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Old 10-27-2011, 04:41 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Boise, ID
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Elect Questions for new build

I'm about to take my E350 passenger van to SMB West for conversion to a RB50, 2 wheel drive.

SMB has a $318 option for a Battery Monitor. Their price sheet says "Battery Monitor available for inverter. Monitors voltage and amprerage in Aux Batt System. Very helpful in determining state of Aux Batt System." Does anyone have experience with this monitor? Is it worth getting?

SMB tells me they put the Aux Battery under the van. Anyone have problems with this?

How about 2 aux batteries or 1 large battery?

I am thinking I'll have solar panel prewire installed but wait and see how things go before buying panels. May want permanent panels, portable panels or no panels.

Any other words of wisdom will be appreciated.



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Old 10-27-2011, 06:57 PM   #2
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Re: Elect Questions for new build

While many on this forum have (and love) the large 4D batteries, I would opt for 2 smaller Group 24 or 27 batteries. If you ever need to replace a 4D battery, you better be in large, metropolitan area - they are hard to find in some locals. SMB Indiana told me they couldn't get one, 4D that is.

The smaller batteries can be easier to mount. Mine are in the extreme rear corners of my van. With a 4D you have limited choices for mounting. And you can remove/replace the smaller batteries by hand, no floor jack needed.


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Old 10-28-2011, 12:28 PM   #3
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Re: Elect Questions for new build

I would fall in the camp of having and liking the 4D battery that I have. I do understand Mike's arguments for two smaller batteries, they are good solid reasons. I have replaced one and you really do need a jack. As far as being outside under the van, I do have some concerns over the heat from the road, but really haven't had any issues that I can attribute to my concerns. It is pretty standard for a SMB build.

As far as the battery monitor, I have a similar unit made by Xantrex (XBM) I am very happy with it, and agree that it is very useful for determining usage available battery power, etc. The Magnum ME-BMK monitor that SMB is using now can be found for around $171.00, so installed the $318.00 is probably not a bad price for not having to worry about the install yourself.

Having the Van prewired for Solar is also a good way to go.

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Old 10-28-2011, 01:36 PM   #4
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Re: Elect Questions for new build

My van is wired for solar, which includes a solar controller. My controller panel has a battery voltage monitor on it which has been very useful. I'd look into that if you decide to do the prewire. A second monitor may be unnecessarily redundant.

I like my 4D battery. I'd like two better, but mine is five years old and still has great capacity despite running two refrigerators . I haven't had any reason to pull it down, but I'm sure it's not much more difficult than changing out the diesel starting batteries.
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:33 PM   #5
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Re: Elect Questions for new build

My van is wired for solar, which includes a solar controller.
+1, did the same for my passenger van RB50 conversion. I later installed a 200w solar panel, best addition I've done so far. Here is a link to the solar controller that SMB West is currently using.
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:37 PM   #6
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Re: Elect Questions for new build

I actually have 3 ways to monitor my batteries:
>The solar controller.
>A Xantrex Link-10 now replaced by the Xantrex battery monitor (XBM).
>The Prosine 2000 inverter control panel. (I'm told the 2000 is no longer available)

I'm guessing the monitor they're talking about is either one for the inverter itself or something similar to the XBM...a lot of people ask for the XBM.

All are useful but I find the Xantrex is by far the most important and strongly suggest considering purchasing the XBM or similar. Being able to see amperage is a key feature. Other available options are also nice such as battery temperature which comes with my inverter but can also be installed on my link-10 and I would guess the XBM as well. The XBM also shows as a fuel gauge but a standard voltage gauge like on the solar controller can work when the battery is at rest.

I have two 4-D AGM batteries. The van came with one and I added a second. I'm happy I did but many people might not need so much power. There are pros and cons for having two batteries of any size as compared to one. FWIW my views can be found at this Link. There are several post in the FAQ's in this sections that might help you as well.
I do wish SMB would develop some better method of mounting the batteries under the van so they can be lowered easier because what everybody is saying is true, it's a pain to drop them. A good 4-D is expensive which is another factor.

Good luck on your build.

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