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Old 06-17-2022, 05:16 PM   #1
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Electricity on party bus

Hello,

I am a newbie with a bus and a neuter on electricity.

I am building an open top party bus and in need of electricity to power cooler ~270wat, tv ~150w, music, lights ~ 500w.

I am a little worried about installing a generator onboard and I am looking for alternatives. I would need at least 4hrs runtime for the above.

Are deep cycle batteries good enough and how long and how are the recharged?

Any suggestion on the wiring and safety issues also very welcome.


Best regards,

Edi

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Old 06-17-2022, 05:42 PM   #2
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Adding all that up gives 920 Watts, round up to 1000 for math and some overhead due to voltage conversions, times 4 hours, would give you a 4000 AH requirement. Make it 5 for better overhead and reliability, and you'd be looking at a substantial investment in batteries.

Deep-cycle batteries would be the only kind you would want to be looking at for this purpose, as they are the ones that are designed to tolerate "deep" discharging, whereas a 'normal' 'auto' battery will be damaged if it drains past around 50% or so, and every successive discharge like that will shorten its life and reduce its overall capacity.

You should charge them up past at least 85-90%, if not to 100%.

Not sure why you're "worried" about installing a generator, that's done all the time, and there are a number of generators that are quiet enough to be ran without affecting basically anything.

Alternatively, you could be brave, and 'hack' the bus a little bit, and sacrifice a little bit of torque and horsepower to modify a bracket and install something like a 200-Amp alternator, such as is the case in things like Ambulances which also have a significant power requirement for stuff other than the engine and lighting...

200-Amps at 12 VDC is 2400 Watts, plenty to run everything you're talking about even with conversion losses and idle losses on things like inverters and power amps and music and tv's and stuff included.

A 200A alternator would also allow you to reduce your battery bank to something a bit more sensible as well, which would also reduce your charging times to not much of anything at all.
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Old 06-17-2022, 05:46 PM   #3
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I run a party bus business and we just keep everything on 12v and don't run anything on 110 to avoid the need for inverters. LED lights can easily be found on Amazon and other sources that are 12v native. We don't provide coolers/fridges, but you can get a 12v chest fridge if you want. Our stereo gear is all made for auto/marine use (get the biggest farad capacitor you can to keep your subs from killing your alternator) and you're all set.

TV is a little tricky.. they make 12v TVs but they're pricey. They don't draw a ton of power so a basic inverter would do that if you need to. We don't do TVs in ours. Our whole party bus design is made to withstand drunk idiots who destroy anything in their path

The "gotchya" with our design is your engine must be running to power all that, our setup isn't for "park and party" but for bar crawls, etc.

-Kevin
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Old 06-17-2022, 05:48 PM   #4
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Other than that, you should simply make sure that your wiring meets the the sizing requirements for the current capacity you'd be looking to carry.

And if you want reliability, I would over-size it by a normal gauge.

Run something like 3/0 or 4/0 wire from the alternator to the battery bank, and from the batteries to the inverter, and then use something like 10 or 12 gauge on the 120V size. All stranded wire instead of solid, of course.
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Old 06-17-2022, 06:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Edibek View Post
Any suggestion on the wiring and safety issues also very welcome.
I'm no-one you should listen to regarding business decisions. That I can tell you for sure But if I were you I'd be feeling real nervous doing my own electric work on a bus used in a commercial capacity to transport the intoxicated en masse. What has / would your lawyer say regarding liability?

Kevin, I'm curious what your thoughts are on this?
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Old 06-17-2022, 06:27 PM   #6
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I'm no-one you should listen to regarding business decisions. That I can tell you for sure But if I were you I'd be feeling real nervous doing my own electric work on a bus used in a commercial capacity to transport the intoxicated en masse. What has / would your lawyer say regarding liability?

Kevin, I'm curious what your thoughts are on this?
*not legal advice - just what we do*

Insurance is the biggest headache in the party bus industry, and one substantial claim and you'll be dropped and uninsurable anyway which is the end of your business going forward. Anything serious that happens beyond insurance coverage is probably going to bankrupt the LLC anyway. Even if insurance pays the claim, the subsequent negative press and online reviews will be the end of your business.

So our take is, DIY what you're capable of, and as long as you aren't negligent (use correct wiring sizes, use fuses/breakers, don't do obviously stupid stuff) the LLC will protect you personally should the worst happen because the business will be toast regardless.

Kevin
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Old 06-17-2022, 06:28 PM   #7
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I have 5 deep cycle batteries in my DEV bus.. they are 100 AH each, I recharge them with a 200 Amp alternator when driving and thern I have a Victron charger I connect up when my bus is parked at home base, the charger puts out 30 Amps (they make bigger ones) and is designed for AGM batteries.. I have a 1500 watt sine wave inverter (i run computer equipment)..


the SIMPLEST way for you is to install a good size battery bank at 12 volts and run a nice inverter.. use an isolator so that you dont discharge your starting batteries with your house bank.. charge them on shore power at home base and then also when driving around or if you got low you could start the bus, set high idle and get a quick pop up on the batteries..



a NICER setup would be a bank of deep cycle batteries set up for 24 volts.. a second alternator on the bus to charge them at 24 volts and a 24 volt to 120 inverter.. and a 24 volt charger at home.. going 24 volt has better current handling in your low voltage wiring esp when chsarging at higher amps..



the NICEST setup would be LifePO batteries , a bank larger than youll ever use out on a run, and a charger / BMS to charge them on shore power at home base.. you never have to touch the Bus electrical system or alternator for this method as it is in its own little world...



-Christopher


P,S, the post thsat states 4000 AH is off.. it would be 400 AH, 960 watts would be 80 amps.. 5 hours is 400 AH.. so you would install 600-800 in case your calculations are off and so you dont dischartge your batery bank down to minimums. you want to keep your batteries well within design range..
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Old 06-17-2022, 06:41 PM   #8
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I'm no-one you should listen to regarding business decisions. That I can tell you for sure But if I were you I'd be feeling real nervous doing my own electric work on a bus used in a commercial capacity to transport the intoxicated en masse. What has / would your lawyer say regarding liability?

Kevin, I'm curious what your thoughts are on this?
As long as it's done in a safe and efficient way, according to some standard somewhere, you'll be alright.

Because it doesn't really matter what you do shy of welding it into it's own indestructible cage, the destructive power of angry drunks and the like knows no bounds.

And you can't reasonably be held to account for the destructive purposes, intentions, and actions of others.

Especially if you do something like put the batteries outside of the passenger compartment, or lock them in a box, and keep all the heavy current wire outside of main traffic areas, and behind walls or the like.

Besides, hiding all the wires makes things look clean and nice, and yields an impressive-looking product.
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Old 06-17-2022, 06:52 PM   #9
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As long as it's done in a safe and efficient way, according to some standard somewhere, you'll be alright.

Because it doesn't really matter what you do shy of welding it into it's own indestructible cage, the destructive power of angry drunks and the like knows no bounds.

And you can't reasonably be held to account for the destructive purposes, intentions, and actions of others.

Especially if you do something like put the batteries outside of the passenger compartment, or lock them in a box, and keep all the heavy current wire outside of main traffic areas, and behind walls or the like.

Besides, hiding all the wires makes things look clean and nice, and yields an impressive-looking product.

I would be more concerned with passing inspection in a school bus with the roof removed.. ive never seen one being run commercially, however I do know that a party bus can pass inspection with the roof left on and the windows removed as ive known a couple people who have done this and run sight-seeing busses..



the busses used that ive seen with cut-off tops were never driven on streets.. ie more or less off-road hay-wagons
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Old 06-17-2022, 08:02 PM   #10
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The sawed-off bus tops are pretty common in Nashville. They made some national news lately with a new local ordinance making it very difficult for legit operators to operate after the locals got fed up with rowdy illegiate operators running wild.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/new...ee/7036740001/


I've always wondered how those passed a roadside inspection...
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Old 06-17-2022, 08:23 PM   #11
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I would be more concerned with passing inspection in a school bus with the roof removed.. ive never seen one being run commercially, however I do know that a party bus can pass inspection with the roof left on and the windows removed as ive known a couple people who have done this and run sight-seeing busses..



the busses used that ive seen with cut-off tops were never driven on streets.. ie more or less off-road hay-wagons
There are no regulations that I am aware of requiring a top on a vehicle.

I mean, you can still buy moonroofs and convertibles and such. And let's be real here, it's not like buses are likely to roll over, particularly those used to 'party' in, which is most likely going to be in 30-35 mph zones, and the worst that happens is you're likely to roll over a curb.
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Old 06-17-2022, 08:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
P,S, the post thsat states 4000 AH is off.. it would be 400 AH, 960 watts would be 80 amps.. 5 hours is 400 AH.. so you would install 600-800 in case your calculations are off and so you dont dischartge your batery bank down to minimums. you want to keep your batteries well within design range..
I stand corrected, I probably got that extra factor of ten in there from going back and forth between 120V/12V too many times... It was all in my head pretty quick, so please tolerate my mistake.

Regardless, 400 AH is a big battery bank, realistically looking around $1000+ for anything decent in the AGM category or more for NiMH or Li-Ion, and my pricing is probably out-of-date, too.
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Old 06-18-2022, 09:09 AM   #13
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For the TV problem, you could use any household 120v TV with a dedicated PSW inverter:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KQ4Q2L



Its not as efficient as a 12V TV, but an easier solution for most. For the most part you should be able to avoid 120V appliances for this kind of application.
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Old 07-01-2022, 04:12 AM   #14
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Thank your for the information Albatross. The problem is that I am not in the USA where these kind of materials are easily found. I am worried about the generator in case of fire and if it is placed in the luggage compartment I would notice the fire only when the flames burst through the floors.

A bigger alternator is a viable option, but would this require that I change the existing bus batteries or use the same?

Also, deep cycle a good option but hard to find where I am and because no one has done such conversions here, even specialists are a little reticent to take on the work.
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Old 07-02-2022, 11:05 AM   #15
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if you change to a 200 amp alternator you better change the wiring from it as you will burn the wiring and maybe the bus trying to push that many amps thru the existing wires. with all that high voltage what do you do if you get caught in a bad rainstorm?
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Old 07-02-2022, 11:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
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if you change to a 200 amp alternator you better change the wiring from it as you will burn the wiring and maybe the bus trying to push that many amps thru the existing wires. with all that high voltage what do you do if you get caught in a bad rainstorm?
-----------------
Burnt wiring? Bus fire?
Please.
Clearly, your car has no boom. Dual batteries & upsized alternators are quite common in the audio file industry.

Alternators supply voltage. Alternators do not "push amps". Voltage remains the same. Also, no "high voltage" alternators, we call those generators, 12v is 12v. When operating at full power, any wire size can be attached to the alternator or even none at all.

The electrical load determines the amperage used. ie, the devices drawing the current. Each of those wire runs ought to be sized according to the device's rated ampacity. Not sized by the alternator.

Each device currently installed on a given alternator would have exactly the same amperage, regardless of increasing the size of alternator. The new, large amperage rated devices being added (party items) are also rated for a particular wire size. Again, not determined by the alternator.
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Old 07-02-2022, 01:45 PM   #17
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-----------------
Burnt wiring? Bus fire?
Please.
Clearly, your car has no boom. Dual batteries & upsized alternators are quite common in the audio file industry.

Alternators supply voltage. Alternators do not "push amps". Voltage remains the same. Also, no "high voltage" alternators, we call those generators, 12v is 12v. When operating at full power, any wire size can be attached to the alternator or even none at all.

The electrical load determines the amperage used. ie, the devices drawing the current. Each of those wire runs ought to be sized according to the device's rated ampacity. Not sized by the alternator.

Each device currently installed on a given alternator would have exactly the same amperage, regardless of increasing the size of alternator. The new, large amperage rated devices being added (party items) are also rated for a particular wire size. Again, not determined by the alternator.
wow go ahead then
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Old 07-02-2022, 04:19 PM   #18
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perhaps what he measnt by "pushing amps" is that if the OP has a lot of Loads pulling then the alternator is going to be asked to "push more amps".. the alternator output may be what 13.5 and if he is pulling all kinds of loads the nthe system voltage is goign to drop.. this the alternator will provide higher amperage to the system.. just like a battery provides more Amperage when you turn on more loads.. if the alternator supply wire is deisgned for 100 amp alternator and I put in a 200 amp alternator and run 150 amps worth of BOOM!! then the wires are gonna get pretty warm.. or the voltage wont rise up and the batteries go dead even while running...
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Old 07-02-2022, 08:54 PM   #19
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perhaps what he measnt by "pushing amps" is that if the OP has a lot of Loads pulling then the alternator is going to be asked to "push more amps".. the alternator output may be what 13.5 and if he is pulling all kinds of loads the nthe system voltage is goign to drop.. this the alternator will provide higher amperage to the system.. just like a battery provides more Amperage when you turn on more loads.. if the alternator supply wire is deisgned for 100 amp alternator and I put in a 200 amp alternator and run 150 amps worth of BOOM!! then the wires are gonna get pretty warm.. or the voltage wont rise up and the batteries go dead even while running...
"Wires"?
which wires?

This reads as though its describing an overloaded the factory load center, using stock wireruns & original alternator.

Yeah, don't do that.

The new electrical equipment ought to be installed onto a properly sized, dedicated audio/video load center or panelboard. The service conductors, supplying the new load center from the alternator, ought to be sized accordingly & fused. Use overload & overcurrent protection devices to prevent their occurrence.

Do nothing to the factory wire structure or fuse panel & it will operate as it always has.
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Old 07-02-2022, 09:01 PM   #20
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"Wires"?
which wires?

This reads as though its describing an overloaded the factory load center, using stock wireruns & original alternator.

I didn't read anything about connecting additional loads to the factory installed load center & its small factory conductors. Nothing about using an undersized alternator either. But, yeah, don't do any of that.

The new electrical equipment ought to be installed onto a properly sized, dedicated audio/video load center or panelboard. The service conductors, supplying the new load center from the alternator, ought to be sized accordingly & fused. Use overload & overcurrent devices to prevent their occurrence.

Do nothing to the factory wire structure. It will operate as it always has.

the factory structure typically DOES get disturbed when people install a "bigger" alternator.. most often that replaces the existing one.. thats where the wire sizing comes in.. if its a comp[;letely separate completely new electrical system then yes the factory stuff doesnt get touched.. i didnt see any mention of someone buying brackets and figuring out how to belt-up a secondary alternator....
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