House battery.. and/or Solar.. That is the question.. - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 11:23:PM Thread Starter
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House battery.. and/or Solar.. That is the question..

I am in the process of wanting to ad some extra power to the inside of my van.. Here is what I would like to power.. 20" flat screen/dvd player (40 w max..18 w typical)
Maxxfan. 48 w on high, 6 w on low..
Laptop..42 w. on boot, less to run
phone ?
Coffee pot (small)
heated blanket..

Chances are not all will be running at the same time..

I was thinking 320 watts solar on the roof, with a 100 ah of so AGM battery with a 400 watt Pure Sine wave inverter..
Or, would a large house battery with a smart battery isolator do the trick.. Or am I way off on this..

Thanks Smitty

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 11:47:PM
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I think either option would work depending upon how you use your vehicle. If driving around in case you drain the battery is not a big deal then the second option would be preferable. If you plan on setting up camp for 2-3 days at a time then the solar would be a must.

Even a small coffee maker can suck up a lot of juice, example: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping...ee-maker/55673

800w as well as the heating blanket.

Depending how long you want to run, a bigger battery or bank of 100s may be necessary.

You likely will need to consider a beefier inverter, maybe 1000w if running the heating blanket and coffee pot is ever a likelihood.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 08:59:AM
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I have a 300 watt panel with a Morningstar MPPT solar controller that provides all the power I require. My house battery is a 255 amp-hr 8D AGM. The 1000 watt Magnum inverter will run a 600 watt (1140 watt actual) microwave. Use a propane stove. Either the microwave or the stove can be used to heat coffee water. I only turn on the inverter when I need 120 volt AC power. Left on overnight my inverter will use about 6% of the battery capacity without any 12o volt loads.

Suggest you use a DC heating pad instead of a AC blanket. Heat under is more comfortable than heat over. It also does not require the inverter to be turned on. I do not heat the van interior but stay warm with the heating pad. Problem is a cold head so balaclava is used. Since van is cold the refrigerator runs less so electrical usage is about the same.

First step is to buy a "Kill-a-Watt" meter for about $25. Run the 120 volt stuff you want in the van in your house to determine the actual amperage of each item. Because the inverter is about 85% efficient you must divide the AC loads by .85 to get the actual amperage draw. Make a similar list for the DC loads. Then estimate how many hours (or fractional hours) you will run each item each day. The total amp-hr consumption will tell you the battery size required. The battery size in amp-hrs should be at least double what you use each day. (50% discharge).

Next you need to determine how you are going to provide charging to return the battery to 100% SOC (state of charge) each day. There are multiple choices. Consider the efficiency of the charger.

The size of the inverter selected is determined by the total watts of all 120 volt items that you want to run at the same time. Doubt that a 400 watt inverter will run a coffee pot even without other items running.

Consider a DC TV so you do not need to run the inverter. Normally it is recommended that the solar wattage about match the battery amp-hr. In other words 300 watt panel used with a 300 amp-hr battery. I suspect you would want at least 200 amp-hrs of battery capacity. The 120 volt coffee pot is a major power user. Heat water on stove and use a coffee press? Will you cook with propane? Some like a single burner butane stove to avoid the power usage of a coffee pot.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 03:21:PM Thread Starter
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Suggest you use a DC heating pad instead of a AC blanket. Heat under is more comfortable than heat over. It also does not require the inverter to be turned on.
First step is to buy a "Kill-a-Watt" meter for about $25. Run the 120 volt stuff you want in the van in your house to determine the actual amperage of each item. Because the inverter is about 85% efficient you must divide the AC loads by .85 to get the actual amperage draw. Make a similar list for the DC loads. Then estimate how many hours (or fractional hours) you will run each item each day. The total amp-hr consumption will tell you the battery size required. The battery size in amp-hrs should be at least double what you use each day. (50% discharge).


The size of the inverter selected is determined by the total watts of all 120 volt items that you want to run at the same time. Doubt that a 400 watt inverter will run a coffee pot even without other items running.

Consider a DC TV so you do not need to run the inverter.
.
Thanks, i did not think about a DC heating pad or TV.. I used a heating pad years ago when I drove a semi...

I am so new to solar I just don't want to have to buy twice. Should you buy the more expensive MPPT controller, or will the PWM work just fine?? The parts bill can add up fast!!

Thanks for any and all the help folks...

Smitty

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 07:32:PM
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Space is limited on top of a van so anything that gets more output from the same space IMO has value. You also want a solar charger that can be programed to match your battery bank and one that gives a 3 stage charge.

Best solution for the TV is a book. There will never be a TV in my van. One of the reasons for camping is to escape the TV. I do have a tablet to connect to the internet.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 08:49:PM Thread Starter
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Space is limited on top of a van so anything that gets more output from the same space IMO has value. You also want a solar charger that can be programed to match your battery bank and one that gives a 3 stage charge.

Best solution for the TV is a book. There will never be a TV in my van. One of the reasons for camping is to escape the TV. I do have a tablet to connect to the internet.

The TV will never have a antenna, just a built-in DVD player for those rainy evening...

Thanks Smitty
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-12-2016, 12:40:AM
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320 watts solar with a MPPT controller sounds good. Along with that I would recommend two 12V group 27 AGM batteries for a total of ~210 Ah. Also a little bit larger 600 watt inverter with a built in (or stand alone) shore power charger and the ability to charge with the alternator via a combiner or Orton's dual inverter system.

To get the most utilization and life from the batteries, you need to take advantage of all 3 charging sources: solar, shore power, alternator.

Your coffee maker is the largest 120V load. There are small 4 cup and single serve 600watt models available.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-12-2016, 08:48:AM
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Need to get up on my soap box again.

Depending on your climate and electrical usage the 300 watt panel can provide all the power required without any need for charging from shore or the alternator. Mine does that. I do have two other methods of charging for backups. Can use real 120 volt AC shore power or "shore power" from a vehicle powered pure sine inverter. A selector switch selects the source used.

The advantages of using a second vehicle powered inverter instead of a direct house battery to vehicle battery connection are:

1. The house battery is always charged with a 3 stage (bulk,absorb,float) charge.
2. A correct charge profile can be programed into the charger that matches your house battery requirements.
3. Two batteries that are different size, type, age, mfg. date or brand are not connected together for charging.
4. 120 volt AC power is available while you drive for other purposes. I heat my shower water electrically or can run an electric baseboard air heater in back of van.
5. 14/3 cord for AC is used to get power from front of van to rear mounted charger instead of heavy 12 volt cable.
6. Eliminates the connecting relay.
7. Allows the house 12 volt system to be completely independent of the vehicle electrical system. I do not use the chassis as a ground for the house system. Two wires to each load.
8. Limits the draw on the alternator. Amount of power from the vehicle is limited by the size of the vehicle inverter.

Disadvantages:

1. Can not easily connect house battery to vehicle battery for vehicle starting.
2. Slightly higher cost.

I also prefer one 4D or 8D house battery instead of multiple batteries. Simpler installation with fewer connections and less space required. One battery may cost more but installation costs are less. Some comment about the weight at installation. That has not been a problem and you only do that once.
Same reasons for using one solar panel instead of multiple panels. No need for a roof rack or combiner box with multiple wires. Just two wires between panel and solar controller. One panel has the disadvantage of less power if portion of panel is shaded. That has not been a problem for my installation.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-12-2016, 11:47:AM
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What device do people use to interface with the alternator? I have been reading a bit but there does not seem to be one tried and true solution. Seems like a basic isolator will only charge the battery to 70% since it's at 13.7V and not 14.6V

I would like to start with charging a 200ah house battery with the alternator, then integrate 200W of solar later on

Any help is appreciated!
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-12-2016, 12:38:PM
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I'm planning to install Nations alternator. I do have Panasonic 325w solar panel and 500ahr LifePO4 battery already installed.
Idea is to charge battery bank as fast as possible from Nations alternator.
so far have no idea how to achieve it.

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