Electrical stuff
Do you know what all this stuff is for?

Part of the two-and-a-half years of our build looked like this. I – Joe – had to learn from the ground up with all the house systems, including the electrical. I am indebted to these Canadian van lifers for a clear layout of the electrical works.

A lot of my learning is visual and hands-on. I can’t say how many times I moved components around to not just get them to physically fit, but also to visualize the flow of power.

This picture shows the first look at the distribution of electricity from the batteries – not pictured here. They’re under the bed. The box on the left is a small residential 120v distribution box. This is fed 120v power from an inverter/charger. Because the inverter itself consumes electricity, we switch it on only as needed. That switch is the blue item on the right, which is now part of our household wall-of-switches. The two silver bars are bus bars, used to simplify positive and negative wire installation. The red knob is a master kill switch. The brass deal with two nuts is the shunt. It is on the negative return leg of the system, and is used to display battery state-of-charge and system status on a remote display, pictured below. This is not what this area looks like today.

This is the 300 amp hour lithium iron phosphate battery I bought directly from the manufacturer in China. I have since bought a second, giving me 600ah of battery capacity.

The battery bank is the ‘gas tank’ of the electrical system. Since we are connected to the electrical grid we have to create and store our own electricity. That electricity is stored here. The benefits of lithium iron phosphate (lifepo4) batteries- versus traditional lead acid batteries – include low weight, no off-gassing, many more duty cycles for a longer life, and the ability to be drawn nearly empty. We have four methods to charge the batteries: solar panels, 50a dc-dc charging from the bus while driving, shore power, a 3400 watt propane generator installed under the bus. The solar panels also trickle charge the bus batteries when the these house batteries are full – a real benefit for a heavy Diesel engine.

This is what the system looks like today.

The heart of the electrical controls has ‘evolved’ to this point. The black box in the middle is the Renogy DCC50S, a solar charge controller and a dc-dc charger connected to the bus. Our solar panels include 2×200 watt panels mounted on the roof and 2×100 watt panels that can be deployed remotely when we are parked in shade. The red ball is automatic fire suppression. There’s a second near the battery bank.

Here are some of our system controls.

This wall has a few a few of our system controls. On the top left is the mini split/heat pump remote. Below, from the left, are the inverter on-off switch, the furnace thermostat, the water heater switch, and the battery system monitor. This area, like so much else,isn’t done. I will be adding a security light system, and those switches may end up here.

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