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Nebulight's Build Thread

3372 Views 25 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Roblee
Wheel Automotive parking light Tire Vehicle Automotive side-view mirror



Previously I had purchased Steve's Backroader build and used that for about three years before selling it. That van gave us a lot of experience in van travel (weekend trips and a few 1-2 week trips a year) but also let us know what's important for us in a build. Since moving to Nevada, my mother in law was joining us on more and more trips so we decided to sell and build out a new van that had sleeping for 3-4 but more importantly proper seating for 3-4. @DonInLasVegas did a great build and I'm pretty much plan on copying his van with a few small changes. It's going to be a typical Euro layout with the two seats behind the driver with a dinette table, wet bath behind the seats, and two full size bunks in the rear of the van. The Kitchen will be on the passenger side with a floor to ceiling cabinet with a microwave and large fridge/freezer. The layout will be almost identical to this only with a smaller wet bath and different fridge configuration: Rimor - Horus 145

Vehicle Property Fixture Interior design Window


Vehicle Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Trunk Automotive design


We still haven't purchased a van yet as I'm waiting on the 2022 models to come out. However we did get this started by picking up a seat. I watch the Fit RV couple on YouTube and they are documenting upgrades to their new RV and one of the items was to remove the dinette seating in order to make room for more batteries. I expressed my interested in their seat and they agreed to let it go for only $60! It will need a new base as I'd need to be taller to match the height for the driver/passenger seats, but I have some people at work that can help me weld that up. They are Freedman ES-GO seats with built in seat belts. For the price, it was a no brainer to get this project started.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No updates on the actual build, but slowly accumulating parts. I've got the full electrical system purchased minus the batteries and a few other random parts (working on plumbing next). I got the REC-BMS with full Victron gear

Interior design Wood Chair Armrest Floor


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And to make things better, last month Victron Energy had a contest on their website. You had to answer one question per day for 30 days in December and you could win a prize (CHRISTMAS COMPETITION! - Victron Energy). I got busy one day and forgot to answer the question for the day, so I got third. I had originally wanted the tool set, but opted to go with the Surprise Box when all that was left was the box, the dinner and skate board. My wife was upset because she wanted the dinner and thought the Surprise Box would be like a t-shirt or hat. I thought it would be something better. Turns out I was right in a big way! Inside that box was around $550 worth of Victron gear in the way of a Cerbo GX, Touch 50 GX touch screen, and a bluetooth speaker which worked out perfectly as those were the last pieces of gear I need for the install (well, a van is still needed of course). Talk about luck box!

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Reminds me of my situation waiting for the van to arrive. About the only things I did not have “other than the van” were; the sink, faucet, & water pump (& various hardware & unfortunately for me 1” polyiso 😳).

Good Luck with your van acquirement when you pull the trigger & looking forward to seeing your build thread.
 

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Packing materials Shipping box Package delivery Couch Wood



My batteries have arrived. DIY lithium cells. I purchased 16 304ah 3.2v lifepo4 cells. This will be a total of 15.5kwh of storage or 1216ah at 12v. Each cell was $153 shipped and I had them in a week for a total cost of $2448. That's less than the cost of 3 battleborn batteries. However the cost of the BMS is about $500 (you can do it it for much less) so let's just say $3k for the batteries. I went so large as we want to be able to run our rooftop AC off the batteries since we live in the south west.

I'm in the process now of capacity testing all the cells. I have a dedicated discharger/charger for each cell. I'll discharge at 40 amps down to 2.8v (spec sheet says I can go to 2.5v), then recharge back up to 3.65v at 40 amps. Then I will discharge the cell to about 50% for storage until the van arrives.

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
Looking good!

I'm wondering what you have in mind for the AC unit and how much solar you intend to install?

Any thoughts on how long you will be able to operate the AC without shore power?
Seems to be a question a lot of people are interested in these days.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
In the past, we typically go up higher in elevation in the summer months to escape the heat. Sometimes this isn't enough and we'd still be hot, but manageable. We plan on putting in a Houghton 13.5k BTU. This unit is efficient but most importantly quiet (and also has a heat pump so we are considering NOT having any additional heater but more on that in a later post). The MAX numbers they list for this AC unit is 1550w. So if you do the math with our Multiplus at 92% efficient (though some say at higher loads it's higher than that as those specs are just averages) then that MAX draw would be 1684.8w. So if we ran this at MAX load at 100% duty cycle (AC units cycle on and off but for this calculation we will assume it never shuts off), then we should be able to run this for 9.28 hours with the AC compressor NEVER cycling. In real world it should probably be higher than that. But even at MAX load and MAX duty cycle it will get use through the night though we an almost dead battery in the morning.

As for solar, this AC unit is pretty long and JUST wide enough where getting panels to the left or right of the unit won't make sense. I think realistically we may be able to fit 600-650w total. So running the AC off solar isn't going to happen which is why we are installing a second alternator (we never really stay in one place long enough so we should be able to recharge with the alternator).
 

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Almost one year later, we finally put in an order for our van. 2500 159 standard in red. We wanted to wait for the adaptive cruise as it seemed like nothing was leaving the factory with it for the 2022 models. We do a lot of driving out west and there are long straight roads so that'll come in handy. Also I really like the new front end, so that was another reason to wait.

Went with the following options:

Powertrain:
100amp starter battery
220amp alternator

Packages:
Convenience Group - Ambient LED lighting, Cargo net???, front fog lights, Shelf above roof trim, under seat storage tray
Premium Convenience Group -Auto headlights, 7 inch cluster, keyless entry with touch, rain sense wipers, 10 inch display, wireless charger

Exterior:
Black Steel Wheels
Full Size spare
Windows on slider and drivers side

Interior:

Factory Swivels
Digital Rearview Mirror
Aux switches
Adaptive Cruise with Stop/Go
Active Driving Assist System
Two additional Key Fobs
 

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I’m starting my orders and slowly getting the parts I need. Saving $ on some seconds or B-stock. My build plans are changing as I find new/better ideas and gear. Also as my wife’s condition progress for the worse. We wanted a smaller vehicle so went with a 118WB. At that time she was in a walker but now a wheelchair.
Things have changed and rethinking vehicle for her. Now keeping the PM for my work/ travel
But with a ramp for emergency transport.
it’s a low roof and I’m a DP/photographer. It will have a third single seat that converts to a bed. I decided to go with a “chuck wagon kitchen out the back doors so I can cook standing up. I’m 6-6 so that’s not happening with a low roof.
I got a great deal on a “bat wing” canopy that when fully deployed I have full coverage from side to rear doors. Also it came with a full enclosure kit. So when on location I can have a nice “bace camp”
Utilizing some industrial shelving and adding some RV type components so it will be utilitarian but still useful for weekend camping.
also after a 12 hr shoot I can take a power nap before driving home. I’m hopeful that it will be easier to load and park than my ram crew cab p/u with long bed. I can use the same hold downs for my wife’s wheelchair to strap down my camera cart.
It will definitely be a interesting build as I’m planning to go full air bag. (For my wife and equipments comfort) I’ll be documenting it as I go. Any advice will be appreciated along the way.
 

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Finally got a vin number on Friday! Hopefully it’s only a few more months.
I think you will have one of the first Active Driving Assist vans ever delivered. It was holding up our order and I got impatient and bought a 2022. That's going to be a great option to have in your neck of the woods. I drive out to Arizona and Nevada for work every few years and it seems like sometimes you can set the cruise on 80, point the truck at the horizon, and stare at it until the low fuel light comes on without ever getting anywhere!
 

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I think you will have one of the first Active Driving Assist vans ever delivered. It was holding up our order and I got impatient and bought a 2022. That's going to be a great option to have in your neck of the woods. I drive out to Arizona and Nevada for work every few years and it seems like sometimes you can set the cruise on 80, point the truck at the horizon, and stare at it until the low fuel light comes on without ever getting anywhere!
Funny you mention that. Back when I was hearing about trouble with the adaptive cruise and new orders I wanted to cancel and reorder. My wife talked me into keeping it. We just drove from Vegas to Death Valley (short 2.5hour drive) last weekend for a camping trip and we drove our Kia that has adaptive cruise. I turned to my wife and said waiting is going to be worth it!
 

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Funny you mention that. Back when I was hearing about trouble with the adaptive cruise and new orders I wanted to cancel and reorder. My wife talked me into keeping it. We just drove from Vegas to Death Valley (short 2.5hour drive) last weekend for a camping trip and we drove our Kia that has adaptive cruise. I turned to my wife and said waiting is going to be worth it!
The Driving Assist is the same price as adaptive cruise and a leather wheel so there is no reason not to get it if you want either of those options since it also comes with the dash upgrade and extra features. I can't even begin to tell you how screwed up the software is on our 2022, hopefully they fixed some of it before they built yours! I had a similar van ordered and if it were not for the huge price difference on the 2022 we got I would have held out also.
 
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