RV Lithium/AGM Battery & Electrical System Upgrade – Part 5 – Power Cord Reel Installation

TheRVgeeks Electrical, Updates & Upgrades 22 Comments

UPDATE! The  “CRRA-50” referenced in the video has had a model number change to “CRMA50-12-RV50” but it’s the SAME exact cord reel!

It’s time to install our new power cord reel, plus we’re excited to announce that Glendinning has agreed to become the latest manufacturer of fine RV gear to be added to our Discounts page, offering special savings on the same CRMA50-12-RV50 power cord reel that we’re installing in our RV. Glendinning coupon code RVGEEKS saves $70!

And, of course, Hughes has been on our Discounts page for a long time now, offering 10% off 30- and 50-amp autoformers.

Our installation isn’t really the standard way you’d normally install a power cord reel. They’re usually mounted on the floor, which is a much easier way to do it! Our issue was wanting it all… in a very small space. Our little electrical compartment wasn’t designed to fit much more than the original power cord reel, and we want an optimally-placed autoformer, as well as a large solar controller…. AND space for more in the future!

So we took the somewhat unusual step of hanging our reel from above, which was complicated by the ceiling not being designed to be load-bearing (there’s insulation up there, apparently backed by wood… not the type of structural steel we needed to hang 60+ pounds from… think about the vibration and torsional loads placed on that while we’re driving, and you can imagine it pulling loose from the ceiling in fairly short order).

We’re obsessive enough about this type of project to go the extra mile to make it as close to perfect as we can. And luckily, we already had a great contact in Andrey at DNA Custom Metal Fabrication, and we were still in the area. So custom-welded brackets were no problem.

If you have space for a power cord reel, you can almost certainly mount it on the floor of your electrical compartment. So what was a pretty involved installation project for us would boil down to just 6 screws into the floor. Of course you still need to connect the power cord into the RV, and you need 12-volt power to the reel motor. But the whole “custom-brackets-hanging-from-the-ceiling” thing is not the way most people will end up adding a power cord reel.

This will complete Phase One of our project. Stay tuned for updates on all of our new gear as we get more experienced with it, as well as Phase Two – Solar!

Oh, one more thing…

We’re often asked how we’re able to arrange for manufacturers to offer discounts to our viewers. It’s actually pretty straightforward, and both Glendinning and Hughes joined us in the same way.

When we’re shopping for gear, we start by doing the same type of research most RVers do before buying new equipment… Googling, figuring out which features are most important to us, reading reviews on RV forums and Amazon about quality & customer service, talking to fellow RVers, etc.

Once we decide what brand we’re willing to spend our money on, we take advantage of the fact that we do indeed have an online presence that can bring positive attention to deserving companies that make great RV gear. We contact the company to ask if they’d be willing to allow us to try out their gear, with the understanding that we will only feature it in a video if we love it.

We’re basically asking companies to bet on themselves, and demonstrate their pride and confidence in their own products. If they believe we’ll be totally satisfied, they often provide the gear we need for our RV (and our video shoot). Our interaction with them also gives us an opportunity to see if they really are the customer-service oriented people our research led us to believe. Yes, we know that, under the circumstances, they could treat us differently. But we like to think we’re pretty good at determining who really cares about ALL of us RVers, and who doesn’t (we’ve got a solid record of featuring products and companies that our viewers have been very satisfied with).

If, after spending time with their gear, it lives up to our expectations, we’re happy to make a video sharing our enthusiasm with our fellow RVers. So we don’t actually do “reviews” per se, but rather what we consider to be video testimonials. If we love it, we’re eager to tell you about it… not just to share a great find with you, but to support a well-deserving RV-related company, too.

At that point, we’re alert for opportunities to do something really special… what we like to call “using our power for good!” If the company is willing to offer a discount to our viewers as part of our featuring them in a video, it makes us that much more eager to share.

Such was the case with Hughes, and with Glendinning today. When we originally approached Glendinning, we didn’t know anything about the CRMA-50, because it wasn’t on the market yet. We were interested in the reels they make exclusively for Newmar’s high-end coaches, like the King Aire.

They told us about their new & improved reel that was just coming out, and asked us if we’d like to install that one instead, giving us the opportunity to debut a brand new product. We saw the specs and photos, and were very interested in that unit… the CRMA-50.

Why are we telling you all this? Because we can’t get over how well the reel works, and can’t hide our enthusiasm for it. We were fine with our original Glendinning reel (remember, it worked flawlessly for 13 years, and we only removed it to free up floor space in our small electrical compartment). But the CRMA-50 is more compact, has a significantly longer cord (50′ vs 35′ on our old reel… a big difference, especially when it’s mounted mid-RV -vs- at the back) and has other clever, useful features that we never even thought of before: the light on the plug that confirms power’s on, and the special handle that “pushes” the plug out instead of wiggling and pulling on it.

Most of all, it has the look, feel and sound of a truly quality product. We are very impressed, and very satisfied, and we want to share that, since we know that the question of exactly how we get some gear does come up. And although this reel was provided to us at no cost, two things are for sure: 1) We would still be as thrilled with it had we paid for it, and 2) We will never tell you we love any product if we don’t.

This piece of gear is a reel winner, and our enthusiasm for it is reel, too. ?

We hope you enjoy the video showing the process of installing this new gear. We didn’t make it a step-by-step tutorial, since our situation was so specific to us. But maybe it will give you some ideas about how you might set up your own electrical compartment.


When we find RV products we absolutely love, we’re thrilled to be able to add them to our Discounts Page.  We’re pleased to announce that Glendinning Products is now offering RVgeeks viewers a $70 DISCOUNT on their brand new CRMA50-12-RV50 50′ power cord reel (the exact same one we just installed). Order factory-direct from their store at GlendinningProds.com and use Coupon Code “RVGEEKS” at checkout to SAVE $70.00!
NOTE: The discount is valid only on the CRMA50-12-RV50


Hughes Autoformers also offers RVgeeks viewers a special discount. SAVE 10% when you order either a 30-amp (Model #RV2130-SP) or 50-amp (Model #RV220-50-SP) factory-direct at HughesAutoformers.com. Use Coupon Code “RVGEEKS” at checkout to get 10% OFF!
If you don’t know what an autoformer does, check out our video.
NOTE: The discount doesn’t apply to any other Hughes products, but these are the latest models, newer than our own!

Thanks to all of the fine companies that are participating in this project for providing the expertise, equipment and service required to get this big job done.

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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.

Comments 22

  1. Thanks for video on this setup. I just completed my upgrade this past weekend on a 2010 Newmar Ventana. We used the smaller CRR-50 and mounted it to the floor and a permanent mount of the Hughes Autoformer. The surge protection built into the newer Autoformers is an added perk since the 2010 Ventana did not have one built in. Keep up the good work educating us all!

    1. Post

      That’s awesome, John! Always great to hear from a fellow Newmar owner, especially one with a similar setup. We’re about to begin Phase Two of our battery /electrical upgrade, and we have the newer Hughes autoformer standing by for its close-up. ?

  2. I love the GlenDinning Real but I would like to purchase the plug separately can I buy that and where can I get that at. I love your videos keep up the good work. I see you answered the same question that I’m asking but I thought you may more info.

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      Hi Darryl! Sorry, no update to report. But we are going to make Glendinning aware that there is demand for their high-quality 50-amp cable (we’ve still never seen anything nearly as flexible) and lighted plug with the levered release handle… in an extension cord form. They do sell the cord with the male end, so maybe they’ll add a female end and make an extension cord available. We’re just not sure they can make it at a price to compete with the ordinary 50-amp extension cords out there, so that might be a sticking point. If they decide to go ahead, you’d better believe we’ll announce it!

  3. Hey Guys! First off, love your videos. They are so informative. Been watching you for a couple of years now, even on Patreon. I am looking for a 50 AMP extension cord and loved the EZ Unplug lever that is on the Glendinning Cable Master you installed. Do you know of anywhere that sells an extension cord with that on the male side? I hate doing the “wiggle dance” when trying to get mine out of the outlet. Thanks!

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      Hey Bill! Thanks for the nice note. That plug is indeed sweet, but the only way we know to get it is by buying the replacement cord from Glendinning and installing a female receptacle to the other end. It’s kind of pricey (copper has gotten so expensive), and you do then need to add the female side, but you do end up with not only the lever, but the best, most flexible 50-amp cord we’ve ever seen. It’s available on the website in 3 lengths here: https://www.glendinningprods.com/store/RV-Power-Cable-p16319238

      1. Wow, that is pricey. Maybe when we get our new RV we’ll look into getting the entire reel. Thanks for the quick response. Happy Travels!

  4. Guys, GREAT VIDEO, as always… As “newbe” RVers we’ve learned so much from you both. I have one question. We took your advice and purchased the Hughes 50a auto transformer last year, (w/built in surge protect) and it works fantastic. This year we will be mounting the Hughes inside, and replace the current power reel, (thanks for the discoumt!). Question- do we need an external surge protector, as you have, or is surge protection adequate with only the Hughes?
    Thanks again! Jeff

    1. Post

      Hi Jeff! Thanks so much for the nice comment… we’re so glad to hear that you’ve found our videos helpful! If we were starting from scratch, we would do exactly what you’ve done and JUST use the Hughes 50A unit. Their built-in surge protection is not only equal to what you would get with an external unit, but it has the advantage of having a replaceable surge protection module. So if it DOES protect you from a surge, it’s a fairly simple process to just swap out that module instead of having to ship back (or replace) the whole unit. The only feature you wouldn’t have in that situation is over/under voltage shutoff (our Surge Guard unit has that… which is why we mounted it AFTER the Hughes, since we want the Hughes to boost and not have the power cut off if it’s low). But, since the Hughes BOOSTS low voltage, and in 15 years of full-time RVing we’ve never had the Surge Guard cut power due to OVER voltage, we don’t think that’s a deal breaker. But wanted you to be aware.

      The only reason we haven’t gone that route yet is because we haven’t been able to bring ourselves to replace our current Hughes Unit with the version that you have now, since ours is working just fine. But a big motivator for modularizing the electrical connections in the bay was planning for just that eventuality. Since we haven’t finalized our plans for upgrading our solar just yet, we know there’s the possibility (likelihood) we’ll need space for a second solar charge controller. So the plan would be to remove the Surge Guard and put the second controller in its place… and replace our current Hughes unit with the new version with better, replaceable surge protection!

      And we’re so glad to hear you’re planning to install the Glendinning cord reel (thanks to THEM for offering the discount to our viewers!). We didn’t want to wax TOO poetic about it in the video, but, honestly, it’s our favorite piece of equipment from this upgrade (not to say the e-GEN battery isn’t FANTASTIC… it’s just more invisible, since it quietly provides power and we don’t really interact with it as much as the cord reel, LOL!)! It’s just so well built, and works so smoothly & seamlessly, that it makes connecting and disconnecting from power a breeze. And, since installing it, we haven’t had to lug out our 50-amp extension cord once! That extra 15′ of cord is priceless, especially for RVs like ours with the electrical bay situated in the middle, instead of at the rear!

      Hope this helps!

  5. I have been trying to contact Glendinning to get the dimensions of this unit and have not heard anything back for the two contact forms I filled out on their WEB Page, do you have any dimension information?

    1. Post

      Hi Ed! Since the video came out this morning, they might be a little overwhelmed at Glendinning! Here’s the dimensions: 19.39″ tall x 12.08″ wide x 14.5″ deep (that’s the mounting footprint… including the roller assembly adds another 2.21″ to the depth, as it sticks off the front and guides the cable in). The CRRA50 is so new, that we had to wait for Glendinning to add it to their store before we could take the video live! They said they’d get all the specs added to the website ASAP. We did hear from some people today who called them on the phone and got the info they needed. If you have other questions, we’d suggest giving them a call, too. Thanks!

  6. Fun watching your, well this, project come together. I found myself nodding along about how well your older “G” cord had served you, as ours has too. And I chuckled about the comment not having to lug around a 50A Service Extension Cord, as I’m seemingly always moving at least 2-3 times a month to get to other items. Intrigued about the higher flexibility of the new “G’s” 50′ cord. When we’re getting ready for departure in colder area, my wife wishes me luck as I go out to ‘Do wind up battle with ‘The Snake’! (As it certainly is not real flexible when cold!).

    Our Country Coach came with the same generation of TRC, and they installed it with modular plug & play via Male/Female plugs too. They have this gear in the back half of a bedroom cabinet, behind the circuit breakers. It’s accessed via a plexiglass covered portal from the rear closet. (Plastic Man requirements to access the area:)!). I’ve made two mods: 1) I had a Progressive EMS, which I have the plug from the “G” Shore Power feed plugged into, and now have the Progressive in keyed Bypass mode, but still in line. (We’ve lost our first Hughes once to a run amok generator in the Yukon. So are pleased to have the fast Unplug/Replug capabilities vs hard wiring. And the Progressive is now our back up unit, but being ‘inline’ allows for quick changeover if needed.); 2) Our replacement Hughes Autoformer (Both of ours were from the older generation designed by Hughes, which we prefer.). Is slid into this small space, and plug and play inline between the Progressive and into the Bypass Pass Thru function of the TRC. (Yep, it looks odd, but it works, and is very adaptable on the fly.)

    So long winded, my nature, description of our set up was to share that our Hughes, as heavy as it is, did bounce/slide around enough over a few months period, to bump into one of the 12/3 wires going into the back of the Circuit Breaker board (20A feed to the Convection/Microwave.) and shook it loose enough to cause rather unusual behavior of the Convection/Microwave:)! (Took me a few days to trace down what had happened.)

    So we now have the Hughes Zip Tied over to a bracket we installed, as well as I stuck on 1″ round pads of rubber on each of the four corners, to keep it from moving around as we drive.

    All of your finished work, like the beautiful battery bay changeover, I see everything secured well. Have you also secured your Hughes, or possibly did you double tape it and I just don’t see that, to the bay floor(?) some how?

    Looking forward to your next chapter, and thanks again for sharing your transformation of this area of the coach!!! (I admit, I’ve added a 50′ “G” to my future ‘Upgrade’ list:)!)


  7. As always, a great video. Concise and easily followed. We have a powered reel now but this one has many more features that make it much better. Thanks for all of your technical expertise.

    1. Post

      Thanks so much. We are as enthusiastic about our new cord reel as just about anything else we’ve even installed in our rig. It’s so well thought out and good at doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. We always appreciate well-designed gear, and it’s clear they put a lot of effort into making this right.

  8. As always you two do a great job of installing anything you do. Such a nice neat job and well thought out. You two rock, miss you


    1. Post
  9. Fist class installation there guys- I’ll bet Newmar would learn something about how to arrange advanced utility bays the way you guys have done. Looking forward to seeing how the Lithium battery pack works out- along with your new charger/inverter. Thanks again for the professional video.

    1. Post
  10. Been on the road since July 25th (yes, the night of the Q&A) but will be in Vancouver later today. (Will have to catch up on a few videos in the coming days.) The place we stopped in last night has excellent wifi so managed to watch this video.

    You sure do a good job planning and executing a project. The brackets are a good example. Did you consider welding the bolts to the brackets so you did not have to get a wrench on top? It looked pretty tight.

    I do light the little things that comes with buying ‘new’ such as the green light and the quick release handle. If I have any concerns it would be how the reel transfers electricity from the exterior cord to the interior cord. Do you know how they do it? Looks like it might be a brush system in the reel’s hub.

    Finally – looks like a great location for a video. Is that the Harrison River?

    1. Post

      Hi John! Hope you had a great trip.

      In addition to drilling all the holes in the sides of the brackets, we originally planned to have Andrey drill the holes in the top as well. But we realized that it would be wise to only drill those holes when we had the actual physical reel in hand, not from the technical specs we’d seen. Since we didn’t have the reel yet, we had to leave the drilling for the reel mounting bolts for later, and do it ourselves. That of course precluded having Andrey weld the bolts in place, since we were already over 2,000 miles away! That’s a great idea though (yes… it was tight)!

      As far as the connection between the two sides of the cord, it’s done with a “slip ring” design. It’s perfectly capable of handling the power. The only recommendation that’s different than our old reel is to only extend and retract the cord when the power’s off… or at least not under heavy load. We’ve had the new cord under VERY heavy load (on a 50-amp pedestal running both A/C units, the water heater, washer and dryer all at once) with no problem. We have a lot confidence in Glendinning’s gear, since this same type (the previous model) is standard equipment on new King Aires. ? Hope your KADP is doing well.

  11. Wow!!!!! I just E mailed Mr. Glendinning and thanked him, advising him that we will be using his products when we upgrade. Also, there is no way you guys will ever part with Newman the Newmar. This work in progress would take months to swap over to a new coach. Great information!!! And that welder is simply the $hit!!

    1. Post

      Thanks Scott! We appreciate that! And trust us… when we think about all of the customizations we’ve done to “Newman” over the years, it gives us pause (LOTS of pause) about getting into anything new! ? Of course… a lot of what we’ve done (LED lights, WiFiRanger, WeBoost, etc) are now either standard features on new RVs, or options you can order from the factory… so that would help. Some! But for now… we’ll stick with what we’ve got! LOL! (sorry… no “For Sale” sign coming any time soon!)

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