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Old 10-08-2021, 09:27 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by MarkSaxton View Post
I use both.



I have a unit called "Comfort Hot".


https://rixens.com/collections/comfort-hot


Its an anti-freeze reservoir with an electric heating element inside it. When on shore power, I use this, it heats both water and the van cabin by running whatever needs to be heated through a heat exchanger that takes heat from the anti-freeze.



When off-grid, the cabin furnace (Espar) is also a tankless water heater. It works fine if the flow is steady, and usually the flow is NOT steady. :-P. When I'm doing dishes I'll fill a tub with hot water.


I didn't know anything about batteries when I got my upfit done and I went with what the upfitter used - its a NexGen 300AH battery. The form factor works well, no complaints. Now that I've learned some about batteries, I doubt I'd have picked this one, it doesn't come up in any searches I've done, I probably would never have come across it.
Interesting. We just ordered a little trailer that uses a similar system called “ALDE”. The fuel source is electric or propane though (no diesel). Same idea, a boiler and heat transfer fluid. Does both the hot water and heat. Should be a good learning curve.

Cheers.
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Old 10-08-2021, 09:35 AM   #16
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Thinking over my post, I'll add -



When we are off-grid and in warm enough weather that the furnace is not being used to keep the cabin warm anyway, we will usually just heat some water on the camp stove to do dishes. We aren't usually in a hurry. If we are running the furnace anyway to keep the van warm, we also use it for hot water.


In cold weather, a navy shower using the furnace is far better than using cold water, but does come with significant temperature fluctuations.
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Old 10-08-2021, 12:37 PM   #17
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I fell in love with George Mauro's water heater idea, which should work beautifully in any all-electric van. Is anyone else out there trying this?

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Old 10-10-2021, 09:49 AM   #18
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I fell in love with George Mauro's water heater idea, which should work beautifully in any all-electric van. Is anyone else out there trying this?

Seems like he unnecessarily overcomplicated things in the highly unlikely case a coolant line breaks. I have the isotemp water heater and the Promaster's coolant lines are run directly to the water heater. We put valves in where we spliced into the coolant lines. Should a line break it's a simple matter of turning the valves to the off position to keep the coolant circulating in the engine only. Yes, I would need to refill the coolant reservoir if a line broke, but I have 30 gallons of water on board and could use that as temporary solution until I got to a place where I could refill with coolant.
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Old 10-11-2021, 05:58 AM   #19
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@Danny969 Out of curiosity, how long does it take (of engine idling) to go from room temp to hot? Do you notice much seasonal variation or is it pretty consistent?
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Old 10-11-2021, 03:36 PM   #20
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@Danny969 Out of curiosity, how long does it take (of engine idling) to go from room temp to hot? Do you notice much seasonal variation or is it pretty consistent?
I've never really timed it. If I drive to the store and back, the water is hot, so maybe 15 min or so. I imagine it doesn't take that much longer if you're just idling. Not sure about the seasons, but I suspect it would take a bit longer if it's really cold out there. I don't use hot water all that often unless I shower in the van, but I'll usually use the campground showers if they're ok. It does have an electric heating element so if you're plugged in or don't mind burning some of your battery, you can hear the water that way.
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Old 10-11-2021, 03:53 PM   #21
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Bigfoot motorhomes used to come standard with a system called Motoraid. Made hot water and heated the cabin. Kinda cool. Not sure if anybody is doing that now.
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Old 10-13-2021, 03:17 PM   #22
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The 2nd alternator provides plenty of current. I run the engine if I need the A/C off-grid or am using the coffee maker because they really hit the battery hard. I have a Balmar regulator on the alternator.. I don't find the charging algorithm in the regulator very helpful - it dumps a lot of current into the battery initially but tapers off very quickly to a trickle as the voltage rises. If I drive all day, the battery is fully charged, but usually after 10-15 minutes of idling the engine the charge current is quite low. I know Lithium batteries have a brick-wall voltage vs state of charge and its not necessarily a Balmar algorithm problem, more the nature of the beast. So the 2nd alternator is very practical if I have a need for powering some appliance on-demand, less useful for charging the battery on-demand. Shore power charging to full takes a few hours, as well.
I don't know what regulator you have, but the one in my van, while not having a lithium algorithm preprogrammed, can be altered for them.

From their web site: “Balmar regulators have always been capable of charging lithium chemistries through our advanced programming mode, but now we have added a standard program to make it easier for the cruiser to setup a lithium charge profile”, explained Tim Bock, Balmar President. “Simply select the “LFP” program at setup and you are ready to go. Specific details of the new program can be found in the regulator manuals. For customers with existing Max ChargeTM Regulators who are adding LiFePO4 batteries, consult our website or call Balmar Tech Support to learn how to setup an appropriate charge profile.”

I've been looking into this for my van, though I may do nothing. It has a 280A second alternator, the Balmar MC-614 regulator, and the Xantrex LiFePO4 charge controller. I don't know what making any changes would do to the system, so I'm more interested in what it's doing than willing to fiddle with it.

But thought you might be interested since you're not happy with the charge profile. What you're describing sounds like the default charge profile for most other battery chemistries, with a short bulk followed by longer absorption. If memory serves, the lithium profile may extend the bulk time and/or calculated bulk time/voltage, but it sets the absorption to the same voltage values as bulk. Again, that's from memory. I'd have to poke around to find the specifics of configuring one without lithium profile built into it to one that can properly handle lithium.

https://balmar.net/balmar-announces-...ium-batteries/
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:36 AM   #23
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Thanks for the post, KanzKran. I have the same Balmar regulator, and it is set to the Lithium profile. It does eventually charge all the way up, it just takes a while.


I speculate that all of these batteries come with an integrated charge controller that is designed primarily to prevent overcharging. External chargers have to do the best they can with that charge controller given that they were not designed in conjunction with that charge controller. I think to enable a safe fast-charge, the charge controller and the charger would need to be designed together with a known-safe charge profile for that specific battery. That's a lot of speculation on my part, I'm not personally experienced with designing these systems nor have I ever seen any details on whats inside a typical lithium battery pack.
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Old 10-14-2021, 09:02 AM   #24
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Thanks for the post, KanzKran. I have the same Balmar regulator, and it is set to the Lithium profile. It does eventually charge all the way up, it just takes a while.

I speculate that all of these batteries come with an integrated charge controller that is designed primarily to prevent overcharging. External chargers have to do the best they can with that charge controller given that they were not designed in conjunction with that charge controller. I think to enable a safe fast-charge, the charge controller and the charger would need to be designed together with a known-safe charge profile for that specific battery. That's a lot of speculation on my part, I'm not personally experienced with designing these systems nor have I ever seen any details on whats inside a typical lithium battery pack.
That pretty much sums up my thinking too, after watching what it does for a couple of years now. Sometimes it's charging at a high rate, sometimes at a low or very low rate, including with the big battery at a relatively low SOC, like in the 60's. It will almost always get there while I'm driving, but I don't see a pattern to what the charge rate will be. The Lithionics 'Neverdie' BMS is external to the battery, though.

I've looked at the procedure (I found it - linked below), and while I'll mess with anything out of curiosity, I'm not willing to do anything that will end up costing me a lot of money for making a wrong turn out of ignorance. The system was supposedly integrated by Xantrex, and it does work well, but it would be nice if charging was more uniformly robust and predictable. I may look at the programming just to satisfy my curiosity, but that's as far as I'll go.

The Xantrex SW3012 inverter/charger, on the other hand, will always charge at a high rate when charging is enabled and 30A shore power is selected with no other significant loads, as it will cut back charging when shore current exceeds 24A (80% of whatever shore ampacity is selected, which can be set as low as 5A).

https://www.balmar.net/wp-content/up...nuary-2019.pdf
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:42 PM   #25
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We picked ours up on Oct 5 at MHS RV in Texas. After our orientation - and against their advice - we immediately drove it 1,900 miles home to CT. We are absolutely delighted! We had a very good experience with Michael, Billy, Tucker, Martha and Lezlie at MHS RV; everything happened as promised and as expected. The American Coach (Midwest Automotive Designs) RV is comfortable, drives like a car, and everything we have figured out how to try works!
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