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bennelson 04-10-2019 02:31 PM

DIY Electric RV?
Hi Folks!

It seems to me that among the various vehicles that don't exist in an electric version are Recreational Vehicles! (Campers, motorhomes, etc.)

There have been electric delivery trucks out there, and many of those are now available on the second hand market.

While an electric RV would have a very short range, nearly every RV park out there has 50A 240V electric service anyways, so the RV could always be charging any time it's at a park.

So, here's my concept...
Buy an existing electric delivery truck, convert it to an RV (including the proper DMV registration) by building out the inside with bed, kitchen etc.
A number of years back, I built a "Teardrop" trailer. It was a great experience, and I learned plenty about AC, DC, Solar, batteries, cabinet-making, etc. A good friend of mine is an RV master mechanic, and can get all sorts of parts cheap/free.

I would install solar on the roof of the RV. Although it wouldn't be practical for charging the drive system, it would always keep house batteries topped off. In addition, it might be completely possible to tap into the main battery pack and use that as the electrical source for house power. Grid-tie solar inverters run in the same range of voltage as electric vehicle batteries. "Hybrid" inverters could draw high voltage power and convert it to 120V/240VAC without requiring grid power. An 80kWh battery pack would provide power for a LOT of off-grid camping!

I also have a CHAdeMO inlet and believe we could set it up with the right CAN control and software to allow for CHAdeMO charging.

The RV would be used for travel adventures and education in EVs, Renewable Energy, and all the S.T.E.M. concepts that go into the design and construction of the project.

They type of vehicle I'm thinking of would be something along these lines...

In fact, there are so few electric RVs out there, that I could probably get some excitement behind it with sponsorships, donations, and people helping me with the build!

Your thoughts?
Crazy, I know, right?

redpoint5 04-10-2019 02:35 PM

I just want to see you tow the electric lawn mower behind.

bennelson 04-10-2019 02:36 PM

No reason why it couldn't tow a vehicle behind it.
It certainly could be set up as a toy-hauler.

I'm imagining a big bike rack on the back, maybe a lift for a motorcycle.

aerohead 04-10-2019 03:31 PM

works for me!
The existing performance values for the box truck could be converted to electric-equivalents and allow insights into motor/battery requirements for a given speed/range target.
Electric motors have the equivalent of around 0.15 lb/bhp BSFC where a diesel might be on the order of 0.40.(we'd want to do the homework)
We know NASA got Cd0.238 out of their 'Shoebox' project,and we could improve on what they did.
Regen would really be a game-changer in an RV.They have such a huge penalty in stop-and go,which a BEV could take advantage of.
Downhill regen instead of braking.
As Volkswagen gets their 1,000, fast charging 'Electrify America' stations installed,that opens up even more options for BEV RVs.
If you don't do it,I suspect it won't be long before someone else does.;)

Frank Lee 04-10-2019 04:21 PM

IIRC a few years ago VW rumors floated around re: e-RV. Public perception of range anxiety was huge.

redpoint5 04-10-2019 04:33 PM

I don't like RVs in principle, so I don't have much to contribute as far as if a terrible thing should be electrified.

What I always tell my wife when we're camping: "That's what we forgot to bring, our house!".

oil pan 4 04-10-2019 05:12 PM

How big is the battery going to be?
I have noticed a fair number of RV parks that do the plug share thing ask that charging be limited to 40 amps.
There is a guy on ebay who sells a chademo kit for old rav 4 electric vehicles, I think he has the after market chademo protocol figured out.

bennelson 04-10-2019 05:49 PM


Originally Posted by oil pan 4 (Post 595695)
How big is the battery going to be?

The type of truck I'm looking at has a 80kWh battery on it. Charging is 240V only at anywhere up to 75A.

One upside to RVs is that they are parked a lot, and there's no reason they can't simply be charging the whole time.

Redpoint5: I don't disagree with you. RVing is a different thing than camping. I'm almost thinking more "Tiny House Movement" than anything else.

redpoint5 04-10-2019 05:56 PM

I bet most RV hookups top out at 30-40 amps tops. I probably wouldn't get a faster L2 charger since they probably aren't common or affordable.

Ability to DCFC at a CCS charger is probably wise.

bennelson 04-10-2019 07:29 PM

It would probably be CHAdeMO for fast charge.

CHAdeMO uses CAN for communications. CCS uses Power Line Communications.

Looks like it's probably much easier to do CHAdeMO. Plus, I already have a CHAdeMO inlet in my box of salvaged EV parts!

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