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RE: Bed rail clearance

It sounds like you have plenty for your use - but YMMV if you ever leave pavement. I have a couple more inches of rail clearance than you, and have hit a couple times on BLM/USFS roads.
jshupe 09/17/20 11:51am Fifth-Wheels
RE: Your Rig

Rig specs in sig. Had it a few years, been working on our ideal build. Full-time going on a year now. https://imgur.com/tQWcL9n.jpg width=640 WY - a few weeks ago, typical setup. https://imgur.com/Uc3qtvw.jpg width=640 UT - up on the mountain during the snow last week. We're still here, but I don't have a drone photo. Not a whole lot of interior shots in this thread, but we love the way some of our changes came out, so have a look. Taken while at a park in SD. https://imgur.com/PmrmXQb.jpg width=640 https://imgur.com/dkQ0L6l.jpg width=640
jshupe 09/14/20 03:21pm Fifth-Wheels
RE: replacement air conditioner

Chewydog, There are 48 volt dc air conditioners. Some are mini splits. There are two importers (as of a year or so ago) of these units in the US - I really, really wanted to go this route as I have a 48V system. For the OP, unfortunately neither import cassette units but one could probably be imported via Alibaba/Ebay or a similar source. But that brings me to my second point - because I wanted these units but couldn't find reviews on them, I went on Instagram to do hashtag searches and PM'd users who had installed them. The overwhelming majority of responses I received were to "stay away" because they seemingly all had issues. Just relaying the word of warning. I went with a LG 240V multi-split, so that I can get parts if needed and because they had the most efficient condenser unit in the class. With the same 30K of advertised capacity as my rig came with, these cool and heat much better, and use a third of the energy in day over day comparisons. It's still possible to see them pull a combined 2.5kW at times (heating), but they do so for much shorter periods and typical draw is closer to 700W per 15K indoor unit, when running on high cool or less than half that once the room is close to the desired temp.
jshupe 09/14/20 09:34am Travel Trailers
RE: replacement air conditioner

Hi, I vote for the 240 volt inverter. Mini-Splits are the bomb! Here is a 115 volt Mini Split. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Pioneer-Low-Ambient-12-000-BTU-1-Ton-20-SEER-Ductless-Mini-Split-Wall-Mounted-Inverter-Air-Conditioner-with-Heat-Pump-110-120V-WYT012ALFI19RL/314096172 120v: https://www.amazon.com/WYS012-17-Air-Conditioner-Inverter-Ductless/dp/B01DVW6G06 Both of those are wall units - the OP is specifically requesting a cassette unit, which only comes in 240V as far as I've seen.
jshupe 09/14/20 07:29am Travel Trailers
RE: replacement air conditioner

The biggest problem I see using a 12v to 220 inverter would be when I'm using a generator or plugged into 120v. The converter would have to charge the batteries at a rate the inverter is pulling from the battery. Doesn’t sound like a good idea. Is the best thing to get an inverter charger with auto transfer with an attached autotransformer. Is there an all in one unit that can give me split phase 240 and 120, auto transfer and charge? I know I’m asking a lot for a single unit to do, but would make my life simpler. The best solution, at least in Victron world, would be a single MultiPlus or Quattro and an Autotransformer - assuming you have a 30A rig. If you have a 50A rig, you have the option of a 240V MultiPlus or Quattro with an Autotransformer to handle your 120V loads, or a pair of 120V MultiPlus/Quattros and an Autotransformer would only be necessary if you want to be able to run your air conditioner on any input source without inverting and charge using the full capacity of the inverter/chargers. Magnum makes a MSH3012RV that you'll probably run across, but I'm pretty sure both legs are in phase with one another, so it won't actually produce the 240V you are looking for. And there would be a host of other issues you'd have to work through with it.
jshupe 09/13/20 10:55pm Travel Trailers
RE: replacement air conditioner

I would go with a 240 volt sine wave inverter dedicated to the mini. I like separate components but get a combo unit for the 120v if you must. Yes Victron makes inverters that can be connected to make 240/120 split phase service. I think in the end this would make it more complex. Yes, Victron makes inverters that can be stacked to make 240V split phase. They still recommend an Autotransformer on the output side to load balance 120V loads across both inverters (though most RV installs seem to skip this - I don't recommend doing so) and if they are stacked, then if you plug into single phase service the second inverter will reject the input because it isn't out of phase and thus, only one inverter will be used for charging. If you run ESS, then both inverters will reject the input. To work around this they make - guess what - an Autotransformer. In the end, the best solution for the user here (assuming the rig is 30A) is probably a single Victron inverter and an autotransformer in the role I initially explained. Everything else is over-complicating things for no benefit. The Autotransformer consists of a couple windings and a breaker. Not much to go wrong with one and the MTBF is >100 years.
jshupe 09/13/20 10:50pm Travel Trailers
RE: replacement air conditioner

I’m a little confused on what a victron auto transformer does. Does it only turn 120 into split phase 240 or does it also turn 12v into 240. Would I need a inverter to feed the auto transformer? If so it sounds like a lot of efficiency loss. Thank you First, the Autotransformer only deals with AC current. So yes, you will need an inverter - ideally for your whole rig. Second, autotransformers are incredibly efficient - in the high 90s, up to 99%. You will find the overall system, with a quality inverter, far more efficient than the rooftop unit you are looking to replace. Finally, it's by far the cleanest solution as it will allow you to run a 240V AC unit both disconnected, and when plugged in to single phase 120V electrical sources, directly from the source rather than always using your inverter.
jshupe 09/13/20 07:24pm Travel Trailers
RE: replacement air conditioner

In your case, I would use a Victron Autotransformer. You can wire them to step up 120V input to 240V split phase. If wired inline after the load center and before the disconnect box, it will be used regardless of the power source. It also will have its own secondary breaker. No need to bother with a separate inverter, as long as your primary inverter has sufficient capacity.
jshupe 09/13/20 06:20pm Travel Trailers
RE: Thought on suspension equalizers

I upgraded from the Lippert Equa-Flex to MORryde SRE4000 with X-factor crossmembers. This trailer always had an equalizer, but the change in models made a huge difference - not all of them are created equal.
jshupe 09/10/20 09:42pm Travel Trailers
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

So, I talked to the Super Solar designer today and learned a few more details; for those who may be interested in this solution... -the AC units are not just a soft start added. They draw 9 amps when running, so much more efficient than normal roof top units -they are now adding 300 watt panels for a total of 1200 watts (noted earlier) -they will be upgrading the MPPT charge controllers to dual 40 amp models -there is a panel to remove to add another 500ah of lithium; this could be other manufacturers as long as the charge profile matched -they are working on a drop in package from Keystone with dual DragonFly GC3 batteries for those who want a turn key 510ah upgrade to a total of 1020ah -the design goal was that this would serve to run the entire coach and in many conditions would fully charge the batteries each day -for those who may think their usage may tax or exceed the design, they do have the upgrade path as above, but also are suggesting that a portable generator could be used. For example, in situations where a solar only solution would be taxed, such as cloud, forest, etc, then even a larger system may not be enough. Of course, one could just keep overbuilding with more panels and battery storage to account for worst case scenario... or carry a small 2000w generator to charge the batteries for those times I do hope this information is helpful for those considering this solution. We placed our order including the Super Solar Flex and will be trying it out later this year. I will update all once we are able to test it. Brad Coleman Mach only makes one large unit that pulls 9A, the Mach 3 PS. It's a 13,500 BTU/ 12.5 EER unit that draws 9 to 11A when cooling. Datasheet here. Assuming you require two of them to cool your rig, that doesn't change the math all that much. In the heat of the day, with near perfect solar, you would at best break even on the AC alone (over the course of an hour) with 1200W of panels if running only one unit full out, or two on a 50% compressor cycle. It doesn't matter how efficient they are - they're not efficient enough to make the numbers work for running the AC any length of time with that amount of panels. Assuming you're pulling 9A or 1075W as the datasheet says, and either running two units at 50% compressor or one unit full out to cool your rig, you're pulling 1075W, plus inverter losses. The Magnum MSH3012 series datasheet shows an efficiency of around 87% at 1kW (datasheet here, see P44) which means you are pulling at least 1215W just for AC alone. This is another reason why 24V and 48V are great options - you have much lower inverter losses at higher voltages, especially as loads increase (as exampled on the same chart on P44, for the 24V MSH4024M). If you are running nothing but your air conditioning - you can expect to harvest enough energy to run your AC for 4.9 hours. Or if you average a 100W load throughout the day without the AC, 2.9 hours. That's figured with the conventional figure of 5 solar hours * 1200W panels, or 6kW collection per day. Also worth nothing, most 18-20cu ft residential fridges consume 1.6-2.0kWh per day, depending on conditions. If you account for only a 50W base load, and 1.8kWh for a residential fridge, you collect enough solar to run your AC for under 2.5 hours in ideal conditions, not accounting for the inverter losses of the additional loads. This system just doesn't seem like a serious attempt by Keystone to offer solar, in my opinion. Also, 1200W of panels will collect around 500AH per day on a 12V system. Doubling your batteries to 1020AH gives you a rainy day, but your panels alone will not be sufficient to fill them back up. What that buys you is the ability to decide when to run your generator, or wait until you get home to plug in if you're only vacationing. If you go into it with the appropriate expectations, then I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I just think saying it will "run the entire coach" is a big stretch as most people will buy it expecting to actually be able to run the AC, especially with all the marketing they push about soft starts and high efficiency units. That's going to leave many people sorely disappointed. You wouldn't be able to run the AC all day, with off the shelf components, for $20K -- but you could get a lot closer than what they're providing you assuming you do the install yourself. -- We rarely run our generator, by the way - even in cloudy or shaded conditions. 15 hours this year, including an hour each month for maintenance and a few hours for testing when we had some issues with it. With an adequately sized system, you can avoid them for the most part.
jshupe 08/27/20 10:38pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

Maybe... but I feel like they should market it for what it is. A system that will run most of the systems, most days, but clearly state what the limits are. People are going to buy it, not knowing what they are getting into. I know of at least a couple people in the fulltime community who do installs like mine either on the side, or as a full-time job now. You could probably have it installed at a rally (well, not with COVID...) for fairly cheap. Almost everybody serious about this seems to go Victron. I've seen two Magnum installs at over 2kW of solar, and both were because they already owned the inverters.
jshupe 08/25/20 10:34pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

Ok, now that makes sense. You've really given a lot of great information here! Interesting how Victron seems to have been long known in the marine world, but now more popular in RV as well. I really didn't see much info on them 3 years ago when doing my last RV. And, your panels and batteries are names I've not seen before either. Thanks again! Brad There are a lot more options once you look at higher voltages. 24 and 48V are the common residential, commercial, and industrial voltages. REC and SimpliPhi don't really try to compete in the niche 12V market - and in that market, your choices are limited.
jshupe 08/25/20 07:58pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

BTW, this video seems to be the most thorough I can find so far... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9RD4qmud0s There is a section in there about the power management... I think it will help in other situations besides just straight battery power; examples could be 30amp and want to run both ACs, or AC+microwave. Or, 15amp power and want to run 1 AC... Brad I forgot to mention, the Victron inverters already do that. No need for something extra. They actually have a few different ways to configure it. Check out their PowerAssist and ESS documentation. Ok, so does that mean you have eliminated the factory charger/converter? But, I'm still not sure I get it... with the precision power management, it is replacing the entire output side of the power grid independently of any of the input sources. I think that it so that it can monitor all of the inputs by being in the middle? How would 1 or both of the Victron's monitor all of the outputs from all of the possible inputs? (trying to wrap my head around it...) Brad Correct - my 48V Victron inverters have chargers as well, to charge the 48V bank. Then I have Victron Orion DC-DC converters charging my 12V battery, and supplying up to 60A of 12V load on their own. Or you could just go all 12V for a smaller system and eliminate the separate systems. The factory 12V converter is gone. Everything passes through the Victron inverters. They are your power management. They have AC inputs (for shore power, generator, etc) and outputs for your loads. In a 50A configuration, you have two legs, each inverter physically handles one leg. If you use an autotransformer it gets a little complicated, but effectively it load balances the loads equally across both inverters, regardless of which leg the load is on. If you have a 32A load and have shore power capped at 24A, for instance, the Victrons will supply the additional 8A via inverter/battery. Not mine, but a nice schematic I found on another forum. https://community.victronenergy.com/storage/attachments/6787-rv-inverter-design-end-state-victron-lifepo4-dual.jpg Note that the diagram has an autotransformer, but that is used to step up the generator from 120V to split phase 240V, and not to load balance, in this specific diagram. That's what my second unit does.
jshupe 08/25/20 07:41pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

BTW, this video seems to be the most thorough I can find so far... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9RD4qmud0s There is a section in there about the power management... I think it will help in other situations besides just straight battery power; examples could be 30amp and want to run both ACs, or AC+microwave. Or, 15amp power and want to run 1 AC... Brad I forgot to mention, the Victron inverters already do that. No need for anything extra. They actually have a few different ways to configure it. Check out their PowerAssist and ESS (not usually recommended for mobile applications, but it's great) documentation. There are lots of things they do, that you won't find in with the 3kW Magnum.
jshupe 08/25/20 07:18pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

Thanks jshupe! Do you have an estimate on the man hours to install? Thanks, Brad I took my time and installed everything over a weekend - working probably 12-16 hours each day. It could have been done faster but I spent a lot of time on the details and crimped all my own cables, etc. I'll grant you professional installation - say 30 hours at $100/hr - wouldn't be unreasonable.
jshupe 08/25/20 05:52pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

My initial setup cost a little under $17,500. I bought all items from the same vendor to get the best pricing via a project discount. 6x REC N-PEAK Series 325 Watt panels @ ~$200/ea 2x Victron SmartSolar MPPT 150/35 solar charge controller @ ~$300/ea 2x Victron Quattro 48/3000/35-50/50 inverters @ ~$1750/ea 2x Victron Autotransformers @ ~$600/ea 2x Victron Orion-Tr 48/12-30A DC-DC converters @ ~$200/ea 1x Victron Venus GX @ ~$300 1x Victron BMV-712 @ ~$200 3x SimpliPhi 3.8kWh batteries @ ~$2600/ea That's around $15,200 in major components, then the cables, boxes, breakers, etc brought it to a little over $17K. I could run both ACs without soft starts, no issue. There may be something to that power management system - but you don't need it for a system this size if you aren't running air conditioning all the time. Also note, REC is a massive commercial panel manufacturer and SimpliPhi is a large commercial battery manufacturer. Jaboni is rebranded Victron. Dual Victrons provide true split phase 240V power like your 50A rig is designed to run on, without a phase selector. The Autotransformers (which are completely optional) allow you to load balance loads across both inverters. And there has to be some place to put your batteries so that they aren't outside the rig. There is plenty of room behind the false walls in basement storage in almost any fifth wheel.
jshupe 08/25/20 05:37pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

Can you help me understand why you say this is a small setup? Also, can you help me with the math on what you mean by "much better for $20k"? And, no sarcasm intended, I really do want to know. Just one note though, no one should pay MSRP, and most are seeing selling prices of about $15k, which is what I was quoted... Brad I edited my post with more details. For scale, I have 3kW of solar panels and the equivalent of 1800AH LiFePO4 (at 12V, but mine is running at 48V) and I know of at least a few people with even larger systems. Even at basically triple the solar and triple the battery, running the factory rooftop AC units (even if they were the Mach units) for extended periods of time would never work. Their marketing - I think more than anything - is what bugs me. You can make the math work with mini-splits, which is what they should be looking at to accompany this sort of thing - New Horizons has started shipping units with them and a few DIYers have gone that route. I've seen a couple fifth wheels approach 4kW, which I may go for in the future as I have the room. I also know of one person who put a full 85kWh bank of Tesla cells (my bank is 22.8kWh, for comparison) in a Prevost bus, but I wouldn't ever trust those cells in an RV or recommend them to others. As for Dragonfly/Battleborn, I know several people who are happy with them.
jshupe 08/25/20 04:48pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

I still consider this a small setup - you can do much better for $20K - including a full Victron suite and GX/VRM monitoring, not just their BMV-712. What I think this is going to do is cause a lot of people to be unhappy, because they think they're buying a comprehensive solution for a lot of money but in reality it doesn't power all that much. My initial setup consisted of 2kW REC panels, 900AH (@12V, my system is actually 48V) of SimpliPhi LiFePO4, dual Victron Quattros w/ two Autotransformers, Victron Venus GX, and a pair of Victron Orions. All supporting components such as wiring and breakers were high quality and name brand - no expenses spared - and that cost a couple thousand less than they're asking, self installed. The kicker is that even with that system, I wasn't happy and I've added panels, batteries, and more to get to that point.
jshupe 08/25/20 04:37pm Tech Issues
RE: Requesting your thoughts on Montana Super Solarflex system

You would be better off spending $20K on your own setup. 1000W of solar and 510AH of batteries won't run your AC for any length of time, and if you attempt it, you won't be able to refill your bank in a single day. My two Dometic rooftop AC units pulled 2.7kW combined when actively cooling (compressors on, fans on high) my 39' Alpine. That would drain a 12V/510AH battery bank in around two hours, and 1000W of solar won't quite fill that bank in a day under ideal conditions with no load. If the compressors only run 50% of the time, you might get four hours. The math used for these figures: 12V * 510AH = 6120Wh, 6120Wh / 2700W = 2.26h, assuming no other loads 1000W * 6 solar hours = 6000W, which is less than the 6120Wh size of the bank You can generally expect 5-6 solar hours per day, depending on location and other factors I did have someone tell me that two of those Mach units pull 2400W together, but haven't personally verified -- that doesn't buy that much extra time You could, of course, only run one AC unit. Indefinite AC on solar does not work out with current solar technology and rooftop RV AC units, but can be done with mini-splits (that's a whole separate and far more major project). There simply isn't enough real estate on RV roofs to make the math work, and with more real estate, you need more cooling, which requires more energy, so the issue remains as you size up. You can purchase much more solar and battery than they are selling for $20K and have better quality components. It's nice to see more than the conventional 200W systems, but this isn't enough to be self sufficient with all systems functioning on demand, and certainly doesn't justify the cost. We have 2925kW of solar and a 48V battery bank that would be the equivalent of [email protected] Even with that, we had to move to mini-split AC units to be able to set the thermostat and forget about it. They use 1/3rd of the energy of the units they replaced, and perform a better job. For what it's worth, we don't plug in, and only run the generator a few hours a month at most. We run everything as we please without worrying about consumption unless there are consecutive cloudy days. When those occur, we just make sure we have LP for the genset which is integrated to the rest of the system and starts automatically when certain conditions are met.
jshupe 07/08/20 05:44pm Tech Issues
RE: Need tow vehicle - preferably under 10k

That's a surprisingly lightweight trailer for it's size. If you have 3.73 gears in the Expedition, it'll do it and be within ratings. I certainly would use a premium hitch however, like the ProPride, simply because of the amount of sail area. I've driven it with the expedition and a husky center line hitch, and I still noticed a little swaying especially when a semi passed me. And this was going 60 and me letting off gas pedal a little... Would the ProPride provide that much of a better ride? I'd love to use my current vehicle. I'm happy going 60 mph but would prefer not the minor sway when getting passed or on windy days. Propride is a massive improvement. We didn't use Husky Centerline, but had Eaz-Lift which we swapped out for BlueOx SwayPro, then went to the Propride 3P and there was just no comparison. That, of course, was a different rig than the one in my sig.
jshupe 06/05/20 11:04pm Tow Vehicles
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