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Electrical installer/Van conversion needed Marshville, NC


jan50

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Hello,

 

I recently purchased a high top passenger van with the intention of renovating it into an office/camper. It's a small van

(view here: http://www.discountc...ore.com/van.htm) I would like to get the following done:

* get some batteries put in to power a portable ac, lights, tv, dvd, maybe a small fridge

* get a bed and dinette built into it

If you are interested, please send me a message via this forum.

Thank you,
Jann

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Jann, as far as your wanting to "get some batteries put in to power a portable ac, lights, tv, dvd, maybe a small fridge"

 

 

I take it you realize you do NOT want to use the engine battery for these purposes lest you discharge it and cant start the vans engine

 

My preference would be to install two 6 Volt Deep Cycle Golf Cart type batteries (such as Trojan brand etc) in series for 12 VDC to power small 12 VDC or 120 VAC (Using an additional 12 VDC to 120 VAC electronic Pure Sine Wave PSW Inverter).

 

If you don't have room or just want one battery for powering small electronics, you can opt for one of the so called 12 Volt RV/Marine batteries like sold at Wally World, but that stores less energy then the true deep cycle golf cart type of batteries and requires venting.

 

Regular flooded lead acid storage batteries require venting (hazardous explosive gasses can be present), while if you spend more bucks and purchase Absorbed Glass Mat AGM batteries such as Optima, that's not a concern if venting or a location is critical.

 

If any small power appliances require 120 VAC you need to buy an Inverter to change the 12 VDC battery power over to 120 VAC and I suggest you buy a more expensive Pure Sine Wave PSW unit. WHAT SIZE IS NEEDED depends on your appliances and loads. If its ONLY small electronics like a laptop computer or cell phone chargers a 400 Watt may do, However if you need to power a small dorm size 120 VAC fridge, you may need at least a 1000 Watt or larger depending on size of fridge. My small 120 VAC Haier fridge only uses like 35 Amp Hours per day. Many 400 or 1000 Watt Inverters are equipped with 5 VDC USB outlets which can be used for small electronics.

 

It looks like that so called air conditioner you linked to only requires 1.6 amps at 12 VDC which isn't too much load fro your batteries.

 

I suggest you dont draw down discharge your battery over 50% of its rated capacity IE if your batteries are rated say 200 Amp Hours, when you have used 100 amp hours Id stop using them until such time they can be recharged. Raises another issue of how you re charge them?? Via the engines alternator when running ??? That's not the absolute best but could get you by, Im NOT going to try and address all that now.

 

THERES MUCH MORE AND THIS IS ONLY A BRIEF START TO YOUR QUESTIONS Its hard to describe each and every thing you may need as we don't know all the information and loads.

 

John T

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I take it you realize you do NOT want to use the engine battery for these purposes lest you discharge it and cant start the vans engine

 

I don't want to put words in her mouth or get in the middle much, but we had a pretty talk and she has a good handle on what she would like her system to be able to do, but still getting her head around the components. She's quick on the uptake and researching different ideas so requirements may change, but just so anyone interested in taking this on, it's pretty straightforward. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Jann)

 

- 2 X 6v AGM's (220ah coach install)

- Smart charger (progressive dyn? Possibly a converter/charger?)

- Inverter (Samlex PSW... PST-600-12 or equivalent?)

- Discreet exterior 120vac 20amp weatherproof plug. (to charger and outlet front and rear?)

- Basic wiring for LED's and possibly a fantastic fan.

- 12vdc socket (X2?)

 

Possibly a chassis solenoid/relay to utilize the alternator for charging while in transit.. depends on the current alternator size. TBD.

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Yarome and Jann, based on new info:

 

I reallyyyyyyyyyyyy like use of a so called 3 or 4 stage "Smart" Charger which will improve battery life and performance. Maybe a 30 to 60 amp Progressive Dynamics with Intelli Charge Wizard or a Xantrex. Magnums are fine but may be over kill or too expensive for your modest needs in such a small van??? Be sure it has an AGM charge setting not just for flooded lead acid

 

If you use a mechanical isolation solenoid/relay which connects house to engine battery when engine is running, don't forget it needs top be a 100% duty rated NOT a Ford or similar starter relay which can look the same

 

John T

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I'm partial to using an inverter/charger unless there is a good reason not to.

 

I agree. Suggestions?

 

In the same price points, $ to capability/reliability/efficiency isn't easy. A little MMS1012 would be perfect, but it's also a grand installed. An MSW could work for around $800 installed. A freedom.. decent inverter, but a cruddy 10amp charger and if one side fails your out both.

 

Then there's the converter/charger + inverter vs. charger/inverter sans converter thing.

 

On edit: "installed" to mean the base unit + cabling/fuse/etc.

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I agree. Suggestions?

 

In the same price points, $ to capability/reliability/efficiency isn't easy. A little MMS1012 would be perfect, but it's also a grand installed. An MSW could work for around $800 installed. A freedom.. decent inverter, but a cruddy 10amp charger and if one side fails your out both.

 

Then there's the converter/charger + inverter vs. charger/inverter sans converter thing.

I actually like the Kisae Abso inverter for lower price needs. They have been improved this last year and some of the annoying things fixed....like constantly running fans. I'd certainly consider one for this function.

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I actually like the Kisae Abso inverter for lower price needs. They have been improved this last year and some of the annoying things fixed....like constantly running fans. I'd certainly consider one for this function.

 

If past issues have actually been resolved it would certainly fit the bill. Even less expensive and a much smaller footprint... and I've "heard" they've been re-vamped... from retailers... but I haven't run across one or heard from anyone that actually has one in use. Not to say they aren't out there. I just haven't personally heard anything from an end user yet.

 

Jann, you might consider it. Jack's more in the know than I am and wouldn't suggest it if he wasn't fairly confident. It looks like they run right around $400 for 1000 watt inverter/40 amp charger. Not too shabby.

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If past issues have actually been resolved it would certainly fit the bill. Even less expensive and a much smaller footprint... and I've "heard" they've been re-vamped... from retailers... but I haven't run across one or heard from anyone that actually has one in use. Not to say they aren't out there. I just haven't personally heard anything from an end user yet.

 

 

I've also not installed one. I did talk to the distributors at MATS and expressed some of my "concerns" about what is basically a good unit. They showed me what they did to respond to customer inputs...and I was impressed. I don't know if they are "perfect" or not...but then again, my Magnum hybrid is not "perfect". As I said, I'd take a chance on it in this application.

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Thank you to everyone for the information and suggestions. Much of what was said is over my head. Yarome has explained some things to me which has been very helpful. I think I need to find a person who is interested in actually doing the job, then I can tell them what the electrical needs are, and then they can tell me what my options are.

 

Here is what I would like:
* I want to set up separate electricity so I can boondock for a few (3-4) hours and I think batteries is the best way to go because there's no room for a generator or solar.
* I want to run this portable ac when needed.
* I want some led lights installed in the back, to work by.
* I want the tv and dvd player which are already installed (and working off the car battery) rewired to the battery bank.
* If possible, I'd like to put in some sort of low amp hot plate or toaster oven. Can anyone recommend one?
The reno place suggested:
* installing 3 AGM hybrid batteries for 300 total amps. They can be drained to 20% safely. (Yarome says they have 500 life cycles)
* rewiring the tv and dvd player to it.
* installing the portable ac indicted above and connecting it to the battery bank.
* they said the car battery would charge the battery bank while driving but since that won't be enough to completely recharge it, the battery bank will also have a plug that I can plug into my house overnight. (I think they said this would require a charger, inverter, isolator and something else.)
I am wondering about the alternator because the inside was made with an Explorer luxury interior which taxes the alternator to the max. I know this because the reno place called the manufacturer (GMC) and asked if any electrical could be added to the current electrical system and they said no because the Explorer interior taxes it...
I also want a bed installed in the back, a dinette that will change into a bed next to it and curtains installed throughout.
Thanks again!
Jann
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We know of places in West Virginia and in Wisconsin that could do that type of work but they may be a bit far for you.

 

I do not think you have room for both a bed in the back and a dinette that converts to a bed. Guess it depends on what size beds you want.

 

Not sure but a toaster oven may put too much load on the system. You mayy want to check out iowa80.com for various 12volt trucker items that may work.

Dave

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* installing 3 AGM hybrid batteries for 300 total amps. They can be drained to 20% safely. (Yarome says they have 500 life cycles)

 

Jann, just to clarify. "drained to 20% safely" is the manufacturers claim, not mine. Any AGM can be drained to 20%, however, it's not without a 'cost of life' to the battery. It's what is called the Peukert coefficient.. the greater the DOD (depth of discharge) the shorter the "life" expectancy. As I mentioned with my AGM's, if I regularly discharge to 20% I could only expect 500 cycles, however, if I never discharge below 80% I can expect 3000.

 

The batteries Zack is trying to sell you are the Interstate 31C's. Those are still a hybrid starter/deep cycle battery and not recommended for your intended application when it comes down to 'bang' for your buck and long life. As discussed... the gimmick they are trying to use on their new AGM's is, "look! Our standard AGM only get's 300 cycles at 50% DOD while our new and improved AGM's will give you 500 cycles at 80% DOD. See how much better they are?". ;) They probably are next to their own line-up.. but not compared to other "true" deep cycle AGM's.

 

It's just hype to try to justify the price tag. Not that they wouldn't work, and it's entirely up to you, but I would still recommend supplying your own "true" deep cycle cells.

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I agree with what Yarmome is telling you, but I'll add a few comments on your list as well.

* I want to set up separate electricity so I can boondock for a few (3-4) hours and I think batteries is the best way to go because there's no room for a generator or solar.

The time limit that you are setting up of only 3-4 hours it should be pretty easy, if you limit the total power needs. Remember that when you supply any device that was designed to run on 120V power with electricity from a 12V-dc inverter, the load from the batteries is just over 10 times as great as the 120V device needs. In other words, if you use an appliance that needs 2A at 120V, that takes slightly more than 20A from the batteries.

 

* I want the tv and dvd player which are already installed (and working off the car battery) rewired to the battery bank.

Should be very simple to do and work just fine. Any rerouting of wires will require the removal of any interior materials the van now has but electrically there is very little involved in doing this and not a great deal of cost beyond the labor.

 

* If possible, I'd like to put in some sort of low amp hot plate or toaster oven. Can anyone recommend one?

All cooking devices require a high current to operate. It isn't difficult to determine the current required. We have a physically small Breville toaster oven works very well but it does so because it supplies 1800 watts of heat. No matter how you supply it, the watts of heat require current at a rate of the number of watts, divided by voltage equals the minimum current required. That means, 1800/120V = 15a but if you take that from 12V the current required now rises to 150A. The numbers would actually be just a little bit more because no inverter is 100% efficient. There is no device that supplies heat energy that can avoid this conversion to electric power.

 

I am wondering about the alternator because the inside was made with an Explorer luxury interior which taxes the alternator to the max. I know this because the reno place called the manufacturer (GMC) and asked if any electrical could be added to the current electrical system and they said no because the Explorer interior taxes it...

It is quite possible to replace the existing alternator on your engine with one of a higher output. That is something that many RV builders do on the chassis that they use and is almost universally done on the class chassis that are gasoline powered. If the standard alternator is running at it's maximum it would probably be wise to upgrade it to one of higher capacity since anything that you add will increase the load on it and the cost should not be excessive to do so.

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Jann, youre really doing your homework, good job, here are my inputs regarding your post:

 

Here is what I would like:
* I want to set up separate electricity so I can boondock for a few (3-4) hours and I think batteries is the best way to go because there's no room for a generator or solar.
Boondocking for a few hours requires far less energy then most of us here who may do it for days on end and YES battery energy storage for such light use will get you by for a few hours WITHOUT Generators or Solar PROVIDED THAT you properly and fully recharge your batteries. I don't like to discharge them over 30% of their rated capacity and prefer only a 20% discharge prior to recharging them I WILL ADDRESS BATTERIES BELOW
* I want to run this portable ac when needed.
That unit only draws around 1.6 amps and that's a relatively LOW energy user so it shouldnt be a major concern as far as energy for 3/4 hours use
* I want some led lights installed in the back, to work by.
WISE CHOICE as they use such little energy and your 3/4 hours of boondocking is nooooooooooo problem
* I want the tv and dvd player which are already installed (and working off the car battery) rewired to the battery bank.
INDEED and that NOT any difficult or expensive task
* If possible, I'd like to put in some sort of low amp hot plate or toaster oven. Can anyone recommend one?
Resistance heating devices and low amp DONT REALLY GO TOGETHER LOL. Resistance heat requires much more energy then LED lights or that AC unit or your electronics. SURE you can buy some sort of a hot plate or toaster but be aware they are in general high energy appliances...........
The reno place suggested:
* installing 3 AGM hybrid batteries for 300 total amps. They can be drained to 20% safely. (Yarome says they have 500 life cycles)
The choice of AGM versus conventional versus flooded lead acid is fine as far as location and other factors are concerned BUT AS YAROME POINTS OUT I suggest the use of True Deep Cycle (similar to Golf Cart) versus any sort of Hybrid or Semi or Quasi so called RV/Marine batteries. As far as their energy storage capacity, for 3 to 4 hours of boondocking (UNLESS you use a lot of stoves or heaters or toasters) 200 or so of total Amp Hours of battery energy storage will suffice HOWEVER sure 300 or 400 stores more energy. For example a couple of 200 amp hour 6 volt true deep cycle golf cart batteries (AGM or lead acid) in series yields 200 amp hours while 4 in series parallel yields 400. I STILL WOULD NOT HAVE LESS THEN 200 AMP HOURS (for 3/4 hours of boondock) so the answer depends on room for storage and your budget.
* rewiring the tv and dvd player to it.
Good and piece of cake if wired and properly fuse/breaker protected
* installing the portable ac indicted above and connecting it to the battery bank.
Piece of cake, it only draws 1.6 amps
* they said the car battery would charge the battery bank while driving but since that won't be enough to completely recharge it, the battery bank will also have a plug that I can plug into my house overnight. (I think they said this would require a charger, inverter, isolator and something else.)
IMPORTANT Its true the engines alternator can via an isolation relay charge your house batteries to a certain extent while driving HOWEVER not to the extent or quality a true so called 3 or 4 stage progressive 120 VAC powered "Smart" Charger can. If you use a smart charger you can greatly extend your battery life and performance. For only 3/4 hours of boondock use and with only a couple house batteries you could "get by" with say a 20 to 30 amp smart charger, sure a 40 to 60 or even 100 amp would charge them faster, even if it may be a tad overkill. There are a ton of brands of 3/4 stage progressive so called "smart" chargers out there so the answer depends on the size you choose (be it 20 that can suffice up to 60 to heck even a 100 amp) and brand and quality. Something like a 20 to 30 amp Progressive Dynamics with Intelli Power Charge Wizard or perhaps a Xantrex will work. SURE YALL a bigger more expensive unit with all the bells and whistles will work better if money is no object
ALSO IMPORTANT if you have electronic devices that require 120 VAC and you want to use them when boondocking (no 120 VAC available) YOU NEED A 12 VDC (powered off house batteries) TO 120 VAC INVERTER and I suggest you use a Pure Sine Wave (PSW) versus a cheaper Modified Sine Wave (MSW). If you ONLY have small electronics like computers and cell phones and chargers a 400 watt can get you buy fine. Hey were only talkin a small van here with 3/4 hours of boondocking time NOT a huge fifth wheel designed for weeks of boondock lol
FINALLY they make Combination Inverter/Chargers if you only want a single unit versus BOTH an Inverter PLUS a Charger and that will work great. HOWEVER look at the sizes you need and the total cost (Inverter and separate Charger versus combination unit) and what you budget is. For only a few hours of boondock a huge high quality combination Inverter/Charger may be overkill and over expensive, while a smaller combination may provide best bang for the buck. Just because those of us with HUGE energy requirements and deep pockets may use a 100 Amp Charger or a 2000 to 4000 watt Inverter with all the bells and whistles or a Combination Inverter/Charger, does NOT mean in a small van with 3/4 hours of boondock and a limited budget you cant get by with 200 to 300 amp hours of battery storage and a 400 Watt PSW Inverter and say a 20 to 30 amp smart charger OR GO FOR THE GUSTO AND GET A SEPARATE HUGE CHARGER AND HUGE INVERTER OR A HUGE COMBINATION INVERTER/CHARGER (or a smaller rated yet still Combination Inverter/Charger which is great cuz you only have a single unit) Its you money and your call But fun for us to design and spend it huh lol

 

NOTE Im taking you at your word about 3/4 hours of boondock and based my answer accordingly. If you want more use or allow for expansion then I will upgrade my response but I ONLY tried to answer your questions based on your info.

 

Nuff said, this is ONLY one mans opinion, I'm sure the other fine gents can add to this

 

Best wishes

 

John T

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I'm sure the other fine gents can add to this

 

Not especially, John. :lol: You and Kirk just about gott'er covered.

 

Jann, the only thing I can think to add beyond what's been said already is that with a 220ah setup (such as 2 - 6v golf cart's) you wouldn't be limited to just 3-4 hours between charges. I wouldn't let your batteries get below 50% SOC (state of charge), but it would more thank likely take multiple days of 3-4 hour usage before you would 'need' to recharge.

 

So far, from your lighting to A/C to TV/DVD player, fantastic fan.. those are all 12v. You may not even need an inverter installed. 12v adapter cords are available to recharge your laptop, phone, etc. which would be a small fraction of the cost, not to mention more efficient, than using an inverter to supply 120vac.

 

Kirk and John both made excellent points regarding a hot plate/toaster oven. Going with a single propane burner might be a good option. The type that run off of 1lb bottles are quite inexpensive.

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