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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Electrical systems kind of freak me out. They are complicated and they kill you if you do something terribly wrong. So I hoping that some of you can take a look at an early draft I made for the electrical system for my camper van? You know, before I kill myself and/or my wife :p

The plan is to have a battery bank that can support 100 amp hours, and it will be charged off of the alternator/starter battery. At this times I am not planning having solar panels or shore power. Though I may add solar at some later point, just not now.

While I have yet to bite the bullet on a particular battery technology I drew up the diagram with the assumption that I would be going for a LiFePO4 battery, hence the battery to battery charger. The main reason for picking lithium is really to conserve space. Having two AGM 100 amp hour batteries just seems like a bit of a space waster in the 136 ProMaster. But maybe I am over-emphasizing how much space lead acid batteries will take up? If I were to go for AGM that should just meant that I swap the battery to battery charger for an isolator and call it a day?

With all of that said, here are the most pressing questions that I have:

  • Is the wiring of the components correct in my diagram?
  • Does the relative position of the components seem correct?
  • Are there any crucial pieces of equipment that I am missing?
  • I am planning on grounding everything in the engine compartment where the starter battery is already grounded. With this in mind, did I capture that correctly in the diagram?

Any amount of feedback is greatly appreciated!
 

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It might be worth your time to take a look at some of the other electrical system posts that already exist vs starting from scratch.

Just subtract off what you don't plan to use.

Since you most likely won't be building a ton of van electrical systems, perhaps even just list out your loads and have a local marine electrician install it for you.

It isn't really complex but it is very detail oriented and having the right tools and parts makes a huge difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Would you believe me if I said that that is what I tried to do? :p Hiring someone to install it for me is not a bad idea. It is something that I have considered but I was hoping to do it myself. If nothing else for the learning experience.
 

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Actually, your needs are extremely minimal and simple and your electric system can be also. Look up RD’s $500 electrical system and do it! 12vdc is not going electrocute you or kill you if you make a mistake (just fuse everything and make sure you have no shorts).
 

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110AC is so easy, why not? Sooner or later you will be glad you have it.

This gets you inside the van through the rear tail light housing. Add an all-weather extension cord and you're good to go. It can be completely stand-alone and does not have to play with any other part of your system.


OTOH, if the laptop is the only thing you need an inverter for, you probably don’t need the inverter. There are 12V cords for many (most?) laptops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I will take a look at RD's build. This is the one $500 Solar and $700 Complete Electrical System ?

The main reason I have not been considering shore power is just because I do not imagine that my wife and I will be staying at too many RV campgrounds. She used to do a lot of tenting so we have rather modest requirements. The laptop charging is there mostly as a convenience for when we want to watch a movie or something. I imagine that we will mostly be using the power for lights, the fan, and of course phone and camera charging.

With that said, I did not realize there were such simple solutions for shore power. That almost seems like a no-brainer. And had no idea that there were 12V cords for laptops. I just assumed that I needed and inverter for that. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Would you believe me if I said that that is what I tried to do? :p Hiring someone to install it for me is not a bad idea. It is something that I have considered but I was hoping to do it myself. If nothing else for the learning experience.
A lot of vans end up having a refrigerator sooner or later.

While this might seem like a trivial item to add, it actually represents a substantial change in the power needs vs charging a laptop or charging some phones.

I guess my point is that if you think that you will eventually want one, it should at least be planned for.

If you lived a bit closer you could stop by my shop and we could put something like you have drawn together (jointly) in a day.

As a practical matter, I think that no matter if you completely build it yourself, or are mostly a user, you will learn how it all works from the experiences.

Again - I am not saying that any of this stuff is overly complex, but part of the challenge is that there are so many options and pathways.

MsNomer has a fairly decent setup if you look at her web blog in her signature. You could copy it and be in fairly decent shape for your needs.

I also build "kits' for van installations but I am a bit over the top so they are often over kill on the ruggedness side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is all great food for thought! At this time we are not planning on having a fridge. We already have a cooler that we will use instead.

Heating is still a bit of an unknown. We were thinking about a propane heater of some description since we have a propane cooker we will be using. But that is down the road. Gotta have some projects for the future. :p
 
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