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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd find it helpful for those of you (like HarryN and RansomR, Baron and of course GML) who have more Euro 6 emissions, aggressively managed alternator, experience than I do to comment on the following partial electrical build. Partial because I am not convinced I want to drive about with solar panels screwed into the roof. Call it vanity (sorry), but I can't bear the thought of the especially lovely profile of the 135 being disrupted by permanently affixed solar panels (the black MaxxFan on Navy Blue will be bad enough, but acceptably "bad" -- sell me some '19 black steelies please!). Anyway, I've convinced myself it's better to have some sort of dis-mountable setup so the solar can be aimed when boon docking and secured against hail and vibration in between. So imagine in the description below that I've left space for a solar charge controller, fuses/breakers, shore power and some switches.

I have the factory 95 AH AGM auxilliary battery and EK1. Ignore EK1, it's only good for draining your starter battery. Connect Sterling 1212 to factory 95 AH AGM Aux. Install 100AH Battleborn or equivalent LiFePO4 battery inside because lithium likes A/C. Connect lithium battery to Sterling. Connect Fuse block. Connect appliances.

Only thing I must have. 12v compressor fridge, likely Dometic CFX 50W. Specifications? "Energy Consumption 12VDC ([email protected], [email protected]) 0.77 Ah/h."

With a 100 amp lithium, I'm figuring 80% DOD reliably for at least as many cycles as I'll be on this planet. So 80AH/.77Ah/hours = 103.9 hours of run time, right? I have the rear optional LED and side light on the starter battery but I intend to avoid any electric water pumps as a fun but wholly unnecessary complication. Solar shower for sure, foot pump is fine.

Non-Electric part

Heating eludes me. I'd love a petrol webasto but I am trying not to build a Saturn 5. I go camping because I enjoy being outdoors and (relatively) unencumbered. Too banged up for backpacking, but in spirit and fact I don't want all the Mad Men, dissatisfied Rolling Stones "he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarette as me" crapola that goes with the American home. So, I know I want a propane cooktop that I can use outside. Cooking in a vehicle is a last resort, so why invest another $1,200 on a specialized stove and safe propane box (not to mention the space)?

I've done a lot of desert camping. Water is more important than sleep which is more important than food. So, I may invest in a custom large water tank, perhaps 15 gallons, mounted who knows where, grey water about a third of that given most desert uses are consumptive.

Sleep seems to be orbiting around a standard twin 75 x 38, probably along the passenger side. The portion protruding forward of the C pillar would be foldable or removable if side loading were needed, but I see little reason not to let it overlap the slider a bit. It also provides nice seat for guest on the other side of my swiveled passenger seat. It's gotta be metal, no lumber in the van. Rather than screwing around with 80/20, I am thinking I'll find a local welder who wants to do something fun. Aluminum would be awesome, but I can deal with steel too if painted or powder coated.

Food is the sink and sunken stove area (to accommodate portable propane) between the driver B and C pillars. Window height cabinet. Cabinet goes to full height aft of the C pillar, respecting wheel wells for width to preserve close to 50" clearance between the wells.
 

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Your battery setup seems fine, to me anyway. I would never use battery capacity divided by the manufacturers power use rating as an mechanism for coming up with a ballpark figure for available run time. I also would suggest a two-way instead of a 12v only, especially if you are already going to have propane onboard.

Most of your set up sounds good to me, but I am wondering why you have the anti wood thing. All materials have their uses, and that includes wood. I would be using wood for the bed frame for instance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Your battery setup seems fine, to me anyway. I would never use battery capacity divided by the manufacturers power use rating as an mechanism for coming up with a ballpark figure for available run time. I also would suggest a two-way instead of a 12v only, especially if you are already going to have propane onboard.

Most of your set up sounds good to me, but I am wondering why you have the anti wood thing. All materials have their uses, and that includes wood. I would be using wood for the bed frame for instance.
Thanks GML. 120v via shore power for sure and onboard inverter somewhere 1,000 to 3,000w, depending on ultimate battery availability. I'd love to run a coffee maker on 12v inverted, but I don't see how with the set up I am proposing without blowing throw a full day's charge.

As to which metric to use, do you mean the manu rating is suspect? Or did I use the wrong equation?

Thanks much. Now I need to draw a complete wiring diagram, confirm the loads, fusing and wiring, and make sure it will really work. FYI I am thinking that the power center will sit immediately aft of and integrated with the driver's seat. I want to preserve my ability to recline in the driver's seat, so I don't wan't to cram the sink/stove counter right up to it anyway. I'll fill the gap with a fold-up counter extension.

On the wood, I like it for surface finishing but not structurally. I like it aesthetically on surfaces, but I'd like a lighter, removable as a unit, bolt-on framework for my build.
 

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I don’t even use a coffee maker in my house; I have a coffee grinder, a tea kettle, and a French press. I find it easier to use and clean as well as faster. You can skip the grinder if you don’t like your coffee insanely strong like I do.

What I mean is Murphy’s Law. I would automatically divide 103h by half. I tend to assume just about anything doesn’t work at peak efficiency, has an odds on chance of not working properly, and so on. I would not want to be stuck in a remote place with spoiling food because I overestimate my battery capacity.

I don’t trust modern stuff to work properly. I feel you have to build in a fudge factor as part of assuming it doesn’t.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don’t even use a coffee maker in my house; I have a coffee grinder, a tea kettle, and a French press. I find it easier to use and clean as well as faster. You can skip the grinder if you don’t like your coffee insanely strong like I do.

What I mean is Murphy’s Law. I would automatically divide 103h by half. I tend to assume just about anything doesn’t work at peak efficiency, has an odds on chance of not working properly, and so on. I would not want to be stuck in a remote place with spoiling food because I overestimate my battery capacity.

I don’t trust modern stuff to work properly. I feel you have to build in a fudge factor as part of assuming it doesn’t.
Got it. For $1,000, the Battle Born batteries better be up to snuff. They also imply super cycle life compared to other brands, so I am skeptical to begin with.

I hear you on coffee. Became quite addicted to Peet's, but I'm too lazy to grind daily, weekly is fine! I'd like to be able to make coffee without propane for a quickie in the a.m. before fishing!!
 

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I agree that you should not dismiss wood. The weight difference is negligible and strength is more than adequate. Using wood can mean you can do the work yourself without hiring someone to weld etc. This van is so small that I doubt you would have any issues with structure with typical plywood products. Thousands of Van conversions have been done with plywood. I certainly get the geek factor of welded metal, but if you can't do it yourself I don't see the point. If you want to do it yourself and want to learn a good hig/tig welder is nice to have. I have taught furniture building to adults and high school kids. Plywood is incredibly useful and easy to use. Believe it or not it helps with sound also.

If it's just you in the van most of the time I'd use typical lead acid batteries for storage. Nothing stopping you from keeping a charged up spare you can swap. Saves a lot of money and batteries can be sourced locally most anywhere.

The gasoline heater means you never run out of heater fuel unless you like to run your tank low. It's also less space in the cabin over something like propane. No way am I going to live with a 20lb plus propane tank in the cabin. I've looked at options for under the van, but ultimately I've decided it's too risky with the places and roads I like to frequent.
 

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Some quick observations - need to read your post a few more times for it all to gel.

BB 100 amp-hr battery is a good battery - but - think of them as supporting charge / discharge rates of about 500 watts. If you want to power a 1 kW inverter, it takes at least 2 or you will blow out the internal BMS. Guess how I know. :| BB does take care of their customers, but designing them into a concept that assumes 1 battery can support 1000 watts charge / discharge is a known design error.

We could discuss wiring them as 24 vs 12 volt and the advantages / disadvantages, but everyone already knows my opinion. I NEVER wire in 12 volt battery packs anymore into anything.

Typically your usable charge of a Li battery for planning purposes is about 75% of name plate vs nominal 50% of name plate for a Lifeline AGM.

Temperature wise - most people read the part that says "don't let the batteries go below XX temperature", but fail to read the part that says "don't let them get ABOVE xxx temperature." Even when the van is just sitting around, some method of moving air through it to take the edge off of the internal van temperature is needed.
 

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I won't say that you cannot achieve higher packing density than I have, but as a comparison, the photo next to my post is a system next to a 26 inch suite case with approximately the components capability that we are talking about. It took more than one attempt to fit it into that size.

All of that under the drivers seat? Maybe / maybe not. It will be impressive to see.

If you are in the general area, I wouldn't mind being involved just to see what actually is possible.
 

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In order to maintain the 50 inch distance between wheel wells, what is the max foot print (length x width) behind the wheel well that is available?

If it is 20 x 12 inches, life is relatively easy.

If it is 20 (front to back) x 10 inches (depth), still relatively fairly easy to put something in that location.
 

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It is interesting that the web site spec power consumption of this refrigerator is about 1/3 of a max fan on medium.

So very rough numbers
- fridge ~ 10 watts
- fan ~ 20 - 30 watts
- LED lights - 10 - 20 watts
- USB charging, etc

Combined these and misc loads easily 50 watts average.

1 BB 100 = (100 amp-hr) x (12 volt) ~ 1 kW-hr

So more like 20 - 30 hrs use vs 100 hrs, at least using my calcs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It is interesting that the web site spec power consumption of this refrigerator is about 1/3 of a max fan on medium.

So very rough numbers
- fridge ~ 10 watts
- fan ~ 20 - 30 watts
- LED lights - 10 - 20 watts
- USB charging, etc

Combined these and misc loads easily 50 watts average.

1 BB 100 = (100 amp-hr) x (12 volt) ~ 1 kW-hr

So more like 20 - 30 hrs use vs 100 hrs, at least using my calcs.
Thanks so much. I need 200 Ah!
 

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I think you might be ok power wise.
Run the fridge off the Battle Born for 100 hours.
Run everything else off the 95 ah auxiliary battery. If you run out of power for the fan, you might be uncomfortable, but your food in the fridge will not spoil...
Add a small solar cell if fan is important.
 

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to focus805, well if it maters this is how I have it set up right now, Renogy deep cycle battery 100W, suitcase 100W with controller 1000W inverter. Inverter has 2 sockets for 120 and one USB charger, additionally I made on the van 120 plug, that I can attach outside power with extension cord that I can have the van locked when I camp in a paid campsite.
Water, I have two 3 gallons containers attached to a hand pump, my lady has her own chamber pot, we have an outside shower with an enclosure and battery pump to shower-head, the sink "gray" water we dump on the outside vegetation or store if we are at a Rest Area or paid camp
We have removable propan stove, that we can use inside and outside, the popup roof gives us plenty of space to move in the van or to ventilate the space in case of need, I found the roof fan to be waste of money, it may be good in Sprinter but in Metris is overdone,.. good window, that you can open is the way to go.

What I should have, is two soft panels on my popup roof getting continues solar power when I drive, it seems like we drive a lot so the solar suitcase is truly not the way to go. I dout that the soft panels can be seen from the street (for me it does not mater what is seen and what is not :) I am doing it for me and my lady :) to have fun, not to impress somebody.

And the coffee....I need coffee in the morning bad, what else is there in the morning to do :) Costco has good instant coffee pouches, we also have small grinder and french press, if you don't have the time for french press you can do the instant coffee into a water bottle shake and warm it up in the sun or on the engine, or on propane stove. JUST HAVE FUN, YOU WILL LIVE LONG :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
to focus805, well if it maters this is how I have it set up right now, Renogy deep cycle battery 100W, suitcase 100W with controller 1000W inverter. Inverter has 2 sockets for 120 and one USB charger, additionally I made on the van 120 plug, that I can attach outside power with extension cord that I can have the van locked when I camp in a paid campsite.

And the coffee....I need coffee in the morning bad, what else is there in the morning to do :) Costco has good instant coffee pouches, we also have small grinder and french press, if you don't have the time for french press you can do the instant coffee into a water bottle shake and warm it up in the sun or on the engine, or on propane stove. JUST HAVE FUN, YOU WILL LIVE LONG :)
Thanks Baron. Instant Human, add coffee
 

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I thought about using the flexible stick-on solar panels. I agree they would look a lot nicer (https://www.metrisforum.com/forum/409-metris-builds-conversions/4897-fantastic-fan-install.html), but I was concerned about the channels in the roof where stuff could be trapped and be inaccessible. Probably difficult to remove if I ever wanted to as well.

So, I just got a Renogy RNG-KIT-STARTER300D-WND30 kit ($475) and had it shipped free to a friend I would be visiting in NJ. Shipping to Canada would be complicated (foreign shipping costs, import duties, tax etc.). Crossing at the border on the way back, they weren’t interested, I was out long enough for a good allowance.

I picked that kit as I already had the MAXXFAN in the back to keep the dogs ventilated (along with inverter and crate fans) when stopped with the van locked and front windows open a bit. (http://www.windeire.ca/Maxxfan.pdf). With the liftgate, the fan had to be mounted in the second last roof section so I only had room for 3 solar panels and those fit nicely between the roof rails. I made a frame of 1.5” aluminum angle screwed to the inside of the roof rails with the vertical part cut between the panels to contour to the rails (sp1). There’s clearance under the frame for the cables. With the panels mounted to one side there’s about a 1” gap for access to the cables for securing the connectors to the rails. (They’re not pretty, so I might replace them with butt connectors.) I put a couple of holes in the roof where the water wouldn’t pool (sp2) and fished the cables down the C pillar, under the flooring and forward to the controller and aux battery.

All went well except for the wind noise, so I filled in the front (1/4 pool noodle & gorilla tape). It’s been on for about a year so far and seems to be holding up (sp3). I also trimmed the frame a bit at the front (might do more) and covered it with black gorilla so it doesn’t show so much (sp4). The rest of framework could be painted black, but it doesn’t bother me.
From the side, nothing much shows from eye level (sp5). Or from the front (sp6) and a light bar would hide it completely. From above (sp7) the panels can be seen but in the parking lot at the mall, just the fan bump shows to help me find where I parked.

Not as refined as the other workmanship I've seen from some of you, but it's doing the job.

(I can’t believe the amount of time I spend on this site!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have four flexible panels. They aren’t visible from below

Very sanitary. I have the same barn doors -- how long is the Maxx overhang in the rear? Also, can you recommend the brand and model of those panels? Thanks!
 

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There is no overhang


The panels are these ALLPOWERS 100W [ame]https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013E07FNM/[/ame]

I used 3M Very High Bond VHB double sided tape. They aren’t going anywhere. That will be annoying when/if I need to replace them.

Others have suggested 3M Dual Lock (sorta like velcro but different) to make removal easier.
[ame]https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007OXK330/[/ame]
 
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