Inverter/Charger Installation on "my wife's" 2005 Raptor 3612DS

Below is how I installed my inverter/charger on my Raptor 5th Wheel.  It might seem like an ominous task but it can definitely be done by the RV owner.  By no means am I an electrician but I have owned three houses and installed sub-panels in garages, low voltage lighting in yards, interior and exterior outlets, attic fans, a pool pump system, recessed lights, and ceiling fans.  Remember, there is no magic to electricity... It either works or it doesn't.  The only thing you need to understand about electricity is that it you have to respect it!  Many people think that a car battery is some big walkman type battery but they can cause serious injury from shocks to exploding, to even death. 

Another thing to understand is that there are many ways to install an inverter/charger combination depending on the type you have:

Inverter/Chargers Combos are either one of two:

1.  With built in circuit breakers (built in sub-panel) - This is the one I have (2 - 20amp built in breakers).

Advantage: I don't have to run a sub-panel (small cost and space savings) and can simply wire back to the coaches circuit panel and decide which wires (plugs) I want to splice into.  These are good if you are not planning to run your whole coach on your inverter.  I do not plan to run my A/C, Microwave, or Refrigerator off of batteries, nor do I want my family to accidentally try to (which would kill the batteries).  In my case, my coach is wired where the GFI's are on one wire and the wall sockets are on another wire.  This is perfect because those are the ones that only want to work with.

Disadvantage: I am limited only to basically two of the existing runs of wires to splice into.  So if you have a large, complex wiring system, this might not be the type for you.  Most inverters do not have the built in sub panels.  They are generally either 30 amp or 50 amp single output.

2. Without built in circuit breakers.

Advantage:  You can run your whole coach off of it (if you have the power to handle it).  You can add a sub-panel and are not limited to which runs you want to splice into.  From the sub-panel, you could add dedicated plugs, etc.  The sky is the limit for creativity.

Disadvantage: You have to add the sub-panel if you really want to take advantage of it.  A little bit of money has to be spent on the parts and you have to find a place for it.  If you are not careful and have kids or people who don't remember that it is on, they can actually try to turn on appliances that will drain your batteries in no time.

How you want to set it up is completely up to you.  You might have seen a lot of posts asking questions about wire sizes, what to do with the converter, battery locations, and boiling batteries.  My hat goes off to all of the people on RV.net who supplied me with input.  Here is a great article on how converters and battery charging works

HISTORY OF MY INVERTER

NEW TOY HAULER OWNER WANT: Get power to the garage plugs without using a generator or shore power.

SOLUTION (Temporary): Install a small inverter and tap into the factory installed plug wiring.
This was my first attempt.  Before I installed my Trace Inverter/Charger combo, I installed a 600 watt (Sam's Club) type inverter which powered the garage area for the kid's TV, Nintendo, and VCR.  This was done after I bought the coach.  I installed the inverter in the front hatch area next tot he generator.  I used a 12 foot extension cord, plugged it into the inverter, and ran it back to the RV service panel.  I found the garage breaker (15 amp), removed the wire from the breaker, and spliced it together with the black wire from the extension cord.  I connected the white extension cord wire to the neutral bus bar in the service panel.  Thus, my 600w inverter was its own run.  Since it had a built in circuit break with a reset button, there was no need to worry about a short.

PROBLEM #1: Now, my garage plugs would only work if the inverter was on.
So, when I got to where ever I was dry camping, I would have to go outside and turn it on and whenever I put too much load on it.  Some people have installed simple 110v on/off switch by their panel on the inside but that only solves the current problem.  The inverter still needs to be turned on and off.  I could move it inside in one of the cabinets but that would require re-wiring and some modification that I did not want to do.

PROBLEM #2: My two 12 volt batteries are being drained at an alarming rate.
My two little game Nazis were using too much power and I could not charge the batteries fast enough.  Coupled with my stock converter which was only putting out 5-10 amps during a charge, I was surely doomed.  Thus, I installed two more 12 volt batteries.  Even with these, I just got another day or two out them.  I even hooked up a 10 amp Search charger but this was not enough.  Now, the "RV world" has a solution for every need but you pay to play.  They make some real nice on-board stand alone battery chargers but they cost a lot of money.  I could also upgrade my converter to a higher charger output one.  However, if I was going to spend money, it wasn't going to be on one of those upgrades.

You can see what it looked like towards in the bottom of this page with the blue 600 watt inverter still installed next to my White Trace/Legend .  Notice the red wing-nut to the right in the picture below.  The 600 watt inverter was hooked up to my batteries and I simply ran the plug wire (110 volt) from the inverter to the breaker panel (garage wire).  You can see the wire where it ties into the breaker panel with the red wire nuts.

This is how the original 600 watt inverter was installed.  I ran the plug wires back to the main panel from the inverter mounted next to my generator.  The wires to the garage were pulled out of the circuit breaker and then tied into the wires coming from the inverter (just leave the old circuit breaker hooked up in case you want to hook everything back up again).  You do not have to worry about having a circuit breaker because the inverters all have them built in (if it trips, just reset it).  Remember, you can always and an inline circuit breaker (or fuse) if you want.

The only problem with this type of setup is that you have to go outside to turn your inverter on and off.  This gets a little old.  The way around this is to mount the inverter inside (in a cabinet or accessible location) and just use longer cables to connect to the battery.

You could also mount the inverter outside and get one of those on/off marine type switches and simply mount that in a cabinet.  Your battery cable would first go to that and then back to your inverter.  Like having a light switch.  The sky's the limit with installation creativity.

As stated above, the reason for the initial inverter installation is that we use the garage for a play area for our kids once the bikes and quads are unloaded.  Down comes the carpet, the Lego's, Lincoln Logs, TV, and Nintendo.  However, even with four batteries (12 volt, Deep Cycle (Marine/RV), group 24), a 10 amp sears charger, and a 50 watt Solar Panel, I was draining the batteries down.  What happened was I underestimated the battery draw by the kids and did not realize that the Raptor's converter/charger (a trickle charger at best - most older coaches are the same) and the Sears charger were not even coming close to replenishing my battery bank.  Another problem was the inverter would trip every now and then because the kids tried to turn on too many things (600 watts) and it is just a little underpowered for my needs.   By trial and error, I figured that I not only needed to upgrade my inverter, but also my battery charger.

Remember, if you use one of these basic inverters, you MUST find a way to charge your batteries.  This can range from a Sears type 10 amp charger to completely upgrading your stock RV converter (not inverter) to a higher output converter.  Here is a link to David Eidell's Converter web page that gives you a brief explanation of what they do.  Upgrading your converter can be done by you and is not that tough, just a little time consuming.  If you are going to upgrade, spend the extra money and get a high amp output one.  New converters can be picked up at any RV Supply shops such as Camping World or PPL.

BITTEN BY THE INVERTER/CHARGER

One day, while camping in the desert in our group, I walked into a friend of a friend's RV and he was running the microwave without the generator.  Now he only ran it to heat a bag of popcorn but I had to know what black magic was taking place.  He spend the next hour showing me his six 6 volt battery bank, 3000 watt Freedom 458 inverter/charger (100+ amp charger) combo and how it was wired.  We got done and I knew I could do "that."  However, he also told me that the dealer charged him about $2,000 to do the whole thing.  Now that is great if I had two grand burning a whole in my pocket but this was going to have to be a budget build. Besides, my wife would never go for that. 

RESEARCHED THE INTERNET UNTIL MY FINGERS BLED

I wanted to be safe and have at least a 1500 watt inverter with at least a 30 amp charger.   So I did some homework and got a real good deal from a Xantrex repair guy on eBay.  It had a built in 3-stage 65 amp charger and It also came with a control panel, the wiring, a 300 amp fuse, and a C-60 series charge controller.  Personally, I have no problem with refurbished items.

My Inverter/Charger is a Trace/Legend 1512 (1500 Watt Inverter with a 65 AMP Charger).  It has two (2) built in 20 amp circuit breakers to run connections from.  This was a perfect unit for me because all I wanted to do was run my garage area and the wall plugs throughout the coach.  I have no desire to run the microwave, A/C, hair dryer (wife does that), on the batteries alone because that will obviously drain them very quickly.  In summary, all I had to do was install the Inverter/Charger, rerun the "garage" wires and "GFI/Wall Plug" to the inverter, and either seal the batteries or get sealed batteries for my generator area.  For the guys out there, my wife was not happy that it cost $300.00 but it was like high speed internet.  You get past the price aspect once you start using it.  She had nothing to say the day I made a pot of coffee at 6:30 AM and I did not have to fire of the 5500 Onan.

INSTALLATION - HERE WE GO! 

Since a RV/Trailer/5th Wheel is like a house but on wheels, it also has a Main Panel.  I removed the main panel's cover and exposed the circuit breakers.  Here is the snapshot theory: 

1.  Ask yourself what plugs you want live or do you want the ability to run the whole coach?  Again, I did not plan on running the microwave or A/C on the inverter.  I only wanted the Garage and GFI plugs.  I then found the corresponding RV panel breakers and removed the original breaker wires for those circuits (exposing the black wires) I then ran them back to the new inverter's built 15 amp circuit breakers.  This was done via 12 gauge wire and two wire-nuts. The inverter circuit breakers look and act the same but they are actually part of the inverter unit.

2.  Feed the Inverter power so it can charge my batteries when running the generator or plugged in.  I purchased a 30 amp breaker from Home Depot to be installed on the RV's panel.  This  will provide power back to the inverter to run its charger. I used 10 gauge (stranded) wire.  Remember that the inverter is also a charger and therefore needs a good amount of current to put off the high amp charge.  Thus, the 30 amp breaker. 

I removed the RV's two original "Garage" and "GFI" 15 amp breakers because I will not need them anymore.  Remember, my inverter has two of them built in and I will simply extend the run of the original black wires back to the inverter.  Removing these breakers will free up space for me to install a 30 amp breaker with 10 gauge wire running back to the inverter (see picture pointing to new 30 amp breaker). 

Why do I need this 30 amp breaker and 10 gauge wire? Because the inverter has to receive power from somewhere to allow its built in charger to work.  Thus, it will get power from the main breaker panel which in turn receives its power either from the generator or being plugged in to an extension cord (otherwise known as shore power).

If your inverter/charger has only one output, and you want to run several of the different breakers off of them, you will have to install a sub panel.  Think of it as a mini-main panel.  Your inverter won't have any built in circuit breakers and you will then have to make your own in the form of a sub panel.  Home Depot carries them.  Simply run the one wire output from the inverter to this sub panel and then connect (extend) the lines from the main panel to the sub panel.  You are simply switching the wires and breakers to the sub panel.

Before you do anything: DISCONNECT ALL POWER AND BATTERY CABLES!  Get a volt meter and check the volts to make sure you have none.

Note for solar panel owners:
When I installed my solar panel, the wire ran down the kitchen vent (behind the refrigerator) and was spliced into the 12 volt refrigerator power wire because that cable runs back to the batteries.  The solar panel wires do not connect directly to the batteries because I did not want to have to run extra wire.  However, they are connected to the 12 volt wire that runs from my battery to my fridge.  Because of this, even when the batteries are disconnected from coach, you will still have a small amount current coming into your coach depending on how much is being collected by your solar panels.

Notice the lack of cuts on the hand at the beginning of the installation.

TIP: So what does it mean to not have the converter connected?  When you run any shore power (generator or plugged in) to the coach, the converter used to kick in and power all of your 12 volt applications instead of using the battery while the there was shore power (this is whey your lights would all of the sudden get brighter).  Now, no matter what, my 12 volt items will be running off of the battery even when there is shore power.  But won't this drain the batteries? Nope. Because shore power means the Inverter's built-in battery charger is on, putting out 100 amps of charge to the batteries (compared to about 5 with the converter's built in charger). I don't know anyone who will be running any 12 volt device that will out-drain the 100 amp charge.

Is it really necessary to unplug my converter? YES!

When you turn on your inverter/charger, your whole RV is being powered, the everything is getting power - even the converter. The converter, when supplied with AC power from your inverter, will begin charging the battery. This will in turn deplete the battery supplying power to the inverter, which is supplying power to the converter to charge the battery. It becomes an endless loop and will run the battery dead in no time.

This in the inside compartment of the Raptor and is accessed via the thru-and-thru storage compartment next to the battery compartment. 

Notice the attention to detail with the wiring done by Keystone.  The converter is the grey box bolted to the roof.  My converter is also a trickle charger and converts the 110 shore power (generator or shore power) current to 12 volt. 

Since the new Inverter/charger has a an automatic transfer switch when shore power is detected, I will not need my coach's original converter/charger.  I was originally going to unhook it (and remove the whole thing), but decided to leave it in place and just unplugged.  I might need it later or if I sell my coach and want to keep the inverter for a new inverter.  The plug was located on the back of the main panel and has its own 15 amp circuit breaker. 

I will use this plug to run a "soow" wire to the other side of the coach for a 110 volt outlet since there are none (stay tuned for this installation).

YOU MUST UNPLUG YOUR CONVERTER!  Remember, it also sends a charge current to your batteries and this can cause issues with your new inverter/charger combo because it is also sending charging current to your batteries.

MOUNTING THE BEAST:  Figuring out where to mount the Inverter/Charger was a little dilemma.  It was about 12" wide x 18" tall x 10" deep and weighs about 35 lbs.  Needless to say, it was not going to fit under the sink.  Another member made mounts and hung it from the overhead aluminum support in the thru-and-thru storage area. He also installed his flush mount sub panel next to his main panel which looks very clean.  This sub panel is needed because his inverter did not have any built in circuit breakers.  Great job Bill!

Mounting the inverter/charger the way he did it was a great idea to get it up off of the ground but I use every square inch of that area so the only place left for me was the space next to the generator.  Sure the generator area gets warmer when it is running, but is is vented and the inverter/charger has a built in cooling fan.  The current mounting wall is 1/2" thick and secured to the steel (I added a couple of more metal screws).

Notice my original Sam's Club inverter setup.  It was wired (using SOOW wire and a plug adaptor) into the "garage" area circuit wire at the main panel (red wing nut in first picture).  There was also an extra plug for accessories on the inverter.  To get my new inverter/charger in the area, all I did was move it over about 6 inches to the right and move the light blue generator-to-battery wires down.  I left the original inverter for other accessories like the light that you see. 

Before Installation.  The new inverter/charger unit will go to the left of the small blue 600w inverters.  I moved it over to the right and you can see that I have a 110v shop light hooked up to it with a retractable extension cord.  I still have this inverter installed.

TIP: What is SOOW Wire?  It is generally found at your home improvement store and on a wire bin which means it can be cut to length.  It is the insulated cord wire that you would find on your heavy duty garage type power tools like a generator.  It is very flexible and easy to work with.  It is not solid wire like Romex wire but it is stranded wire.  Like the kind used for off road lights, and 12 volt things.

No matter how you do it, make sure the wire is insulated somehow.  I also used the flex tubing and a couple of plastic junction boxes which you can see below.

HARDWARE TIP: With the exception of the actual inverter, all of the items needed for the installation were obtained from Home Depot.  No need to go to an RV store and pay extra for them.

MOUNTING WITH SOME COMMON SENSE:

Here is my first Inverter/Charger sitting on my home-made mount:  5/8" piece of plywood covered with dark grey carpet from Home Depot which I stapled and glued.  You have to remember that the unit weighs about 35 pounds and will be mounted vertically to the wood partition wall.   This created a little concern because I did not want a 35 pound unit, with only four bolt holes, secured to the not so thick partition wall.  To add strength to the mounting area, I added the 5/8" plywood and extra bolts (total of 8).

I used four 5/8" x 2.5" hex bolts with locking washers on the corners (set in @ 2") and put two bolts vertically in the middle (behind the unit).  I secured my wood to the partition wall with a dry-wall screw which held the wood in place while I pre-drilled the 6 mounting holes through both pieces of wood (with carpeting attached).  After bolting the wood to the wall, I pre-drilled the inverter/charger holes from pre-marked holes that I marked on the carpet while on the ground.  The unit was then secured to the mounting wood with four 1/4" x 2.5" hex bolts with locking washers.

RUNNING THE WIRES:

Back in the storage area, I pulled the Raptor's "garage" and "GFI" romex wires from behind the rear of the main panel and up to a plastic conduit box that I installed (you can see it just behind the black ABS shower drain tube).  The grey plastic looks a lot better than a metal box.  I then ran the outdoor flexible conduit along the aluminum channel and over to the other side (secured with conduit straps to the aluminum).  The yellow cord is the remote panel cable the goes from the unit to the panel where my other controllers are.

I bought twelve (12) feet of #10 gauge (insulated & stranded) black and white wire and five (5) feet of the same but in romex (10/2).  The romex was used to make the connection from this plastic box and back to the main panel. 

I also bought 12 feet of #12 gauge (insulated & stranded) black, white, and red.  The black will continue the "garage" wire and the red will continue the "GFI" wire to the inverter/charger.  The white is for negative (not ground).

If you notice, I am running two of the white wire and not just a single white wire.  Although I could share the neutral wire and only use one wire, I did not want to go down that route.

TIP: When selecting wire, it is a lot easier to work with what is called "stranded" wire, and not the solid copper wire.  It is more flexible and you can route it much easier than the solid copper wire.

TIP: When drilling into metal or aluminum, there is not need to pre-drill the holes.  Simply use self tapping screws which will work just fine.  You can pre drill if you want but it was more convenient to use the self tapping screws.

RUNNING THE WIRES:

This is the box on the right side, opposite the main panel.  The reason I went with boxes and the heavy duty flexible conduit to connect them was that this storage area is used to capacity.  As you can see, I have things in here that could easily grab and pull the wires.  I felt that insulating them would be the best way.  The yellow wire is the control wire that goes from the unit to the control panel which was installed on the inside of my coach. 

The wires were zip-tied together and the flex line was secured to the wall and aluminum channel.  Notice the soow wire hanging down from the hole on the right side.  That was the old inverter wiring which has since been removed.

Also, the bolts that cam through the wall were ground off so to give a smooth appearance.

CLEAN INSTALLATION:

Don't be afraid to drill into you rig.  After all that I have seen once I removed some of the panels, I could not do any worse than the installers.  I drilled this 1" (top left of picture) hole and got a plastic hole protector from Camping World.  This is to help protect any rubbing caused by the protected sheath.  I am a firm believer in securing my wires together.  Not only for stability but it looks better.  I even ran the panel monitor control wire along the same wire loom and zip tied it together.

Here is the finished work in the compartment.  Notice the dividing wall is back up AND the real reason I need the inverter/charger... the kids!  I ground off the excess bolt thread and it is fine.  I could have used lag bolts but was not comfortable doing so because of the weight of the inverter/charger and the constant vibration from driving.  No problems yet.  The super clean way to install it would be to reverse the bolts - insert them from the storage area through the wall and have the nuts where the inverter is.  Maybe I will switch them around but I will need some help from the owner of my Raptor, my wife for that one.

Prior to putting the partition back on, I completely vacuumed the inside area (rear of panel) with a shop vac.  I think it is in the RV assembler's employment handbook that they are to simply cut, install, and go, without cleaning up behind themselves.  I found all of the original pieces of wood that were cut out at the factory just laying there.  At this point of my narrative, I would normally start to rip on Keystone but all of the RV manufacturers do it.

Here is the inverter after the installation.  I used #2/0 gauge wire for the connection from the inverter to the 300 amp fuse and then to the battery.  You can see at the bottom of the unit, three black protected wire looms coming from the unit:

  • Left Side - Power in (10 gauge wires).

  • Middle - 20 amp "Garage" wiring (12 gauge / black wire)

  • Right Side - 20 amp "GFI" wiring (12 gauge / red wire)

  • Yellow Wire is the control module wire to the panel installed inside the trailer.

The middle and right have their own 20 amp circuit breaker built into the unit.  You cannot see the breaker switches in the picture but they are there.  The unit is setup with only one negative/neutral (white) wire for both breakers.

I also left my original (blue) inverter for the retractable light which I have hooked up to it and for any additional items that I might want to run.  No harm no foul in just leaving it.

Notice the thee black wire looms going to the unit at the bottom.  Two are the wires for the GFI and Garage plugs.  The other (left) loom is for the 10 gauge wire from the 30 amp breaker which supplies power to the unit's battery charger.  Also, to the right of the unit is a 300 amp fuse.  This is mandatory (and actually kind of neat looking).  The yellow is the remote panel cable that goes back to my coach.

With the original dual breaker removed, I hooked up the positive (10 gauge) black wire to the newly installed 30 amp breaker (far right breaker).  Remember to leave the breaker off prior to the installation.  Personally, I find it easier to hook up the wire to the breaker and install the breaker afterwards to the panel because of the space needed to screw the wires to the actual breaker, since it is so close to the floor.  The white wire was then connected to neutral bus bar at the bottom (not the ground bus bar - these are two completely different bars and not to be confused with the residential neutral/ground bar.  I cleaned it real quick with a shop-vac and put the cover back on.  Notice the red wire nut and the original wiring from the 600 watt inverter have been removed because there is no need for it to run back into the coach.

Here is the Raptor's control panel on the inside.  To the left is my 20 amp solar panel controller that I installed on another occasion (sorry, no link), and the Legend control panel is on the right.  You simply press the blue button and the selected plugs go hot.

There is no secret to installing one of these control panels.  Just plug in the yellow wire to the phone jack outlet on the back and you are in business.  Since cutting a hole in the interior wall is probably the most nerve racking part of the installation, measure - remeasure - and measure again, before you cut. 

Personally, I draw the outline of the area to be cut out in pencil and add an 1/8" to each side (it is better to under cut than over cut).  I use a Dremel with a small "heavy duty" cut-off wheel which is about 1" in diameter.  If you look at the other holes in your coach's wall, they were done with a roto-zip type tool.  However, the wall is thin and I did not want to chance cutting any other wires.  Also, the cut off wheel gives a nice clean hole.  Make sure you pre-drill any holes that need screws.  You will thank yourself later. 

The middle panel is an INTELLITEC battery relay to kill the power. This is one of those panels that you see in RV's rather than having a manual Perko on/off switch.  Mine is electric.  Just one more gadget in my arsenal of blinking lights.  If you only wanted to go the inverter route, you could use one of these switches to turn it on an off without having to leave you coach.  Pretty cool switches.

TIP:  HOW TO FIX A STRIPPED SCREW HOLE IN PANELING. 
If your screws are not biting into the thin wood panel  because the whole is now stripped (or too big), simply glue a thin piece of wood behind hole in the wall area where the wood is supposed to have a screw going through it.  Let the glue dry and then pre-drill a small hole though the wood (make sure you reach into the exposed hole that you cut and hold the wood against the panel while you are drilling the hole. 

This will prevent the wood from coming lose as you drill.  Your screw should now bite and nobody is going to see the inside of the wall anyway.  Just make sure you get replacement screws that are going to go all the way through your backing/support wood.

TESTING THE UNIT (NO BEER YET!):

  • INVERTER TESTING: Since it was already hooked up to the batteries, that meant that the "garage" plugs and the "GFI" wall plugs should all be "hot," when I turn on the inverter via the control panel, and they were.  I have a little plug that when plugged in to a wall socket/outlet, turns orange if the plug is hot.  This is a male/female plug that I found at Home Depot and I used it to tell if my 600 watt inverter was actually on.  The TV plugs into it and it plugs into the wall plug.  So when I walk around the coach, I knew if the the inverter was actually on or if it had tripped (shut off).
     

  • CHARGER TESTING:  All I needed was some sort of shore power input.  I first fired up the generator and the charger came to life about 10 seconds after the generator powered up the Raptor.  It immediately went to bulk charge.  I had a battery issue in which one of my batteries was 75% discharged and because of that, two of the batteries started to boil.  So I charged each battery individually by unhooking the main charger 2/0 gauge cable and hooking it to each battery.  Three of the full batteries, bulk charged for several minutes and then they went to float charge.  One battery needs to be slow charged until full and I will then give it a shot.  The unit did exactly what it was supposed to do and for 1/3 the cost of a new unit!  It should be noted that the 300 amp fuse, control panel, and panel wire were brand new.

Here is the final picture with the battery.  This unit (Legend 1512(SB)), the fuse, the control panel, and the control panel cable were all picked up refurbished off eBay from an authorized Xantrex repairman.  Xantrex bought out Legend/Trace a few years ago (Another Description).

There are plenty of deals to be had and you can click here to automatically search eBay for Inverter/Charger Units (I have removed the non pertinent search results).

Note:  I have received several emails regarding the inverter being in the same compartment as the batteries.  The concern was that batteries emit hydrogen gasses and they can "ignite" because of the inverter.  Also, these fumes can damage the inverter.  Because of this, I installed an extra vent in the generator door.  But the reality is that it is a non sealed compartment.  As a side-note, I always keep my generator door cracked (unless driving) when camping because of the heat.  I am going to install a vent on the main generator door and will post pictures later.  You can seal the batteries if you want in their own boxes or just vent in real good.

SUMMARY

The installation took a whole day and this was because of two additional trips to Home Depot and the fact that I decided to change the oil / filter on my generator.  However, if I had all of the materials needed, I could have done it in about half a day.  Several benefits from self installation:

  • There was no "Mickey-Mouse" Dealer installation tactics used.  I used the material I wanted and had it installed exactly where I wanted.  I am very type "A" and can't stand installation surprises that dealerships love to give.

  • I probably saved myself about $700.00 in installation charges, not even including what the dealer would have charged me for "above and beyond" materials.  That is money I can now sink into my twin turbo system for my boat.  You can also bet that they would have never vacuumed any of the areas nor used the amount of zip-ties I used to keep it nice and clean.

  • Pride of Ownership.  I was able to do it myself and my kids helped me which is of course priceless in itself.

  • Finally, beers seem to taste better at the end of the day after a hard day's work.

Brendan    bkirkpatrick@email.com

Here is a great link that will answer a lot of questions about Inverters and Chargers and how long electronics can run.   You should be able to make an informed decision on what you need (Inverter/Charger help)

11-25-05 - Update:

I pulled the four 12 volt deep cycle batteries and put in four 6 volt Golf Cart batteries. Wild bill (broken link) has the ultimate setup for Raptors on this because he squeezed four 12 volt batteries into the two battery compartment.

05-01-2008 - Update:

I wanted more AMP charging capacity so I upgraded to a Freedom 458 2000 series (2000 watt inverter / 100 amp charger).   There was no magic to the installation.  Just pulled out the Legend and installed the Freedom.  The only snag I ran into was the monitoring panel for the new Freedom was not as tall as the Trace/Legend monitor and it was also wider.  Thus, I could make a bigger hole left to right (easy) but I had to figure out a way to fill the height gap because the new monitor was shorter.  My solution was to get a 1/4 thin piece of wood, cut it to size, and paint it black.  I mounted the monitor to it and then the wood to the wall panel.  (Old panel on top, new on bottom).  I sold my other one for $300.00, so the refurbished Freedom only cost $100.00 plus the cost of the monitoring panel.

12-26-2010 - Update:

The biggest and baddest inverter/charger won't do you any good if your on board generator does not work (happened to me several times while dry camping).  Also, do you really want your 5500 blasting away to simply charge your batteries a little at night or to run some basic auxiliary items?  I don't.  Thus, Santa brought me a Honda

 

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