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2021 AWD 148" HR 3.5L EcoBoost Avalanche Grey
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Lol yeah we did 馃ぃ

Vent under the solar panels is an interesting idea. I guess that would take care of the rain issue. Plus save space. I wonder about closing/covering it from the outside though. That's a tight area and I'll bet it would be tough to seal. Also depends if a passive intake is enough for my uses... probably will be up to 4-6 people in it at a time some days.
When I was considering this route I looked at the MaxxFan Dome Plus Roof Vent w/ 12V Fan - LED Light - 6" Diameter - Manual Lift - Black. Operable from inside, no need to access outside under panels. I decided against this method due to the quadratic area thing I posted about above. You'd need 4 of these to equal 1 of the 12" fans. Keep vent area in mind if you care about getting the full CFM out of your main fan.
 

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Vent under the solar panels is an interesting idea. I guess that would take care of the rain issue. Plus save space. I wonder about closing/covering it from the outside though. That's a tight area and I'll bet it would be tough to seal. Also depends if a passive intake is enough for my uses... probably will be up to 4-6 people in it at a time some days.
I am considering removing my single Maxxair. I seldom power it and never run it at high speed. Do not like the huge lump on top of the van. Want a low profile configuration. Think Maxxair is overkill for a small van.

I would retain the Maxxair roof flange and add a always open cover and add a Titan cooling fan mounted inside the existing Maxxair interior plastic housing. Titan has about 1/3 the CFM compared to the Maxxair.


A open bottom channel would be bolted on outside of the Maxxair flange on all 4 sides to stop water ingress. Cover would be 1" above the top of the Maxxair flange. Cover would have flange down on all 4 sides.

To close vent I would use my existing 1" thick closed cell foam plug that I stuff into the opening. Now use plug to block out light at night or to insulate opening in cold weather.

Have not done any drawings to be sure the idea would work.
 

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I need to look at the schematics of the Espar again, but I thought that the holes in the floor with intake and exhaust are not actually transferring air into the van. I thought that externally circulated air is used for combustion--which is isolated and separate--and that the fan pulls from the butt of the Espar through a heat exchanger to the front, and this is the air that is warmed. I thought this is how the Espar avoids adding the moisture that is a side effect of the combustion process to the van. It鈥檚 been a while since I researched that though. Am I missing something?


Edit: I'm not missing something. Unless your heater is mounted outside the van, it's only circulating air within the van.


Edit 2: It's true that the fan will still circulate air, it's just not exchanged with air outside so I don't think it counts as a "vent."
^^^ You're right about the fan, but I bet the pups will enjoy the air being blown on them.
 
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We have only one fan, sort of in the middle over the range, and for sleeping have an installed side window in the back near our faces so we are breathing ambient air. We run the fan in the summer 24/7 on 10% exhaust, but 20-30% when cooking if the doors are closed.

I can't imagine why anyone would need two fans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
We have only one fan, sort of in the middle over the range, and for sleeping have an installed side window in the back near our faces so we are breathing ambient air. We run the fan in the summer 24/7 on 10% exhaust, but 20-30% when cooking if the doors are closed.

I can't imagine why anyone would need two fans.
I've talked to folks who've had one fan and also if you watch/read the "regret" articles/videos, most people say they'd add one to avoid needing an open window, etc.

I'll be using the van as a creative space/recording studio, so I want to keep it as comfortable as possible when not recording (we'll have to turn fans off for that)
 

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I've talked to folks who've had one fan and also if you watch/read the "regret" articles/videos, most people say they'd add one to avoid needing an open window, etc.
I don't know the difference between a window and a hole in the roof when it comes to air movement. The window is just fine: big enuf to allow the air in that is pulled by the MaxAir, and it is screened so wee beasties don't eat us. And you can look out it (we basically have no other windows, but those in the front.)
We live in MI, so our heating loads might be lower locally, but we have been comfortable all about the states although we have never visited in the SE states in the summer.
 

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2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
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I went away for a day and ya'll had a party in here 馃コ
Riiiight? :LOL:

Does anyone know the actual dimensions? I will be able to climb up on top in a few days, but haven't had a chance yet. Did some transposition from interior measurements and combing threads. This would help me visualize quite a bit.
Can't speak for anyone else; but it's actually not that simple. There's the location of the bolt-holes on the roof, the location of the flat-spot after the bolt-holes, the location of the "lip" on the edge of the van, and then the actual edge of the van roof. And - for example - how high you want the panels affects which mount-types / heights and therefore the widths. It really isn't a straight-forward measurement.

Take a look at DIY Van Roof Rack 鈥 STOKE LOAF VAN for a different view of his. He did the 8020 pivots directly to the bottom of rails. Then panels on top of those rails.

All that said... you pick what measurements you like from these pix:
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I looked into some options, but it seemed like everyone said the maxxair was leaps and bounds beyond competitors, mostly for that rain cover. I ordered an automatic and a manual fan for exhaust and intake duty, respectively. I will keep considering options until they're attached though, so may have one for sale if I go another route.

Similar to my minimal roof hole theory, I'm hesitant to cut the floor. Also, I think I'll need powered intake? There'll be groups of people inside for extended periods, so I'm really trying to keep the air fresh and cool as possible.
I mulled over this a lot. Almost raised the panels higher to put two fans under the panels. Decided to do one. Opening windows is a must - that thing flows WAY too much air and creates negative pressure in the van otherwise... actually feels weird on the ears. Now considering a hole under the passenger seat. Two of those fans would be silly overkill. I'd much sooner go with an AC unit. We'll see if I follow through with the hole under the seat... 馃


Appreciate this option and the roof rack link. If I go 100w panels, I will likely have to ditch the goal zero, as it tops out at 50volts. That's what's largely driven me to the 2 x 200 watt setup. I'm trying to go series wiring if possible. Lots more options parallel, but I've been convinced that series is the best approach. Thought process being that higher voltage coming in will allow charging earlier/later in the day and extend the total hours that the panels are useful. Shading issues can be avoided in many cases.
One set of panels versus another won't affect the goal zero or the early/later thing. Not sure where the theory on that is (feel free to link) but there's two issues with the GZ: 600w max AND 50v max. 100watt has nothing to do with either, so... if you like the Stokeloaf setup, you're good. Similar with parallel / series: just affects voltage, not watts. Advantage to series is higher voltage - which you /can/ solve by just going with 24V panels in the first place. The higher voltage means more power in smaller gauge wires - that's it - no other advantages, really. You could run 24V series but you'd exceed the 50V of the GZ, so that won't work. Anyway... prolly best to focus on the 600w issue and go closer to 24V (if you go GZ) or even 48V if you don't go GZ.


I have a 2019. Oldest I could find after months of searching lol. That's a good point about charge times. I think on a BIG day, I might use 350 amp hours of battery. My thought was that I would have a few days supply with this set-up, but yeah getting it done faster is always nice.

So if I go non-goal zero, I would probably just get 3x100 batteries & from what I can see that setup is approaching the goalzero price tag pretty quickly. Believe me, I was all-in on building my own system at first
馃
If you go 100Ah Battle Born, yeah... that's $3K for ~3.6kWh of storage. Plus all the other bits.

There are MANY options out there now. I have two of these units which totals $3200 for ~8kWh of storage. And there are less expensive options - including DIY, which is much less expensive... but yet another complexity to deal with. Suffice to say that you can get a lot more storage that charges faster for the $6K GZ list price (though not sure what actual purchase price would be) - even after you build all the parts.

My full kit of all the electronics - including batteries - fits in a 34" x 16" x 16" space (or something like that). As always, you do you... but neither price nor portability justifies a low-power-charge unit of that size relative to what can be assembled of top-notch components.

This photo shows the full set of gear - but in practice, it is all hidden in a cabinet under the fridge - and there's a drawer over the top of the batteries. It's just not much space, really. And it is a LOT less space that our last rig - the gear (especially batteries) get smaller and more powerful.

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Everything in our rig is a "module" that could be removed (galley, fridge, bed, shower, etc). If I wanted to make the electronics module removable, I'd use high-power disconnects on the wires for the DC input (solar), DC output (something like $30 a pair) then standard plugs for AC input and output (that's actually what we do already - you can see them to the left). Then separate the fuse panels to the van side, not /in/ the power module *as they are now). Then it would be movable inside of it's aluminum frame. It's just not as complicated as it seems sometimes. Something to think about. 馃
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
@gregoryx sincerely appreciate the level of detail in this response. Lots to think about & that measurement info is huge.

re: wiring - I found a bunch of threads, etc on the topic. I'll link one below. The idea is, if your charger needs 14v to turn on and your panel's optimum voltage is 19, you've got a small window of voltage to play with where it's useful in parallel. Vs in series, where this is stacked up and you'll hit that minimum even if each panel is only giving 7 volts & then be able to hit a higher max as well.

Curious why you said the two 24v panels wouldn't work for the gz? 24.1 was their open circuit... is 48 total too close? Or am I missing something else? You've got me drifting back towards building my own..

 

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Van your own van is my advice. People are pretty polarized about 2 fans vs 1 fan, like I said early on in this thread... it's the 2nd most debated topic after insulation. For me, the salient point is that the full power of the fan can only be utilized if you have adequate air intake. Some people think you don't ever need to utilize the full power. Fine. They might not---it depends a lot on climate and use purpose. And then the air intake can be achieved in lots of ways, including floor vents, windows, and an additional fan. Different combinations of these things make sense for different people in different environments with different purposes. Think about, for example, building codes in Phoenix vs Tahoe. Should I have a steeply angled metal roof engineered for a snow load of 150 pounds per square foot if I live in Phoenix? Heck no! But it makes sense if I live in Tahoe. The answer is ~~it depends~~. To say you "can't imagine" why someone would need/want two fans is like... well... a failure of imagination.
 

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So... looks like this solar / charging might get complicated... it really looks like you're putting a lot of stuff in the Vitamix and turning the dial up. 馃槃


First, the article. Basic summary: higher voltage means smaller gauge wire. That's the main thing. They add more complexity as a theoretical thing (more breakers, etc) but that's not real-world / necessary.

But the thing that's easy to miss in there is that they're talking about using MPPT solar controllers. I can't be sure, but GZ doesn't mention that. Maybe they are? Or something like it? Anyway... a legit MPPT controller is what makes this whole parallel / series discussion just a simple "choice" versus a larger design thing. MPPT allows any input voltage (which varies highly - we'll discuss that next) to be delivered as a steady output voltage. This is the best way to match up solar panels (highly variable voltage) to batteries (highly stable voltages - especially for charging purposes).

So one way to summarize the article is: using the highest voltage compatible with the solar controller allows the smallest possible wire gauge and therefore maximizes the delivery of power because it's more efficient. But, in reality, with the right cable size, lower voltage is not necessarily worse - just a pain to wire.

We know the GZ is 50V max. And 600w max (or maybe 750w). We don't know exactly how it deals with highly variable voltage - is it as efficient with it as a decent MPPT controller? Not sure. But we know the max. We don't know what happens if you exceed 50V. Or 600/750W.


On to the solar panels:

The panels you linked are 12V panels. They will see 24V at their highest point (open circuit voltage). You'll likely see up to ~20V from them in real-world use. In parallel, their voltages will be consistent. In series, their voltages will be doubled. Or tripled if you had three. So... 12V panels deliver 20V regularly (every day with sun) and in series, they'll deliver 40V daily. Meaning three is a fail - can't do 60V with the GZ. Also can't do a blend of series-parallel with three - gotta be an even number (and ideally perfectly matched).

Here's today (with 24V panels in parallel):
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A couple of things going on there: voltage at ~40V by 8am and drops a bit as the amperage climbs. Then when the controller shuts off the load (batteries full enough that it dropped to absorb then float mode), voltage jumps to ~43V then ~45V with the very low float draw - closer to the 48V open circuit voltage.


I'll try to combine things:
24V base is the highest the GZ will handle. 24V is better than 12V because it is more efficient on the wire (or use heavier gauge wire). So... either run two 12 panels or a higher even number of 12V panels series-parallel OR run any number of 24V panels in parallel. Same outcome / benefit. And limited by the GZ, so... done.

Also possible to go to a different system than GZ - including a legit MPPT controller that is designed to handle 48V panels (more like a 100V max) and... well... that should all make sense.

Also possible to use any panels into whatever controller THEN deliver 48V (or 24V) to the GZ. Just add one device in the middle. And get more out of the panels from the MPPT functions.


I'm sure you can search it, but the basics of MPPT is to optimize the variable voltage that solar panels put out to deliver the appropriate voltage to maximize it's /usage/ into batteries or whatever. Maybe the GZ does that. Not sure.

For comparison, I ran a PWM solar controller in my last rig and realized how much power I was /not/ getting because it limited the voltage. But I still got the 480W that the 3 x 160w panels promised - and they were wired parallel 12V. But they were using #6 or #4 wire shortly after the panel connectors. Back to that thing.
 

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Hi - I've got a LWB High Roof & am plotting out my roof layout. Tough to find exact measurements but from what I can tell, the roof is about 121" x 54".

I've ordered two Maxxairs and Hein's standard and forward roof adapter. I'm guessing the forward adapter will add a few inches to the real estate, but not much.

I'll be running solar into a goal zero 6000x. I'd like to try series wiring to start, which leads me to these two panels (Renogy 200 watt - 63.8" x 25.9") as the best bet. If I do my own battery build down the line or switch to parallel, I believe I could fit this as well (Renogy 175 watt 52.2" x 26.3"), if I offset my rear roof fan.

Assuming my math is accurate, we're on to how to mount these panels? I've also seen a lot of talk about using the weatherguard roof rails. This is interesting to me because I would probably like to attach a make shift awning or potentially other gadgets at some point. I'm not against using dedicated panel mounts or an alternative rail/rack system though.

Any suggestions or at least confirmation that this checks out before I start ordering more pieces would be very appreciated.

And re: goal zero - I know that's a ton of amp hours, but my calculations are that I will burn through about 300 hours on a good day. The only other generators I found are too small or on backorder through summer. So I'll have juice to spare and be able to weather some cloudy days stress-free.

Thanks
I also have a 2020 Long base, high roof and I installed two Maxxairs. I am making my own roof rack and will be mounting 4 Renogy 100 watt panels, two panels on either side of the fans. I wanted two fans so I can set one for incoming and one exhaust. Bringing air in with one of the fans I think will help change up the air closer to the floor.
152242
 

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I also have a 2020 Long base, high roof and I installed two Maxxairs.
Awesome! Next time you're up on your roof, could you grab us a measurement of the length between the fans? Thanks in advance!
 

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Awesome! Next time you're up on your roof, could you grab us a measurement of the length between the fans? Thanks in a
I used the DIY Van roof vent adapters and the measurement between those on the roof is 46". The distance between the fan housings is 40 1/2". On the interior the distance from fan center to fan center is 62". There is really only one position for the rear fan. It just fits exactly between the ribs. The front fan has more room between ribs. I can't say enough good things about using the DIY Van adaptors. They make locating the cutouts really easy.
20210501_075549.jpg 20210501_080253.jpg
 

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Thank you @Shannon D ! Did you use the "Most Forward Adapter" from DIY Van, or just the regular one?
 

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Two regular ones. Both fans are on the flat of the roof. I also used the vent adaptors as the templates to make the interior plywood back-up frames for inside.
Thank you! That's what I thought. So we should get a couple extra inches with the MF adapter. I noticed your plywood frames and thought they look super nice. Good work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Thank you Gregory, Shannon, and Maia - My buddy and I just had a nice afternoon reading through this and finagling some ideas. Lots of helpful stuff.

Are we correct in thinking that we could put this right between the fans?

400 watts - open circuit is 51.1 but max power is 42.4. I believe this will both fit and work with the goal zero (kinda leaning that way still, though I understand the limitations)

Would also buy the weatherguard rail and mount to that? Looked at the Stoke Loaf and this seemed simpler/less expensive, though we may borrow some pieces from his build to get it done.
 

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Are we correct in thinking that we could put this right between the fans?
The post I linked above has a Solaria panel that is 43.9" wide and reported 1/4" and 1/2" clearance with the fans. That was using the most forward fan adapter. So, at 47.4" for the panel you want... it's not going to work. Though it might work if you're willing to install the front fan backwards (so the part that the overhangs and lifts up is towards the front of the van). That should give you a few extra inches, maybe 7" if I'm parsing this diagram correctly.

152331
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Whoops, completely misread the space between fans. they have a 360 watt that is only 40 inches... guess we could do that...

You're speedy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Wait, actually... Where did you get that 43.9 number? Because Shannon just measured 46 on her roof. I have a most forward adapter, which looks like it might buy me the space I need.
 
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