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Old 05-28-2020, 04:49 AM   #1
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Default Newbie potential purchase of E-trek

My wife and I are looking to purchase our first RV. We want something without propane so we are looking at the E-trek. We are going to S. Dakota this weekend to look at a 2018 model with about 20K miles. Any advice on what to evaluate prior to purchase would be much appreciated.
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:20 AM   #2
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I don't have one of those models, I have an older Pleasure Way Lexor on a Chev ( with propane*)

Someone smarter will be along shortly I am sure

A B is probably the highest cost per square foot, but our advantages are MPG, parking and ease of driving.


We had rented a camper van in Ireland and then looked at plenty here in the PHX area comparing features to narrow down what was important to us
Our prime consideration was fore and aft sleeper ( no climb overs) and the largest bed we could get. Only 2 of us ( + dog) so no need for extra seating which means our cabinetry can be more spread out


Every design is a pile of compromises, you'll find the balance which works for you



Welcome


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* the biggest challenge is managing energy use.


I use propane for my old 3 way dometic absorbtion fridge (when parked and no shore power. The propane is more efficient for those fridge that AC or DC power.)


and also for 2 burners, hot water heater and furnace


we can easily go a week "off grid" by managing energy and water use
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:37 AM   #3
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I don't have an E-Trek but we have heard a lot from those that do. Do a search on this forum. The electrical system, as I understand it, requires modification to work well. The info is available on this forum. The lithium version appears to be the most problematic and requires wiring changes to the battery modules to work properly.

Don't expect it to work trouble free when you pick it up and since you don't have propane you don't have an alternate energy source. Search E-Trek on this forum to get some insght.

I think those that have them and have made the modifications are happy with them. For some it has been a long, frustrating pull.
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by hbn7hj View Post
I don't have an E-Trek but we have heard a lot from those that do. Do a search on this forum. The electrical system, as I understand it, requires modification to work well. The info is available on this forum. The lithium version appears to be the most problematic and requires wiring changes to the battery modules to work properly.

Don't expect it to work trouble free when you pick it up and since you don't have propane you don't have an alternate energy source. Search E-Trek on this forum to get some insght.

I think those that have them and have made the modifications are happy with them. For some it has been a long, frustrating pull.
Along that line do perform a battery capacity check. Due to Roadtrek's ineptitude you may find yourself buying new batterie$$$$.

Do thorough research. Lotsa info on this forum.
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:41 PM   #5
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Bottom line is if you don't know what you are doing, don't do it. That is no unit for a newbie. Replacement lithium battery modules are $7k. I think there are two of them.

There was a woman on here at her wits end trying to make her’s work. Her lack of solutions may have been somewhat self inflicted but she had spent a lot of money with no results and an unusable van. She got aggravated with us and left so we don't know if there was a favorable resolution. There are members here that know how to make them work. I am not one of them. To give you a hint the complex electrical system runs on two different voltages, 12 and 24, I think.

The underhood generator has been known to have belt problems. When the underhood generator fails you are screwed. It may still work on shore power but maybe not.

Do not expect to pick it up and go camping.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cnairn View Post
My wife and I are looking to purchase our first RV. We want something without propane so we are looking at the E-trek. We are going to S. Dakota this weekend to look at a 2018 model with about 20K miles. Any advice on what to evaluate prior to purchase would be much appreciated.
Welcome to the forum cnairn!

The advice offered thus far may seem harsh, but it is honest and helpful.

There are Etrek models out there that work ok, but problems are just too prevelant.

I feel your pain as Roadtrek pioneered the all electric class b, and had my interest for a while despite their steep price. They just did not execute it well and aolutions were difficult and not well supported (and that was before Roadtrek bankruptcy).

Thankfully, there are other options out there now. Most executed in collaboration with established third party lithium suppliers like Volta. Shop around and drive a hard bargain. You might find a new model (maybe not on the Sprinter chassis) that is not that much more than a used Etrek.

Good luck.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:30 PM   #7
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By 2018 the etrek was all lithium batteries of at least 800ah, so if there problems, which is pretty likely based on what we have seen, the repairs could be very expensive to do. If you are a hard core DIY type with very good electrical skills, they can be done at home, but the repair parts are still a lot of dollars, so you would need a big upfront discount to cover that contingency. If you are hiring it all done, it would probably be unjustifiable.


As mentioned, there are better options out there unless it very, very, inexpensive and you are very handy and willing to put in the work.
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:39 PM   #8
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Thanks to everyone for their input.
I am definitely a DIYer but don't have much electrical experience.
We really like the size of the sprinter vs. Promaster so does anyone have any other ideas. No propane is a must for my wife.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:28 PM   #9
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separate out the chassis from the "coach"


really there are no "bad" chassis


a rental I had in Ireland was a Citroen version of the fiat/promaster- it was diesel 6 speed manual and just great


the sprinters are good, I read about exhaust emissions issues which vary by version. and when first shopping tested a sprinter ( awesome) based winnebago era ( poor build quality)


I've rented the Ford passenger version of the van, not impressed and wouldn't want for long drives



my choice in the end was the gas Chev, I have a Chev pick up and they share common design, I have manuals & can fix minor issues myself.
The most major issue can be fixed anywhere, by anyone without waiting for parts.
Not tied into a dealer network


But for people who only use dealers- no DIY, that wouldn't be a factor.




the "systems" as you see can be a bugbear.
My gas, ac/dc and water system layouts are easy to understand and control and laid out in a logical and repeated ( across many vans) manner



and then there is the layout and features of the coach.


one of the things I like about my van is that the galley is on the pass side.
at the campsite, whoever is in galley is still in contact through the open side door with the others






kick many tires


I found many of the dealer videos on youtube were helpful- often the sales guys are on the large side and they demonstrate how easy or not moving around inside the van is
and how the systems work


Mike
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Old 05-28-2020, 06:15 PM   #10
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Embassy RV builds to order no-propane models on Promaster, Ford, and Sprinter chassis. Search youtube for their latest videos. Fuel (gas or diesel) powered hydronic heat/hot water. They also don't do permanent black tanks and offer only cassette, composting, and dry flush toilets. Lithium options and super high efficiency AC. No hang-downs below the floor so good ground clearance and cold weather tolerance. If you can wait they might be a good option. Factory direct only.
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:02 PM   #11
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Thanks I will check it out.
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Old 05-28-2020, 11:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnairn View Post
Thanks to everyone for their input.
I am definitely a DIYer but don't have much electrical experience.
We really like the size of the sprinter vs. Promaster so does anyone have any other ideas. No propane is a must for my wife.
No propane probably doubles your cost, demands lithium batteries and a lot of them. There is a lot of energy in propane. The cheapest way to get into a B is with propane and a generator.

We discussed ways to make an E-Trek work here and everyone had a different idea from removing the original system to just changing the wiring a bit. At the right price I'd take on that challenge. I would probably try to tweak it into functionality. The $7000 battery modules are certainly a bummer.
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Old 05-29-2020, 12:57 AM   #13
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I have a 2015 E-Trek with 60,000 miles, AGM batteries. It has worked well for me despite some disappointments. My use case caused what some would consider fatal flaws to be irritations.

I was attracted to it because of the simplicity of not needing to maintain propane systems and possibly a generator along with the coach.

You need to clearly understand your use case to see if an E-Trek will work for you.

Do you plan to use it in freezing weather? It is not a four season RV and if it has Lithium batteries they do not take well to cold weather - probably look for something else.

Do you plan to use it in the back country in rough roads? There can be surprise Sprinter service issues were a dealer may not be accessible - probably look for something else.

Do you plan to "boondock" for extended periods of time in weather where you need the air conditioner? AGM batteries do not hold enough charge to run the AC in extremely hot weather for more than 1-2 hours. Lithium longer, but then you need to recharge them by driving or idling. The Sprinter does not like to be idled for long periods of time due to the emissions system - if "boondocking" for long periods of time perhaps look at something else.

Do you have flexibility and budget to get a Sprinter serviced at a qualified MB service garage and will one be accessible. There have been Sprinter service issues, most of this is reflected in the used resale price, which may make them look attractive, but expect some unplanned maintenance.

We use our Sprinter for a family hauler to events or for base-camping at a trail head. High ratio of driving time to camping time so the batteries stay charged up and don't get over taxed. We use it for short term camping in our kids driveways as an extra bedroom because of their limited space. We use it for a cross country travel coach with amenities. We avoid using it in any extended sub freezing weather. For our purposes the simplicity of the diesel / electric and the space, performance, maneuverability, and road handling of the Sprinter have offset the disappointments about battery life and Sprinter maintenance.

My wife and I both prefer sleeping in our Sprinter to sleeping in hotels. Although the E-Trek will pull nicely under the front awning of the Little Nell in Aspen and they have Sprinter parking valet!

Define your use case, do your research, have reasonable expectations and happy hunting!
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Old 05-29-2020, 04:27 AM   #14
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Thanks again everyone. Johnny I think we will probably use it more like you do. We plan to be "fair weather" campers so will avoid the freezing cold. We would probably not be boondocking for days on end either, but rather would possibly do so for a day or two at a time. Will probably use it to transport with the dogs across country from our home in Albuquerque to see our children or to stay on our boat on the Tennessee.
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Old 05-31-2020, 10:44 AM   #15
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cnairn, what did you decide to do? What did you find when you visited the seller?

Your experience may help others.
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Old 06-04-2020, 04:41 PM   #16
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You might want to check out the new “Boho” camper van. Small production. Was on Shark Tank (Barbara Corcoran made the deal). Very simplistic (less to go wrong). NO PROPANE! They’re made in Tempe, Arizona (just south of Phoenix)
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Old 06-04-2020, 05:00 PM   #17
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I have an all-electric Roadtrek with 55k miles. It is our first camper. It is wonderful - operates as promised. I fill the diesel and water tanks and we are set to go. Eliminating propane means one less system to worry about. We had some initial issues with electric and heat but they were repaired shortly after purchase (we were still under warranty). The issues mentioned here are known issues - if previous owner has dealt with them, it may actually be better than purchasing new. But, thoroughly test or have someone knowledgeable check it out with you.
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Old 06-04-2020, 05:12 PM   #18
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Default Just curious, why no propane ?

Just curious, why no propane ? It is a tried and true method of heating and running running your fridge when not on shore power. I would say for your first RV to "keep it simple". Propane is simple when used with some common sense. These posts are littered with the horror stories of ruined, non operative, or damaged lithium batteries or systems... the solutions are quite often very, very expensive. Related problems are among the most common posts. I am just "old school" I guess. I would not dismiss propane as a fuel source.
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Old 06-04-2020, 05:41 PM   #19
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Agree that propane can work great and that new technologies can be complicated and expensive. But when it works, it is great. Everything from heat to hot water to cooking to entertainment system, in any weather, works great at the flip of a switch and stays working with a bit of sun and/or driving/running engine. Another nice thing about these units is the in-floor Alde heat - puts out great heat - we've been comfortable down to -7F, running on low. A consideration for year-round campers. But, buyer beware: be sure unit operates as designed before purchase.
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Old 06-04-2020, 06:43 PM   #20
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Majority of camping vehicles in the World like motorhomes or travel trailers use LPG and this will likely continue. High energy requirements such as:
1. space heating,
2. water heating,
3. cooking,
4. refrigeration.
are very well served by LPG. Energy source for cooking and refrigeration can be reasonably easy provided by electrical energy. Electric water heaters are questionable but possible.

Space heating requires a chemical fuel. LPG is great and is used by majority of RVs. Another possibility is vehicle fuel, diesel or gasoline. From my perspective of having experience with LPG, gasoline and diesel furnaces LPG is superior, clean combustion, quieter exhaust and much lower maintenance. Diesel heaters by Truma (I think they use Eberspacher technology), Eberspacher/Espar, Webasto, Planar, Chinese copies tend to be finicky requiring regular maintenance. On the Sprinter forum threads with Espar problems are very common, practically none on LPG heaters. Combustion of diesel fuel develops a lot of soot which can plugs the unit. Folks often use clean burning kerosene to clean it.

My experience with gasoline powered heater was terrible, but this was 25 years ago, I think they got better since.

If chemical fuel is necessary to heat an RV than why not LPG which can fulfill all energy needs, space and water heating, cooking and refrigeration.
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