Since I have a very similar system to what you are planning I though I'd share some of my experiences, and things learned the hard way along the way.
I see you've listed 14 awg wire from your 15 amp charger to your six volts. What is the distance of that circuit?
I am using about 2 feet of 10 awg on my 25 amp charger, before it reaches the 2 awg cable of the Perko battery switch.
This 10 awg cable gets hot with 25 amps and is still very warm when the charge tapers to 14 amps. Consider fatter cables from charger to batteries. I love having a battery monitor.
One thing to consider is that if your are parked in the sun, it's possible your battery charger will sense this solar voltage and not charge at anywhere near it's 15 amp rating.
If I want 25 amps out of my Schumacher "smart" charger in daytime, I need to pull the fuse on the solar panel. Together in sunlight, the output is usually less than just the solar itself.
Even though you have all week to recharge your 6 volts, you might find occasions where you wish you had more amps available. I know it's happened to me, and I have a 25 amp charger. I don't see how going over 15 amps on the charger complicates things. Your 120 volt system won't be taxed powering that charger or a significantly larger one, not even close, and all you need to do is fatten up the wires and fuse to the batteries.
My only provisions for 120 volt systems is a surge protector power strip and an extension cord. I rarely have anything plugged into the 800 watt inverter anymore, but If I need the battery charger, I plug that, my fridge and my computer into the power strip and connect to the grid. Maybe a dozen times a year. I don't really keep the charger mounted. Just have a quick connection to the Perko switch, and a couple flat bungees to hold it in place while it is in use.
My batteries also seem to like being occasionally blasted with a shorter duration higher amperage blast from the wall charger other than the relatively light amperage of the solar. Yours might too.
I find the output of my 130 amp alternator to be disappointing. If my monitor claims 60% SOC it will say the alternator at first is outputting 65+ amps. Within 5 minutes this number has fallen to around 12 amps. After an hour it is down to 7 or 8amps and would take 7+ hours of driving to bring the batteries back to 100%. I have shortened and thickened the cables from the alternator to the batteries, and blown a fusible link in the process, but have not significantly improved alternator output.
Your vehicle's charging system might be better or worse. Keep in mind it is not deigned to charge deep cycle batteries, just quickly replace the shallow quick discharge of starting the engine.
Depending on how your battery isolator operates, and/or is wired, you might be using your house batteries in addition to the starting battery when turning the key to start.
Once before I had solar, I'd forgotten to isolate the engine battery, and all 3 house batteries barely had enough juice to start the engine, and the ammeter on the dash swung up higher than I'd ever seen it, then swung flat. The newly rebuilt alternator's brushes had blew off the armature( I did not know this at the time) and I was stuck in Baja with 3 dead batteries,an inoperable charging system, miles from the nearest town with the warranty on the alternator redeemable north of the border.
After fully charging the house batteries from the grid, I was gonna make a run for the border. About 10 miles into the trip over washboarded road the brushes re connected and it started charging again.
After your first startup with depleted 6volt house batteries, check your alternator charging voltages, because the weakest link in your vehicles charging system will be exposed then. With a blown fusible link, or inline fuse, or a fried diode in the alternator and you'll be calling AAA on your first outting.
And for some reason, when My engine is running, the output of my solar panel usually falls to the 0.1 to 0.2 amp area, instead of adding to the alternator output, the controller seems to sense this output goes open circuit. Not always but usually.
landyacht318’s comment on alternator output seems to be a problem on many coaches and most isolator’s experience a voltage drop that compounds charging problems. A nifty solution that has worked well for us is to connect an inverter to the starting battery and run an extension cable from it to a 3-stage battery charger (Guest type) that’s wired to the house batteries. This provides plenty of amperage to the batteries when you’re driving and just plug in shore power (generator) directly to the charger when you’re boondocking. It’s a simple set-up that the Aussie’s use quite a bit in the outback.
The only A/C we use comes from the 1200-watt inverter in the rear of the coach or the extra receptacle in the 600-watt inverter up front that charges the house batteries.
I have to blame/credit you with helping me get starting down this path. I was inspired when I saw all that you were able to do without benefit of a garage or other dedicated work area. It looks like you just worked on the street in front of your house, and in the winter to boot. I have a small garage that won't hold the van but will at least give me a space to work from.
Thanks for the info. I've made changes to the wiring plan based on your advice. In regards to the 15 amp charger I only have one thing to say:
A 15 amp DC charger doesn't draw 15 AC amps. I should have realized that. Don't know what I was thinking. This particular charger will draw 4 amps. On the plus side it means I can run most my AC appliances and the charger at the same time from one 15 amp shore power circuit. Just have to remember not to use the microwave. Needed to add an extra outlet to shore power so I can plug three things in at once. The charger is already on order so too late to change it. Thanks for straightening me out.
I was originally planning on installing an isolator until I started crawling around the engine. This is my first van and I didn't realize how crowded everything is in the engine compartment. I could have made it fit but by using a battery separator it makes the fitting and wiring much simpler. An added benefit, if I'm understanding the Sure Power Model 1315 manual correctly, is that while I have the van house battery charging it will also charge the starting battery. This will be helpful in the winter when the van won't be driven too much.
WVvan, a battery combiner is an excellent alternative to a battery isolator. I use a similar type (Hellroaring) and can vouch for their effectiveness (ran my yellow top down almost flat the day after I set it up). Mine is set-up with the yellow top as the starting battery and a red-top as the auxiliary. House batteries are separate and charged as previously noted. I’d check the manual on the Sure Power as I don’t believe you can charge the starter battery from the house batteries or vise versa without running the engine. Also, I would run the van enough in the winter to ensure the starting battery stays charged: there’s nothing worse for an engine and drive train than letting it sit idle IMO.
I think that when I get another starting battery (not auxiliary) I may get a true deep cycle one as most have the necessary cold cranking amps to start the engine even after running a portion of the “house” accessories for a while. And even if once and a while I ran it too low I could exercise (combine) the auxiliary battery to crank it over. I’d definitely do it if I only had one hose battery.
Two steps forward, One step back:
Did some more painting today.
My first experience with clear coat.
But while removing door hardware before painting I managed to snap off the two bolts holding down the bracket the door latches to when it's closed:
Don't know my own strength.
Luckily there are several web pages on extracting broken bolts.
Looks like I'll be adding left-handed drill bits to my tool collection.
Update: To solve the broken bolts problem I ended up not using a extractor but instead replaced the bracket. It took some real finagling to get the old one out, especially with the bolts sticking out, and another one in but with patience it can be done. That same bracket is used in other places on the van so getting a replacement from a salvage yard wasn't hard.
Lesson Learned #1.
If applying clear coat INSIDE the van with a spray gun, wear goggles.
I'm never going to get the clear coat specks off my glasses.
It was time for a new pair anyway.
At least I had sense enough to wear a respirator.
"Say Hello To My Little Friend(s)"
I'm going to be getting to know these guys, and their parts, fairly well.
They may not look like much but are in far better shape than this other van I saw:
After camping for a year in my cargo conversion, im now ready to make some more interior mods. I added a window AC in the back door but its still pretty basic inside, ill be curious to see what you end up doing.. -mike
A small window air conditioner is the one upgrade I've thought about but have decided against. Since most of my camping is boondocking I'd have no way to power one without a generator. Of course up till now I've never owned a camper so where I camp might change.
What finally convinced you to add the air conditioner and how do you power it?
I'm out working on the van today when a guy came up and asked if I wanted to sell it. He'd noticed there were no tags, I took them off to fix rust around the mount, and thought maybe it was for sale. If I was a quicker thinker I should have asked what he was offering. Maybe done a upgrade
Working in the Winter
If I'm planning on having this conversion done in the spring a way to work over the winter is needed. The van is too big to fit into my garage but it will fit in front of it.
Winter is here:
The view from inside the garage.
Use some furring strips, staples, a old tarp and some clamps. Block off the opening with the garage door up.
Using another old tarp and duct tape create a tunnel around the side doors. A piece of scrap plywood is placed on top of the open van doors.
Do a little cutting, put the two together and mark off where they meet.
Do some more taping.
Then install. It only takes a couple of minutes to get it fully into place
I didn't know what to call it. I was thinking of either the Human Habitrail or the Blue ET Tunnel but someone else suggest "The Airlock". I like that.
The tunnel part has some extra length so it will reach the van if I move it and not return it to the exact same spot.
The tarp doesn't provide much in the way of insulation but it does keep the wind out and with the two kerosene heaters running on their low setting the garage and the van stay reasonably warm. It comes down in no time at all and I didn't have to buy a thing. All the parts were already lying around the garage.