Testing my new equipment

September 18, 2018

My previous camper van was equipped with a gas stove and a 450Wp solar system which served me well. Even during the winter, I never ran out of battery. I wanted to avoid installing a gas system into the ambulance and aimed for a solution only based on solar energy. Before building the interior and integrating all the devices into the van, I wanted to make sure everything worked as expected.

A little trip through Germany

After fixing the basics of the ambulance, I took a little break from working on the van and went on a little trip though Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The route was about 2000km starting along the Lake of Constance,

Lake of Constance

the Rhine Falls,

Rhine Falls

through the Black forest,

Unused wires

around lakes

Lake near Bobenheim-Roxheim

and through old towns in the Rhine valley.


While relaxing and enjoying these beautiful places, I could also test my new equipment in environments like this lonely dirt road:

Van parked in the forest

Ice cold beer :beer:

The absorption refrigerator in my 209D was absolutely inefficient. It was constantly consuming 110W and even didn’t do a good job cooling down my food and drinks. I was tired of drinking warm beer during the summer and turning off the fridge at night to save battery.

I wanted a proper solution and bought a 12V compressor fridge from Dometic. While my previous absorber fridge would need 2640Wh a day, the Dometic CFX 50 would only consume about 150 to 300Wh and even allow me to freeze my food. It’s a pricy fridge but totally worth it. I have no regrets. No more warm beer, no more battery draining. This fridge is amazing!

Cooking with solar energy

All the energy saved by using a compressor fridge allowed me to use an electric cooker. I installed the same devices that proved successful in my previous camper van. However, I upgraded the setup with a 2000W voltage converter.

2000W voltage converter

The converter was powerful enough to operate an induction cooker that would boil one liter of water in about a minute. Preparing meals in a stainless steel pan like these crepes worked like a charm.

cooking pan cakes

I was even able to “bake” some delicious self-made pizza. :pizza:

baking pizza

While running these cooking experiments, I measured up to 175A going through the wires. The original wiring didn’t convince me. I could feel the cables getting warm after a few minutes. Extending the original cables with some additional 50mm2 wires helped to keep the cables cold.

extended wires

The cooker consumed about 20 to 30Ah for each meal. Depending on the weather and the time it took my two 250Wp solar panels about one to three hours to feed that energy back into the battery.

I had a really nice trip and I was quite happy with the outcome of my experiments. The setup seems very promising and I can’t wait to install everything into the van! :tada: