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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Going through some upgrades from my side (will update my other thread at This is how I use my van...) as the project is moving along nicely. I built a flat platform, a full-time sofa/bed, with footwell... :) Anyways...

I'm interested in going solar. Getting a "solar generator" with a couple of 100W panels that I can deploy when I'm parked. It will be used to power a full-time Dometic fridge, all of my office stuff (monitors etc.) and oh-what-the-**** also some induction cooking. Plus fans, lights. It will take a beating, so I will want to charge it from the car too. Looking maybe at an Ecoflow Delta (edit).

What's the best way to charge it in the car (besides solar that is). Would I just plug it in the 12V cigarette lighter plug from the car? Any better way to do without touching any of the electric system from the car?
 

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To charge to HV battery? You’d need a 120v source. Doubtful that you’ll be able to supply the required powered from a couple of solar panels.
 

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If its solar I'd imagine it would be charged by the sun? ?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok I realize probably something got lost in translation - English is not my first language.

So the « solar generator » name is more of a marketing gimmick but think of it as a big battery + inverter + converter + a bunch of components and controllers. This converter can charge the battery using solar panels, from the 120v wall plug, or from the 12v car battery cigarette lighter plug.

The goal is not to use this to charge the car’s EV battery but to have a strong, continuous source of power independently of the car. The car would be used to charge that « solar generator » when I’m driving and it’s not sunny.

Anybody is doing something like that?
 

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Ok I realize probably something got lost in translation - English is not my first language.

So the « solar generator » name is more of a marketing gimmick but think of it as a big battery + inverter + converter + a bunch of components and controllers. This converter can charge the battery using solar panels, from the 120v wall plug, or from the 12v car battery cigarette lighter plug.

The goal is not to use this to charge the car’s EV battery but to have a strong, continuous source of power independently of the car. The car would be used to charge that « solar generator » when I’m driving and it’s not sunny.

Anybody is doing something like that?
Doubt it, for good reason.
 

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Doesn't the PacHy have inverter outlets that you can use to power stuff? It seems a bit backward to start putting in a 0.5kWh battery when you have a 16kWh battery right under you that can power the outlets... and if you don't have enough juice in it, it'll run the ICE to charge it up. It's like an on-demand generator, too. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@lutorm - I know, it seems counterintuitive, but;
  • the PacHy’s inverter is rated at 150W, which is not enough for my needs. I could use a bigger inverter and it seems like some people here are. Some are powering power tools directly from the car with a 2000 or 3000W inverter.
  • I’d like to use solar panels for when I’m camping and it’s sunny. And I would never dare to use these panels to charge the car.
I don’t mind the idea of separating both. The EV and the car’s 12v etc for the car. And this thingy for me and my office... but if it’s not sunny, I need to charge that thingy :)

Or maybe there’s something better? I know that it sounds crazy to buy an expensive small battery when we have so many watts under the floor...
 

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@lutorm - I know, it seems counterintuitive, but;
  • the PacHy’s inverter is rated at 150W, which is not enough for my needs. I could use a bigger inverter and it seems like some people here are. Some are powering power tools directly from the car with a 2000 or 3000W inverter.
  • I’d like to use solar panels for when I’m camping and it’s sunny. And I would never dare to use these panels to charge the car.
I don’t mind the idea of separating both. The EV and the car’s 12v etc for the car. And this thingy for me and my office... but if it’s not sunny, I need to charge that thingy :)

Or maybe there’s something better? I know that it sounds crazy to buy an expensive small battery when we have so many watts under the floor...
So I'm not understanding your use case. Please tell us more. :unsure:

That battery is 0.5kWh, that allows you to run a 2kW load for ... 15minutes. How are you going to have enough energy to run multi-kW tools for any significant time? And what kind of camping are you doing where you operate multi-kW power tools? (How do you even power 2-3kW tools, the max power you can pull out of a normal 15A outlet, peak, is 1800W. Are you going to use a 240V inverter? A 3kW load would pull >250A from the battery.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
@lutorm - you are right, I should have started with that!

There are 2 situations in which I need lots of power inside the van.

1. Work setting. In this case, it is usually an all day endeavor, meaning the van will have charged with my Level 2 all night, and will have driven a few miles. Then it needs to power a full office (300W with monitors etc.) as well as a Dometic fridge (similar to the one discussed in this thread Keeping 110V Plug ON when Pacifica is OFF). Then, at lunch time, an induction plate for 30 min. Ideally, I would like the engine to not have to kick in. This will need to hold all day (6-10 hours), then we're back to home base and back to Level 2 charger.

2. Camping setting. In this setting, looking at leaving for several days at a time. I may not have access to a Level 1 or 2 charger, and I may stay at the same place for a few days. Don't mind running the engine if required, but would want to minimize that as much as possible, especially with solar panels. In this case, it's the typical camper workload. Induction cooking for breakfast, lunch and diner, the Dometic on a 24x7 basis, and office setting on a part-time basis.

I realize the Jackery that I linked is likely way too small for use case #2, I see that Ecoflow Delta is back on stock at EcoFlow DELTA 1300.

Hence the idea was to get something like that, and then somehow use the car to charge it if there is not enough sun.
 

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You don't have a power storage budget to do all this. When driving only few miles you may get away with having the car in "on" state and drawing power from the HV battery. But you'll need to add a 12V-120V inverter, as your Jackery can only draw 120W from a 12V source. This setup will be inefficient- car idle consumption and multiple voltage conversions will drain the HV battery fast. It isn't going to work for camping at all because you will arrive there with 0% on the HV battery.
You should consider cooking with a gas stove, reducing your computer power needs (300W is a lot for a portable machine) or, better yet, camp on an electrified site.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hmmm.... not totally unexpected... :) of course, wouldn’t be that easy, right?

Yep, it all latches on "power storage budget", I think it's a good way to look at it.

I'm going to rethink my planned usage, maybe drop one of the monitors and cook more on the gas stove. And look at a bigger capacity device, again maybe that Ecoflow Delta, and see if there is potential to all make it work.

Also thanks for pointing how inefficient the charging would be. And solar can bring me only that far.

The number 1 principle for this setup would be to not put any drain on the car's battery, that is why I am looking to have some parallel system for all internal power needs...
 

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Even if you have enough storage, you still need a pretty large solar installation to provide all the energy to fill it. Even in desert places where the sky is 100% clear dawn to dusk, fixed solar panels don't generate more than about 6h of equivalent full-time sun per day. If you want to run your loads for, say, 18h/day, you need ~3x your load in PV capacity. And that is without clouds or obscuration with the panels oriented well.

I suspect that if solar is going to be at all practical for meeting your camping energy needs, you will need to be pretty aggressive at minimizing the amount you use.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Understood. So back of the napkins approximations on in and out juice are not enough and I need to inventory it all precisely and make some hard decisions... My gut feel is that it will pass... (crossing fingers!!)
 

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Whenever I hear someone use the phrase solar generator, I invariably find myself asking them what it is exactly that they mean by solar generator. I researched some information in this article about How Much Do Solar Panels Save? | Websolarguide.Some people use the phrase solar generator to simply refer to solar power generation from solar panels. There is an abundance of information on this and other sites about solar panels and grid-connected residential solar power systems and so I will not repeat this information here.
 

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Yes, "solar generator" is a confusing name, but what else should they call this device? "Li-Ion power bank with built in 120V AC inverter and solar panel controller"?
 
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