Building an Adventure Van

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Geek, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    Here we go again...

    [​IMG]

    Brad was right.. things went much quicker this time. Pull the radio bezel carefully (it is press fit).. that opens up the screws to remove the trim and then then right side vent. The right side vent hole then gives me the access I need to run the wiring form the floor up and through the back side of the dash board to the stereo.

    Took my time and did it right again... soldering each link and shrink wrapping.

    Pull all the floor panels again to route in the protected chase to the back of the van. :thumb

    [​IMG]


    The stereo is now completely independent of the van. Its power comes from the house batteries. If I want to jam out to tunes all weekend in the desert I don't need to worry about the van starting afterward :clap

    It is going to be interesting to see how many amp hours the stereo consumes when it's rocking (using the xantrex).

    I also ran rear speaker wires for some house speakers... though I'm having difficulty figuring out where to install them due to the upcoming cabinet changes :scratch
  2. tommu56

    tommu56 Long timer

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    links please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    half of the lights came from amazon.. half came from superbrightleds.com ... but ebay is a good source too.

    Search for "12V led downlights"
  4. SgtDuster

    SgtDuster Long timer

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    Or go to Dealextreme.com
  5. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    210 lbs worth of batteries are now restrained.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  6. FAW3

    FAW3 Old wanderer

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    Just food for thought...
    1: that bank has a lot of amps. Are you considering a shut off switch or line fuse nearby?
    2: The photo is just a tad dark...but appears that your cables come off the end right side battery? I would suggest having + run from one end battery, and the - run off the other far end. That makes a balanced system and best use of all 3 batts.
  7. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    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...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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? :lurk

    :freaky
  8. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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  9. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    The xantrex is cool.. you can turn on a device and see exactly how much power it uses. Turn on all the devices and see how much you are using... so you know exactly how long until you are going to need to charge. :thumb

    [​IMG]
  10. pfb

    pfb Riding, not skiing.

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    I'd love to see a final spreadsheet and graph of the cost and weight of your build out with each major build 'event'! (of course you probably don't really want to know either...) :rofl

    But it is going to be an awesome rig...
  11. pfb

    pfb Riding, not skiing.

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    I can't see it making any difference at all if you are using adequate gauge cables and short runs with no measurable voltage drop. Which I'm sure you are.

    But I have no doubt that there is lots of net wisdom and urban folklore saying otherwise. Electrons moving through a meter of copper at 97% the speed of light? That's going to be three and a half nanoseconds of your life you are never going to get back. :lol3
  12. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    Yeah.. hence why I called that thread an "oil thread" :rofl

    My battery parallel cables are 2/0 and my other core wiring is 2 gauge. I'm think I'm covered. :deal

    :freaky



    re: budget/mass... batteries are the worst as of late.. the 3 batteries alone were nearly a grand and 210lbs.
    I really would have liked to put them on the passenger side for balance but didn't want to have to deal with embedding the wiring under the floor. If I were to do this again, I think I'd have an external battery box built behind the left tire (outside and off the frame) and run 480 of 6v wet lead batteries. Sure I'd have to check their fluid levels every month or 3.. but it'd be far more bang for the buck compared to this "wire & forget" system I'm building.

    Fridge 2nd place.. 70 lbs and close to a grand time it is delivered... but in reality it is a lot of the reason for the sterling, batteries, upcoming solar, etc... so the fridge cost closer to $2340823408.

    I figure every cold beer I drink out of this fridge will be worth $4000. They better be good :rofl
  13. a1fa

    a1fa Throttle Jockey™

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    Good to know on 2 grand. My work "recycles" tons and tons of deep cycle batteries every year. They give them away to associates, as long as you promise not to dump them in the land fill.
  14. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    2 grand?
  15. rthuey

    rthuey twist your wrist!!!

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    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?
  16. troidus

    troidus Long timer

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    Put a 5 gallon keg of good stuff in the fridge and hook a CO<Sub>2</sub> bottle to it. Then all you need is a tap. That'll easily take the sting out of the battery and refrigerator costs.
  17. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    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 :patch) 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 :eek1).

    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. :eek1

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

    :freaky



    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 :evil ) for $600 + $99 shipping. Big savings! :wings

    Hope all this helps :freaky
  18. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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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/cata...&sa=X&ei=D_alT_FBkdWIAoa_ldUC&ved=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 :thumb )

    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. :deal 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. :freaky
  19. pfb

    pfb Riding, not skiing.

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    :rofl:rofl:rofl

    But think of how much more you will enjoy each one!
  20. FAW3

    FAW3 Old wanderer

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    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!