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Old 08-09-2017, 08:32 AM   #21
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Haven't even bought a bus yet, so the planning is definitely happening upfront... xD

One question I was curious about...please tell me if I should quit trying to use my brain and just go to someone who knows better, but... rather than insulating the inside and losing headroom, I was curious if insulating the outside of the roof was a feasible option.

It sounds like you're saying it is, but only if I create a fiberglass housing for it externally?
you need to waterproof and protect it (insulation) from tree branches
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:33 AM   #22
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something like a big drawer slide but must be secured good while moving to keep it from rattling hat will be stage 2 ork added after im living in it also google recycling shower systems i designed a system to filter (particulate,chemical and biological) using a 10 gal self contained system man was i proud then.......found out they are commercially available and common on boats and in europe
I also figured I'd get a good, not too complex solar setup going and then expand as necessary once we're moved in and learning more about our needs.

I will look into that, that'd be great! We definitely want to be able to be off-grid for stretches when traveling out of Florida. And dang it, you should still be proud! Other than the time, I bet your solution was cheaper than those commercially available and you get to say you done it. Hats off to ya, friend. =)
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:34 AM   #23
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use your brain new ideas is what keeps us going no one person knows it all but collectively we all do
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:36 AM   #24
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use your brain new ideas is what keeps us going no one person knows it all but collectively we all do
I've been reading so much on these forums the last few days. Y'all definitely have a lot of knowledge here. I'm incredibly appreciative of how folks share and communicate all their ideas. I hope to contribute something meaningful back at some point. =D
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Old 08-09-2017, 10:50 PM   #25
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I have off grid a/c. 1.2kW rooftop solar, 860aH battery bank at 12v, two 60 amp MPPT charge controllers and two inverters -- one for the air conditioning and one for the rest of my appliances. I can run the air all day if it's sunny and all night if it's not terribly hot without running my battery bank down past 50%. I'm using a 12k btu mini split as my air conditioner. Just make sure you have an inverter/charger that can top your batteries off on shore power if you really need it.
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Old 08-09-2017, 10:59 PM   #26
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I have off grid a/c. 1.2kW rooftop solar, 860aH battery bank at 12v, two 60 amp MPPT charge controllers and two inverters -- one for the air conditioning and one for the rest of my appliances. I can run the air all day if it's sunny and all night if it's not terribly hot without running my battery bank down past 50%. I'm using a 12k but mini split as my air conditioner. Just make sure you have an inverter/charger that can top your batteries off on shore power if you really need it.
This information is super helpful to me, thank you! Can I ask why you run two controllers and two inverters? is it to keep from over-amping? I plan on building a 2kW rooftop solar and 1000aH bank at 48v.... would you still suggest two controllers and two inverters for that as well?

Thanks again for the insight!
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:09 PM   #27
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You'll most likely need two inverters. One 1.5kW and another 2kW. Neither can handle both my residential fridge and air conditioning at the same time. Breakers kept tripping. They trip sometimes even running separate circuits. At any rate it's more efficient that way, otherwise you're running a huge inverter for no reason if a/c is not on. My system is just slightly undersized for what Im doing. 48v is slightly unusual on a skoolie. Nothing wrong with that, but it will be expensive to buy inverters at 48v. Perhaps you should stick with a 24v system as the inverters are more plentiful. There are a lot of good charge controllers. The popular Morningstar Tristar MPPT-60 only work with up to 700 watts or so each. You'd need three.
Otherwise find something bigger and you'll have to find a good brand and size it correctly.
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:16 PM   #28
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You'll most likely need two inverters. At any rate it's more efficient that way, otherwise you're running a huge inverter for no reason if a/c is not on. 48v is slightly unusual on a skoolie. Nothing wrong with that, but it will be expensive to buy inverters at 48v. Perhaps you should stick with a 24v system as the inverters are more plentiful. There are a lot of good charge controllers. The popular Morningstar Tristar MPPT-60 only work with up to 700 watts or so each. You'd need three.
Otherwise find something bigger and you'll have to find a good brand and size it correctly.
Yeah, my thought was we're incredibly active with technology and given the we'll be using our Skoolie as our home, our office on the road, and a demoing booth at events, 48v gives us a little more flexibility. Of course, that's based on the assumption I understand any of this. Which I don't, sooo....... xD

I hadn't begun my research into MPPT controllers yet... I hadn't thought about them having a max wattage, thus needing more to keep up with my solar array. Really appreciate that heads up.

If possible, and of course it's not your responsibility to teach me lol, but if you wouldn't mind...could you give me an explanation on why running two smaller inverters with one dedicated to the AC is more efficient than a single larger inverter. I think I understand why, but not sure...

I'm still finishing the spreadsheet of our appliances and devices, but I can't help but think you're right I should stick with a 24v system.
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:19 PM   #29
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I updated my reply above to explain why I have two inverters. Its more efficient because a larger inverter takes more power to work. If you're only using a/c a few hours daily it's wasted. My system works fine and I'm tech heavy too. Just sayin. Plan to spend a LOT on a setup like you're talking about. Mine was well over 5 grand. You're talking 7 or 8 easy. Sure you need all that power?
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:23 PM   #30
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I updated my reply above to explain why I have two inverters. Its more efficient because a larger inverter takes more power to work, therefore if you have two smaller ones and one is not in use, youre drawing very little power. My system works fine and I'm tech heavy too. Just sayin. Plan to spend a LOT on a setup like you're talking about. Mine was well over 5 grand. You're talking 7 or 8 easy. Sure you need all that power?
I'm not sure of anything, which is why I'm so appreciative of the time you're taking to educate me... xD

A large reason for overbuilding is rooted simply in not understand how it all works together. If I'm being honest, I set a budget of about $12-14k for power setup. I will *gladly* spend less to keep things juiced, keep my dogs cool, and stay off grid until I run out of water. =)
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:33 PM   #31
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I've designed home setups for that amount. Keep reading. Read HandyBob solar, read over at Northern Arizona Wind and Solar forum, read up on basic wiring, read about MPPT and the purpose of charge controllers, consider buying Crown batteries. You'll do fine.
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:34 PM   #32
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I've designed home setups for that amount. Keep reading. Read HandyBob solar, read over at Northern Arizona Wind and Solar forum, read up on basic wiring, read about MPPT and the purpose of charge controllers, consider buying Crown batteries. You'll do fine.
I've been struggling to find good resources for days. Thank you so much!
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Old 08-10-2017, 07:28 AM   #33
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im planning a dedicated inverter just for ac another for fridg and a third for rest so i can shut them down when not needed also using lots of 12volt appliances
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Old 08-10-2017, 12:02 PM   #34
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im planning a dedicated inverter just for ac another for fridg and a third for rest so i can shut them down when not needed also using lots of 12volt appliances
More specifically, my 12k btu mini split runs off a Magnum MM1512AE. It's a modified sine 1500w inverter/charger, meaning it can pump power into my batteries and charge them up when connected to shore power. Also comes in a 24v model. I originally hardwired the mini split right into the inverter ... but could not get it to work. For whatever reason it works fine after I spliced a 15 amp plug onto my mini split and plugged that into a hardwired 120v GFCI outlet. Still figuring out why that is.

My residential fridge and all the other appliances run off a Xantrex PROWatt 2000.

So my solution was to run my mini split to a 30 amp fused disconnect with Romex, then I spliced THIS extension cord from the load side of the disconnect to the 120v GFCI outlet, which is then hardwired to my Magnum inverter. All of my other wall outlets are hard wired to my Xantrex inverter.

So far so good... sometimes my breaker trips under heavy load. Im still working out the kinks. I'll post pics one of these days.
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Old 08-10-2017, 12:23 PM   #35
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So far so good... sometimes my breaker trips under heavy load. Im still working out the kinks. I'll post pics one of these days.
I would love to see pics! I spent a good two hours on Handy Bob's site last night... phew! You're a life saver (and money saver). I'll continue to go through the resources over the next few weeks. Just bought my bus yesterday, so I'll be clearing the seats and prepping the inside while learning how I'm going to tackle the power situation.

Thanks again and looking forward to seeing the pictures when you get time. =)
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Old 08-10-2017, 12:51 PM   #36
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one thing to think of when sizing your A/C is that minisplits will go quite inefficient in terms of BTYU / watt if you run them over 80%.. they are variable speed and when just maintaining a temp they run at a constant low speed and are VERY power efficient.

size yourself in enough solar that your unit can run all day on low fan speed (which keeps compressor speed down).. rathger than have it off all day and expect to cool the bus down when ready to sleep.. the unit would run at 115-125% of rated capacity and sucks the juice doing so.. I have 3 Highly modded Minis in my hoiuse and I watch closely to make sure they are limited in how high they are running. it doesnt hurt to oversize a bit since the yare variable speed, they will slow down to still control moisture and power usage.
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Old 08-10-2017, 02:22 PM   #37
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I can run the air all day if it's sunny and all night if it's not terribly hot without running my battery bank down past 50%.
Your location says NY. Assuming upstate it doesn't get "terribly hot". Not FL terribly hot. Not discounting your system but I'd like to see what terribly hot people have. Terribly = FL, LA, TX... Stoopid hot = AZ, NV, Death Valley.
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Old 08-10-2017, 02:34 PM   #38
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my bus is stock with decent roof insulation (factory) and a 45,000 BTU engine unit, tinted windows... down here in st pete. it sure as heck aint cold in my bus while driving. and thats a shortie.. better insulation would help.. but my ceiling doesnt get more than warm to the touch... (not HOT like my other bus)... the dewpoint here is 78 at times... this will EAT an A/C alive... though you could probably fill up as many water bottles as you want from the drip-drain... its like a faucet.. Dry heat vs Wet Heat all feels crazy HOT to the human.. but to the A/C, planning for dry vs humid is a HUGE part of sizing... with a dewpoint of 78. you are eating up close to 40% of your A/C capacity just to condense the water from the air... and then add in that its 94 and sunny out... makes for a much larger A/C need.. fortunately if you arent travelling the likes of the southern or southwestern tier states in july / august. you wont see this kind of Load on the system.. areas that are terribly or Stoopid hot require a special attention to the A/C...
-C hristopher
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Old 08-10-2017, 03:25 PM   #39
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What's it going to cost me to put you on a retainer? Is the terribly hot and stoopid hot inefficient while running in the sane world? Until I see the price tag, I want a system capable of at least terribly hot. with wheels under me I not likely to spend all of Aug in FL but heading down for a week is a possibility. I want to be able to do that without melting.

Living in the SE to mid Atlantic is all I know. If I ever have the money to full time it in the bus, I'll get to know the SW. AC is barely needed in the PNW (except for last week, WTF?!!?) and is likely where I will live when I grow up.
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Old 08-10-2017, 03:37 PM   #40
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We had a few really hot weeks. By NY standards that's a humidity of 90% and temps in the 90's. The bus was over 100 and terribly muggy. I'm from downstate, close to the city actually, and I was dripping in sweat after just a few minutes on board. Most of the heat was transferring through my remaining windows -- I kept 8 windows total. My bus is pretty heavily insulated -- I kept the stock fiberglass insulation (which was in perfect condition) and added another 1.5" of foam on top of everything. So I have quite a few thermal gaps, double layers of insulation, and I'm generally better off than most builds in terms of retaining heat/cold. If I keep the shades down it'll stay quite cool inside. Again, subjective, but "cool" to me is 70 or under. With the sun pouring through the windows, forget it. The back of the bus will be freezing while the front of the bus will feel hot as hell.

I can't run my a/c 24 hours a day with the system I have now. I am JUST slightly undersized at 1.2kW in solar and four 6v 430aH batteries (860aH @ 12v). I feel like 1.6kW solar and another two batteries would be a sweet spot. In the florida heat I'd probably double my battery bank. That'd be eight 6v batteries at 430aH a piece. Remember an average system is approximately 1w to 1aH so that you avoid over or undercharging.

That being said, during the day it stays cool. The mini split generally doesn't run at full capacity. The owners manual says it will pull 960w max. I believe it pulls a little more than that in the first few minutes, but I need to take my Kill-a-What meter out to confirm. In any case, it drops off substantially after that. To give you a perspective, I have an average net drain of 850w in full sun today. That is running both my full size residential fridge and the air conditioner. At night, in this region anyway, the temps drop considerably and the outside unit turns itself off. It starts itself up again in the morning sun and the cycle repeats.

Also, keep in mind I specifically purchased low energy consumption appliances. My fridge rarely pulls more than 300w. It took me awhile to find a 12k btu mini split that pulls under 1kW at 100%. And I'm finding that it generally pulls under 500w.

Hope that answers your questions. I'll take a video and pictures when I get things cleaned up =p.
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