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Today I added the alternator charging option. I cannot believe how well it works. It is producing over 625 and more watts. I can now just drive and almost forget about keeping the battery topped off. A great use of $425.
 

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My entire electrical system was only $500 with 215 A-H of batteries, 200 Watts of solar, 1100 Watt inverter w/remote, Shore power w/battery charging, 120V and 12 volt fusing, alternator interconnect included. Yours redefines “A great use of $425" for me. BTW today that system would probably be no more than $425. BUT I can’t pick it up and walk with it!
 

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My entire electrical system was only $500 with 215 A-H of batteries, 200 Watts of solar, 1100 Watt inverter w/remote, Shore power w/battery charging, 120V and 12 volt fusing, alternator interconnect included. Yours redefines “A great use of $425" for me. BTW today that system would probably be no more than $425. BUT I can’t pick it up and walk with it!
My entire electrical system was only $500 with 215 A-H of batteries, 200 Watts of solar, 1100 Watt inverter w/remote, Shore power w/battery charging, 120V and 12 volt fusing, alternator interconnect included. Yours redefines “A great use of $425" for me. BTW today that system would probably be no more than $425. BUT I can’t pick it up and walk with it!
 

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If I felt I was skilled enough and interested enough and if I felt the cost savings was worth it, I would have done what you did. My van came with the 1400 and I like it. The complete system is smaller than 2 shoe boxes. It is a lithium system so it can be used to a completely depleted state safely. I have heard that AGM batteries can be damaged by going below 50%. Mine is 115 to 135 amp hours (depending on the voltage used in the formula). So maybe we are similar in useful capacity. I am new to this, but solar is a serious advantage of yours. I am not planning to stay in one place long enough to feel that I need solar. It can be added easily if I change my mind. My garage beneath my bed is completely empty for bikes, inflatable kayaks, golf clubs, skis and plenty more. As you say, I can remove the unit and use it in the house during our PG and E power outages or if I want to change vehicles in the future. I paid way more than you, but I felt it was justified. I may find more limitations in the future. I am a new van guy, so I will post any regrets.
 

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I can see applications where I would want such a power source too. I hope others weigh the relative merits, knowledge needed, and cost, to be happy and have what they need. I spent nearly $1000 for an Espar diesel furnace and have never regretted it. It is not always just the money but without a comparison of what can be done, others are lead to believe another’s solution is the best answer for all. In time I hope you see me as trying to give that perspective not as being critical. I appreciate you take a reasonable response to a differing opinion.
 

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I think that the Goal Zeros and the like are a good answer for people who just don't want to get into designing and building a van electrical system -- we hear from people all the time that they can do everything on the conversion, but that the electric system really scares them.

It seems like the only real flaw is the long charge times, and this gadget gets rid of that problem - albeit at a pretty steep price.

You can get the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 from Costco for $1000, add this $400 gadget and you have a full Li battery electrical system for $1400 -- and you can use it in the house during your next power outage because comes out of the van in just a minute.

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I do think that one thing that would help people who are wary of doing an electrical system is for someone who is just starting converting their van and doing a simple electrical system from scratch to really document it carefully -- I mean wire by wire with lots and lots of pictures. This way someone not familiar with electrical work could print out the 50 pages, take it to the van and just follow the instructions blindly without having to do any research or having to worry about whether each connection is right. If somebody wants to do this, I'd be happy to make it a downloadable pdf from my site.

Gary
 

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The cables were long enough. My yeti is in a 12" wide by 36 long inch storage box on the floor just ahead of the left rear wheel. There is a 36 inch cabinet with sink, and water storage ahead of the box behind the drivers seat. The cable attaches to the battery terminals in the floor near the drivers seat. I ran the line behind the water cabinet and into the storage box. The trick is to sneak the line under the flooring mats into the battery compartment under and behind the driver's seat. The plugs are large and the wire is fairly thick. I called Yeti and they said it is safe and easy to cut the wire and thread it without the plug. Then splice the plug back on. He said "only 2 wires inside the insulation". I did not need to do that. I got lucky. The connection to the battery is independent from the cable to the back, so the plug is used to connect them. The cable to the back is 12 feet long. The end plugs into the back of the Yeti. You do not need to connect to the alternator itself! Good luck. If I can do it anybody can.
 

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I think that the Goal Zeros and the like are a good answer for people who just don't want to get into designing and building a van electrical system -- we hear from people all the time that they can do everything on the conversion, but that the electric system really scares them.

It seems like the only real flaw is the long charge times, and this gadget gets rid of that problem - albeit at a pretty steep price.

You can get the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 from Costco for $1000, add this $400 gadget and you have a full Li battery electrical system for $1400 -- and you can use it in the house during your next power outage because comes out of the van in just a minute.

-----
I do think that one thing that would help people who are wary of doing an electrical system is for someone who is just starting converting their van and doing a simple electrical system from scratch to really document it carefully -- I mean wire by wire with lots and lots of pictures. This way someone not familiar with electrical work could print out the 50 pages, take it to the van and just follow the instructions blindly without having to do any research or having to worry about whether each connection is right. If somebody wants to do this, I'd be happy to make it a downloadable pdf from my site.

Gary
The 1000 recharges at a lower wattage than the 1400 and 3000.
Since it is a smaller battery the time to recharge is similar, though.
 

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I can see applications where I would want such a power source too. I hope others weigh the relative merits, knowledge needed, and cost, to be happy and have what they need. I spent nearly $1000 for an Espar diesel furnace and have never regretted it. It is not always just the money but without a comparison of what can be done, others are lead to believe another’s solution is the best answer for all. In time I hope you see me as trying to give that perspective not as being critical. I appreciate you take a reasonable response to a differing opinion.
No, I thought your comment was fine. I hope anyone would appreciate constructive discussion.
 

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I have heard that AGM batteries can be damaged by going below 50%. Mine is 115 to 135 amp hours (depending on the voltage used in the formula).
I have not heard of an AGM battery that would be damaged by discharging below 50%. Quite the contrary, the latest AGM batteries get 500ish cycles at 80% Depth of Discharge (DOD), around 300 cycles at 100% DOD. This is more than enough to qualify as "lifetime ownership" for most van builds (not the full timers) since the vast majority of cycles are nowhere near 80-100% DOD. In reality you get around 500-1000 "uses", those using a van around 50 nites a year for 10 years (this is a lot!) should have a hard time exceeding the life of a good AGM battery.


Glad the Goal Zero users finally have a real charging solution! It was pretty pathetic that they had a device that could only recharge at 2 amps.
 

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Glad the Goal Zero users finally have a real charging solution! It was pretty pathetic that they had a device that could only recharge at 2 amps.
Current gen GZ 1000 and 1400 can do 30 amps max total input without the kit mentioned in this thread. The lithium car charger cable ($40) can do 10 amps if your cig plug can handle it. Those aren't "oh wow" specs but they aren't ridiculous. I don't know where you get 2 amps from. Maybe old gen GZ 400? Current gen GZ 400 is 10 amps, not ridiculous for a ~33 amp hr battery.
 

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I mean its not the kind of performance you'd get from a no added cost charging solution like charging an AGM from the alternator (50ish amps) but yeah compared to hookers and blow its a better way to waste your money.
 

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I am not sure why people are so down on out sourcing some help with one part of a van build vs another.

A van build is a massive project. It can virtually take over a person's life and lead them to great frustration.

In my home we bring in a paster / drywall contractor when needed. Yes, I can do it, but it looks terrible. This guy is an artist / craftsman with the right tools and methods. It looks great and I can work on other things that I am better at.

When plumbing needs repairs, I do most of it, but there are times when a pro is really helpful. I have swapped out sinks and toilets, but soldering lead free solder on larger copper in tight places is a real skill / tool combo. I tried and failed. The pro did it in no time and fixed problems that they original builder had missed.

I am not going to make my own shower curtain or window treatments if someone on the forum has already done it and I can just buy them. That is a "smart consumer", not a "failure".

When people buy a kit or drop in electrical system product, it is a starting point for building out the rest of their electrical system over time. Hiring some help or a starter kit / system for items that you prefer to not do that will help you enjoy the van sooner is a perfectly legitimate thing to do.

Having power in the van so that you can run tools and lights essentially instantly is game changing.
 

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I grew up so poor that doing everything with nothing forever became my way to Camp, Canoe, hike, travel, have a car and pickup, and I had to repair mine and others to make it happen. I taught 30 years and raised two children through college and one through med school. I remained relatively poor and found my kids qualified for Free or Reduced lunches at the school I taught at. I built summers and weekends to augment my salary. I truly loved teaching. The Ms. worked as well but costs were high and there was never any getting ahead. At 52 I left teaching and became a full time buider. In 6 years I made as much as I did in 30 years of teaching. I sold some interesting property I had built and it was relatively valuable. Now I am trapped with some skills and enough knowledge to know the mechanic does not do better than I can and doesn’t care as much, IKEA builds mostly junk, building a wood fired oven myself or outfitting a van is an economical way to stay ahead. My Son and Daughter both make much more money than I did but both have my inclination to do it themselves and do it better.
In reality building out a van needs not be a long or tedious process. I did mine in the summer when the weather was nice and worked about 8 weeks from purchase to leaving for the winter. I enjoyed the process because everything can be done so quickly you move from job to job unlike building a large house.
If one has more financial where-with-all than skill and time they should use that to get what they want.
 

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Do you have a link to that alternator package OP? I have a Yeti and I would like the option to alternator charge as well.
 
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