Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – Electrical

With the roof fan installed, I had some encouragement to rework the trailer wiring so that I could get some airflow while working inside. The factory wiring was terrible! It looked like this on both sides of the back door. It was disappointing to find this. However, in retrospect, I’m not sure what method “quality builders” are using in the same location. This area was covered by aluminum flashing and is probably never seen by the average owner. Still, as a career electronics man, it was unacceptable to me and one of the first things I wanted to address. The wiring harness enters the interior through and unsealed hole in the frame. Once inside, the harness quickly became a patchwork of what appeared to be whatever wire colors that the Homesteader crew had laying around, especially once the wires crossed over to the other side of the trailer.

Remember, I removed the floor before installing on the roof fan. I had plenty of room to get comfortable inside for my task of cutting out the mess and rewiring a replacement harness. Without a floor, it was easy to see that Homesteader appeared to have intentionally twisted the harness MANY times during routing. However, after thinking about it, I believe they started with a coiled-up wiring harness and then didn’t take the time to simply unroll it before pulling it through the routing path. Oh, wait! They didn’t follow a routing path because the wiring wasn’t passed through the metal wiring brackets on the trailer frame (see photo album).

I was able to extend the interior end of the harness by over a foot by removing the twists and routing the harness properly. Then I bought a new harness so that I could rewire the interior with observance to proper wire coloring. The brown wire (tail lights) was going to be busy since it had a lot of places to go: two tail lights, five marker light circuits, the factory interior light, the license plate light, a camera, and to a 12V distribution panel that feeds the roof fan, a forward interior light, and a battery. I decided to use a pair of small barrier strips for relatively clean wire routing. It was a tedious task, but I think the end result looks much better, even though the two terminal strips will be concealed beneath trim panels.

Are you wondering about the “12V distribution panel?” My original plan was to just power the interior from the tail light circuit. But what about when I’m parked? I don’t want to leave my parking lights on just to power a few small items. So, I added a battery, then a switching circuit for the fan and forward light, then other ideas. The box that houses my switch panel is large enough to add a 115VAC/USB electrical outlet. So, I added a NOCO 15-amp power inlet outside. I figured if I was going to have power anywhere, particularly at home before a trip, then I might as well add a 13-amp smart charger to the mix. For now, my power supply requirements are fairly light. So, I have not opted to add solar panels. Besides, I’m DONE messing with that roof!  😉  I don’t have a voltage inverter in the trailer. I can use the one that’s in the car if I have a pressing need for household power. Therefore, I should be able to keep my batteries charged, either from shore power or while I’m driving.

Check out this video to learn about the function of this panel. Next, I’ll share my work on the trailer’s interior.



About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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