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Nah, I'm gonna go for the spacecraft hatch.
It is not the necessarily the skylights themselves that leak, but the install opening around a corrugated roof structure that can hold water against the what we refer to in the waterproofing industry as "gipe"

Caulking, sealant, coatings, etc; They all fail eventually & quicker on a van roof then a house due to the road movement. The best roof we have on the van is the sheet metal (not the sealant joints), then we cut into it & apply "gipe". I did this for my roof fan, but that is the only 14"x14" hole I put in my van roof & that was at a non water holding highest flat spot on the roof.

I think it is fine to cut all sorts of holes in your van roof and "gipe" them up, but given an option of a wall hole or a roof hole I'm cutting a hole in my wall.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Got a question for you pros. My new van was a work van so selling off partition, shelving, and ladder rack. Should I keep the existing rails the ladder rack is mounted to? Maybe us them for cross members to mount solar to?
 

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It wouldn’t hurt but won’t the buyer of the ladder rack expect them?
 

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My new van was a work van so selling off partition, shelving, and ladder rack. Should I keep the existing rails the ladder rack is mounted to? Maybe us them for cross members to mount solar to?
Vantech makes an adapter for mounting things to promaster roofs at the factory mount points.

They aren't the only one, but it is a fairly small number of suppliers.

It might be worth looking at the roof mount options before selling the parts.
 

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Another thing I have to ponder is windows. ... Rear door windows I'm not quite sold on, but might make driving easier.
I have never looked out the rear door windows while driving. Not useful. Side windows very useful.

However, I highly recommend an always-on rear view camera. Here is my install thread. I stole the idea from Baxsie's post #33 in this thread. Six months later, I still think this is probably the best thing I have done to the van. And it is comparatively easy to do.
 

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I have never looked out the rear door windows while driving. Not useful. Side windows very useful.

However, I highly recommend an always-on rear view camera. Here is my install thread. I stole the idea from Baxsie's post #33 in this thread. Six months later, I still think this is probably the best thing I have done to the van. And it is comparatively easy to do.
I have a full 4 camera system, since I do not have windows on either side, it is immensely helpful. I never use the rear view mirror in any vehicle I own. I suppose too many years spent in vans and towing.

I have a camera on top that shows me my clearance, one on each side, and one in the back. It feeds a 4 camera monitor I have attached to my rear view mirror (since I don't use it).
 

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Discussion Starter #49
Idk, adding cameras seems really tough/pricey.

I'll look more into roof mount options. I don't think the ladder rack comes with rails new, I think they are a separate package based on the vehicle.

Another question is battery usage estimate. Assuming I do propane heat and cooking, one apple laptop 8 hours, one gaming laptop 8 hours, 2 monitors, fridge, and all the little stuff. I think 200Ah LiFePO4 should be good unless sitting in one spot for a couple days. Hard to know when I'm not sure what I'll want in the future. Can I charge from my alternator while idling? Looking into a 60 amp b2b charger. I have the 220A alternator, not sure how many amps I should try and pull from it.
 

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2019 Ram PM 3500 High Top 159" WB EXT
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Cameras are very cheap nowadays. The DMYCO one is $113. Install doesn't seem too bad. If you're able to DIY the rest of the van, then the camera is a piece of cake in comparison. I'm thinking about buying another camera that points straight down at my rear bumper so I can visually see the whole bumper when I back into spaces. Maybe I'll buy another couple for the sides of the van so I can see them from the back/cargo area for security, but side cameras seem useless for driving purposes, the PM side mirrors are awesome - no blind spots.

As far as electrical requirements, that's a whole thing... check this guy out, he's an electrical engineer and explains things in a very digestible manner. He also has a downloadable spreadsheet (you could upload it into Google sheets if you don't have excel) where you can plug in your items you need to power, how much power they use, and how much time you'll be using them per day, and it will do some nice calculations (including depth of discharge numbers) to tell you what size batteries you might want to get.

Yes you can charge your alternator while idling.
 

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Idk, adding cameras seems really tough/pricey.
not pricey

super easy to install

check out this link;

 

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Oh and I never mentioned size - I have the 159 2500
Thanks for that. So my van is the EXT which has 14” extra between the wheel wells & the back doors

@RnR has a standard 159” & has been designing a floor plan for awhile, so I would think he knows the dimensions quite well. I posted the Sportmobile layout pdf & that will also give you dimentions To help you rough in sizes.

What size bed do you want? Our is queen width 60”. How long are your bikes you want to put under the bed, as that will be a deciding factor (assuming the bed is going from wall to wall length 73” to 74”
 

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Discussion Starter #54
I know the basics of how to calculate power usage, problem is I'm in schematic design phase and only have rough estimates for component power usage. For example, I can do a quick fridge search and get a range of current draw, but without actually using one on the road I can't know how many hours per day it will be working. I can pull rough numbers out of my ass.

Was also trying to guess how much our laptops draw on average without ordering a kill a watt meter. Then I realized I can estimate 3 full charges per day with a 65 wh battery ~= 200 Wh. Portable monitor 50 Wh/day. Lets say my wife uses the same (she won't on her wimpy mac), so 500 Wh/day for work. That's much better than what I was imagining. Lets say another 500 Wh/day for fridge, and another few hundred for misc. 2 kwh should be ok for a few days between drives with a bit of solar.

Found some Dutchman branded 100 Ah LiFePO4 with BMS on ebay. Only $550 including shipping. I was thinking I'd be spending $2000 on 200 Ah, so now I'm tempted to buy an extra battery but I really think I'd have to try hard to use it. Maybe power a dance party in the desert? Lol.
 

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I used this camera system
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R6PLBG5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I would say there are many similar systems and from what I can tell they are mostly the same.

I split the feeds from the cameras in order to be able to access them from my bed, but the system works fine as designed.
Thanks for posting this. I have been thinking about a camera system for security, including monitoring from my bed. Maybe in its own thread you can talk about how you are using it.

In particular:
1) could the 4 camera feeds be captured by a recorder?
2) tell me more about how you split the feed, what monitor did you use for the 2nd display? Could there be another split for a 3rd monitor?
 

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Was also trying to guess how much our laptops draw on average without ordering a kill a watt meter. Then I realized I can estimate 3 full charges per day with a 65 wh battery ~= 200 Wh. Portable monitor 50 Wh/day. Lets say my wife uses the same (she won't on her wimpy mac), so 500 Wh/day for work. That's much better than what I was imagining. Lets say another 500 Wh/day for fridge, and another few hundred for misc. 2 kwh should be ok for a few days between drives with a bit of solar.
We're planning on getting this charger for my MacBook Pro: 72W Type-C PD Car Charger Adapter. Won't have an inverter.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
We're planning on getting this charger for my MacBook Pro: 72W Type-C PD Car Charger Adapter. Won't have an inverter.
Unfortunately there aren't any DC chargers for my MSI laptop.

I'm debating inverter size with myself now. (I should be working.) Seems 1000 W should be good for most anything unless I want to bring a toaster on board or run power tools. Laptop is 180 watts, and the wife's mac could run on DC. I don't plan to have grid power but an inverter/charger would provide flexibility for future options but costs a lot more.

Any opinions on Renogy brand parts? For:
  • Solar/charge controller
  • B2B charger
  • Inverter
 

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Discussion Starter #58
Thanks for that. So my van is the EXT which has 14” extra between the wheel wells & the back doors

@RnR has a standard 159” & has been designing a floor plan for awhile, so I would think he knows the dimensions quite well. I posted the Sportmobile layout pdf & that will also give you dimentions To help you rough in sizes.

What size bed do you want? Our is queen width 60”. How long are your bikes you want to put under the bed, as that will be a deciding factor (assuming the bed is going from wall to wall length 73” to 74”
I measured everything. ±1/2" or so, should be good for fairly detailed design. Thinking 54" for the bed. Bikes are a bit longer but the bed can't fit right up against the doors anyway so it might work. Will have to measure the bikes exactly for more detailed design and required bed height. My gravel bike has a dropper post and my wife is super short so we might not need as much height as others, but might not be good to store the bike with dropper down. Gotta check the bike forums.

My wife is suggesting store the bikes outside locked up during the day and driving, and bring them into the kitchen when we sleep but I'm not optimistic about fitting the bikes in the kitchen. Even it they do fit, doing that every night sounds annoying.
 

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Unfortunately there aren't any DC chargers for my MSI laptop.

I'm debating inverter size with myself now. (I should be working.) Seems 1000 W should be good for most anything unless I want to bring a toaster on board or run power tools. Laptop is 180 watts, and the wife's mac could run on DC. I don't plan to have grid power but an inverter/charger would provide flexibility for future options but costs a lot more.

Any opinions on Renogy brand parts? For:
  • Solar/charge controller
  • B2B charger
  • Inverter
I have their 60A MPPT charge controller, a 40A DC-DC charger, and their 100Ah LiFePO4 battery. All serving well. I would've gotten their inverter too but they were out of stock at the time. I find their products to be good, priced reasonably, and, importantly, have decent North American based support. This is key for a noob with vehicle electrics systems.

Oh, and I recently got their shunt-based battery monitor. It's excellent.
 
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Thanks for posting this. I have been thinking about a camera system for security, including monitoring from my bed. Maybe in its own thread you can talk about how you are using it.

In particular:
1) could the 4 camera feeds be captured by a recorder?
2) tell me more about how you split the feed, what monitor did you use for the 2nd display? Could there be another split for a 3rd monitor?
First I split the camera feeds using normal RCA splitters. One feed into a RBG w video connection (5 RCA cables, I used one to carry power to the screen that came with the cameras) the other output from the splitter feeds a 4 in 1 video processor
The outputs from the video processor feed one screen near the bed, and the other goes into my television (Visio 27 inch TV). They could easily feed a video recorder or anything else.

I split the video before feeding either because I wanted the ability to choose cameras on the main screen, primarily rhew and the ability to feed all 4 onto the other monitors.
 
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