battery or turn on lights while it is in storage. The one I have is discontinued so I did not link to it, this one is nearly identical. I like the 70° or so down turn as there is less stress on the connector, less chance of tripping over it, etc. If you have a good quality end on the extension cord (I have Woods ends on mine) then it won't pull off.

Leisure Cords 12" 90-Degree Dogbone RV Adapter 15-Amp Male and 30-Amp Female with Twist Lock and LED Indicator (15 Amp Male - 30 Amp Female Twist)

61YHrzZLXIL._AC_SL1500_.jpg


Charles
 
It's more clear to me. I wasn't understanding fully what the "Jackery" was.

My only other confusion is when you talk about your truck's on-board generator is this a stand alone generator mounted on your truck or some truck version with an integrated generator (separate engine from the truck engine) or are you talking about the truck's alternator?

I might be considering how to permanently integrate the truck's alternator into the system so that if you overnight somewhere you can just take off and the truck's alternator will charge the Jackery while you drive.
Hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as I did! I'm excited to re-engage in these convos! Thanks for following up again!

The F150 Powerboost hybrid has an on-board generator that is built into the bed of the truck. I don't know if it's technically separate from the truck's engine, but I do know that the truck can be used to power your house, in the event of a power outage, in the same way that a traditional, back-up generator can. People have used the on-board generator to power their RV's roof-mounted AC while camping or over-landing.

Regarding permanent integration, you're kind of thinking the same thing I'm thinking. Yes and no ;) Here's the "no:" I plan to put a topper/cap on my truck bed, and the on-board generator's outlets are inside the truck bed. This will mean that the cord connecting the on-board generator to the RV will either have to go through a window of the topper/cap or I'd have to have the tailgate down. I don't like either option because, if I'm boondocking overnight in the Cabella's parking lot, for example, having the cable sticking out of a window or the tailgate would leave the bed of my truck unsecured. That's honestly why I want to be able to rely on the Jackery as a power source when I don't want to have, or am otherwise uncomfortable with the idea of having, a cable hanging out of my truck's bed.

Here's the "yes:" when I'm on the road, or when I'm stationary for any period of time, I can have the Jackery in the bed of the truck being charged by the on-board generator.
 
This is an interesting thread to follow, even though I would never do such a conversion. Just not a use case that would appeal to me.

That said, I don't see this as others imposing their preferences so much. More a case of "been there, done that" experience talking. Decades of it from what I've seen.

Now, I'm new to rv's but not new to the world. I also have a habit of being stubborn and doing things the hard way, so I get where you're coming from. What I've learned from that is that simple > complicated. Complications then tend to multiply in use, and become exponentially more difficult to troubleshoot when they fail.

Another thing I've observed is how fast advances in these devices are coming. I put together a solar solution for two semi trucks, beginning two years ago. Just in that time, I already see superior products on the market that would have made for better options in the first place had they existed or I knew about in a few cases. I guess the point of that is: I also am reading you're doing a 5 year plan. It's probably a good idea not to get too invested in an approach now, when better options may become available years in the future when you're ready to click the "buy" button.


I like how you did that, nice and clean. I'd do the same in my TT if the 30A receptacle was inside or near enough to a storage compartment. As it is, I do something sort of similar at my storage parking. The 120V shore outlet is at the left rear. I still have to drag the 30A cord out, but leave it coiled and hang it off the rear stabilizer jack to keep it tidy and off the ground, hopefully preventing an insect vector.
I'm glad you're finding some value/interest in the thread! I'm doing my best to maintain respectful dialogue and to express my appreciation for folks' input. The challenge, however, is the potential breadth of all things that can be discussed when it comes to trailer conversions and RVs. I started this thread to solicit input on a very specific topic (the best way to utilize an identified, electrical distribution center based on my needs and wants) and there are tangential discussions about which dogbone cables would be the simplest to use. Very much to your point about how much can change with available technologies and products, I asked a specific question because I am cognizant of what my next step ought to be along this journey. While appreciated and noted (throughout this thread, I have expressed my gratitude for everyone's thoughts and input), unsolicited, stylistic preferences (such as what would be more simple) just aren't helpful to me right now. I didn't ask for decades of experience about all things shore power, I asked for advice about potentially bridging two breaker bus bars in a distribution center. I'd appreciate it if we could focus on the issue I actually asked for help with.
 
The F150 Powerboost hybrid has an on-board generator that is built into the bed of the truck. I don't know if it's technically separate from the truck's engine, but I do know that the truck can be used to power your house, in the event of a power outage, in the same way that a traditional, back-up generator can. People have used the on-board generator to power their RV's roof-mounted AC while camping or over-landing.
It's not a generator, it's an inverter connected to the hybrid batteries. A generator has an engine that will run until it's out of fuel. The F150 inverter will run until the hybrid batteries are drained, then you have to start the main engine to recharge them.
 
It's not a generator, it's an inverter connected to the hybrid batteries. A generator has an engine that will run until it's out of fuel. The F150 inverter will run until the hybrid batteries are drained, then you have to start the main engine to recharge them.
Frustrating isn't it? Marketing people always spoil good words, with these portable battery packs being the latest example. That leads honestly ignorant folks to adopt the misappropriation, then everything is a generator.

Although in this case, it could be half right if the truck engine auto-starts at any point to restore the hybrid battery feeding the inverter. Not an actual generator, but does independently make power from gasoline, albeit indirectly.
 
It's not a generator, it's an inverter connected to the hybrid batteries. A generator has an engine that will run until it's out of fuel. The F150 inverter will run until the hybrid batteries are drained, then you have to start the main engine to recharge them.

Frustrating isn't it? Marketing people always spoil good words, with these portable battery packs being the latest example. That leads honestly ignorant folks to adopt the misappropriation, then everything is a generator.

Although in this case, it could be half right if the truck engine auto-starts at any point to restore the hybrid battery feeding the inverter. Not an actual generator, but does independently make power from gasoline, albeit indirectly.

So, gentlemen, it may or it may not technically be a generator. Cool. Does that in any way affect my plans to use it as described?
 
So, gentlemen, it may or it may not technically be a generator. Cool. Does that in any way affect my plans to use it as described?

Well as long as you understand that you don't actually have an ICE generator in your system.

What you have is on trailer batteries and on truck batteries. Each set of batteries needs to be charged from somewhere eventually. Solar and running the truck appear to be your options/plans.

I would delve into the truck system a little more to determine the actual amp hours available. Then compare that to you power consumption plan to see how long you can go before things need charging. Then consider your charging sources and how long it takes to replenish the batteries.

FWIW - I am shopping for a 24-ish foot trailer. I plan to put as many amp hours in the trailer as feasible. I also plan to mount my 4000w ICE generator in the truck bed for charging. I may add 400w solar at some point. I also plan to rig the truck alternator so that it can charge the trailer underway. Basically this is the tried method for TTs.
 
Well as long as you understand that you don't actually have an ICE generator in your system.

What you have is on trailer batteries and on truck batteries. Each set of batteries needs to be charged fro somewhere eventually. Solar and running the truck appear to be your options/plans.

I would delve into the truck system a little more to determine the actual amp hours available. Then compare that to you power consumption plan to see how long you can go before things need charging. Then consider your charging sources and how long it takes to replenish the batteries.

FWIW - I am shopping for a 24-ish foot trailer. I plan to put as many amp hours in the trailer as feasible. I also plan to mount my 4000w ICE generator in the truck bed for charging. I may add 400w solar at some point. I also plan to rig the truck alternator so that it can charge the trailer underway. Basically this is the tried method for TTs.
I would use watt-hours instead of amp-hours when figuring your battery capacity. Just multiply the battery voltage x it's watt-hour rating. A 12 volt, 100 amp-hour battery becomes 1200 watt-hours.

It's how most appliances rate their consumption and since it includes the voltage as part of the equation it eliminates having to convert the current when changing from one voltage to another. A watt or watt-hour at 12 volts is the same as a watt or watt-hour at 24, 48 or 120 volts.
 
Well as long as you understand that you don't actually have an ICE generator in your system.

What you have is on trailer batteries and on truck batteries. Each set of batteries needs to be charged from somewhere eventually. Solar and running the truck appear to be your options/plans.

I would delve into the truck system a little more to determine the actual amp hours available. Then compare that to you power consumption plan to see how long you can go before things need charging. Then consider your charging sources and how long it takes to replenish the batteries.

FWIW - I am shopping for a 24-ish foot trailer. I plan to put as many amp hours in the trailer as feasible. I also plan to mount my 4000w ICE generator in the truck bed for charging. I may add 400w solar at some point. I also plan to rig the truck alternator so that it can charge the trailer underway. Basically this is the tried method for TTs.
There’s a lot of good info and suggestions in here :):proceeds to Google “‘ICE’ generator”::). Thank you for your continued engagement in this thread!

Again, without going too deep into my long term plans (primarily because they’re only plans for now and are subject to change), the initial phase of the cargo trailer conversion won’t be a permanent setup. I completely understand what you mean about anticipating my power usage and planning accordingly. Long term, once I’m a resident in AK and when I invest in a more permanent solar solution, I’ll absolutely do that. More short term, after I get the trailer in the beginning of Q1, 2025 and through ~Q2, 2026, it’s going to be my fun project and evening/weekend getaway, dry-cabin on wheels. Figuring things out with my then-wife, and designing final layout and usage needs, is something I WANT to do overtime with her. So, I’ll get there! For now, my priority is safety and minimum viability.
 
There’s a lot of good info and suggestions in here :):proceeds to Google “‘ICE’ generator”::). Thank you for your continued engagement in this thread!

Well the excellent news is that anything you are setting up now won't preclude you from plugging in a regular ICE generator down the road if you find out you need it.
 

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