Conversion Van: install Power inverter help? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-02-2015, 10:17 AM   #1
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Conversion Van: install Power inverter help?

Hello Friends,

I bought the 2007 chevy express 1500 with the wheelchair lift for my brother. It will now be my primary vehicle and tug as I'm selling the truck.

I noticed that the van has a 15 amp Leviton power inlet on the outside, but can't seem to locate an inverter. I'm wondering if it was mounted to the wall behind the inlet and is now covered up with that carpeted conversion wall material? That doesn't make sense does it? Thought they need air circ.

Anywho the wheelchair mod company that did the work said it could have been pré-existing in the cargo van before it was modded.

Long story short, if I find there's no inverter and want to install one, what kind would I buy and is there a ton of work involved? I would like to have a couple of electrical outlets put inside the van. Then I could have more family come camp with me as van also has a power bench seat/bed. Just for things like coffee maker cell phones and stuff.

Any help would be appreciated! I noticed many products on the web but have no clue other than I think it takes the 12 volt power in the van and steps it up to 120?

I assumed I could run an extension cord while camping and plug into van inlet. Do these draw vehicle battery power somehow? I saw words like sine and modified sine...see I'm clueless.

Also wondered cost of an inverter that would suit my needs. I would have my mechanic install of course. Way beyond my skill set.

Cheers and thank you!

Wendy


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Old 02-02-2015, 10:51 AM   #2
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Wendy,

An inverter will drain you battery quite quickly, depending on what you are going to power with it. A heater would be the worst, a laptop, not so bad. If you do install an inverter, It would be a good idea to install an accessory battery bank as well. On the Express van, the diesel version has a battery under the van, behind the driver seat. That is where I would install an extra battery that is isolated from your starting battery with something like this:
12V Dual Battery Isolator | Princess Auto

That dodad will connect the accessory battery to the alternator, when the van is running, and disconnect it when not running.

Lets talk power. If you get a really good accessory battery, it will have about 120 Ahrs of storage. That is, it can supply 120 Amps for one hour, or one amp for 120 hours. This is at 12 VDC. Power = Amps x Volts. so the battery could supply 1440 Watts, for one hour, or 12 Watts for 120 hours. A 1500 Watt blow dryer will run the battery dead, in less then an hour.

It should be noted that you should never drain your 120 Ahr battery more then 60 Ahrs. This will extend the life of your battery greatly.

The cost of batteries, isolator, and inverter, will be more then double what a small noisy generator would cost. It may be advisable to look at a generator on the bumper of your van, instead of an inverter.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:10 AM   #3
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I'm betting that that power inlet on the outside is to connect power to provide 120 power TO the van, maybe for an outlet or a battery charger of some sort. An Inverter wouldn't a part of that picture.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:30 PM   #4
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Power

I have a van with a bank of 4 six volt batteries and a 1800 watt inverter, this is all seperate from the starting batteries except the van alternator charges the bank of batteries when the engine is running , I run the engine when using high draw appliances, Coffee maker and microwave. I can run the DVD player and tv and lights for several days usage with this set up,
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Old 02-03-2015, 05:15 AM   #5
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I do have a DVD player already in the van, which is another reason I wondered about the power inlet on the outside of the van. Bob, would you please explain to me what you mean? Yes, it is a power inlet (blades in the receptacle, not an outlet). Would there be a likely place for a batter charger? What would be the point of having one? This is all new to me.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:25 AM   #6
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I can't even guess what the inside of your van looks like or what equipment it might have. 120VAC outside power inlets are usually installed to provide external power to 120 vac accessories/appliances in the van. From power plugs in the van, 120 volt lighting, 120 volt appliances and a converter/battery charger. But all of that may have been removed OR it may have something to do with externally powering the lift should battery power fail. It needs to be seen by someone on site to figure out why it's there.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:30 AM   #7
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Since the access port has male connection instead of female connection it is probably designed to hook up an extension cord to provide 120 volt AC power to the van. This could come from and exterior supply from a home or campground circuit or from a portable generator. If it was the other way around power from the van coming out you would have exposed live ends which would be very dangerous. I would certainly verify all suspect connections with the factory who did the van conversions.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:02 PM   #8
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Thank you. I've taken your suggestions all and contacted the van conversion company. I go Thursday to get it checked out. I'll report what I've learned then. Till then, many thanks.


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Old 02-03-2015, 11:53 PM   #9
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Brent here, I have a mild sprinter van conversion, no plumbing. I have a male receptacle on the outside of my van which is commonly referred to as a "shore" power inlet plug, If I hook a 110 volt extension cord to this receptacle then power is fed to several interior outlets just like in your house. Plugged into one of these outlets is a intelligent converter/battery charger that converts the 110volts coming in into 12 volts and has the built in ability to charge any 12 volt batteries wired to it. I personally have my two regular "starting" batteries isolated from the RV functions, I don't want to wake up to dead batteries and not be able to start the van.
I then also have four large 6 volt batteries configured to be 12 volt which are used for the RV needs, these are dept charge by the "shore" power set up and also by the van alternator while the engine is running. From the RV batteries I have connected a. 1800 watt inverter that converts the 12 volts to 110 volts when I'm not connected to shore power. The important link to me is the Rv side of this can only receive power (to charge its batteris while the van is running, kind of a one way set up, (I think the component that makes that possible is called a diode) from the Van electrical system to the RV side of things. I hope this helps, my motto is keep it as simple as possible, hope this helps Brent
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Old 02-05-2015, 06:25 AM   #10
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Thank you Brent indeed your info helps. I think the shore plug in my van may be for DVD player. Hoping to find out today, but buffalo, ny weather is awful today. I'll see how the roads are and hopefully make trip to wheelchair conversion place. Thank you for your help!


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Old 02-16-2015, 07:44 PM   #11
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Found out there USED to be an inverter in my van, but someone must have taken it out...And the wires were all cut behind the shore plug anyway. So if I decide to do all of this work, it's at square one.

And sounds like I'll need a wad of cash too. . Thanks for all the replies.


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