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Old 05-26-2015, 10:06 PM   #1
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Default Great West goes electric

Great West finally got up their new website, showing their 2016 Sprinter Legend and ProMaster Classic models.

http://www.greatwestvans.com

The basics are mostly unchanged, but now that they are settled in their new digs, they seem to be gearing up for a rework of their technical systems. The most notable thing so far is that they are offering the option of a 3KW engine-driven generator from MEPS:

http://www.meps.com

What is interesting about this is that it appears to be a true AC generator, which should make for a nice clean installation. The MEPS website has interesting performance data for many of their systems, although the 3KW unit seems to be a fleet-only item.

I suspect that Sterling is evolving their systems incrementally, and may be planning to position themselves as the cost-effect alternative for folks interesting in all-electric solutions and other high-tech systems. Their MSRPs are pretty attractive, especially the ProMaster. I hope they continue their willingness to work with customer-driven customizations. If they can do that on a cost-effective platform that also continues to offer the latest technologies, they may carve out an attractive niche for themselves.
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Old 05-26-2015, 10:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

sounds cool
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Old 05-26-2015, 10:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

I have always wondered why the manufacturers had chosen to use 12 or 24 volts of DC for the engine generators. That said, they can't really be an AC generator like we know because there is no constant speed to give frequency. But, they certainly can generate the higher voltage, get all the benefits of smaller wiring and then invert it to 110AC pretty easily. Since most of the manufacturers are going directly to the coach batteries with the engine generator, they aren't tied into the 12v anyway. Just think, you could have 10 gauge wire from the engine to the charging area, instead of lots of very heavy 4/0 cable.
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Old 05-26-2015, 11:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

I found the following in a FAQ about the MEPS system:

Quote:
There are three main components to the system:

1. The Alternator: is a 3-phase AC, 6-pole, high-output alternator at half the weight of others on the market and is located under the hood next to the vehicle alternator.
2. The ACU: only weighs around 18 Lbs and about the size of a toaster (senses, monitors and protects the alternator and converts the 3-phase power coming in from the alternator to pure sine wave). It is typically located in a protected area in the rear of the vehicle
3. Automatic Idle Control: regulates the idle to respond to increased/decreased consumption requirements and is typically located on the drivers side dashboard (About the size of a pocket calculator).
So, it looks like they are sending unregulated 3-phase AC to the controller box that reforms it to pure sine wave AC.

This makes a lot of sense--looks like a real innovation.
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Old 05-27-2015, 12:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

That is interesting, and also makes a lot of sense. It must be some interesting electronics to do it all, and keep it under control. A system like that make so much more sense than wiring for hundreds of amps of 12v power. The only downside I could think of would be the availability of deadly voltage under the hood, where folks would expect it.
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

Avanti,

The MEPs literature infers replacing your "failure prone" (MEPs' words) inverter/battery system or Onan generator. What exactly are they implying? That you do not need a high battery capacity system and inverter but would simply idle your engine? I understand a direct replacement of the Onan in function. Will they still offer high capacity batteries and inverter with this? How do they envision its use? Our second alternator functions only while driving to charge batteries (so far after 15,000 miles) and I only see engine idle charging as emergency backup.

Freedom from shore power has increasingly pushed us toward more primitive campgrounds especially in the national parks with no generator use restrictions which means also no engine idling. I even found the Espar diesel-firing for heat to be a bit embarrassing in Big Bend Chisos Basin CG next to tent campers. So we turned it off and burrowed into our sleeping bags in overnight freezing temperatures.

They are clarifying their name and branding. Also noted they have four captain chair model options. That's new isn't it? They are up to 8 dealers in their listing. They only had 3 in 2011. Dale Borstad at Lake Region RVs got a deserving shout out on the web page.
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Old 05-27-2015, 01:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

I think they are directly addressing the "normal" Onan installation and the Roadtrek lots of batteries and inverter to run the air conditioning promotions.

You can run anything off their system, including AC if you want by idling the engine. It is up to you to decide if that is a good idea, or not, based on potential engine issues from idling.

As to the claim of not needing huge battery banks, I think they are right in most cases. You don't need 800/1600ah of battery if you don't want to run the AC of the batteries, in most cases. Davydd is the exception to this because he uses 300ah per day without the AC, but most of us would not have such an energy eating system, and 400ah a day is plenty. We never get close to 100ah. Add solar and you are good to go, as it will keep up well with 100-150ah per day, but not at 300-400 a day like Davydd uses.

I do think they are stretching a bit if they are basing all the capability on running AC of the van engine, as you can just run the dash AC, which is usually bigger than the coach unit. At that point you are getting a very good charging and short term power generator (microwave, hair dryer, coffee maker), which is just fine. You still save all the massive wiring needed for 12v, high watt systems.
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Old 05-27-2015, 02:50 AM   #8
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This definitely makes the "engine generator" of the Roadtrek series pretty much obsolete, since the 120VAC coming from the MEPS device directly powers one rail, and the RV converter (which has to be there anyway for charging batteries from shore power) can easily turn 120 volts into 12 volts and feed it to the batteries at the best voltage/amperage.

The ironic thing is that the whole-van inverter system I drew out for the Transit upfit, going 120 volts for another input would be more of a liability than an asset. Skinnier wires are useful, but I would need two transfer switches, one to switch between MEPS and generator power, and one for the output of the first and shore power, as opposed to 12 volts coming from the alternator to the batteries.

To me, an onboard generator is still a must with of the setup I have, because it fires up the genset when the house batteries get to 60% SoC. I don't know of any vehicle engine autostart that would do that for house batteries, and wiring one up may void the van's warranty. It also would interfere with the vehicle's antitheft system, which isn't a good thing.

Of course, if someone lives in a northern climate and doesn't require A/C, has a good battery system, the MEPS system may be the ideal thing, although there is something about running a vehicle's engine and putting idle hours on that. Replacing an engine is expensive even compared to a $7000 PowerTech generator.
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Old 05-27-2015, 02:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

Cool but I'm more interested in all things 12V as that is what my batteries and solar panels provide. So far everything I am planning for my conversion is 12V except convection microwave and induction stove. 12V A/C, water heater, radiant floor heat, etc.

Engines are the worst.
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Old 05-27-2015, 03:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Great West goes electric

GW web page for specific Legend models lists the battery option:

"ĽAvailable 3000W Inverter with 4 6V AGM Batteries"
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