Did I Mention We’re New to This? Fun With the Electrical Panel

Not my picture — I just sought out a Creative Commons image relating to something RV-electrical. And ended up with this….an image of 50 amp, 30 amp, and 15/20 amp outlets.

While my last post had summed up our adventure in getting Bojack to his new home at the Air Force Academy RV storage lot, in the midst of all of that, Dave was fighting with the electrical system.

On Sunday, we brought Bojack over to our house for the afternoon. I gave it a good cleaning inside and out, and Dave worked on some small projects, including replacing the battery and installing a disconnect switch.

In our camper, the electrical system is wired such that there should be a seamless transition between “shore power” and battery power. About a week prior, when Dave was moving the camper from the previous owner’s storage lot to our temporary space in Monument, the battery didn’t do what it was supposed to. He discovered a blown fuse, and promptly replaced it. That didn’t make a difference.

He chalked it up to a bad battery. It was the original battery, so he made a point to get a new battery at Costco later on.

On Sunday, he picked up a new battery, but still had difficulty. There was still no power flowing to the RV interior with the brand new battery.

Except for the refrigerator. Huh. Strange, indeed.

Dave broke out the multimeter and tested the power going into the camper from the battery and things seemed to check out quite a ways along the underside. This was difficult because there’s insulated paneling along the underside of our camper that took some effort to disassemble.

There’s a show that Dave and I enjoy, called Billions. It’s on Showtime. In the Season 1 finale, there’s a storyline where one of the show’s main character feeds false information to the other main character. So there’s a suspicion that the office space is bugged and a company is hired to look behind walls for bugs. They slowly peel back the walls down to the studs, pulling out electrical connections — seeking the problem.

The Season 3 finale of another of our favorite shows, Better Call Saul, shows something similar: the character Chuck McGill has a paranoia about electricity, and finds out there’s a trickling little bit coming into the house. He similarly peels the walls back to the studs looking for the source. He slowly goes crazy and eventually goes up in flames with his house when a propane lantern tips over*.

*If you aren’t watching Better Call Saul, stop reading this blog and go start it now!

Heisenberg Chronicles — howard-hamlin: Better Call Saul 3x10 “Lantern”
Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 10, ‘Lantern’. If you look closely, you can see the peeled-away wall behind Chuck.

Seeing Dave disassemble the underside of our new (to us) camper reminded me of both of these television show episodes. I felt so helpless. There wasn’t room for both of us to be working underneath the camper, and honestly, there wasn’t any additional information to offer him.

After a late Sunday night of troubleshooting, and trying to get some insight on an RV owners forum we’re part of (the respondents threw lots of options at us, which we appreciate), we brought in a professional. Dave found a mobile RV repair person who was able to meet him at the RV storage lot and quickly figured out the issue.

I am SO GLAD we brought in a professional — I don’t think we would have figured this out on our own. Dave explained it in the RV forum yesterday:

It turns out that somebody had wired the refrigerator directly to the battery, and then all the rest of the DC systems into the 20 amp circuit that was supposed to just run the fridge. So the refrigerator had bypassed the fuse box. Everything else was wired into the 20 amp fuse. So even though it looked as if my fuses were good on shore power, the 20 amp had blown again. A professional did the repairs and everything works fine now. I would never have expected that that was the problem! The system is now wired the way it was supposed to be.

Now that this minor setback is resolved, we are more excited than ever to get Bojack out there! 9 more days till his first outing!