Something happened when I tried to post the other day, and I lost my entire post. I’m rather annoyed about that, as I had a lot of information. So I will try again, and attempt to capture what I had written then…
I have been pouring over websites, forums, and everything else I could get my hands on without spending a dime. I can’t be bothered with paying for anything right now. I have too much else to pay for.

I have previously posted my “To Do” list of improvements for the van, but I feel I need to focus on a couple different things right off the bat. This is my “To do before the To Do list

New batteries. Last year, my “house battery”, would only really provide me about 2 hours of laptop time before cutting out. Not knowing anything about them then, I assumed that was normal, but the more I read, the more I realize that it is not normal. I then discovered this winter that both batteries (starter, and house) were dead, and frozen. As it turns out, the isolator is shot, and one of the batteries was too, thus draining the good one, and killing it. I now need to replace both starter battery, and house. I am planning on purchasing three new “house” batteries. One will sit under the hood, and the other two inside the van under the seats. Now before anyone gets upset, they will be in battery boxes, and a hole to the outside drilled to allow for the hydrogen gas to be vented.

I have a large space under each seat in the front of the van that I believe will house the batteries just fine. With three house batteries, I should be able to go without charging for days according to many sources, based on my power usage. Once a week, I could plug in and charge them.

As for charging, I need the following:
Smart Charger: These are designed for deep cycle batteries, and will, as the description reads, “Automatically switches from full charge to maintenance mode to maintain batteries during prolonged periods of storage without overcharging or damaging the battery”. Now, mine won’t always be in storage, but charging the entire day and night, you’re going to want them to not over charge. With three batteries that would need to be charged, I think I will need three of these chargers to permanently hook up. What do you think?

To prevent that annoying “drain the starter battery” issue ever again, I am going to spend the extra cash, and install something better than an isolator…

The continuous duty solenoid: What happens is that when you turn on the key, power goes to the solenoid which activates a magnet inside it. The magnet lifts a bar which makes a connection between the two large posts, allowing charging current to flow from the starting battery to the house battery. When you turn the key off, current no longer flows to the solenoid, the magnet turns off, the bar falls and there is no longer a connection between house and starting battery. That means that if the engine is running, the house battery is being charged, and if it is off, the house battery can not run down the starting battery. The best of both worlds! Absolutely no drawbacks.

I was talking about solar panels previously, but two issues currently for me. First the cost, they are pricey, and second, my rook if molded fiberglass, with nothing really supporting it. I am looking into building a new roof for the van with the assistance of a welder friend of mine, and having better support (braces, etc) which will allow not only for me to walk up there, but also hook up panels, batteries, storage, or whatever.

Having new batteries, the solenoid, and chargers, my power issues should go away. If I set it up correctly, I should be able to even route the chargers through to the plug in the front of the van, and plug in during the winter, keep the block heater running, and batteries charging. That is something of a “wish”, not a “to do” though.

What are your thoughts on the above?

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