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Roof Configuration For Solar Panels

3031 Views 103 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  CanaDave
I just bought my Promaster, 136, 2500, HR. Trying to figure out how to 'arrange' solar panels on the roof.
Definitely adding a Maxxair to the back of the van, centered, I think. I am looking at after market roof racks, I think that would be a lot easier. But, pretty comfortable with Renogy solar panels. I get the 175's I would need at least 2, three would go off the side of the van in a straight line, but provide more power than I would probably need.They are 52.3x26.4. If I go with 100's they are are 41.8 x 20.9 .
With a MaxxAir, Fridge, lights and kitchen, I need 300w on the roof to be close, 400w would be plenty. Trying not to scrimp as this is my first experience and I don't want to run out of juice and prefer to not pull off the vehicle battery unless I am using the 12v for 'emergencies'. Three 175's would be over by about an inch if I lined them up straight across. Four 100's would be the same problem. Not sure how that affects the stealth aspect, but I would like to keep the stealth aspect available if I need to sleep on a public street.
Thoughts on how to arrange to panels? I think putting less holes in the roof by using a rack that clamps to the feet is a good idea but am open to ideas on not only racks but install thoughts.
Thanks
Andy
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Maybe I am oversimplifiing here but...A power inverter is a couple hundred bucks at the most. Attach one under the driver seat hard wired to the starter battery. The Bluetti comes with an AC power pack that will plus into that and should do all the adjustments the power station needs plus it has a surge protector...correct? So why wouldn't that work. Then I don't have to do anything other than bring the power station up front.
Any particular reason that you've settled on using the Bluetti as opposed to going with a stand alone battery, solar controller, DC2DC and inverter? It feels like you might be taking extra steps to work around the limitations of the Bluetti. Why not just go ala carte, save $$$ & get a system better suited to your needs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 · (Edited)
@JohnnyRambles I might be entirely wrong on this and if I am you can definitely point it out But, I actually don't think I would save much money getting everything I would need vs the Bluetti which gives me 200ah and 2000W. The battery alone is probably $700. Add the 1000w pure sine wave inverter, solar capabilities, solar controller, Dc to dc converter, all the output combinations and the other hardware and wires needed to set it all up, create outlets and charging ports, I am just not sure how I match that. Add in the fact I know very little about electricity and power sources, it just make sense to me to buy an all in one that probably costs a little bit more but is far safer and far less space required. adding three batteries to my van is probably twice the space, not to mention all the other hardware. Plus, the times savings is huge for me. I don't have to tinker with it, research it or test it with expensive devices. I get a lot of you guys 'gig' off of creating those but I don't have the electrical experience, tools or testing equipment required to get it all done without spending hours and hours of time researching and than hundreds of dollars for testing devises. If this was fly fishing stuff I would love to spend the hours!! Not to mention the batteries. Lithium makes the most sense but they are expensive. I think I would need two to match the Bluetti. That is $1000 minimum. Or I could go AGM but those you cannot run below 50% and that means three to five of those. At 100 pounds a piece that adds 300 to 500 pounds, which will cut my gas mileage. Going the junk yard battery option adds more batteries and more weight. I plan on driving 15k to 20k a year, so 300 to 500 extra pounds will cost me a bunch in gas...Bluetti 200p is 60 pounds....no way that the total weight for batteries, equipment and hardware is not over 400 pounds if you only have 3 batteries. And I don't think there are three non lithium batteries that total the 200ah and 2000w of the ac200p.
So, I might be wrong on the costs but the space, weight and time savings plus the lack of equipment to adequately test the system for safety purposes points to the all in one.
 

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@JohnnyRambles I might be entirely wrong on this and if I am you can definitely point it out But, I actually don't think I would save much money getting everything I would need vs the Bluetti which gives me 200ah and 2000W. The battery alone is probably $700. Add the 1000w pure sine wave inverter, solar capabilities, solar controller, Dc to dc converter, all the output combinations and the other hardware and wires needed to set it all up, create outlets and charging ports, I am just not sure how I match that. Add in the fact I know very little about electricity and power sources, it just make sense to me to buy an all in one that probably costs a little bit more but is far safer and far less space required. adding three batteries to my van is probably twice the space, not to mention all the other hardware. Plus, the times savings is huge for me. I don't have to tinker with it, research it or test it with expensive devices. I get a lot of you guys 'gig' off of creating those but I don't have the electrical experience, tools or testing equipment required to get it all done without spending hours and hours of time researching and than hundreds of dollars for testing devises. If this was fly fishing stuff I would love to spend the hours!! Not to mention the batteries. Lithium makes the most sense but they are expensive. I think I would need two to match the Bluetti. That is $1000 minimum. Or I could go AGM but those you cannot run below 50% and that means three to five of those. At 100 pounds a piece that adds 300 to 500 pounds, which will cut my gas mileage. Going the junk yard battery option adds more batteries and more weight. I plan on driving 15k to 20k a year, so 300 to 500 extra pounds will cost me a bunch in gas...Bluetti 200p is 60 pounds....no way that the total weight for batteries, equipment and hardware is not over 400 pounds if you only have 3 batteries. And I don't think there are three non lithium batteries that total the 200ah and 2000w of the ac200p.
So, I might be wrong on the costs but the space, weight and time savings plus the lack of equipment to adequately test the system for safety purposes points to the all in one.
Most of us like to nerd out in customizing our own setup, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with an all-in-one setup. If you think that's the best solution for you, I say go for it.

Some other things worth mentioning though:

It is true that lithium does get you access to twice the battery range than AGM, but AGM's make up for it in other ways: For one, they're cheaper. They are indifferent to hostile temperatures and will discharge AND charge in extreme cold. Sweltering heat is fine too.

Also, unlike lithium, AGM is happy to float at 100% SoC for extended periods of time without hurting the battery. Electric cars come with all kinds of battery thermal management and charge limiters to prolong battery service life that will take extra work and attention for a DIY lithium system. If you have an all-in-one system, however, it makes battery care much easier. Going to leave your van parked for extended periods of time in the summer or winter? Just bring your all-in-one inside, charge it to 50-80% and done. It also allows you to charge it up in public establishments that might otherwise frown upon you running an extension cord out to your van.

For me, I decided to go with AGM because they require no attention besides not running them down too low. My solar setup is strong enough to just about always keep my batteries above 70%. The extent of my winterization process is running antifreeze through the plumbing and switching off my house battery. If not for the risk of snowfall taking down my solar grid for an extended period of time, I'd be comfortable leaving my battery connected all winter long.
 

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I have to admit that I'm not 100% up on the capabilities of the latest all-in-one units, but if they use a similar capacity LiPo4 battery, inverter, charge controller, etc there's not likely to be a major weight difference compared to a self built system using parts of similar specs.

There is however one major downside to the all-in-ones that has always been an absolute dealbreaker for me.

What happens if any one part of it fails?

Sure it's under warranty (At least for a while), but you still have to either send it in or get it to a service center. You're then left without any power whatsoever while it's repaired or replaced, not to mention the costs involved with shipping a 60+lb item that contains a large LiPo4 battery and then getting it back to you on the road.

With a traditional setup if one part fails you will most likely still have some kind of power. If the battery or solar controller fails I can still get power from the van battery, if the inverter fails I still have DC, if the DC2DC fails I still have solar, etc. Even if it's a major failure you can easily obtain replacement parts locally or in a day or two via Amazon.

Putting a system together does take a little bit of planning, but it's far easier and less time consuming than one may think. The best part is once you've done it, you then have a basic understanding of how all the parts work and can quickly fix most problems on your own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
What happens if any one part of it fails?
Well, no different than camping, living your life, driving cross country or having a day on the lake when something goes wrong. You can either throw a fit and bitch about it, or go with it and make the best of it. Worst case scenario is my beer gets warm (I plan on carrying a cooler as well) my van is dark at night (I will still be sit out under the starts and drink beer from my cooler with ice in it,plus I sleep better with no lights on anyway, because I would rather be outside then sitting in the van) and my fan doesn't work so it is hotter than I expected in the van. I sleep in my underwear outside under the stars because I drank to many beers from the cooler and end up with mosquito bites in to many places to mention!
Things are going to go wrong...tires blow out, alternator dies or something else. I still an living my dream. If the worst thing that happens to me on a 15k journey across the country is the fridge doesn't function for a week or two...well that is a win for me!! I mean half of the world drinks warm beer anyway.
 

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@JohnnyRambles I might be entirely wrong on this and if I am you can definitely point it out But, I actually don't think I would save much money getting everything I would need vs the Bluetti which gives me 200ah and 2000W. The battery alone is probably $700. Add the 1000w pure sine wave inverter, solar capabilities, solar controller, Dc to dc converter, all the output combinations and the other hardware and wires needed to set it all up, create outlets and charging ports, I am just not sure how I match that. Add in the fact I know very little about electricity and power sources, it just make sense to me to buy an all in one that probably costs a little bit more but is far safer and far less space required. adding three batteries to my van is probably twice the space, not to mention all the other hardware. Plus, the times savings is huge for me. I don't have to tinker with it, research it or test it with expensive devices. I get a lot of you guys 'gig' off of creating those but I don't have the electrical experience, tools or testing equipment required to get it all done without spending hours and hours of time researching and than hundreds of dollars for testing devises. If this was fly fishing stuff I would love to spend the hours!! Not to mention the batteries. Lithium makes the most sense but they are expensive. I think I would need two to match the Bluetti. That is $1000 minimum. Or I could go AGM but those you cannot run below 50% and that means three to five of those. At 100 pounds a piece that adds 300 to 500 pounds, which will cut my gas mileage. Going the junk yard battery option adds more batteries and more weight. I plan on driving 15k to 20k a year, so 300 to 500 extra pounds will cost me a bunch in gas...Bluetti 200p is 60 pounds....no way that the total weight for batteries, equipment and hardware is not over 400 pounds if you only have 3 batteries. And I don't think there are three non lithium batteries that total the 200ah and 2000w of the ac200p.
So, I might be wrong on the costs but the space, weight and time savings plus the lack of equipment to adequately test the system for safety purposes points to the all in one.
Heres a thread on Bluetti and inverter charging from last year, Google search result..

 

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Well, no different than camping, living your life, driving cross country or having a day on the lake when something goes wrong. You can either throw a fit and bitch about it, or go with it and make the best of it. Worst case scenario is my beer gets warm (I plan on carrying a cooler as well) my van is dark at night (I will still be sit out under the starts and drink beer from my cooler with ice in it,plus I sleep better with no lights on anyway, because I would rather be outside then sitting in the van) and my fan doesn't work so it is hotter than I expected in the van. I sleep in my underwear outside under the stars because I drank to many beers from the cooler and end up with mosquito bites in to many places to mention!
Things are going to go wrong...tires blow out, alternator dies or something else. I still an living my dream. If the worst thing that happens to me on a 15k journey across the country is the fridge doesn't function for a week or two...well that is a win for me!! I mean half of the world drinks warm beer anyway.

The old saying of being prepared, 2 is 1 and 1 in none. It wouldn't be too expensive to have some redundancy in a set up, maybe a smaller Bluetti for back up and/or other components.
 

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Hi @MT Boiler

I like cold beer, but like you say warm beer isn’t the end of the world. As KOV posted “Stuff” Happens. As with any DIY Van Decision, there are Pros & Cons in all decisions. The great thing is we get to choose for ourselves.

The Bluetti or other “All In Ones” from what I have seen replace part of the DIY Van Electrical System;
Batteries
Inverter 120vac
Chargers (solar, 120vac, & very limited 12vdc) ,,, overpriced connection may be at an extra cost


Other parts of a Van’s Electrical System they don’t include;
120vac Shore Power & wires
Solar Panels & Wires
12vdc Panel & Distribution
Alternator charging & wires ,,, other than the very limited 12vdc that I understand takes 20hrs or more to recharge
A 120vac inverter connected to the Promaster starter battery to get decent alternator charging rates


So cost wise ,,, the Bluetti only saves you on a DIY Van Electrical System;
The Batteries
The Solar Charger
The 120vac charger


If you think about your knowledge & skills for DIY Van Electrical, buying a Bluetti does not save you from understanding or wiring the following;
120vac inverter (needed for effective alternator charging) & wire sizing & fuses
12vdc panel & distribution wiring & sizing & fuses
solar panels & wiring & fuses
12vdc charge supply from the alternator & wire size & fuses

IMO, these units do not remove the requirement to gain electrical knowledge or skills to complete a Van’s Electrical System.

Their biggest Pro, is a DIYer can remove them & use them outside the van. For that, I carry a Honda generator if I feel the need (my generator gives me 120vac & 12vdc) ,,, I rarely use it.

If you want my opinionated list of Pros & Cons on these just ask & I will post them.
 

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He will have a cooler with ice for his cold beer. Looks like that's enough backup for him. :D

I think your reasoning for the Bluetti is quite sound. If after a while you decide to have a more robust system, there are other uses for the Bluetti or you could sell it. It will get you on the road enjoying the van and by doing so, you will be able to make an informed decision as to the level of comfort you will ultimately decide is right for you. This is exactly the kind of approach we old-timers advise—the most important time spent on a van build is contemplation, and looks like you are planning for plenty.

I do suggest you explore the market thoroughly before deciding on the exact unit. The market appears to be developing.
 

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He will have a cooler with ice for his cold beer. Looks like that's enough backup for him. :D

I think your reasoning for the Bluetti is quite sound. If after a while you decide to have a more robust system, there are other uses for the Bluetti or you could sell it. It will get you on the road enjoying the van and by doing so, you will be able to make an informed decision as to the level of comfort you will ultimately decide is right for you. This is exactly the kind of approach we old-timers advise—the most important time spent on a van build is contemplation, and looks like you are planning for plenty.

I do suggest you explore the market thoroughly before deciding on the exact unit. The market appears to be developing.
the most important time spent on a van build is contemplation

So I very much agree with this, & there is no replacement for experience & acquired knowledge.

But what part of contemplation is the DIY Van Design / Build ? ,,, IMO it is the Design. As helpful Forum Members, unless we are physically helping newbies, all we are as Forum Internet Helpers are “Design Teachers / Coaches”.

We provide our opinions based upon our van design experience & van adventure experiences. Lessons we have learned, or difficulties we have experienced, or successes we have had good fortune with.

In your & my cases recently, we can thank @furnitureguy for the “elbow latch” hardware idea ,,, design.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Other parts of a Van’s Electrical System they don’t include;
120vac Shore Power & wires
Solar Panels & Wires
12vdc Panel & Distribution
Alternator charging & wires ,,, other than the very limited 12vdc that I understand takes 20hrs or more to recharge
A 120vac inverter connected to the Promaster starter battery to get decent alternator charging rates
The power Oak AC power supply 'brick covers #1. I don't need 12vdc Panel since Bluetti has 4 plus 4 USB's. "1 x 12V/25A (RV Outlet), 1 x 12V/10A (Car Outlet), 2 x 12V/3A (5.5mm Outlet) (*All Regulated.) More than enough for what I am going to do up front.
I don't want to go off the alternator if I can go off the battery...those are pretty much the same thing, I think.
Solar panels are going to be an add no matter what I pick.
Like I said, not sure I am right but from all of the reviews and multiple vanlifers, it seems like an easy solution that gives me redundancy for my home, shop and garage as well. I get you don't like them but that is ok. Oh, plus there are multiple fuses and kill switches built into the Bluetti. And a lot of the kitchen stuff runs on 110, which bluetti has 6 of.
I have been thinking of @Bromaster5 suggestion of a back up system. I might look for a small 200w used generator just in case. Plus it gives me an options for other things.
 

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The power Oak AC power supply 'brick covers #1. I don't need 12vdc Panel since Bluetti has 4 plus 4 USB's. "1 x 12V/25A (RV Outlet), 1 x 12V/10A (Car Outlet), 2 x 12V/3A (5.5mm Outlet) (*All Regulated.) More than enough for what I am going to do up front.
I don't want to go off the alternator if I can go off the battery...those are pretty much the same thing, I think.
Solar panels are going to be an add no matter what I pick.
Like I said, not sure I am right but from all of the reviews and multiple vanlifers, it seems like an easy solution that gives me redundancy for my home, shop and garage as well. I get you don't like them but that is ok. Oh, plus there are multiple fuses and kill switches built into the Bluetti. And a lot of the kitchen stuff runs on 110, which bluetti has 6 of.
I have been thinking of @Bromaster5 suggestion of a back up system. I might look for a small 200w used generator just in case. Plus it gives me an options for other things.
You know your needs/wants more than us 👍.

My 120vac charging comments are ,,, your Promaster does not have 120vac in it “currently” to plug in your “power brick charger”

The 12vdc panel (if not needed), is only part of the distribution wiring ,,, you still need to wire & terminate the wire ends.

Alternator charging is “off the starter battery” ,,, so please consider my above post with that in mind.

Solar panels are an add on, just like all the other add ons I noted above.

It isn’t about being right or wrong ,,, If I go to the Internet for knowledge, I pay attention to certain Forum Members on here rather than vanlifers. The info I get here for product review or design considerations is “outstanding”.

Disclosure ,,, I have never had a Bluetti or similar. You seem to know what you want & if it is a Bluetti & that works for you then great 👍. However there might be knowledge about these units you are missing ,,, thinks like difficulty to van charge & “standby power drain” ,,, you know the stuff the manufactures do not seem to advertise in bold print. We all have different Design Parameters.

Your Ride, Your Time, Your Dime ,,, Make it Your Van !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
He will have a cooler with ice for his cold beer. Looks like that's enough backup for him. :D

I think your reasoning for the Bluetti is quite sound. If after a while you decide to have a more robust system, there are other uses for the Bluetti or you could sell it. It will get you on the road enjoying the van and by doing so, you will be able to make an informed decision as to the level of comfort you will ultimately decide is right for you. This is exactly the kind of approach we old-timers advise—the most important time spent on a van build is contemplation, and looks like you are planning for plenty.

I do suggest you explore the market thoroughly before deciding on the exact unit. The market appears to be developing.
That is exactly what I am doing. Getting going as a simple build up front travel some and see what else I need. Thanks
 

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Can you go into detail a bit on your "Orton style" inverter setup.

What gauge cables did you use for the 700 watt Renogy inverter?

Gator clamps or terminals on those cables?

Do you have any fuse in the set up?

The Promaster has a 180 amp alternator, thats 2100 watts output I believe, is there a maximum size inverter you would use this way?

You mention things getting HOT, are you concerned about damage to the vans electrical, or are you only cooking the inverter and charging brick etc?

I ask because Im thinking of installing a similar setup with 500 watt inverter..

Thanks!!
Orton style is simply using a smaller inveter off alternator to create 120V and then act as though that is a shore power to charge you battery bank using standard supplied charger (that you use in your house).

Definitely use a larger cable than supplied free with the cheaper inveters. I used a 4 ft marine grade cable - 8 gauge I believe. Size and distance both matter hugely so check manual and a cable calculator. The terminal need to be a ring style and bolted down. Dont use gator clamps or anything that can shake loose.

The positive cable has a fuse at the battery to protect the wiring - I reused the existing 70 amp one from upfitter connection. Most folks are planning to pull around 40 - 60 Amps off the Promaster alternator and it can comfortably handle that all day long.

Things should get warm not hot. Make sure you have air circulation around the inverter and Bluetti - keep the fan areas open. Feel the cable and connections - if any get hot its a sign of problems.

A 500W inverter may be on small size for Bluetti charging since it pulls close to 450W when running and I always prefer a 20% margin or error. That is why I use a 700W.
 

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Orton style is simply using a smaller inveter off alternator to create 120V and then act as though that is a shore power to charge you battery bank using standard supplied charger (that you use in your house).

Definitely use a larger cable than supplied free with the cheaper inveters. I used a 4 ft marine grade cable - 8 gauge I believe. Size and distance both matter hugely so check manual and a cable calculator. The terminal need to be a ring style and bolted down. Dont use gator clamps or anything that can shake loose.

The positive cable has a fuse at the battery to protect the wiring - I reused the existing 70 amp one from upfitter connection. Most folks are planning to pull around 40 - 60 Amps off the Promaster alternator and it can comfortably handle that all day long.

Things should get warm not hot. Make sure you have air circulation around the inverter and Bluetti - keep the fan areas open. Feel the cable and connections - if any get hot its a sign of problems.

A 500W inverter may be on small size for Bluetti charging since it pulls close to 450W when running and I always prefer a 20% margin or error. That is why I use a 700W.
I agree with @RamVanGuy. I actually went with the Victron 1200W inverter to add a greater safely margin, plus it should not run as hot at about 50%-60% capacity. May be overkill, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

And my thought process was pretty much the same as @MT Boiler. Another factor was the fact the the footprint of the PPS is more compact than what I would expect from a fully build out battery system with the same capabilities, gaining me space under the garage.
 

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The power Oak AC power supply 'brick covers #1. I don't need 12vdc Panel since Bluetti has 4 plus 4 USB's. "1 x 12V/25A (RV Outlet), 1 x 12V/10A (Car Outlet), 2 x 12V/3A (5.5mm Outlet) (*All Regulated.) More than enough for what I am going to do up front.
I don't want to go off the alternator if I can go off the battery...those are pretty much the same thing, I think.
Solar panels are going to be an add no matter what I pick.
Like I said, not sure I am right but from all of the reviews and multiple vanlifers, it seems like an easy solution that gives me redundancy for my home, shop and garage as well. I get you don't like them but that is ok. Oh, plus there are multiple fuses and kill switches built into the Bluetti. And a lot of the kitchen stuff runs on 110, which bluetti has 6 of.
I have been thinking of @Bromaster5 suggestion of a back up system. I might look for a small 200w used generator just in case. Plus it gives me an options for other things.
Not sure what you mean by a small 200 watt generator, lithium portable power station I assume.. Honda makes a 1000 watt inverter generator that is tiny, only .5 gal gas tank, runtime is 7 hours and super quiet, $1000.

Any inverter you run off the starter battery assuming 50 amps available for this with the stock 180 amp alternator per @GaryBIS, will be limited to about 600 watts max if Im correct. (50 amps x 12 volts= 600 watts). So a small gas generator can allow faster charging of a portable power station compared to a smaller 500 watt inverter/starter battery set up or a poorly performing solar panel or two. My EcoFlow Delta Mini can take up to 900 watts of AC charging and hit full charge in an hour, at its slower AC charging rate of 200 watts (still using the same included household AC charge cord we're talking here) takes about 4-5 hours. The good news is 200 watts of charging works fairly quick if I keep the power station from going below 50% capacity. I also recently added a 180 watt PV panel with a 20 foot extension cable for my Delta Mini that performed really well in full sun (190+ watts) and is also nice to have a variety of affordable and easy to implement charging methods. I don't plan to roof mount the panel as its not going to be effective doing so like many say on the forum, cause panels rarely get enough sun exposure when flat roof mounted, I may build a portable tripod for this.

One last thing or two, I think your making a good decision with Bluetti as long as its lifepo4 battery tech your're talking. Bluetti seems to have a good amount of watt hours/mininum continous output for the money. Ecoflow has come down in price on their units but the watt hours/continuous output is lesser usually if you make some cost comparisons. My Delta Mini is NCM Li-ion although other Ecoflow products have lifepo4 batteries.

For me a minimalist van electrical set up needs to be portable, removable and useful around my home, thats why I haven't gone with a dedicated system. I also want stealth and better MPG so no roof racks/panels mounted. I'll probably add a 500 watt Victron inverter to the backside of my drivers seat as well soon.
 

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I love my bluetti and I don't think it is more expensive than component type system. Mine was $1600 a year ago. I saw them as cheap as $1100 over the holidays. For a 200amp hour battery, charge controller, inverter, outlets, everything. Seems like a good deal. Plus it is portable and I can use it in my cabin our house (being built soon) during power outages.

I had a big hang up when it came to figuring out all the electrical stuff. Bluetti was just what I needed. I didn't have anyone nearby that could help me with this stuff. I know forum members are helpful but there was a big jump for me in wiring up batteries, inverters, etc.

I have 8 puck lights wired to 4 switches; wiring for refrigerator; party lights; separate light with switch above slider; 2 reading lights w/ usb ports; multiple usb/12v socket outlets. I was able to just run extension cords from the bluetti for 2 110 outlets which are rarely used. I have maxxair fan in front and a sirocco fan in back. It was pretty easy to wire from bluetti to the fuse panel.

@MT Boiler
you asked the following:
What rack is that from Orion? Plus, the Bluetti for me seems to be the easy solution since I know nothing about wiring and electrical. Do you ever run a line to the 12v plug in the van?

Orion only offers one rack design I believe. It is very stout and worth the money. It is by far the most expensive part of my van build. I'm glad I got it.

I do have a wire from the front cigarette style 12v socket to the bluetti. The AC200P requires you to unplug solar to plug in 12v charging. That is why I would go with AC200Max instead. I have the wire in place (just behind cabinets and under front floor mat. But I have not used it. On my 2 month Alaska trip I only dropped below 50% on battery a couple of times and that was after a couple of days of rain/clouds/haze. Eventually I might get the Bluetti charging enhancer that allows more charging options.

Solar panels are wired in series. They really keep the bluetti charged nicely. I am very pleased with the system.
 

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My initial thought was to do two or three 100's on the roof and 2 or 3 portable panels with a second power generator. After reading a bunch I thought, since I will be driving almost daily, panels on top make the most sense. Now I am thinking, two or three 175w panels on top,one portable panel and a 12v cable to the 12v plug in the van.
Three gives me what I want to recharge during the day when I am fishing, hiking or exploring. I portable panel gives me some 'assistance' when I park in the shade and can put the portable panel out away from the van to collect and the 12v gives me the power from the motor when I am driving.

I just want to keep my beer cold!!:rolleyes:;)
As @Lolaeliz mentioned, we use and are happy with our Bluetti AC200MAX. Because you said you will be driving almost daily (like us), you may find it to be a good option once it's connected to your van's alternator. In fact, we still haven't added solar (although we did prewire for it during the build). With daily or every-other-day driving, our Bluetti recharges easily. We use it to run the basics: water pump, fridge/freezer, lights, chargers - all on 12v. On 120, we occasionally run a microwave and stovetop.

Good luck!
 
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