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Old 02-05-2017, 11:33 PM   #431
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Maryland / Boulder
Posts: 345
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126b Rotella-Chugger
Rated Cap: 72
So this weekend I started and finished my solar installation.

Step one was to run fatter wire between the battery banks, inverter and selector switch, and to move the selector switch inside the bus. It was previously underneath the bus near the battery bank, as I hastily wired the battery bank in a few hours in the summer of 2015 before a trip.



It isn't pretty, but it works. I need to put a cover over this whole deal. I upgraded everything from 2 AWG to 2/0 AWG, except the one smaller 2 gauge wire seen, which runs to the front of the bus for aux battery bank loads.



Got the panel mounted up, on the back of the bus. I reinforced the panel with riveted-on corner brackets and aluminum pieces that run across the back of it. Probably unnecessary, but I figured since the panels were not meant for vehicular use, it wouldn't hurt.

I mounted them as such:



Riveted door hinges on all 4 corners. This way, the panel can tilt in 4 directions to face the sun, by undoing bolts on the side you want to raise. When you're tilting it not in the direction of the hinge, just loosen the bolt on the side that stays down, and the panel will pivot on the the bolt. I don't yet have anything to prop it up, but I am planning on using uni-strut or something similar and having a short piece of square aluminum tube to prop it up, with bolts.

Please excuse the sloppy sealant, time was of the essence. I am taking 18 credit hours, working part time and trying to build this thing





I bought the through-roof plate on Amazon:



When I hooked everything up, it all worked, which was nice. This was about 1:30 pm, probably about prime sunlight this time of year. Was reading 13 volts at the time:



And 14 amps output to the batteries at the time (indicated by the small dot on the screen, flashing dot means amps input from the panel).



Not sure what the amps input from the panel was, but since the panel operates at 30-35 volts, the amps would be lower. 14 amps x 13 volts is 182 watts of output, which isn't bad. Panel is rated at 260 watts. I was able to start my refrigerator on the inverter without a hiccup, something that I never used to be able to do on batteries.

Final installed product. Voltage is low because I had been running tools and the sun had gone behind the mountains:



The circuit breaker to the right also doubles as a cutoff switch for the solar power.

Fuse box for 1) 10 amp fuse on the starting battery trickle charge output from the MPPT controller and 2) 30 amp fuse from MPPT to batteries:





Current inverter / other electrical setup. Yeah, I break rules and mix colors for wiring. At least this time I marked it with tape. The MPPT controller is on the other side of the cabinet of this inverter. Instead of running wire from the MPPT to the batteries in a dedicated line, I ran them to the 2/0 gauge going to the inverter. The charger output from the 120 volt breaker panel charges the batteries through there as well. I didn't see any harm in setting it up this way, other than possibly under load, the MPPT controller might see a lower voltage than the batteries actually are.

Also, the MPPT controller has a battery temp sensor for optimal charging voltages.

Let me know if you have any questions / need a diagram of how I did this. I did it all in my head

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Old 02-07-2017, 03:44 PM   #432
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Location: Massachusetts
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Chassis: Bluebird
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porkchopsandwiches View Post
So this weekend I started and finished my solar installation.

Step one was to run fatter wire between the battery banks, inverter and selector switch, and to move the selector switch inside the bus. It was previously underneath the bus near the battery bank, as I hastily wired the battery bank in a few hours in the summer of 2015 before a trip.



It isn't pretty, but it works. I need to put a cover over this whole deal. I upgraded everything from 2 AWG to 2/0 AWG, except the one smaller 2 gauge wire seen, which runs to the front of the bus for aux battery bank loads.



Got the panel mounted up, on the back of the bus. I reinforced the panel with riveted-on corner brackets and aluminum pieces that run across the back of it. Probably unnecessary, but I figured since the panels were not meant for vehicular use, it wouldn't hurt.

I mounted them as such:



Riveted door hinges on all 4 corners. This way, the panel can tilt in 4 directions to face the sun, by undoing bolts on the side you want to raise. When you're tilting it not in the direction of the hinge, just loosen the bolt on the side that stays down, and the panel will pivot on the the bolt. I don't yet have anything to prop it up, but I am planning on using uni-strut or something similar and having a short piece of square aluminum tube to prop it up, with bolts.

Please excuse the sloppy sealant, time was of the essence. I am taking 18 credit hours, working part time and trying to build this thing





I bought the through-roof plate on Amazon:



When I hooked everything up, it all worked, which was nice. This was about 1:30 pm, probably about prime sunlight this time of year. Was reading 13 volts at the time:



And 14 amps output to the batteries at the time (indicated by the small dot on the screen, flashing dot means amps input from the panel).



Not sure what the amps input from the panel was, but since the panel operates at 30-35 volts, the amps would be lower. 14 amps x 13 volts is 182 watts of output, which isn't bad. Panel is rated at 260 watts. I was able to start my refrigerator on the inverter without a hiccup, something that I never used to be able to do on batteries.

Final installed product. Voltage is low because I had been running tools and the sun had gone behind the mountains:



The circuit breaker to the right also doubles as a cutoff switch for the solar power.

Fuse box for 1) 10 amp fuse on the starting battery trickle charge output from the MPPT controller and 2) 30 amp fuse from MPPT to batteries:





Current inverter / other electrical setup. Yeah, I break rules and mix colors for wiring. At least this time I marked it with tape. The MPPT controller is on the other side of the cabinet of this inverter. Instead of running wire from the MPPT to the batteries in a dedicated line, I ran them to the 2/0 gauge going to the inverter. The charger output from the 120 volt breaker panel charges the batteries through there as well. I didn't see any harm in setting it up this way, other than possibly under load, the MPPT controller might see a lower voltage than the batteries actually are.

Also, the MPPT controller has a battery temp sensor for optimal charging voltages.

Let me know if you have any questions / need a diagram of how I did this. I did it all in my head



Pretty slick on the hinge system. Could you take out the hinge pins and make/use some type of quick disconnect... Maybe a smaller diameter slightly longer pin with a keeper/cotter pin?
Your skoolie is pretty awesome. Thanks for putting it all up here.
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Old 02-07-2017, 04:12 PM   #433
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Join Date: Oct 2014
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Really cool idea for the 4 way tilt, looks really functional, and congrats on solar! That's a big milestone for your awesome skoolie.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:37 PM   #434
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Maryland / Boulder
Posts: 345
Year: 1999
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Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126b Rotella-Chugger
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Njsurf73 View Post
Pretty slick on the hinge system. Could you take out the hinge pins and make/use some type of quick disconnect... Maybe a smaller diameter slightly longer pin with a keeper/cotter pin?
Your skoolie is pretty awesome. Thanks for putting it all up here.
Yeah, or replace the flange bolts I used on each corner with some sort of quick release pin. I just happened to have the bolts laying around, so that's what I used.
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Old 02-08-2017, 02:22 PM   #435
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Chassis: Supercoach
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Nice solar install!!!
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My Conversion Thread: http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3065
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Old 02-12-2017, 08:04 AM   #436
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Join Date: Jan 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I hate dark and dreary interiors.. (unfortunately I see alot of them in RV's and conversions).. if my bus gets cold I'll add more heaters.. if it gets Hot i'll add more Air-conditioners..

im keeping all the windows..

double pane skoolie windows do exist.. ive seen them in videos of alaska Busses.. bluebirds and thomas's

-Christopher
I need to find some of these double pane skoolie windows. My bus has almost no windows and it is too dark. It gets very hot in the south (over 95 for more than 90 days) Plus 90+ humidity. I dont want to have a rolling roof air display LOL!

If anyone has a link to where to purchase double pane skoolie windows please let me know.

Thanks,
Austin
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Old 02-12-2017, 08:38 AM   #437
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Location: Columbus Ohio
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Engine: DT360
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EZBUZZSAW View Post
I need to find some of these double pane skoolie windows. My bus has almost no windows and it is too dark. It gets very hot in the south (over 95 for more than 90 days) Plus 90+ humidity. I dont want to have a rolling roof air display LOL!

If anyone has a link to where to purchase double pane skoolie windows please let me know.

Thanks,
Austin

I know they use them in alaska busses.. there a bus geek always posting on Youtube.. he lives in alaska, and his bus rides show double pain windows on the busses.. maybe see if there are any bus junk-yards in alaska or maybe they use those windows in northern 48 like north dakota, minnesota, etc.. to buy them knew id imagine would be cost prohibitive.. if you want new ones I'd look into insulated RV windows and not even use skoolie windows..

-Christopher
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Old 04-10-2018, 04:09 PM   #438
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Posts: 345
Year: 1999
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Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126b Rotella-Chugger
Rated Cap: 72
God damn, does time ever fly. I haven't updated this in over a year!

I am still in Boulder, CO, finishing up school, and the bus is living in a rented side yard in Erie, CO. It used to live in Colorado Springs, at my Dad's high school friend's place, as their condo complex had a big lot out back for RV and boat storage. However, the management eventually caught on to the out-of-state plates and gave me a month (pretty generous honestly) to vacate, but hey, at least I got ~18 months of free storage! I guess the old curmudgeons who lived there were pretty vocal about not wanting it around, despite the vastly more hideous vehicles surrounding it. Too bad, the old Korean War vet I talked to who lived there, as well as the building maintenance staff absolutely loved the thing!

Since May 2016, I've only put about 5,000 miles on the thing. Last year, we primarily used the bus for weekend excursions from the Denver area to High Plains Raceway in Deer Trail, CO for Porsche Club of America events, and World Racing League events. We do some corner working, and I work on the WRL team as well. It's funny to see people who own six-figure race cars come up and be amazed at the bus! The track is in the middle of nowhere with no running water and limited electricity, so the bus works well for this. Also, there tends to be high winds there, so not being in a tent is nice.

New home for $100/month:



Rooftop view of High Plains Raceway during a PCA event:





LS7 Swapped 911:





I lost a tire when going to the track one time. I had 3 non-retread used tires, and one retread-used tire installed on the rear. Guess which one let go?



Luckily, I was able to limp it to a Love's like 15 miles away (at 30mph) and they were able to get me a NEW one. Sure had to pay for it ($440 installed) but I was on my way in an hour and a half.



In August, we did a 24 hour race with our (formerly) Spec E30, for World Racing League (WRL). I believe we finished 7th of 40 overall, and the car made it through the race after I did a head rebuild and re-sealed the motor.

Race car is the one on the lift on the right:













A good weekend was had by all, and the bus is an excellent support vehicle for the track. I've found that it is a little too big and cumbersome to really get out there in Colorado. A lot of the roads to interesting places are steep, windy back roads, that the bus would be uncomfortable, if not downright dangerous on. The place I work has imported a bunch of Mitsubishi Delicas from Canada (25-year exempt now) and the small, turbodiesel 4x4 van idea is really enticing. I have considered selling the bus, but not totally convinced yet. If anyone is interested, PM me, as I am willing to let it go for a substantial loss if it goes to a good home. As with any bus, it is a perpetual project, and is sold as-is!
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Old 04-10-2018, 04:40 PM   #439
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Maryland / Boulder
Posts: 345
Year: 1999
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Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126b Rotella-Chugger
Rated Cap: 72
If I end up keeping the bus, I need to upgrade the damn batteries. Currently, I have four of these installed: https://www.batteriesplus.com/batter...ic/na/sligc110

They worked okay for the first year or so, but they've seen full discharge too many times to work well anymore. The solar works great, but is let down by the fact that the battery bank can hardly hold anything anymore. I don't have any sort of low voltage shutoff on my system, which I probably should. I didn't get Trojans or anything cause the Duracells are what I could afford at the time, luckily they weren't expensive. First set of batteries is for learning right?

I was searching on Craigslist, and came across these Victron 12v AGM batteries, rated at 170AH @20hr: https://boulder.craigslist.org/ele/d...511413082.html

Anyone heard of these? I figure if I have 3 of those, they'll have more capacity than my old system did originally, and I have heard AGMs tend to age better, plus, I know how to better take care of the batteries. It's bad, right now, the bus will be sitting there, charging for like a month (I keep the batteries in and the solar connected all the time on the MPPT controller) and sit at 13.0 volts after the sun has gone down, and as soon as I turn on the interior lights it's down to 12.6 volts in a few minutes. I've roasted those things!

Ideally I'd like to get a propane / DC / AC fridge too. I just have the $400 Best Buy 120V fridge running off the inverter which works great when plugged in or running off the alternator, but not so well with the solar / battery array.

But honestly, I just want to build another damn bus conversion! I graduate this Summer with no career plans yet, and I'll have the time! But not the money...
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:02 AM   #440
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Location: Nanaimo, British Columbia
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There are a ton of Delicas here on Vancouver Island. Great little vans! I am tempted, for sure...
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