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Old 03-08-2011, 07:06 PM   #1
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Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Having build done this summer and would like to hear from you if have any of the following components and how they work (or don't) for you:
All electric/12 volt with 2 batteries & 2000W inverter
Danhard inside mount air conditioner
Manual pop-top with bed
4E (3.6CF) refrigerator, does freezer work well - keep ice cream okay?
TV and stealth antennae - reception & ease of use w/o cable or satellite near city
Back-up camera - viewing range & clarity, blind spots with it
Dinette L - storage space in benches, width & height
Awning windows, especially over dinette seat/beds
Living without water system and tanks
LED vs other lights, haven't had luck with LED flashlights
Anyone use portable solar? Can prewire make compatibility an issue? What's your system
Marine deck upgrade, is cleaning hard for londeck or should I go for the loncoin?
Is having a small portable air compressor okay, or only larger ones worthwhile and how do they work?
Thanks in advance for your input - gypsyjaney
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:43 AM   #2
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Welcome
You will find tons of info here
Consider using this post on developing your build

Question:
have you been inside more than one SMB?
If not, post here and go see some first hand

Build stuff:

All electric/12 volt with 2 batteries & 2000W inverter
- most of us have this
- batteries- the key is how many "amp hours" you will need
- think of electricty storage as a water tank
- an appliance or light will need water from the tank
- a LED light will need just a sip every day
- a microwave will gulp
- a fridge will take a good swallow every hour
- your water tank (amp hours stored in your batteries) must not go below 1/2 full
- if you let a battery go below 1/2 charge, you kill the battery
Charging batteries
- they can charge from the engine, shore power or solar
- engin, takes awhile and condider a bigger alternatior
- shore power- will be handled by a combo unit inverter/charger
- solar- great way to go, more later
Ex:
i have 3 batteries, one large, two smaller (done for space issues)
400 amp hours
i run my fridge, lights, tv/dvd, laptop, charge cell phones, radio and microwave and propane heater
no problem for two days with no sun and no engin
with 4-6 hours of sun, i can go indefinatly
driving to a couple of hours also tops up my batteries



Danhard inside mount air conditioner


dont know about this, i have a roof top Coleman Polar Cub
only runs off shore power or generator
i am pretty sure thei is the same for the danhard
someone will let you know


Manual pop-top with bed
most of the folks here have pop tops
i have had two pop top rigs, this is my 6th rig (vw, campers etc)
1) make sure you get the electric one
2) consider what you are going to put up top (rack, boats, solar, stuff)
3) remember when i said go see some rigs?
stand in side a pop top and a cruiser and a voyager
will you be rain or winter camping?
do you wanna be warm all the time? (warm is subjective
having had pop tops and fixed tops, for my 6th rig i chose a cruiser top
tons of room not clutters, i park and i am camped
4) if you are building this for off road trails that have small spaces, then a pop top will be indicated


4E (3.6CF) refrigerator, does freezer work well - keep ice cream okay?
I have a truck fridge 12v/110v 4.2 cf fridge
i love having ice and ice cream
get the largest fridge you can IMHO

TV and stealth antennae - reception & ease of use w/o cable or satellite near city
i dont have antenna or satellite
some guys here do have satellite and will post
i have a tv/dvd
works great
i record of Tivo and take a portable hard drive
also we use redbox and net flix




Back-up camera - viewing range & clarity, blind spots with it
dont have one
want one
on my to do list
however, i have found it is not a high piority
i walk my rig before i get in and am good with mirrors
i back slowly and give my self space


Dinette L - storage space in benches, width & height
i am a Goucho guy, so cant help
however my Goucho (bed along wall) does have storage under,
but take with water tank, inverter, two batteries and portible air compressor

Awning windows, especially over dinette seat/beds
i have sliders

Living without water system and tanks
dont know a good reason to not have
having a small tank, draining to out side(i use a collapsable jug to catch)
exterior shower mount
small sink, no hot water
this set up will make your life easy and not suck up room and can be freeze proof

tell us why you dont want water on board, we can give you our experiance

LED vs other lights, haven't had luck with LED flashlights
i am also a flashlight junky
tons of great LED flashlights
some real expensive some in the 30-75 range, some less
i like em
as for the rig, i am FINALLY moving to LED lights
have found the replacement bulbs and will order soon
- rememeber what i said about water/electicity?
a regular bulb takes steady drinks, a led takes a tiny trickle, well worth it


Anyone use portable solar? Can prewire make compatibility an issue?
Solar- you need it IMHO
portible- small ones ok, but too small to do much good, bigger become a storage problem
if you make the roof ones portable or tiltable, it is also a problem
get the biggest one you can and put it up top
- pre wire- i would pre wire at factory (YOU have to spec wire size!!!)
then get and mount your own panels (you will save alot)

What's your system
- my system:
two 180 watt kyocera
blue sky controller with MMPTT (does some vodoo to make more juice go into battery)
remote display
400 amp hours of battey storage

FLoor
- i have laminate and will do again

Marine deck upgrade, is cleaning hard for lon

deck or should I go for the loncoin?

Compressor
- i have a Viaair 100% duty cycle (means i can run it without stopping for all tires)
- i have never aired down...yet

again, welcom
tons to learn
temper what you get here with factory and what YOU need
and have FUN
Is having a small portable air compressor okay, or only larger ones worthwhile and how do they work?
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:10 AM   #3
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

A note on charging:

Most converters only charge at 15-20 amps, maybe 30 if it has a fast charge setting. That is less than what you can get off the alternator. A good inverter/charger however, can provide much more charge, plus it'll switch automatically from invert to charge whenever you have a source.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:30 AM   #4
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb
A note on charging:

Most converters only charge at 15-20 amps, maybe 30 if it has a fast charge setting. That is less than what you can get off the alternator. A good inverter/charger however, can provide much more charge, plus it'll switch automatically from invert to charge whenever you have a source.

CB brings to point: The Devil is in The Details

a chager or inverter or converter or solar panel is a generic term

what count it's performance

what is the input in numbers
what is the output in numbers

same goes for a light, or microwave or tv
what does it require to run in numbers

a fridge is different because it does not run 24/7
only to cool down
therefore the effecency of the insulation determins the run time
also the cooling of the refridgerant INSIDE the unit
(i have a computer fan that cools down my cooling tower)
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:39 AM   #5
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Before I ordered mine, I tried lifting a manual penthouse top on an regular body and couldn't do it. In my opinion, you will never regret spending the extra money for the electric top.

On backup cameras, I have a bit of experience. Many folks replace the stock stereo with an in-dash DVD/Navigator unit that has a monitor and camera input capability and that's a great way to go. The Ford factory backup camera mounts in the rear door and will be blocked if you plan to have an Aluminess bumper with a box or jerry cans. I wanted to keep the stock stereo so I had to come up with another solution. Boyo makes great cameras and monitors and I liked that many of their monitors have multiple camera inputs. I went with the Boyo VTB180 camera for the rear, the Boyo VTL420 camera for the front and the Boyo VTM600M Rear View Mirror monitor. Both cameras are great, but the monitor/rear view mirror combo was lousy. It worked great at night and not having to find space for a monitor was nice, but with any amount of daylight, the monitor image was not visible. I replaced it with the Boyo VTM5000 monitor and mounted as far forward on the headliner as it would go. This monitor has three camera inputs but is made for a camera more like the Boyo VTB301 with a BNC type connector rather than the RCA type connector that my existing cameras have. The monitor came with one adapter and I was able to order another adapter direct from Boyo for $10.00. The installation was pretty easy to figure out and it works great.

Monitor


Easy to see, doesn't block anything on the dashboard or the windshield


Rear camera mounted under galley box


Front camera mounted to the front license plate


In reverse. Monitor and camera get power from reverse light lead. Monitor input automatically switches to reverse camera (input 3) when in reverse


In any gear other than reverse. Push the power button and the input defaults to the front camera (input 1). Hit the 'Sel' button to cycle through the cameras.


As far as your other questions, I had SMB prewire the solar controller and bought my own panel. I made mounting brackets to mount the panel to my Thule rack so it could be removeable, but I haven't removed it yet! I also had them add an additional plug near the taillight so that when/if I remove the panel, I could put it in the sun, park the van in the shade and still charge the batteries. I have one 4D AGM battery and no inverter. The most powerful AC device I need to run is my laptop and I get by with a Belkin 250W ACAnywhere inverter for that. I couldn't imagine not having built-in water. I surf and love that I can shower after. I also hate leaving big puddles in places where I camp, so I really like the built-in sink and grey water tank. I am interested to hear why you are planning to skip that. I have an on-board Viair 450 compressor and it works well, but not as fast as the ExtremeAire the Sportsmobile sells. I have Nitto Terra Grapplers which want higher pressure than the BFG All Terrains so that is also a factor, since compressors have to work harder to get tires to higher pressures.

Feel free to PM me with any other questions.

Steve in L.A.
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:28 PM   #6
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Thanks for your input billwilson, carringb, and SteveinLA. I tried to send a reply but apparently took too long, and I was logged out. It gave more details, answered your questions, and gave some explanations but it was lost. I'll try again later, but I'm trying to send a picture of the van now.
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:11 PM   #7
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

The above picture is the van, it's a Quiqley 4x4 even though the way they painted the body implies it's a Sportsmobile one. I've had it almost 2 years and camped with it, so I'm used to having few amenities (portable grill, jugs of water, battery operated flashlights and fans, PETT toilet for the middle of the night) outside of what the campgrounds provided.

I'm skipping the water system (but will have a sink) because I don't want to worry about freezing pipes and tanks or trying to prevent them from freezing. As I've learned more about RVing, I found out it can be a lot of work so I'm trying to make it as easy on myself as I can. I have been in several sportsmobiles in Indiana, but only for a short time which is not the same as actually using one. I figure I can carry my own water and have a makeshift "grey" container. I'm probably going to stick with the non-electric pop top and make sure they adjust it for me. I can live with it down longer than I can with it stuck UP (had trouble with electric car windows before) because you can't drive very long with it up and parking restrictions means I have to be able to put it in my previously modified garage.

billwilson, I liked the water use comparison for electric/batterypower and didn't realize I could only use half the battery power, so it may be best if I think of only having 1 battery even though there will be 2.

carringb, it sound like the inverter is definitely the way to go for performance even though I don't expect to use much if I'm not plugged in.

SteveinLA, I appreciate your input about the electric penthouse but I'm afraid of getting stuck with it up and I now have a reminder to make sure the springs are adjusted correctly for me and I get to practice myself before signing off and paying. It sounds like there are several options for back-up cameras after the build so that's something I can research more and wait to do.

I would like enough solar to run the refrigerator and a few lights (LED seems the way to go) so I can dry camp, but storing the panels is my biggest concern since I don't want to have to park in the sun OR lift a roof with heavy panels on it. I need to see how much space I'll really have inside. I found a portable system with it's own controller - CEA Solar - has anyone used or seen those? I'm unsure whether I should get the prewire if I don't know the kind of panels I'll get, are there possible compatibility problems? I'll try to post this now and hope I don't lose it since it's shorter than the last one.
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Old 03-10-2011, 07:08 AM   #8
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Friend:

Portible solar = small panels
small panels = not much sun/wattage going to batteries

meaning a small panel will not charg up a drained battery
in a short amount of time

just found this company
http://www.powerenz.com/store/index.php ... ductId=114

they look like they can put together a portable system for your needs
call them and post here what you find

i also belive that a SMB with penthouse has room for a panel over the driver
can someone confirm this??
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Old 03-10-2011, 11:41 AM   #9
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

BillWilson said..
Quote:
i also belive that a SMB with penthouse has room for a panel over the driver
can someone confirm this??
I don't know how big a standard solar panel is but on my 2002 EB E350 I have 22" from the front of the PH to the top of the windshield.
The roof in this area curves both down in the front and side to side, so it might be a difficult to get a decent looking mount even if 22" is enough room.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:15 PM   #10
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Re: Please help, seeking input on proposed build

Thanks for the link billwilson. I called the phone # on their webpage and the man who answered was very helpful. He eased my worries about pre-wire incompatibility with panels purchased later. He said any good panels should be fine with the BlueSky Solar Controller. Now I feel free to wait until after the build so I can get the most powerful panels I can find room for. He said they could help with either framed or foldable panels if I can't get the size I need. He also said it's definitely better to have the pre-wire done during the build instead of later, if solar will be good for my needs. I tried to reply Friday with more details, but I got booted off the internet again so I'm trying to keep it short. Thanks for your input too, Viejo ... I'm sure the panels they use are too big for that space, I've seen the dimensions on kyocera product sites.

One more question for you or anyone who reads this. Does the danhard (or any) air conditioner work well if you have the top "popped" with its windows closed or does the top have to be down for it to work okay? Thanks again!
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