Why did Mercedes put the trailer wiring box so close to the Sprinter’s receiver hitch mount?

Bully hitch mounted step just clears the factory hitch wiring box

Good luck trying to find a locking trailer hitch pin that will fit in the tiny space that Mercedes leaves at the side of the 2″ receiver mount.

Receiver hitches aren’t common in Europe, so maybe the German engineers got a little confused about how they are typically used. When we added a hitch mounted step to our van, it was hard to find a locking pin that would work.

We ended up making a 90 degree pin lock but ever since then we’ve contemplated just moving the electrical connector for the hitch. Problem is, it’s not easy to know where to put it.

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Monitoring battery state of charge (SoC)

Battery graphic

Cheap battery volt meters don’t give you good insight into how full or empty your battery really is. Without knowing the true state of charge you can damage your battery and seriously shorten its life.

If you’ve priced out proper battery monitors, you might have experienced sticker shock. Although you can buy a LED volt meter for under $10, true battery monitors cost a lot more – often around $200. Why? And what’s so important about using a proper monitor?

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Updating Victron Energy inverter settings and firmware

Updating MultiPlus Compact inverter with new firmware

Victron might not be the cheapest manufacturer of inverters and solar chargers, but their stuff has a good reputation in the marine and off-grid communities. We built our van’s electrical system around their products.

It’s nice to see that AM Solar has recently decided to use Victron components as the base for several of their RV install kits. That’s a big vote of confidence, because AM Solar tends to do their research before committing to stocking a product.

The inverters are programmable and many of their settings can be changed. The inverters and solar chargers also have updateable firmware to take advantage of new operating modes. The color controller updates itself automatically over the internet, but the other components have to be done manually. Here’s how to do it.

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Dash cam and rear view camera in one unit – installation and first impressions

Audiovox Dashcam

We have mixed feelings about this $85 dash cam unit. It does the job, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it has a rear view camera monitor built in to the mirror. However, the blue tinted mirror is weird and the video image can wash out in bright light. Overall, it’s worthwhile if you want a dash-cam and backup camera, but there might be better options if you want a dedicated rear-view monitor.

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12 Volt electrical systems for vans – the basics

DC distribution panel wiring

Here’s a basic overview of how a 12 Volt system works in vehicles. If everything that goes on under the hood of your car is a mystery to you, this article might help out.

It also covers the most important pieces of adding a house battery and charging system to your van conversion, and the things you need to consider when you wire up your fridge, fan, and electrical outlets.

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