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Discussion Starter #101
A hëll of a lot neater than the diagram that hack RD did!

I’m interested in the long term, 5+ year durability of flex panels. Boat owners may know?

I was really impressed with the 6 volt golf cart batteries so went with them.
 

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A hëll of a lot neater than the diagram that hack RD did!

I’m interested in the long term, 5+ year durability of flex panels. Boat owners may know?

I was really impressed with the 6 volt golf cart batteries so went with them.
I went with 12v because they are easier to find around these parts, otherwise I would've gotten 6v. 6v apparently has better charging and longer life.

I originally bought rigid panels but the ease of installation of the flexible panels and better aerodynamics sold me. There are concerns about durability due to less airflow underneath but these panels have a 5 year warranty (That probably answers your question). I am usually a cheapskate but I figured in 5 years time, solar will be even better and cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter #104
You are probably right except rigid panels have dropped below $1/watt already and bulk quantities are much lower than that. I don’t see why flex panels shouldn’t be even cheaper as they contain much less in materials. In 2007(?) I bought a single 80 watt panel for my truck camper and paid well over $400 for it. Now it would be 1/5 the cost and bought with cheaper dollars too. I am expecting we will see roof coverings that make PV power become as cheap as top quality asphalt shingles! The future of energy is in solar as we solve the storage issue on an industrial scale.
 

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2019 136 low roof
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Many here have developed the electrical system for their van and purchased too little, too much, or bought components that are technically sophisticated and expensive. I will give you some guidance here for a basic 200 watt solar, 200+ Amp Hour storage, with basic interconnection to the van and to shore power, plus an inverter. Many of these components I have used in my van or used in previous RV’s or have worked with others who have them. This system will run a 3 cu ft compressor refrigerator, a 700 watt microwave, LED lights, chargers for all your electronic stuff, 14 volt TV and lots more. It will connect to the van’s alternator, can be plugged into an outlet at a campsite or at your home, and can provide sufficient power when boon-docking for unlimited days IF the sun shines, if not run the van to charge.

1. Batteries- 2- 6volt flooded Lead acid golf cart batteries from Sam’s club 215 Amp Hour rating made by West Penn a very reputable firm. $84 each I suggest you vent them. Duracell Golf Car Battery, Group Size GC2 - Sam's Club
Alternative- 2 similar AGM batteries- the cost will be $600 and they are not quite as long lived but you do not need to vent them. Venting saves $400

2. Solar- 2- 100 Watt Renogy monocrystiline Kit PWM controller which will be fine, kit includes lead in and connectors, [ame]https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts...ywords=renogy+100+watt+solar+panel&th=1[/ame]
Buy a 3’ length of 2” angle aluminum at Home Depot to mount them.
Alternative- buy 2 similar panels and a Tracer MPPT controller. You can add a third panel if you later find it is needed but I betting it won’t be.

3. Shore power/ breakers/fuses for 12 volt circuits- WFCO power center, get a 20 foot HD extension cord to lead in to it, buy breakers at H-D [ame]https://www.amazon.com/WFCO-WF-8735...ywords=wfco+35+amp+power+converter&th=1[/ame]

4. Interconnection to your van starting battery- Stinger 80 amp battery isolator. [ame]https://www.amazon.com/Stinger-SGP3...r=1-2&keywords=stinger+battery+isolator[/ame]
I recommend a small switch to deactivate the interconnect most of the time.

5. Wire- http://assets.bluesea.com/files/resources/newsletter/images/DC_wire_selection_chartlg.jpg
THHN off the spools at H-D run in smurf tube (blue flex non-metalic conduit) when possible. To the other battery and to the power center run 4 AGW, to your refrigerator, lights and most low draw appliances use the Blue Sea chart.

6 Inverter- 1500 watt modified sine wave inverter- good for every thing you need- upgrade to sine wave if you must have a low watt induction cooktop. Some induction tops may run on this. Your risk. This comes with cables and a remote. [ame]https://www.amazon.com/KRIËGER-Inve...=8-12&keywords=1500+watt+power+inverter[/ame]

7. Fuzes and such. Use the Blue Sea chart to install fuses that protect the wires, that is they need to be no larger than the wires can carry. [ame]https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_...+amp+fuses&rh=n:15684181,k:80+amp+fuses[/ame]
Fuse BOTH ends of the Positive Battery wire AT EACH battery, fuse the inverter AT THE Battery, fuse the other wires with the WFCO. Follow the WFCO instructions concerning grounding the shore line as it doesn’t get grounded to the chassis!

OK It’s a bit over $700, but I did get you to consider it. I often say solar is $500 and it is, the above is a complete system exclusive of a few USB and cigar outlets, some small switches, a bit of wire and some connectors. I can’t know what you will need exactly.

Take the money you save and go CAMP, visit good bars and restaurants that serve great food and drinks, take some pictures, renew your relationship with your SO, find the winter sun in the South, and remember the sunsets. If you have enough, doing is always better than having more.
Hi RD...I'm working up a parts list to build your system. I haven't figured out anything better for my current needs...thanks for that! A (maybe dumb) question: will this system charge my batteries from shore power?
 

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Hi RD...I'm working up a parts list to build your system. I haven't figured out anything better for my current needs...thanks for that! A (maybe dumb) question: will this system charge my batteries from shore power?
If you get the WFCO unit and wire it properly, it will. Honestly, I have the capability to, but I don't see my self needing shore power with solar and alternator charging. Unless you need to run an AC unit but I would just wire that directly...
 

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Discussion Starter #107
That got answered. Yes the WFCO handles the shore power and charging most battery types. I’d instal shore power as it is handy in the days before you leave home on a trip and it rains steadily so you need the power and don’t want to run the van. There are other times it comes in handy. I got caught in Mississippi camping in 5 days of rain and the campground had posts. I needed it once a year or so at times I didn’t expect to. Buy an extension cord and use it to wite into the WFCO that would be your only work and expense to have shore power. Easy.
 

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That got answered. Yes the WFCO handles the shore power and charging most battery types. I’d instal shore power as it is handy in the days before you leave home on a trip and it rains steadily so you need the power and don’t want to run the van. There are other times it comes in handy. I got caught in Mississippi camping in 5 days of rain and the campground had posts. I needed it once a year or so at times I didn’t expect to. Buy an extension cord and use it to wite into the WFCO that would be your only work and expense to have shore power. Easy.
Thanks, I do want to have shore power for those, hopefully rare, occasions. I'm well on my way towards building your system but have a question: Could you clue me in to the amp load on the various wire runs in your diagram? I can calculate wire sizes based on length. I haven't yet figured out locations yet for all the various components. Many thanks!.
 

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That got answered. Yes the WFCO handles the shore power and charging most battery types. I’d instal shore power as it is handy in the days before you leave home on a trip and it rains steadily so you need the power and don’t want to run the van. There are other times it comes in handy. I got caught in Mississippi camping in 5 days of rain and the campground had posts. I needed it once a year or so at times I didn’t expect to. Buy an extension cord and use it to wite into the WFCO that would be your only work and expense to have shore power. Easy.
That's a good point. I was just looking at it from my San Diego lense. Rain, what's that? 😂
 

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Thanks, I do want to have shore power for those, hopefully rare, occasions. I'm well on my way towards building your system but have a question: Could you clue me in to the amp load on the various wire runs in your diagram? I can calculate wire sizes based on length. I haven't yet figured out locations yet for all the various components. Many thanks!.
Hi @furnitureguy

This site sells a few brands;

PD4045-PD4045 45 Amp Inteli-Power Mighty Mini Power Center

The PD is also apparently a good brand (recommended to me by various sources).


Apperently a very good converter/charger that has a “Lithium” switch. My Buddy @CDN_PM purchased this unit & will be installing it in his recently picked up 2021 159”. I think the charger “if functions as advertised” is a good one.

My preference is Parallax 8355, but they are more money and probably overkill for a van (I build to what I consider best value - not best cost). I am not recommending this unit for you, but throwing it out for your consideration.

We rarely use 120vac in our current van. We charge almost 100% from the alternator (via starter battery via solenoid) & currently do not have solar. It is nice to have 120vac & converter/charger capability for the reasons RD stated & more.

An easy path into your van for a shore power plug is on the rear driver’s plastic lower corner plastic trim. If you put this in early with your build, you can bring in 120v to assist you with lights & power tools & later hook it up to the “power center”. Like temporary power on a construction site. I did this as it got old fast stringing an extension cord thru the passenger window which would also let rain in while building. It was nice to just plug in to my temporary power from the outside. If you're worried about driving off with the extension cord attached, you can tie a reminder on your steering wheel (in aviation terms these are labeled “remove before flight” flags). Which brings me to another benefit of the Rear Driver’s Side Plastic Trim spot for the shore power plug; if you drive off with this attached you may get away with minimum or no damage (depending upon the plug).
 

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That's a good point. I was just looking at it from my San Diego lense. Rain, what's that?
East of Mississippi River prolong periods of rain last decade., way over average....for last month south central va has more normal rain me levels....rain is good but amounts vary....

I enjoy west of Mississippi because on vacation and really do not want it to rain....yes that is very personal viewpoint and water is life

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #112
CUT........... Could you clue me in to the amp load on the various wire runs in your diagram? I can calculate wire sizes based on length. I haven't yet figured out locations yet for all the various components. Many thanks!.
Most of the system is based on a current limited to less than 80 amps: battery interconnect, battery to converter, converter to buss bar, ground wires, etc. (4 AGW)
Shore power to converter 20 amps AC (breaker in WFCO) (12/2 WG AGW)
AC from shore power to outlets 12/2 WG (I used Romex but suggest extension cord)
Converter DC (fuses) 15 amps 12V DC (14 AGW)
Converter DC (fuses) 10 amps 12V DC (16 AGW)
All wire stranded.
 

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RD, since the thread is about functional and inexpensive setups: I recently picked up some used panels for 32c/watt (craigslist). There were cheaper ones down to about 24c/watt but the dimensions on these maximally filled the space I had available.

They are 60cell / 20v so I assume they came off a residential install where that config is common. Making 40.9% of rated power before 9am local so they're pulling their weight. :)
 

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An easy path into your van for a shore power plug is on the rear driver’s plastic lower corner plastic trim. If you put this in early with your build, you can bring in 120v to assist you with lights & power tools & later hook it up to the “power center”. Like temporary power on a construction site. I did this as it got old fast stringing an extension cord thru the passenger window which would also let rain in while building. It was nice to just plug in to my temporary power from the outside. If you're worried about driving off with the extension cord attached, you can tie a reminder on your steering wheel (in aviation terms these are labeled “remove before flight” flags). Which brings me to another benefit of the Rear Driver’s Side Plastic Trim spot for the shore power plug; if you drive off with this attached you may get away with minimum or no damage (depending upon the plug).
Why didn't I think of that? One question...how did you route the cord from the plug into the van? I see a couple possibilities but would like to benefit from your experience. Thanks!
 
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