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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to buy a van and convert it into a camper. Doubting still between a Nissan e-NV200, Opel Vivaro or a Streetscooter XL. I want to be fully electric and refrain from any gas burners or heaters etc.

I'm interested to connect the main traction battery and the leisure appliances and like to hear your thoughts. Firstly drawing from the traction battery for leisure appliances could yield longer off-grid time. Secondly if I cram the roof with solar panels and perhaps even take extra foldable panels this might just yield some free miles. An alternative would be to not draw from the traction battery for leisure purposes but to charge a leisure battery from the solar panels and charge the traction battery from the solar panels via the plug-in charging system. It's a bit more of a dumb solution but it might spare a lot of hassle.

I'm interested to hear if anyone has done similar builds, and like to hear your experiences.

I'm mostly looking for thoughts on practicality (i.e. I have no idea where the connections would be located on abovementioned models), possible safety concerns when messing with the traction battery and any legal issues with the traction battery. (i.e. loss of warranty)
 

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Renault Zoe 50
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Firstly the traction battery is 400 volts.

Please do not touch this as you clearly have no idea what you are doing and will kill yourself.

I hope you are offended by this, because it’s better than being dead.
 

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VW ID.3 Worst Edition & Tesla M3 LR
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I am planning to buy a van and convert it into a camper. Doubting still between a Nissan e-NV200, Opel Vivaro or a Streetscooter XL. I want to be fully electric and refrain from any gas burners or heaters etc.

I'm interested to connect the main traction battery and the leisure appliances and like to hear your thoughts. Firstly drawing from the traction battery for leisure appliances could yield longer off-grid time. Secondly if I cram the roof with solar panels and perhaps even take extra foldable panels this might just yield some free miles. An alternative would be to not draw from the traction battery for leisure purposes but to charge a leisure battery from the solar panels and charge the traction battery from the solar panels via the plug-in charging system. It's a bit more of a dumb solution but it might spare a lot of hassle.

I'm interested to hear if anyone has done similar builds, and like to hear your experiences.

I'm mostly looking for thoughts on practicality (i.e. I have no idea where the connections would be located on abovementioned models), possible safety concerns when messing with the traction battery and any legal issues with the traction battery. (i.e. loss of warranty)
If somebody came on and asked the question, ”Using my petrol powered camper van fuel to power my camping stove would give me longer off grid time, how do I tap into the petrol tank/fuel system to fuel it?”, you’d think they were mad.

Quite rightly!

Leave the vans traction battery as is, use the solar panels on the roof to charge a leisure battery bank that can then power an induction hob, or similar, and your other power needs.

You’d need a big solar array to make any meaningful power to charge the traction battery, I don’t think it would be practical or very cost effective.

As already said, unless you know what you’re doing, tapping into the traction battery is very hazardous and would almost certainly toast your warranty along with other stuff.
 

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I'm mostly looking for thoughts on practicality (i.e. I have no idea where the connections would be located on abovementioned models), possible safety concerns when messing with the traction battery and any legal issues with the traction battery. (i.e. loss of warranty)
The HV battery is well protected and does not allow access to the battery unless the vehicle is turned on either in drive or charging modes. You cannot access the battery without splitting the case which would certainly invalidate the warranty.
Most complicated is the issue that the HV voltage is not constant and varies depending on the state of charge, so you need some expensive electronics to convert to/from something useful. Normally there's an inverter onboard that will do this for 12v to 1-2kW, but is that the voltage you want to run at?
In terms of solar to charge the HV battery you really need to charge via a granny charger and the conventional charging system which needs you to provide 6A at 110v AC minimum for most vehicles, although the charging efficiency will be very low. At the other end of the scale you can go all the way up to the normal 7/11kW if you have a big enough array.

If somebody came on and asked the question, ”Using my petrol powered camper van fuel to power my camping stove would give me longer off grid time, how do I tap into the petrol tank/fuel system to fuel it?”, you’d think they were mad.
That's exactly what people do when connecting diesel heaters. And they buy cheap crap ones and wonder why they are introducing CO into the vehicle when the heat exchanger fails. Of course petrol is much more dangerous than diesel but that doesn't stop the Russians previously and Europeans now

Propex vs Espar vs Webasto Heaters For A Camper Van Conversion
 

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ID3 Life
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Just to echo the above, leave the traction battery well alone.

The stuff you want to power on the leisure side of things are 12v so it would be simpler to just have a dedicated 12v leisure circuit. If you can stretch to the expense, go lithium as you have far more capacity to play with. A decent array of panels linked to the leisure system will give you several days depending on your consumption but you’re gonna need a lot of panels to realistically charge the traction battery. Remember you’ve got to heft the weight of them around.

For me, the biggest challenge with an all electric camper van is heating if all year use is being considered, depending on where you are in the world of course🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I'm glad to everyone univocally supports the conclusion which I leaned towards as well namely that interfering with the traction battery yields way to many complications to be any beneficial.

Regarding charging the vehicle from a solar array, I definitely think it can be viable. With a Streetscooter XL you have 5 square meters of flat roof space. Using the most efficient panels this would allow for up to a 1000 Wp! It's not going to drive you to work daily but might just amount to a 5-30 off-grid kilometers each day depending on your season and location.

Van heating is definitely an issue. Luckily, I have already arranged remote work so I might as well just bivouac in a more amiable continent for a few months if I want to be gone in the winter.
 

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Regarding charging the vehicle from a solar array, I definitely think it can be viable. With a Streetscooter XL you have 5 square meters of flat roof space. Using the most efficient panels this would allow for up to a 1000 Wp! It's not going to drive you to work daily but might just amount to a 5-30 off-grid kilometers each day depending on your season and location.
Have you thought about putting the solar panels on the roof of your house or car port?

Much bigger area and more likely to be in direct sunlight.
 

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LEAF N-TEC 62KW
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I had two, 100w panels on my Autosleeper Clubman which kept a couple of 120ah batteries fully charged so I had no shortage of 12v power, although it wasn't practical to run the fridge on 12v, so gas was essential and also provided heating and hot water. I wouldn't dismiss gas, but you would need to have it inspected by a Corgi engineer.
To recharge the traction batteries using a granny charger needs about 3kw at 230v AC, so not feasible with on board panels.
 

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To recharge the traction batteries using a granny charger needs about 3kw at 230v AC, so not feasible with on board panels
I think the minimum a Zappi charger will go down to is 1.4 kW.

So again, not really likely unless in the hottest parts of the world. Then you have other problems.
 

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So you're advocating making all motorways conveyor belts - drive on drive off? Great idea, like the one to electrify them using dodgem car technology and pantographs on all vehicles.:oops:
 

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Okay, this is not using the 'traction battery' to power the interior electrics, but Sussex campervans have a very neat solution to this problem. It is charged at the same time as the traction battery.


Edit: If they weren't so damn expensive I would replace the MG with one.
 
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ID3 Life
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Okay, this is not using the 'traction battery' to power the interior electrics, but Sussex campervans have a very neat solution to this problem. It is charged at the same time as the traction battery.
Only if you plug in the campsite commando lead at the same time which requires an additional socket. The vehicle electrics, both traction and 12v are totally separate from the leisure battery set up.

It's a decent effort though, even if I do question how long you could be off grid with an induction hob, coffee machine, fridge and hair dryer through an inverter. Still no space heat either.
 

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Only if you plug in the campsite commando lead at the same time which requires an additional socket. The vehicle electrics, both traction and 12v are totally separate from the leisure battery set up.
Oh I didn't see it that way. Where did you find that information?
 

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Regarding charging the vehicle from a solar array, I definitely think it can be viable. With a Streetscooter XL you have 5 square meters of flat roof space. Using the most efficient panels this would allow for up to a 1000 Wp! It's not going to drive you to work daily but might just amount to a 5-30 off-grid kilometers each day depending on your season and location.
I think that with the losses through the inverter from DC from the panels and the losses in the onboard charger on the van you'll be lucky for it to charge very often with only 1kWp, it depends on the particular van.
 

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