So it begins.
The first few projects for the van have begun: power, a vent fan, and a door.
The battery for this van is a custom-built 285Ah LiFePO4 battery pack made up of 4 3.2v EVE cells purchased directly from the manufacturer. I balanced these cells and arranged them in series in a housing to build up a nominal 12v battery.
The battery characteristics are controlled by an Overkill Solar Battery Managemen tSystem. This BMS controls the input charging profile, as well as the draw on the battery, and sends the information via bluetooth to my phone. I can watch as the battery is charged and depleted, the rate and health of each cell, and make sure the battery maintains good health with a temperature-controlled cutoff switch.
Top view showing cell arrangement
Front view showing BMS and remote lugs connected to a charger
The battery case has positive and negative remote lugs set up for easy access to BMS controlled power.
The same fan used in the first van, the MaxxAir fan we’ve come to love, was installed in the new van. We had no problems with the previous install or location, so we’ve done it the same way. A quick cut in the fiberglass roof, a bit of framing between the ceiling joists for something to screw into, and the fan is a drop-in luxury.
To the side of the vent fan you can see the cable gland to bring the solar panel wiring through the roof. Two solar panels are up on the roof providing around 2 amps of charging capacity on a sunny day. This is variable with angle, but with so much space on the roof we’re going to add two more panels to ensure we’re taking advantage of the long summer days in Canada.
These solar panels connect to a charge controller which charges the battery. The controller also connects to the van’s alternator for a boost of charging power when we’re driving. If the house battery is full, the controller will even trickle charge the car battery!
A temporary install to prove the system’s functionality isn’t pretty, but it’s very satisfying to see some solar energy being captured.