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Old 01-05-2019, 10:03 PM   #1
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Minimalist Electric Build

I recently purchased a 2018 Transit 350 low roof eco boost. I plan a minimalist build. Primary power needs will be DC. I want to run an ARB fridge, MaxxFan, and eventually power a CCV pop top. Right now I have nothing but the single battery Ford provides. I've read many threads. Most of the threads go far beyond my simple needs. Never say never, but right now I don't see me changing my stripes towards heavy electrical use. I'm a water guy and will always have an OC1, surfboards, or kayaks on top of the van so solar panels don't make sense. What do y'all recommend in terms of size and brands of equipment?
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:53 PM   #2
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One thing you need to figure out is how days you will be camped in one spot. If you are parked for more than two or three days you are going to need solar or you are going to have to idle the van for several hours to charge the batteries.

Our rig has two 75 amp hour batteries that run the fridge and lighting. We usually drive every day so the batteries stay charged without the use of solar. When we are planning on parking for a couple of days we bring along a portable 150 watt solar system from Overland Solar.
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:31 AM   #3
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Ya, Iíd highly recommend a suitcase panel, I got one of these with the built in controller when it was on sale for another application. Turns out I donít need it, new in box, $120+shipping.
Or order it....
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Portable Solar Suitcase with Voyager Waterproof Charge Controller https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079JVBVL3..._.JHmCbRV8CDDN
Also pick up one of these sidewall ports for plugging in
Toeduk Solar Weatherproof SAE Socket sidewall Port,SAE Waterproof Quick Connect Panel Mount https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FVQ39HW..._gYHmCb4CQ6X49
And a length of extension cable
WindyNation 10 Gauge 10 AWG One Pair 20 Feet Black + 20 Feet Red Solar Panel Extension Cable Wire MC4 Connector https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D7VBKQG..._D4HmCbHAAF9G3
Pick up a good AGM deep cycle battery, mount it somewhere, even inside as AGMís do not off gas, hook it up, good to go.
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:01 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice. Seems I'm solar bound. Two batteries will fit under the drivers seat. Should I connect the two with a separater or serial?

Should I also consider a shore power option? I think we may find ourselves in camp grounds relatively often. For example our first trip will be to GA where I'm taking a kayak certification class. We will be in a campground for several days. Would a small good quality inverter make sense or just stick to the portable solar? If so what brand and size of inverter? Will adding an inverter complicate the solar solution?
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:28 AM   #5
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I recently purchased a 2018 Transit 350 low roof eco boost. I plan a minimalist build. Primary power needs will be DC. I want to run an ARB fridge, MaxxFan, and eventually power a CCV pop top. Right now I have nothing but the single battery Ford provides. I've read many threads. Most of the threads go far beyond my simple needs. Never say never, but right now I don't see me changing my stripes towards heavy electrical use. I'm a water guy and will always have an OC1, surfboards, or kayaks on top of the van so solar panels don't make sense. What do y'all recommend in terms of size and brands of equipment?

Are you doing the build? Unless the inside is gonna be bare, you might want to think about resale and what the average buyer would want when you plan to sell. Trying to add electrical after the build can be difficult and is why so many suggest a standard electrical build and at least a pre-wire for solar.



But that all cost money. I wouldn't worry about the power top... that can be ran off the starting battery. If you really want a minimalist type build perhaps something like a goal zero or Ark battery pack might do. Portable panels are nice but make for more work setting up and breaking down camp. You don't want someone walking off with your portable panel so depending on your trust of fellow man, you might want stow it away while out of camp which means less charging time. That's a huge plus for roof mounted panels. At least look for a way to secure the portable panel to the vehicle so you can get some use out of the sun while you're on the water. Some alternators don't supply much extra for charging so that's something to factor in as well. Not sure if you're into tunes but my audio system can suck down power. There is a reason most builds have a separator and aux battery system. The worst thing is waking to a dead starting battery because you were rockin out all night. Basically you need to balance out what your usage will be and spec the battery size and charging capability you have available.
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:35 AM   #6
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Ya, Iíd highly recommend a suitcase panel, I got one of these with the built in controller when it was on sale for another application. Turns out I donít need it, new in box, $120+shipping.
Very generous, and a fantastic deal for someone! I'd be all over that (immediately) if i didn't already have 2 suitcases
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:44 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. Seems I'm solar bound. Two batteries will fit under the drivers seat. Should I connect the two with a separater or serial?

Should I also consider a shore power option? I think we may find ourselves in camp grounds relatively often. For example our first trip will be to GA where I'm taking a kayak certification class. We will be in a campground for several days. Would a small good quality inverter make sense or just stick to the portable solar? If so what brand and size of inverter? Will adding an inverter complicate the solar solution?

Yes for shore power if you have it available often. You can be a cheap as you want but some places are cautious about someone just using an extension cord running in through a window or door and might only allow a standard RV type connection. A common setup by SMB is a single AGM battery with about 200 amp hours, a blue sea separator and at least 100 watts of solar. If you don't need an inverter, standalone marine smart battery chargers can be used. Adding AC to the van will be more costly and needs to be done by qualified installer for safety.
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:05 PM   #8
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Ya, Iíd highly recommend a suitcase panel, I got one of these with the built in controller when it was on sale for another application. Turns out I donít need it, new in box, $120+shipping.

PM sent! Iím interested.
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:34 PM   #9
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Minimalist and ARB fridge don't really go together. A fridge sucks 12v power, mine draws down two batteries down below 50% in 2 days during the summer. From an electrical perspective, the ARB unit pushes you into a well thought out system with wires hidden behind cabinets, an onboard charger, a way to manage battery charge state, etc.



If I were in your shoes, I'd consider an ice chest, and a second 'coach' battery, on an isolator circuit.



If you're not too electrical savvy, an $80 RV battery isolator charges the coach battery when the engine is running, isolates the Ford van battery from coach use, so you can start the van even if the coach battery has been drawn down. They are real simple to wire up for a DIY'er, you just run all of your new build electrics (cell phone charger, interior lights, etc) on that isolated circuit. Adding a small power distributing fuse block is a real good idea, if not mandatory, as a way to protect your van from a shorted wire.


For longer stays in an RV park, you can connect an inexpensive Schumacher 6a 12v automotive battery charger from an auto parts store.
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Old 01-06-2019, 01:37 PM   #10
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Minimalist Electric Build

If youíre looking at being in campgrounds then yes, shore power plug with a charger would make sense, Iíd look at inverter/charger all in one units with a remote panel, I just had a Xantrex freedom XC 2000W installed, there are some good budget minded units out there that are 1000W that should cover your needs. Youíll probably want to add a separator/isolator and a few outlets to the mix and maybe even a battery monitor. Might be worth contacting an up fitter in your area for a more concrete plan based on your needs and get a proper parts list together and have them do the install, it starts getting a bit complicated when you start adding lots of parts that need to be integrated. Then thereís all the 12V wiring and outlets.
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