It has been quite a while since our last (delayed) post, but that is not for lack of activity. Erin and I have been super busy finally putting the crowning touches on our electrical system, as well as trying to sew up a storm for the upcoming Holiday Market. But we finally made a breakthrough and got everything hooked up and juiced up - as Luna waits patiently out in the driveway, every tiny sun ray is generating energy! It is quite a feeling to truly be power-independent.
I have to say that at the beginning of this project, I was proud of learning such simple things as the differences between types of screws or lumber, but it was seriously a mental hurdle to now come away with a relatively competent understanding of electrical wiring and all the intricacies therein. Erin spearheaded the hard science learning and planning, and we are now blessed to have a working system in our bus, without any serious injuries along the way.
Below: detailed info on how the solar controller is hooked up. The solar controller switches the panels on and off depending on how charged the batteries are and does other mysterious things, too.
Our electrical gizmo "bay" which will be built into the wall under the kitchen table with a door to access it when need be.
On to technical details... The first thing we did was plan out our various AC and DC circuits and wired them into our respective 12 v. fuse block and 120 v. circuit breaker panel.
Our DC fuse block - room for more circuits if need be.
Anyway, after getting the batteries wired together with 4 gwa, we hooked our 1000 watt inverter in between our battery bank and our AC circuit panel. We used a heavy duty extension cord to plug into one of the AC sockets on the inverter and power our 120 v distribution panel. We took a lead from the positive terminal of the inverter and ran a 15 amp in line fuse straight to the DC fuse block and grounded it all from the negative terminal of the inverter straight to the chassis. After this was accomplished, we could actually turn on our DC lights, and plug into our AC outlets.
Next came the final step: mounting the solar panels and wiring everything through solar charge controller. Luckily, the kind people at AM Solar in Springfield made things super simple for the DIY-er by providing clear instructions on how to wire everything together. When the first sunny day rolled around, we were up on our bus roof mounting the panels and wiring it all through the roof-top combiner box and down through the ceiling and into the charge controller. We got all the other wires hooked in and without one spark we now have power!
We have decided to forgo the converter/charger element in our electrical system for now. We bought a huge old used 50 amp ferroresonant converter and we'll keep it around until we decide whether or not it's going to be a necessary part of our system. We didn't like the idea of a sparking, arcing box in the all-wood interior of our bus and we've started to hear there are other ways of going about charging the batteries directly with shore power without the need for a permanent box. For now the solar is meeting all of our electrical needs so we'll see how that goes.
On to the plumbing!