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Old 12-05-2015, 05:52 AM   #1
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Finally getting started

Not sure I if I should have posted this under electrical but I am sure someone will find it here .

It's been a few months since I have been able to work on the van, summer vacation, remodel kitchen and WORK. Now it is time to get back to work on the creeper. I have been following everybodys projects and digging through old posts trying to gather all the information I can. I been purchasing items I know I will need for the build, led lights, fans, insulation, electrical wiring and brackets etc. Now I need to get down to some of the more expensive and technical items and would like some input from some of you guys.

I have a reasonable understanding of wiring AC and DC so here is my plan. I am going to start with a set of Northstar group 31 AGM batteries so I should have a around 204 AHs I will also connect them to the vans charging system through a Blue Sea relay.

I then will connect to an inverter and this is where I need a little help making a decision. I want to go with a pure sine wave unit and I would like it to be a combonation charger. I have read a lot about all the units on the market and it seems like no one unit stands out. I expect the unit to be able to run a microwave which most likely will a 700 watt unit and I will install a couple of outlets for what ever we need them for computer, lights, nothing learner then the microwave wattage. At some point I may add a refrigerator AC/DC but at this time I am going with cooler and see how we us it.
I would like to keep the price around $1,000 or less if possible the question is brand, will 1000 watt be enough is 2000 overkill for my battery setup and is there a 1500 watt unit out there that I am not seeing.

Next question is TV I would like to have a TV and wonder should I go AC or DC seems like having to use inverter may not be the best choice AC TVs are very inexpensive but I would rather have the more efficient setup?

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Old 12-05-2015, 10:33 AM   #2
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Re: Finially getting started

I looked at several TV options. The truck stops have some nice DC TV/DVD models, but I decided that I like using my iPad for movies. I can watch up top, down below or outside. It will charge on DC and can surf net if have WiFi.


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Old 12-05-2015, 02:01 PM   #3
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Re: Finially getting started

That's a lot of time and money just for a microwave. I would try life without it for a while and see if the twelve volt lifestyle is better.
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Old 12-05-2015, 02:54 PM   #4
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Re: Finially getting started

I went with a 2000 watt Tripp-Lite. A refrigerator, 900 watt microwave, a coffee maker and a toaster all work with it. No, i don't usually toast and microwave at the same time, but do make coffee, microwave and use the refrigerator at the same time. Oh yes, I also had a 12 volt fan and 8 LED lights. I used a modified sine unit and it worked better than I imagined, including on a 13,000 mile trip to Alaska.
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:05 AM   #5
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I must be old fashioned... I have a propane oven and 2 alcohol stoves, I figure it this way, it's cheaper to do it the old fashioned way and more enjoyable since I do like to cook.
Have I considered a microwave, sure but would I buy it no. One big reason, the size and the fact that setting up to run it would be cost ineffective to me...
As for having a TV aboard, that was an easy decision for me I have a Vizio 26 inch internet ready TV and I bought a small 140 watt inverter for it. The reason why I went with such a small inverter was it's less draw on my system, the fact it's still overkill for my TV, but allows me to charge my cordless items. My TV only draws 27 watts max...
Most of my van is set up for 12 volt operation, lights, fan, Engle refrig, Espar heater and water pump. I did my best to stay away from a/c products because of the lost converting DC to AC.
Sorry about my late night rambling on, I hope it gives you some info.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:32 AM   #6
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Hey guys thanks for the different ideas you all make good points. I am going as much 12volt as possible and still thinking the microwave inverter option. I think we would use it enough to make it worth having but you never know for sure until you get out on the road. I still have a lot to do but I am wiring for AC/DC and can make the additions during the build.
If anyone has more ideas I would like to hear them.
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Old 12-09-2015, 09:54 AM   #7
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Consider how much you really need a TSW inverter. It sounds like a MSW would work just fine and open up some more options at a lesser pricepoint. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about buying right/buying once, but I've found the most import part of the inverter/charger for me was the charger portion. Currently the only thing we use AC for is occasionally charging a laptop or other electronic device, or perhaps providing power to a friend to blow up an air mattress. YMMV of course.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:17 AM   #8
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FWIW, here are a few comments.....

200ah of battery may be bit marginal for a 2000W inverter...not so much for run time, but a pair of group 31 batteries may struggle providing enough instantaneous current to keep the inverter happy with a 2000W load. This can result in a voltage sag down in the 11.X volt range which will cause many inverters to shut down (low voltage cutoff).

Short fat battery cables from the battery bank to the inverter will help the voltage sag.

I have a 700W microwave and use it alot....they typically pull around 1000W of AC power. That being said, my microwave cooks happily with a 1000W inverter.

I have a true sine wave unit that I picked up used on CL but we have another MSW unit and the neighbors have a 2000W Tripplite MSW unit and they power everything just fine so far.

A few other considerations.....larger inverters burn more power idling and inverting, so it's a bit of a waste to turn on your 2000W inverter to charge your laptop for example. For my use case, I just turn on the inverter when I want to run the micro and then turn it off. When running, the microwave/inverter is easily pulling my fully charged 350ah worth of house batteries down to 12.3-12.4V. If you a planning on cooking a Turkey in the microwave, forget wont have enough battery..

You may be finding that most of the lower priced inverter chargers are MSW. There are plenty of 1000, 1500 and 2000W units around, and sub $1000 should be easy.

Here is a Samlex 1500W MSW inverter charger For $316 and free shipping for example.....

Another.....this one is a pure sine wave inverter charger

As for TV watching....AC will be very inefficient...12V would be a lot better. If it were me I'd use a laptop or tablet or similar......very energy efficient easy to charge portable, less of a theft target, etc.
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Old 12-11-2015, 08:12 PM   #9
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Thanks again for the responses this is why I asked you guys you have more real world experiences and I get what what your saying. I think my use of the microwave will be minimal but it will get some use no Turkeys that for sure. Rockbender like you I will do more cooking on a cook stove then a microwave. And Boywonder that was the information I need I was concern about batteries size and inverter size as for mod and pure sine I just figured pure would be a better choice. I am thinking of the magnum 1000 pure sine charger as I can get it for a very good price through my suppliers. Again as alway great feed back. I will try and post a few picture of my progress.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:25 PM   #10
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re: pure sine wave vs modified sine wave

PSW inverters are becoming cheap enough that MSW isn't even really a consideration any more. I have a GoPower 1500W high surge PSW inverter that cost less than $400 after I spent some time shopping around for deals. I haven't used it in my van for a TV or microwave or anything but I do use it regularly at work for charging my cordless batteries, running a hammerdrill, using my shopvac, etc...

That said though, even when I do swap it our from my work truck into my van in the spring, I still don't plan on running a TV or microwave on it. I have a laptop for TV and I don't anticipate ever needing a microwave. I barely use one at home let alone when I'm on the road...

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