Above: The three battery disconnect switches (the red t-handles). The positive bus-bar is mounted directly to the contacts of these switches. The black pushbutton (between the left and middle t-handles) is for a pre-charge circuit which allows the capacitors in the inverter to charge slowly which prevents arcing and pitting of the contacts in the battery switches. The red handle above the Edison outlet is the electrical disconnect between the camper and truck. The silver pull-knob is the camper’s interior DC power switch.
In addition, I built a new switch panel that has a dedicated high-current switch for each battery. The switches are connected to a common solid copper bus bar. Of course I also created a negative bus bar. There are three equal length runs (36” of both positive and negative) of 2/0 gauge cable running from the switches to the batteries. This balanced wiring approach ensures equal load on each battery during both charge and discharge cycles.
The cable from the bus bars to the inverter/charger is 4/0 gauge and only one foot long. There is a fan in the truck camper just above the batteries which provides ventilation and climate controlled air to the basement.
Above: The power monitoring panel I made which includes the Trimetric, Digital Voltmeter, and Inverter/Charger control panel.
To allow for simple tracking of battery capacity and performance, I also installed a precision digital voltmeter and TriMetric battery monitor and a 500A shunt.
It is very convenient to have 300A (~150A of which is useable) of battery capacity. It means that our family of four can live in the camper with the same electrical conveniences that we have at home. We use the lights, radio, television, water pump, computers, and cooking appliances without ever thinking twice about having enough available battery capacity.
Even with no solar charging, no starting of the truck engine, and no generator running, this is sufficient battery capacity for more than six days of dry camping. I can easily operate the roof air conditioner for up to four hours or the convection/microwave for an hour. This is convenient for times when the generator cannot be run, like in a campground at night.
It took me 30 hours to complete this mod and cost $1,350. In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is hard.
October 2015 Winner – Medicine Cabinet Bottle Stopper
3. John Wells, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
2011 Chevy 3500
2012 Chalet Ascent S100F
For years we have suffered a misdemeanor attack by our truck camper at the end of every drive. I’m referring to the “Assault and Bottle-ry” that occurs the first time you open the medicine cabinet door at the end of a long or short trip. I’m thoroughly convinced that these bottles of shampoo, deodorant, bug repellent, and sunscreen, to mention a few of the major offenders, all conspire during the trip to leap from the cabinet at the first opportunity. The really annoying ones end up in the toilet of our wet bath.
Above: Police line-up of the “Usual Suspects”. “I saw it all, Officer. It was that Big Pink guy on the right end!”. Click to enlarge.
I ruminated over the ideal solution for a few months and I stumbled upon some rigid plastic tubing that spawned an idea in my mind. Actually, the tubes were bovine artificial insemination pipettes. TMI? Hey, I’m a retired veterinarian; you use the tools you have.
You might use one-quarter inch to five-sixteenths inch rigid plastic or polycarbonate tubing available on Amazon and elsewhere. The tubing is flexible enough to allow bottles to be wiggled in behind it, yet rigid enough to prevent anything from falling out at the end of a trip.
Above: Sample blind hole in side of medicine cabinet. Click to enlarge.
Holes were drilled at the appropriate height for the contents of each shelf. Our medicine cabinet has an outside flange that acts as a stop for the tubing, so the holes only penetrate the inner wall of the cabinet. If your cabinet has no flange to act as a stop, or you can’t drill the necessary blind holes, drill the holes all the way through and slip a tight fitting O-ring on each end of the tube to keep it centered within your cabinet.