The electrical system in your van has been designed to be straight forward, robust, and worry free. 12v electricity from your vehicles alternator charges your house batteries when the vehicle is running via a charge relay. The charge relay monitors your batteries voltage and links the house battery bank with the vehicles when voltage is over a certain point, below that point the house battery bank and the vehicle battery bank are disconnected. This allows you to operate all the electrical components in your build without compromising your starting battery.
Circuit breakers are located down stream of the charge relay and upstream of the house batteries. This protects the systems in case of an electrical short. Another breaker is located between the house batteries and your 12v fuse box. Your 12v fuse box feeds power to all the 12v electrical components in your van.... lights, heater, water pump, roof vents, etc.... The same fuse box also has a negative bus, which grounds all those same electrical components.
If you have 110v components in your vehicle they work on a completely separate system.
electrical basics continued, 110v
If your van has 110v power it can come from three places: and inverter, a generator, or shore power.
- An inverter takes the 12v power and converts it to 110v power using magic (kidding,) witchcraft (also kidding,) science...(lets go with this.) The converter is "on demand" meaning that you have to manually turn it on to take advantage of its "science..." This will allow you to use the 110v outlet in your van to power appropriately sized appliances, blenders, computer chargers, etc. The amount of time the 110v system can operate depends of the components of your build and what you are attempting to run.
- A generator consumes fuel and produces electricity. Because of the temperamental nature of these machines, and their size, we here at Site Seven have decided to not install them in our builds... However that doesn't mean that they are not a good option for 110v power... Portable generators are relatively cheap and can be extremely reliable. They do add a layer of complexity, however they can act as a shore power source that gives you the ability to run 110v appliances including an AC.
- Shore power is a term that means you are connected to "the grid" and not self contained. Many camp sites offer power hookups and these allow you to bypass the 12v system in your van and run your electrical components.
The Solar system in your camper includes two main parts. The panel(s) which are mounted to your roof or roof rack and the charge controler which I located inside your van. Power comes from the solar panels and the charge controler acts as a gatekeeper, only letting the appropriate amount of electricity pass through to your batteries. The Charge Controler installed in your Site Seven vehicle is equipt with both a digital display to help you monitor the status of your battery system and also a battery temp sensor to help ensure your batteries are being charge at an appropriate rate.
If you are expierencing problems with this system first check that the solar panle is clean and receiving direct sunlight, next check that the 30A fuse (located on the lower corner.) You can also use the charge controler itself to help diagnose any issues, you can reference the manual here.
The water system in your Site Seven vehicle was designed to be both simple and functional. Water is stored in a tank with three outlets:
- Your fill line, this is where you fill your tank.
- Your water pickup, this is where your water pump pulls water from
- The Overflow/ vent, this allows water to escape from the top of your tank when your filling it up. It also allows air to enter the tank as water is being pumped out to prevent a vaccum.
- For normal use: fill the tank, leave the overflow vent open, turn on the water pump as needed.
- For storage: open the dump valve under the vehicle and turn on the water pump. This will allow the water pump to vacate the tank.
- For extreme cold it may be necessary to both drain your tank and/or add Non toxic Marine antifreeze to the system.
- Its very important to make sure the water system in your tank stays clean, if you have any question about the quality of the water in your tank/ lines you should sanitize the entire system.
Espar heater info
Espar heaters are extremely well built and efficient. They are powered by diesel fuel from your vehicles fuel tank and they shut off at aprox 1/4 tank as a saftey percosion. If your expieriencing problems the thermostat should display a code which can be referenced HERE, if the thermostat is blank check the 30A fuse in your 12v fusebox. There also in another inline fuse located on the main wiring harness just up from the heater. Take care not to block the heater input or output.
All Site Seven builds 2018 and newer are equipt with an elevation sensor. This adjusts the fuel/ air mixture at elivations 3000ft and above. Before running the heater at elivation make sure the switch (located above the 12v fuse box) is in the altitude posistion, the posistion opisite is used for diagnosing issues with the heater. Its best to leave the switch in the altitude posistion at all times.
Tips for extreme cold
There is nothing better than being in the middle of nowhere in the middle of winter... especially when it gets... really... cold. Consider the following; first be safe and plan accordingly. Warm cloths, sleeping bags, blankets etc. can literally save your life, don't leave them behind. If your Site Seven is equipt with an Espar heater make sure that before you stop for the night you have over 1/4 tank of fuel in the tank in addition to the following:
- Cover the windows/vents to help keep heat in
- In temperatures well below freezing it may be necessary to empty your water tank to prevent your water tank and lines from bursting.
- Check that the key is removed from the ignition and that all the systems in your van are running on the house batteries, this will ensure the starting battery is in top condition.
- Consider parking your vehicle in an area that is either out of the wind, or in direct sun. This will not only help keep the vehicle warm it will give a solar panel the opportunity to maintain your house batteries when the vehicle isn't running.
Tips for storage
At times it may be necessary to store your vehicle for a extended period of time. We recommend:
- Removing any/ all food from the vehicle
- Turn off the fridge and leaving it in the vent position
- If your build includes a converter leave the the vehicle connected to shore power, this will maintain the house batteries. If you do not have a shore power connection installing a battery tender is a great way to keep your house batteries in top condition.
Should I Keep any spare parts on hand?
This is a great question and the answers will vary widely depending on who you ask... regardless of where you are going we believe at the bare minimum you should always have the following items stored somewhere in your vehicle incase of a mechanical failure or an emergency.
- First aid kit
- warm cloths, blanket, etc.
- Spare tire and the tools and knowledge to change it yourself
- spare 12v fuses for your 12v electrical system
- A basic set of hand tools
- Fire extinguisher