Powering a van

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  • I can't remember the proper names but with panels there are two types I think one is poly and one mono or mony
    Have a look into them as the one I have doesn't need direct sunlight to benefit best
    It can get a good charge of dim light. I'll try figure out the name in my dinner break.
    There a little more expensive but totally worth it living somewhere like England.

  • We only have 1x100 watt panel and I'm tempted to run a 2nd one. However we are currently (get it?) running only 1x85ahleisure battery; we'll change this for 2x120 in the first instance, to ensure we can store all that we catch. The 1x85 is inadequate for dull periods in winter. Keep on truckin, Toby.

  • If you can get hold of a Carver caravan heater they have a heat exchanger and all the fumes vent outside (mine is through the floor) so are safe if properly installed. There are some secondhand on ebay as I write £100/ £45 etc.


    I have one in my caravan and at the coldest period of this winter (which was admittedly mild, and I'm in Cornwall) I used one 47kilo propane cylinder in about five weeks (£53-50p) but that was cooking as well (not that that uses much). So about £10 a week... probably half that in autumn and spring, nothing in summer apart from the odd occasion when you need to dry damp washing. Very convenient and adjustable output. Always have a full spare bottle... a 15kilo (more expensive per kilo) spare if you are pushed for space, just use it long enough to get a full 47kilo bottle...


    Carver water heaters work well as water heaters (also on ebay). As caravans, vans and boats often have damp areas where poor air circulation produces condensation I have toyed with the idea of making a cheap and cheerful central heating system using plastic microbore pipe and small radiators from a scrapyard. It would only need a small circulating pump, but even so this might create an unacceptable power demand.... anyone had a go at this?

  • Hi Kelt


    The van I am used to has a Truma blown air system and this will drain the battery if you forget to turn the fan off overnight (80 amphr). I would imagine that something pumping water would use more power so if you were not on a hook up probably have to look at upping your other power sources significantly.


    Must say though it is very good at distributing heat and it might be easier to look at something like that rather than a wet system and the advantage of not increasing weight of water and less worry about potential of leaks behind walls/cupboards.


    Ian


  • There is much in what you say.


    A DIY system using a tiny fan might shift enough warm air to keep condensation down - just enough to give the dead air spaces a few changes of air every day could be all that is required.


    A vertical plastic pipe in the each corner with a tiny fan in it drawing warm air down from ceiling level might be the answer. Or maybe pipes from one fan to each trouble spot. Pipes could all just be at floor level, running behind bunks, lockers and stuff - just shifting some air is what is needed. The battery powered sort people put on their dashboards would be plenty powerful enough, but dry cell batteries would be an expensive nuisance. Could be solar powered instead, maybe - it wouldn't have to work around the clock to be effective in keeping damp under control.


    Which reminds me - wasn't there a solar powered fan that some joker built into a sunhat? If they can be sourced they probably cost half nothing - a bit of fibre optics and it could all go together...

  • You could use those garden light things with little solar panels on the top to power the fans. most use AAA or AA rechargeables and come ready supplied, although with cheap batteries. Cheap at market stalls and what with gardening season coming up then should be plenty around.


    I swapped out all my batteries for rechargeables years ago and most are still going strong. Honestly have saved a fortune as well as not chucking nasty chemicals in landfills. Have to say they dont hold charge well in a drawer but if you are topping them up with free sun daily shouldn't be a problem.


    Ian

  • You could use those garden light things with little solar panels on the top to power the fans. most use AAA or AA rechargeables and come ready supplied, although with cheap batteries. Cheap at market stalls and what with gardening season coming up then should be plenty around.


    I swapped out all my batteries for rechargeables years ago and most are still going strong. Honestly have saved a fortune as well as not chucking nasty chemicals in landfills. Have to say they dont hold charge well in a drawer but if you are topping them up with free sun daily shouldn't be a problem.


    Ian


    Sanyo Eneloops are about the best at holding charge while not being used that i've found, not the cheapest but ive got Eneloops in my bridge camera that are over 5 years old and show no signs of wearing out depiste sitting about unused for weeks at a time.

  • Out of curiosity, is it better/more efficient to have two identical batteries linked, or a single, larger battery of the same capacity?
    Cheers...


    Dunno about efficiency, but probably safer in the event of failure, at least you'd still have some power if a battery died, personally i'd rather have two smaller ones than one larger one even if I lost out a bit on power overall.

  • In theory it makes no difference if the two small ones are good. Reality depends how they are connected and what circuitry you have in the van.


    But that said I am with Popup I would rather have two smaller than one large for a number of reasons the main ones below. Ideally fitted with a good battery management unit which will be seamless to you but will draw charge and charge the batteries independently of each other.


    Space - two small ones can be positioned wherever you have space dont need to be side by side (although that would be preferable for electrical/ventilation reasons. As seen below big batteries are heavy and long. The standard weight for adults in things like lifts is 75kg so that battery is 2/3rds of a person (? a teenager)
    Backup -One fails /deteriorates you still got power and no immediate rush to sort it out
    With a management unit they don't have to be exactly the same size so aren't stuck trying to trying to match output and size for your spaces.


    Ian


    As an example only and not an endorsement of this specific product -
    http://www.furneauxriddall.com/acatalog/ProSplitR.html

  • I'd recommend a good battery monitor as well, one that let's you see how much power is going in/out, state of charge, etc. I fitted a NASA BM1 compact. I use a netbook as uses significantly less than a laptop, lights are LEDs, 16" LED TV passive aerial. Three 110AH batteries charged with two 80W solar panels. Sometimes need to be a bit careful with consumption but just about gives enough in the winter. You would need significantly more than I have if you were to rely solely on solar, even more again if you were going to run a fridge as well. Good luck with it all...

  • Hey guys!


    Anyway, me and my girlfriend have recently purchased a van to travel in for the summer and then some, we are moving out the house, quitting jobs and building freelance businesses online.


    Greg


    First, I wanna wish ya well in ya new ventures ... its a tough old world out there online ... tread carefully ... I lost my 40 page site and over 60 blogs after the hosting company sold out and the new people failed to get all the info they needed ... tho, of course, they could sell me me a new domain name....


    and also I'd like to say what a fantastic thread ...so much info ... thank you all ....

  • 3 60 watt panels 1x 110 amp battery and controller.truma gas heater with vent through floor so no worries of killing yourself overnight and a gas caravan fridge (not the camping type there lethal carbon monoxide)elecy ones kill batteries. To charge a laptop use a step up transformer from maplins and away you go. This set up keeps me and the mrs in light. heat and tv no problem ex bt daf 45.

  • the only fridge to go for in my opinion is 12v compressor. preferably custom built into the floor (the most efficient) but a normal internal one will do.
    yes it's expensive as an initial cost but there is no gas to deal with so;
    better (will still freeze stuff in the middle of summer),
    safer (no gas leaks or associated gas risks)
    cheaper (add up the cost of gas for a year in addition to the extra cost of getting the gas work done and cutting holes in the van wall),
    a gas fridge outlet means i know all the 'stealth' vans in my area who have them
    and a compressor works when not level ground unlike gas fridges.


    on that subject i have a 3 way for sale (£20? cant remember what i paid for it) as i bought one ages ago and was going to use it as a temporary measure but decided they are so shit i would not bother and went straight for a waeco unit built into a custom floor fridge.
    http://www.penguinfrigo.co.uk/…-over-traditional-3-ways/