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e-dispatch diy Camper van build.

1226 Views 17 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  iforpowell
OK The original post for this was in the Icebreakers section but as has been pointed out this the the right place longer there.

I have an album where I will add pictures as I go with the conversion. Some exterior shots from when I picked it it there along with dash shots after I got 191 miles to a charge on my way home. Also the interior as I got it showing the ply lining and shots of it with all the ply lining and easly removable fixings taken off ready for sound deadening and insulation work. There are lots of quite big spaces I need to consider if I want to cover back up or make usre of.

Van is an Citroen e-dispatch registered in Feb 22 used as a demonstrater and bought second hand with 4000 miles on the clock. Van is 75kWh battery long wheelbase. A plain white pannel van with no options to speak of.

Conversion is realy just for single person use with the ability to carry at least 2 bikes in the van. No gas so an induction hob and and microwave and kettle for cooking. Bigger than standard fridge is also a reqirment. Fairly big water tank as I want to be able to use it as a bike wash as well.
Picture hereof the firstfast charge in Dublin before getting the ferry to Hollyhead.
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Over the week I put in the sound deadening stuff. Insulation is in the sliding doors. Need to get on with the rest but distracted by other things at the weekend.

I went up to Chesterfield about 165 miles of motorway from Bristol on Friday night, got there OK withmy standard fasters lorry speed on the motorway. Parked up at an AC chargertowards the center of town. Freep parking 20:00- 8:00 so had to be off before 8 but it was just enough time to get almost full. Went and collected the Fridge I had bought early Saturday morning then drive back to Bristol, again no issues getting there.

Spent all day Sunday doing cardboard enginearing testing van layouts now I have the fridge and the water tank to play with. Still don't know what I prefer. Here are the options considered.

Side Tank, Fridge, Hob, Sink.
Side Hob above Tank, Sink.
Side Fridge high above Tank, Hob, Sink.
Side Fridge, Tank at side of van, Hob, Sink.
Front Kitchen, Fridge, Hob, Sink across front. Tank below hob, sink.
Side front Kitchen, Fridge, Sink behind Double decker hob bottom hob in draw pull out to use. Bed forward over Tank so full width space at back of van.

And a link to some photos of the options being trialed.
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Insulation and carpet lining type work up untill this weekend when I finally got to start some wood working.

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I have got the basics for the main kitchen area in. I have gone for the drivers side option with the water tank behind the drivers seat, then my big fridge and small sink and worktop with access for bike wheels coming in under it.
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Plan is to have the double induction hob hinged above the water tank. Will normally be in a verticle small space position only folded down when needed for cooking. It will need the front seat sliding right forward to cook like this. As I will have a kettle and a microwave the hob want be being overly used so hopefully this want be too inconvinient. The alternative is to have it behind the sink where there is just clearance above the bike wheels for it.

Next up is to get the lithiun batery moved over from my old van and get the basic electricals in to power the fridge and some led tape style lights. Also some plumbing once I have the power for the pump. Need to have enough to be able to spend the weekened in it next weekend, but it will be a matteres on the foor as the bed comes latter.
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OK got some basic electrics in now got the home made 7kWh battery moved over from the old van, but no way of chanring it at present. So basic lights and the fridge working and the 3kW inverter good as well. I went away over the weekend down to just behond Henley and had another night in the van. Managed to do the 195 miles round trip without a charge so a new record. It was interesting comming back home though as I past the Chipenham junction where the last easy chargers were with 19 miles to get home and 19 miles on the GOM. I was fairly confident though as I was in behind a lorry doing 55 and I know there is a bit of height drop as well. Got home with 3.1% acording to the OBD readout. I could of course of recovered myself from the leisure battery setup. I have checked charging off the inverter works ok.

Got to take everything back out over this weekend to drill a couple of holes in the floor. One for the sink drain and one for running a cable through to allow me to charge the leisure battery from the 12V van setup. The plan for charging from the van 12V is just to have a switch and manually control a heavy duty relay. I want be doing it normally as there should be enough solar to keep me good, it's really just an emergancy second system. I need to decide on the size of wire to use so as to get a seisible current level. Not too high but also not too low. Something like 40-50A is what I think I want with the leasure battery about 50%.
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I have far thicker wire than that. What the cable is safly capable of carrying is not the issue it's the voltage drop for the current you want that is important for the sizeing in this case. For the 4m length I have a 2.5mm square cable would be a voltage drop of getting on for 1.2v at a 50 amp charge which basically is far far to much and means I could never get upto anything like 50A. In practice I have put in 25mm square cable and with the 560 Ah worth of lithium leisure battery abount half full if I switch the switch for the big relay I get 80A. That's really a bit more than is ideal as if the battery was really low I would probably blow the 100A fuses I have at each end. So I may swap out to some 16mm square cable instead which is the alternative I have. That will increase the voltage drop a bit which will drop down the max charging current for any given state of battery charge. In reallity this conection it realy just a backup as I plan to have enough solar to put in more than I will be using even with all electric cooking. In the summer I expect to be regularly trickling out of the leisure battery and granny charging the traction battery.
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More photos from the weekends work.


Wood Tire Tread Flooring Floor

Beb base down. There are 5 hinged sections to access the space underneath.

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Fold up induction hob and mocrowave in. And here is the hob folded down with the front seat pushed right forward.
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Need to get some plumbing done to get it really usable next weekend.
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I would strongly suggest you get a proper DC-DC charger for charging your "house" battery from the 12v system.

Using just a switch/relay may stress/damage the inboard DC-DC converter, especially if your house battery is Lithium/LFP.

These DC-DC chargers will also help minimize the chance that you will drain the 12v battery if you accidentally left that switch on and the van is off.

Look at a Victron Orion Tr Smart or similar items.
Draining the 12V battery is not a concern really. With the batteries connected you do not loose energy just redistribute it. Even with most of the energy moved to the lithiun if it was flat when they were conected if left conected there should be no issue switching on the ignition and getting the DC-DC converter going. It is one of the benafits, if the 12V is flat I just flick the switch and the lithium charges it.

If I was using this as the main source of charging then maybe you have a point but it's really just there as an emergangy backup there will be 500W of solar on the roof. If I do use it it's not going to be in the same way you would with a traditional engine van. E.g. I want to charging the leisure battery while driving and thus needed the veichle load and my charging load to be covered by the dc-dc converter what I will be doing is charging the lithium while charging the van battery. e.g. the van loads will be low not high.

Out of interest I did some experiments this evening to try and see what the DC-DC converter can supply. I got a clamp meter on the relervant feed and a standard volt meter over the 12V battery to test what happened with various loads. Just switching on the ignition and getting to the ready state once settled it's about a 15A draw and 14.4v. Headlights, heating fan it's up to about 40A still 14.4V. The most I could get with the van only standard stuff was about 75A at about 14.3v but the wipers mess with the voltages a bit so it's hard to get a good reading. It's going to be sized for a good bit more than that, there are a couple of 12V outlets I have nothing connected to say 100W each and the tailgate version with heated glass and another wiper probably pushes it to well over 100A. Resorting to conecting the lithium and getting the inverters suplying a good load at the same time I managed to see a max of 150A where the voltage was down to 14.1V So my guess is that it's got a peak of getting on for 2000W. The sustained capability may not be that high but I expect it to be at least 1200W for the van only type max load and I don't envisage my charging type usage getting over that.

Cooked my evening meal in the van to check it really is all working tonight as well.
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First night away sleeping on the bed last night. Got the cusions on Friday, covers for them will have to wait for next weekend though. Also got the water tank plumbed in. I will have to tweak things on the water as I have no level indication yet and the bike wash has too low a flow with my bodged up conection for it. Took twice as long to clean the bike today as I am used to.

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The bed was good and it was exactly the sort of weekend I will use the van for a lot in the UK. Drive over late Saturday night sleep in the van before doing an event early Sunday morning. An easy trip this time as only 80 miles away so no worries about needing a charge. Next weekend will be more interesting driving back from the Scotish borders on the bank holiday monday after another biking event.

Lots of smaller jobs to do on the van yet but good to have it in a state where I can start using it properly.
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OK I am basically finished with the conversion now having finished work 2 weeks back and working on it since then. There is a new set of pictures with descriptions. Real test starts next Wendsday when I set off in it for a month long trip on the continent. Probably 3000 odd miles driveing planned and a good bit of cycling as well.
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It's ended up with 375W of solar on the roof.



It's been giving me about 1.75kWh this last week so I have to regularly take about 5kW out and charge the van battery for a couple of hours. I can not be wasting the solar and the battery will last longer if not left full. The battery had a year in my old van before moving to this one. In the old van I had a Stirling 50A B2B unit which when actually charging took 50A from the alternator but only managed to put 30A into the leisure battery. In the old van I installed a similar direct link so I could bypass the B2B so I would use the B2B if the battery was low and would take more than 50A direct conected but from about 30% up I would use the direct link which was than at about 50A all going into the leisure battery so none wasted and actually less stress on the alternator.

I will do a seperate post with updates from my long trip once I get going.
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