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Old 04-18-2013, 10:21 PM   #1
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EB110s or EB154s?

I am narrowing down what ideas are in use for a Sprinter based SMB, but I have a couple questions, if anyone has the EB110s or EB152s floor plans. The rig will have two main uses: Most of the year, it will be for weekend getaways (drive it to work Friday, drive back Sunday night.) However, for a quarter of the year, I'll be boondocking at a festival.

First, for a single person, would the floorplan with the typical sofa in the backseat be best, or would two benches facing each other? I'm 50/50 between either floor plan, the main difference is that I could perhaps haul 2-3 more people with the sofa, versus being able to stuff a Christmas tree or long-ish cargo between the two seats with the EB110s plan.

Second, I am looking at two general configurations:

Configuration 1 dispenses with propane entirely. The generator is the Powertech, and everything uses the diesel tank. With just one fuel, I can get Rotopax and a hitch mounted cargo rack to keep additional diesel fuel with me for boondocking.

Configuration 2 uses propane for the LP gas generator, the furnace, water heater, etc. The advantage of this is that a LP gas generator generally runs quieter than a diesel, and Onans are generally easier to find someone who can service them. It also costs less.

Of course, there are a few options which I'm looking at which would be great to get some more info on. The Danhard A/C is more expensive and less BTUs, but it makes the rig more stealthy. I also read mention of a system to allow some hot water to recirculate into the fresh water tank, which is additional protection when the weather gets cold.

Any thoughts or opinions on the all-diesel setup? I just wonder what disadvantages I'm missing.
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Old 04-19-2013, 02:03 AM   #2
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

welcome to the forum. congrats on your 1st post

The beauty of the SMB conversion is that you can customize the design to your specific needs, which it sounds like you've give some thought to already.

I'd be interesting in hearing more about your boondocking requirements.
Is the three months continuous - 7 days a week or just weekends?
Environment - Summer - Winter - hot or cold?
Is this something you've done before using other camping means or something new?
Are there other campers doing the same thing and what type of rig are they using?
How far would you have to go to replenish the propane or diesel?
could the use of solar reduce your dependency on using the generator?

I'm sure more experienced campers will weigh in with some valuable input
Best of luck with your build!
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:23 AM   #3
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

It is mainly weekends, at the first part of the year. Central TX weather is so oddball though, it could be 100 degrees out, single digits with an ice storm, snowing, or blowing 50 mph winds, so I have to be prepared for almost anything.

Come the rest of the year, boondocking will be nice, but it will be more of a stealth camping aspect when hitting small town festivals.

It is weather I'm somewhat used to. I've tented in it, moved to a travel trailer, but am looking to move to a type B rig, since it can be in the driveway ready for trips on weekends, as opposed to the current situation where I spend two hours driving to the place where my trailer is stored, as well as driving it back.

Diesel is fairly easy to find. Propane is tougher, which is why I am leaning towards an all diesel rig. Diesel is also easier to bring along additional containers either on a hitch mounted cargo carrier, or perhaps mounted atop the roof using Rotopax mountings.

Solar is one of those items that is a must have, preferably more than 240-250 watts. In the winter, it will offset the amperage draw from the furnace. Come hotter weather, since the A/C will be on, it matters less, but still is useful for keeping the batteries charged.
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:01 AM   #4
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

Propane is never an issue to find on the road, but I did have trouble locally where I used to live (which was a drag with filling up before a trip). But on the road, it's everywhere. Now I'm not sure with a genny, but I've yet to need to fill my propane while traveling. I do fill on the road, but not because I have to.

Still with diesel, generally you get to do you own filling- not rely on some poorly trained attendant. If you spill diesel and have to live with the smell it's at least your fault, however propane does dissipate faster (although I have a fantastic fan to assist). That's probably my biggest beef with propane: even going to the same place you never know whether the guy is going to yank the fill off without venting or forget to open the vent or cross thread something... I had a 20lb portable ruined by the other local station because despite them swearing they knew what they were doing they did it wrong and ruined it- they did it in front of me too- despite me telling him to stop what he was doing repeatedly. Basically once you say, "I need propane" you're at their mercy whether they know what they are doing or not.

All that said, I'm not unhappy with the propane system and could probably go two years between fills, but I would certainly ditch it for an Espar and go all diesel or all gas in a fresh build.
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:49 AM   #5
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
Propane is never an issue to find on the road, but I did have trouble locally where I used to live (which was a drag with filling up before a trip). But on the road, it's everywhere. Now I'm not sure with a genny, but I've yet to need to fill my propane while traveling. I do fill on the road, but not because I have to.

Still with diesel, generally you get to do you own filling- not rely on some poorly trained attendant. If you spill diesel and have to live with the smell it's at least your fault, however propane does dissipate faster (although I have a fantastic fan to assist). That's probably my biggest beef with propane: even going to the same place you never know whether the guy is going to yank the fill off without venting or forget to open the vent or cross thread something... I had a 20lb portable ruined by the other local station because despite them swearing they knew what they were doing they did it wrong and ruined it- they did it in front of me too- despite me telling him to stop what he was doing repeatedly. Basically once you say, "I need propane" you're at their mercy whether they know what they are doing or not.

All that said, I'm not unhappy with the propane system and could probably go two years between fills, but I would certainly ditch it for an Espar and go all diesel or all gas in a fresh build.
Very good words of wisdom. Even though Texas is oil country, the area around Austin is actually difficult to find propane, other than 20# bottle exchanges. The propane places either don't have someone DOT trained for proper filling on hand, or they want a contract guaranteeing I would buy x amount of gallons in six months before they would lift a finger. I would have to drive to a RV dealer, a RV park, or to a place like Buc-Eees in Bastrop and hope someone is on hand.

Diesel may be smelly and greasy, but it is available 24/7/365 barring a major disaster or oil shortage. Plus, if I need to bring additional 5 gallon containers, I can stop by Lowe's and pick them up. The containers can go on a cargo rack, or even in a plastic tub (so spills are contained) and shoved inside in a pinch.

Since I live in Central Texas, come May to September, running the A/C is a must when going on trips. A fan won't cut it when the temperature is above 108/110 coupled with high humidity.

It looks like I should just go with all diesel. With no LP gas tank, that frees up room underneath for additional grey/black water capacity, or perhaps additional AGM batteries.

I didn't realize that diesel could get that easily tracked into the rig... that gets me leaning towards Londeck or Loncoin for the van's floor, assuming those materials won't absorb the stuff. I can then toss a rug atop of that.

PS: Do you have a preference for fasteners for the cabinets? What I would like to find are the push button locking ones that are found in Roadtreks and Airstreams. I think those are Southco MP-Point latches, but the advantage of the ones in RTs is that when the knob is in, the spring latch won't press in, adding a "deadbolt" functionality. That means, if the knob is in, the cabinet isn't opening unless the fastener shears off.
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Old 04-19-2013, 07:25 PM   #6
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EB110s or EB154s?

The other thing to remember is that a propane generator is less efficient that a diesel one. The same size generator will put out less kW when converted to propane. This may mean that a propane generator will be physically larger that the diesel one of the same capacity.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:15 AM   #7
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

I wish you the very best with your build. I too believe that diesel may be the way to go, but would prefer to just add another extra tank under the van, instead of carrying cans of fuel. But there is little info on add on tanks. Regarding the layout. Have you narrowed it down any more. There are arguments that can be made for both layouts and I think I may want to see them in person if possible before i decide. I know this will require a trip to SMB that is probably in order anyway. Best of luck to you!
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:44 AM   #8
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

See my recent post here and my signature web site about propane and diesel. I am a strong believer that you need the diesel generator if you will be running the A/C all day, but I like the propane better for cooktop and hot water. We have dry camped 3 months out of the past 9 months and have had the propane filled only twice without incident. The propane cooktop and water heater work better and save money over diesel. The allstays app will help you find propane.

There is room under the van between the PowerTech generator and the rear axle for two batteries. However, I don't think SMB will install them here (I did it myself). Our experience is that four type 27 batteries are needed for dry camping in cold weather just to get through one 20 hour period before running the generator for 4 hours to recharge. The solar panels are not effective in the winter (low sun) and when camping under trees or in cloudy weather in the summer.

We like the push and turn cabinet latches (see my photos).

David
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Old 12-20-2013, 11:57 PM   #9
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Re: EB110s or EB154s?

It has been a while, but I think that might be the ideal solution, where one has access to two fuels for redundancy. I talked with the SMB place in Austin, and there is no problems using an Extend-A-Stay device, which would allow me to use 20# (or larger) bottles on a hitch mounted rack to help add capacity.

The diesel generator, to me, is a no brainer. It is a lot easier to find/bring diesel than it is propane.

Propane does give more options. I plan to have a tee connection (with a shutoff valve) so if needed, I could run a Buddy heater. This requires ventilation for both oxygen and getting rid of the humidity, but a Buddy heater can do a good job at warming things up while being fairly thrifty on propane.

You also brought up a good point -- the refrigerator. With the two batteries mentioned installed near the generator underneath, the fridge can be all electric, and not an absorption model. Absorption models are great for boondocking since they can run on very little propane. However, they don't cool nearly as well as a normal electric refrigerator, are expensive to service, and they require the van to be completely level, or else the fridge will suffer permanent damage. Of course, this will require either some generator run time, or perhaps a decent solar charging system on top to keep the batteries topped off, but that needs to be done anyway.

Of course, there is cost. I need to run the spreadsheets again, but going all diesel gets pretty pricy once all the additional stuff is factored in, so I might go with propane just out of budget, all except the generator, which in the Texas heat, needs as much run time capacity as possible to keep the A/C running, even if it costs several thousand more.
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