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The stealth part with all the solar panels seems very optimistic, but I am all for such a project as I've had this on my mind for a while and will do it one day as well.
I have currently a 400W panel on the roof of my minivan with a tilting mechanism. Whenever I put it up, every 5 minutes someone comes up to talk about it. Luckily for my needs at the moment I don't have to put it up too often and try to do it only in the wilderness now.
But if you want to have panels to assist your vehicle charging you will need a s*** load of panels. Something like this comes to mind (100% off the grid):
 

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i am aware that the electricity from that outlet might not be coming from 100% renewable sources...
Let's not forget, the environmental impact of any modern car is absolutely horrific. The mining, the steel smelting, the toxic chemicals. And the asphalt paving, an ecological obscenity. If you're gonna renounce fossil fuels, you have to boycott asphalt roads.

Since the primary goal of your exercise is to score virtue points from your fellow eco-doomers, why not go all the way? Renounce the car.

Revert to the constenoga wagon. That would be so brave and progressive!
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
The stealth part with all the solar panels seems very optimistic, but I am all for such a project as I've had this on my mind for a while and will do it one day as well.
I have currently a 400W panel on the roof of my minivan with a tilting mechanism. Whenever I put it up, every 5 minutes someone comes up to talk about it. Luckily for my needs at the moment I don't have to put it up too often and try to do it only in the wilderness now.
But if you want to have panels to assist your vehicle charging you will need a s*** load of panels. Something like this comes to mind (100% off the grid):
yep, i'm thinking of something kinda of similar, but not quite as big. they said they can get a full charge in 3 days, i'm planning on 6 days for full charge from solar alone. i'm also going to have the panels being supported by the vehicle [might require some poles]. i'd really like to program the car to move by itself to keep in line with the sun but that would void the warranty.

i'm planning on putting 6" pvc pipe on the sides to help conceal the solar panels, since these are very common on work vans, however, i'll put the pipe much closer to the roof, and might even use 4" for better aerodynamics. not perfect but should help. while solar panels on work vans are not very common now i think that is starting to change, i've seen a few in my area

 

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Inside chatter from F indicates sooner rather that later, in the 3- to 4-year range. Keep an eye on the F150 presaging E-Transit drivetrain developments. I have a source, but to protect his job I can't say much more.
Ford also promised to actually make the vans people ordered in 2021 and 2022, so.... :LOL:

On the full size van range issue; the biggest Transit customers are delivery fleets, then other commercial fleets, and the smallest segment, maybe 5%, are residential drivers (that's us). The delivery fleets stated that they want 200km (125 mile) range, and don't want to pay extra for more batteries to have a range longer than that (spreadsheet deciders). They wouldn't complain if range was further than 125 miles, but they don't want to pay extra for it, because they will never use it. Thus, Ford and others are doing systems engineering around those parameters. Ford COULD plop in the Lightning system, or the Maverick hybrid system, but their largest customers don't want that. BUT, there's nothing stopping US from doing a gearhead drivetrain swap. It just takes money, and some people LOVE to throw money at vehicle projects, especially Frankensteinish ones. Remember people stuffing V8's into Pintos and Vegas, and even Opel GTs?

Rusty's plans are ambitious, but sound like a good project, and totally plausible even with current tech.
 
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i'm starting this thread to help myself plan for a future conversion of a cargo van to a RV [van life] i don't have a van yet so some aspects here will be hypothetical. there is no guarantee that a EV transit will be the chosen vehicle but ford is currently the leader in EV vans so...

some minimum goals:
  • EV, the van will have an electric only drive train
    • minimum 200 mile real world range, preferably 300-500 mile range
  • lots of PV panels for both comfort and charging the van [1k-3k watts]
  • high level water reclamation/filtration system
    • minimally reuse shower water for more showers
      • hopefully also reuse shower/sink water for more shower/sink use
  • mini-split heat/AC
  • separate battery system 3-10 kWh size pack
    • both 120v and 240v outputs
      • 240v minimum output of 4000 watts, 6000+ watts preferred
  • stealth camping
some lofty goals:
  • pulling water from the air system
  • 100% water reclamation/filtration with tiered outputs [drinking, dishes, shower]
  • self driving option
  • onboard AI system to record/respond to people outside van when owner is not available
undecided goals:
  • signage on the side of van to pretend like its a commercial work van [stealth camping]
    • large e-paper panels to change what is displayed on side of van
    • permanent option "<last name>'s electric van"
timeline:

looking to buy/start conversion in 4-8 years. there are a number of variables that go into this projection the two biggest ones are "retirement" and van availability [currently there are no EV van options with sufficient range]. other factors that could come into play would be if start a relationship between now and then.
Hey Rusty,

Nice wish list. I bet you'll have a killer rig someday. Just be ready to spend and spend and spend...

I can speak to a few things on your list, although mostly as they relate to my specific needs, not necessarily yours.

1) I wanted/needed splitphase 120/240V to power the most efficient retail air conditioner on the planet: Carrier's 42 SEER 240V minisplit unit with aluminum golden hydrophilic pre-coated fins. But the minisplit install wasn't straightforward since I had to invent a new way to mount it, and I wanted to retain full functionality of the rear doors, which sounds easy but it's not. Lots of misleading lietube videos out there that make it look simple, but they're having problems and hiding them, or in one case the guy just outright lied until I pressed him on some details. Take those vids with a grain of salt. I'm still troubleshooting a small issue (resonant tone on the evap unit) that fortunately doesn't impact performance at all, but still, it's been a challenge. The good news is the a/c is extremely efficient and has held up for 10 months through intense heat and lots of 4x4 roads. Some more data about that in the build thread linked in my signature.

2) I also wanted to be able to use 120V shore power to run the 240V minisplit. The only inverter/charger that could do that (built in autotransformer) was the Conext SW 4048. So far it's working like a champ, very quiet, but then I rarely pull more than 1300W (microwave and a/c running), and the most I've ever briefly drawn was 2500W. Most of the time it's between 150-550W, so the fan never even turns on. But it can do 3.3kW continuous, or 3.8kW for 30 minutes which is getting pretty close to your 4kW target.

3) I was able to get 1,110W of quality solar (REC Alphas) on the roof. I can charge via solar and the inverter/charger (when on shore power) and even a possible forthcoming 5kW alternator (already paid for and partly installed just not sure I want/need it anymore with so much solar), so your idea of using multiple power sources to collectively fast charge at 240V is feasible. But when totally off-grid, solar will only output 5-7kWh per day, and that's just not going to be enough to make a big dent on an EV battery unless you stay put for a few weeks. It'll also be a fraction of that if the a/c is running 24/7.

4) I probably could have made the newest generation alpha pure panels fit, and pushed it up to 1290W, but they're much larger and are start getting into territory where a tree branch is more likely to snag, not to mention aerodynamics. They also pushed the VoC higher so its vaguely possible you'd need more than a 150V MPPT, and I wasn't interested in that. 133Vdc is already dangerous enough. But in 4-8 years, I could see 1500W's being possible if solar tech continues to advance, or you could go crazy and do a big fold-out mechanical array like some folks have done, but it'll sit higher and weigh more, so drag and m/kWh will suffer. Even so, I wouldn't expect more than 8kWh per day, maybe 10 tops during peak production months, and again, that's with no a/c or other loads running. With those loads, you'd maybe have 2-3kWh extra. However, during the winter if you use a webasto (would need a small fuel tank) instead of the minisplit heat pump, you could probably generate 5kWh/day per extra (with all DC loads running), maybe more. Heat pumps, even the most efficient ones like the Carrier unit I have still pull tons of power compared to a webasto. Think 1-2kW versus 30W for the webasto.

5) My minisplit is 9k btu and feels about right for the van. With extremely good insulation or with a box van (non metal) you could probably make a 6k btu unit work, especially if you avoid the hot desert southwest in the summer. But bear in mind the front windows and windshield let most of the heat in (assuming roof is almost totally shaded by a massive solar array). You'll either have to go through a lot of effort constantly installing thick expensive window covers (plus stowing them between drives), or settle for easier covers and a larger 9k btu unit. I'm doing the latter because when parked in the sun I'm net positive solar even at 100F ambient. I often intentionally have to keep the main battery bank at a lower SOC to help prolong its life, so for my situation, the less hassle dealing with window covers the better. If you only frequent places that top out at 90F, that would be a huge help, and maybe 6k btu could work for that.

6) A 10kWh battery bank is too small. I recommend 20 minimum. Solar output is highly dependent upon both cloud cover and your ability to park in the sun. Lots of great campsites don't permit that, and clouds are just part of life. When it's sufficiently cloudy, instead of being net positive 10% SOC per day with my 20.5kWh bank, I'm net negative 10%, and if it's heavy thick clouds and rain for days (happened outside of New Orleans) it can start dropping 20% per day. Since I only charge to 95% and discharge to 15% (kills the battery life if you push beyond that), 80% capacity at 20% per day draw = 4 days. Most of the time it's not 20% loss per day in that situation, and it's more like 5-6 days until empty, and this whole situation is infrequent, but still, if you want 24/7 a/c, even extremely efficient units will draw a fair bit of power, ballpark 4kWh per day in 100F ambient if you run it 24/7 and keep it nice and cool in there. Add another 1.25kWh for fridge/freezer and other misc loads (microwave twice a day, PD chargers, lights, etc) and you really don't have that much spare summer capacity. A 10kWh battery bank would be way too tight for my setup. I wish I had 30kWh. Then I could forgo the 48V 5kW alternator entirely. With 20.5 I'm just close enough that I may end up doing the alternator for those somewhat rare but recurring cloud/shade situations.

And a final personal comment. I dreamed big with the tech on my rig. And I got it. But it came at a price. It took four times as long just to get that tech installed versus what I had originally estimated for the entire build. Right now my walls and roof are just insulation, and I still haven't built the storage shelves (next) because I'm so burned out that it's hard to stay motived. Two years of toiling away in a van saps a lot of fun out of things, and reminds me that dreaming big is easy, implementing those dreams is hard. Just something to think about. It was fun for about one year, but by 1.5 years I was ragged, and after two years I was toast.

Your build is a huge project. Expect years of non-stop labor. Everyone I know on the forum with similar big plans hints in their build threads that they're bogged down and exhausted, just like I was for the last two years. Labor of love? Labor of hate? Who knows. Labor is the certain part.

Cheers.
 

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Sounds like a fun project.

Where I am challenged to make an EV conversion van work is how to make it comfortable and pull along the needed capabilities.

If the EV vans had at least 2-3 K lbs of tow capacity, then this would expand the ability to add solar panels and battery capacity. Perhaps even to bring along a generator for occasional use. AFAIK, there is zero tow capacity in the existing EV vans, so that is a real challenge.

If you are open to routinely charging the EV battery pack and the house battery pack at an EV charge station, then it might be feasible.

I don't know, but assume that you can charge the van EV pack from 120 vac? If so, then it isn't a big deal to purchase a good quality12 -13K BTU roof top air conditioner that is fairly efficient that also uses 120 vac.

There are some 48 volt DC split air conditioners but the form factor isn't completely easy to integrate - not impossible but not as convenient as they could be.

Do you have an initial plan for the house battery pack voltage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Hey Rusty,

Nice wish list. I bet you'll have a killer rig someday. Just be ready to spend and spend and spend...

I can speak to a few things on your list, although mostly as they relate to my specific needs, not necessarily yours.

1) I wanted/needed splitphase 120/240V to power the most efficient retail air conditioner on the planet: Carrier's 42 SEER 240V minisplit unit with aluminum golden hydrophilic pre-coated fins. But the minisplit install wasn't straightforward since I had to invent a new way to mount it, and I wanted to retain full functionality of the rear doors, which sounds easy but it's not. Lots of misleading lietube videos out there that make it look simple, but they're having problems and hiding them, or in one case the guy just outright lied until I pressed him on some details. Take those vids with a grain of salt. I'm still troubleshooting a small issue (resonant tone on the evap unit) that fortunately doesn't impact performance at all, but still, it's been a challenge. The good news is the a/c is extremely efficient and has held up for 10 months through intense heat and lots of 4x4 roads. Some more data about that in the build thread linked in my signature.

2) I also wanted to be able to use 120V shore power to run the 240V minisplit. The only inverter/charger that could do that (built in autotransformer) was the Conext SW 4048. So far it's working like a champ, very quiet, but then I rarely pull more than 1300W (microwave and a/c running), and the most I've ever briefly drawn was 2500W. Most of the time it's between 150-550W, so the fan never even turns on. But it can do 3.3kW continuous, or 3.8kW for 30 minutes which is getting pretty close to your 4kW target.

3) I was able to get 1,110W of quality solar (REC Alphas) on the roof. I can charge via solar and the inverter/charger (when on shore power) and even a possible forthcoming 5kW alternator (already paid for and partly installed just not sure I want/need it anymore with so much solar), so your idea of using multiple power sources to collectively fast charge at 240V is feasible. But when totally off-grid, solar will only output 5-7kWh per day, and that's just not going to be enough to make a big dent on an EV battery unless you stay put for a few weeks. It'll also be a fraction of that if the a/c is running 24/7.

4) I probably could have made the newest generation alpha pure panels fit, and pushed it up to 1290W, but they're much larger and are start getting into territory where a tree branch is more likely to snag, not to mention aerodynamics. They also pushed the VoC higher so its vaguely possible you'd need more than a 150V MPPT, and I wasn't interested in that. 133Vdc is already dangerous enough. But in 4-8 years, I could see 1500W's being possible if solar tech continues to advance, or you could go crazy and do a big fold-out mechanical array like some folks have done, but it'll sit higher and weigh more, so drag and m/kWh will suffer. Even so, I wouldn't expect more than 8kWh per day, maybe 10 tops during peak production months, and again, that's with no a/c or other loads running. With those loads, you'd maybe have 2-3kWh extra. However, during the winter if you use a webasto (would need a small fuel tank) instead of the minisplit heat pump, you could probably generate 5kWh/day per extra (with all DC loads running), maybe more. Heat pumps, even the most efficient ones like the Carrier unit I have still pull tons of power compared to a webasto. Think 1-2kW versus 30W for the webasto.

5) My minisplit is 9k btu and feels about right for the van. With extremely good insulation or with a box van (non metal) you could probably make a 6k btu unit work, especially if you avoid the hot desert southwest in the summer. But bear in mind the front windows and windshield let most of the heat in (assuming roof is almost totally shaded by a massive solar array). You'll either have to go through a lot of effort constantly installing thick expensive window covers (plus stowing them between drives), or settle for easier covers and a larger 9k btu unit. I'm doing the latter because when parked in the sun I'm net positive solar even at 100F ambient. I often intentionally have to keep the main battery bank at a lower SOC to help prolong its life, so for my situation, the less hassle dealing with window covers the better. If you only frequent places that top out at 90F, that would be a huge help, and maybe 6k btu could work for that.

6) A 10kWh battery bank is too small. I recommend 20 minimum. Solar output is highly dependent upon both cloud cover and your ability to park in the sun. Lots of great campsites don't permit that, and clouds are just part of life. When it's sufficiently cloudy, instead of being net positive 10% SOC per day with my 20.5kWh bank, I'm net negative 10%, and if it's heavy thick clouds and rain for days (happened outside of New Orleans) it can start dropping 20% per day. Since I only charge to 95% and discharge to 15% (kills the battery life if you push beyond that), 80% capacity at 20% per day draw = 4 days. Most of the time it's not 20% loss per day in that situation, and it's more like 5-6 days until empty, and this whole situation is infrequent, but still, if you want 24/7 a/c, even extremely efficient units will draw a fair bit of power, ballpark 4kWh per day in 100F ambient if you run it 24/7 and keep it nice and cool in there. Add another 1.25kWh for fridge/freezer and other misc loads (microwave twice a day, PD chargers, lights, etc) and you really don't have that much spare summer capacity. A 10kWh battery bank would be way too tight for my setup. I wish I had 30kWh. Then I could forgo the 48V 5kW alternator entirely. With 20.5 I'm just close enough that I may end up doing the alternator for those somewhat rare but recurring cloud/shade situations.

And a final personal comment. I dreamed big with the tech on my rig. And I got it. But it came at a price. It took four times as long just to get that tech installed versus what I had originally estimated for the entire build. Right now my walls and roof are just insulation, and I still haven't built the storage shelves (next) because I'm so burned out that it's hard to stay motived. Two years of toiling away in a van saps a lot of fun out of things, and reminds me that dreaming big is easy, implementing those dreams is hard. Just something to think about. It was fun for about one year, but by 1.5 years I was ragged, and after two years I was toast.

Your build is a huge project. Expect years of non-stop labor. Everyone I know on the forum with similar big plans hints in their build threads that they're bogged down and exhausted, just like I was for the last two years. Labor of love? Labor of hate? Who knows. Labor is the certain part.

Cheers.
thanks for the post, great info and i've already read parts of your posts and learned a lot. yep like you i'm looking for 1000-1200 watts on the roof and it will be tillable so i can get good aerodynamics while driving and good cooling plus sun alignment while parked, however, i also plan to have another 1000+ watts of panels stowed in the van for setup during long term camping. even with that i know i'm not guaranteed all the solar power i need so i will just need to not be too reckless, like driving out into the middle of nowhere using all of my van's battery with limited food and water with lots of cloudy days in the forecast. so when i'm away from civilization i'll use good planning and 2-3k of sun-aligned solar to live off and recharge the van. while in civilization i'll only have 1k of non-aligned solar but plenty of places to plug in so the van will have full power and i can draw power from that. the current ford transit has 68kwh pack which is not enough, at a minimum i'd want 100kwh like tesla's but i'm expecting 120-150kwh. this why i'm only looking at 5-10k cabin battery any extra power made with my solar panels beyond what my small cabin battery can handle can be transferred into the van's battery and i can then draw that power back out later if needed. the 5-10k cabin batteries main job is to capture solar power when the van can't [eg driving or at a charging station] so my real cabin battery is the van's battery and the 5-10k battery is just middle management

i think 6k BTU will be enough if i build a separator between the front area and the rest of the van. i'm also considering having one or two curtains to partition the van. obviously a curtain is not the same as 2 inches of insulation but two curtains with with a small air gag between sectioning off the sleeping area should allow a small cooling unit to preform even in the worst heat. while it would become very tiresome to constantly draw the curtains and a little claustrophobic to be confined to an even smaller space i don't foresee it being a necessity very often and even on the worst days it might only be necessary for a short time [eg the afternoon]

i am very aware of the motivation aspect, i've built two EV motorcycles and two EV cars and they took a while to make so i know about burnout plus as i'm getting on in years my motivation and energy levels are a lot lower, so it is a concern and i appreciate you bringing it up
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Sounds like a fun project.

Where I am challenged to make an EV conversion van work is how to make it comfortable and pull along the needed capabilities.

If the EV vans had at least 2-3 K lbs of tow capacity, then this would expand the ability to add solar panels and battery capacity. Perhaps even to bring along a generator for occasional use. AFAIK, there is zero tow capacity in the existing EV vans, so that is a real challenge.

If you are open to routinely charging the EV battery pack and the house battery pack at an EV charge station, then it might be feasible.

I don't know, but assume that you can charge the van EV pack from 120 vac? If so, then it isn't a big deal to purchase a good quality12 -13K BTU roof top air conditioner that is fairly efficient that also uses 120 vac.

There are some 48 volt DC split air conditioners but the form factor isn't completely easy to integrate - not impossible but not as convenient as they could be.

Do you have an initial plan for the house battery pack voltage?
yes you can charge the van from 120v and i plan to do so for long term camping but for a good sized battery pack [eg 350+ miles = 150 kwh] it would take several days to charge from 120v which is fine since i don't want to use all of the solar power just for charging.

originally when i was going to make my own cabin battery i was planning on 48v but using a premade power station its battery voltage is irrelevant, i'll feed it anywhere from 12v to 150v DC and it will give me 120v and 240v AC
 

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I think charge rate of 120vac would amount to 2-3 miles per hour in a Transit loaded down with equipment. A vehicle that is smaller and more efficient would get up to 7 miles per hour. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and/or talk about how charging with DC provided by the solar array, or stepping to 240vac from 120vac with the same array would speed up charging. I'm under the impression that the array can only produce X-amount of kwh, and changing voltage would not effect that.
 

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I think charge rate of 120vac would amount to 2-3 miles per hour in a Transit loaded down with equipment. A vehicle that is smaller and more efficient would get up to 7 miles per hour. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and/or talk about how charging with DC provided by the solar array, or stepping to 240vac from 120vac with the same array would speed up charging. I'm under the impression that the array can only produce X-amount of kwh, and changing voltage would not effect that.
My understanding is that in order to charge the EV van's traction battery from solar, it would first need to solar charge up the "house" battery, and then this would be inverted to charge the van's traction battery. Since these "rates" are probably not identical, it might end up looking like a batch process.

Rusty is pretty knowledgeable about this area though as he had built some EVs on his own so knows better than I do.

If he needs 240 vac split phase or 208 / 3 phase for charging, it might make sense to buy inverters that are designed to be combined this way, such as some of the higher end victron units can be setup this way.

Another option would be to feed 120 vac single phase into an autotransformer to create the 240 vac split phase.

It is always possible that a vehicle could be offered which would allow direct connection of a solar array that could plug directly into it. Technically this is entirely possible, but the electrical and fire code compliance would be complex to implement, especially since the fire code and CA codes related to solar installations are such a moving target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
I think charge rate of 120vac would amount to 2-3 miles per hour in a Transit loaded down with equipment. A vehicle that is smaller and more efficient would get up to 7 miles per hour. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and/or talk about how charging with DC provided by the solar array, or stepping to 240vac from 120vac with the same array would speed up charging. I'm under the impression that the array can only produce X-amount of kwh, and changing voltage would not effect that.
you are on the right track but there is little more to both charging options and my situation. while it is possible to fast charge from 120v AC there is not any technology that exists for it. most 120v charging cable/interfaces [note the charge cable is not the charger, the charger is on board the vehicle] normally run from 5A to 15A, but i think they make 20A? however, any higher amp options don't exist to the best of my knowledge, thus with 120v you are limited to 1800 watts [possibly 2400 watts], any higher watts will require 240v

so if all i was doing was charging from the solar panels i would be find with 120v charging solutions but i explained part the need for 240v in the separate battery system [post #4] let me copy and paste from there:

" 'through put' technology. i could also have had such a thing with my own custom system but it would be trickier and more expensive. through put allows for a fluid transfer, exchange and change of inputs and outputs. so could be charging van at 240 volts and running some 120 volt stuff [lights, refrigerator, etc...] from the cabin battery while simultaneously inputting power from shore and solar panels. this allows for a lot of flexibility and options the greatest of which is transforming a 120 volt outlet [level one charging] into a 240 volt level two charging. for example lets assume i have 2200 watts of solar and i plug into an 120 volt outlet at 15 amps [1800 watts]. i can combine those into a 4000 watt 240 volt output to charge the van without even draining the cabin battery. of course if i wanted i could drain the cabin battery and add another 2000 watts to the mix for a short time [2-5 hours depending on the size of the battery] for a total of 6000 watts of charging."​
thus if i want short bursts [1-2 hours] of fast charging or even longer semi-fast charging i need a 240v system. so if i have access to both a standard 120v outlet and i use my solar panels i can charge 2-3 faster than just 120v alone
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 · (Edited)
My understanding is that in order to charge the EV van's traction battery from solar, it would first need to solar charge up the "house" battery, and then this would be inverted to charge the van's traction battery. Since these "rates" are probably not identical, it might end up looking like a batch process.

Rusty is pretty knowledgeable about this area though as he had built some EVs on his own so knows better than I do.

If he needs 240 vac split phase or 208 / 3 phase for charging, it might make sense to buy inverters that are designed to be combined this way, such as some of the higher end victron units can be setup this way.

Another option would be to feed 120 vac single phase into an autotransformer to create the 240 vac split phase.

It is always possible that a vehicle could be offered which would allow direct connection of a solar array that could plug directly into it. Technically this is entirely possible, but the electrical and fire code compliance would be complex to implement, especially since the fire code and CA codes related to solar installations are such a moving target.
that is all correct but it is even simpler than you think, for about $9k USD i can get over 10k kwh of battery, it can cover all my power needs including putting out 6000 watts from 240 volt plug and deal with 2400 watts of solar. i was amazed at how fast power station tech has progressed in the past few years. plus it will be way more up to code than anything i could do, though i don't need to worry so much about that out here in the the wild wild west [aka new mexico] 2-ep500-power-station-split-phase-fusion-box and there are cheaper smaller options as well

Output device Peripheral Gadget Computer hardware Communication Device
 

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I gave this some thought as well. My idea was to get an E-transit cutaway and then add a huge LFP battery pack to extend the range to ~500mi. That's roughly the amount of driving I'm willing to do in one day on our cross country dashes.

This isn't the use case that you're describing obviously, but for me it was a no-go due to cost and charging times.

WARNING: shaky back of envelope math follows:

I think the E-transit gets about 108mi of range (high roof) out of its 68kwh (EDITED TO ADD CORRECT VALUES PER FORD) so to get another 400mi I would then need an additional 252kwh of battery. Assuming you buy 280Ah 3.2v EVE prismatic cells at $150 each, they're 280*3.2v = .896kwh per cell so 252/.896 = 281 cells needed = $42,150 for the add on battery. And then there's the charging. I think the E-transit uses 400v architecture and can charge at 150kwh max at a fast charger or 50ax220v =11kwh at a 50A campground site. So to get to 400v architecture I'd need either two packs of batteries probably that are 400v each, 400/3.2 = 125 cells each, 250 cells total so that would be a 224kWh battery (+68kwh stock batt) with a range of about 464 mi. Cost for this battery would be 250x$150 = $37,500 Plus the cost of BMS and charging equipment which is an unknown but probably another $5k. If I kept it more of a low roof profile and squeezed more like 120 mi/68kwh out of it I would have a range of 541 mi. I think the E-transit cutaway I priced was about $57k so this custom long range E-transit would end up being about $100k out the door and then you'd have the cost of the buildout.

USA STOCK FAST UPS DELIVERY LF280K 280Ah 3.2V LiFePO4 Prismatic Battery Cell Laser Welded Terminal Stud (docanpower.com)

Given that there are folks that buy sprinter revels for $180k or whatever there definitely seems like a market for this eye popping price but it's a little too rich for my blood.

I keep hoping the Workhorse/Lordstown motors comes out of bankruptcy and their hub motors become a thing. We could buy a RWD transit, put two of their hub motors on the front end, and then have a ~80kwh pack to make a more reasonable PHEV transit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Conversion losses through the chain sound like a nightmare to me.
there will be some loss but the only way to mitigate that would be build a custom MPPT solar charge controller, hack into the van's battery management system, void the warranty and possibly break some laws so that the van's batteries could charged directly from solar and even if i did, that would only cover solar charging [1000-3000 watts], reaching 6000+ watts of charging from three different power sources directly to the van's batteries would be the real nightmare. thankfully i don't need to, as there are off-the-shelf affordable options with the downside of losing 5-10% more than a direct option
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
I gave this some thought as well. My idea was to get an E-transit cutaway and then add a huge LFP battery pack to extend the range to ~500mi. That's roughly the amount of driving I'm willing to do in one day on our cross country dashes.

This isn't the use case that you're describing obviously, but for me it was a no-go due to cost and charging times.

WARNING: shaky back of envelope math follows:

I think the E-transit gets about 100mi of range (high roof) out of its 78kwh (I'm going off of memory here) so to get another 400mi I would then need 4x78 = 312kwh of battery. Assuming you buy 280Ah 3.2v EVE prismatic cells at $150 each, they're 280*3.2v = .896kwh per cell so 312/.896 = 348 cells needed = $52,200 for the add on battery. And then there's the charging. I think the E-transit uses 400v architecture and can charge at 150kwh max at a fast charger or 50ax220v =11kwh at a 50A campground site. So to get to 400v architecture I'd need either two packs of batteries probably that are 400v each, 400/3.2 = 125 cells each, 250 cells total so that would be a 224kWh battery (+78kwh stock batt) with a range of about 380 mi. Cost for this battery would be 250x$150 = $37,500 Plus the cost of BMS and charging equipment which is an unknown but probably another $5k. If I kept it more of a low roof profile and squeezed more like 120 mi/78kwh out of it I would have a range of 464 mi. I think the E-transit cutaway I priced was about $57k so this custom long range E-transit would end up being about $100k out the door and then you'd have the cost of the buildout.

USA STOCK FAST UPS DELIVERY LF280K 280Ah 3.2V LiFePO4 Prismatic Battery Cell Laser Welded Terminal Stud (docanpower.com)

Given that there are folks that buy sprinter revels for $180k or whatever there definitely seems like a market for this eye popping price but it's a little too rich for my blood.

I keep hoping the Workhorse/Lordstown motors comes out of bankruptcy and their hub motors become a thing. We could buy a RWD transit, put two of their hub motors on the front end, and then have a ~80kwh pack to make a more reasonable PHEV transit.
yes a DIY approach to more batteries is financially devastating, however, because our society has developed this weird pricing/market/capitalism system, we never pay the actual price of things, not to mention economy of scale, trade deals, etc... for example, i stopped making my own EVs because i could by one cheaper than the price the batteries alone. so if ford doubled the battery size then we could, conservatively, get 300 miles. which for me is plenty and because of skewed economics i think ford would only raise price by $5-10k, $15k at most. furthermore, if i can get a used EV van then the prices are even more variable and in the favor of folks who know what is what. for example i could easy see two identical used EV vans going for the same price even though one has twice the batteries of the other. things are getting better but most people are clueless about EVs, especially dealerships. when i made my first EV motorcycle in 2005, NM had me register it as a zero-cylinder gas bike. when i got my first used leaf from carmax, the "quality check" exit forms listed the car has just gotten a fresh oil change. i give carmax a hard time but i know the manger and normally i think all dealerships new and used are all that is wrong with this world, but carmax is doing things right; at least relativity speaking
 

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Some solid discussion of the difficulties of DC-DC charging off solar into the high voltage EV battery (2018). General summary is it’s not really feasible without a buffer (grid or your house battery bank). But some links/directions to pursue:

 

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There’s also the slightly longer-range Lightning Transit. They might even consider building an even longer range variant if requested.

 
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