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Old 05-05-2012, 09:30 PM   #1996
troidus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geek View Post
I figure every cold beer I drink out of this fridge will be worth $4000. They better be good
Put a 5 gallon keg of good stuff in the fridge and hook a CO2 bottle to it. Then all you need is a tap. That'll easily take the sting out of the battery and refrigerator costs.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:44 PM   #1997
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Originally Posted by rthuey View Post
ummm in your previous post YOU said batteries ran about a grand and the fridge was another grand. so he was referring to your costs.


i know it was a whole page ago and almost an entire hour has passed since you posted it. time to catch up on some sleep?
Oh I see.. lol sorry.. although those numbers don't really meany anything.. that's JUST the physical fridge and the batteries themselves (which do not function alone). Charger with remote: $650. Cabling/terminals/circuit breakers/etc $300-$400, the Xantrex if you want one is another $250 (and its stupid wiring kit is another $105) ... etc.

The solar system is going to be another ~$1k (assuming I can get the arsewipes to order me just one panel ) for the panel, mppt, and mounting. Even with 300ah I consider it marginal for using a 4 cu.ft. fridge UNLESS you include solar (remember.. you don't want to go below 50% on your batteries if at all possible). Food for thought.


Example: say you have a fridge that peaks out @ 3.5 amps per hour (although the 4.6 cu.ft ones do more like 5 amps max ).

3.5 amps X 24 hours in a day = 84 amp hours.
Say you are in Moab in the summer and it is 114 degrees in the shade.. so your fridge is running 50% of the time.
That would be 42 amp hours per day.
With 300ah of battery.. you have a useable capacity of 150ah.
That means 3 days of camping your fridge ALONE uses 42*3 = 126ah ... i.e. most of your 150ah... and that is JUST your fridge.

Solar is the key (btw.. I'm expecting the fridge's cycle to be more like 30% .. or 20 minutes of each hour).





p.s. the fridge retails for $1189. Defender sells it for $989 + $289 shipping (colorado). The place Geode pointed out to me has 3 left (they had 4 ) for $600 + $99 shipping. Big savings!

Hope all this helps

Geek screwed with this post 05-05-2012 at 10:13 PM
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:06 PM   #1998
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My thoughts on batteries (because the numbers above are misleading - you can do things much cheaper!):

(After spending countless hours reading up on batteries... for anyone thinking about something like this):

If you can put your batteries external (or build in a proper battery box with *external* ventilation for the hydrogen gas generated during fast charging) - doing a wet cell 6V rig is the way to go. Trojan T105s are something like $105 each and are 225ah. So two of them in series give you 225ah @ 12V .. or four of them give you 450ah @ 12 volts! You can go buy generic golf cart batteries even cheaper if you don't care about brand names.

Even with Trojans.. that is $420 for 450ah!

vs. what I'm doing having the batteries internally:
$927 (+tax 8% because I bought them locally) and I only have 330ah.

I could have saved about $40 if I was more patient... ZERO Colorado Trojan dealers stock the T31AGMs... so I went to the colorado distributor directly to save time (he would have shipped to the dealer and the dealer sold to me) but he is required to charge me full retail. You can get them online a bit cheaper again but that is offset by shipping (they weigh 70lbs each).
http://www.google.com/products/catal...ed=0CGIQ8wIwAA

My advantages:
-maintenance free (with wet cells you have to add to them/check them ~monthly)
-no need for hydrogen ventilation (if I was going wet I'd mount them externally)

My disadvantages:
-I have to charge slower to avoid gassing the cels
-way more paid per amp hour.

Re: charging. If I were using wet cels my Sterling charger would multiplex the voltage and charge them at 14.8volts! The US recommended AGM charge rate is 14.1 volts. I'm charging mine at the European AGM charge rate which is 14.3 volts (with a 3 stage charge).

When/if I wear these batteries out in a few years.. I will have an external cage welded up and mount 4 of the T105's under the van (my same sterling charger has dip switches that I can then throw and it'll charge those baby's twice as fast as my AGMs )

You really want *deep cycle* batteries and not starter batteries. Deep cycle batteries have fewer plates that are thicker in them... starter batteries have thinner plates .. more of (which gives cold cranking amps.. something you don't need in house batteries). The problem with thinner plates is that with usage, as the lead flakes off the plates.. it doesn't take as much before the plate is useless (and the battery) because there isn't as much lead on each plate. Thicker plates with more lead on them will last much longer.

....if I were on a budget... I'd go to walmart/costco/local discount battery dealer and buy 4, 225ah 6volt golf cart batteries as cheap as possible. Golf cart batteries are deep cycle with thick lead plates. All of the 12volt batteries that places like that sell are aimed at automotive so they are thinner plates for CCA ratings. Then just keep an eye on them to make sure they were always topped up. If you are getting the batteries for $60 or $75 each.. you could buy a bunch of them and wear them out yearly or whatever before you ever got to what the three T31AGMs cost...


One other alternative: Instead of doing two T31AGMs... I could have went with a single Group 8D battery.
Costs are similar.
Ah are similar.
Things are simpler with a single 8D - BUT those suckers weigh in at 130+lbs!
I'd rather have two 70lb batteries that I can move around without breaking my back... willing to pay for the extra complexity (+ it allowed me to add a 3rd cell when I decided I needed it... instead of having to have TWO 8Ds (you don't want to put mis-matched batteries in parallel).

Sorry for the ramble.. I hope this helps someone.

Geek screwed with this post 05-05-2012 at 10:24 PM
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:30 PM   #1999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geek View Post
I figure every cold beer I drink out of this fridge will be worth $4000. They better be good


But think of how much more you will enjoy each one!
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:03 AM   #2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geek View Post
I appreciate your feedback.

In the above photos NOTHING is hooked to the batteries yet... I'm building the control panel now. There is an 80 amp circuit breaker on the outline (and a 100amp on the inline) as well as a primary off on that disconnects everything... along with the 500amp shunt, bus bars, etc.

Still a bunch to do.. but its coming along...




Regarding point #2:

The batteries are in parallel. Would you use opposite terminal ends on the batteries (positive from battery one and negative from battery 3) or does it really matter in parallel as the batteries auto-equalize?

I can find pictures on the net of it done both ways... any reason one way is better than the other?

First..great van project. I've been watching it off an on...I enjoy your design/function considerations...the give and take of wants/needs/functions is what makes these projects interesting. Once I get these kids out of the house for good we hope to go back to a van for simple & fun travels.

As to my previous post, sorry...I was on a tablet and it's tough to view small screen & type, so I got lazy...I should have referenced it was post #1958 where I saw the wiring on the battery set up.

My suggestion as to feed wiring is to consider having your + feed on one "end" of the bank and the - ground on the other "end" of the bank. As wired your system will work. As suggested, I would hope to see longer useful life of the bank and better performance based on the "bank" being wired as one battery...not as a staggered set. Perhaps best explained:

http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/batt_con.html

And...yes, in some circles this is about equal to a "best oil thread"!

Happy vanning!
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:16 AM   #2001
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Does anyone know anything about counter tops?

Is there some place you can order "van friendly" counter tops online?

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Old 05-06-2012, 08:21 AM   #2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FAW3 View Post
First..great van project. I've been watching it off an on...I enjoy your design/function considerations...the give and take of wants/needs/functions is what makes these projects interesting. Once I get these kids out of the house for good we hope to go back to a van for simple & fun travels.

As to my previous post, sorry...I was on a tablet and it's tough to view small screen & type, so I got lazy...I should have referenced it was post #1958 where I saw the wiring on the battery set up.

My suggestion as to feed wiring is to consider having your + feed on one "end" of the bank and the - ground on the other "end" of the bank. As wired your system will work. As suggested, I would hope to see longer useful life of the bank and better performance based on the "bank" being wired as one battery...not as a staggered set. Perhaps best explained:

http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/batt_con.html

And...yes, in some circles this is about equal to a "best oil thread"!

Happy vanning!
Thank you for the article.. the math is quite striking; I would have never guessed the difference to be that large!

I saw this diagram when looking around


I wonder what the 3 battery equivalent would be...

It wouldn't be difficult for me to do a 3 battery version of this:



I think for today I'm going to do your first suggestion.. just move to the far negative post. At least two of the batteries would be equalized with that configuration.

Theoretical question about that article: It seems to stop short. After you stop drawing current from the system (they keep using 100ah as an example) - what happens next? Don't the cells then naturally equalize amongst themselves? At what rate does this equalization occur? If I'm only drawing electricity at a rate of something like 1.5 amps per hour.. is this equalization occurring at a rate faster than I'm using it so in fact the batteries stay balanced? Just thinking out loud....

Geek screwed with this post 05-06-2012 at 08:40 AM
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:19 AM   #2003
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Quote:
Perhaps best explained:
http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/batt_con.html
I hate 'soft science' articles like this. They give the illusion of technical accuracy by including lots of specific numbers to a huge number of decimal places (often wrong), have big gaping holes in the theory and calculations, then draw broad, sweeping conclusions with the illusion of validity. AKA, smoke and mirrors...

This article hits all three.

His numbers on 2/0 (35mm) cable resistance are WAY off (more than 100% off on his mΩ/interconnect), his 100A assumption is WAY more power than you are likely to draw, especially for any sustained period, and his statement "the calculations are soooo complex.... but trust me, I used a computer to calculate the results!" (paraphrased) is the icing on the cake.

If you really did want to find the comparative current draw in each battery, you could do a mesh analysis using Kirchhoff's Voltage Law. But the the even more important engineering principle is GIGO. With garbage data, you will get garbage results.
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pfb screwed with this post 05-06-2012 at 09:32 AM
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:43 AM   #2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geek View Post
Does anyone know anything about counter tops?

Is there some place you can order "van friendly" counter tops online?
I've never worked with corian (like your picture), but there are other options around that you can fabricate yourself- look up richlite and paperstone, they're both epoxy resin/paper based countertop materials, you can use woodworking tools to cut to size and rout edge profiles on them, and they're tough. Not cheap stuff though.

Another option is Baltic Birch or a marine mahog plywood- here's a bit of the birch in my house, as a shelf:

The plywoods would of course need quite a bit of finishing, and won't be as tough as something made for a countertop, but they have the advantage of being economical and relatively light weight.
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:14 PM   #2005
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Wiring wiring everywhere...

Started this morning with pulling the stereo (again ) and the floor (again ) because yesterday when I ran the 12V wire for the stereo from the house batteries.. I neglected to run a ground wire back.

Normally.. no big deal.. a ground is a ground.. UNLESS you want the xantrex to read how many amp hours you are consuming in which case the ground has to go back to the negative bus bar so the shunt can measure the consumption.

All better now. Hopefully that'll be the last time I have to do do that for a while

I got to play with the router table and that new diablo bit...



hmmm... that looks pretty good


cut the hole out and see if it fits...


and after completely disassembling and then re-assembling both front facing cabinets... Voila!


There stereo is now an 8 speaker (7.1) system. s Sounds pretty good (for a van).

...as much as I try and claim this project is all blood sweat & tears.. every now and then my sweetie shows up with sustenance (she went to the farmer's market this morning) and life is good




Cheryl also got the reflectex done in the battery box

Now I'm off to the autoparts store for some stuff... then its time to get started on the control panel
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:45 PM   #2006
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Slacker..........
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Old 05-06-2012, 04:39 PM   #2007
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No doubt

So here's how things look right now... almost exactly what they looked like before the weekend began (with the exception of the two speakers)... it was definitely a "behind the scenes" wrench fest.



I did get the 8 gang switch/breaker panel hooked up & working up in the cabinet.. but I've not started the actual control panel cutouts yet as I'm waiting for another item before I finalize layout



I got the rest of the stereo components including the subwoofer's amplifier wired to the house batteries and through the xantrex.

Interesting only to me notes:

Stereo:
The stereo without ipod and without subwoofer draws 1.4 amps.
The stereo with ipod charging and subwoofer playing normal draws about 2.4 amps.
The stereo booming draws more than 3 amps continuous.

The ceiling fan:
On 10 (full speed) the ceiling fan draws 3.1 amps ()
On 9 it drops to 2.4 amps (quite a power drop for not much velocity change)
On 1.. the ceiling fan draws 0.3 amps.

So if we were to leave it on all night on 1, just to keep some air flowing ... 0.3 amps * 8 hours = 2.4 ah.

That number makes me happy... considering our usable capacity is 150ah... we can basically run the ceiling fan every night if we want and it is negligible.





...the other thing I got done on the van was catching up with this guy. I had two new huge rock chips in the windshield that I was afraid were going to split quickly (they looked like freakin' bullet holes)... my 130 mile commute passes two rock quarries.. and with a windshield as big as a billboard I think I'll keep this gent's number on speed dial.

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Old 05-06-2012, 05:37 PM   #2008
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...the other thing I got done on the van was catching up with this guy. I had two new huge rock chips in the windshield that I was afraid were going to split quickly (they looked like freakin' bullet holes)... my 130 mile commute passes two rock quarries.. and with a windshield as big as a billboard I think I'll keep this gent's number on speed dial.

Would NASCAR-style tear-offs help? Does anyone make a bug/rock deflector for those?
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:42 PM   #2009
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You know the glass guy and I were talking about exactly that.. why they don't retail nascar style tear offs?

Collusion by the windshield industry I say..
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:58 PM   #2010
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You know the glass guy and I were talking about exactly that.. why they don't retail nascar style tear offs?

Collusion by the windshield industry I say..
As far as I know, it's just clear shelf paper. Finding it in 6' widths might be a problem, but maybe you can lay down three 2' strips vertically. Might be a bit pricey if you have to change them every week, and it is a lot of plastic waste, and it might not work. Could be worth a shot, though.
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