How to Install Electricity to Your School Bus Conversion

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If you are interested in having a few electrical sockets in your school bus that you are converting into a mobile living quarters, you will need to use a deep-cycle battery and power inverter system. Additionally, you can use a battery isolator to recharge your deep cycle battery from your alternator while your bus is running. A few steps in the process will be specific to the type of battery isolator that you purchase for your electrical system.

Things You'll Need

  • Power inverter
  • Power drill
  • Zip ties
  • Electrical tape
  • Battery cables
  • Battery isolator
  • Bolts
  • Size your battery and inverter system by the expected numbers of amps that you intend to power through your mobile energy system. Identify the amperage for each device that you desire to power through your deep-cycle battery by looking for the metal plate on each appliance giving its amperage ratings. Multiply the amperage by the number of hours that you intend to run the device. This will give your amp hours figure. Your power inverter should be sized to handle 10 to 20 percent more amperage than the maximum amperage of your system. The battery system should be able to deliver the anticipated amp hours without being drained more than 50 percent of its capacity.

  • Install the battery isolator in the cab of your bus. Ideally, you want to install the isolator as close as possible to the alternator. The isolator will allow you to switch whether the alternator is charging the bus engine battery or the deep-cycle battery connected to your portable electricity system. Size your isolator using the Battery Isolators link (see Resources) at Don Rowe.com. Disconnect the negative battery cable for your bus and disconnect the BAT terminal from your bus engine's alternator. Screw in the wires for your battery isolator to your alternator's output and BAT terminals.

  • Select a cabinet or toolbox to locate your deep-cycle battery for your portable energy system. If you want more voltage or amperage capacity, you will need to connect one or more additional deep-cycle batteries together in a series circuit. Connect opposing terminals, positive to negative, with battery cables for adjacent batteries.

  • Run wiring from your battery isolator to the deep cycle battery, connecting the wiring to the positive and negative terminals of one of the batteries (if you are using more than one battery).

  • Wire your power inverter to your deep cycle battery. Different power inverters will have different input connection requirements, some of which will require specialized cables according to the manufacturer of the power inverter. Turn on the power inverter and plug in a power strip to the output socket of the power inverter. Plug appliances into your power strip.

References

  • Photo Credit electricity image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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