Some modifications to our van

Since purchasing our new van I have added/modified quite a few things to make life more "comfortable on the road" for us.


On the roof I have 3 x 120W Suntech Solar Panels & 2 x 85W Suntech Panels.  The 3 x 120W panels feed into the 100A/Hr battery that came with the van and because I am just about at 'the limit' on the Morningstar Sunsaver Duo Solar Regulator I have also added another battery that I had used as a 2nd battery in our Flamingo that we sold  - a 120A/Hr AGM and the 2 x 85W panels are connected to this battery thru a 2nd Sunsaver Duo Solar Regulator.  I have yet to split the house power to both batteries but no doubt will do this over time.I originally went with so many panels as I was anticipating having a 12V compressor fridge in our next van but this one has a 3 way so even though I have a bit too much for our application - they say that you can never have too much solar so things should still work out fine for us.


I have also installed a Webasto Diesel Heater for Marie to use on those 'colder' nights and mornings.  They are not cheap but well worth the expense I am told - they will warm a van from 0°C to 24°C in 20 minutes.  It was a real bugger of a job to install and the supplier didn't give me all the bits and pieces I needed, but once this was sorted it all turned out good and works fine.

I have to take some more pics of the heater but these will give a rough indication of what it's like. 

Hole cut in floor for heater


 I mounted the fuel tank for the heater on the rear bumper - it's a 10 litre plastic jerry can. I also mounted another 10 litre jerry can on the other side as a spare backup for if and when we run out of fuel.


I also needed somewhere to store my Satellite Dish so have strapped it to the spare wheel and had another canvas cover made up which covers the sat dish and spare wheel and keeps it secure and dry.

 

There were also 4 Halogen reading lights installed and I have converted these also to  MR16 LED globes I got form DX and to say the light is 'bright' is an understatement.


 

 


Hole cut in floor for heater

Test fit

Jerry can & sat dish covers
Sat dish before cover is put on
I also have installed LED lighting right throughout the van.  It originally came with 16W fluoro lights and I replaced the switch to these lights with a 3 way switch, and installed some LED's in each light - this now allows me to have either fluoro or LED on depending on the lighting we require.

 I have also installed 50cm LED strips I purchased from DX  (www.dealextreme.com) and these a brilliantly bright and when we have these on it is about the only lighting we require.



I have also installed 50cm LED strips I purchased from DX  (www.dealextreme.com) and these a brilliantly bright and when we have these on it is about the only lighting we require.

LED strips lighting over bench top
LED strip lighting over table
This is the original Halogen light globe with a very 'yellow' coloured light output 
This is the LED replacement
 Another view of LED light

More modifications to our van

 There was a battery charger that was connected to the battery and charged the battery whilst on 240V power - this was no longer required as I now have the solar doing the job for me - so I disconnected it - however have now installed a 240V-12V 18 amp power supply that is connected to a mini switching relay and automatically takes over when plugged into 240V power and allows the batteries to be left alone and looked after by the solar.  Once the 240V is disconnected then it is automatically switched over to the 12V form the battery.  Works very well.   I have also installed 2 isolating switches so I can switch power from one battery to another or switch the 12V power to the Webasto Heater from one battery to the other if need be.

I also have installed a Morningstar Suresine 300W Pure sine inverter which allows Marie to have limited 240V power when we are only using 12V.

 I have also had an aluminium tray made up at Out of Town 4WD which fits in between either side of the drawbar and holds my water and sullage hoses, door mat and 5 litre petrol jerry can for generator if I ever need to use it.

 

 

I have also installed a 40mm computer fan, running through a 9v regulator to slow it down - in the fridge compartment, which helps in circulating the air around the inside of the fridge and stops the condenser plates from icing up etc and helps keep a constant temp throughout the whole fridge and not have hot and cold spots.  Don't have any pics at moment but will take some later and put on here as well.


Have also installed a 120mm computer fan which is thermostatically controlled in the top vent at the rear of the fridge to aid in the cooling air flow  over the fins etc and help the fridge run more efficiently.  Will show some pics of it too when I have them.



I put a reversing camera on the rear of the van and it is fantastic - the screen is a 7" screen mounted at the dashboard and allows me to see to the rear whenever I wish to. Used it on our shakedown trip and it was really helpful.


 

I installed 2 x Caframo 'Sirocco' 12V fans - these are fantastic, push a lot of air and only draw about 0.3 amps when operating so they are not very 'power hungry'


These fans can be directed to blow down on our faces, onto the bed or straight down the van -  actually they have so many variations that they can be directed wherever required.

 We purchased a new H/Duty Aluminium step to help getting in and out of the van as the van was just 'that too high' to get into all the time.


This step is solid, lightweight, has a large platform area and can be adjusted to be either 3" or 8" high and is rated to hold 1000lbs (450Kg) which is a helluva lot.

The van boot was fully lined with galvanised metal sheeting and I saw on one of the caravanning forums where someone had put timber on the back wall - so I decided t  do the same and I lined the back wall with 12mm ply that I pre-painted white - this now allows me to put the items wherever I want without having to drill holes in the metal sheeting everywhere.
 I had an aluminium tray made up at Out of Town 4WD which fits in between either side of the drawbar and holds my water and sullage hoses, door mat and 5 litre petrol jerry can for generator if I ever need to use it.

January 2012

 I have just purchased another 2 x 85W Suntech Solar Panels which I am in the throes of turning into a folding portable panel so I can use it to supplement our solar if we are parked in shade etc when we are free camped,  and I can also plug it into the Cruiser to keep the auxilliary battery charged up when running the Engel fridge in the Cruiser. 

 

 

Solar panels

February, 2012

I just purchased a CTek D250S Dual DC-DC Battery charger which will keep my auxilliary battery in the Cruiser charged to the correct level and I can also plug the 2 x 85W portable solar panels into it and it will keep my batteries topped up as well.