Vanistan - a minimalist diy camper - Page 2 - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #11 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-08-2016, 02:22:PM Thread Starter
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Low-E SSR is great for cut your own window shades. We have developed templates for the windshield, cab, sliding and rear door windows. We stock the Low-E so I suppose we could cut the pieces out as well. You can attach decorative cloth to the inside for a more cozy look. PM me please.
cool! check your inbox!

oh, and i ordered your roof adapter for the Fantastic on Ebay - it was perfect! Thanks
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post #12 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-08-2016, 03:59:PM Thread Starter
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post #13 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 10:31:PM Thread Starter
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Welcome. We have the same van and are also planning a ~200Ah DC system for a fridge, fan, and lights. We can help you with a solar install that will allow you to carry a kayak.
somehow missed this earlier. that would be awesome. i am looking to do a ~100 ah DC system. any advice is appreciated

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post #14 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 04:16:AM
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I have a 105ah battery, 160 watt rigid solar, and a Morningstar charge controller. and it did pretty well on an extended trip last summer. But, if I could do it over, I would have more battery like 2x80ah or 2x105, (or some say better to use dual 6-volt in series, which could still provide 200ah). If I did that, I think I would need an MPPT controller, or some way to do additional charging from the alternator ( like a CTEK d250s). Supposedly you have to "balance" all this: enough current to efficiently charge the battery, and of course, enough battery to handle your loads. Twice in a 3 month period ( admittedly that's a low number) I ran the battery lower than I wanted (50% or possibly less). It was warm camping those nights, but all I really had running were the fridge, the roof fan on medium, some LED lights for awhile, and an auxilliary interior fan which helped move air into the back of the van. All pretty efficient, but the 2nd fan drew 10 amps (1.3 per hour) overnight, on top of the fridge (4.5 amp when it cycled) and roof fan (probably less than 10 amps overnight) and that took the battery down to the "yellow" (green, yellow, red battery indicator light on controller). Not sure it was topped off to begin with those days; but that can happen.
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post #15 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 09:48:AM
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I have a single 300 watt panel with a MPPT controller and a single 255 amp-hr 8D battery.

That combination works very well with almost indefinite traveling without charging from any other source. Have the usual refrigerator, device charging, LED lights, microwave etc. Do have a 4" x 4" hole in the floor and with the roof vent open that mostly eliminates powering the roof fan.

So far have never been below 83% SOC and that was after 3 days parking in the shade.

More info on the build:

http://www.ortontransit.info/
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post #16 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 12:47:PM
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real estate on the roof of her shorty van with a roof fan already there may become a limiting factor on panel size. Molly, pardon the hijack, but Orton, how are you determining 83% SOC? Calculated from voltage, or do you have some meter or gauge directly displaying that info? Hopefully Molly wants to know, since she may have to make do with a smaller system ( like I do).

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post #17 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 12:57:PM Thread Starter
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no problem, impatient. i was just about to ask what SOC means anyways. and yes, roof real estate is going to be a critical factor.

and i have a stupid question. if you have a 100ah AGM battery, you don't get to use 100ah, right? because you can't drain that sort of battery. or does it mean it has 160 ah, but you can use 100 ah.

Orton, that is a gorgeous build. thanks for the web page link.
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post #18 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 01:43:PM
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I always thought 50% was the safe and long-lived amount of drain you wanted.
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post #19 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 01:43:PM
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real estate on the roof of her shorty van with a roof fan already there may become a limiting factor on panel size. Molly, pardon the hijack, but Orton, how are you determining 83% SOC? Calculated from voltage, or do you have some meter or gauge directly displaying that info? Hopefully Molly wants to know, since she may have to make do with a smaller system ( like I do).
I have a MMS1012 Magnum Energy 1000 watt inverter/charger/transfer switch. Also have the Magnum ME-BMK battery monitor which includes a shunt that measures the SOC and that is displayed on the Magnum ME-RC50 Remote Meter. I just leave the meter set to read SOC. I could care less what amperage is going in or out of the battery. All I need to know is SOC. That and the weather forecast tells me what I can or can not do using power from the house battery.

I do run a "600" watt cheap $50 Proctor-Silex microwave (K-Mart) with the Magnum inverter. Microwave actually requires 1140 watts but Magnum does have surge capacity above the 1000 watt continuous rating. Originally tried a "700" watt microwave that worked once but not a second time so I knew I was close so bought the "600" watt and it worked. Have run it for 10 minutes which is outside of the Magnum surge capacity for that time so Magnum is conservatively rated. Suspect that my larger 255 amp-hr battery helps prevent a voltage drop that would trip the inverter.

I have only been below 90% SOC twice in the last year. Can travel indefinitely in my climate with the refrigerator running with only charging from the 300 watt solar panel.

More information on the electrical system:

http://www.ortontransit.info/electric.php

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post #20 of 106 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 02:26:PM
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SOC = state of charge, but I think you figured that out. Anyway, 100 means 100 total, and you should not think you will get to use all that on a regular basis. Conventional "wisdom" says for AGM deep cycle, don't go below 50%...50 ah in this case. (Starter-type batteries can't withstand repeated deep discharge, even to 50%, so you would get even less if repeated daily). Also in real life, you can't assume you'll be at 100% every evening when you start drawing down. I'm not sure what's under your driver seat, but I have the low-end non-AGM single factory battery...which is acceptable if using it only for starting the van. My "house" battery is AGM. If you can afford lithium or lithium PO batteries, my advise is not relevant. But you can waste your whole life trying to have the perfect solar, so don't overthink it like I'm prone to do.

Ok last bit of overthinking: if you don't already have a charge controller, here's my feeble attempt to help. Bigger = more expensive. Higher quality = more expensive. MPPT = more expensive. If you keep you panel small, a 10 amp could get you by, 15 possibly better, 20 overkill (for 125watt solar, but see below). Bigger panel would move those numbers upward. I can't remember Orton's controller, but he could probably max out a 30 amp controller with his panel. MPPT (vs PWM style) will squeeze a couple extra amps out at best (for my-sized panel) but that could be crucial. Most panels are 18 volt or higher. The higher the voltage, the more difference a good MPPT will make. A super-cheap MPPT may make no difference, and possibly be worse than a comparably-priced PWM. I have good quality Morningstar PWM with a voltage, load, charge current display. It taught me a lot to have the display. Not to be a shill for CTEK, but I kinda wish I had bought their d250s instead of the Morningstar, because theoretically, it would eak out a couple extra amps from my panel, but more importantly, it should be able to easily attach to the alternator and provide non-solar charging while you drive (or anytime motor is running). But no display, so less visibility into what's happening. Red/yellow/green LED's are better than nothing, but I'd miss that display if I change to the CTEK... plus it's expensive. Anyway, last summer, I typically drove back to my campsite each evening, which would have been a great opportunity to give the battery one last charge (from alternator) each evening, before starting the nightly draw-down. And in that scenario, the 20amp rating is not overkill unless battery was already full. Even a 100ah battery could accept that rate of charge. Earlier, I was just saying a solar panel under 200 watt can't provide 20 amps, so the controller would not need to be any larger...if solar-only.

Ok, that's all I know, sorry for the lecture. ( While I was writing and editing and re-editing this, Orton replied with more info)
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