Disclaimer: I am not a professional electrician, this is an example of what we have implemented in our van.
Our van electrical system is powered by two 200ah AGM Deep Cycle Batteries. The batteries are recharged in two different ways. One method is by the two 100W solar panels that are mounted to the roof of our van. The second is the Voltage Sensor Relay that brings charge through the van’s alternator.
The diagram on the right shows how our setup all connects together. We used a combination of 14G, 4G, and 2G wires to complete the setup.
The electrical system can be broken down into 3 main parts:
- DC loads
- AC loads
DC vs AC... What's the difference?
In the words of a non-electrician, a DC loads are the red and black wires that get wired directly from the device to the fuse box, and the AC loads get plugged into an outlet. The AC loads get their power by wiring outlets directly to the Inverter.
Charging the Batteries
We have 2, 100W Monocrystalline Rich Solar Panels. After doing a significant amount of research, this is a bit on the lower end for solar power. We originally had planned for 300-400 watts of power, but our roof set up did not have enough space. With the combination of our Voltage Sensor Relay (VSR), we get enough charge to keep our batteries above 50%.
In order for the batteries to receive charge from the solar panels, they need to be wired to a solar charge controller. We went with the Victron Energy SmartSolar Charge Controller. After a good deal of research, we determined that the solar panels should be wired in series, vs parallel, due to the charge controller that we picked.
Voltage Sensor Relay:
We have the Marinco Voltage Sensitive Relay. The relay sends charge from our van battery to our 2 batteries every time the van’s alternator turns on. We like this sensor because it is automatic in turning on and shutting off. As soon as the van is turned on, the light turns red and the charging begins. We don’t have to worry about the possibility of forgetting to turn it off and then having our van battery drained.
This was one of the more difficult devices to wire correctly. I had the positive lines connected but was having trouble getting the charge to switch over when the van turned on. Turns out the problem was with my terminal connectors. I had put 2G connectors on 4G wire, and the wires weren’t getting a strong enough connection. Once I redid all of the connections *properly* the system worked!
We really like having this as an option for our batteries to charge. Knowing that we can take the van for a short drive and we’ll be charged up gives us peace of mind on cloudy days!
This is our electrical system under the bed in the garage. The batteries are located under the lid.
electrical supplies we used
We have 2 VMAX 12V 200ah AGM batteries.
Renology Inverter – ours is 1000W. 1500W or higher is better if you plan to use bigger appliances (blenders, griddles, ect).
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