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Old 06-21-2021, 11:53 AM   #1
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1968 26' Overlander
2021 20' Caravel
Denver , Colorado
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Upgrade from 1k watt OEM inverter to 3k watt?

Hello, I would like to DIY install a 3k watt inverter upgrade.

Here is our setup for a 2021 20FB Caravel that came standard with a 1000 W pure sine OEM inverter.

-We have upgraded to 2 - 100 Ah lithium batteries and the dealer installed a new converter when they put in the new batteries for me.

-We have a Victron Smart Shunt and SmartSolar MPPT

-We have 4 - 90 Watt solar panels

In layman's terms, could you give me instructions on how to replace that 1k watt inverter with a 3k watt inverter so that we have the ability to run a microwave, coffee pot, and AC with a soft starter (not necessarily all at the same time)?
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Old 06-21-2021, 06:23 PM   #2
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Without knowing how you want to install the new inverter nobody can give accurate instructions. There are multiple ways to do it. With that big jump in inverter size you do need a big jump in wire size. With a 3000 amp inverter you could wire the 30 amp shore power coming into the trailer to go through the inverter, then to the circuit breaker box. Please note the the AC would require about 140 amps from the batteries so your 200AH batteries would be dead in under 1.5 hours.
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Old 06-21-2021, 06:46 PM   #3
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Here is a very basic diagram to get you going.

Know that 3000W pass-through / hybrid inverter like the Victron Multi (a popular choice) is not plug and play for what you want to do. You need to rewire your main 120v panel, and run new heavy gauge 12v wiring to your battery bank.

Lots of good diagrams out there. This one is basic, and is based of the traditional Victron 3000/12 multi. As Wazbro mentioned there are a few different approaches one can take.

You need to be very comfortable working with both 120v and 12v systems to do this DIY, or alternatively just be a competent student and study up really well.

Plenty on the forum have done this and can help guide you.

Lastly, 2 battleborn batteries are (combined) only rated for 200A DC max continuous discharge current. That is right on the edge of what your AirConditioner will pull with nothing else on when you factor in the overhead of the inverter itself. And note that you would only be able to run the Aircon for about 45 minutes before your two battleborn batteries are fully depleted.

You really want at least 600ah (six battleborns, preferably 10!) if you are serious about running your air conditioner for a while without the use of a generator.

Welcome to the slippery slopes of full residential living with lithium power!
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Old 06-21-2021, 06:56 PM   #4
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Hi

If you have a "typical" A/C unit, it will pull about 14A (maybe more / maybe less depending ....) on 120V. Your inverter *might* be 90% efficient, it might not do quite that well. The A/C pulls 1680W. At 90% the inverter would take in > 1860W.

If your batteries deliver power at 12V under load, that would be 155A. Your 200AH of Lithium will run the A/C full bore for just over an hour *if* you start from 100% charge and run to 0%.

If your A/C run flattens the batteries, the fridge stops and the beer gets warm.

At least to me, there is very little reason to hook the A/C into the inverter.

Hooking everything up means first finding a well ventilated location for the inverter. It's going to put out 300W of heat, that needs to go somewhere away from the inverter. Cold air in from "over here" and hot air out to "over there" is the general idea.

Next up you need cables that will handle the 300A that go into the inverter. Unfortunately two 100AH batteries will not supply that sort of current so you sort of hit a brick wall at this point. You need to:

1) Buy more batteries (like two to four more)

--- or ---

2) Buy a smaller inverter (like 2KW)

--- or ----

3) Spend the extra money on the 3KW, but never ever run it past 2KW (that's not as easy as it sounds ....).

Once that decision is made we can head on into the rest of the process. We already have about 6 different rabbit holes we *might* be running down ....

Bob
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Old 06-21-2021, 09:50 PM   #5
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Upgrade from 1k watt OEM inverter to 3k watt?

Bob pretty much nailed it.

Here is real life running a 15k BTU air con off the batteries - 196A continuous at the batteries once it ramps up pressure.

Air con pulls a lotta juice . Iíve melted a 300A rated switch blue sea switch despite rock solid connections

Man itís great to have AC during lunch stops on long driving days thoughÖ. Very civilized way of traveling haha.
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Old 06-22-2021, 09:13 AM   #6
Bill Crockett
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by englishw View Post
Hello, I would like to DIY install a 3k watt inverter upgrade.

Here is our setup for a 2021 20FB Caravel that came standard with a 1000 W pure sine OEM inverter.

-We have upgraded to 2 - 100 Ah lithium batteries and the dealer installed a new converter when they put in the new batteries for me.

-We have a Victron Smart Shunt and SmartSolar MPPT

-We have 4 - 90 Watt solar panels

In layman's terms, could you give me instructions on how to replace that 1k watt inverter with a 3k watt inverter so that we have the ability to run a microwave, coffee pot, and AC with a soft starter (not necessarily all at the same time)?
FYI. I converted from a 2000 watt inverter to a 3000 watt inverter and wired it to run everything. I replaced the old inverter with the new one without changing any wire sizes but I already had adequate cable size into and out of the inverter.

I have never tried using the AC with it but one thing to note. If I turn my inverter on without shore power it will switch the power on the frig from Propane to electrical so I have to change the frig setting from Auto to LP to keep it from using electricity.
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Old 06-22-2021, 09:23 AM   #7
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Good point on the AC and appreciate the responses. I guess the AC is a no go but since I’m in the Rockies most of the time it’s not a big deal.

Sounds a bit more complicated than just trading it out as I’d hope.
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Old 06-22-2021, 10:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by englishw View Post
Good point on the AC and appreciate the responses. I guess the AC is a no go but since Iím in the Rockies most of the time itís not a big deal.

Sounds a bit more complicated than just trading it out as Iíd hope.
Hi

If you just do a straight swap with no A/C, 2KW is an adequate size. Less bulky wire, less air flow for cooling, lower price ....

The microwave will need to be moved from the breaker panel to the output side of the transfer switch in the inverter. If your trailer has separate "inverter" plugs, those get wired to the transfer switch as well.

Bob
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Old 06-22-2021, 11:04 AM   #9
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Iíll throw another rabbit hole to go into. Take a look at this thread by Pteck.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f37...um-196422.html

Basically, you purchase a Goal Zero 1000 watt hour portable lithium battery and use it to power all your AC appliances, except A/C, while your batteries power all your DC appliances. Solar panels are used to recharge the Yeti during the day time as well as your house batteries. In Pteckís case, he installed is Yeti in the interior of his RV in connection with a automatic transfer switch. When he has full hookups shore power is the primary source of power. When he is boondocking the automatic transfer switch puts the Yeti in control of the 120V system. I donít have the knowledge to install it inside or do the automatic transfer switch so I use it in a much more basic manner.

When boondockng, I put my Yeti in the bed of my truck and run a power cable from it to my shore power input of my RV. I turn off my converter at the breaker panel so it wonít be using 120V system and switch my refrigerator to Propane. My Yeti provides 120V to power the microwave / T/Vís / hairdryer / coffee grinder, etc. Anything but the air conditioner. If I have a weekend trip then my Yeti has never been depleted. If longer, then I move my Yeti inside the RV during the day and my 250W of solar replenishes it along with my house batteries (2 Lifeline AGMís) when the Yeti is plugged into a cigarette lighter socket I installed to charge it. If my batteries run low, then I can turn on my converter and the Yeti will recharge the house batteries. I can also move the Yeti inside my Truck and charge it with the cigarette lighter charger while travelling around sightseeing.

This basically replaces my 1000 inverter and doesnít draw on my house batteries when using it. It has 3000W surge and 1500W continuous. You could pay around $1200 - $1500 and call it a day and get to use all the stuff you are stating you want to use without any re-wiring. Since it is portable you can also use it elsewhere.

As an alternative, you could try this set up to see exactly what your 120V usage will be on your Caravel without breaking the bank and then decide what you really want to do and how much money you want to spend to do it. you would still have 1000W lithium battery as a power source for the future.
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Old 06-22-2021, 11:51 AM   #10
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One additional caveat:
A common complaint on the on-line reviews for inverters is that when using a transfer switch, the inverter will not allow usage beyond its rating even when hooked up to shore power. That is, a trailer with a 30 A shore power connection (3600 W), when retrofitted with some brands of 2000 W inverter, will always be limited to 2000 W, even when on shore power. Read the specs and reviews carefully before doing your “upgrade”.
Happy travels!
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Old 06-22-2021, 01:08 PM   #11
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Ventura , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by englishw View Post
Hello, I would like to DIY install a 3k watt inverter upgrade.

Here is our setup for a 2021 20FB Caravel that came standard with a 1000 W pure sine OEM inverter.

-We have upgraded to 2 - 100 Ah lithium batteries and the dealer installed a new converter when they put in the new batteries for me.

-We have a Victron Smart Shunt and SmartSolar MPPT

-We have 4 - 90 Watt solar panels

In layman's terms, could you give me instructions on how to replace that 1k watt inverter with a 3k watt inverter so that we have the ability to run a microwave, coffee pot, and AC with a soft starter (not necessarily all at the same time)?
I also have a 2021 Caravel 20fb and planning to have the dealer install 2 additional 100 wt zamp obsidian panels adding to existing 90 wt panel that came w factory package and upgrading to 2 Lion lithium AH100 batteries. The dealer is suggesting I also swap out the factory MPPT controller to a zamp ZS-60 A which I believe is PWM. I don’t know much about the technology but have read MPPT is more efficient. Interested in all views from this group as you are ALL much better informed than I.

@EnglishW - How is your system performing and can you tell me specifically what Victron controllers and converters you had the dealer install? Again, also interested in other views on what I should consider. Please Note - I’m not a DIY guy who can do the work nor interested in traveling north to AM solar so inclined to have the dealer do the work. Thanks all for suggestions.
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Old 06-22-2021, 01:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GetawA-S View Post
One additional caveat:
A common complaint on the on-line reviews for inverters is that when using a transfer switch, the inverter will not allow usage beyond its rating even when hooked up to shore power. That is, a trailer with a 30 A shore power connection (3600 W), when retrofitted with some brands of 2000 W inverter, will always be limited to 2000 W, even when on shore power. Read the specs and reviews carefully before doing your ďupgradeĒ.
Happy travels!
Hi

The ratings on the transfer switches are *very* brand / model specific. You can find 15A inverters with 30A (or 50A) transfer switches on them.

Bob
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Old 06-22-2021, 03:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerdog;
I also have a 2021 Caravel 20fb and planning to have the dealer install 2 additional 100 wt zamp obsidian panels adding to existing 90 wt panel that came w factory package and upgrading to 2 Lion lithium AH100 batteries. The dealer is suggesting I also swap out the factory MPPT controller to a zamp ZS-60 A which I believe is PWM. I don’t know much about the technology but have read MPPT is more efficient. Interested in all views from this group as you are ALL much better informed than I.
Your top-of-the-line Victron MPPT controller that came with your Airstream is in every way better than a far less effective PWM controller.

Your dealer is either completely ignorant or (worse) they are just trying to sell you stuff that will actually take you backwards in performance.

Buyer beware.
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Old 06-22-2021, 06:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
Your top-of-the-line Victron MPPT controller that came with your Airstream is in every way better than a far less effective PWM controller.

Your dealer is either completely ignorant or (worse) they are just trying to sell you stuff that will actually take you backwards in performance.

Buyer beware.

Yep. At best unecessary, at worst a scam.
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Old 06-23-2021, 10:21 AM   #15
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Denver , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerdog View Post

@EnglishW - How is your system performing and can you tell me specifically what Victron controllers and converters you had the dealer install? Again, also interested in other views on what I should consider. Please Note - Iím not a DIY guy who can do the work nor interested in traveling north to AM solar so inclined to have the dealer do the work. Thanks all for suggestions.
My solar panels are great and most days even when partly cloudy provide way more power than the batteries can handle. I end up on float for a good part of the day. I would suggest that you keep the Victron MPPT as it's way more efficient than what is being suggested.
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Old 06-23-2021, 11:00 AM   #16
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Appreciate everyone comments related to the factory Victron MPPT controller in the 2021. @EnglishW good luck with your converter upgrade!
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Old 06-27-2021, 04:56 PM   #17
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2021 20' Caravel
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Pic of the 4 panels

Hi Englishw,,

Any chance you could post a picture of your Caravel 20FB with the panels? I assume they are all on top? We have a 2021 Caravel 20FB also with two narrow 90 watt panels on top. We plan to add a third on the curb side. We have been very happy with the solar so far but wanted a little extra. We just have the AGM batteries, not Lithium. And no generator, yet anyway. We’re also in the Rockies (Denver area).

Thanks!
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Old 06-28-2021, 01:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind Wille View Post
Hi Englishw,,

Any chance you could post a picture of your Caravel 20FB with the panels? I assume they are all on top? We have a 2021 Caravel 20FB also with two narrow 90 watt panels on top. We plan to add a third on the curb side. We have been very happy with the solar so far but wanted a little extra. We just have the AGM batteries, not Lithium. And no generator, yet anyway. Weíre also in the Rockies (Denver area).

Thanks!
Hi, I just dropped the rig off yesterday at the storage lot so I can't send you a great picture from the top. I have included a few that show the placement of the panels. They are in the identical spot on both sides. Hope this helps. DM me if you have more questions.
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:02 PM   #19
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2021 20' Caravel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GOUSC View Post
Iíll throw another rabbit hole to go into. Take a look at this thread by Pteck.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f37...um-196422.html

Basically, you purchase a Goal Zero 1000 watt hour portable lithium battery and use it to power all your AC appliances, except A/C, while your batteries power all your DC appliances. Solar panels are used to recharge the Yeti during the day time as well as your house batteries. In Pteckís case, he installed is Yeti in the interior of his RV in connection with a automatic transfer switch. When he has full hookups shore power is the primary source of power. When he is boondocking the automatic transfer switch puts the Yeti in control of the 120V system. I donít have the knowledge to install it inside or do the automatic transfer switch so I use it in a much more basic manner.

When boondockng, I put my Yeti in the bed of my truck and run a power cable from it to my shore power input of my RV. I turn off my converter at the breaker panel so it wonít be using 120V system and switch my refrigerator to Propane. My Yeti provides 120V to power the microwave / T/Vís / hairdryer / coffee grinder, etc. Anything but the air conditioner. If I have a weekend trip then my Yeti has never been depleted. If longer, then I move my Yeti inside the RV during the day and my 250W of solar replenishes it along with my house batteries (2 Lifeline AGMís) when the Yeti is plugged into a cigarette lighter socket I installed to charge it. If my batteries run low, then I can turn on my converter and the Yeti will recharge the house batteries. I can also move the Yeti inside my Truck and charge it with the cigarette lighter charger while travelling around sightseeing.

This basically replaces my 1000 inverter and doesnít draw on my house batteries when using it. It has 3000W surge and 1500W continuous. You could pay around $1200 - $1500 and call it a day and get to use all the stuff you are stating you want to use without any re-wiring. Since it is portable you can also use it elsewhere.

As an alternative, you could try this set up to see exactly what your 120V usage will be on your Caravel without breaking the bank and then decide what you really want to do and how much money you want to spend to do it. you would still have 1000W lithium battery as a power source for the future.
So I bought the Yeti 1000 and used it this weekend. I plugged it in as shore power and then recharged during the day with the solar on the inside using the inverter. It was mostly cloudy all days but it would still charge up to about 80% without stealing power from the house. I know it would work better if I had a lighter charger inside and I will have to install it later. Sidenote, I was shocked how much power a coffee maker pulls from it for the five to ten minutes it takes to make a pot. I would drop battery capacity almost 20% from that one pot.

This is a great solution.
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Old 06-29-2021, 06:11 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by englishw View Post
So I bought the Yeti 1000 and used it this weekend. I plugged it in as shore power and then recharged during the day with the solar on the inside using the inverter. It was mostly cloudy all days but it would still charge up to about 80% without stealing power from the house. I know it would work better if I had a lighter charger inside and I will have to install it later. Sidenote, I was shocked how much power a coffee maker pulls from it for the five to ten minutes it takes to make a pot. I would drop battery capacity almost 20% from that one pot.

This is a great solution.
As you use it more you will get comfortable with how much 120V power you will need and what you donít need it for. Re: coffee- we went to a Chemex pour over for coffee to eliminate that draw and the coffee tastes better.

I end up using 200-300 watt hours a day and it is replenished daily using the Yeti cigarette lighter / charger. This way I can use the yeti to recharge my house batteries if needed when cloudy days come up or, if we get a really cold night, sub 25 degrees, it will keep my furnace going all night.

I believe you will find you wonít need your inverter anymore as the Yeti is more powerful than it and cheaper than a 3000W inverter with installation.

Next time you have full hookups, donít hook up. Use your Yeti and solar to see how long you can stretch your power out. You will still have CG power as a backup.
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