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Old 11-22-2016, 04:54 PM   #1
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Default Electrical Tutorial

Hi,

I'm a newbie and just waiting to take delivery of my first RV (New RT SS Agile - 300w solar, ecotrek 400, diesel alde, volt start).

I'd like to get a a pretty good understanding of how my electrical system works and haven't been able to find any good videos that encompass my specific setup. If anyone could take the time to explain it that would be great - I comprehend things fairly quickly

Thanks
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Old 11-22-2016, 06:03 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by alex668 View Post
Hi,

I'm a newbie and just waiting to take delivery of my first RV (New RT SS Agile - 300w solar, ecotrek 400, diesel alde, volt start).

I'd like to get a a pretty good understanding of how my electrical system works and haven't been able to find any good videos that encompass my specific setup. If anyone could take the time to explain it that would be great - I comprehend things fairly quickly

Thanks
Congratulations! You are one step ahead of me. I'm still thinking about it.
I don't know if you'll find a video of your system. My understanding is the system has gone through iterations.

If you have not done so already, download at least the ecotrek and volt start manuals from You are being redirected...

Before you take delivery of the camper I would encourage you to have the dealer demonstrate all systems to you. This is for you to learn how to use them, and, perhaps just as important to make sure they all work. From what I've read you are much better off confirming things work before you drive off the lot. Expect this to take several hours.
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Old 11-23-2016, 01:30 AM   #3
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I don't know about your specific camper, but all of the campers I have owned have had two systems - a 12 V system (runs off of the battery, powers RV appliances like the furnace blower and ignitor, the camper lights, etc.) and a 110 V system (runs the charger for the battery, the AC, etc.). I have no idea if this helps or not.
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Old 12-14-2016, 01:54 AM   #4
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Hi Alex,

we designed and installed our own electrical system for our DIY camper van conversion.

I understand that yours will be purchased, but I think this should answer some of your questions:

Electrical System Design | FarOutRide

Cheers!
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Old 12-14-2016, 03:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by alex668 View Post
Hi,

I'm a newbie and just waiting to take delivery of my first RV (New RT SS Agile - 300w solar, ecotrek 400, diesel alde, volt start).

I'd like to get a a pretty good understanding of how my electrical system works and haven't been able to find any good videos that encompass my specific setup. If anyone could take the time to explain it that would be great - I comprehend things fairly quickly

Thanks

All the RT are slightly different.
A few years ago RT moved away from the production line to an individual build basis. Be prepared for surprises.


As a starting point, RT has a few video on Youtube. They explain the ecotrek, voltstart, etc.,
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by alex668 View Post
Hi,

I'm a newbie and just waiting to take delivery of my first RV (New RT SS Agile - 300w solar, ecotrek 400, diesel alde, volt start).

I'd like to get a a pretty good understanding of how my electrical system works and haven't been able to find any good videos that encompass my specific setup. If anyone could take the time to explain it that would be great - I comprehend things fairly quickly

Thanks
You can connect with a lot of owners with the same systems at the Roadtrek & Hymer Owners Group on Facebook. There are also reference documents there describing operational info.
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:16 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by atoine View Post
Thanks! I'm waiting for delivery of a Hymer Aktiv and as a newbie found your link VERY helpful. ~ Chris
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Old 01-09-2017, 12:20 AM   #8
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I'm awaiting a near identical setup for the Zion (propane Alde). In specing my coach, I repeatedly asked for documentation on various systems. None was provided beyond manufacturer manuals and a limp wristed Ecotrek guideline. Not a good sign to me. An educated consumer is your best situation. My wife has read a facebook post where an owner frustrated with Roadtrek crap or non existent manuals offered to write owners manuals for Roadtrek for free and they turned him down. I asked Roadtrek for a plumbing diagram. I was refused with them saying it was proprietary. Really, a plumbing diagram! I've read that Roadtrek is very protective of their designs. Given that electrical systems are probably high on their IP belief, it explains why there are no decent manuals and in part why dealers are finding it challenging to support these systems.

I'm new to the RV electrical systems but I'm an electrical engineer and have worked for 30 years in utility power generation so I think I will be able to find my way around.

I believe when you cut through unnecessary complexity and black box mystery, most things if designed well are pretty simple.

I've spent the last 12 years working on controls solutions for the nuclear industry. While some choke on safety-related system quality attributes and mountains of paperwork, I've learned a lot from the process. For every design, high reliability is obtained from failure mode studies, and maximising understandability and maintainability. We do what we can to avoid or minimise the effects of failures, but with equal importance, keep things simple, use best practices everywhere, and ensure we integrate suffient diagnostic support such that failures when they do occur are easy to diagnose. That is real engineering. I say this because I've read countless posts where Roadtrek or their dealers appear to be doing a great job generating a lot of owner frustration from not having suffient diagnostics built into their designs. Dealers who aren't familiar with electrical systems, and are likely working in the dark to some extent as it is doubtful Roadtrek provide even their dealers with their internal design documentation, must not have access to proper diagnostic procedures.

I've also worked in the development of commercialised products. The best end-user experience when something fails is an internal diagnostic that identifies the specific problem, provides the best solution or a workaround, and when you follow the instructions, it's seldom or never wrong. Such commercialisation of products costs roughly 10x the up front design effort. If your reputation is on the line, or not leaving people stranded or waiting weeks to months to get things fixed is important to you, it is money well spent.

The problem in tech industries in general is too often, the people managing tech design are not technically capable themselves. Initiatives under this scenario have a high failure rate or at least a high customer dissatisfaction rate.

I bought the Ecotrek and voltstart and Alde options as I view these things as being relatively simple, and expected that a company like Roadtrek would have been suffiently astute to put the right team together, and done a lot of what I yakked about above. I'm hoping I wasn't wrong. From reading a lot of posts from frustrated owners, my optimism has been dulled a bit but Hymer getting involved will likely make a positive difference.

Roadtrek has had 2 years to work through the various failure modes (in product and service), had some expensive years fixing costly QA and dealer mistakes. They are now owned by a German company that would take what I said above as the next best thing to religion. I think Hymer will sort them out if they haven't sorted things already.

As for electrical systems, it's a simple matter of gaining an understanding that things have operating limits, and you have to stay within those limits. Batteries have temperature limits, charge rate limits (lead acid will boil), and charge and discharge limits. The charge controllers should work within those limits. Batteries also have a unloaded natural discharge rate so you have to provide a periodic charging source. It's all pretty simple. The biggest barrier you will face is getting past black box proprietary protectionist mentality. Im afraid most who would like to help you on this forum will have the hardest time with that one as well.
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Old 01-09-2017, 12:31 AM   #9
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.

I don't know why you are here.

I don't know why you ordered a RT.

You are not the model RT customer; you ask too many questions.
Worse still, you ask the questions while the unit is being built.

Do you ask for a plumbing diagram when you buy a house?
(I am not saying you shouldn't ask)

I don't even know why you are buying a production RV; you should be building your own.



You are a design engineer. Ask yourself this question -- how would you feel if your enduser decided to change your design?
Oh yea you are going to listen to the enduser about how to design a nuclear control system. Fat chance. Call me a skeptic.



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Old 01-09-2017, 12:37 AM   #10
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I chose to stick with the standard 2-6V AGM batteries, optional 250W Solar setup, and no VoltStart. While I could see the pros of lithium batteries, I figured if I screwed up the AGM batteries while in a remote area I might be able to replace them and continue my trip rather than head home early and deal with a $250 warranty issue later. And, if I do have to replace them I hope it happens near a national chain store or battery chain so I get that warranty.

As for testing and learning, I have the benefit of uncovered, oversize vehicle parking at work to do some easy, local testing with the solar system and daily house battery usage to run the refrigerator when the rig sits for my 12hr shift.

And, before going anywhere too far from town I plan on spending several overnights at Oregon State Parks within a 50 mile radius.

Thanks again!
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