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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I joined this most excellent forum six months ago and am now able to share information about the build that my wife and I have finished for the 2019 Promaster 1500 136" LR that we purchased last November. Please keep in mind that ours is a simple DIY build. Compared to most conversions featured here at the Promaster Forum, there's not a whole lot for us to brag about -- except for the fact that we kept it simple, we designed a layout within our means and abilities, and we kept a close watch on what we really needed vs. what we might have lusted after.

Another thing to add: we couldn't even have done our modest build without the support and encouragement of everyone here whom I've interacted with over these past months. Thank you so much! And with that, here's my story...and I'm sticking to it.

And finally, in terms of context, the purchase of our PM and the build represents a definite "upgrade" from the 2005 Honda Element with its rooftop Ursa Minor eCamper. We loved our Element, but it was just too small for us.

62848


1 : Research & Design

So, after making the decision to move up in the van camper world and then doing a lot of research, we settled on a very basic floor plan, a straightforward "L-shaped" layout with (1) a hanging full size bed platform across the back, (2) a simple kitchen cabinet opposite the sliding door, and (3) a two-drawer storage unit for our clothes and personal items under the bed.

62847


2 : Windows & Ceiling Fan

The very first step in starting the conversion was to get holes cut out for windows and a ceiling fan.

While comfortable for the most part in terms of building out the cargo area, we really didn't want to do the cutting into the ceiling, walls and rear doors ourselves and then install the fan and windows. For us, that didn't seem to be a very smart learn-as-you-go kind of project for first-time van conversion DIYers.

We searched for shops in the SF/Oakland Bay Area to do the installation for us, but we ended up getting the work done at Campfyre Vans in Reno, Nevada, because it's a high-quality shop, they were willing to do a small job, and we had family there to stay with before and after the job was getting done. The Campfyre team definitely specializes in very high-end, 4-wheel drive conversions, but they were willing to take on our small job and, as far as we can tell, do it with the same expert craftsmanship that they seem to provide their high-roller customers.

We had them install a Maxxair 00-05100K MaxxFan above the bed and four of the same CR Laurence after-market windows (CRL VW31031 Vertical Lift Van Window 17-15/16" x 21-9/16") -- two in the rear doors, one in the slider, and one in the side wall behind the driver and opposite the one in the slider. We were really happy with the less than obvious RV look of the windows. I will say, however, that they don't offer much improvement in visibility for the driver to the right side or out of the rear. However I've gotten pretty comfortable driving with the aid of the sideview mirrors, so that's not a problem, and the new window right behind the driver seat does afford an improved view for turning left at an acute angle.

62849


3 : Electrical System

I spent a lot of time trying to learn the ins and outs of what it would take to build an electrical system from scratch. But cooler heads prevailed, and, in realizing that our 12V needs were really minimal, we decided to purchase a compact, fully contained power unit -- the near 100Ah Goal Zero YETI 1000 Lithium Portable Power Station. Not inexpensive, for sure, but it really kept the cost down in terms of the learning curve, the expense of a more powerful DIY system, and the time it would have taken me to build one from scratch. Not to mention the high probability of wiring something incorrectly and causing bigger problems.

Forum members politely encouraged me to do the DIY route and argued that the Yeti 1000 wouldn't meet our needs. But really, all we're running off this unit is the occasional use of the MaxxFan and the small Dometic CF18 Electric Cooler that we purchased for cold food storage.

So for now and in a nutshell, here is our electrical system (shown installed in the finished kitchen cabinet):

62852


The jury is still out on the viability of this system for our needs because we didn't complete the build before the coronavirus pandemic necessitated shelter-in-place restrictions on travel starting in early March in the Bay Area, so I'll have to report back with an update after we're actually able to hit the road one day again.

The bottom line: my wife and I have very simple electrical needs on the road, and every 4th or 5th day we do stay at a motel, occasionally for several days if we're visiting a town or city we like, where we can charge the Yeti 1000 unit and run the Dometic cooler from a 110V socket overnight. When not enjoying the comforts of a clean bed and bathroom, we use solar-powered Luci lights for cabin illumination in the evening and USB-charging reading lights or battery powered headlamps for reading at night.

We'll use the Goal Zero 12V charging cable to recharge the Yeti 1000 unit while driving, and we'll consider the purchase of a 100A "briefcase-style" portable solar panel if that's needed to add charging capability while parked for any length of time away from the main roads.

Once we're able to get back out on the open road, I'll report back here with updates. :cool:

Update 6/2020: Good news! We finally got to take THE VAN out on its Maiden Voyage! It was a short road trip of 5 days, with only 3 days and 2 nights spent at a campground. We arrived in mid-afternoon on the first day and by 10 AM on the 3rd day, the Dometic cooler had only drawn the Yeti 1000 power unit down to 79%. The days were quite mild, so we didn’t run the MaxxAir fan at all.

When we departed on that 3rd day, we drove for about 3 1/2 hours from the campground to Reno, NV, and when we arrived there the Yeti 1000 was completely charged. Looks like there’s a good amount of wiggle room to work with in terms of power consumption and replenishment.

These numbers work well for our style of travel — 2 or 3 days at a campground or boondocking, then a 4-6 hour drive to the next spot. Throw in a motel stay every 4th or 5th night during a long trip for a shower and a couple of 110V outlets, and it seems that we’re good to keep rolling right on down the road.

4 : Insulation

We decided to use 3M Thinsulate Acoustic/Thermal Insulation / SM600L to insulate the cargo area of the van, choosing this option mostly for its relative ease of installation, moderate cost, effective insulating & sound dampening qualities, and eco-friendly, non-toxic properties. We purchased a 40’ x 60″ / 200 sq. ft. roll for about $422 on Amazon (but I see that it's not currently available there as of this writing) and used most of 2 cans of 3M High Strength 90 Contact Spray Adhesive (Amazon / $13 per can) to adhere it to the larger wall panels.

After covering all the panels and stuffing thinner lengths of it through the various pillars and smaller crevices, the 40' length of Thinsulate proved to be a pretty much the right amount for covering the cargo area of our 136" low roof van, as we had just a bit left over.

62854


In the photo above I've highlighted two of those many triangular plastic covers that run along the base of each side wall, and I'm referencing them just to pass along information from more than several discussions on Promaster Facebook groups asking why it wouldn't be a good idea to stuff insulation down into these channels. The answer is always a definitive No! don't do it. As I'm sure everyone in this Forum knows, these channels are in place to drain any water from condensation or some un-intended leak on the inside of the cargo area. So I don't have to tell you all that it's a really bad idea to clog up these channels with insulation or, especially, wiring for that matter. Keep anything out of there that you don't want to get wet. At least that's what I've learned from the experts among us.

We also applied Noico Black 80 Mil noise dampening insulation on the rear wheel wells (purchased on Amazon / $68 per 36 sq. ft. of square sheets). There's a photo in the next phase description that shows this clearly, and you'll see that I probably overdid the application of the Noico sheets. But this is the only area where we applied this noise dampening material because the 3M Thinsulate, in addition to providing thermal insulation, is also an effective sound dampening material.

5 : Wall & Ceiling Panels

In many ways this phase of the build was perhaps the most time-consuming and frustrating part of the project because -- and again, I don't have to tell you all! -- there are so many curves and differing surface levels of the cargo area panels, pillars and nooks & crannies to consider covering. But somehow we got the work done, starting by cutting heavy paper templates for each panel.

62859

Here's the photo where you can see how I pretty much covered the entire wheel well with the Noico noise deadening sheets. Definitely overkill.

For our wall panels we chose 1/8" Baltic birch ply because it's relatively inexpensive, comes in convenient 5'x5' size sheets, and is lightweight and pliable enough to easily bend and secure into place. Placing the paper templates on top of a plywood sheet, I used a jigsaw to cut out each major section for the walls and ceilings.
Once all the panels were cut, we took full advantage of the spectacularly sunny, warm and dry (much too dry!) weather in February to apply two coats of Spar Verathane to each panel.

THE-VAN_07c_3M-dualLock.jpg


To secure the panels to the walls and ceiling, we were determined not to lose precious inches of space width-wise or height-wise in our 136" wheel base low roof Promaster. This meant that we didn't plan to secure our plywood panels to any furring strips that would need to be attached to any of the interior rib surfaces. Nor did we want to use self-driving screws -- or at least we wanted to minimize using them -- so that we weren't poking new holes into the interior steel ribs.

In order to do this, we followed the lead of one DIYer who used Scotch Extreme Fasteners, 1" x 10', Clear (RF6760) 2 Roll/Pack (also referred to as "dual lock" velcro) to attach finished panels to the inside of his Sprinter van. It sounded like a great approach and worked...for the most part. [I can't find the original YouTube video where we learned about this approach, but here's a link to a Reddit discussion on the topic.]

62864

First wall panel in place above the rear wheel well! These two lower rear panels are also held securely in place with wood screws inserted into several holes of the wheel well "flange" or frame.

But in other spots we had to get creative, especially when it came to the two ceiling panels.

Up front, against the cabin ceiling material, I bent five curtain rod holders into hooks that I then screwed into the edge of the plywood. When hanging the forward ceiling panel these hooks were inserted between the metal roof and the cabin header. At the rear, I fabricated a couple of hooks from shelf hangers that fit into two slots above the doors, and these, too, were then screwed into the edge of the plywood.

62863


With these kludgy hooks in place, with the wooden frame to screw into around the ceiling fan, and with only a few self-driving screws used along the ceiling ribs, we were able to secure the ceiling panels firmly in place.

So, knowing what I know now, would I go this route again? Quite possibly, but I'd do so with the understanding that the effort would require more than just the dual lock velcro. I really like the fact that we sacrificed as little interior area as possible and that any one of the panels can be removed if necessary to get at what sits behind.

Due to the 10-photo per discussion, I've posted My Modest Camper Conversion - Part Deux to finish up the build description.
 

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Since you have the power for it I would recommend adding puck lights to your ceiling panels and then wire them into your fusebox. You have the infrastructure to handle it!

Also where do you plug the 12v charger into, just the cigarrete lighter on the dash?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey there, Creid! I'll take the lighting suggestion into advisement. Like I said, we haven't had the chance to go anywhere in THE VAN...so we don't really know what additional improvements we might want to make. Also, we're pretty much at the high end of our budget at this point.

As for your second question, yes, we'll be recharging the Yeti 1000 using the Goal Zero 12V cable that plugs into the 12V accessory socket in the dash. I've definitely heard that this might not provide enough throughput power to keep the unit charged enough for any extended use. This, too, is something we'll only be able to test once we're out on the road.
 

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In the photo above I've highlighted two of those many triangular plastic covers that run along the base of each side wall, and I'm referencing them just to pass along information from more than several discussions on Promaster Facebook groups asking why it wouldn't be a good idea to stuff insulation down into these channels. The answer is always a definitive No! don't do it.
Interesting... does that include all of the vertical channels as well, or just the horizontal one across the bottom?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
myke, I'm pretty sure that the "water channel" thing only applies to the lower space hidden down below the triangular plastic covers at the base of the walls. Lots of PM DIYers (like me, although I'm NOT the person to rely on for expert advice!) use the wall & ceiling pillars and ribs as conduits for their wiring runs. And from all the online advice I've seen regarding insulating these vans, most folks (again, like me who used Thinsulate) do what they can to fill the pillars and ribs with insulation.
 

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myke, I'm pretty sure that the "water channel" thing only applies to the lower space hidden down below the triangular plastic covers at the base of the walls. Lots of PM DIYers (like me, although I'm NOT the person to rely on for expert advice!) use the wall & ceiling pillars and ribs as conduits for their wiring runs. And from all the online advice I've seen regarding insulating these vans, most folks (again, like me who used Thinsulate) do what they can to fill the pillars and ribs with insulation.
Cool, thanks for the info. That's good because I figured it would be important to insulate those channels. Insulate first then run the wires I guess would be the way to go?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Cool, thanks for the info. That's good because I figured it would be important to insulate those channels. Insulate first then run the wires I guess would be the way to go?
myke, as I said, I’m definitely NOT the expert here. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that...it depends. I think it depends on the type of insulation you’re using. Because I insulted with 3M Thinsulate, I was able to run my wiring first and then stuff the insulation into ribs and pillars. But if you’re using some other type of insulation — like rigid or spray-on — you might need to do things differently. Make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
;)
I have added an update to my original post in the Phase 3 : Electrical System section, explaining that my wife and I finally got out on the road in THE VAN for its maiden voyage! Here is the information that I added:

Update 6/2020:
Good news! We finally got to take THE VAN out on its Maiden Voyage! It was a short road trip of 5 days, with only 3 days and 2 nights spent at a campground. We arrived in mid-afternoon on the first day and by 10 AM on the 3rd day, the Dometic cooler had only drawn the Yeti 1000 power unit down to 79%. The days were quite mild, so we didn’t run the MaxxAir fan at all.

When we departed on that 3rd day, we drove for about 3 1/2 hours from the campground to Reno, NV, and when we arrived there the Yeti 1000 was completely charged. Looks like there’s a good amount of wiggle room to work with in terms of power consumption and replenishment.

These numbers work well for our style of travel — 2 or 3 days at a campground or boondocking, then a 4-6 hour drive to the next spot. Throw in a motel stay every 4th or 5th night during a long trip for a shower and a couple of 110V outlets, and it seems that we’re good to keep rolling right on down the road.
So we're pleased with our build out decisions, not just for the electrical system, but also for everything else we included or nixed from the the plan. What a pleasure it was to travel so comfortably in our modest conversion! (Especially when compared to how we managed to travel before in our Honda Element ;)). All of the storage worked out great, the bed was really comfortable, and we luxuriated in all the open space we had in the cargo area. I'm 5' 11" in height, 6' with my boots on, and I found that it wasn't uncomfortable at all to be traveling in a low roof PM.
 

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I joined this most excellent forum six months ago and am now able to share information about the build that my wife and I have finished for the 2019 Promaster 1500 136" LR that we purchased last November. Please keep in mind that ours is a simple DIY build. Compared to most conversions featured here at the Promaster Forum, there's not a whole lot for us to brag about -- except for the fact that we kept it simple, we designed a layout within our means and abilities, and we kept a close watch on what we really needed vs. what we might have lusted after.

Another thing to add: we couldn't even have done our modest build without the support and encouragement of everyone here whom I've interacted with over these past months. Thank you so much! And with that, here's my story...and I'm sticking to it.

And finally, in terms of context, the purchase of our PM and the build represents a definite "upgrade" from the 2005 Honda Element with its rooftop Ursa Minor eCamper. We loved our Element, but it was just too small for us.

View attachment 62848

1 : Research & Design

So, after making the decision to move up in the van camper world and then doing a lot of research, we settled on a very basic floor plan, a straightforward "L-shaped" layout with (1) a hanging full size bed platform across the back, (2) a simple kitchen cabinet opposite the sliding door, and (3) a two-drawer storage unit for our clothes and personal items under the bed.

View attachment 62847

2 : Windows & Ceiling Fan

The very first step in starting the conversion was to get holes cut out for windows and a ceiling fan.

While comfortable for the most part in terms of building out the cargo area, we really didn't want to do the cutting into the ceiling, walls and rear doors ourselves and then install the fan and windows. For us, that didn't seem to be a very smart learn-as-you-go kind of project for first-time van conversion DIYers.

We searched for shops in the SF/Oakland Bay Area to do the installation for us, but we ended up getting the work done at Campfyre Vans in Reno, Nevada, because it's a high-quality shop, they were willing to do a small job, and we had family there to stay with before and after the job was getting done. The Campfyre team definitely specializes in very high-end, 4-wheel drive conversions, but they were willing to take on our small job and, as far as we can tell, do it with the same expert craftsmanship that they seem to provide their high-roller customers.

We had them install a Maxxair 00-05100K MaxxFan above the bed and four of the same CR Laurence after-market windows (CRL VW31031 Vertical Lift Van Window 17-15/16" x 21-9/16") -- two in the rear doors, one in the slider, and one in the side wall behind the driver and opposite the one in the slider. We were really happy with the less than obvious RV look of the windows. I will say, however, that they don't offer much improvement in visibility for the driver to the right side or out of the rear. However I've gotten pretty comfortable driving with the aid of the sideview mirrors, so that's not a problem, and the new window right behind the driver seat does afford an improved view for turning left at an acute angle.

View attachment 62849

3 : Electrical System

I spent a lot of time trying to learn the ins and outs of what it would take to build an electrical system from scratch. But cooler heads prevailed, and, in realizing that our 12V needs were really minimal, we decided to purchase a compact, fully contained power unit -- the near 100Ah Goal Zero YETI 1000 Lithium Portable Power Station. Not inexpensive, for sure, but it really kept the cost down in terms of the learning curve, the expense of a more powerful DIY system, and the time it would have taken me to build one from scratch. Not to mention the high probability of wiring something incorrectly and causing bigger problems.

Forum members politely encouraged me to do the DIY route and argued that the Yeti 1000 wouldn't meet our needs. But really, all we're running off this unit is the occasional use of the MaxxFan and the small Dometic CF18 Electric Cooler that we purchased for cold food storage.

So for now and in a nutshell, here is our electrical system (shown installed in the finished kitchen cabinet):

View attachment 62852

The jury is still out on the viability of this system for our needs because we didn't complete the build before the coronavirus pandemic necessitated shelter-in-place restrictions on travel starting in early March in the Bay Area, so I'll have to report back with an update after we're actually able to hit the road one day again.

The bottom line: my wife and I have very simple electrical needs on the road, and every 4th or 5th day we do stay at a motel, occasionally for several days if we're visiting a town or city we like, where we can charge the Yeti 1000 unit and run the Dometic cooler from a 110V socket overnight. When not enjoying the comforts of a clean bed and bathroom, we use solar-powered Luci lights for cabin illumination in the evening and USB-charging reading lights or battery powered headlamps for reading at night.

We'll use the Goal Zero 12V charging cable to recharge the Yeti 1000 unit while driving, and we'll consider the purchase of a 100A "briefcase-style" portable solar panel if that's needed to add charging capability while parked for any length of time away from the main roads.

Once we're able to get back out on the open road, I'll report back here with updates. :cool:

Update 6/2020: Good news! We finally got to take THE VAN out on its Maiden Voyage! It was a short road trip of 5 days, with only 3 days and 2 nights spent at a campground. We arrived in mid-afternoon on the first day and by 10 AM on the 3rd day, the Dometic cooler had only drawn the Yeti 1000 power unit down to 79%. The days were quite mild, so we didn’t run the MaxxAir fan at all.

When we departed on that 3rd day, we drove for about 3 1/2 hours from the campground to Reno, NV, and when we arrived there the Yeti 1000 was completely charged. Looks like there’s a good amount of wiggle room to work with in terms of power consumption and replenishment.

These numbers work well for our style of travel — 2 or 3 days at a campground or boondocking, then a 4-6 hour drive to the next spot. Throw in a motel stay every 4th or 5th night during a long trip for a shower and a couple of 110V outlets, and it seems that we’re good to keep rolling right on down the road.

4 : Insulation

We decided to use 3M Thinsulate Acoustic/Thermal Insulation / SM600L to insulate the cargo area of the van, choosing this option mostly for its relative ease of installation, moderate cost, effective insulating & sound dampening qualities, and eco-friendly, non-toxic properties. We purchased a 40’ x 60″ / 200 sq. ft. roll for about $422 on Amazon (but I see that it's not currently available there as of this writing) and used most of 2 cans of 3M High Strength 90 Contact Spray Adhesive (Amazon / $13 per can) to adhere it to the larger wall panels.

After covering all the panels and stuffing thinner lengths of it through the various pillars and smaller crevices, the 40' length of Thinsulate proved to be a pretty much the right amount for covering the cargo area of our 136" low roof van, as we had just a bit left over.

View attachment 62854

In the photo above I've highlighted two of those many triangular plastic covers that run along the base of each side wall, and I'm referencing them just to pass along information from more than several discussions on Promaster Facebook groups asking why it wouldn't be a good idea to stuff insulation down into these channels. The answer is always a definitive No! don't do it. As I'm sure everyone in this Forum knows, these channels are in place to drain any water from condensation or some un-intended leak on the inside of the cargo area. So I don't have to tell you all that it's a really bad idea to clog up these channels with insulation or, especially, wiring for that matter. Keep anything out of there that you don't want to get wet. At least that's what I've learned from the experts among us.

We also applied Noico Black 80 Mil noise dampening insulation on the rear wheel wells (purchased on Amazon / $68 per 36 sq. ft. of square sheets). There's a photo in the next phase description that shows this clearly, and you'll see that I probably overdid the application of the Noico sheets. But this is the only area where we applied this noise dampening material because the 3M Thinsulate, in addition to providing thermal insulation, is also an effective sound dampening material.

5 : Wall & Ceiling Panels

In many ways this phase of the build was perhaps the most time-consuming and frustrating part of the project because -- and again, I don't have to tell you all! -- there are so many curves and differing surface levels of the cargo area panels, pillars and nooks & crannies to consider covering. But somehow we got the work done, starting by cutting heavy paper templates for each panel.

View attachment 62859
Here's the photo where you can see how I pretty much covered the entire wheel well with the Noico noise deadening sheets. Definitely overkill.

For our wall panels we chose 1/8" Baltic birch ply because it's relatively inexpensive, comes in convenient 5'x5' size sheets, and is lightweight and pliable enough to easily bend and secure into place. Placing the paper templates on top of a plywood sheet, I used a jigsaw to cut out each major section for the walls and ceilings.
Once all the panels were cut, we took full advantage of the spectacularly sunny, warm and dry (much too dry!) weather in February to apply two coats of Spar Verathane to each panel.

View attachment 62862

To secure the panels to the walls and ceiling, we were determined not to lose precious inches of space width-wise or height-wise in our 136" wheel base low roof Promaster. This meant that we didn't plan to secure our plywood panels to any furring strips that would need to be attached to any of the interior rib surfaces. Nor did we want to use self-driving screws -- or at least we wanted to minimize using them -- so that we weren't poking new holes into the interior steel ribs.

In order to do this, we followed the lead of one DIYer who used Scotch Extreme Fasteners, 1" x 10', Clear (RF6760) 2 Roll/Pack (also referred to as "dual lock" velcro) to attach finished panels to the inside of his Sprinter van. It sounded like a great approach and worked...for the most part. [I can't find the original YouTube video where we learned about this approach, but here's a link to a Reddit discussion on the topic.]

View attachment 62864
First wall panel in place above the rear wheel well! These two lower rear panels are also held securely in place with wood screws inserted into several holes of the wheel well "flange" or frame.

But in other spots we had to get creative, especially when it came to the two ceiling panels.

Up front, against the cabin ceiling material, I bent five curtain rod holders into hooks that I then screwed into the edge of the plywood. When hanging the forward ceiling panel these hooks were inserted between the metal roof and the cabin header. At the rear, I fabricated a couple of hooks from shelf hangers that fit into two slots above the doors, and these, too, were then screwed into the edge of the plywood.

View attachment 62863

With these kludgy hooks in place, with the wooden frame to screw into around the ceiling fan, and with only a few self-driving screws used along the ceiling ribs, we were able to secure the ceiling panels firmly in place.

So, knowing what I know now, would I go this route again? Quite possibly, but I'd do so with the understanding that the effort would require more than just the dual lock velcro. I really like the fact that we sacrificed as little interior area as possible and that any one of the panels can be removed if necessary to get at what sits behind.

Due to the 10-photo per discussion, I've posted My Modest Camper Conversion - Part Deux to finish up the build description.
Eaklander .. Any chance you saved the paper templates you made for cutting the baltic birch? If you did .. are you interested in selling them to me (or if you need them back, renting/loaning)?

2nd question .. exactly how did you hook up your fans to the GZ 1000? You spliced on wires to the fan wire stubs and ran to a fuse box? and then?

3rd question (sorry to be a nuisance) .. did the GZ charge cord actually work ok to fully charge the GZ when driving?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Deryn, in answer to your questions...

(1) Sorry, we didn't keep the paper templates. Would certainly pass them along if we had, but alas no. I don't think there are any magic tricks to creating the templates, it just takes some time and patience. One thing that we did that might be worth considering: we used heavy paper for the wall panel templates but cardboard for the ceiling panels because it was stiffer and easier to hold in place above our heads.

(2) The connection from the 6-socket fuse block to the GX Yeti 1000 is explained in the build description: After talking with the extremely helpful support team at Goal Zero, I purchased an Anderson Powerpole connector cable on Amazon. It turned out that the 3/8″ terminal rings on the cable were too large to fit on the positive and negative poles of the fuse box, so I had to cut them off and crimp on smaller diameter terminal rings — which were easy to come by at my local hardware store — that were sized for the 10-12 gauge wire if the Anderson Powerpole cable.

In the photo of my "modest" electrical system, you can see (1) the connection of the Powerpole cable to the fuse block, with the Red (pos) wire attached at the bottom and the Black (neg) wire attached at the top; and (2) the black & red Powerpole cable terminal inserted into the front of the Yeti 1000 right below the 12v accessory outlet where the Dometic cooler is plugged in.

(3) To charge the Yeti 1000 from the alternator while driving, a separate Goal Zero Car Charging Cable ($40) is needed. It is also sold at REI, where we bought it -- there's no discount in the price but it does count toward the 10% rebate at the end of the year, so that's something. In our PM, this cable gets plugged into the dashboard 12v accessory socket and then runs across the floor and up into the cabinet that houses the Yeti 1000.

We have found that this setup works just fine for our needs, but then we rarely stay in place for days at a time without driving the van around. On a typical day we might arrive at a campsite by 3-4pm and then the next day drive off to explore the world nearby. Running the Dometic cooler and maybe using the fan a bit, the Yeti 1000 might be drawn down from 100% to maybe 90%. A drive of 2 hours easily tops the unit off to 100% again. If we sit in one place for as long as 2-3 days, a drive of 4-6 hours brings the unit back up to 100% from maybe 40-50% charge.

We might consider the purchase of a 100W "briefcase"-type portal solar panel to charge the Yeti 1000, but we haven't needed this over the course of the 4 road trips we've taken thus far.

Hopefully this reply answers your questions. If you'd like any additional information, don't hesitate to ask! In the meantime, have fun with your build! I'm sure that everyone in this Forum will enjoy hearing about your DIY journey, too!
 

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Deryn, in answer to your questions...

(1) Sorry, we didn't keep the paper templates. Would certainly pass them along if we had, but alas no. I don't think there are any magic tricks to creating the templates, it just takes some time and patience. One thing that we did that might be worth considering: we used heavy paper for the wall panel templates but cardboard for the ceiling panels because it was stiffer and easier to hold in place above our heads.

(2) The connection from the 6-socket fuse block to the GX Yeti 1000 is explained in the build description: After talking with the extremely helpful support team at Goal Zero, I purchased an Anderson Powerpole connector cable on Amazon. It turned out that the 3/8″ terminal rings on the cable were too large to fit on the positive and negative poles of the fuse box, so I had to cut them off and crimp on smaller diameter terminal rings — which were easy to come by at my local hardware store — that were sized for the 10-12 gauge wire if the Anderson Powerpole cable.

In the photo of my "modest" electrical system, you can see (1) the connection of the Powerpole cable to the fuse block, with the Red (pos) wire attached at the bottom and the Black (neg) wire attached at the top; and (2) the black & red Powerpole cable terminal inserted into the front of the Yeti 1000 right below the 12v accessory outlet where the Dometic cooler is plugged in.

(3) To charge the Yeti 1000 from the alternator while driving, a separate Goal Zero Car Charging Cable ($40) is needed. It is also sold at REI, where we bought it -- there's no discount in the price but it does count toward the 10% rebate at the end of the year, so that's something. In our PM, this cable gets plugged into the dashboard 12v accessory socket and then runs across the floor and up into the cabinet that houses the Yeti 1000.

We have found that this setup works just fine for our needs, but then we rarely stay in place for days at a time without driving the van around. On a typical day we might arrive at a campsite by 3-4pm and then the next day drive off to explore the world nearby. Running the Dometic cooler and maybe using the fan a bit, the Yeti 1000 might be drawn down from 100% to maybe 90%. A drive of 2 hours easily tops the unit off to 100% again. If we sit in one place for as long as 2-3 days, a drive of 4-6 hours brings the unit back up to 100% from maybe 40-50% charge.

We might consider the purchase of a 100W "briefcase"-type portal solar panel to charge the Yeti 1000, but we haven't needed this over the course of the 4 road trips we've taken thus far.

Hopefully this reply answers your questions. If you'd like any additional information, don't hesitate to ask! In the meantime, have fun with your build! I'm sure that everyone in this Forum will enjoy hearing about your DIY journey, too!
Thank you, Eaklander. Didn't think you really would have saved the templates but it was worth a try. :)Someone should sell those. I can make my own of course - though doubt I will bother to try to template the ceiling. Some things are possible but difficult to do easily for me alone. It will probably just stay uncovered for a while.

So the answer to the 2nd question really is just as simple as using an Anderson with a slight modification for the connection at the fuse box. That is great to know. I was beginning to think it had to be either more complicated or not very safe and I didn't like that choice.

I have the car charge cord already but have never used it (along with the MPPT module and a 100w portable panel).. haven't really ever used the GZ since I bought it to be honest. It has just been plugged in waiting for some emergency or this particular use once I bought the van. The reason I asked whether it was actually working as you hoped was that you mentioned early on that you weren't sure if it would charge well using the cord .. so was just checking to be sure it actually did. Thanks.

Reason I asked all or any of this is because I was sent down a rabbit hole by someone somewhere mentioning something about how someone had problems hooking up a GZ to power the fans. I know nadda about wiring, etc., had thought it was going to be relatively simple but suddenly decided I better investigate further, and while doing that, discovered it is 'possible to buy' a VERY expensive kit (too complicated for me to install myself so I would also have to pay for installation, not cheap) which includes parts that GZ hasn't been able to keep in stock ever (so chances are it would be months and a long drive before I could ever get it installed), proprietary pre-prepared harnesses, connections to the starter battery, etc. etc. etc. and it would all be throwaway in future if I decided to upgrade the electrical system. Anyway .. it all threw me for a loop. I appreciate your taking the time to help bring me back down to earth.
 

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Deryn, I do hope that I've provided information that is not too biased toward my own experience and that, in bringing you "back down to earth," I'm doing you a true favor and not sending you down a rabbit hole of suggestions that might not actually fit your needs. But, having said that...

My wife and I chose the GZ Yeti 1000 solution for our 12v electrical needs for several reasons: (1) we had zero experience in terms of electrical wiring, (2) it was the less expensive option -- if you include all the time and headache required for the learning curve and the actual labor to install the system, and (3) our 12v electrical needs were way less demanding than those I see described in most DIY camper build outs. For example, we don't run any lights off of the system; all of our lighting comes from solar powered Luci lights or from battery powered headlamps, etc.

Early on in the planning process, as I tried to get up to speed on designing a custom 12v system, I received a lot of encouragement to do so, much of it from folks on this forum, people who had started off with little knowledge of electrical wiring just like myself and who used the support of this Forum's members to figure things out. It obviously can be done, and I really, really appreciated the encouragement and support. Of course, once we decided to go with the Goal Zero approach, I had quite a few worries in the back of my mind, wondering if this approach would actually work for us. Luckily it has, and in significant ways better than we had hoped.

The wiring of the MaxxAir fan was really quite easy, even for this novice. Running the same 16-gauge wire as the MaxxAir fan across the ceiling and down to the fuse block near the Yeti 1000 wasn't difficult. I bought the necessary clip connectors at my local hardware store and quickly learned how to securely crimp them to the wires and clip the ends together. That was all it took. Then getting the fuse block wired to the Yeti 1000 using the Anderson Powerpole cable wasn't that big of a deal.

If you have any more technical questions at all about wiring items to your Yeti 1000, by all means do not hesitate to call Goal Zero customer support. They are an awesome bunch and provide some of the best support I've ever encountered.

One final thing that I did learn from this Forum (and another thing for which I'm extremely grateful!), the "older" Goal Zero Yeti power stations -- not the new "x" versions like the Yeti 1000x or the 1400x -- DO NOT have a regulated 12v power outlet. But the Dometic cooler that we have requires a regulated power source, otherwise it will automatically shut off when the power feed fluctuates. The only way to alleviate this issue -- if indeed it's an issue for you -- is to buy yet another Goal Zero cable, the Yeti Lithium 12V Regulated Cable, which costs another $40.
 

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Deryn, I do hope that I've provided information that is not too biased toward my own experience and that, in bringing you "back down to earth," I'm doing you a true favor and not sending you down a rabbit hole of suggestions that might not actually fit your needs. But, having said that...

My wife and I chose the GZ Yeti 1000 solution for our 12v electrical needs for several reasons: (1) we had zero experience in terms of electrical wiring, (2) it was the less expensive option -- if you include all the time and headache required for the learning curve and the actual labor to install the system, and (3) our 12v electrical needs were way less demanding than those I see described in most DIY camper build outs. For example, we don't run any lights off of the system; all of our lighting comes from solar powered Luci lights or from battery powered headlamps, etc.

Early on in the planning process, as I tried to get up to speed on designing a custom 12v system, I received a lot of encouragement to do so, much of it from folks on this forum, people who had started off with little knowledge of electrical wiring just like myself and who used the support of this Forum's members to figure things out. It obviously can be done, and I really, really appreciated the encouragement and support. Of course, once we decided to go with the Goal Zero approach, I had quite a few worries in the back of my mind, wondering if this approach would actually work for us. Luckily it has, and in significant ways better than we had hoped.

The wiring of the MaxxAir fan was really quite easy, even for this novice. Running the same 16-gauge wire as the MaxxAir fan across the ceiling and down to the fuse block near the Yeti 1000 wasn't difficult. I bought the necessary clip connectors at my local hardware store and quickly learned how to securely crimp them to the wires and clip the ends together. That was all it took. Then getting the fuse block wired to the Yeti 1000 using the Anderson Powerpole cable wasn't that big of a deal.

If you have any more technical questions at all about wiring items to your Yeti 1000, by all means do not hesitate to call Goal Zero customer support. They are an awesome bunch and provide some of the best support I've ever encountered.

One final thing that I did learn from this Forum (and another thing for which I'm extremely grateful!), the "older" Goal Zero Yeti power stations -- not the new "x" versions like the Yeti 1000x or the 1400x -- DO NOT have a regulated 12v power outlet. But the Dometic cooler that we have requires a regulated power source, otherwise it will automatically shut off when the power feed fluctuates. The only way to alleviate this issue -- if indeed it's an issue for you -- is to buy yet another Goal Zero cable, the Yeti Lithium 12V Regulated Cable, which costs another $40.
Thanks. Not to worry .. your post was very helpful. I already owned the GZ1000 (and no, it's not the X version) for 'emergencies' but all it has ever done is sit plugged in for many months now so I thought I might put it to better use in the newer van. If it wasn't for the fan issue, it would do fine since everything else could just be plugged in when needed but of course fans don't have plugs on them so wasn't sure how to hook them up. Eventually I hope to get a full lithium custom built system but for the next year or two I hoped to use what I had as much as possible. I won't even be building any 'furniture' at all for another year most likely - just insulating, putting on some removable baltic birch panels, and putting in the fans. That said, I have TWO fans so this may be trickier than your installation with only one.

I do intend to call GZ so I'll ask them what they think. I don't have the regulator cord yet (been meaning to buy one since I knew I'd need it for my 'cheapo' 12v fridge) and I see it is one of the few things they do have in stock. What I don't want to do is spend $3500 or so and have to throw that all away in a couple of years when I replace the system. And that 'solution' involves all sorts of things like buying a Yeti link module (and throwing away my MPPT module) and connecting the GZ to the starter battery (which seems crazy since I already have a 12v charging cord). Seems a great system but a big waste for me. 1000w will not be enough for me longer term but it will do fine for a while.
 

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I just called GZ and I guess I didn't have the right questions (which KoV tells me I need to have to get the right answers) because I didn't find the person I spoke with particularly helpful.

I ordered the cable .. which I'm told now (despite their note in the Q&A section on the cable page) has nothing to do with/isn't needed for the fans but which I already knew I needed for the fridge so that's ok (although with tax and shipping it hardly seems worth it .. GZ loves to nickel and dime you to death with all these cables).

The only thing I really found out is that an Anderson cable connected to a GZ1000 is limited to 10 amps max. .. and as I said, he seemed to claim it was not needed at all for the fans .. but I'm guessing .. since there is only ONE anderson connection point on the power source that I may have to unplug my fridge to run a fan and that I may only be able to run one fan at a time which pretty well makes having 2 fans useless. According to what I read, one fan draws only 4.5 amps while running BUT startup requires 9 amps.

So .. back to the drawing board. There has to be a simple solution!
 

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There is a simple solution but you have to ask simple questions!🙀
 

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I just called GZ and I guess I didn't have the right questions (which KoV tells me I need to have to get the right answers) because I didn't find the person I spoke with particularly helpful.

I ordered the cable .. which I'm told now (despite their note in the Q&A section on the cable page) has nothing to do with/isn't need for the fans but which I already knew I needed for the fridge so that's ok (although with tax and shipping it hardly seems worth it .. GZ loves to nickel and dime you to death with all these cables).

The only thing I really found out is that an Anderson cable connected to a GZ1000 is limited to 10 amps max. .. and as I said, he seemed to claim it was not needed at all for the fans .. but I'm guessing .. since there is only ONE anderson connection point on the power source that I may have to unplug my fridge to run a fan and that I may only be able to run one fan at a time which pretty well makes having 2 fans useless. According to what I read, one fan draws only 4.5 amps while running BUT startup requires 9 amps.

So .. back to the drawing board. There has to be a simple solution!
Deryn, am not sure what to say. 😕 All I know is that, with the GZ regulator cable, I've been running my one MaxxAir fan (occasionally) and my Dometic 12v cooler without any problems. 😎 Am sorry that your setup seems to be causing so many issues/questions/concerns.
 

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Deryn, am not sure what to say. 😕 All I know is that, with the GZ regulator cable, I've been running my one MaxxAir fan (occasionally) and my Dometic 12v cooler without any problems. 😎 Am sorry that your setup seems to be causing so many issues/questions/concerns.
Not to worry. Where there's a will there's a way .. and I may not have a lot of strength any more or electrical knowledge/expertise (ever) but I still have a lot of 'will'.

If I have to I'll buy one AGM battery and whatever other minimal gear is required just to run the fans. I'd love to dump over $3k on a sleek temporary solution but unfortunately (or fortunately) resources for that kind of thing are slim right now so that won't happen.

I appreciate your help, Eaklander. If I learn something (and I did) none of this was wasted time/effort. (y) ;) Fall will suddenly 'spring' tomorrow according to the weather gurus so I should be more concerned about heat than cooling for a while anyway.
 
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