Unity Electrical Upgrade

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Add the VE Bus Smart Dongle, https://www.victronenergy.com/accessories/ve-bus-smart-dongle, to be able to monitor and program the Multiplus from your smart phone/tablet. YouTube has some good videos on this.
I got the Smart Dongle to install on the inverter, I have been using a MS Surface connected directly to the inverter via their USB to VE bus converter but that requires you to remove the cable to the Venus or Color Controller inside the inverter (remove the inverter cover) and open the AC input breaker in order to access the inverter each time. Although the Venus unit will allow you to do some setting changes to the inverter I found that I couldn’t always access the inverter settings.
Primarily I want to be able to turn the inverter On/Off and Control the input power draw via my smart phone. I was going to get the remote panel but decided to try this remote route first.

I have experimented with the AES options, this is where you can reduce the inverter power draw under low loads. Normally mine pulls about 3 amps minimum (current measurements based on readings off the battery shunt, no shore power or solar connected). Using the modified sine wave option I didn’t see much reduction in inverter current. If I use the AES option
Search Mode then the inverter checks the load level every couple of seconds and turns off if the load is less than whatever you have set. This worked great, reduced the inverter draw down to 1.2 amps. However, this meant that the router was continuously rebooting itself unless I adjusted the ON power level lower. That kind of defeats the purpose then, so back to the drawing board. I could set up a small low power DC to AC converter just for a couple of outlets dedicated to some low power AC devices I would like to be powered continuously (router and a couple of clocks).

Thanks for the links SSTraveller, there was one there that I hadn’t seen before. Here is another good Victron inverter programming link (https://shop.pkys.com/VE-Configure-Part-1.html).
 

msmolow

2019 Unity CB / 2018 Chas
After researching whether a branch breaker disconnect amperage can equal the main breaker the consensus seems to be that it is a function of the rating of the breaker tabs in the panel.

If the ratings allow for it, there is nothing wrong with having a 30 amp protecting a panel with a 30 amp breaker feeding the inverter other than in an over current situation if the main breaker trips first you lose all power to all branch circuits.

However since the panel specifically limits the branch breaker to 20 amps that controls.

I don't know how the Victron's passthrough but the Magnum has only one AC out with an internal transfer switch. One problem with wiring from shore direct to the inverter/charger is that you lose the auto function on the 3 way fridge. Whenever the inverter is inverting the fridge will see AC power and not switch to propane unless manually directed to do so.

It looks like I need to find a location for a new main panel and use the WFCO as the inverter subpanel. Blue Sea told me their panel supports a 30 amp branch. Or use a 20 amp breaker and monitor passthrough usage.
 
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TampaSteve

2018/2019 Unity CB
Thanks for posting this! This is a super cool update which completes the remote monitoring loop. Was able to go into the remote console of my GX and upgrade, enable 2 way communications, and then (drumroll) got stuck. The 5.20 app is not actually available yet, at least for my Android (Pixel 4). Stuck on Version 5.19 for now. Maybe soon. Edit: Looks like they are still waiting for Apple and Google approval. The sideload app at their website didn't work for some reason, but they also have a windows app. That downloaded and worked. So now you can get into all Victron devices natively remotely through the VX bridge. Really nice if you can't get to the RV anytime soon (like now for me).
 
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DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
I updated my iPhone VictronConnect app so I’m ready to try it out. Unfortunately the LTVis at the dealer getting a water leak fixed. I called and the leak was fixed and window reinstalled but they are closed due per the government’s orders so unless it is an emergency I can’t pick it up yet. They did say that if we needed it for self-isolation they could release it. So it may be a bit before I can try the update out other than in demo mode.
 

TampaSteve

2018/2019 Unity CB
So you got 5.20? They haven't released it yet for android (Pixel 4) I could install it on my old iPad, but for goofs I downloaded the WIndows app for now just to try it. Its incredibly neat. After enabling 2 way communications per the video, I now see both my solar controller and the BMV 712 as if I was at the rig. Is this really useful? Well only marginally so, as the main info was already available via the VRM widgets by way of the Venus GX. The difference is now you can change settings or even update firmware.

Its main use seems to be to torture me. My RV is in cold storage an hour away, so I can just check it out on the app every so often and walk through my electrical settings, just like old times.

That said I had originally ruled out the Victron 3000 watt Inverter - I thought it was expensive, large, and heavy, but this technology upgrade may make me rethink that at some point.

This is what it looks like now, 60 miles away from the rig:
 
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DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
I got the RV back from the dealership after some warranty work, the lockdown closed then dealer until last Monday so my UTB is back home again! Of course I started right back into playing around, first was removing the DC Charger, you can read about the adventure in another thread! My next goal is to reduce the average inverter power draw. Basically it draws too much power when left on all the time. So I want to reduce/remove AC circuits so I only have to turn it on when needed.
First step is making it easier to turn on and off. Towards that end I got the Victron Smart Dongle which is a Bluetooth module for the inverter. Thanks to some new software from Victron, I can use it to manually control the inverter power using the VictronConnect app on my phone. Victron also updated the VRM app on the phone so I can do the same thing remotely if needed.
Next step is removing low power AC devices from being plugged into AC outlets. I have 3 items that were continually plugged in, 2 clocks and the wireless router. Checking the wall warts (plugin transformers) I got the specs, router uses 24 VDC and the clocks were 5 VDC. i ordered 2, 12v to 5v converters and a single 12v to 24v converter. With these I will power these devices directly from the 12v battery supply. I will have to locate a 12v circuit for each of these to tap into, shouldn’t be too hard to set up.
I will be also adding an additional shutoff switch for the propane solenoid Inside the cabin for easy access as that is a continuous 1 amp power draw all the time. Since we are still planning on switching out our refrigerator for a DC compressor style, there is even less need to have the propane on all the time.
So, lots to do while we aren’t traveling. Hopefully we will be able to get back on the road before we lose too much more of the year and enjoy some of the modifications!
 

msmolow

2019 Unity CB / 2018 Chas
If you're adding an inside propane switch will you be swapping out the original bay switch to a three-way? If so, you might consider adding an "on" indicator light so there is no confusion when adding propane or diesel fuel.

Whenever my back ordered Cerbo show up, that has bluetooth built in, so I'll be able do what you're planning with the dongle. I am also investigating whether I can program the Multiplus (using its Assistants feature) to to turn off when there is no dc signal - supplied by the unused Magnum DCLD wire, controlled by the Coach dc master switch.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Yes, I’ll wire the propane switch as a 3 way with some type of indicator so I know when its on.
I haven’t played with the Assistant feature yet, it seems to be a great way to program custom features into the inverter. So far I haven’t run across a need for one.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
It was a pretty pleasant day here in Michigan so I got started on some electrical work (what else!) on the RV.

Today’s goal was to install the 12v-5v converter for the electric clock and the 12v-24v converter for the Winguard wireless router in the back of our Twin Bed. On our model there is normally a 2nd TV mounted on the side of the closet over the bed on the drivers side. My wife was afraid she would accidentally kick the TV and since we rarely watch TV in the RV anyway, I had removed it. In its place I hung a nice Oregon Scientific clock/temperature/barometer in the same location (and out of reach of kicking legs). The router is installed in the end cabinet next to the closet. There is an inverted plug that was used to power the clock and router. I found the closest 12v power cable had a run into the closet to power the light in there. I tapped into that line after verifying the 12v circuit would support the additional load without blowing the fuse. Inside the cabinet there was a false wood wall that was easy to remove and gave access to the closet after drilling a small hole. Behind the false wall was coiled up HDMI, antenna, and Ethernet cable. I was able to mount the converters inside this area and closed it back up with the new power connections going to the router and clock.

I have one more clock to mount in the kitchen area, this one is going to be harder to setup as none of the wiring is easily accessible. I removed a 12v light switch to see a open area Behind it. Down below under the kitchen counter ther are several cable runs, one of which I am sure will have an active 12v power. It should be possible to run a fish tape from the switch area and down into the under counter area but that is an adventure for tomorrow.

With the inverter in Charge mode, I have minimal Dc power draw of 19 watts (-1.4 amps). With the inverter dongle installed and the new Victron software it is fairly easy to turn the inverter on or off as needed.

i may not be allowed to go camping but at least I can have some fun while I’m waiting!
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Today we got a hot day so it was a good time to test being able to run the air condi strictly from the batteries. I started with the batteries at 100%, outside temp was 82 with the interior of the RV at 88. I turned on the inverter and started the A/C, set for 75. System started up without any issues and started blowing cool air very quickly. i was drawing about 140 amps with 20 of that coming from solar. I ran the test for 20 minutes, by that time the SOC was 89%, interior temp was 84 with a marked drop in humidity. Based on this I have up to 2 hours of continuous run time but the plan is to use the system while boondocking if needed in the evening to cool/reduce humidity prior to bedtime.
I wanted to verify everything was working properly and we didn’t blow any fuses/breakers, so I consider this a success. Making the wife happy was the ultimate goal!.
We made an appointment with J.C. Refrigeration to convert the Dometic RMD8555 refrigerator from a 3-way to a DC compressor. This is where they use the installed refrigerator, remove the absorption cooling hardware from the back of the refrigerator and install their custom compressor cooling setup. We are choosing the DC compressor, an AC compressor is available but I’m trying to convert most items in the RV to run directly off the batteries and only turn on the inverter when I actually need AC power due to the amount of standby current draw the inverter pulls. Looking forward to having my ice cream actually stay frozen and solid in the freezer!
 

Gamma1966

2013 Chassis /14 Unity MB
I am not sure what "DC Compressor" system they use, but I have a NovaKool 6800 DC ONLY unit and it comes equipped with the Danfoss/Secop BD35F. I am not able to get the Freezer section more than 10 to 15 degrees colder than the refrigerator section. ( With out adding an auxillary heating pad to the refrigerator section) SSTraveler has a different make / model of a Compressor refrigerator and her's is equipped with DANFOSS COMPRESSOR BD50F and SECOP 101N0210 BD50F regulator. She is able to have the freezer held at 5 Degrees while the refrigerator compartment is held in the upper 30's to low 40's Degrees.
This refrigerator has a larger (i.e. more capacity compressor than mine ) which is why she can achieve colder freezer temps.
When you go to J.C. Refrigeration, inquire what compressor / regulator they are using, and if it is a Danfoss, be sure they do not use the BD35F that I have, unless you do not care about the freezer temp being only slightly colder than the refrigerator.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Thanks for the info. I will have to ask what they use. Of course on our trip to Ohio we are running into high temperatures and humidity so we are staying at another campground so we can sleep! The weather is supposed to break tomorrow so hopefully we can boondock then. I want to see how much power the inverter and AC loads use overnight.
 

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