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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. I've been spending some time figuring out the power system for my van conversion. I'm pretty confident I've covered all the components I need, an their position in this van ecosystem and have sized wires and cables according to my best amateur-level understanding on the subject. I've placed a star on the components I've already purchased or ordered in the attached image: MultiPlus, MPPT, Orion, Cerbo + screen, Smart Shunt and the batteries. I also understand that the Orion-Tr is not so smart that it could be connected via VE.Direct to the Cerbo (and the cable locations for the Cerbo GX are not precise). Location of the system will be within a square meter at the back of the van and the longest run would be the 5m starter battery cable from the cabin to the rear of the van and of course the pv panels on the roof.

The most uncertain component of the system is the PV array; I have limited space on the roof due to planned skylight and MaxxFan. Also I want to deck a small area of the DIY roof rack I'm building. I want to have a minimum of ~600Wp of solar, pushing as close to the MPPT's capacity as possible and the PV panels shouldn't exceed 1480mm x ~600mm dimensions. So far, the OffgridTec 150Wp modules seem to have the highest output of this module size I've seen, given they are a bit pricey though.

I'm also not 100% sure if I can connect all the Victron components via Victron Connect App. I understand Orion-Tr Smart, MPPT Smart, Smart Shunt and MultiPlus (with the VE.Bus Smart Dongle) can connect to the App, but the Cerbo can't. I'm planning to connect mainly via the App, but also would want to be able to access the system via VRM Portal when outside BT range (via the Router). The Cerbo display goes to the cabin and provides redundancy in case BT is not working or I lose my phone. I also have an Android 10" head unit (posted a question about it some time ago), so would be interesting to connect that unit to the system as well via BT or mirroring the Cerbo display.

So, I'm seeking some constructive criticism from you more electrically experienced users on this set-up.
  • have I overlooked, misplaced, miss-matched, miss-sized something in the main components of the design? Is there something I should change in order it to work better, or at all?
  • is it possible to connect non-Victron components with the VictronConnect App, namely the two LiFePO4 -batteries?
  • could I somehow fit an AC to DC converter and an automatic transfer switch for running all AC and charging batteries when plugged in to shore power?
  • are there any good alternatives for the OffgridTec 150Wp panels in 2S2P that you'd know of? Could also be 3 x 200W in1S minding the size restriction.
Thanks in advance for your time and feedback!

69720
 

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If you want to 'connect' the batteries to the victron connect app, then the only real way to do that is with a battery monitor, like the smartshunt you already have in your system. I am not sure how else you connect batteries to the system other than through a monitor.

Your system is very similar to mine although I have the older ColorControl GX rather than the new Cerbo. I also did not use the lynx distribution system because there is no real need in my mind. I use Blue Sea systems panels for my AC and DC circuit breakers rather than a fuse block, however I have an auxilary fuse block for some small electronics connections. My inverter is larger (and 120 US voltage) as well, but I also have the 100/50 solar controller and 30amp smart DC DC charger. Very similar system.
 

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One of the things that always bothers me is the idea that an electrical system can be hacked into via the internet connection.

The victron application is a benefit and a curse in this regard. It provides pretty pictures, data and a warm fuzzy sense that you have greater control of your system than otherwise, but it is still a risk area.

It isn't all that difficult to go in and change the settings of a charger to make the battery voltage reach dangerous levels, or not charge at all.

Since I use my van electrical system as a home refrigerator back up power system in case life goes haywire, I am perhaps overly sensitive to this area.

The recent hack that affected google, some financial companies, parts of the defense dept, etc really show what a real pro team can do. It seems impossible to put in place sufficient methods to block a hack into a system that is internet connected, especially a consumer product.

I guess my point is - don't be so enamored by a phone application that you let it take down a risky path. There is absolutely nothing in the android OS that makes it secure enough to really trust.

Just as an example - police officers that I work with were adamant about not using these capabilities when I explained to them that the victron application broad casts their location.
 

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One of the things that always bothers me is the idea that an electrical system can be hacked into via the internet connection.
At work we have 2 systems; Internet & Intranet where the accounting & sensitive data is kept.

Then I watched a program on Stuxnet - No internet connection, just a USB labelled something like “CEO Salaries”. Human Nature & All 😁

 

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One of the things that always bothers me is the idea that an electrical system can be hacked into via the internet connection.

The victron application is a benefit and a curse in this regard. It provides pretty pictures, data and a warm fuzzy sense that you have greater control of your system than otherwise, but it is still a risk area.

It isn't all that difficult to go in and change the settings of a charger to make the battery voltage reach dangerous levels, or not charge at all.

Since I use my van electrical system as a home refrigerator back up power system in case life goes haywire, I am perhaps overly sensitive to this area.

The recent hack that affected google, some financial companies, parts of the defense dept, etc really show what a real pro team can do. It seems impossible to put in place sufficient methods to block a hack into a system that is internet connected, especially a consumer product.

I guess my point is - don't be so enamored by a phone application that you let it take down a risky path. There is absolutely nothing in the android OS that makes it secure enough to really trust.

Just as an example - police officers that I work with were adamant about not using these capabilities when I explained to them that the victron application broad casts their location.
There are likely easy steps one could take to increase their network security enough to convince a random hacker to find some other way to entertain themselves. There's no material incentive, maybe to check if you can unlock the doors or something.
 

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So, I'm seeking some constructive criticism from you more electrically experienced users on this set-up.
  • have I overlooked, misplaced, miss-matched, miss-sized something in the main components of the design? Is there something I should change in order it to work better, or at all?
  • is it possible to connect non-Victron components with the VictronConnect App, namely the two LiFePO4 -batteries?
  • could I somehow fit an AC to DC converter and an automatic transfer switch for running all AC and charging batteries when plugged in to shore power?
  • are there any good alternatives for the OffgridTec 150Wp panels in 2S2P that you'd know of? Could also be 3 x 200W in1S minding the size restriction.
To help with the 4 questions you asked

Everything looks ok

No, the smartshunt is the connection to monitor the batteries, there is nothing else you would do with them anyway.

The inverter is already an AC-DC converter. You will not need or want a second one. It also has an automatic transfer switch built in. IF you REALLY KNOW what you are doing you can add a second one, but you would need to be very careful not to wire it in such a way as to create a second neutral-ground bonding point (small risk of killing someone). The inverter can handle this and I would strongly suggest NOT trying to put in a second transfer switch. The inverter/charger provides AC switching as well as DC charging and power.

I am of the mind that solar panels are about the same in most cases. Get the ones that best fit the layout you need and are reasonably priced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To help with the 4 questions you asked

Everything looks ok

No, the smartshunt is the connection to monitor the batteries, there is nothing else you would do with them anyway.

The inverter is already an AC-DC converter. You will not need or want a second one. It also has an automatic transfer switch built in. IF you REALLY KNOW what you are doing you can add a second one, but you would need to be very careful not to wire it in such a way as to create a second neutral-ground bonding point (small risk of killing someone). The inverter can handle this and I would strongly suggest NOT trying to put in a second transfer switch. The inverter/charger provides AC switching as well as DC charging and power.

I am of the mind that solar panels are about the same in most cases. Get the ones that best fit the layout you need and are reasonably priced.
Thanks jracca, I appreciate you taking time looking at my schematic. What I was after regarding the ATS and the Converter was to connect the incoming shore power and main distribution block so that when turned on it will take over both, charging the batteries from shore power, as well as energizing the DC system as well. I'm not experienced enough to start fiddling with the MultiPlus or try experimenting with AC-DC conversion so I was thinking if it would be possible to add something like the MOES Dual Power Controller 50A 5500 Watt Automatic Transfer Switch to my system design to enable automatic switching between the AC and DC when plugged to shore power?
 

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Thanks jracca, I appreciate you taking time looking at my schematic. What I was after regarding the ATS and the Converter was to connect the incoming shore power and main distribution block so that when turned on it will take over both, charging the batteries from shore power, as well as energizing the DC system as well. I'm not experienced enough to start fiddling with the MultiPlus or try experimenting with AC-DC conversion so I was thinking if it would be possible to add something like the MOES Dual Power Controller 50A 5500 Watt Automatic Transfer Switch to my system design to enable automatic switching between the AC and DC when plugged to shore power?
The Victron already does all of this. It has an automatic transfer switch inside it, and it energizes the DC system automatically (as well as passing through the AC power when connected to shore power). It charges the batteries and will maintain them at whatever voltage it is set for. All you do is set the victron up for the proper voltages for your batteries. There is nothing else to do. This is exactly what an inverter/charger is designed to do.

The shore power connection goes to the AC input terminals of the Multiplus (as shown in your diagram). The AC distribution comes from the AC output of the multiplus (also already in your diagram). The DC connection is to the batteries (already in your diagram). No separate connection for DC power is needed, when connected to shore power the DC power will flow through the 2/0 cables, to the distributor, and charge the batteries and provide DC power. When connected to shore power the AC power will flow through the multiplus to the AC distribution system (already shown in your diagram). When shore power is not present the inverter makes AC power using the DC power stored in the batteries, the current will flow from the batteries to the multiplus, unlike when connected to shore power where the multiplus is charging the batteries.

You do not need a separate converter, it already is designed and intended to do everything you describe, and safely. When you add an additional transfer switch to the system you must be careful not to create a second neutral - ground bonding point (there should only be one in any AC system). It can be done safely, but it is not something I am going to tell someone who is not an electrician how to do. (I have an electrical engineering degree and work experience as an electrician) I will be happy to tell you how to safely use the multiplus because it is simple, a second transfer switch is not needed and can potentially be dangerous.

The multiplus will energize the DC system and automatically switch between inverter and shore power. Nothing more is needed and if not careful can be dangerous. If you do not understand neutral-ground bonding then you shouldn't be messing around trying to design a system with two transfer switches.

Your diagram is correct on the multiplus connections. It doesn't show the internals of the multiplus which includes the transfer switch and DC charger/converter. It is not an inexpensive piece of equipment, because it does all of these functions. You have what you need. More is not better and can be worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Your diagram is correct on the multiplus connections. It doesn't show the internals of the multiplus which includes the transfer switch and DC charger/converter. It is not an inexpensive piece of equipment, because it does all of these functions. You have what you need. More is not better and can be worse.
Thanks again! I got derailed elsewhere when someone, obviously as unfamiliar as me with the MultiPlus, was asking if I have considered adding an converter and the ATS.

One thing that I wonder is the double 300A fusing on the main live. I assume I could remove the 300A fuse on the Lynx Distributor OR swap the battery side 300A to 350A to add better protection to the sub-section?
 

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Bigger fuses are not better protection. You want the fuse to match the carrying capacity of the wiring. The goal of the fuse is to prevent a fire in the case of a short. You can only minimize the risk, you can never completely eliminate it. The ideal thing is to put the fuse as close to thepower source as possible so it it blows as little of the wire remains energized as possible. In a DC system with chargers and batteries there are multiple sources which can also be consumers of power. The inverter both pulls energy from the battery and puts energy into the battery. The B2B charger can also put energy into the battery.

You are trying to prevent the wiring from melting down and starting a fire. Nothing more. The goal is not really to limit how much power a device draws or anything like that, but the same fuse will also blow if there is an internal problem in devices. We don't always know the internal wire size anyway, so we fuse to protect the external wiring.

I don't worry about this as much as some people might. Your diagram looks fine and has enough protection in my opinion. The batteries themselves very likely have internal circuit breakers as well (I don't know your battery brand or specifications).

The one thing to watch for is when you have fuses they have a small voltage drop and can interfere with voltage measurement systems. This is why B2B chargers and other devices often have a secondary voltage monitor cable that you want to connect as close to the device being monitored as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
jracca, thanks for pointing out important things I had overlooked! Regarding the level of fusing, I was also contemplating to have a 4-way mains switch to have a level of redundancy at the storage side, while also being able to separate the two batteries. But maybe this is a bit excessive.

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(ignorant question) what happens if your shore power source only has 120VAC power? I only see provision for 240VAC power in your diagram.
 

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jracca, thanks for pointing out important things I had overlooked! Regarding the level of fusing, I was also contemplating to have a 4-way mains switch to have a level of redundancy at the storage side, while also being able to separate the two batteries. But maybe this is a bit excessive.

View attachment 69753
Hi @Mako74

Regarding your 4 position switch - If I understand what you are trying to achieve here to be effective the positive red wire between the 2 batteries along with the 300A fuse needs to be deleted (you tie this together by switch position 1+2).

Also the negative wire between the 2 batteries I believe is redundant.

I know this is 3 month old, but I just saw it now.
 

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(ignorant question) what happens if your shore power source only has 120VAC power? I only see provision for 240VAC power in your diagram.
He's in Europe so it's 240v.
 

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Hi @Mako74

Regarding your 4 position switch - If I understand what you are trying to achieve here to be effective the positive red wire between the 2 batteries along with the 300A fuse needs to be deleted (you tie this together by switch position 1+2).

Also the negative wire between the 2 batteries I believe is redundant.

I know this is 3 month old, but I just saw it now.
Both are redundant. No current should flow between the batteries in any event, however if for some reason a current path was needed there is already one. Just extra expense and extra weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you gents. I got similar feedback elsewhere and did some changes to the drawing already some time ago, but forgot to update here. So here it is, except I will not use terminal fuses.

OT, if you're interested in the batteries, I did a brief low-temp (charging) cut-off and heating test with the batteries. You can find it on YouTube. I will also test the low-temp discharge cut-off at some point.

72708
 

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At work we have 2 systems; Internet & Intranet where the accounting & sensitive data is kept.

Then I watched a program on Stuxnet - No internet connection, just a USB labelled something like “CEO Salaries”. Human Nature & All 😁

Of course Stuxnet did require the spy who risked his life to inject that USB stick... careful who you let lurk around your PM! HarryN brings up a good point about cybersecurity, though, so I'm inspired to start a new thread on the topic so as not to hijack this one. (I head an industrial cybersecurity program for a large energy company).

Also stoked to see another industrial router option I hadn't come across before...
 
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