Reporting on our "Solar Gain"

As scheduled we are back in the Seattle area.

During our first leg (Aug-Sept) of this year long adventure tour we traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest - WA and BC as well as in the intermountain area. We had the pleasure to visit with dozens and dozens of curious folks that quite interested in "what" Advbasecamp was about, "who" did the Sprinter conversion and "where" were we going and for how long.... the most inquisitive were those that been visualizing their own version of a simple adventure van and wanted a deeper look into the components, layout and details of our build. I will admit I have been a bit remiss in expanding the information base in this BLOG on the Sprinter Build (see menu). I plan on not only laying out the timeline of our Sprinter build and details of it's components, but links to parts and resources I accessed online and within the community. Look for the Sprinter Build section to grow in the months to come.

It was exciting to meet the many folks while on the road. Many of those inquiring into the build were particularly interested in the Solar (electrical) system we have on board. I want to use this post to offer feedback on our Go Power solar electrical system. As read on our Sponsors page, the company Go Power, based in Victoria BC was interested in using our Advbasecamp adventure's BLOG and actual vehicle to help demonstrate and market how their solar products would work to support the function and comfort of a vehicle such as ours. Go Power sponsored us with the installation of their Solar Elite charging system. Basically, the Elite package is 340 watts ( 2x 170 watt rigid solar panels), a 2000 pure sine inverter with charge controller. They also offered us four 6vdc AGM batteries totally 440 amp hrs of storage capability. Included was a 100watt flex panel, which we mounted on the roof of the rig as well giving us a total of 440 watts of potential solar power.

Being on the road for the past 6 weeks the Go Power solar system far and away exceeded our expectations. We never needed to hook up to shore power as the panels recharged the batteries every day we were out. Even though we had a few days of rain and dense cloud/smoke we never moved into darkness without seeing 100% battery recharge. Know that we ran our roof mounted Max Aire fan all day everyday (and night) for circulation. Our Isotherm frig/freezer (400 watts @ day average) was also powered 24/7. When we were in the rig we ran any and all LED (12vdc) lights as long and as bright as we desired (8x320 watt LED lights - house lights). Although we have two 120vac outlets in the Sprinter, we only switched on the AC Inverter to recharge our laptops or toothbrushes. Our water pump was used @ 4 minutes (max) @ day. When needed, Jeannie preferred using the hot dry air coming out of the heat exchanger outlet (19,000 btu) from our externally mounted Espar diesel powered hydronic heater (a post yet to come on the benefits of the Espar install).

The two 170 watt rigid solar panels were installed with the optional tilt package, but we are yet to find the need to tilt the panels for additional gain. The need to tilt may very well manifest itself when we move into the winter months and the sun is low on the horizon. The lowest value we have seen our AGM batteries discharge to is 90%, which is but a fraction of the max discharge/use (55% discharge) possible without starting to impact the batteries.

The install of the Elite system was very straight forward. We found the documentation provided with the packaged system to be than sufficient in getting it right. Of course we installed 2x15amp breakers for power out of the inserter to outlets and a Blue Sea 12vdc fuse panel to protect circuitry going out to our various components.

In our initial design phase of the conversion we planned on installing an in-counter two burner induction cooktop unit, but knowing it could consume 1800 watts, did not want to chance doing damaging discharge to our battery bank and went with a dual burner propane cooktop which has proven to more than meet our needs. As of today, I would not hesitate to use the 1800watt induction cooktop, the GP electrical system could easily handle the demand.

I am working on drawing up a schematic of our electrical system and hope to post that under the Sprinter Build pages of the this site in the months to come If you have any questions or comments please email me @

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