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PostPosted: February 6th, 2018, 9:40 am 
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Joined: June 26th, 2017, 9:38 pm
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Location: Southern CA
I am redoing the automatic transfer switch junction box since I am going to convert the shore power cable to a twist-lock. I am wondering if it is a good idea to add a 30 amp outlet for the generator too? The idea is to use the genset if I need to use it as emergency power for the house. I can either add the outlet near the genset, but I don't see a good spot for it. Let me know if there is a better alternative, or I should work on something else instead.

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PostPosted: February 6th, 2018, 10:51 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz
My rig did not originally have an automatic transfer switch. There was just a generator-powered 30 amp outlet in the cord storage area to plug into when generator was needed. Dead reliable, but I had to go outside to switch over.

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PostPosted: February 6th, 2018, 9:50 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Another idea that can work depending on your system and needs. Taking out the Brown Box (which I did) meant that I went with a separate marine type charger, and also meant that the DC and AC fuse blocks need to be accounted for, plus source selection (handled in the brown box with an automatic transfer switch).

I didn't really need an automatic transfer switch (no auto-start generator or anything like that), so I went with a marine type AC panel that incorporated a manual source selector and the regular AC circuit breakers. The way it works is that there is a "main" double-pole breaker for each power source (in my case, generator and shore power) and then the breaker panel is made so only one can be switched on at a time. Hence you have to choose *either* generator or shore power on the panel. I like that it's completely simple, robust, and easily visible (of course so are separate cords/sockets).

Here (below) is a photo of the panel I chose:

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You can pretty much see how it works: There is a black "lockout" slide that has to cover one of the sources in order for the other one to be flipped on. Simple and manual. The two main breakers in this case are 30 amp, as original. You can see they only have two of the regular breakers installed: You can of course add the other two, and they come in different amperages. They also supply a selection of labels. This is a typical way to handle the AC panel on a boat.

I don't think they make this exact one anymore, but you can still get panels that function similarly. This worked out well for my Chinook because there are two main sources, and four breakers, just like the brown box had. There are also fancy (and nice) rotary switches, but since you still need main breakers it's another thing to buy and takes more space/wire/etc. With this type of panel it's efficiently all in one. Marine breaker panels aren't the cheapest way to go though.

You may have a slightly different situation if you have three sources (i.e. shore charger, generator, and separate inverter that you want to power your same AC outlets). OTOH, an inverter/charger will just count as one source. I don't have either of those situations, as I only have a simple stand-alone inverter that has its own outlet, so that's on the DC side.

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PostPosted: February 7th, 2018, 6:46 am 
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Location: Southern CA
Great info, Blue. I wish there is such a thing as a 3-source auto transfer switch. I had look into adding the inverter as the third source, but there is no clean way of doing it. I think I am just going to go with adding the twist-lock for now, and leave an extra wiring there for the genset outlet until later, and leave the breaker panel the way it is. Once I get more utility out of the rig, I will spend more effort in the upgrade. We suppose to go for a camping trip this long weekend with a group of friends, but other things came up, and we had to cancel.

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PostPosted: February 7th, 2018, 10:11 am 
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I don't really know much about auto transfer switches. There are multiple pole manual selector switches that will do what you are speaking of (not cheap though). I think I get the problem because I just went through the same thing with my buddy's new rig. The old one had a combo inverter/charger, and since they have an internal transfer switch, it all worked with the panel I showed (only using the shore/gen sources) and all the AC outlets were powered by the inverter/charger as well.

But on the new rig he went with a simpler system, with just a stand-alone smaller inverter and a separate good charger. When we went to figure out how to switch things (because of course the brown box had to go.... it's tradition :D), we realized that, hmm, yeah, with the inverter and charger being separate beasts, we couldn't use the same simple way to keep things from being connected when you didn't want them to be (I'm more of a DC person, so have to really sit and think it through with AC). We knew there could be a way, but he said no, let's just keep it simple, that's my goal here. So we did just a few separate inverter outlets to be used when boondocking, and then just went with the two AC sources (shore/gen) manually selected. When under shore or gen, all the AC outlets work, as per normal.

However that said, with a multiple pole rotary switch, that can be overcome and you'll always only have the source you want to and no "sneak in" sources you don't want. But he chose not to. It's more complicated, more expensive, and when it came down to it, while it would have been mentally satisfying to have all the AC outlets work for everything all the time --- after thinking about it, he really doesn't use AC power very often when boondocking, and a couple of tiny inverters (like for water pik in bathroom), plus using the outlet on the inverter itself (say for a minute of vacuuming) is perfectly fine. So, as usual, there is rarely only one "best" way :)

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PostPosted: February 7th, 2018, 10:58 pm 
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If I have time, I may get one of those rotary switches and use it to manually switching between genset and inverter, as well as disconnect the converter/charger when the inverter is on.

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