Lithium Battery Prices Set To Plummet 65%!

Lithium battery prices could fall from $550 per kWh in 2014 to $200 per kWh by 2020. That whopping 65% is one of the results of an energy storage study published by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

This would be a game changer in the RV environment, by making such a battery bank overall much more affordable, with big technological improvements over lead-acid batteries. Such a quick adoption would equal the current implementation of solar energy, which has been the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the US.

Battery prices will be under big pressure starting 2016 when Elon Musk’s monster factories will go on-line and start producing 500,000 Lithium batteries a year in Nevada. May be just in time for my van conversion!

RV Electrical System: My Setup

PREVIOUS: RV Electrical System: Sizing

Now that we have a good understanding of the intricacies of a well-designed electrical/solar system for an RV, it’s time to select the actual components for my upcoming Ford Transit cargo van conversion.

Considerations

The goal I’m striving for, is a fully electrical, self-sufficient van/RV that can handle a minimum of 5-6 days off the grid. No other power sources such as propane for cooking & heating are considered and average consumption is calculated to be between 80-90 Amps per day.

Batteries

The heart of the electrical system is the battery bank. Long dominated by lead-acid batteries (first flooded and more recently AGM’s), finally the more appealing Lithium technology is gaining a foothold. With the Continue reading RV Electrical System: My Setup

Dual Alternator Kits

Dual alternators offer to double the amperage available to your house batteries, while keeping the original factory charging system intact.

dual alternatorThe Mercedes Benz Sprinter has had an option for a while now, for a second alternator. Not many RV’s have a real need for such an upgrade, but especially with the introduction of large Lithium battery banks in RV’s, they may prove to be indispensable.
No other van had this option available, either as OEM or after-market product until now. Several companies are offering these kits for the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster, but don’t rush to the store yet without a big fat wallet. Continue reading Dual Alternator Kits

RV Color Design: Where Did My Artistic Mojo Go?

Color schemes and material lists play a big role in the early stages of the cargo van conversion. All further changes to the RV have to conform to those choices.

While waiting for the production and delivery of the new van, it’s time to make some final decisions and prepare for actual delivery. Design and layout are at the top of my list.

Design

Layout of the vehicle refers mostly to the use as an RV and some major choices still have to be made. Today I’m researching and rethinking the general design, in particular colors and materials.
In recent years I’ve been experimenting with some natural hardwoods, such as Cherry, Walnut and Continue reading RV Color Design: Where Did My Artistic Mojo Go?

The Waiting Game

PREVIOUS: How To Get A Great Buy On A New Cargo Van – The Purchase

Waiting on your factory ordered vehicle is not a time to sit still. Keep the dealer engaged and be sure to regularly verify the status of the car. VIN number, build date and actual delivery date will become available at specific intervals.

After the actual purchase of the 2016 Ford Transit, it is expected that delivery will take another 2-3 months. The retail production of the new 2016 model will begin on August 10th while orders have been accepted since May 11th. I don’t know the criteria for production, but a lot of vehicles must be ahead of mine.

Much can be accomplished during this waiting time, such as monitoring the vehicle status, pre-ordering conversion parts and further design of the new cargo van.

Vehicle Status

  1. Get CONFIRMED ORDER copy
    After the dealer ordered the vehicle, you should get a copy of the CONFIRMED ORDER with the DEALER CODE and ORDER NUMBER. Continue reading The Waiting Game

The Cargo Van Purchase

PREVIOUS: How To Get A Great Buy On A New Cargo Van

With the homework done and the spreadsheet and prepared emails ready, it was the right time to initiate the purchase of the van. It ended up, a matter of just following my detailed plans.

The Purchase

It was about 10 days before the end of the month, enough time to end up on the last days of the month, when sales quotas may put pressure on the price of the vehicle.
It is important to do all communications by email. Sometimes you may have to talk to someone, but always insist for them to email back. Keep your distance, the emails allow you time to reflect and decide what your next step is. Some salesmen come back with non specific offers (NOT the requested OTD Out-The-Door price), but a quick email should set them straight. Continue reading The Cargo Van Purchase

DC-Powered Air Conditioner

Sharp will launch its first DC powered air-conditioner later this year. Marketed to the solar home crowd, this and other DC appliances may find their way into your RV.

With the increasing use of solar panels worldwide, manufacturers are beginning to explore more and more DC devices for the home. The major advantage is a further 5%-10% increase of efficiency in locations powered by solar panels.
Ordinarily these panels produce a 12V DC current that is converted into 110V AC, to be used by the home’s appliances, which often convert it back to 12V internally. Each conversion causes a substantial efficiency loss, that can be avoided with these DC-to-DC devices.
dc air conditionerThe RV Electrical System is structurally different from the solar home, yet these future efficiency improvements will greatly enhance the off-grid lifestyle.
The announcement doesn’t include any specifications of amperage use, which, very likely will be high and in the RV environment, such an air-conditioner may be feasible only in combination with a Lithium battery bank.

Sharp aims to release an air conditioner powered by direct-current (DC) electricity in 2015.

RV Electrical System: Sizing

PREVIOUS: RV Electrical System: Batteries & Solar Panels

Sizing

Sizing the electrical system in your RV means choosing the different components and making sure they work well together, while their relationship in terms of quantity, size and number is well proportioned.
Setting up solar is fairly simple, yet involves many interdependent parts and unless done correctly, will heavily influence the final setup. There is a certain order to the chaos:

  1. Sizing solar always starts with establishing demand. This is partly an exact science (add amps from appliances), partly guesswork (how often do you use lights, heater, etc.). But try first to minimize demand by replacing old incandescent or even fluorescent lights with highly efficient LED lights. Continue reading RV Electrical System: Sizing

Are Floor Vents The Solution For A Hot Problem?

Floor ventilation for small RV’s could be an untapped resource, that has the potential to considerably reduce interior heat gain in off-grid locations and to significantly lower energy needs for 12V refrigerators.

Floor Vent Research For The Small RV

Boondocking is getting more popular as a cheap alternative for the full-time RV’er. For those of us that can handle the lack of air-conditioning, yet cannot stand noisy generators, many backcountry destinations are waiting to be discovered. Despite that Lithium battery technology may provide limited or full A/C-service in the future, currently temperature regulation in recreational vehicles is limited at best. Continue reading Are Floor Vents The Solution For A Hot Problem?

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