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?

Continue reading “Monitoring battery state of charge (SoC)”

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.

Continue reading “Updating Victron Energy inverter settings and firmware”

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.

Continue reading “Dash cam and rear view camera in one unit – installation and first impressions”

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.

Continue reading “12 Volt electrical systems for vans – the basics”

Why Mercedes’ Auxiliary battery package isn’t a good starting point for a conversion

Aux battery info close-up

Although lots of people specify the auxiliary battery (option E28) when they buy a van for conversion, or even try to retrofit the pieces that come in that option, it’s not clear that it was designed for the types of use it gets in adventure van conversions. It’s not clear that it’s actually any use for conversion vans.

Continue reading “Why Mercedes’ Auxiliary battery package isn’t a good starting point for a conversion”