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By this time, I had been working on the 20k project for several weeks in 100+ degree heat, and the transformation from “This will be a cool, fun mod!” James into “Can you please get that camera out of my face?” James was well underway.
(I’m trying to set your expectations for this video.)
So, keep that in mind as you watch. Sometimes, we forgot to film steps. Sometimes, we filmed steps, but never made any audio to explain. Sometimes, I say “I’ll show you that later,” and then I just don’t. But in spite of all that, I was able to piece together this video that should let most of you follow along. You just may have to pay attention when it gets a little non-linear. Here you go!
There are two main things you’ll see in the video.
First – The Dinette Build
This is largely a woodworking project, with some metal bits thrown in. Basically, I build an L-shaped bench that’s attached to the structure of the RV. The bench boxes themselves are fairly standard. They’re attached to the RV with angle brackets that I made in-house, and I use those to attach to the walls and floor. The pieces of the bench connect to each other using Festool Dominos, which provide a solid attachment that I can disassemble later if I need to.
I did cut all the pieces of the dinette bench using the CNC router. I learned that if you want to cut a rectangle that’s 2mm longer on one side than its opposite, that’s really easy to do with CNC, but pretty hard with just a table saw. I only had to build as far as the bench, and then Stef took over and was in charge of getting cushions and fabrics picked out for it. That’s a very good thing, and you’ll realize why when you look at the finished product.
The dinette was finished off with the Sexy Italian Table Base from Lippert, on top of which I added a bamboo top that I sprayed in-house as well. While I was at it, I made a smaller version of the table top for the passenger-side Lagun table that Stef uses.
I also made a couple odds-and-ends pieces for the dinette area (which you’ll see in the video), and wrapped the base of the table as a super-awesome scratching post for Mel.
Second – the Electrical Burn-In Test
In IT, where my day job takes me, when we stand up a new system, there’s typically something called a burn-in test. This is where we turn everything on and turn it up to 11 for as long as we can stand it to make sure that it all works and everything can handle the loads. That’s the other thing you’ll see in this video – the Burn-In Test of the 20k electrical system.
What I did is park Number One in the sun on a 100 degree day, unplugged, and cranked the air conditioner, and let it run. All. Day. Long.
I’m happy to report that we passed the burn-in test with flying colors. Sure, things got hot. The inverter got hot, but kept running and didn’t even get into “warning” territory. (That was the piece I was most concerned about – that inverter compartment outside in the sun.) So I’m calling my fan and venting solution a success. Other wiring and cabling maybe got warm… kinda. But nothing concerning. The circuit breakers got warm, but no warmer than they would get on shore power. The batteries, happily, didn’t seem to heat up much at all.
Solar was on-line and contributing as well. Our 455 watts of theoretical solar on the roof was consistently giving us 250 watts or so throughout the day. No issues from solar.
It got dark and cooled off well before we ran out of battery power, but it looks like we could have about 14 hours or more of air conditioner run time in full-sun desert conditions. Not too shabby! That will get us an overnight stay with air conditioning in any conditions I can dream up. I’m happy with that.
Though we don’t show it (because it would be super boring to watch), the next day we had the second part of the burn-in test… where we charged the batteries as fast as we could. That also went well, and nothing overheated during that exercise either.
The Final Word
I am planning on one more video on the 20k project, but that one will wait until we have a few months of real-world usage on the system. That’s where we’ll explain what it’s like to have such a system day-to-day, what we’ve had to do to adapt to the system, and how it’s changed our RVing style. But since I want that to be as authentic as possible, that will have to wait. (Plus, I want to include Stef in that one too, since she observes things from a different perspective than I do.)
I’m sure there will be questions. Sound off in the comments below!!