Since I added one to our Aliner Classic, a chandelier has been my signature
mod. So the Alite had to have one, too! At Home Depot one day,
a small low-voltage pendent lamp, intended for residential use, caught
my eye. It was a good color for the Alite decor and low voltage was
perfect. This was a light I could run from the battery. I removed
the canopy (the part that goes on the ceiling) and disconnected the socket
wire from the transformer inside. The cord from the 12v bulb socket
to the canopy was an insulated hot wire with an outer braided wire as the
neutral lead. I slipped a piece of small plastic tubing over the
cord, made a loop at the right spot to hang the light from my center pole,
and pushed the loop through a large bead to create a loop for an S-hook.
To the end of the cord, I added a 2-wire 12v automotive plug, connecting the hot wire to the male leg (the exposed pin on the plug) and the braided neutral wire to the female leg (the socket on the plug). I put the other half of the 2-wire plug on a length of regular lamp cord, connecting the ribbed wire to the male leg of the plug and the smooth wire to the female leg. Heat shrink tubing makes a neat insulated cover over the wire connections - you just have to be sure to slip the tubing over the wire BEFORE making the connection! I crimped ring terminals on the bare ends of the lamp cord and added an in-line switch to the hot (smooth) wire of the lamp cord. The switched lamp cord stays connected to the battery terminals (smooth wire to positive and ribbed wire to neutral!) When the cord isn't connected to the chandelier, I put a screw cover on the exposed pin (male leg), although it's the neutral lead and I wouldn't really need to cover it. I hang the lamp from the center pole, run the cord through wire clips along the edge of the A wall, and connect the trailer plug to the switched lamp cord. For storage, I put the lamp fixture in a small square bucket (Dollar Tree) that's velcroed to the top of the doorside wheel well.
NOTE: the 12v 50w bulb that came with the fixture was too bright and too hot for the small camper. I replaced it with a 12v 30w bulb that's much better.
light. The original fixture on the door-side A, over what became
my kitchen sink, had 2 incandescent automotive bulbs. I wanted to
change to LED bulbs, but couldn't find any with the right base. I
finally replaced the entire fixture with one that accomodates LED bulbs
and has a switch for 2 bulbs, 1 bulb, or off. I bought 1 each of
the warm white and the cool white LED arrays. The warm white bulb
is the one that comes on alone; with both warm and cool bulbs together,
I have very good lighting in the kitchen.
heater. The Eemax
120v 20amp tankless water heater required the addition of an additional
20amp circuit. Since there was an empty slot in the Elixer distribution
panel, this was easy to do. The hard part was running the 10awg wire
into the converter. I had to open a knockout in the side of the box,
cushion the edges with a rubber grommet, and work the stiff wire through.
From the converter, the wire runs along the water line across the back
of the camper and down into the sink cabinet. I knew that making
wiring connections in that small space would be almost impossible.
So before installing the sink, I wired the new circuit to a GFCI outlet
and mounted the outlet inside the cabinet. Then I added a 3-prong
plug to the water heater. For the final electrical connection, all
I had to do was plug the heater to the outlet.
fan. Even with extra wood cut from the bench lid over the converter,
I was concerned about heat accumulation in that area. I mounted a
small cooling fan to the top of the converter, connecting it to a switch
in the cabinet wall. With the fan turned on, warm air is blown out
through the wastebasket opening.
A portable cube heater was OK for heating this small camper, but it took
up valuable "kitchen counter" space. When another owner mentioned
installing a "kickspace" heater in his Aliner, I saw possibilities for
the Alite! Kickspace heaters are designed for installation in tight
quarters, and a google search turned up a heater that would fit in the
space next to the porta-potty - the only cabinet space available.
The 120v 1500w/750w Qmark
QTS1500T has a built-in thermostat and measures 3.5H x 9D x 15W.
Electrical connections were simple. On the heater, I pulled the jumper
connecting the 2 heating elements (750w is all I need and this would keep
the heater a bit cooler) and I wired it to the male end of a utility extension
cord. I already had a nearby junction box, where I'd had to splice
a 120v wire to modify
the porta-potty cabinet ,so I replaced the junction with an outlet.
Allowed spacing for the heater is as close as 1/2" to the finished floor,
but I set it on 3" wood spacers to protect the camper floor and rubber-backed
rugs. (The specs also specify 12" from a corner; that was not an
option for me, but the adjacent panel does not get overly warm.)
The heater grill does not cover the top or bottom edges of the cabinet
hole, so I measured very carefully before cutting the opening
with a utility knife. The heater is held in place with only 2 screws
through the grill and paneling, but I reinforced them with wood strips
on the back side. It feels very solid. Although the heater
takes away some of the storage space in that cabinet, I still have room
behind it for my boxes of baggies, saran wrap, and aluminum foil.
Two wooden strips, screwed from the front for stability, provide ventilation
space between the heater and a plastic tub on top of it which holds canned
and dry food. An aluminum strip, screwed to the frame, holds the
food tub in place at the rear of the cabinet, and away from the warmest
part of the heater. To remove the tub, I just swivel the strip upward
out of the way.
12v outlets. I added a 12v outlet in the cabinet near the converter,
to power my "fridge", a 12v cooler. In the first picture, you can
see the new outlet next to the converter, below the switch for the additional
converter fan. In the second photo, you can see a plug-in battery
monitor in the original OEM 12v outlet. That outlet in the front
cabinet came with a very thin plastic faceplate that flexed every time
I used the plug. I replaced it with a rigid brown blank faceplate
in which I drilled a hole to fit the outlet. It's much firmer now.
With a 12v tire pump and a 12v post lamp next to the door, it was about time I added an exterior 12v outlet. It wasn't easy to find one with a cap and a good faceplate, but I located one at Advance Auto. The next problem was where to locate it. The outlet is longer than the thickness of the exterior wall, and I didn't want it to stick out into a storage area where it would be in the way or get damaged. I also wanted it near the battery. The best spot was next to the shore-power outlet, in the rear corner. After I measured carefully inside and out, I drilled a 1" hole in the exterior camper wall, ran a bead of caulk around it, and set the outlet into the hole. It's secured at each corner with small through-bolts and nuts. I'd previously installed a 12v switch for a small converter cooling fan. When I replaced the old Elixir converter, I took out the fan and left the switch. Now it's perfect for the outside outlet. If I'm ready for bed and realize I didn't turn off the post lamp outside, no problem. I can turn off the outlet from inside!
110v outlet. I found that I needed an outlet in the "kitchen"
for appliances. I added one to the front of the kitchen cabinet,
wiring it to the male end of a heavy-duty extension cord that I plugged
into the new-circuit outlet inside the cabinet. I just have to be
careful not to run hot water and a hotplate at the same time, or I could
trip the breaker! The 2 brown spots on the front of the cabinet are
covers for the water-heater screws.
power cord. One of the first things I did to the Alite was make
the power cord detachable, using a Marinco
conversion kit. It's been as convenient in the Alite as it has
been in the Aliner Classic, freeing storage space in the electrical compartment.
For travel, I coil the detached cord and store it in the front bin.
battery. I replaced the original battery with an AGM battery
that doesn't need maintenance or venting. Removing the vent left
that hole available to use for a water inlet.
Charging access. The battery is located underneath the bench and difficult to reach should I want to a separate battery charger. Repeating an improvement I'd made to our old Classic Aliner, I added a "charging outlet" just inside the Alite baggage door. I mounted a standard household outlet (for ordinary 3-prong plugs) in a box on the wall frame where it's reachable from the open baggage door, and wired the hot and neutral contacts directly to the hot and ground battery terminals, fusing the hot wire near the battery end. The outlet cover plate is clearly marked "FOR BATTERY ONLY". To make my charger "outlet friendly", I cut off the battery clamps and added a male 3-prong plug to the remaining cord. To the clamps, I wired a matching female plug. My battery connection for the charger is now simple - plug it into the "charging outlet" inside the baggage door. To use the charger on any other accessible battery, I plug the battery clamps back onto the charger cord and I'm set.
panel. I knew nothing about solar power, but it seemed a great
option to add. At a 2011 Aliner Owners Club rally, I was inspired by a
solar mod done by Dave Michaels. I ordered a 50w panel by Ramsond ($155
on eBay) and found it very easy to connect. I used small crimped ring terminals
to connect the solar contacts to the hot and neutral screws of a female
3-prong plug (ignoring the ground screw on the plug). Note: I wanted
a female plug on the solar panel so I wouldn't worry about exposed contacts).
The panel base is a plastic collapsible crate. I used my Dremel cutting
wheel to make horizontal slots through both ends of each long rail at the
top of the crate. Through these slots, I fed strips of perforated pipe
strap hanger (copper strapping had more closely-spaced holes than galvanized).
I slipped the ends of the straps under pre-existing holes in the solar-panel
frame and bolted them in place. It is a bit awkward to pull out the sides
of the crate to set it up, but a couple of zip-ties make good fingerholds.
The crate can be set flat on the ground, or tipped to let the panel face
the sun. A rock or jug of water inside the crate gives it weight and stability.
The end of a 25' length of 3/32" cable is fastened to a new hole in the
corner of the panel frame, and this security cable can be locked to the
The female plug on the solar panel must connect to the female "charging outlet" (see above) in the camper. Since I already carry a 25' extension cord, I didn't want to add another cord with 2 male ends, dedicated to the solar panel. Instead, I made an adaptor with 10" of wire and a male plug on each end. With this adaptor added to either the solar panel or the charging outlet, I can use any standard male-female extension cord.
To protect the solar panel
during travel, I cut 2 pieces of pegboard to the dimensions of the solar
frame. On the back side of one piece, I glued felt to protect the solar
surface.. On the back side of the other piece, I taped a piece of non-skid
carpet pad, then overlaid vertical and horizontal straps on the fother
side, making "belt loops" from zip ties. The straps terminate in
plastic buckles which hold the resulting "sandwich" firmly together.
The strapped package weighs about 18 pounds.
lamp. In the Alinering world, there's a certain amount of "keeping
up with the Joneses". So when I saw the clever tongue-jack-mounted
12v post lamps sported by a couple of other campers, I decided I needed
one for the Alite. The first problem was finding the right kind of
light. Regular residential lamps (modified with a 12v bulb socket)
are fine for larger campers, but they dwarfed the little Alite. I
saw exactly what I needed in the Landscape Lighting area of Lowe's.
The lamp itself needed little modifying. I removed the short screw-on
pipe, added a length of regular lamp cord to the existing wire, and reattached
the pipe, which now hides the wire nuts. To the other end of the
new cord, I added a 12v male plug. Finally, I added an in-line switch
to the new cord.
Next problem was where to
put the lamp. It didn't look right on the tongue, but was perfect
next to the kitchen window. And since I put my camp chair there,
it would be good lighting for sitting outside at night. But how to
attach it? In my collection of "stuff", I had a rigid tapered fiberglass
pole. I have no idea what it was, originally, or where it came from.
But it was perfect to support the post lamp. The tapered end slips
into the short metal pipe and the resulting lamp height is just right.
The pole supports the weight of the lamp, but I needed some way to stabilize
it to the camper. A galvanized pipe clamp worked. Using the
hole meant for attaching the clamp to a wall, I screwed a 5" aluminum strip.
I put hook velcro on the back side of the strip and matching loop velcro
on the camper. To the carriage bolt that tightens the bracket, I
added a wingnut. Then I spray-painted the whole thing black.
With this bracket velcroed to the camper, I set the pole in it, up against
the carriage bolt, and tighten the wingnut. I slip the lamp pipe
over the top of the pole and plug the cord into an exterior 12v outlet
on the back side of the camper. Perfect!