Deep Cycle Batteries

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The final episode of the complete installation of ETFE Flexible solar panels, wiring, roof entry, solar charge controller and deep cycle batteries. I end with a bit of testing of the output of these solar panels.

So far the installation is complete up to and including the solar charge controller and bus bars. While the long term plans are still to use a Lithium battery bank, for now I’ll be installing two Duracell Ultra Golf Cart 6V deep cycle batteries. Continue reading Deep Cycle Batteries

12V System Setup

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Now the solar wiring is in the interior of the van, I still have to attach it to the breaker box and solar charge controller.

The #8 AWG wire transitions to a #6 AWG wire at the breaker box, to minimize voltage drop, and continues to the bus bars. Meanwhile, I clean up the wiring with cable ties.

I add a 12 count fuse block and connect the wiring to the bus bars. Then the roof vent is connected to the fuse block with a 16 gauge wire. The roof vent allows me to fully test this 12V system.

This minimal setup is now ready for the batteries, which is shown in the next video.

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Installing A Cable Gland

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Now that the solar panels are installed and roof wiring added, it’s time for the cable gland to lead the MC4 cabling into the interior of the vehicle.

While black cable glands are readily available, I ordered the wrong color and had to paint it to remain somewhat stealthy. I used a primer before applying the black paint, that I used before on the flange of the roof vent. Continue reading Installing A Cable Gland

Solar Panel Wiring

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Following the installation of the Flexible Solar Panels, I continue by wiring them up. For that, I’m only using the cables that come with the panels, plus a few MC4 (branch) connectors.

The 12 AWG panel cables are sufficient to carry the collective amperage over the short distance of the panels; by adding a 8 AWG MC4 extension cable towards the interior of the van, I can reduce the wires to a single positive and negative cable. Continue reading Solar Panel Wiring

Flexible Solar Panel Installation

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One of the major steps of this van conversion, is the addition of solar panels to the roof of the Ford Transit. It creates an independent source of energy, which in turn, makes vandwelling or boondocking a possibility.

I chose flexible solar panels for their light weight, bendable and stealth properties. Weight is always a concern during a van build and shaving 50-100 lbs off the total weight of the van is substantial. Continue reading Flexible Solar Panel Installation

Solar Controller & Breaker Box

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Solar Power has put Vandwelling within reach of ordinary people. So, with full-time RVing in mind, I have begun with the installation of some solar components.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert at this and this is not a How-To guide. 12V can KILL you; consult an expert first.

The very basic power source in an RV has always been the trusted lead-acid battery. That suddenly allowed you to have some (very) basic amenities, such as lights, but still required regular if not daily visits to a campground or other place where one could recharge it. Continue reading Solar Controller & Breaker Box

This Is How Your Van Is Going To Look Like

Several car companies are designing and building electric vans and in the next couple of years and consumers will have a choice of vehicles to choose from. Major obstacles still remain, such as driving range and charging capabilities.

For vandwellers, the idea of a full-electric van for boondocking is still unrealistic and hard to imagine. While range anxiety is a valid concern at 125 miles, the newest electric passenger vehicles manage to go beyond 300 miles and vans likely will follow the same path. Continue reading This Is How Your Van Is Going To Look Like

Travel Update

With the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse, I decided to take some time off and drive in my van from Central Florida to Anderson SC to watch this unique phenomenon. While the proper eclipse only lasts a minute or two, the entire event is spread out over a couple of hours. The complete darkness during the middle of the day is most prominent, but also watch for the change in behavior of the animals around you and that includes humans 🙂 And do watch the horizon around you and the possible shadows appearing and disappearing.
To make this trip more worthwhile, I’ll extend it by visiting the Swiss village Helen GA and do a few hikes in the area around Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian trail. Continue reading Travel Update

The Current State Of Flexible Solar Panels

A few years ago, flexible solar panels became popular with RV owners as they represented a innovative solution for smaller RV’s, where weight reduction played an important role. Less weight meant more panels and more power to stay off-grid longer.

With a weight difference of about 20 lbs per panel, easy installation without holes in the roof, conformation with the curvature of vehicle roofs, it is easy to understand the potential for these panels among boondockers and alike.
Their popularity rose when several videos showed them improperly used by bending the panels at extreme angles, both inward as outward or by sitting or walking on them. It made for good watching, but in the end Continue reading The Current State Of Flexible Solar Panels

Build a stealth camper out of a basic cargo van.