Tag Archives: solar

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

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

RV Electrical System: Batteries & Solar Panels

PREVIOUS: RV Electrical System: Design

Batteries

Central to the system and most visible are the batteries, which have to supply the electricity during the days when a hookup is not available. Two basic types are currently used in RV’s:

  • Lead-Acid Batteries
    Trojan T-105Types:
    • Starting Battery – Use only to start the vehicle; its plates are too thin.
    • RV/Marine Deep Cycle Battery – Used as start and house battery. Don’t use.
    • True Deep Cycle Battery – Has thick plates made to store and hold your power.

    Flooded or AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)
    Flooded batteries, need regular maintenance, but their price make it the most affordable solution. Continue reading RV Electrical System: Batteries & Solar Panels

RV Electrical System: Design

PREVIOUS: RV Electrical System: History

Two recent developments will change the future of RV living: flexible panels and Lithium batteries. Neither will benefit everybody, as the extra cost tends to favor boondockers, who receive a greater payback on their investment. Lower prices will inevitably lead to wider use and greater implementation by most, if not all, RV’ers.
Flexible solar panels are stealthy and lightweight, while their efficiency is comparable to rigid panels. A more than 75% reduction in weight is significant for cargo van converters, as they always struggle to stay Continue reading RV Electrical System: Design

RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road

RV fridges come in all sizes, and more importantly as a single 12V or three-way unit.

For years, the three-way fridge has been the traditional unit for use in RV’s, yet it had two major drawbacks:

  • The absorption type fridge requires leveling of the vehicle.
  • It has complicated power source requirements: 12V + 120V wiring and propane tanks.

That all changed with the advent of the Danfoss compressor. Refrigerators equipped with these compressors are energy efficient, highly reliable and compact. Connected to batteries, as a 12V power source, these fridges can run for days and indefinitely when connected to solar panels. No more restrictions when traveling through tunnels (propane) and more opportunities to build a propane-free conversion van. Continue reading RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road

Is The RV At The Forefront Of Low Voltage Home Wiring?

There are many similarities between a solar installation in an RV and a regular single-family home. OK, some differences are quite fundamental, like the total number of available PV panels and their orientation, yet with respect to the system wiring, differences are less apparent.

The RV and the Marine environment have accumulated heaps of solar technical knowhow, that is directly applicable to home construction. And the major increases in efficiency of Photovoltaic panels in recent years, Continue reading Is The RV At The Forefront Of Low Voltage Home Wiring?

“Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

Long before I install solar in my RV, I have to think about power use of my electronics, that is the amps and type of voltage (12V/110V). Computer use in a RV has become easier since laptops became available. Battery use is always an issue in a recreational vehicle and certainly with computers that may use little, but are in use a lot. Trying to keep electrical demand to a minimum is always a priority, since it directly translates into a longer boondocking experience.

Intel developed the low energy Atom chip line used in the NUC’s (Next Unit of Computing) small form factor PC’s with a similar technology as what’s used in the so popular tablets. Continue reading “Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

Fulltime RVing Is The Right Choice (If You Can!)

Before deciding to convert your own cargo van, you should find out if full-time living in an RV will fit your lifestyle and your budget. Or you may choose for extended RV camping, where you use leave home for a few months, like the Canadian snowbirds each winter.

You can go from a small Class B van, all the way up to a full-size bus or choose to go with a truck/trailer combination, with the latter having a separate vehicle to drive with. Cost varies between a few $1,000’s for a used van with mattress and a few cabinets, up to a $500,000 for your dream bus.
Continue reading Fulltime RVing Is The Right Choice (If You Can!)

8 Critical Elements Of A Modern Van Conversion

THERE ARE MANY REASONS TO HAVE A CONVERSION VAN. MOST FOLKS WILL USE IT FOR AFFORDABLE TRAVEL, AND SOME DOING THE MORE EXTREME BOONDOCKING AND EVEN LESS LIVING IN IT PERMANENTLY.

Some use it as their mobile office, while traveling around the country, others have made it part of the Tiny House Movement.

For me it is all about mobility and extended stays, while preserving functionality and comfort.

1. Independence:

Generators have been a source of irritation for many RV’rs for a long time, but their time has come, unless you have an air-conditioner to run. Solar panels have come a long way and even the smaller RVs can support multiple panels with ease. Especially the new high efficiency flexible solar panels that can be fit and hidden on top of the roofs of most cargo vans.

Continue reading 8 Critical Elements Of A Modern Van Conversion