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Author Topic: All Electric Bus Conversions-Pros and cons of all electric utilities  (Read 4713 times)
mhbrewer
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« on: December 09, 2006, 05:09:35 PM »

I am thinking of converting my first bus..has any one done an all electric utilitiy bus?
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2006, 06:16:51 PM »

After wieghing the options. I opted for propane and electric. Some people seem to have a phobia for LP gas. Like nobody ever died from electric. Both elec and LP can be dangerous, but LP makes for more shocking pictures when something goes wrong. I've been led to belive that most RV fires are caused by 12 volt DC. I have 2 30 lb LP tanks which power the water heater, cooktop and furnace. Unless I am useing the furnace these last a long long time. The water heater is a dual useage, LP or elec. Weight all the options and then do it your way!
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2006, 06:27:40 PM »

I agree with the use of propane for fridge, heat and cooking. I have been in temps in single digits at night, and it is sooo nice to have the propane for heat. I have a forced air furnace which requires 12v. I also have a 3 segment infra-red heater up front, and a catalytic heater in the bedroom which require no electricity at all to run. They all three come in very handy. The ir and cat heaters come in handy to preheat the bus while it is sitting with the block htr plugged in.

Just give it time, the right solution will come to you as to what will work best for you.

John Z
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2006, 06:27:48 PM »

Hello mhbrewer, Welcome to the board!

My 102C3 is all electric, if I were to think of 1 thing that you wouldn't want all electric, it would be your heat..

I started out with 2 basement heat pumps and I quickly found out that that was very uneconomical to run heat through the night so, I added

a 45,000btu Proheat diesel fired boiler and piped a hydronic coil into my return air. Now it works like a dream.

Now I have the option of either using the HP's when plugged into park post and not use up my diesel or, while boondocking

I conserve electric by using the Proheat. My electric H2O heater is all electric and it's not a problem because I usually heat it up before

a trip and that darn thing stays hot almost all weekend. We also found the convection Microwave to be a great asset for baking and

heating just about everything. I also have a full size side by side house type refrigerator that is energy star rated and only draws 4.6 amps

It will make it from N.J. to Florida without bringing the battery bank down. So thats never a problem.

With a large enough battery bank, a quality inverter, and a decent Genset, you can have all the comforts

of home.

Of course, you do what works for your needs,
Nick Badame-
« Last Edit: December 09, 2006, 06:39:52 PM by Nick Badame Refrig. Co. » Logged

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Ross
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2006, 06:44:45 PM »

I have propane fridge, stove and heat.  I love the propane fridge but the heat sucks up propane fast in cold weather.  I just installed a 45K Proheat with instant potable hot water loop and baseboard loops.  right now I have just the front baseboards plumbed...(23 feet of baseboard).   I still have another 15 feet to install in the bedroom.  Last night it was 10F and the bus stayed 62F.  Hydronic baseboard is the way to go for sure.  Other than that, electric fridge and range works well.  Just find a fridge that draws little current since it will be running on an inverter when not plugged in.

Ross
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2006, 07:04:49 PM »

I went the simplest route.  I have a chassis mounted 20 gal propane tank mounted directly below the stove/oven with the furnace (35,000btu) next to keep the propane run short.  Also have an electric solenoid shut off with a switch inside so the propane is only charged when needed.  My refrigerator is a Norcold 6.3 cu ft AC/DC compressor type that is typically used in boats.  Just look behind any Camping World at the pile of absorbsion type reefers, to know that they go hay wire often.  I also have a 100lb Norcold chest reefer/freezer under my dinette seat.  Both have been flawless for the 11 years I've had them.  My water is heated by two 10 gal 120v A/C water heaters straight from Home Depot.  I have them plumbed one into the next with the final water heater wired through the inverter for hot water going down the road.  My travelling air heater is the old radiator powered heat exchanger mounted under my wardrobe with two 14" 12v electric radiator fans to push the air.  Not real quiet, but very effective.  I was going to use the Aquahot method until I found out both the cost of the system and the up keep.  All of the above equipment discussed have performed flawlessly for the over 10 years they have been in use.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2006, 11:24:52 PM »

both of my buses and my folks bus are all electric.

my 04 and my folks 08 both have webasto forced air diesel fuled heaters as well as electric heaters.

the single show box size webasto I have will keep the entire coach warm enough to run around naked in sub freezing temps......as well as dehumidify the coach.


con to propane.........you run out of it........certain tunnels do not allow you to go through with propane........propane fridges need to be level....somehting that can be hard to do on a air suspension coach

propane heat is not supposed to be used going down the road.

but it all depends on your coach use.



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Ross
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2006, 05:01:25 AM »

........propane fridges need to be level....somehting that can be hard to do on a air suspension coach



Not true.  The manufacturer may suggest that, but I've been so off-level that it was uncomfortable to walk around the bus and the fridge has never stopped working.  It's been one of the most reliable appliances in the bus.  The nice thing is that it will run forever on a few miliamps of DC and 30# of propane.

I agree on the diesel heat though.  71F in the bus this morning with only half my baseboard hooked up.  I think it was down to about 15F last night.  It would have cost me 20# of propane to keep the bus at 70+F for the past 24 hours.

Ross
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JerryH
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2006, 06:41:10 AM »

I am thinking of converting my first bus..has any one done an all electric utilitiy bus?

Welcome!

Our current MC-8 is an all-electic conversion by Custom Coach. If I were planning a coach from the ground up, I would not have LP, but would have redundant systems. First, a diesel fueled hot water boiler (ie: Webasto or AquaHot) for coach heat, domestic hot water and piped through the engine as well. I'd have a PowerTech genset sized accordingly for the load to include a few electric heaters and (yes) domestic hot water heater. Why? If the boiler was offline (my choice or not), or I was plugged into a campgrounds 50A service on their dime, I could get my how water and knock the chill off the coach interior without it costing me more $$$ in diesel fuel.  My house system is a Carrier heat pump with an LP gas boiler as backup.  So we can operate on heat pump 100% (wouldn't want to) and switch to LP if necessary or let it do it on its own, based on temperatures.  But IF the boiler was offline, I'd still have "some" heat.

For me ... I'd prefer not having LP and keeping it to one fuel source. But that's just my $0.02 for my coach.

Jerry H.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2006, 06:44:16 AM by JerryH » Logged
H3Jim
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2006, 07:07:11 AM »

Propane refrigerators are typically  only sensitive to being out of level in one direction. Its left to right as you look at the refrigerator. The reason is that they have a tube with the refrigerant in it that goes from one side to the other as it alos goes from bottom to top (hope that's clear enough) This is the tube that the propane heats. If the refrig is not level enough, then little bubbles get stuck in the horizontal passages and its very difficult to get them moving again once they have lodged in there. Just how level the refrigerator requires depends on the mfg, and how steep or level the horizontal part of the tube is.

I have a compressor driven refrig, 24 volt and it matters not how out of level I am - although its hard walking around when its very far off.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2006, 04:22:45 PM by H3Jim » Logged

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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2006, 07:25:46 AM »

Propane refrigerators area only sensitve to being out of level in one direction. Its left to right as you look at the refrigerator. The reason is that they have a tube with the refrigeratnt in it that goes from one side to the other as it alos goes from bottom to top (hope thats cear enough) This is the tube that the propane heats. If the refrig is not level enough, then little bubbles get stuck in the horizontal passages and its very difficult to get them moving again once they have lodged in there. Just how level teh regrig requires depends on the mfg, and how steep or level the horizontal part of the tube is.

I have a compressore driven refrig, 24 volt and it matters not how out of level I am - although its hard walking around when its very far off.

Jim,
Don't forget that after 4 to 5 years the amonia starts to gel in that tube and the burner area. Then when the refrig
doesn't work anymore, you can always flip it upside down for a couple days to get the gelled amonia moving again.
But, they usually rot out before that happens anymore. I had a good pile at the shop this year.....
Nick-
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2006, 03:39:20 PM »

I have an all electrice bus with a proheat diesel furnace. Far as I am concerned its the bst way to go. We have been using fot six years trouble free.
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H3Jim
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2006, 04:25:26 PM »

My bus is all electric with Espar diesel heater.  Its great.  I have 600 amp hours of usable batteries at 24 volts.  a 12k generator, and a 4000 watt sine wave inverter.  I plan on adding about 700 watts  of solar next year.  My refrierator is very efficient, and thats part of the key, since I boondock most of the time.
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2006, 04:26:12 PM »

I'll throw my vote in for having propane onboard. We can run the fridge forever on next to no propane. The BBQ ties into the onboard propane tank. With 70 gal of propane we fill up roughly once a year. I love having a gas stove - there is no comparison between cooking with gas or electric IMHO. We have diesel heat.
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2006, 04:56:48 PM »

I gotta offer this...if you go all electric, and plan to utilize older campgrounds, avoid 220 VAC appliances if possible. The cooktop would be the only problem as that would likely be the only 220 appliance used.
RVs don't have 220, even though they use two 110 legs with the 50 amp outlets. The power in some of the older campgrounds may be cobbled together and not to code. A lot of older campgrounds only have a few 50A outlets and lots of 30 amp outlets. As long as you stay with 110VAC appliances, you'll be able to "manage" your power and make most things work...albeit not all at the same time.
If you plan to use a genset all of the time, it won't matter what you use for appliances.
If you plan on boondocking, LP is very cool. Boondocking can be done without LP, but you'll have to be an engineer (and wealthy) to design, build, and keep up with the complex system. You may be both engineer and rich.
My point is just that you may want to consider where you plan to use your coach, and be certain that you can get power to run your all electric systems. You will not have the benefit of running a genset in most hookup sites in campgrounds...you obviously could supplement with a high-end inverter...for a short period.
LP will cook, keep the fridge cold, and give hot water. And some heat. I have two heat pumps that work great, but also have a supplemental LP funace.
There's a reason that 99% of RVs have LP systems...even upscale Class A motorhomes. There are also plenty ways of doing things....and all electric coach, if properly designed, will work fine. An all electric coach with good solar and big inverters and generators will be expensive to build....and complicated.
FWIW, JR
 


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