Concession Trailer Electrics

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acanthus
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2008/03/10 19:28:29 (permalink)

Concession Trailer Electrics

I've asked this question before but I've yet to understand how to accomplish it. So to those who have responded before, please forgive me.
I need to put in a new main box. I'll probably use 100 amp so as to not have to upgrade. I can wire the interior, I just don't know how to get the electricity to the trailer. I understand that 30 amp and sometimes 50 amp is available but some venues may just be a regular outlet. Do I connect a 30 amp shore line to the main and use an adapter for 50 amp? Do I run a few wires to 20 amp fuses? If so, how? Question is: what do I use as a shore line and does that affect what I use as a main box?
Thanks in advance,
Lance
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8 Replies Related Threads

    RichardFriese
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/10 21:00:22 (permalink)
    Since your trailer is a commercial operation, anyone that answers this could end up in legal hot water since a licensed electrician should be doing your work. Any fires, overloads and there is going to be an investigation on the electrical. I've given you some basics in the past posts, though the specifics should go through a licensed electrician. RJF
    #2
    acanthus
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/11 07:01:01 (permalink)
    And you have and I thank you but if I hadn't been just summarily ignored by the last 6, that's six electricians with whom I have spoken and to whom I have asked to work on this trailer, I wouldn't be interested in doing this myself. I've run out of ideas. Maybe with gasoline at 3.25 a gallon, electricians are just not interested in a job that doesn't net them, after filling up their tank, a daily wage....and so maybe they shouldn't. I mean it certainly has changed my attitude on running over to look at a job with little prospect of it being lucrative.

    I would respectfully submit that anyone who is not a licensed electrician would be hard pressed to be sued by offering advice with a disclaimer that the final inspection be done by one. I am not looking to go up in a puff of smoke in this trailer to save $100 that I could make in an afternoon, I am simply looking to get this accomplished and have found it difficult to get help. If this is not the forum for eliciting this information, I certainly respect that.
    #3
    jman
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/11 07:44:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by acanthus

    And you have and I thank you but if I hadn't been just summarily ignored by the last 6, that's six electricians with whom I have spoken and to whom I have asked to work on this trailer, I wouldn't be interested in doing this myself. I've run out of ideas. Maybe with gasoline at 3.25 a gallon, electricians are just not interested in a job that doesn't net them, after filling up their tank, a daily wage....and so maybe they shouldn't. I mean it certainly has changed my attitude on running over to look at a job with little prospect of it being lucrative.

    I would respectfully submit that anyone who is not a licensed electrician would be hard pressed to be sued by offering advice with a disclaimer that the final inspection be done by one. I am not looking to go up in a puff of smoke in this trailer to save $100 that I could make in an afternoon, I am simply looking to get this accomplished and have found it difficult to get help. If this is not the forum for eliciting this information, I certainly respect that.


    Operational expenses are part of doing business, so using the cost of gas as a reason that no one will come out is, IMO, weak. Where do you live?

    Have you considered pulling your trailer over to an electrician's shop, so that his gas doesn't figure into it?

    Do you have a school close to you that has an electrical program? If so, call the instructor to see if your project could be done by the class.

    Do you have an electrical supply store near you? If so, they will probably tell you exactly what you need to do, and how to do it.
    #4
    lou987
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/11 08:02:18 (permalink)
    answer the guy!
    #5
    RichardFriese
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/11 16:01:11 (permalink)
    If I have this right for what you are trying to do is; Run a trailer on a generator AND when available run it on power that is available on site. OK First to classify this, this is the same thing that is done for homes, business and hospitals for emergencies, (only backwards). A building is run on regular power and transfered to an emergency generator when power is down.

    There are two ways to go at this, First; Use a transfer switch. (This is an electrical box that is wired onto the main breaker box and the generator is wired onto it). There are two types of transfer switch boxes, manual and automatic. (The automatic box senses that the main electricity is off and transfers over to the generator, the generator senses this and starts). (The manual switch box has to be switched over manually and usually the generator is started manually.) If you search sites for emergency power, emergency generators, your going to find these and the manufacturer's involved. Wiring is done as a normal household with the transfer switch box at the main breaker box. The main box would take the electrical connection for the site and the transfer switch box would take the generator. Alot is written on this for emergency power and generators, use these key terms and I'm sure you will find sites on this. Main downfall to this IF the transfer switch fails ALL power is dead in your trailer until you get it fixed.

    The second approach would be to run dual circuits in the trailer. One breaker box for the site power, One breaker box for the generator, dual electrical plugins at each spot, one for site, one for generator. This is dual expense although it has some great advantages; First, depending on your site, you may not get all the power (amperage) you need. You will end up blowing their fuses or yours. In this instance, you can us the generator for part and site power for part. Second there is no failure point like the transfer switch and one way or another you can get power. The appliances, stoves what not would have to be plugged into the right box to work! Extra work if you don't know when you arrive if you get site power or generator. This is flat out the more expensive option and the less common option. This option also separates generator from site so there is little problem with anything electrical crossing.

    If you get a large generator from a company, their engineers will be happy to help make sure their unit works with your trailer. Since your using electricity from someone else and a generator this is more complex. The wiring run to any site should be heavy gauge and waterproof. Any rain and I would use industrial rubber gloves to plug in. Electricians more involved in wiring emergency generators will know abit on this, although they may not be familiar with commercial trailer wiring. There are different electricians and I would go after the commercial electrician. Write in and let us know if this starts you off. You can also email me. (One extra word of caution, over rate everything, breakers, wiring, generator; there will be ratings in amps for breakers, wiring size, when your looking at wiring for 20 amps, go the next size larger, Over rate everything).

    As I put in my original post, people sue at the drop of a hat and if there is a problem, there will be an investigation by insurance on how this was designed and wired. I'm directing all information be checked with lic. electricians in YOUR area, since each state is the certifying authority. RJF

    http://www.kohlerpower.com/residential/sectionfront.htm?sectionNumber=13561?id=rgst&ppcde=95221503

    http://www.kohlerpower.com/residential/category.htm?categoryNumber=13161§ionNumber=13561

    http://www.kohlerpower.com/residential/solutions/educationaldemo.htm?sectionNumber=13561&nodeNumber=1&contentNumber=102
    #6
    UncleVic
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/11 21:02:35 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by RichardFriese

    The wiring run to any site should be heavy gauge and waterproof. Any rain and I would use industrial rubber gloves to plug in.


    Richard, I'm so glad you brought up the fact about heavy gauge wiring. Something as simple as an extension cord (shore line), can cause more headaches the one could troubleshoot. I have an event I might do this summer, and the folks that run it offer electricity, but suggest you bring a minimum of 100' of extension cord. First thing that came to my head was voltage drop. ARGGGGHHHH...
    Putting it layman's terms, the thinner the wire, the more the voltage drop over a run, thus leading to a higher current draw. (Think resistance). So something that would normally draw 15 amps at 120 volts would draw over 20 amps when the voltage drops down to 105 volts (this is just a guesstimate, I didn't get my calculator out to get the exact numbers, but you get the hint). But you want the heaviest duty cord you can get. Be it 10 gauge or whatever.
    #7
    acanthus
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/12 08:37:28 (permalink)
    Operational expenses are part of doing business, so using the cost of gas as a reason that no one will come out is, IMO, weak. Where do you live?

    I was of course, only speculating as to why six electricians were not interested in this project. It was not anyone's stated reason. I did speak to an unlicensed electrician (in this state) yesterday and he said that it was a liability issue in his opinion. No one wanted to do it, he thought, because it was just not cut and dried like other stuff they do. All I kneow was.... when I explained what I wanted, everyone passed.

    Jman, your ideas are helpful, thanks.

    Richard, I certainly thankyou for your treatise on generator vs on-site power and it was most useful for that purpose, but I was not asking that and I recognize that my ignorance in electricity begets my inability to ask appropriate questions.

    Uncle Vic, the voltage drop issue is also important to me, thanks.

    What I was asking was "What should the shore line look like?" For instance, the original shore line on this Airstream is a 30 amp cord. This cord, of course, was originally wired right to the box that was original to this trailer and presumably carried enough electricity to power whatever appliances were indigenous to this trailer. Now that I am going to run a coffee maker, an espresso machine, a fridge, a freezer, an ice machine, a microwave, and one or two other minor appliances along with lights, etc., it strikes me I need more power than that....maybe not. The question is, if I do, how do I get it there.? If there were, say a 50 amp outlet available, and I had a 50 amp shore line I could simply plug in. But it doesn't seem like I should install such a line as I would be limiting myself. What for instance, would I do if I only had access to a regular outlet, or two, or three? What then... abunch of extension cords and forget my breaker box. I heard from one fellow a while ago who runs, presumably, three cords (lines) to three twenty amp breakers? And forgive me, how do you do that? Rewire the box each time?

    Anyway, I'm off to the electric supply house to bother them with these questions. They will just deny they gave me any advice anyway if my Airstream resembles a roman candle one day.

    Thanks yall.
    Lance
    #8
    RichardFriese
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    RE: Concession Trailer Electrics 2008/03/12 17:09:18 (permalink)
    No matter how you cut it your shore line is going to be a problem. Every site is going to be different, a high school is going to have a regular plug, a park may have a connection box rigged for trailers. It is not just that a outlet is available, but each outlet has to have its own branch circuit, protected by its own breaker. You are going to be playing Russian roulette every time you pull up to a new site, that the outlets available have enough amperage to handle your trailer. You many find right in the middle of your busy sales, you lose power, and the people available have no idea where the main breaker is, or that the wire that is feeding your outdoor outlet is under rated and is over heating and won't handle your amperage. There are trailers setup for going around to state caravels, and there are trailers that setup at a spot in town and have a building that they plug into for power. If your trying to strive for every situation, go with a generator and be self supporting.

    Then the amount of distance comes into play, your going to have to learn how to run wires for different situations and different lengths and recognize a limitation of the distance. Truly the best answer is a good generator that handles all your needs. Pull up fire up the generator and don't worry about all the electrical. The wattages / amps can be worked out and a regular breaker system can be setup. RJF
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