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Discussion Starter #61 (Edited)
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.
I was comparing their solar panels to HQST panels today. Renogy is a good bit more expensive, but it looks like their dimensions are much better for fitting to van roof - the 100 W panels are narrow for mounting long ways, and the 200 W panels fit nicely crosswise. The 200 W panels are $300 which seems pricey but may be worth it if it's as simple as bolting to the existing rails.

Looking at charge converters and can't figure out what the amp rating means. Is it output or input? Or both? For instance, solar panel voltage is typically higher than the battery, so the current will increase on output. 4 panels at 5.3 amps = 21.2 amps in, but at 12 volts it's 33 amps out. Will a 30 amp charge controller work? Assuming less than 90% efficiency I guess it would but is the current rating output or input?
 

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I
I was comparing their solar panels to HQST panels today. Renogy is a good bit more expensive, but it looks like their dimensions are much better for fitting to van roof - the 100 W panels are narrow for mounting long ways, and the 200 W panels fit nicely crosswise. The 200 W panels are $300 which seems pricey but may be worth it if it's as simple as bolting to the existing rails.

Looking at charge converters and can't figure out what the amp rating means. Is it output or input? Or both? For instance, solar panel voltage is typically higher than the battery, so the current will increase on output. 4 panels at 5.3 amps = 21.2 amps in, but at 12 volts it's 33 amps out. Will a 30 amp charge controller work? Assuming less than 90% efficiency I guess it would but is the current rating output or input?
I got my solar panels locally because shipping such bulky items can be expensive.

Re: solar panel fit, I lucked out. Mine fit very well across the roof such that I was able to put up 3, giving me good power to charge my battery quickly whilst simultaneously providing for my daily needs. If you think you easily fit a set of panels vs. having to shoehorn something in, take the easy way out (I did.)

Re: charge controllers, I'm that noob that didn't have any experience in solar power that I had mentioned and so I'll defer to the expertise of others. But I believe that the output amperage of the controller is a reflection of its own capabilities and not so much of the solar array. e.g. you with your theoretical 33A output from your panels, a 60A controller will produce 33A but a 30A unit can only output 30A; a 20A controller will only give 20A, etc. On the other hand, if it's somewhat cloudy and the panels can only give 15A at that moment, none of the 3 controllers can output more than 15A. Hopefully, I am making sense.

What I did was to buy as big a charge controller as I could given my solar array. I have 600W theoretical, which means 50A max @ 12V, so I chose a 60A controller. I could have chosen a cheaper 40A model but I would have left some amperage on the table in full sun.

What is less clear today is whether or not I should have gone MPPT. All the hype at the time was about MPPT and how it is more efficient than PWM. So I went for an MPPT. However, they are much more expensive than PWM. And looking at it, the advantage isn't that great. PWM controllers are so cheap that I am thinking of getting another one just as backup on the shelf in case something goes wrong with the one I'm using.
 

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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.
Perfect! I don't have any side windows, my rear windows are covered at night, and I have a partition up front. When I'm in the cabin area, it's hard to know what's going on outside. Hence my desire for a camera system like yours. It's great that it's not too expensive. Much thanks, @jracca
 

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"water system" - Like I said, when we backpack for a few nights we are fine. But for more than that I would need (very much like) to proper wash my hair, and I'm not gonna cut my hair. I will put in a proper water tank.
Ha-ha, I think I know who you're replying to. :p
 

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I was comparing their solar panels to HQST panels today. Renogy is a good bit more expensive, but it looks like their dimensions are much better for fitting to van roof - the 100 W panels are narrow for mounting long ways, and the 200 W panels fit nicely crosswise. The 200 W panels are $300 which seems pricey but may be worth it if it's as simple as bolting to the existing rails.

Looking at charge converters and can't figure out what the amp rating means. Is it output or input? Or both? For instance, solar panel voltage is typically higher than the battery, so the current will increase on output. 4 panels at 5.3 amps = 21.2 amps in, but at 12 volts it's 33 amps out. Will a 30 amp charge controller work? Assuming less than 90% efficiency I guess it would but is the current rating output or input?
I don’t have solar on my van, but if I did I would research the very thin flexible panels & a way to mount them directly on the roof with VHB tape. Unless you need roof racks for other purpose.

Solar or camera wires on the roof; The factory rear middle black plastic roof housing is a perfect path to bring wires onto the roof or mount the back view camera (if you do not want holes in your roof).
 

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You might want to consider hanging your bike off the back. I came up with this easy rack system where I can lock my bike. I should’ve put it on the other door though. But I do plan on adding another rack so that I can carry four bikes.
65923
 

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You might want to consider hanging your bike off the back. I came up with this easy rack system where I can lock my bike. I should’ve put it on the other door though. But I do plan on adding another rack so that I can carry four bikes.
View attachment 65923
I really like your bike rack idea, but cant really see how you fabricated it. Could you post some more photos showing what you have done?
 

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Discussion Starter #68
Ok I plan on 40 A charge controller cuz more current is a lot more $$ and I doubt I'll install more than 400W solar. I plan to be able to fit 600 but that's a maybe someday.

Looking at a 2000W China pure sine inverter on ebay, with all the trimmings like remote control, AC hook up spot and the usual safety features. Only $210 but not sure if this is a good spot to go noname China. Renogy is out of stock and much more pricey for what seems to be the same thing with the same features and the same warranty. Tho I doubt I'll be able to use a direct from China warranty.

My batteries just came in! It'll be a while before I get to put em in but found a deal and bought em. Got a non-china warranty on the LiFePO4 with all the usual safety shutoffs and such for $550/100 Ah.

We are moving apartments today and in the next few days. Then I'll be planning a trip to Iva Bell Hot Springs backpacking in a couple weeks. But after that I'll be full hobby time on the van. So I gotta buckle down and order some windows and research what I will need to install them, and probably insulation at the same time. Hopefully I can get windows and insulation done by Thanksgiving and we can take it down to visit family in AZ with a bed mattress and camping gear.
 

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Ok I plan on 40 A charge controller cuz more current is a lot more $$ and I doubt I'll install more than 400W solar. I plan to be able to fit 600 but that's a maybe someday.

Looking at a 2000W China pure sine inverter on ebay, with all the trimmings like remote control, AC hook up spot and the usual safety features. Only $210 but not sure if this is a good spot to go noname China. Renogy is out of stock and much more pricey for what seems to be the same thing with the same features and the same warranty. Tho I doubt I'll be able to use a direct from China warranty.

My batteries just came in! It'll be a while before I get to put em in but found a deal and bought em. Got a non-china warranty on the LiFePO4 with all the usual safety shutoffs and such for $550/100 Ah.

We are moving apartments today and in the next few days. Then I'll be planning a trip to Iva Bell Hot Springs backpacking in a couple weeks. But after that I'll be full hobby time on the van. So I gotta buckle down and order some windows and research what I will need to install them, and probably insulation at the same time. Hopefully I can get windows and insulation done by Thanksgiving and we can take it down to visit family in AZ with a bed mattress and camping gear.
A good quality inverter runs $0.50 / watt to $1/ watt.

There are factories in China that make inverters. You can have any inverter they make labeled for any capacity that you like. That is what Renogy, Cobra, and others do.

It is literally "what do you want stamped on the box."

A $200 inverter is a 200 - 300 watt inverter that has been labeled as whatever was requested by the re-seller.

US inverter companies make and sell their own inverters and they actually will produce what they are labeled.

There is no greater fraud in the van market today than inverters. It is a really a crime.
 

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Discussion Starter #70
A good quality inverter runs $0.50 / watt to $1/ watt.

There are factories in China that make inverters. You can have any inverter they make labeled for any capacity that you like. That is what Renogy, Cobra, and others do.

It is literally "what do you want stamped on the box."

A $200 inverter is a 200 - 300 watt inverter that has been labeled as whatever was requested by the re-seller.

US inverter companies make and sell their own inverters and they actually will produce what they are labeled.

There is no greater fraud in the van market today than inverters. It is a really a crime.
I don't believe that. It's really easy to plug a microwave or something in and see if it works. 2000 can't pass ass 300. And renogy seems to be a quality brand with 2000 watt inverters around 300 -340.
 

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They do have their inverters made in China and you can get the same inverter directly from China, with a different name on it, for less $.
In fact, if it looks just like a renogy product with a different name, it's probably the same product.
Got a link to the one you found for $210?
 

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I watched a bunch of this guy's videos a while back. He's not selling anything and no ads in his vids. He just geeks out on electrical stuff and buys broken inverters to fix as a hobby. Nothing to do with vans or anything else other than the inverter content.
He side tracks and tells a lot of back story, but I happen to love a good back story/history lesson. So, probably boring. But I found most of what he talked about, very helpful in picking an inverter and what features to care about. Like peak wattage being irrelevant, a hardwire feature, coated board, etc. Not so much about the name brands he reviews.
The first vid is more a history lesson, so you can skip to the 2nd vid in the series of you want.
Again, long winded and boring, but helpful from a technical standpoint.
Definitely more informative and knowledgeable than many other electronics reviews I've seen. This guy actually takes these apart, fixes them and knows how they work.
 

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Btw, my AC loads are all 700-1000 watts. That's why I bought a 2000w inverter. I wouldn't use a 1000w inverter and run loads close to that, based on the advertised peak load capability.
 

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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.
You can charge while idling, but the cost/benefit for that V-6 "generator" is lousy. Solar or an actual generator is much better.

Based on most everyone's experience here, you can't expect more than about 80 amps from the alternator for charging the house bank. That goes for both 180A and 220A alternators. I have the 220A alternator myself and the max sustained charge rate is around 60A with my BlueSea ML-ACR.
 

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Discussion Starter #75
They do have their inverters made in China and you can get the same inverter directly from China, with a different name on it, for less $.
In fact, if it looks just like a renogy product with a different name, it's probably the same product.
Got a link to the one you found for $210?
No it's not the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #76
Ouch.
Just spent $1174 on windows.
Sliding passenger door, and 2 sliding bunk windows.
Window trim for sliding door, caulk gun, polyurethane, primer, window tape, and cleaner
Tax and $128 shipping. Not a bad shipping fee actually.
 

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Discussion Starter #77
Went AMA and VWD cuz glue on seems way easier than clamp on.
Also ordered a manual maxxfan deluxe.
Now I have to research insulation and how to secure walls and cabinetry while I wait for parts to ship and continue to empty the van.
 

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Discussion Starter #78
Ok looking into how to install the Maxxfan. Looks like I should wait till my window stuff ships and arrives, because then I'll have sealant, caulk gun, primer, etc.

I read the instructions and it seems simple. Then I read what other people did online and they really went way overboard compared to the instructions. The instructions say use silicone sealant and screws. The internet says use tape, sealant, adapters, and all sorts of extra steps.

I can't even understand what the screws are for. Window installation is sealant ONLY. Why the need for 16 additional screws?

I'm thinking make a 1x frame (probably gonna use 1x insulation), glue to ceiling around front opening where roof is flat (if I cut perfectly around the small ridges), apply silicone sealant, drill and screw flange (do I need all 16?), Seal edges and screws, and good to go. Do I need to file/sand/prime the 14" hole edges?
 

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I read the instructions and it seems simple. Then I read what other people did online and they really went way overboard compared to the instructions. The instructions say use silicone sealant and screws. The internet says use tape, sealant, adapters, and all sorts of extra steps.

I can't even understand what the screws are for. Window installation is sealant ONLY. Why the need for 16 additional screws?

I'm thinking make a 1x frame (probably gonna use 1x insulation), glue to ceiling around front opening where roof is flat (if I cut perfectly around the small ridges), apply silicone sealant, drill and screw flange (do I need all 16?), Seal edges and screws, and good to go. Do I need to file/sand/prime the 14" hole edges?
A fan installation is one of the rites of passage for a van builder. It often happens early in the build when people are gung ho and so there are tons of videos and blogs about this as people want to show off their handiwork (same with insulation). And when people are gung ho, they tend to go overboard (I'm guilty of this).

Re: adapters. Our PMs have ridges and valleys. For those areas, some people use adapters to make the surfaces "mate" and so that the sealing product can do its work easier. Other people, me included, stacked butyl tape in the "valleys" to make a dam and to level up the valleys to the higher ridges. (I copied @proeddie ).

Re: tape and/or sealant. If by "tape" you mean butyl tape, that stuff is super sticky. Compared to silicone sealant, I feel butyl tape is much stronger. And personally I've seen silicone sealant degrade in the elements. --Which is why I believe lap sealant (I used the Dicor brand) is often used as well. It seems more proof against the weather and, importantly, when initially applied, it's "liquid" enough to flow into crevices, improving the seal around the base. I've seen it used in the RV industry to seal things such as skylights and vents. Like others, I covered the screws to prevent rust.

Re: screws. The multitude of screws is to hold down the fan evenly. Use can theoretically use fewer screws, but why? It's not hard. Fewer screws would dramatically increase the tension per screw and on the mount points. Highway speeds into a strong headwind would create tremendous pressures on the fan (especially the Maxxair fan, designed to be open at speed). The fans' engineers have a vested interest in not having the fans come off; challenge their wisdom at your own peril.

(By the way, if one is not fond of drilling holes or using screws, van-building is not going to be a pleasant activity...).

Re: paint. I did not and after 2 years, there is no rust. But I also don't live by the beach next to the ocean (no salty air) nor is my area particularly humid. You may wish to adjust your practices depending on where you live (e.g. I've been told Hawaii is super tough on cars due to ocean spray)
 

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And when people are gung ho, they tend to go overboard (I'm guilty of this).
Me too, but I also tend to go overboard when I'm uncertain and doing something new. There are lots of ways to do this job. But the goal is always the same - secure at highway speeds with no leaks. I used a plastic outer adapter from Hein and made my own inner adapter from wood to mate with my ceiling contour. I used butyl tape on both sides of the outer adapter and a little construction adhesive to hold the inner adapter against the ceiling. But then I went overboard with the Dicor and emptied a whole tube around the base of the fan. Not pretty. In hindsight, I could have just covered the screw heads. The perfect contour of the outer plastic adapter plus all those screws into the inside adapter created a very uniform, tight seal with just the butyl tape. Even better would have been to follow Hein's recommendations and seal the outer adapter to the roof with Windoweld.

FYI everyone, exposed butyl tape dries up and cracks over time. Not an issue for thin sandwiched applications, but don't leave thick build-ups exposed. DAMHIK
 
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