By the time I finished working today, the in-house batteries were down to 11.5 volts. Now, that’s after running the microwave, having the fridge running for a full day (and boy, does it keep things cold!), having the lights on for 6 hours, running a fan for 16+ hours, and playing music for 8 hours. If you ask me, that’s pretty darn good. A 12 volt battery is considered “dead” around 10.5 volts, so the van *should* be able to provide power for two full days without any type of charge being provided.
Tomorrow I’m gonna connect the solar panel and test how well it can recharge the batteries. Normally, the solar panel will always be connected and anytime there’s a good deal on sunlight, the van will be getting new power. Even if the van sits for a couple days running the amount of power I ran in the last 24 hours, the 250W panel should be able to keep up. Granted, the van will almost never sit for multiple days and if it did, I would turn off as much as I could to conserve power. Also, the batteries get charged any time I drive the van. If I drive for five hours, that’s a full charge to the batteries from completely dead.
Anywho, I started this morning by building a face for the under the floor drawer and finishing the trim around it. I’m honestly not sure what I’ll use this drawer for. I added it in my initial designs to simply make use of wasted space. I have a feeling it’ll end up becoming the “junk” drawer for all the things I don’t know what to do with.
Then I got to work on building the bed paneling. This took a lot longer than I was hoping it would, as I had to rip a couple 1x8s down into 2″ boards, then run five boards back through the table saw twice to cut out the channel down the center, and run a sixth board through the table saw cutting a channel on both sides of it. Of course, then I had to cut everything to fit, cut out the plywood inserts, glue and nail everything together, and sand it smooth.
After the panel was built, I cut a hole in the end that goes to the rear of the van to put an outlet in. This outlet was originally inside the storage area of the bed, but after I made some design changes and no longer needed the front face of the bed to slide out with the top, I decided it was better to move the outlet to a more convenient location. Then I stained the entire panel and got it installed in the van.
I made the second bed paneling just like the first, except this one is in two pieces, as the rear 15″ of the second bed is removable to access the portable toilet.
I also cut a hole in this one to mount my propane alarm, then stained everything and put it in place. My propane alarm is installed directly in front of where my propane tank sits. Since propane is heavier than air, this type of alarm needs to be installed near the floor. As a side note, if you ever decide to build a project like this, don’t buy the dual propane/CO alarms… unless you like being dead. CO alarms need to be placed high, propane alarms need to be placed low. Even if you settled on a “happy medium” and placed the dual alarm in the middle of a wall, you’d likely be dead by the time it ever went off.
The last thing I did today was set up the charge controller for the solar panel so all I have to do is connect the two wires on top of the van in the morning. I’m waiting until tomorrow to hook it up so that I can monitor the voltage the panel is producing and how well it charges the batteries throughout the day, without reducing the current load on the batteries.
I’m so close to being done, and yet I feel so far away from it. I still have to complete the following things, in priority order:
- Finish the battery vent
- Finish trim work
- Install gray water tank
- Build sliding ceiling vent cover
- Finish the couch back rest
- Cut my mattresses to size and sew some mattress covers