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)”
Battery efficiency is important in a van, and your fridge is one of your highest house battery consumers. Here are some ways to make sure your fridge runs as efficiently as possible.
Continue reading “Tips for choosing and using an efficient van fridge”
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”
The optional alarm in a Sprinter is OK, but it’s hard to remember to turn off the motion sensor each time you lock the van. If your dog is asleep in the van, it’ll wake up and stretch while you’re away, making you unpopular with everyone around you.
The answer’s pretty simple – electrical tape over the motion sensors.
Continue reading “Got an alarm? Got a dog? Get some tape!”
We don’t have a propane tank in our van, so we heat our water using the electrical system. It’s a choice that works for us because we have a large battery and solar system. Here’s a description of our system and the other options you might consider.
Continue reading “Hot water options in an electric van”
Rather than heating the whole van overnight, it’s cheaper and easier to just heat the bed. We bought a 12v heated mattress pad to sleep on. It works really well and doesn’t use too much power.
Continue reading “12v electric mattress pad for cheap overnight heating”
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”
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”
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”
Different lithium battery manufacturers use the term BMS to mean different things. It’s important to know what you’re getting because the battery management system is used to keep the system running smoothly and protect the battery from permanent damage.
Continue reading “Not all lithium battery management systems are created equal”