My Chinese Lithium Battery Cells. Yeah!

Today, after a two month long wait, I received my Lithium battery cells form China. I’ve done period purchases through Alibaba and AliExpress now for the last 2 years, mostly below $20.00 each and haven’t had any issues so far. That gave me the confidence to try a $750.00 buy on Alibaba for eight 3.2V – 272Ah Lishen Lithium battery cells. I spent another $200.00 or so on other components, to make it all work. That included a good Multimeter, a small power station to top balance the batteries, heavy wiring, bus bars, switches, BMS’s and lots of lugs, bolts and nuts.

Continue reading My Chinese Lithium Battery Cells. Yeah!

Van Ceiling Panel – Part I

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.

Continue reading Van Ceiling Panel – Part I

Building A DIY Lithium Battery

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.

Overview

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.

Continue reading Building A DIY Lithium Battery

Webasto Gas Heater – Part 4

I continue the installation of the Webasto Gas Heater by removing the passenger seat and pedestal. The hydraulic car jack that is stored under the seat will be moved to another location. To achieve a good seal between the heater and the floor, I install a separate base plate and seal it with some silicone. Then drill the holes for the heater. Finally the heater is inserted in the holes of the floor and attached with four bolts.

Continue reading Webasto Gas Heater – Part 4

Final Insulation & Closet

In the process of finishing up the passenger side of the interior, I need to insulate the walls. Before I do that, I pulled the last wiring through the wall cavities.

The wall insulation consists of rigid Poly-Iso, separated about 0.5 inch from the skin of the vehicle with a few dots of spray foam, with the Poly-Iso pressed into it. This void acts, both as a barrier and a way to drain any condensation, without wetting the insulation.

Continue reading Final Insulation & Closet

Build a stealth camper out of a basic cargo van.