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Old 07-24-2021, 06:37 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Weekender Electrical System Questions

Hey all,
So i just purchased my shuttle bus that I will be converting into a weekender, tailgater, and the occasion (3-5 times a year) week long adventure rig! I'm super excited and can't wait to start the process!
As a result of this only being a weekender rig, the bus will unfortunately sit at the house a majority of the time. Because of that I am afraid that any battery bank I install will drain and die over time of just sitting.
So I'm starting to think of alternative methods of electricity while traveling, and Ive come to this thought and am seeking your more experienced opinions.


Simply put; have two systems and transfer back and forth. Shore power setup for when we are at electric camp sites or other places where we can plug in. As well as a power station, such as a EcoFlow Delta or Jackery, to power the bus while on the road. And hopefully be able to come up with a system to transfer power from one to the other with relative simplicity.



The girlfriend isn't as adventurous as me, so we will be spending most of our trips at electric campsites for the most part to begin with, so the power station would only be for while on the road and the occasional off grid nights.



I don't intend on having anything too power hungry being used off the power station other than the occasional laptop for rainy night entertainment, but more looking to power a dometic style fridge as well as a couple interior lights and a couple of maxxair fans.


I came to this conclusion because the bus will be sitting a vast majority of the year, and i don't a battery bank sitting in the cold (Wisconsin), not being charged, where as with a ecoflow or jackery, i can bring inside the house, store and use as an emergency meat fridge generator or whatnot in case of power outages with relative ease.


I want to stay away from battery banks as well as solar if at all possible, and would charge the power station while at the campsites, since 12v charging is basically worthless when it comes to those power stations, or so Ive read.


What do you think? Any insight would be extremely helpful! Thank you all in advance, and happy and safe travels!

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Old 07-24-2021, 08:05 PM   #2
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I think your general proposal is reasonable. A 30A inlet to a small breaker box that runs to a few outlets and fixtures sounds like it would do the trick for you. A 30A -> 15A (normal household plug) adapter could let you plug in at home or a friend's house. Add a changeover switch inside and you could feed the breaker box with the Jackery.

Solar: This is where I'd suggest you rethink a bit- remember that the Jackery (at least some models) do have native solar input... A couple panels will really enhance the capabilities of your power bank...they will greatly extend your run times during the day. I'm not sure where you read that "12v charging is basically worthless", that's a big fat MAYBE at best, in my mind, BS. Have a specific model in mind you're looking at?

As for the general topic of "power stations" versus a dedicated bus bank + inverter... just make sure you know the limits of the power bank. The inverters built into these can be small, unable to handle much beyond basic loads. Others, can handle microwaves and hair dryers. I think as long as you know what you are getting into- how much power you have available, how fast you can use it, etc... if keep your consumption within the capabilities of the bank, and keep an eye on the remaining capacity, you'll likely be fine.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:56 AM   #3
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That is very much what i was thinking. 30A inlet to a break box. a couple standard outlets, along with a usb outlet or two, a couple fans, and lights and a light switch going through it.

A changeover switch is simple and a great idea! I was overthinking it for sure. Thank you.

The one question i have about having a changeover switch, when i change over to the power station, do i run everything through one outlet, or would it be smarter to run it out of multiple, and if so, how would I go about doing that?



I'm currently looking at Ecoflow Delta, or the Ecoflow Delta Max. https://ecoflow.com/collections/power-station , but that is definitely not set in stone. I think either one would be more than enough for my needs, but I still have to do more research on while power station would be the best fit. But I see that Ecoflow has its own line of panels, if i decided to go that route in the future as well.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:32 PM   #4
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Thank you for your suggestions! I was thinking the 30A inlet was the way to go, run it through a breaker box for the AC outlets. I also want to have a 12v fuse box as well for lights and fans, but dont quite know how to link that up quite yet, but i'm sure there are diagrams and such that can help me understand that setup.
A changeover switch! Man that is such a simple solution, i was way over thinking that aspect.. Thank you!
A question I am having while powering my system with the Jackery, or whatever power station i go with, is: do i just run everything off a single AC outlet? Or do i use multiple outlets?


The "power station" that i'm currently looking at is either the Ecoflow Delta or the Ecoflow Delta MAX, but that isn't set in stone by any means, more research to be done. But i currently like both of these options because of the quick charge capabilities, battery size, and i don't see an issue with inverter size with the loads I'm going to be using.


Solar is something I may reconsider, especially if i go with a power station that has a plug and play system in place with an array. An issue is, i would only utilize it while driving, or while off-grid, which the latter will be rare, at least to start. But at the same time would want the solar to be removable. So Id have to come up with a way to secure it well enough to drive with it, while at the same time, able to remove it with relative ease.
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Old 07-26-2021, 09:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadic.Railroader View Post
A question I am having while powering my system with the Jackery, or whatever power station i go with, is: do i just run everything off a single AC outlet? Or do i use multiple outlets?
A single outlet, almost certainly. The multiple outlets on those things are very commonly fed with the same wire internally anyway, although there could be exceptions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadic.Railroader View Post
I also want to have a 12v fuse box as well for lights and fans, but dont quite know how to link that up quite yet, but i'm sure there are diagrams and such that can help me understand that setup.
I've made diagrams for whole systems before, I could pretty easily do one for a fuse box. What in particular confuses you?

The general idea is, the batteries (or bus bars from the batteries) feed the fuse box via a 12VDC breaker with a good sized wire, and the lights/fans/etc tap off the fuse block with appropriately sized fuses/wires of their own, to protect both the run to the block and the individual runs to each 12V device.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadic.Railroader View Post
Solar is something I may reconsider, especially if i go with a power station that has a plug and play system in place with an array. An issue is, i would only utilize it while driving, or while off-grid, which the latter will be rare, at least to start. But at the same time would want the solar to be removable. So Id have to come up with a way to secure it well enough to drive with it, while at the same time, able to remove it with relative ease.
Well, what about avoiding roof mount altogether, instead opting for panels stored inside that you can bring out and place in a good location nearby on the ground? You could have watertight connections on the side of the bus that you plug the panels into, which inside go to leads that plug into the power station. This also has the advantage (over roof mount) of allowing you to park in the shade while positioning your panels in full sun.
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Old 07-26-2021, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomadic.Railroader View Post

I came to this conclusion because the bus will be sitting a vast majority of the year, and i don't a battery bank sitting in the cold
Do you have a garage? I remove batteries and keep them in the garage over winter and charge them once a month. I also have a home built battery pack (think Goal Zero) I carry from vehicle to vehicle as a backup if needed.
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Old 07-26-2021, 04:09 PM   #7
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Hi Nomadic,

The first question is where do you live and where will you be traveling? This is important as climate has a lot to do with batteries, charging, etc. I suggest you complete your profile with all your bus and location information so people like me don't have to ask the same questions and you don't have to answer them repeatedly.

I'm like you, my power needs are not much. 12v fridge (~50ah per 24hr), my water pump, furnace fan, LED lights and electronics charging.

Per your dilemma, I get the appeal of an all in one unit. Clean, simple and portable. Yet, it's not an apple to apple comparison to a more traditional power arrangement.

I'd suggest two things.

1) Do a really thorough review of your electrical needs.

2) Do a really solid apple to apple comparison to the all-in-one power unit and the traditional setup. I think this will answer a lot of your questions.

IMHO:
I didn't look long and hard at the all-in-one units, yet it seems like they don't have the kind of versatility, depth of power or ability to expand or upgrade as a traditional setup. I see them more as a convenient, yet limited solution.

On my setup, I went more traditional. I over built a bit and have a little redundancy for two reasons.
1) I didn't want to keep pushing the limits of my batteries and components 2) I didn't want to worry if I was pushing their limits. It's not that much more to overbuild a bit and add some redundancy, but it's a lot more to upgrade.

Here's what I did and why:
Shore:
30a 120v

Generator:
4500 surge/ 3700 continuous watt inverter generator. This will power my mini-split AC/Heat pump and a microwave or instantpot at the same time while also charging my batteries. It has remote start, so it's easy to crank it up to cook a meal and in the mean time heat or cool the bus a bit as well as add some charge to my battery. Easy peasy.

Alternator/Isolator:
I added an isolator to charge my batteries via my alternator while driving.

Solar:
4 - 250w panels and a 100a/150w MPPT charge controller. The panels are used ($55 each) and I estimate I'll get about 70%, or 700w or about 50a per hour.

Batteries:
4 - AGM 6v 225ah deep cell in parallel/series giving me 450ah (225ah @ 50%, or 135ah @ 30%).

Inverter:
3000w Samlex NXT 3000-12v

Summary:
By having redundant charging systems and plenty of amp hours, I feel covered in case any one...or two charging systems have any issues.

I don't have to be watching my battery monitor or worried I'm pushing my batteries too hard.

Just some things to think about.

Best of luck.
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