Without the battery, the van won’t have light, heat, cooking facilities, a water pump, or any of the other things that turn it into a useful place to hang out.
We chose to use a Lithium Ferric Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. Lithium batteries can take a charge much faster than lead-acid batteries. They also don’t mind being left in a state of partial discharge, and they can be discharged to around 20% capacity without impacting their service life. Continue reading “The battery is the heart of the van”
Your solar panel doesn’t produce a steady voltage or current, so it’s not a good idea to hook it straight to your devices or battery. Our panels, for instance, can produce 38 volts or more. That would fry any regular 12v equipment.
Luckily, solar controllers are designed to take the varying voltage and current and turn it into a steady output. There are two main types of controller – MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) and PWM (Pulse Width Modulating). Victron has a nice technical document explaining the differences between MPPT and PWM (PDF). It boils down to this: MPPT technology will get more power out of your panels, and is useful with more types of panel, but costs a little bit more up front.
Most solar panels are designed to sit on the roof of a house, not to be driving down the road at 70 miles per hour. The panels themselves can take much higher wind speeds, but it’s all in how you mount them to the roof.
Solar is a great way to recharge a battery and keep equipment like fridges and fans running during the day.
There are many options for solar panels – different sizes, voltages, and types. You can get flexible panels that stick to any surface, or rigid ones mounted in aluminum frames designed for house roofs.
Along with the panels, you also need a controller. That takes the energy from the panels and converts it to a steady 12 volts to power equipment and charge a battery.
The Crew van comes with a three person passenger bench seat behind the driver and co-driver seats. We want to use that room for a living area, so we have to move the seat back.
Luckily, the 2015 crew vans come with captive nuts under the floor in the positions the seats would take in a passenger van. It’s weird — Mercedes puts the nuts in place, but then puts a solid metal floor right over them. Continue reading “Moving the bench seat”
We’re using several layers of insulation on the van walls and floor. Different products have different insulating properties – either heat or sound insulation – and so we need to use a bit of a sandwich.