Finally we, and by “we” I mean Ben, have gotten around to putting together a write up on all the nitty gritty of our van conversion. Without going in to too much detail but, also covering everything, Ben has done a bloody god job!! He does love a good tech talk, so it was a walk in the park for him to whip up these informative posts complete with pros, cons, links, hot tips, photos and even diagrams he drew himself! He also LOVES to help people and share his experience and knowledge so if there is something he has not covered and you want to know, get in touch via the comment box or on Instagram/facebook. Cheers guys….
Enerdrive ePOWER DC2DC+ Battery Charger 40A
- Allows the battery to charge at 40A instead of 20A like most other DC to DC Chargers. Also, it is Lithium Battery Compatible.
- Totally customisable charge rate i.e. it can be boosted up to 50A.
- Big display screen which shows how much power is coming in from your solar panels and/or alternator.
- Heats up and needs ventilation.
HOT TIP: (quite literally!) If the compartment housing the charger is confined, install a 12v PC fan to exhaust the hot air out.
House Batteries – 2 x 120AH AGM Batteries in Parallel
- Who doesn’t love 12v power??
- I would install 10 if I could.
- Weight. At 27kg each, we have 54Kg of Batteries. Not including our 2 starter batteries…
BATTERY MONITORING SYSTEM
Victron BMV-712 Smart
- Shows me how much power in Amps is being used by appliances or generated by the solar panels.
- It can monitor up to 200AMPs, the coffee machine uses about 110Amps so it is perfect for reading our coffee machine use.
- Can connect to your phone and show you a bunch of data about your batteries.
- PRICE, very expensive, probably don’t really need it, and could get away with a cheaper monitor which only reads the solar and fridge/lights consumption.
2 x 100w Enerdrive Fixed Solar Panels fixed on the roof
- Reputable brand with warranty.
- Output equal to nameplate rating unlike some cheap panels.
- Weight. Adds about 15kg to the roof rack, versus 7kg for flexible.
- Bit into the budget as we changed our solar setup halfway through the trip.
1 x 250w Flexible Solar Panel and 15 metre lead (used instead of a portable set of panels)
- Its 3mm thick so it slides under our mattress when not being used.
- Its light and easy to setup.
- Don’t get me started on longevity issues of flexible solar panels.
- If the wind catches it, it takes off across the campground!!
ENERDRIVE/EPOWER LOW BATTERY CUT-OUT
- Disconnects the battery as soon as the voltage drops below a certain level.
- If we left a light on in the van, flew home for a week and back, chances are the batteries would be dead flat, AGM batteries generally cannot be run dead flat so it would mean we would have to fork out the money for two new batteries.
- These and similar units cost $40-$80 and protect about $500 worth of batteries. It has happened before in Scout’s Caddy when we didn’t have the cut off installed…never again.
- You have to buy a separate over-ride switch and install it yourself if you want to be able to over-ride the cut-off switch.
1600W Dometic Pure Sine Wave Inverter (3200Watts peak)
- PRICE – this is such a cheap unit compared to other big-name brands out there, especially when you take into consideration it is a big brand name too.
- 1600w continuous and 3200W peak (means it can handle 3200w for about 10 minutes).
- We can run just about any appliance in our van.
- Its Dometic so returning defective or faulty items is a breeze.
- Pure sine wave – means its not going to harm any of our electronic items. I’m not going to get into a debate about pure sine wave verse modified as there is plenty of information out there on the internet regarding the dangers of running anything “sensitive” on a modified sine wave inverter.
- It uses 2 amp just to turn on, with no load on it…over ten hours that is 20AH of your battery gone….
Delonghi Dedica Pump Espresso
- Espresso coffee shots and frothed milk on the road!!
- Instant boiling hot water for Tea, hot chocolates or even noodles.
- Only uses 1300w as opposed to other machines which use a lot more (equates to 1300/12 = 108.3Amps)
- Takes up barely any room in the van (149mmx330mmx303mm)
- Extremely Hardy. It is bolted down to the benchtop and over the thousands of KM’s on corrugated roads it is still esspressing perfectly to the day!
- Uses A LOT of power to run. I don’t think it would be feasible to have this machine and only one 120AH battery.
- Does not have an attached grinder. So, we must buy pre-ground beans. (DRAMAS hahaha)
Coffee machine installation:
We have a Dometic Inverter connected to the dual batteries with 35mm2 cable. The Dometic inverter produces 240v power. We then just plug the coffee machine into the inverter. Simple.
We recommend installing 2 x 120AH batteries as a minimum.
110Litre CRX Dometic Fridge
- Fridge and Freezer – We have 10Litres of freezer space, and 100 Litres of fridge, this means plenty of room for at least 7 days of fresh veges, condiments, milk, meats etc.
- Once again being Dometic means we can find a warranty repairmen or sales rep Australia wide who will help us if it were to break.
HOT TIP: Install the supplied drainpipe!!! As your fridge cools down, it will build condensation inside and freeze the condensation at the back of the fridge, as the fridge heats up the condensation melts, the water pools around the bung. You then turn a corner in the van, and oh no, water seeps out all over the floor of the van. If you install the drain, just like magic the melted frost will drain out onto the ground.
14 Inch AC/DC Rechargeable Oscillating Fan
- Uses the least amount of power out of all the fans we have reviewed.
- It is really big, so pushes a lot of air and is quiet.
- Its relatively cheap when compared to the mounted caravan type fans.
- Can be strapped to the ceiling to not take up any living space.
- JAYCAR can be found all around Australia, so warranty issues or returns are easy.
- Its ACTUALLY 6V??? So, there is a step-down transformer inside which converts 12v down to 6v.
- The stepdown transformer fails after driving for thousands of kms on BADLY corrugated roads!! See hot tip below for a fix.
HOT TIP: This fan is that good, we can’t find a better replacement, so I purchased a step-down transformer from Ebay to repair the fan when it broke as it was out of warranty. The transformer is cheap, easy to install and should last longer than the one in the fan.