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Ohm My!

Sometimes my expenditures on Sparta lack consistency or even common sense. For example, I will spend a boat-load on flooring, a largley ornamental component. And then, I will cut corners by scrimping on the electrical system, inarguably the most important and, potentially, dangerous element aboard my dwelling. To wit, as an interim solution to my need for 120v and 12v power, I chose a $23 Chinese converter – thinking that would suffice until my big solar project down the road. I bought a big, beefy 10 gauge extension cord to deliver the 120v shore power to Sparta. Ok, that seemed sensible.

But then, I linked that cord to this little converter I found on Amazon. It arrived without one bit of information – no owner’s manual, no schematics…nothing.

I even had to fabricate a plug which was not included

The little guy pictured above was designed to reduce 120v shore power to 12v low-voltage juice to supply all my lighting, water pump, etc..

From this converter it was a seemingly simple matter of connecting it and all 5, 12v circuits through another inexpensive component – the fuse block.

Grotesquely disfigured plastic. No bueno.

In fairness, these components may have been fine, but for the fact that I connected them with flimsy 20 gauge wire. Once linked, I turned on the power and the lights went on for a moment and then “pop”, a fuse or two blew. I smelled that sickening, acrid odor of burned insulation. Looking at the fuse block I saw that the + wire affixed to the approprite terminal had burned up and that the terminal itself had melted. See above.

OK, so the fuses worked as intended and no real harm was done but my choice of wire thickness clearly defied Ohm’s law. I had stepped down too abrupty to a wire unsuited to the task and I had misjudged the power of 12 volts.

The lesson here was that I am really not that smart when it comes to electricity and perhaps I was out of my depth when I tried to improvise an electical converter/fuse block solution.

I decided to scrap the two little components and just buy an RV power converter fully integrated with a distribution panel, appropriate wiring and a battery charging capability to prepare me for future PG&E hiccups. I ordered a Progressive Dynamics product for almost $300 and when it arrives next week, I’ll tell you more about it.

As a nice counterpoint to my electrical mishaps, I managed to finish the trim on one side of the Observation Lounge yesterday.

Not bad and too nice to burn down because of cheap wiring.

So long.


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