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 New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?!

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calijoeo

  • Total Posts: 8
  • Joined: 6/6/2012
  • Location: San Diego, CA
New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Wed, 06/6/12 10:05 PM (permalink)
Hi all-
Been following all the posts for a while and doing my best to learn from everyone else as I go through the process of building my food truck to be a shaved ice vehicle. Currently I'm at the point of connecting my generator (5500 watt Generac) which has already been tapped to my fuel line to the rest of the electrical system. I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to these systems so was hoping to find out what has worked for everyone else before buying my components.

As far as I know I want to have my generator hooked to a transfer switch (automatic vs manual? I would assume automatic is better?) with one line running to the inverter and one to the main panel. As far as inverter/charger goes, anything I should look out for? Those run to the two deep cycle 6 volts. I was hoping to have a set up where when not hooked up to shore power the generator would automatically kick on when the batteries were getting low. Is this the right approach?

I will be having an electrician do it all but just wanted to find out what products and set up have worked best for everyone. I'm only doing shaved ice so my power requirements aren't too high. Shaver, freezer, LED lights, A/C sometimes (in San Diego so not always needed), Audio/Video sometimes, instant hot water heater.

I appreciate any help and if being snarky and rude makes you feel better have at it! That's what the internet is for! Thanks again!
 
#1
    Dr of BBQ

    • Total Posts: 3716
    • Joined: 10/11/2004
    • Location: Springfield, IL
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    Re:New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Thu, 06/7/12 12:31 AM (permalink)
    Dr of BBQ where are you LMAO,
    Ok here is what I know about shaved ice and your concerns.
     
    Instant hot water heater. Should be propane not electric.
     
    Transfer switch manual is fine and cheaper. Auto is if your away from your unit and something happens. Like your out to lunch and your home power goes off. You don't want to lose the food in the freezer.
     
    But then you throw in the inverter/charger and that is my weakest link. I'm still trying to gain some knowledge from the RF gang on that topic.
     
    There are several people on here that seem to have the inverter/charger systems down so lets hope they jump in.
     
    My last thought is do a ton of reading/research online so you really understand how the inverter/charger systems work. That way your not going to get killed ($$$) by whom ever you seek help from.
     
    And finally there are a couple of really good groups on shaved ice on line and I subscribe to one but unfortunately this is their peak season and traffic/talk on their boards is slow. But they have some really, really good archives that are full of great threads on the topic. Like making your own ice, how long should ice cure before you shave it, which machine is best, when to change blades, who best to sharpen them, and the files are endless.  Shaved_Ice_Discussion@yahoogroups.com
     
    Sorry I have not been much help but you have some great people here at RF that will jump in I'm sure.
     
    Good luck
    jack
    <message edited by Dr of BBQ on Thu, 06/7/12 7:16 AM>
     
    #2
      calijoeo

      • Total Posts: 8
      • Joined: 6/6/2012
      • Location: San Diego, CA
      Re:New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Thu, 06/7/12 2:30 AM (permalink)
      Ha! Jack you're the man on this forum. Like I said before I've been reading up and down threads on everything for months while I build my truck and you're in most of them. Especially the longer threads which is what I was hoping mine would turn into. We'll see.
       
      I have an electrician (currently out of work - found on craigslist) that said he could hook everything up for $200 but like most things, I'm sure you get what you pay for. He isn't 100% up to date on the newest advances in this arena so I was hoping to find a little more info from people with experience in this field. I've been trying to read all I can on the electrical set ups but its just a language I don't understand and don't truly expect to pick up in 2 weeks.
       
      Thanks for the quick help though! Hopefully the band of merry men are right behind you!
       
      #3
        lornaschinske

        • Total Posts: 1610
        • Joined: 3/4/2009
        • Location: Roswell, NM until we leave for another place
        Re:New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Fri, 06/8/12 2:36 PM (permalink)
        My input, for what it's worth....
         
        calijoeo

        .... As far as I know I want to have my generator hooked to a transfer switch (automatic vs manual? I would assume automatic is better?) with one line running to the inverter and one to the main panel.

        I would suggest that you  use the "idiot-proof" method of hooking the generator to the rig. It's one we used on our previous RV and will use on this one. We also plug the food cart directly into a power outlet on a pole or on the generator.   Your power cord is wired directly to the power panel/breaker panel "main" breaker. To run from "shore" power (power pole) you plug into the power outlet attached to the pole. To run off the generator you plug the same cord into the generator outlet rather than the power pole outlet. Auto transfer switches fail and when they do, have a tendency to cause major problems. It also take the really big problem (YOU) out of the equation. If you accidentally back fed into a down system, you could possibly electrocute someone. This is why many grid-tie solar systems have to have insurance when they hook into the power grid. I've heard of RVers who have had it happen. We were in a campground when an RVer's auto transferred generator went nuts and back fed into the electrical system. Fried half the park. Luckily it didn't affect us.
         
         

        As far as inverter/charger goes, anything I should look out for? Those run to the two deep cycle 6 volts. I was hoping to have a set up where when not hooked up to shore power the generator would automatically kick on when the batteries were getting low. Is this the right approach?
        For starters, you need a "smart charger" on your battery bank. We will be powering our RV off of a PD4045. We will be running two 12vDC Deep cycle marine batteries. I don't know what kind of equipment you are running or what you are running off of the two  6vDC batteries (must wire to create a single 12vBattery... gives you 125 Amp?). Unless you are only powering a 12vDC water pump, you will need a bigger battery bank.
         
        You need to learn a little. Try reading up on the batteries. Phred's Poop Sheets are best.  I would suggest you read "Batteries & Other Electrical Stuff" and "Electric surge and High/Low Voltage". It's all written from an RVer's point of view so there are things that won't apply to you. But much of it will. Like an RV is a house on wheels, a mobile food cart is a restaurant on wheels. Lots of similarities. YOU WILL BE SUSCEPTIBLE TO POWER SURGES AND OTHER INCORRECTLY WIRED VENDORS!


        I will be having an electrician do it all but just wanted to find out what products and set up have worked best for everyone. I'm only doing shaved ice so my power requirements aren't too high. Shaver, freezer, LED lights, A/C sometimes (in San Diego so not always needed), Audio/Video sometimes, instant hot water heater.
        Instant hot water should be  LP.
         
        Look, IF this was my cart this is what I would do...
        >Manual hookup to the genset/ power pole.
        >30 amp panel box box (I would install the PD4045 to charge the batteries  for the  water pump and DC to AC inverter for the AC lights)... 30 amp because it's more "small event friendly". The only events we are interested in are small ones and many of them impose  limits on  our power usage. Small cart = small events. Big events may have similar situation.
        >LP water heater
        >12vDC water pump powered from batteries. Two 6 volt would be my minimum. I would actually buy two 12v Deep Cycle Marine batteries... the last one we bought was for the Class C and we fulltimed from 2006 when the single deep cycle marine battery was bought from Wal-mart thru December of 2011... my daughter stayed in the RV and is still on the same house battery... and the Class C has an old dumb converter/charger). While the generator is running, the batteries are simply passing power. They should not drain down. The smart charger will keep the batteries topped off when you are running the generator or plugged into shore power.
        >DC to AC Inverter (like a 600 to 800 watt one... cheap) to power the AC lights (got light when no genset/shore power... good when traveling on the road). AC lights are about 1/2 the price of DC lights. It will also provide clean power if you are running an AC sound system. Generator power will vary unless you have a power "conditioner" inline. The Onan on the Class C we used to live in was so bad I could not run my desktop computer off of it. The DC to AC Inverter will allow you to run AC stuff off the batteries. What you can power depends on the size of the inverter and the size of your bank. I suggest multiple "dedicated" inverters rather than a single big inverter... in case the inverter dies in the middle of an event, you can switch it out with another inverter you aren't using. Inverters run directly off 12vDC system. Place all inverters very near battery bank but not inside the battery box (battery gases will eat the insides out of any electronic gizmo). Power cords from inverter to appliance can be long runs (I would stay under 40 ft runs... shorter is better than longer and use nothing less than 12 gauge wire)
        >INSTALL IT MY SELF. You need to be able to  make repairs while at an event on a weekend. Otherwise you are at the mercy of an electrician who does not understand mobile electrical systems. Even if you get an electrician to install it. You need to know enough in case they do something wrong. Too many electricians don't even know that the ground on a mobile unit is the frame... power pole or generator, it's still the frame.
         
        That is what I personally would do. There is no one way to do anything. Someone else would do things differently.
        <message edited by lornaschinske on Fri, 06/8/12 2:47 PM>
         
        #4
          calijoeo

          • Total Posts: 8
          • Joined: 6/6/2012
          • Location: San Diego, CA
          Re:New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Sun, 06/10/12 2:40 AM (permalink)
          Lornashinske!
           
          Thank you and I appreciate all your help and feedback. I had to reread your post a few times to understand it which I'm not sure I still do. However I will show it to the electrician and hopefully he gets it more.  I will definitely read the links you sent but I still don't expect to truly understand it all soon. I feel its one of those things that comes with practice and experience using, neither of which I really have and wont have in the next few days/weeks (why I'm doing food service and not home repair!).  You made a great point of having to know and understand how everything works though in case something does go wrong at an event. Also about auto transfer switches. I don't want to be responsible for the fireworks at an event.
           
          I also talked to someone else and you are definitely right about needing more batteries too.
           
          Thank you again for taking the time to write all that out!
           
          #5
            Dr of BBQ

            • Total Posts: 3716
            • Joined: 10/11/2004
            • Location: Springfield, IL
            • Roadfood Insider
            Re:New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Sun, 06/10/12 10:54 AM (permalink)
            Do some searching here on RF and find the best post on this topic, (closest to your situation) print them or take a laptop with the post book marked to your electrical friend.Get him to read them and ask questions.
             
            But most important take a legal pad and write some notes on his answers. If he explains something to you and you don't understand his answer ask him to go over it again and again until you do understand. This is not your field and your trying to gain all the knowledge you can in a short amount of time.
             
            After you get home do some more research online from the notes you took. That will help you to better understand everything you have read or heard. I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is but in the end you'll make better decisions based on your knowledge and research. And down the road you'll most likely know what's wrong if you run into a problem. 
             
            #6
              OurCoffeeTruck

              • Total Posts: 53
              • Joined: 8/29/2012
              • Location: Aberdeen, NC
              Re:New truck build - electrical setup/schematics? Dr of Bbq where are you?! Thu, 11/15/12 9:52 PM (permalink)
              Did you ever figure out your power configuration?
               
              #7
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