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9 posts

Wannabe Geek

#277213 1-Oct-2020 23:41
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Hey all,


Hope this is the right place to ask, just say if not.


Recently picked up an old HiAce, semi converted to a camper.


I intend on finishing off the conversion but I'm just trying to get a handle of the electrics.


It came with a 1500w inverter and a large leisure battery. I haven't been able to find anything on the battery yet but I've not pulled it out of it's hole.


This second battery is being charged via the main van battery.




I'm a software developer so something I'd love to use the van for is simply another place to work other than my rather dull home/office.


However I have a spare monitor that I would love to fit in there. I also have some 6x9's a friend gave me.


My laptop is a Dell XPS 13 so I think 45w adapter, the monitor is 27w (19v according to the wee brick it has).


I have no idea what a set of 6x9's would require and I'd likely want an amp to power them.


There will no doubt be some led lighting and some 1 or 2 usb devices on top of that.




What do I need to do in order for this to work? Should I just use the inverter for laptop and monitor and then wire everything else to the battery or is there a better way? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?


I realise not knowing what battery I have isn't very useful, is there an easy way for me to test it's capacity?





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6058 posts

Uber Geek

  #2577740 2-Oct-2020 08:38
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One suggestion is to make sure there is a VSR relay between the starter battery and the house battery.  They are a great peice of kit.  Once the starter battery is recharged, they allow current to flow into the house battery.  They also stop you from draining your starter battery via the house battery.


I'm a big fan of BEP gear, so I'd recommend this one 


If it was my vehicle I would have a proper battery management cluster it will manage charging and if your starter battery ever goes flat, you can parallel the house to get you going




741 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #2577801 2-Oct-2020 09:11
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Can you post photo of top of house battery and also dimensions?


Is the inverter pure sine wave?


As MikeAqua advised, you MUST have a means of isolating the house battery from the starting battery when the engine is not running. What system is already fitted for charging the house battery?




1248 posts

Uber Geek

  #2577804 2-Oct-2020 09:18
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Use 12v if you have the choice:


Three points:


1) Efficiency: Given the choice of running stuff directly of 12v or off 240v (such as USB outlets and LED's), it is more efficient to use the source voltage unconverted - in this case 12v.


Every time you convert the voltage there is a price to pay in terms of electrical losses. Conversions are typically 90% efficient at best and in ideal conditions. So you can budget of loosing ~10% when you convert up to 240v and another 10% when you convert back down to 19v/12v/5v etc)


The inverter has a cost just to run it - for instance it might draw 1 amp the whole time it it is turned on with zero loads depending on its vintage and quality.(not to mention the noise they can make which could get annoying at night) 


So if you are running a 12 watts of LED's powered from the inverter you could be running at only ~40% efficiency by going the inverter route instead of the 12v direct route. 


So for instance if the inverter consumes 12watts/1 amp and your 2x voltage conversions are 90% efficient then running 12watts of LEDs via 240v, it is going to cost you 26.8 watts or be running at 44.7% efficient.


2) Reliability: in terms of reliability design, putting everything through the inverter gives you a single point of failure. If your inverter gives up the ghost, it would be nice to still have lights and be able to charge your phone!


3) Battery flat all the time: It would be very tempting to leave the inverter running 24/7 if everything relies on it. But if you have a big, chunky brand new leisure battery of 100amp hours (your one has likely lost some capacity due to age), and your inverter costs 1 amp to run with no load on it, it will only take 4 days to completely flatten the battery. Can almost grantee that this will catch you out. If you don't notice and correct this for 1 or 2 months, the leisure battery will be damaged and a shadow of its former self. Additionally, it takes a good 8 hours of engine running to fully recharge a leisure battery (the fuller it gets, the slower it goes so the last 20% takes hours and hours), so you need to plan to never completely flattening it when on the road.


Edit: repetition removal. V vs W

94 posts

Master Geek


  #2577821 2-Oct-2020 09:46
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Another vote for a 12 volt system. Your Leisure Battery is of paramount importance, and should be properly checked to make sure it is fully functional. If your layout makes it possible, then a solar panel plus monitor will give you more leeway. Another thought is that you should avoid an electric fridge. Nothing drains a battery more than a fridge, so, if you are going to get one, think in terms of a three-way fridge. It does mean that you may have to make room for a gas cylinder, but gas might also come in handy for a gas stove +/- an oven, or a BBQ.


9 posts

Wannabe Geek

  #2577839 2-Oct-2020 10:22
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Hey all,




Thank you so much for your replies.


I had read about the inefficiency of using an inverter.


I guess my question from there is, is it possible to power my 19v monitor from the 12v source?


I notice Dell do an in car adapter, could this simply be cut and wired into a fuse box on the 12v system?


Are there ready to go adapters for both of these that I can buy?


I have attached a few photos of what the van came with, I'm not exactly attached to any of this so if it looks real crap let me know.


Anything I can keep is something I don't need to buy though.


I can't get to the other side of the battery, not until I pull the wooden bench out.







1975 posts

Uber Geek

Lifetime subscriber

  #2577844 2-Oct-2020 10:46
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Adding 100-200 W of solar panel and a controller would take away any worry of draining your battery while you're using as a WFH alternative

405 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #2577857 2-Oct-2020 11:21
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I've converted my hi-ace and agree with statements above - much better to keep with a 12V system rather than use the inverter wherever necessary.


To power my laptop I simply use a car adapter as you mentioned - if you look around at marine places or jaycar etc you can easily find various configurations of the standard 12v sockets that you can wire into a couple of user-friendly locations.


I have three ways of charging my leisure battery - mains, van battery and solar.


- A hookup to mains power is useful if available (although that will require electrical certification) for standard charging, and for high-power items such as kettles/heaters etc, but I have a built-in diesel heater if I'm not on the grid, and a jet-boil kettle is extremely useful if you like quick boiled-water on the go - don't buy a 12V kettle unless you want to use lots of battery power for a fifteen minute boil.


- charging off the main battery via an isolator such as MikeAqua recommended is the simplest method - while you're driving, the leisure battery will charge once the van battery is high enough, and my one also charges the main battery when the leisure one is high enough. Either way, you don't have to worry about the van not starting due to lights on in the back etc.


- I have two flexible solar panels on the roof - they are only a few mm thick and are simply attached with 3M VHB doublesided tape. In summer they keep the battery charged up enough so that I can run a fridge, lights, tv, stereo laptop etc without having to use any other source of power although I haven't tried using only solar for weeks on end during winters.


The TV I have is a cheap one I got from the Warehouse - I examined their standard small LCD ones and found one that was running off a 12V wall-plug, so it was simple to adapt it.


I suspect your monitor should be fine - check on the current draw and you should be able to either repurpose a car adapter or use a cheap buck-converter to convert the 12V to the right voltage. As others have said, it's much better to convert from 12V to 19V than convert from 12V to 240V to 19V :)


If you're in Wellington I can show you how I've set things up if that's useful.


405 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #2577859 2-Oct-2020 11:27
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Just to say that unless your leisure battery is a sealed one, that you should probably open the caps on the top to check the fluid levels - top up with distilled water (from supercheap auto etc) if you can see the metal battery fins. Leisure batteries are generally under-maintained and you want to try and avoid buying a replacement if you don't have to.

741 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #2577860 2-Oct-2020 11:29
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VSR fitted with nice heavy leads, so that is a good start.


Don't recognize the battery type. You need to get it out and take to your local friendly auto sparky to check out/test.


Also need to clean the battery posts. Would be a good idea to fit anti corrosion washers under the brass terminals.


As advised, try to keep all accessories, lights, etc on 12v if possible, to avoid losses.


Solar panel, or wind generator, is a good idea. Trickle charger when sitting in garage unused.


Fit a cig lighter socket for the Dell adapter, rather than chopping plug off.




9 posts

Wannabe Geek

  #2579457 5-Oct-2020 11:00
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Thanks heaps for the replies.


Will go get the battery checked out sometime this week.


Think I've got a good plan in place now, cheers all

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