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We will soon take a short trip in our project too, visiting our favorite Oregon coast location. Ceiling not in yet so we can determine the placement of overhead lights. The bed area is unfinished until we see how the space will allow cabinets, cubby holes, charging ports etc. We will have water finished, and cooking and coffee available, and a mattress. Testing 1-2-3 testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #542 ·
We will soon take a short trip in our project too, visiting our favorite Oregon coast location. Ceiling not in yet so we can determine the placement of overhead lights. The bed area is unfinished until we see how the space will allow cabinets, cubby holes, charging ports etc. We will have water finished, and cooking and coffee available, and a mattress. Testing 1-2-3 testing.
Sounds Like Fun @furnitureguy 👍

We consciously choose to build & then find “Bins”. 🤔🤔

In hindsight (due to the speed of the build), I would have done it a bit different (I miss judged how picky Mrs. RV8R would be about bins - the original parameters changed 😳). In the end for me it is about “Function over Fashion” so a few more hours work & 💸💸 fixed the function & she gets to keep her bin choice “Ikea”.

Van Design is similar to a “Construction Estimate” in this way ,,, An Experienced Estimator will be able to look at drawings & think about the method of construction & apply costs associated. After the Firm wins the lump sum contract, others get involved Project Manager, Superintendents, Foreman, Carpenters, & Labourers etc. All of the aforementioned can have good ideas of achieving the build with different methods that will save costs. The van design, part way thru the build with either the “DIY Designer” or Spouse/Partner or Other ,,, once using the van can come up with great ideas. Mrs. RV8R found the perfect spot beside the toilet to store the dog bowls - a wasted space I never even considered utilizing.

Have Fun with your Oregon Coast “Shakedown” Trip. Water, Coffee, & a Mattress - You Are Set !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #543 ·
So I am boon-docking for possibly 2 or 3 weeks 😳

Cloud Tire Vehicle Sky Plant

So now I either charge up my house battery bank by;

1) Alternator (driving or idling)
2) Honda Generator
3) MacGyver a Solar System (I think I could replenish my electrical use in late April @ my location - North of the 49th)🤔

If I do spend some 💸💸💸 on a Boon-docking setup I will post it here

Got to do some math 🤔 & check the weather forecasts.
 

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2019 136 low roof
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So I am boon-docking for possibly 2 or 3 weeks 😳

View attachment 85360
So now I either charge up my house battery bank by;

1) Alternator (driving or idling)
2) Honda Generator
3) MacGyver a Solar System (I think I could replenish my electrical use in late April @ my location - North of the 49th)🤔

If I do spend some 💸💸💸 on a Boon-docking setup I will post it here

Got to do some math 🤔 & check the weather forecasts.
I'll be interested in hearing how this works out...Happy Boondocking!
 

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Discussion Starter · #547 ·
So I am boon-docking for possibly 2 or 3 weeks 😳

View attachment 85360
So now I either charge up my house battery bank by;

1) Alternator (driving or idling)
2) Honda Generator
3) MacGyver a Solar System (I think I could replenish my electrical use in late April @ my location - North of the 49th)🤔

If I do spend some 💸💸💸 on a Boon-docking setup I will post it here

Got to do some math 🤔 & check the weather forecasts.
So about this ,,,

I charged my batteries by #1 above “Alternator”.

The reason though was due to my Propex heater not working properly @ 3500’ ASL with stronger winds. Thus I needed to drive daily to seek lower sheltered areas where the wind did not shut down my Propex HS2800.

I was intending to perform #3 “MacGyver a Solar System - but that did not happen. Depending upon weather & it has been unusually cold & a bit crappy late April & early May this year in BC, I figure I could have Boondocked on Solar alone.

Even in crappy conditions here is what our “Cabin Solar” is capable of doing (600W Max & custom programmed for our batteries);

Rectangle Font Electric blue Screenshot Parallel

Colorfulness Rectangle Azure Font Line

Plot Font Parallel City Engineering


Someday I will probably add solar (a ground positioned solar array) capability to our van.

We charge our van batteries almost exclusively directly from the alternator. With this setup, a programed charge profile is absent & time will tell if this setup reduces the life of the batteries. There are 2 easy ways I can rectify this;

1) Solar Charger “User Programable” for my AGMs
2) DC2DC “User Programable” charger interface for Alternator charging

The early death of AGMs is usually from not fully charging them.

If I go the route of a DC2DC at this point in time I would buy a DMT1250 (seems very user programable to me);


@GaryBIS do you have enough experience with it yet to post a report? 👍 or 👎 ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #548 ·
Propex HS2800 “Propane Furnace”


So recently I had issues (4 flashing red lights - which is combustion related) with my Propex. 3500’ higher winds on our new 2021 PM setup.

After this trip, as I am fortunate enough to live on the same island as the Propex dealer in Canada, I took my van up to him for a look at my setup. He said my install was generally good, but gave me a few pointers on “maybe” making it better. The intake & exhaust combustion flues are balanced & quite sensitive. My exhaust flue had a rather sharp bent in it & I did not have hose clamps on the blue silicone flue to spigot connectors @ the flue end (spigot ends were clamped. Also, we reviewed the flue paths & chatted about a “thru hull fitting” which is used in a marine application.

Thus, I altered my flue paths/positions. I installed hose clamps around the blue silicone/flue connection points.

I have not yet been able to test it out at higher altitudes or in windy conditions, but will post once I get an oppertunity to experiment.

Here are some photos of the revised setup;

Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Motor vehicle

Automotive tire Hood Wood Automotive exterior Gas

Vehicle Automotive tire Car Hood Plant
 

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Discussion Starter · #549 · (Edited)
So I am boon-docking for possibly 2 or 3 weeks 😳

View attachment 85360
So now I either charge up my house battery bank by;

1) Alternator (driving or idling)
2) Honda Generator
3) MacGyver a Solar System (I think I could replenish my electrical use in late April @ my location - North of the 49th)🤔

If I do spend some 💸💸💸 on a Boon-docking setup I will post it here

Got to do some math 🤔 & check the weather forecasts.
An Update;

I have decided to build a “Portable” Solar Charging system for times we might boondock, but this system is not only for the van. I have lots of batteries in various “things & stuff” that could be kept healthier by a staged charge profile.

So I have purchased;

1) A Solar Controller Charger - Victron 100 | 50
2) 4 - 100W Solar Panels - HubSolar “HS100-33M “Mono Panels”
3) Some wire & alligator clips

Rectangle Font Circle Gas Auto part



I still need to get a plastic tool box & other items (the idea is to have the controller in a plastic toolbox or Pelican Case or similar.

The solar panels will get a piano hinge riveted to the long sides so 2 panels fold over to protect the faces of the panels. These panels will fit under the bed of the van if I want then there.

Here are a few photos of my testing today;

Wheel Tire Automotive parking light Land vehicle Vehicle


Azure Font Screenshot Electric blue Logo


If any of you solar gurus have any suggestions for me ,,, I am all ears 😁 !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #551 ·
How much wire and what grade wire will u use for portable solar panels to be in sun and van in shade?
From the Charger/Controller to “Whatever Battery” are #6 Marine wire with alligator clips @ the battery ends 6’ of Red & 6’ of Black (I went #6 as that is the largest the Victron Charger can take)

From the Panels to the Charger/Controller I purchased a 40’ cable (male / female Solar connection on either end), & cut it in half. It is proper solar wire - thick UV rated insulation & I believe it is #10. This is my “test” setup & I’m not sure what I am going to use for final setup yet. So 20’ at this point
 

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Am I reading the Victron grab right, that the battery is being charged at 14.76V @ 3.7A? From the back of my napkin that is only giving you < 60W charging for 156W solar input. Am I doing that right, seems like some loss there. Might be worth considering 24v system since the charge controller can handle both 12v or 24v at 50 amps to the battery? I'm new at this but curious as well, seems like less loss. :)
 

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From the Charger/Controller to “Whatever Battery” are #6 Marine wire with alligator clips @ the battery ends 6’ of Red & 6’ of Black (I went #6 as that is the largest the Victron Charger can take)

From the Panels to the Charger/Controller I purchased a 40’ cable (male / female Solar connection on either end), & cut it in half. It is proper solar wire - thick UV rated insulation & I believe it is #10. This is my “test” setup & I’m not sure what I am going to use for final setup yet. So 20’ at this point
Your strategy is good in general - sort of similar to your cabin setup.

The panels are 1500 volt rated, which sometimes can be interpreted as them being a higher quality panel mechanical construction than a panel rated for more typical sub 300 volt levels. It is an indicator - not a "for sure".

Wiring the panels in series is exactly how to do it for an MPPT controller, and the Victron controllers are dramatically better than the renogy ones. I have only used the 48 volt output models but they worked fine.

I use the same method of making the solar wires - buy them premade and cut in half. In theory you could go to a larger solar wire than #10, but with it isn't worth it IMHO for < 6 amps. Even if the voltage drops 1 - 2 volts through that wire length, it is only a few % of 80 volts, and reducing it by 50% would not substantially change the end results.

I like to wrap yellow electrical tape a few places on the solar (+) wire and red tape a few places on the 12 volt (+) wire just to help me make fewer errors.

It can be convenient to have a way to shut off the solar (+) wire prior to disconnecting the MC4s, as technically they are not rated for doing that while current is flowing. (but I have done it). You can also just cover one panel with something first to stop electricity production and then disconnect.
 

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For better or worse, the anderson SB50 is becoming a quasi standard connection for hooking up 6 awg wire for jumper cables and similar uses. They make a version that they sell as "chemical resistant" but the feature that I like is that it is actually rated for the temperatures commonly experienced in North America.

This might make it easier to hook up / disconnect near the battery.


A good practice is to put a fuse or breaker that keeps protect the wires from experiencing 12 volt flowing backwards from the rolls battery pack in case something accidentally shorts while disconnecting or setting up.

Probably you will not ever see more than 30 amps, so in theory, you could just run it into the existing 12 volt fuse block. If that becomes a limitation, you can use a breaker. Double check if flipping this off will damage the victron controller or not but maybe you already know.

I can definitely see the advantage of the battery clamps, that would be a very handy way to deal with a dead starter battery in the middle of no where.
 

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I am not completely sure about trying to use this portable setup to charge a wide variety of portable devices.

Most modern portable devices are one of the many varieties of Li technology, and the settings for Li Ion cylindrical vs LiPo vs LiFe vs AGM vs flooded usually don't use the same voltage set points, so this might require entering new settings for each device.

My wife can figure out about anything that she is interested in figuring out, but if I asked her to do that, I would get a dirty look. Honestly, I would also at some point mess up as well.
 
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Consider to do something to cover the sharp corners of the panels as they can do some damage.

I like to put something thin, example the foam shipping liner that covers the face of the glass even when facing each other for storage.

There is a thin line of sealant at the inner frame / glass interface and this needs to stay completely intact when fastening them to the hinge. Most brands of solar panels void the warranty if you drill into the side of the frame (due to this seal) , but people routinely do it.
 
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My Renogy 100W panels sides are double walled with about ¼” void in between.
 
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Discussion Starter · #558 ·
Am I reading the Victron grab right, that the battery is being charged at 14.76V @ 3.7A? From the back of my napkin that is only giving you < 60W charging for 156W solar input. Am I doing that right, seems like some loss there. Might be worth considering 24v system since the charge controller can handle both 12v or 24v at 50 amps to the battery? I'm new at this but curious as well, seems like less loss. :)
Hi @jackg48104

I am still learning the nuances of this particular solar controller. There is a correlation between the array wattage & charging wattage that I am not sure I fully understand. I would need to contact Victron to understand what I am seeing in certain situations, but there could be a latency in info on the iPhone at the time I take a screen shot & this might have been taken when the computer was thinking of switching between “Bulk” & “Absorption”.

I can tell you this as my rough observation @ my cabin with the same charger/controller; I have the feeling with a fully charged battery the array will not show anywhere close to the max array total. In my cabin I have a 600W array & I have seen 600W, but only during times of “Bulk” charge & on “Float” the array wattage never seems very high. So again to understand what is being displayed I would need to contact Victron for an explanation.

I an not building this “Portable” solar charging system for my van alone, I am building it for a multitude of batteries. Plan on mounting the charger inside some kind of toolbox or “Pelican Case” once I figure out what I want to do (think of a toolbox or case with alligator clips coming out & a positive & negative quick connect for the solar panels to get hooked up).

The thing I like about this charger is I can program it for any FLA, AGM, or Lithium on user set & saved programs. Alligator clip the battery I want to charge & set the software to that saved charge profile, attach the solar panels, & then “turn on the charger”.

In short YES, you are calculating that correctly. My van batteries were pretty much fully charged when I turned the portable solar charger on. It “Bulk charged” for a few minutes & then went to “Absorption charge” when I took the screen shot. Also I was messing around with the programing voltages, so it was not a steller test bed at the time.

I may someday, switch my “off the grid” cabin to 24v. @HarryN has gone to some length to educate me about such a possibility (& 48V). I see merit in these higher voltage systems & if I ever get over the cost/benefit hump I will do it @ my cabin which we use almost 100% off solar (April to October). No Inverter & propane for heat & cooking.

To answer your question of “some loss” (as it sounds like you have one of these chargers), look a the bottom - huge heat sink. I think the Victron is very capable in loosing all 700W 12v or 1400W 24v energy from the solar panels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #560 ·
I am not completely sure about trying to use this portable setup to charge a wide variety of portable devices.

Most modern portable devices are one of the many varieties of Li technology, and the settings for Li Ion cylindrical vs LiPo vs LiFe vs AGM vs flooded usually don't use the same voltage set points, so this might require entering new settings for each device.

My wife can figure out about anything that she is interested in figuring out, but if I asked her to do that, I would get a dirty look. Honestly, I would also at some point mess up as well.
Thanks for the posts @HarryN

Much Appreciated !!

Solar Panel Quality ,,, We shall see (I took the gamble)

Like you I’m not worried about the voltage drop on 80V

I used blue tape (my red is @ my cabin) on the positive solar wire “both ends” but I can’t screw it up @ the panel

In Canada I think it is “Code” now (these things change so rapidly) to have a “Combiner Box” to collect the array. These combiner boxes have breakers. Apparently “The Blanket” is out 😁

I thought of the Anderson, but I am also thinking of the charger etc on the bottom of a tool box & a tray or cover on top with the alligator clips & wire. Open the toolbox lid, grab the clips/wires, close the lid once the wires are placed into “slots”. Hope that description makes sense.

I might have some sort of connector on the outside of the toolbox for the solar wires to connect to ,,, maybe pigtails MC4s ,,, Pos with a breaker switch

Fusing the positive alligator clip wire was also a consideration (when I hooked it up to my Rolls I of course alligator clipped the terminal fuse not the Rolls terminal).

I think there is a bit of confusion over what I am building this portable charger for. It is not for “portable devices”. It is to charge FLA, AGM, or Lithium batteries. These batteries I can obtain the correct charge profiles the manufacturers recommend & easily user program the Victron to run those charge profiles. I can also save them to files stored within the Victron with names like; AGM Van, FLA Jeep, Lithium Starship (just kidding my Starship runs on AGMs 😜)

I do not own a modern portable device Blueti, etc.

All good info on the solar panel construction - thanks 👍
 
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