G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

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J.REEVES
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by J.REEVES » Mon May 02, 2016 11:00 pm

Hi Milton,
Sounds like you have had some good trips with your van and having no dust problems is a good thing.

My single axle van is similar weight to yours and from memory we have similar tyre size, mine are 285x16x75, I only run at 50psi using BF Goodrich AT’s as they have three side wall layers so have less side movement.

Anyway I had a similar wear pattern to you but it took about 50,000Km to appear and my tyres were RS at about 80,000Km’s so sounds like you have a worse problem.

Assuming the suspension was mounted exactly square and left and right are equal distance from the tow coupling I would consider adjusting the toe in or toe out.

It was recommended to me by Neville Withers (Sugar Glider suspension) to set the front of the tyre about one to two mm further out in relation to the rear of the tyre, toe out.
Your suspension probably has an adjustment on one of the swing arm pivot points for toe in and toe out.
I removed the wheel and horizontally laid a straight edge across the front of the brake drum and found a reference point like the main chassis rail to measure to. I then adjusted the suspension so the front end of the straight edge was about 2mm further out than the rear of the straight edge. Naturally the straight edge was marked so I had equal distance from the centre and the distance from centre was the tyre radius.

I am now on by second set of tyres and have about 40,000Km’s up and have no sign of uneven tyre wear.
toe out.JPG
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Milton477 » Tue May 03, 2016 6:10 pm

Thanks for the help JR,

I run 245/75/16 tyres so a bit smaller than yours. As I have changed my tug & now have 19" tyres on the tug any thoughts of tyre interchangeability is in the toilet so I'll go with the biggest that will fit for the next set. This will also allow lower running pressures & have a bigger window to the maximum load per tyre.

All was welded on square - well the hinge tubes were. I checked toe in/out over the weekend & found that I was 7mm toe in on one side & 10mm toe in on the other. I have adjusted them to be equal now as best I can using the awning middle rail as a straight edge. I will take your advice & adjust them to be toe out slightly.

The other complication is my suspension has camber adjustment too. I need to find a perfectly level surface & a digital level to possibly correct this too.

Thanks again for your advice. Gee, you have done a lot of k's!

Rory

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by J.REEVES » Tue May 03, 2016 8:43 pm

Rory, this is not very scientific but to get a rough idea if the wheels are square with the ground I just park on level hard ground (cement) and look under the van from the rear one side at a time and see if the tyre belly is the same on the inside and outside of the tyre.

10mm sounds a lot so once you get rid of that toe in you may have your problem solved.
Do you have enough adjustment to get the toe out right as I doubt my suspension would be capable of adjusting 10mm.

JR
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by A'van » Tue May 03, 2016 9:39 pm

I wonder what toe in or out a van about the same size and the same suspension, would have from a manufacturer, also the camber. If you could get hold of that, you would have an idea about what yours should be.
What does the suspension manufacturer recommend?
Maybe you should get a professional wheel alignment. A truck shop should fit you in, including the tug.

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by J.REEVES » Tue May 03, 2016 10:02 pm

Rory,
I have got it back to front, just checked my notes and it was recommended that the front of the tyre to be 2mm in compared to the rear of the tyre so you should have 2mm toe-in not 2mm toe- out on each tyre.

So you need to move your 7mm toe-in by 5mm to 2mm and your 10mm toe-in by 8mm to 2mm toe-in.

Sorry about that JR
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Milton477 » Tue May 03, 2016 11:03 pm

Hans, if all else fails, read the manual, or in this case watch the video: http://www.vehiclecomponents.com.au/res ... on-systems

JR, your notes are correct. 2-3mm toe in. I have been "eyeballing" the camber so it is probably incorrect. What I don't understand is why if both wheels have been toe in, it has scrubbed the outside of one wheel & the inside of the other.

Vehicle Components also states that if unusual tyre wear has started, it probably cannot be stopped by corrective action or wheel rotation. I probably ran under pressure for a few thousand ks at the outset while I worked out what pressure worked. Damage already done?

Thanks
Rory

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Milton477 » Tue May 03, 2016 11:32 pm

Added a home made generator box to the rear bar instead of the second spare wheel. Bought some self adhesive sound deadening material off evil bay & made the box from offcuts from the build. The door on the right is left open when the generator is running so that the exhaust & cooling air can exit. If I need 2 spares, the box can be removed & the spare wheel re-instated. Stability wise, no difference even though the front boot is minus the generator. Convenience: ++++

Question: What about running the generator while travelling?
20160423_105712 (Custom).jpg
In case anyone is wondering, that is the Little Bowen River crossing where we are stopped.
20160423_105651 (Custom).jpg
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by J.REEVES » Wed May 04, 2016 9:45 am

Rory,
That is a great video link and is not very scientific. I must admit that using the straight edge on the tyre is even rougher than what I do. I considered the tyre rubber surface not good enough to take measurements from but there you go.

It looks like your suspension has a very good range of adjustment up and down and back and forth. It’s interesting that when you adjust the suspension on one pivot point bush the other bush on that side will then not have the pivot pin in its bearing running true anymore, well that is what happens with the Sugar Glider.

I have no idea why your tyres have worn different but from my experience just adjust and hope the rot stops but you can never reverse the wear and will not be sure the problem is fixed until you fit new tyres and then watch them like a hawk.

Now why do you need to run the generator when travelling?
Next question where is Little Brown River Crossing?

JR
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Milton477 » Wed May 04, 2016 4:47 pm

JR,

We use the generator to run the microwave occasionally. This will change once I upgrade to Lithium batteries however. I have been working in the Collinsville area for the past month & there has not been a day below 30deg. Mostly, we get power from customer sites but the generator also runs the aircon on occasions when no power is available. Wouldn't dream of running it around others though. Most sites I go to however are fairly remote so neighbours closer than 10 km are not a problem.

Maps for you. The night at Little Bowen, only 2 vehicles passed by in the 18 hours or so that we were there.
Little Bowen 00 (Custom).JPG
Little Bowen 01 (Custom).JPG
Rory
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by J.REEVES » Wed May 04, 2016 5:42 pm

Thanks Rory for the location of Little Bowen ?Brown? River looks great. Know wonder I could not find little Brown River!

As usual I misunderstood your question about the generator as I thought you were asking about running it when you are driving along the highway.
I think if I had a generator I would certainly be using it to run the air if in 30 degree plus temperatures.

JR
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by glanyard » Thu May 05, 2016 7:45 am

JR,
Little Bowen River becomes the Bowen River after it convolutes with Broken River.
I tried to air my knowledge yesterday but this site was extremely slow and frustrating.
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by J.REEVES » Thu May 05, 2016 8:08 am

Hi Glanyard,
It was a simple case of reading what I wanted to read (Brown instead of Bowen)and not what Milton had written.
Even Little Bowen River takes some finding thanks for the explanation.
Yes I find this internet site very slow and not just yesterday.

JR
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Milton477 » Tue May 10, 2016 9:39 pm

Some pictures of the external lighting I fitted to the van during the build. The bright lights fitted to all 4 sides are useful for maneuvering in the dark & enable you to see the creepy crawlies when moving around the van at night. Not to be used in sociable locations however.
I have also installed a led strip under the van. When sitting outside at night, it throws enough light to see the ground in the immediate vicinity under the awning but does not shine in your eyes.
20150109_211644 (Custom).jpg
20160510_210410 (Custom).jpg
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Bussy » Tue May 10, 2016 10:19 pm

G’day Rory, your van in those camping spots looks great. How is the generator box mounted to your van? Did you use the existing spare wheel mount bracket bolts? I have been thinking of having some expanded metal mesh between my rear bar and the back wall of the van and just temporarily mounting the generator there when camped and if needed. Fuel fumes are always a worry when its stored in front boot so in the past did you run yours dry before putting it back into the boot?
Nice spots on the back are a must I reckon. What sort of rear camera did you fit and are you happy with it?
I like the idea of the LED under the skirt of the van so might pinch that one for mine.
Cheers,
ALLAN
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Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road v

Post by Milton477 » Tue May 10, 2016 11:03 pm

My spare wheel brackets just bolt onto the rear bar as does the generator box. At the time, I thought that I needed to leave things flexible so the rear bar is a length of 100x50x3. The generator box hooks over the bar & is secured with 1 bolt through the upright. I can take the box off in 30 sec & thought it might be useful for noise abatement issues if the genny was in the box away from the van if using it for extended periods. When it was in the front boot, I never ran it dry but my boot is sealed from the van by plastic welds so never had a problem. The fuel storage is more the issue as the plastic stuff seems to 'breathe' I'm going to change to a steel jerry can when I am next home.

My reversing camera is a Jaycar bluetooth system with 2 cameras. Good for seeing who is behind but my better half with a 2 way is a better reversing camera. I used the front camera for hitching up with varying degrees of success. My new tug has a reversing camera which is light years ahead.

Rory

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3 year update

Post by Milton477 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:15 am

Well its 3 years since I completed my build. We have covered 45 000 km & spent around 250 nights in the van, the majority of which has been for work.

What's gone wrong you may ask. A couple of destroyed drawer slides after forgetting to latch the drawer before setting off. A couple of drawer catches self destructed. Oh & the hitch came loose somewhere along the line. Chewed through 2 tyres due to bad wheel alignment, now fixed. Replaced the lino with a better quality. Brakes are still original but I replaced the wheel bearings at 25 000 km only because I had them apart. Water pump expired.

TV & microwave still work so I believe that the air suspension is kind to appliances.

Currently installing 360Ah of LifePo4 lithium batteries & a 3.3kw inverter. I'll update when completed.

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Lance » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:32 pm

Broken and/or forgotten drawer locks Huh....... :shock:
......Milton, mate.... ;-)
......do you know anyone who hasn't had Broken and/or forgotten drawer locks Huh :lol:

Considering the mileage covered in that homebuild, you've done damn well.
Are you still out on the road or back home ?

I'm gonna go back through the 15 pages here and have a look, but have we seen any pics yet ?
Lance & Anne
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:35 pm

This is the inverter I am going to use with the new LifePo4 batteries. I did not fully appreciate the size of the thing but at least it stayed cool while test running the aircon for 20 minutes.

20171109_153056 (Small).jpg

I am installing 2 CALB 180Ah battery packs which I have purchased as individual cells so will have to sort out my own management system. These were the battery volts & amps of 1 battery after 20 minutes or so of the aircon cooling solidly.
20171110_192839 (Small).jpg
20171110_192834 (Small).jpg

More as I go.
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:46 am

In place of the original pair of 120Ah AGM batteries I have installed 4 x 180Ah CALB LifePo4 cells from EV-Works in Perth.
These are covered by a shelf & are invisible once the shelf is re-installed.
20171123_114005 (Custom).jpg
I have mounted a second set of identical cells on the floor along side the island bed in the front of the van. A step used to get up onto the bed covers this battery.
20171117_180243 (Custom).jpg
To manage this whole lot I have come up with a simple system that sits in a box on the front face of the mudguard next to the first set of batteries:
20171117_180751 (Custom).jpg
-3 x 250A isolators: One each for the batteries & the other for the supply to the 3 kW inverter.
-My Victron BMV 600 battery monitor will manage the upper & lower voltages by controlling the blue Voltage Sensing Relay.
-The Voltage Sensing Relay has a solid state relay built which can be overridden externally or opened by it's own settings.
-The VSR is the second line of defence against a low voltage after the Victron BMV so the cut off voltage is set slightly lower than that on the BMV 600.
-I have 2 CellLog battery monitor on order which will take care of any significant imbalance of voltages between the cells.

I am not doing any active/top/bottom cell balancing but I will manually balance the cells if necessary using a 3V charger.

Charging: I have 3 independent ways of charging.
The first is from solar through a Victron 100/30 controller.
The second is from the tug & is initiated by connecting the Anderson Plug on the draw bar.
The third is a stand alone Victron 15A battery charger which gets connected o the system as needed. No DC to DC chargers or anything sophisticated.
Any of the charging sources can be used alone or can be used in conjunction with each other.
I have run a 25mm2 cable from the draw bar to the Anderson plug to minimise the volt drop when charging off the alternator.

An advantage of having all of this battery power in the van is if the alternator fails in the tug, the van batteries + solar charging can be used to keep the tug going for a while.

As for costs, the 360Ah of batteries cost $2400, VSR was $245. I already had the BMV 600 so along with a 25m roll of 25mm2 cable, the inverter & some crimp lugs the whole exercise came in around $3000.

I guess there is no use for the generator now...
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Legendts » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:39 pm

Very neat work Milton and a credit to you. Not cheap, but if you factor in the cost of a generator that most people purchase it is very cost effective and best of all, NO NOISE!
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by J.REEVES » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:02 pm

Hi Milton,
Very neat work looks great and very functional and as a Control Systems Engineer your skills show.

If it is the Cell Logger 8 you are buying you probably know and it is in the little manual that comes with the Cell Logger 8 but easily missed is the way the circuit works on the cell logger tripping circuit.

You must use a negative to switch as using a positive will damage the cell logger. This is shown in the manual but you could easily misinterpret the circuit.

I have found my lithium battery can start to get out off balance when the cells are fully charged. Usually cell 4 starts to climb first but is not an issue with the cell logger stopping any charging. I have now changed my solar controller and have managed to almost stop cell 4 going high. Once the charging stops the cells balance up in no time so have never needed to do any extra balancing. Also when the logger is in a trip mode I think an error is created one of the cell voltages due to the extra current draw on the earth or something like that.

I personally only charge the battery with the solar but do have the ability to charge from the vehicle or 240V charger.

JR
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:36 pm

Lance, thanks. We are confined to home for the next couple of months while my better half completes her breast cancer 'journey.

JR, thanks for the advice regarding the CellLog kit. Perhaps this is one of those occasions where the manual is best read first before blowing the thing up.

I have set my Victron Solar Controller to LifePo4 so hopefully it knows what it should be doing. I noticed when charging the batteries with the 15A mains charger that they accept 15A all the way up to 14.1V & then the amps drop off to around 4A at 14.2V.

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Bussy » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:22 am

Hi Rory, great job as always. 45,000 km huh! Geez, just cracked 1,000 km in mine. Was going to use those VSR’s myself as specs look ok and if good enough for you then good enough for me. A bit late but those CALB LifePo4 cells are cheaper from Lithium power here in Vic.

I like your third line of defence too, a machete at the ready to make a fast open circuit if things go wrong!

Good luck to your wife too. This has also played its wrenched hand on my family so all the best.

Cheers,
ALLAN
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:49 am

Thanks Allan. Win some, lose some with pricing eh?
At least I have the machete if anyone thinks they might need to relieve me of the batteries in the middle of the night.
The truth is, the whole install cost 10% of what it cost to build the van.

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 12:19 pm

My budget doesn't extend to some of the automatic changeover arrangements used in vans for automatically swapping between various power supplies such as mains/generator/inverter.

To prevent the possibility of accidently connecting my inverter while simultaneously being connected to mains had to be addressed. The inverter is not of the fixed wiring variety but requires a plug. If this plug is unplugged, there is no chance of mains power meeting the inverter but the pins on the plug would be live. Some sort of changeover was needed.

20171207_150928 (Custom).jpg

I have shoehorned an inexpensive 20A selector switch into the rear of my van that switches both the Active & the Neutral lines through 3 positions, Mains, Off & Inverter so no chance of any of the mains meeting the inverter. The original main switch has been replaced with a RCD/RVD from RVDSAFE, thanks Ian for your help. This device will provide 'earth leakage type' protection while running on generator or inverter along with normal earth leakage protection on mains supply.

Put simply, if you stick your fingers in the plug while running on the inverter or generator, the RVD will trip the RCD & you should not receive the full shock that an unprotected inverter or generator can deliver.

The next project is to double the 400W of solar to fill the batteries when not travelling. I connected the tug to the van when the batteries were lust below 50% & they were taking 40A from the tug at idle. I'm thinking the days of lugging the generator around are over.
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:10 pm

Milton477 wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:35 pm
This is the inverter I am going to use with the new LifePo4 batteries. I did not fully appreciate the size of the thing but at least it stayed cool while test running the aircon for 20 minutes.
20171109_153131 (Small).jpg
Well it let the smoke out!
20190402_144742 (Small).jpg
While trundling along the Bruce Highway, running the aircon while we travelled, I noticed that the tug had stopped charging the van batteries. The inverter was mounted on the wall above the wheel arch & I suspect the additional stress on the motherboard caused a small pc board mounted at 90deg to the motherboard to snap off. I'd say that had I mounted the inverter flat like the pic, this would not have happened.
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:29 pm

Now these cheap inverters have increased in price so it was decided to go the whole hog & install a Victron:
20190416_161413 (Small).jpg
All 18 kg of it.
No, it's not mounted lying on it's side.

This unit can be monitored using a smart phone & the maximum available shore (mains) power can be adjusted via the phone. This means that if I am plugged into a 10A supply, I can set the Victron to 10A. If more than 10A is needed, the the batteries are used in conjunction with the shore power.
The included battery charger is good for 120A which means if my Lithiums are flat, I can have them full in around 3 hours.
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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by KeithB » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:02 pm

Milton, like most Victron stuff, these are excellent inverter chargers. If the unit is in a hard to reach place, you can get a remote panel for it that lets you select OFF-INVERTER-CHARGER as well as setting the maximum draw from the mains. Here's mine in situ (it's the black panel to the left of the white light switches):
Image

https://www.outbackmarine.com.au/victro ... pYEALw_wcB
My inverter charger is the little brother to yours because of space and weight limitations.
Keith

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Re: G'Day, I am in the throws of designing a semi off road van

Post by Milton477 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:23 pm

Thanks Keith. I have been impressed with Victron products so far. I especially like the bluetooth accessibility.

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