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Old 04-05-2006, 12:38 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
I was going to add "and an open wallet", but you won't need that...until you get out from under the bus. Laughing
The wallet being open is sort of an assumed state since the bus came home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
Here is the way Vern1 did it on BruinGilda...
I like that. The angle-iron-and-expanded-sheet-metal approach is exactly how we did the rear deck; it's fairly easy to do and the resulting structure is strong.

One advantage to having the rear deck available is the possibility of putting batteries there. We're going to live in our rig full-time, and I'll be working from it as well (computer geek), so we need batteries...about 500-lbs worth. My original plan was to use AGM batteries and store them inside since they require no venting and a stable climate will mean better performance & longer life. Now that the rear deck is available I may put them back there, in an insulated, vented box. And since they're out of the living area, I can get the non-AGM type for about 1/2 the price.

I know they still represent a hazard in the case of a rear-end mishap...but to my mind it's not nearly as "dramatic" as the results of said mishap wth propane involved. But is it a good idea? Hmm....
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:32 AM   #32
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As long as your rear carrier will handle the weight I don't see anything wrong with having the batteries back there from a weight standpoint for the bus it self.

I think what you may run into though, depending on your layout, is the length of wiring run from the charger to the batteries and from the batteries to the inverter (if you're using one). I did a recent install on a Xantrex MS2000 inverter (also has a 100 amp charger) where it ended up 14 feet from the batteries. That required 4/0 cable to handle the load at that distance; the wire and fittings came to $500 at dealer cost (ouch!). You want to keep the run from batteries to the inverter (if it's any size at all) as short as possible.

A 35 foot (or thereabouts) run from the alternator at the front of the bus to the batteries on the rear carrier is going to be an expensive proposition as well. You don't want much voltage drop or the batteries will never get charged up properly so that'll be some hefty wire.

You might just go the way Vern1 (he's a member here) did (you can visit his site at http://www.pettypb.com/bus/) and do up the under bus carrier for the propane tanks and the batteries. Position the thing (as much as possible) to keep the propane and wiring runs as short and as easy as you can.
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:39 AM   #33
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I ran about as much cable as you did but I used relatively cheap cable from Lowes and used multiple normal crimped battery connectors on the ends. Probably cost me $50, but I gotta say that bending routing the stuff is hard and you will want to keep from bending it too much or the strands might break.
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:34 AM   #34
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Hi Steve,

Good points!

I should have said in my post that I was using Ancor marine-rated tinned stranded wire, Ancor wire fittings, and that price included a 400-amp T-class fuse and fuse holder. It's premium stuff and I was doing the installation on a boat so that's all I'll use. The Ancor wire is very supple and allows us to make the weird runs we have to in a boat; it's also tinned so it will live in a saltwater environment. Certainly there are other viable choices for a bus conversion that would be much less expensive. I should have pointed that out.
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:22 PM   #35
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I think what you may run into though, depending on your layout, is the length of wiring run from the charger to the batteries and from the batteries to the inverter (if you're using one).
True. The current plan is to have the solar panels (4 x Kyocera KC-120s) on the roof near the front since the woodburning stove stack will be near the back. There is room for the charge controller, inverter, system monitor, etc. in the back near the batteries...but the run from the panels to the charge controller will be long (well, longer than I had wanted).

One of the main reasons I want to avoid putting the batteries under the bus is because of their weight (130 lbs each, 4 batteries total) -- to do routine battery maintenance/inspection I'd need to construct some sort of beefy drawer/slide contraption to access them. On the rear deck, in an enclusore of some sort, access should be fairly easy.
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:11 AM   #36
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The wiring run from the panels won't be a problem; not enough amperage there to need really large wire although they'll be many times larger than they'd have to be at shorter distances.

I was thinking more about the run from the engine compartment (the alternator specifically) to the batteries at the rear. If you have a 130-amp alternator for instance, that's quite a long run and the wire has to be very large to avoid a voltage drop. In fact, even if you use 4/0 wire you'll have an unacceptable .541 volt drop. I know that doesn't sound like much but that means the charging regulator always thinks the batteries are a 1/2 volt higher then they are and will never fully charge them. The difference in voltage between a fully charged battery and a half discharged battery is only .7 volts; that .541 volts we lose in the long wire run in our example counts and represents a 4.5% drop in voltage.

[As a side note...the above figures are based on solid wire. If you're using stranded wire which has a higher capacity the numbers would be a little better but not enough to affect the outcome.]

Also, this is based on loads. Long runs supporting a few amps (less than 10 say) are no big deal. It's the large amperage requirments of alternators, inverters, battery charges and such that have the most impact on us. Even a small 175-watt inverter takes #6 wire if it's located 20 feet from the battery.

In your specific case my assessment (with nothing to go on but what's been written here) is that the expense of fitting a slide out tray (and there are many availalbe pre-made) in order to locate the batteries for best electrical performance will actually be the less expensive route in the long run and result in a simpler, more efficient system.

This is all just FYI. I know situations dictate to a large degree how things end up in the real world. My intent is not to make folks lives difficult or to make things more complicated (honest! ). However, I don't think folks often realize just how important it is to plan for short wiring runs to avoid a lot of expense and wasted energy. Getting the batteries in the right location and minimizing long wire runs was a major factor in the ultimate interior layout in my bus.

Food for thought at any rate!
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:03 AM   #37
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Oooh I see.

To be honest...I've never considered using the bus alternator as a charging source for the batteries. We don't plan on moving often...maybe a few times per year. In any case, we've sized the solar panel array to be the sole charging source for the battery bank.
If we add another power source it will likely be a wind turbine and/or more panels.

I'm grateful for the insights. It is valuable stuff from someone with real-world experience. Food for thought indeed!

Sean
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:01 AM   #38
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Hi Sean,

If you ever plan ln locating your batteries at front, you might find some heavy duty slides at the RV salvage yard in Phoenix. I'd check for you but, I moved to Houston.

Their url is: http://www.azrvinc.com/

I wish I was over there, I could use some windows, tanks, and awning.
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Old 04-14-2006, 09:14 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by SeanF
Oooh I see.

To be honest...I've never considered using the bus alternator as a charging source for the batteries. We don't plan on moving often...maybe a few times per year. In any case, we've sized the solar panel array to be the sole charging source for the battery bank.
If we add another power source it will likely be a wind turbine and/or more panels.

I'm grateful for the insights. It is valuable stuff from someone with real-world experience. Food for thought indeed!

Sean
Ah...well there you go. A perfect example of why one size doesn't fit all!
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Old 04-23-2006, 11:34 PM   #40
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This wekeend we fabricated & installed shielding for our wood-burning stove:


...and installed 3 Hehr model 5900 windows:


More details here.

I'm also working on a stealth composting toilet system. Well, the progress is stealth, not the toilet itself. Inspired in part by Eric Von K's setup, and a Biolet system. Multi-chamber, materials under $100, with a forced air vent system. I fiddle with it on week nights, and take pics as I go. When I get to a good point where I feel I'm onto the final design, I'll post pics to my site and send up a flare.

Cheers
Sean
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