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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I just started work on my brand new 159" high roof 2500 promaster. Since I've found so much helpful information on these forums so far, I'm hoping I can contribute some of my experience as well. Ideally it will be more about sharing what works well but, no doubt, I will have my share of mistakes to share as well. Either way, my goal is that the next person gets to be just a little bit smarter.

As my wife and I stood in our kitchen, looking at the enormous van now parked in our not so enormous driveway, I made the observation that it looks a bit like a big, grey whale. So it came to be that we named her Moby Dick. I could wax philosophically for hours about the significance of the name, but I'll leave that for another time and place. . .perhaps around a campfire.

To start, here is what I am hoping to accomplish with my conversion:

1) Comfortable, yet minimalist, living space suitable for year round multi-week or even multi-month climbing/snowboarding/adventuring trips. The space needs to be able to comfortably fit two adults and, at times, two large dogs. I would also like to have enough space to throw down a yoga mat and practice inside the van if needed. Additionally, I need space for a few people to sit and eat and/or work on laptops. My ambition is to make the seating space convertible so it can go from dining/desk set up to lounging (table drops to coffee table height) to completely packed away (to allow room for aforementioned open space suitable for yoga/stretching/additional sleepers).

2) The space will need to have a stove and sink, but I am not planning on any bathroom/shower facilities. Stove will most likely be my two burner coleman stove with a propane tank.

3) Electric power to run/charge a couple of laptops, power a small refrigerator, possibly a small water pump, some additional lighting, and a roof-top vent fan. Also, potential to run a small electric heater in the winter. I plan to use a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 generator and two 100W Renogy panels mounted to the roof. I have minimal electrical knowledge, but based on preliminary research I believe my power needs can be met with this configuration. Most likely, I will find someone to help or do all of the wiring and installation

4) I will need enough storage to haul plenty of climbing/camping gear, two road bikes, and a large bouldering pad. I plan to have a permanent, raised bed platform, under which will contain the bulk of the storage.
 

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Floor install more or less complete.

I did a basic insulated floor install over the weekend. Still need to do some finishing work, but the materials are as follows (starting with the ribbed bare metal floor):


1) 1" polyiso board, reflective side facing up (Johns-Manville AP Foam Boards found at Lowes). I used a little less than 3 4x8 sheets and staggered the joints and sealed the joints together with aluminum tape (small rolls found with the Reflectix rolls at Lowes). My initial plan was to then seal the edges by tape sealing the foam directly to the angled bottom of the side walls all along the perimeter. I did not get the foam flush enough in certain areas, so I left that step for now and will come back to it later on. I am considering two options. One would be to stuff the open areas where the foam did not make it flush with the walls with left over scraps then seal over everything with tape. A second option would be to take the foam out and just seal all the edges so at least the foam layer is self contained with a vapor barrier. The 1" foam is thick enough to smooth out the surface even with the ribs. I figured the ribs would allow some space for any moisture to dry itself out as well. I did not glue or fasten the foam, the entire floor will be a floating piece, aside from the possible taping around the edges.

2) On top of the foam I laid down 1/4" OSB ply. It was the cheapest/lightest ply layer I was able to find. 1/4" might seem thin, but on top of the 1" rigid foam it seems to be more than enough support. Again, this layer is simply floating on top of the foam. In the 159" model, the cargo bay is almost exactly 12' long, so 3 sheets cut down to 4x6' and shaped to fit works very nicely here. Knowing this ahead of time, I got creative with the foam board joints since it is much easier to trim and work with and cut those so that they are completely staggered from the ply wood joints.

** after completing the flooring work, I learned about the use of formaldehyde in the resin that is used in plywood, especially the OSB ply. I would prefer to avoid any use of toxic materials in my van, but I'm aware of the need to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of any building material. As far as I know, a non OSB ply sheet is slightly better in terms of toxic off-gassing. The only other option I can think of is a hardwood ply sheet (much more $$), but I don't know much about it and assume that even a hardwood ply has some of the same issue since it is still a veneer of several layers glued together. The OSB is certainly the lightest and most affordable option and offers more than enough strength. Anyone have an opinion here? Is it something worth stressing over?

3) Final layer is a sheet of vinyl flooring with a nice wood floor print on it. Again, this layer is not fastened, just floating on top of the first two layers.

I will post up some pictures at some point. I forgot to take any as I progressed along but I expect to pull it all back up sometime soon before I install my wall paneling, in order to seal the edges of the foam board.
 

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Welcome and thanks. I seems the Promaster is attracting lots of conversions. Every dealer I have visited has sold at least one to DIY convert. Your plans sound like mine but I am on a schedule to purchase in the summer when I have my tools and time to do the work. If you look up my posts I have put up some plans that you might be able to modify for your use and venture ahead on the build/share your changes and successes.

http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37177
 

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** after completing the flooring work, I learned about the use of formaldehyde in the resin that is used in plywood, especially the OSB ply. I would prefer to avoid any use of toxic materials in my van, but I'm aware of the need to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of any building material. As far as I know, a non OSB ply sheet is slightly better in terms of toxic off-gassing. The only other option I can think of is a hardwood ply sheet (much more $$), but I don't know much about it and assume that even a hardwood ply has some of the same issue since it is still a veneer of several layers glued together. The OSB is certainly the lightest and most affordable option and offers more than enough strength. Anyone have an opinion here? Is it something worth stressing over?
Don't stress over it. These materials are used in housing construction and you probably come in contact with it in small measure and probably are not being harmed by that and your van will be vented like your house so the additional exposure is not apt to be a concern. I will probably use a hardwood ply and accept the cost difference. perhaps 3/4" polyisocyanurate foam and 3/8" of ply. What you did might fail in the future if the OSB absorbs moisture so keep it dry.
 

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Agreed!

Please people, NEVER use OSB on a floor (unless it is specifically engineered for that purpose). OSB absorbs moisture like a sponge and is primarily used for side wall sheathing in home construction where is is covered by siding and even at that, always swells up.

The out gassing is far less of a problem in a van as the doors are constantly being opened and closed and would be the last thing I would be conserned about.

The few dollars saved by using OSB over traditional plywood is not worth it.
 

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Noted! Thanks dudes. I did not get my cuts as precise as I hoped on the floor wood, so I think I may just redo it with a hardwood ply. Come to think of it, I remember having to rip up some rotted out OSB from a subfloor in my house soon after buying it. Makes sense.
 

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Noted! Thanks dudes. I did not get my cuts as precise as I hoped on the floor wood, so I think I may just redo it with a hardwood ply. Come to think of it, I remember having to rip up some rotted out OSB from a subfloor in my house soon after buying it. Makes sense.
Cheers from RD... rip it out, its cheap anyway.... use it for a pattern to get the cuts closer, you will never regret it!
 

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3) Electric power to run/charge a couple of laptops, power a small refrigerator, possibly a small water pump, some additional lighting, and a roof-top vent fan. Also, potential to run a small electric heater in the winter. I plan to use a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 generator and two 100W Renogy panels mounted to the roof. I have minimal electrical knowledge, but based on preliminary research I believe my power needs can be met with this configuration. Most likely, I will find someone to help or do all of the wiring and installation
Eddie:

I don't know if you're still on here or not, but I was interested in how the Yeti has worked out for you. Has it adequately met your electrical needs?

I find some things about the Yeti attractive. Being a midwestern farm boy, I've always thought that camping under a nice shade tree is best in the hot summer sun, but figured that doesn't work the best with solar, so I was wondering aloud about getting a Yeti and having one panel permanently attached to the roof for when I'm driving down the road or camping out in the sunlight, and use one of the portable panels too. Then if I'm parked in the sun, I could throw it up on the roof with the permanently attached panel, but if I'm camping under a shade tree, I could put one panel out in the sun and use the 25 foot MC4 cable that is available from GoalZero. Course the Yeti is on a cart, so if necessary I could move it out of the van closer to the panel in the sun and use an 110 volt extension cord back to the van to keep the fridge going.

John
 

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John,
You can do what you are talking about w/o the yeti. Buy and install one 100 watt panel on the roof, wire it in to a battery set mounted in the van and buy the second panel and MC-4 cable and simply extend it to the sun when you want to park in the shade. Run each panel on its own 10amp controller so the shading on one panel doesn't influence the output of them both. I'd suggest a monocrystaline aluminum frame panel on the roof and the remote one could be a flex panel which is lightweight and easily stored.

For the roof See: [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts-Volts-Monocrystalline-Solar/dp/B009Z6CW7O?ie=UTF8&keywords=Renogy%20solar&qid=1465427934&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3[/ame]
Foe the remote see: [ame]http://www.amazon.com/HQST-Monocrystalline-Flexible-Solar-Panel/dp/B017OMTAV6?ie=UTF8&keywords=flex%20solar%20panel&qid=1465428023&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1[/ame]
For the controller See: [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Tracer-Tracer1210RN-Charge-Controller-Regulator/dp/B008KWPGS6?ie=UTF8&keywords=mppt%20charge%20controller&qid=1465428095&ref_=sr_1_5&s=lawn-garden&sr=1-5[/ame]

Best to you.
 

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John,
You can do what you are talking about w/o the yeti. Buy and install one 100 watt panel on the roof, wire it in to a battery set mounted in the van and buy the second panel and MC-4 cable and simply extend it to the sun when you want to park in the shade. Run each panel on its own 10amp controller so the shading on one panel doesn't influence the output of them both. I'd suggest a monocrystaline aluminum frame panel on the roof and the remote one could be a flex panel which is lightweight and easily stored.

For the roof See: http://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts-Volts-Monocrystalline-Solar/dp/B009Z6CW7O?ie=UTF8&keywords=Renogy solar&qid=1465427934&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3
Foe the remote see: http://www.amazon.com/HQST-Monocrystalline-Flexible-Solar-Panel/dp/B017OMTAV6?ie=UTF8&keywords=flex solar panel&qid=1465428023&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
For the controller See: http://www.amazon.com/Tracer-Tracer1210RN-Charge-Controller-Regulator/dp/B008KWPGS6?ie=UTF8&keywords=mppt charge controller&qid=1465428095&ref_=sr_1_5&s=lawn-garden&sr=1-5

Best to you.
So to be clear, there is no problem in having two MPPT charge controllers connected to the same battery bank (assuming for example 2 100 AH AGMs)?

John
 

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There is not. If you think about it my one MPPT 20 amp controller may be charging my betteries at the same time my 110 volt converter is and my van could be sitting in the yard running and using the alternator to charge too. All three sources will see the battery needs charging and will provide their current. All will taper off their charging as the battery voltage rises abouve 14 volts. I can't see a probelm as it is common to run multiple controllers for large PV arrays as it is cheaper to do that in a modular way than to manage huge currents through a very expensive controller.
 
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John,
You can do what you are talking about w/o the yeti. Buy and install one 100 watt panel on the roof, wire it in to a battery set mounted in the van and buy the second panel and MC-4 cable and simply extend it to the sun when you want to park in the shade. Run each panel on its own 10amp controller so the shading on one panel doesn't influence the output of them both. I'd suggest a monocrystaline aluminum frame panel on the roof and the remote one could be a flex panel which is lightweight and easily stored.

For the roof See: http://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts-Volts-Monocrystalline-Solar/dp/B009Z6CW7O?ie=UTF8&keywords=Renogy solar&qid=1465427934&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3
Foe the remote see: http://www.amazon.com/HQST-Monocrystalline-Flexible-Solar-Panel/dp/B017OMTAV6?ie=UTF8&keywords=flex solar panel&qid=1465428023&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
For the controller See: http://www.amazon.com/Tracer-Tracer1210RN-Charge-Controller-Regulator/dp/B008KWPGS6?ie=UTF8&keywords=mppt charge controller&qid=1465428095&ref_=sr_1_5&s=lawn-garden&sr=1-5

Best to you.
For what it's worth, that Renogy 100 watt 12 v mono panel is a part of the Prime Day sale on Amazon today for $120.00.
 
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