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Old 09-10-2019, 03:49 PM   #21
AndyMAC
 
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

POWER! Part 1

If you use the search bar on this forum you will find endless threads on battery/solar/alternator etc...The information is abundant, but that doesn't mean it's correct. Same goes for this post...I may do things that other do and do things that others don't. The great thing about building out your electrical system is that you can build it to your needs or from your experience. When we built out Clark 1.0 I didn't have a ton of 12v experience. I had enough electrical knowledge to understand what I was doing and do it safely. We also learned a lot from Clark 1.0. We had the factory aux battery so i hooked into that initially and then used it as a back for the Epsar. Once we switched over to the lithium system, I never used the Factory Aux back up. So when the extra battery wasn't included in Clark 2.0, it was not big deal.

I never tapped into the Mercedes electrical system for charging. I wanted to keep my build separate from the chassis and not mess with trying to use the alternator for charging. I did do a ton of research on the Sterling B2B (which would be my choice for vehicle charging).

So we can charge two ways...solar and shore power (Progressive Dynamics Lithium charger). That's what we had in Clark 1.0 and it worked beautifully. I will go over the charging system in another post so this one is not too long.

I chose to use all Blue Sea components. Battery switches, fues blocks, breakers, fuses, power bars, usb outlets, etc. I like Blue Sea, yes they are more expensive, but I really like the quality that comes with a little more cost.

I use the 2 Blue Sea fuse block set up. I like having a power block on each side of the van. It allows me to have shorter wire runs and also allows for easy expansion when the kids want to add a usb or something later in the build. I don't have to fish a wire through the ceiling. When we were camping in Clark 1.0, it didn't take long to realize that the kids wanted some extra usb outlets in the bed for led reading lights, so having access to a fuse block made the addition of the usb a breeze.

I also chose to keep my battery inside, I just like being able to access the entire electrical system from inside.

My battery - Battleborn 100ah!!! I love the Battle Born lithium batteries. You can't beat the 10 year warranty and I didn't have a bit of trouble with my previous setup. In Clark 1.0 we had 2 100Ah batteries and the entire time my battery never dipped below 88% (Running Espar all night, watching a movie on computer, cooking dinner in the instant pot, etc) We just had a ton of power. I chose to go down to one battery for Clark 2.0 and so far I do not regret that decision at all. I still have plenty of power (for our set up) Now if you are looking at running a 3000W inverter, you will need more battery power. I am running a 1000W Cotek and can run that with not a problem. I left room in the electrical cabinet to add a second battery if needed, but I honestly think that 1 battery is going to be more than enough.

All my wires are Ancor Marine wire (mix of 16 awg and 14awg and 10awg for Espar power supply)) and the battery cables are 1/0 Windy Nation and 4awg for the Cotek inverter and PD Charger. I tested the inverter under load and the wire stayed nice a cool and the power blocks didn't heat up at all. I build all my own wires, that way they are custom sized and makes me feel more comfortable that I crimped the lugs and tested the crimp. I use the Ancor lugs for all the connections and heatshrink all crimps. I still have a little bit of wire management to do, but the system is up and running.

I will cover solar and shore power in another post. You can check out our IG @cruising.in.clark My wife does a really good job of updating the build process.

Happy wiring!
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File Type: jpg Power 2.JPG (97.5 KB, 102 views)
File Type: jpg Power 4.JPG (125.6 KB, 98 views)
File Type: jpg Power 5.JPG (54.6 KB, 98 views)
File Type: jpg Power 1.JPG (118.8 KB, 99 views)
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:39 PM   #22
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

POWER! Part 2 (Solar and Shore Power Charging)

I like to keep things simple, and with building out an off grid power system, sometimes that can be tough. In Clark 1.0 things were not as simple as Clark 2.0. Clark 1.0 had a factory Aux battery so before I built out the Battery/Solar we tapped into the Factory Aux to power the entire van (Fans, Espar, lights, Fridge) It did great (for a night), but after camping for two nights I had to use a battery charger to give us enough juice for the third night. We learned some things over that weekend...Lithium was the way to go and I wanted a way to charge without plugging in (aka solar) but also wanted the comfort of knowing I could hook up to an extension cord and be ready to go in a couple of hours if we were completely drained.! My wife did not want to worry about watching a number (anything below 12.4 on our factory aux and she was nervous) And being nervous while camping/adventuring in your van defeats the purpose of having a van.

Clark 2.0 has 1 100Ah Battleborn Lithium matched with 160W of rooftop solar (with room for an additional 100W panel in front of the fan if necessary). I used Renogy 80W panels and mounted those to the Hein mounting towers and bars. I used Hein's mounts on Clark 1.0 and they were solid (I felt they would last long after the van gave up). They are lightweight and have a really low profile to allow for mounting an awning with no trouble. I like Renogy products. They are lightweight, affordable and the company has been around for while. Some claim that the panels are not as efficient as others on the market. To be honest, I think the proof is in the application and I used Renogy on Clark 1.0 and had zero trouble and trust their panels 100%.

I used the Victron 100/20 Smart Charge Controller and love the Bluetooth capabilities. It was easy to configure using the app and Battleborn's website for the settings.

I also have the Victron BMV 712 Bluetooth battery monitor. This thing is sweet and would recommend to everybody to use this one. Bluetooth monitoring is the way to go. Again, easy to configure through the app by watching the video on Battleborn's website. It just works seamlessly (and looks pretty good up on the wall)

So far so good. I have been running lights and fans almost everyday to test the system and it seems that with just a little bit of solar the battery bounces back to 100% very quickly. Being a "contingency plan" kind of guy, I have left room in the electrical cabinet area to add a second battery, although I do not think I (or the next owner) will ever need to worry about that.

In the event that solar cannot keep up (rainy PNW days) and we are camping in a shaded area I do have a shore power option. Progressive Dynamics 45 Amp Lithium charger. It will take an empty battery to full in about 2 hours. So if we are completely out of power and it's pouring down rain, just a quick stop would get us back to full and on our way. I hooked it up with 4awg cables to the power blocks and tested it out last week. It actually only ran for a couple of minutes because the battery was full already. I do not plan on using this much (in fact, Clark 1.0 had this same charger and I never used it beyond the initial test).

There are other options out there as well. Ken at Ourkaravan.com has a great solution for charging while driving by using an inverter that kicks on when the van is started. You can check out his page and videos for more information. You can also tap into the chassis with a Sterling B2B charger, which is a great solution if you drive a lot. We decided not to go this route for a couple of reasons...One - We don't seem to drive that much when we are on vacation using our van for adventuring. Most of the days we drive for a couple of hours, but a lot of that time is stop and go because we are out of the van exploring. Two - If I can charge my system independently of the Mercedes charging system, why mess with hooking up to it. I did not see the advantage (some on the forum will disagree) but if the new owner of Clark 2.0 wants to add a Sterling B2B I have added a fuse block under the Passenger seat so would be quite simple to add. But again...I don't think we will ever need to charge that way.

I had fun designing this system and happy with the way it turned out. I do have a main battery switch that can turn the entire system off when not in use. I tend to leave it on though, I like that the battery as some activity all the time and that the solar stays connected. There is little (if any) parasitic draw. Just the battery monitor and maybe some of the USBs (some BlueSea usb outlets have little lights that are always on if they are powered for some reason)

Cheers!

Andy
@cruising.in.clark
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Power Part 2 2.JPG (191.9 KB, 74 views)
File Type: jpg Power Part 2 1.JPG (113.0 KB, 68 views)
File Type: jpg Power Part 2 3.JPG (83.8 KB, 69 views)
File Type: jpg Power 5.JPG (54.6 KB, 71 views)

Last edited by AndyMAC; 09-13-2019 at 03:41 AM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:18 PM   #23
asimba2
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Congrats! Getting through the electrical is, in my opinion, one of the toughest part of a DIY build. (Besides the obvious money hemorrhaging that occurs simultaneously.)

I have the backup system you described (got the idea from Graphite Dave), but have yet to use it in almost 3 years of travel. The combination of the high voltage solar panel (where the MPPT has overhead) and LiFePO4 means my battery is always charged. I'm not sorry I have the backup charging system, nor am I sorry the rest of the charging system is outperforming my expectations, but I guess you could say it was money that I apparently didn't need to spend.
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:40 AM   #24
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Quote:
Originally Posted by asimba2 View Post
Congrats! Getting through the electrical is, in my opinion, one of the toughest part of a DIY build. (Besides the obvious money hemorrhaging that occurs simultaneously.)

I have the backup system you described (got the idea from Graphite Dave), but have yet to use it in almost 3 years of travel. The combination of the high voltage solar panel (where the MPPT has overhead) and LiFePO4 means my battery is always charged. I'm not sorry I have the backup charging system, nor am I sorry the rest of the charging system is outperforming my expectations, but I guess you could say it was money that I apparently didn't need to spend.
I definitely overdesigned Clark 1.0's electrical system, but you are correct, there is comfort knowing the system is outperforming the expectations. I think the family who bought Clark 1.0 will never have to worry about the electrical. I was more deliberate with designing Clark 2.0's system therefore was able to spend the money exactly where I needed based on my experience. It's been up and running for about a week now (and I'm testing it daily) and I think this setup will be perfect. Once I add the Espar (hopefully this weekend) and get the Isotherm up and running I will be able to give it a good test and see how it all works together.
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Old 09-14-2019, 02:34 AM   #25
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Hi Andy, Fantastic build! I have a T1N but love the grey T&G you did with the pVC on the ribs. Can I ask where you get that stuff? Thank you, Nubes
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Old 09-14-2019, 05:00 AM   #26
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

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Hi Andy, Fantastic build! I have a T1N but love the grey T&G you did with the pVC on the ribs. Can I ask where you get that stuff? Thank you, Nubes
Thanks! It's all about having fun, and I love building these vans! I get the Celtec from a company up here called Multi-Craft Plastics. I get it in 1/2" and they sell it in 4x8 sheets. I'm sure a quick google search and you would be able to find a supplier down in your area. Celtec is the name brand...it is expanded PVC and might be sold under different brands as well.

Good luck in your build!

Cheers,

Andy
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:19 AM   #27
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Andy, I just got a new 2019 Passenger and am absolutely confused about the relationship between the auxiliary battery and the starting battery. Any leads you can give me on the auxiliary battery setup would be most appreciated.

Koert

Last edited by cacaw; 09-16-2019 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:26 AM   #28
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Quote:
Originally Posted by cacaw View Post
Andy, I just got a new 2019 Passenger and am absolutely confused about the relationship between the auxiliary battery and the starting battery.

I'm hoping to use the auxiliary battery (perhaps upgrading it) to power interior lights, USB ports, fans, dashboard systems, etc. The MBUX comes with an impressive looking battery monitor but all it shows is alternator output while driving.

Our 2006 Sprinter camper now has two golf cart batteries to power all the old stuff (lights, water pump, fans) and a new LifeBlue battery to power the new stuff (compressor refrigerator, 43" TV, box fans, etc.) I was torn between the warranty of the Battle Born batteries and the built-in Bluetooth battery monitor in the LifeBlue batteries, but for this retrofit it was nice to not have to install a shunt and wire in a battery monitor.

Any leads you can give me on the auxiliary battery setup would be most appreciated.

Koert
Hi Koert, I sent you a PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 04:00 AM   #29
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Cabinets!!! (upper)

The information on cabinet installations is abundant. Steel framed, welded aluminum, 80/20 Aluminum, wood, etc. Whatever you choose there is one question you need to consider before embarking on your cabinet journey. What are you putting in your cabinets? If you have a beloved cast iron cooking pan that you take with you everywhere and can't imagine cooking without it, then you need to take your pan out to the van with a measuring tape. We pack our clothes in packing cubes and have a plastic tote we use to keep all of our kitchen stuff and food in, so those are our guides. The material you choose to use to build your cabinets is not all that relevant. Obviously the lighter and more secure the better.

I chose to work with wood. Not because it's better than any of the other alternatives, it was actual driven by my wife's desire to not have an "automotive" look to the van. I really like the 80/20 material and might work with it in the future, but for Clark 2.0, the cabinets will be similar to Clark 1.0.

The cabinets are custom built in the van and secured to the van wall with Plus nuts. The vertical pieces are installed first and the horizontal pieces are installed next which creates the framing for our plywood bottom. I choose not use face frames, but frame them up with a 1x2 poplar edge that keeps everything inside the cabinets and allows me to have our doors extend to the edges creating a very clean modern look. I use soft close hinges and a 40N gas struts to hold the doors open. I love these cabinets, they are very well built, lightweight, strong and are built to last for years and years and be able to put up with the abuse from vanlife shenanigans.


Cheers!

IG: cruising.in.clark
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File Type: jpg Cabinets 1.jpg (98.5 KB, 47 views)
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File Type: jpg Cabinets 3.jpg (124.3 KB, 46 views)
File Type: jpg Cabinets 4.jpg (53.9 KB, 48 views)
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Old 09-18-2019, 04:06 PM   #30
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Default Re: Clark 2.0 - 2019 2WD Iridium Silver 144"

Walls and ceiling trim!

This is my wife's favorite part of the build! For me, it just means I'm covering up all my hard work up to this point. All those hours seem to vanish into thin air.

In Clark 1.0 we used 1/4' plywood as the wall covering and it worked great. Granted the only wall we had to worry about was above the top bunk, so it didn't make sense to do anything extraordinary and I knew that getting up and down out of the bed the walls were going to take a beating. So a really nice coat of paint was all that was needed. My wife made it clear in 2.0 that plywood walls (unless covered) were not going to fly. We decided on shiplap. Durable, easy to install and maintain and has a nice clean look to it.

I used Celtec PVC as furring strips for the walls to create the thermal break that is needed. In the "window cavity" I installed 3/16 flat bar steel with plus nuts to support the L-track and installed Celtec on the flat bar with 3M VHB. If you haven't discovered VHB yet, I highly recommend buying a roll for your build. The uses are limitless.

The top corner (wire loom alley) is covered with a T&G Cedar board (same as ceiling) but painted to match the walls. It creates a "taller looking" wall and does a nice job of finishing up the ceiling/wall transition.

In Clark 1.0 I built a cabinet right behind the sliding door for the electrical components. In 2.0 I didn't want to take up that space with a cabinet so I mounted these components in the wall (Espar controller, Victron BMV 712 and Cotek Inverter remote) I wasn't sure how I would like seeing them all the time, but actually love the outcome. And lets be honest...these components just look sexy so why cover them up!

I used the same idea in the back for the top bed USB outlet and light switch so the kids can charge their devices and have control over the lights while in bed.

I have not painted the walls yet (still have to fill the holes and sand/paint) but we are using an ultra low VOC cabinet grade paint that cures to a hard, furniture quality finish. We used this in 1.0 and it works beautifully. It's certainly not the cheapest paint, but then again we are only painting inside a van, so one gallon is more than enough so it's worth the extra expense.

Now it's decision time...Install Espar, flooring, kitchen cabinet or plumbing system. The rainy days are becoming more frequent up here, so I have to prioritize based on the forecast, haha.
Cheers!
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File Type: jpg Walls 1.JPG (90.4 KB, 27 views)
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File Type: jpg Walls 4.jpg (55.7 KB, 28 views)
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