This Mahogany countertop is meant for the two lower cabinets closest to the sliding door.
Made out of 8ft long, 6in wide and 2in thick raw lumber, I first cut it to the four feet length, needed for these cabinets. The next step is to joint the narrow and wide sides at a 90° angle.
I continue by slicing the board into two on the table saw, by raising the blade by increments on both sides. With this 6 inch wide board, I will fail to cut all the way through, but the last 1/2 inch is done with a handsaw.
It’s time to install the new Lithium batteries into the van but first, I need to clean up and streamline some of the old wiring. And I have to add and replace some solar components.
I will add 250A bus bars to accommodate the new batteries and the soon to be installed 3000W inverter/charger. A three-way switch will disconnect either or both batteries.
I still have to decide on the replacement of the current solar controller; while it does its basic job, it doesn’t have a specific Lithium battery profile and still uses a separate monitor. Replacing it with a Victron controller would eliminate the monitor by showing the info on a phone app via Bluetooth.
I continue with the assembly of the two LiFePo4 Lithium batteries by adding all the components, that connect and control the different parts of this setup.
The assembly so far, indicates a slightly taller battery than expected; that forces me to enlarge the storage area access first.
Now that I know that the battery boxes do their job as expected, I will add four threaded rods to hold pressure on the sides of the battery cells, which will avoid undesired bulging of the cells when charging. A washer and nylon lock nut at each end will lock everything in place.
In the previous video I was unsuccessful in attaching the ceiling panel with the 3M Dual Lock, velcro-type fastener. Today I have a different approach and use the van’s own hydraulic jack with an extension pole, to force the Dual Lock strips together.
It is a slow process, where I follow each of the two ceiling cross members from side to side and apply force to the panel where the strips of Dual Lock meet.
This is one of a series of articles, describing my journey of assembling and installing Lithium battery cells, as part of my van conversion. I will likely make mistakes and may not even reach my goal of a cheap, yet large Lithium battery bank. This is the continuation of Part Two of my journey.
I used a small 12V Lab power supply to top balance the battery cells. I connected all the positives with bus bars and separately, all the negative ones. My LiFePo cells accept a max. of 3.65V and that’s how I set the power supply. Then set the amperage to maximum (<1C) and I let them charge until the charging amps showed <0.1A. Actually I disconnected the power supply a bit early, when the cell terminal voltages rose above 3.65V
Two simple battery boxes will hold four cells each, making a 12V configuration, each with their own 120A charge/discharge BMS. Together they can handle 240A max (240A * 12.8V = 3072W max. output). Charging will probably be limited to 60-80A.
I continue where I left off in the previous article Van Ceiling Panel Part II. As a reminder, I use an automotive tweed protected against daily wear and UV, very similar in color and texture as the front seats of the van.
Before I can install the ceiling panel, I still have to finish and attach this black foam block above the sliding door, as well as a small cabinet that houses two switches and the gas heater control knob and a top cabinet.
I continue where I left off in the previous article Van Ceiling Panel Part I. As a reminder, I use an automotive tweed protected against daily wear and UV, very similar in color and texture as the front seats of the van.
In this video, I start by gluing the edges of the fabric to the plywood panel and cut the holes in the fabric, where the puck lights will come and glue the fabric there too. After I spray the glue, the 3M 77 will dry to a tacky feel within a few minutes; then you can finish be applying the tweed.
With the glue is dry to the touch, I pull up the fabric for a sharp edge and then fold it over onto the surface of the panel. Finish with a few strokes of a J-Roller. Try to avoid too much fabric at the outside corners, otherwise the thickness will become obvious.
Much of the ceiling has been covered by 1in – 1-1/2in insulation and it’s time to cover it up.
I plan to use a 4′ x 8′ (~120cm x ~240cm) sheet of 3/16″ (~5mm) thick plywood covered with an automotive tweed fabric, which I also use on some of the walls and around the windows of the van. On some parts, the sheet is trimmed to fit between the cabinets; other parts are the full 48″ (~120cm) wide. That means, I have to use some narrow filler boards to span the entire ceiling. These boards will also support the edges of the panel.
With the Van Build coming to an end, several important projects need some attention. Today I’ll start working on the battery bank of my solar system. Originally, and that was at the beginning of the van build, I installed two 6V Golf cart batteries. This netted me only ~100Ah at 12V nominal. Sufficient for only the most basic usage. At the time also more than sufficient, with only a minimal number of trips planned.
The main reason however, was that only 3-4 years ago, Lithium battery technology was hardly existent and very expensive. As I look back now, much has changed. We know now, that charging a Lithium battery at below freezing temperatures, is a big No-No, cell balancing must be part of the setup and many more issues are better understood. The development of low priced BMS’s (Battery Management Systems) has also made the DIY setup a possibility.