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Old 08-05-2016, 02:47 AM   #1
Bus Nut
T-Bolt's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 323
Year: 2003
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
Crazy Electrical System Idea.

I am in the planning stage of my skoolie project and hope to buy the bus in the next few months. My mind is constantly working through every part of the build and I had a thought on the electrical system that I wanted to get some group input on.

So here is my hypothetical build:

-Solar panels on the roof charging a large bank of batteries.
-Batteries powering an inverter to run all AC systems.
-Largest alternator I can find on the coach engine to charge batteries when driving.
-Small generator used to charge the battery bank as a backup.

The advantages that I see is the reduction in initial generator cost, less fuel, much less noise.

The biggest question that I have is how would I ever size this system?

Has anyone done a system like this? Any input would be helpful.

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Old 08-05-2016, 02:55 AM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Garden State (rural NJ)
Posts: 378
You need to start with the battery bank and work your way backwards, to size everything properly. How many Ah/Wh will you need and how are you going to provide it?
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Old 08-05-2016, 09:14 AM   #3
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Your plan is actually pretty basic and much like many here. I'm going with a single solar panel (probably 250w) and moderate battery bank (450ah) but large alternater (250 amp). Biggest trick for me (since I am a total dork with things electrical) will be to manage the system. bus is small. Very small.
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Old 08-05-2016, 11:57 AM   #4
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: So Cal
Posts: 3,168
Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
"-Batteries powering an inverter to run all AC systems." If you are including air conditioning or water heater or microwave or other high energy use items you will need a big bus just to house and toat the solar panels and batteries around. Like BF says, figure out your power needs first and then design the solar/battery system and buy a bus big enough to carry it.

I'm still not a big fan of solar power on a skoolie but then that may just be because my "charm bracelet" size bus couldn't begin to house a solar/battery system without carrying it in a trailer. Jack
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Old 08-05-2016, 02:20 PM   #5
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: North carolina
Posts: 651
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Detroit 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
I found and like a book called managing 12 volts
How to upgrade,operate and troubleshoot 12volt electrical systems by Harold Barre
It shows you how to design any type of system whether battery,wind or solar, how to combine them and just about any question any of us could have.
It is for RV and boats but to me was a wealth of knowledge.
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