Robust, reliable electrical system design and implementation is critical to a successful expedition vehicle design. Unfortunately electrical systems are a weak point and the “Achilles heel” of many traditional RVs and expedition vehicles. Poor electrical system design and use of cheap low cost wiring and electrical components are prevalent in the construction of many RVs and expedition vehicles which frequently results in systems not working and in some cases vehicle fires.
Electrical System Design
EarthRoamer XV electrical system design is influenced heavily by designs extensively tested and used for years in high-end yachts. Yachts frequently operate for long periods of time in extremely corrosive saltwater environments far away from electrical power sources. With their need for reliability and operation under hash conditions, EarthRoamer Xpedition Vehicles have electrical system requirements very similar to those of yachts. Fundamentals of the electrical system design in EarthRoamer XVs include the use of:
- Solar power as a primary source of electrical energy
- Diesel engine driven dual alternators as a primary source of electrical energy while driving and as a backup energy source when in camp
- Large gauge, high conductivity, low resistance, fine strand tinned copper marine cable throughout
- Sealed, weatherproof connectors – even on the inside of the vehicle
- Switches, circuit breaker panels, fuse blocks and other components engineered for use in harsh marine environments
- Advanced battery isolation system to ensure the ability to start the truck even if the camper batteries have been drained
- Efficient and reliable AGM batteries originally designed for use in fighter jets
- State of the art, high efficiency pure sine wave inverters
- Battery chargers that can be used with AC electrical power from 110-220 volt AC and 50-60 Hz to enable charging in any country when plugged in
- Centrally located and easily accessible access to primary and secondary wiring, circuit breaker panels, fuse blocks and electrical system components to enable quick diagnosis, troubleshooting and repair in the unlikely event of an electrical problem.
Electrical Power Sources
There are three ways to provide electrical power to an EarthRoamer XV:
- Solar power – .66 kW (optional up to 1.1 kW) whenever the vehicle is outside exposed to daylight (even on overcast days)
- Running the engine – 3.7 kW while driving or when idling the engine in camp
- Idling the engine (not driving) – Optional 9 kW with PTO generator
- Plugged in – At home, in an established campground, or camped in your friend’s backyard, the onboard battery charger will provide 2.1 kW of power when the vehicle is plugged into a standard 20 amp AC wall outlet
Electrical Power Storage
Power produced from solar, the engine and being plugged in is stored in a large battery bank consisting of 6.3 kWh (optional 12.6 kWh) absorbed glass matt (AGM) batteries. These batteries are completely sealed, long lasting, have low internal resistance for fast charging, and can holdup to vibrations and off road use.
It’s a common cliché that the “devil is in the details,” but nowhere is this more true than with electrical systems. An intelligently designed electrical system is useless if poorly routed wires chafe and short out or improperly terminated electrical connections come apart. Electrical failures can be much more than just an annoyance, an improperly installed electrical system can result in an electrical fire and potentially be life threatening. Good electrical systems require patience and skill and installation by a craftsman who cares. Our electrical technicians have many years of experience and training, and are true craftsman who take great pride in their work. For them, electrical system installations are a work of art and a source of pride. We were told by one EarthRoamer owner who recently purchased a new and very expensive private airplane that his EarthRoamer wiring looked better than his airplane wiring.
In typical operation, little thought needs to be given to the vehicle electrical system. While driving to your destination the dual engine alternators as well as the solar panels will be charging the AGM battery bank. Once in camp, the batteries are typically fully charged and during daylight the solar panels continue to produce power. High efficiency LED and florescent lights, a high efficiency compressor refrigerator and a variable speed DC fan keep electrical consumption low. AC powered appliances like the convection microwave, Keurig coffee maker and air conditioner as well as the vehicle AC outlets are all powered by the battery bank through the 3 kW inverter. In typical use with reasonable electrical power conservation (simply turn things off when they are not being used) and good sunlight, plenty of power is available indefinitely. If solar output is low (i.e. cloudy or short winter days), or electrical power demands are high (i.e. continuously running the air conditioner or roasting a turkey), simply idle the engine periodically to recharge the batteries.