Pod is with us soon and even though we’ve named her and she’s quite an individual already we just want to tweak her a little more so here are a few modifications we have planned.
Pod is coming with a number of 12v power sockets that already have a use, the one on the wardrobe side will be dedicated to the TV and the other inside the wardrobe will be for the fridge which is on a totally separate circuit, powered only when connected to the towing vehicle. So for us there was a need to expand the 12v system to meet our personal requirements.
The upgrade will mainly be for the charging of mobile phones and tablets and an external front plug and play socket for a solar panel, also an external socket to the rear. Future expansion of the upgrade will always be under consideration and Pod will evolve as we do.
Understanding what each power point was to be used for the search began for the suitable items and having successfully completing a similar upgrade on a previous caravan locating the exact items was easy enough through EBay.
With the power going directly to or from the on board battery (so as not to invalidate the warranty on the consumer unit) two fused spurs would be needed, one for solar provision the other for power sockets, both separately fused with 10 amp blade fuses, with 15 amp rated cable connected to the battery terminals by 15 amp crimped ring terminals. The spurs would then be routed out of the battery box and in to the bed box nearest the battery where they would be connected to the distribution block.
The distribution block would be made from a 6 way 15 amp terminal block. The end two terminals we plan to keep separate for the solar provision, but the remaining ones will be joined in parallel via the power socket spur, positive to positive, negative to negative using short loops of 15 amp cable thus enabling a power supply from the distribution block for up to five outlets and this would then be mounted inside the bed box.
Wanting the solar provision to be separate from the remaining supply the solar spur will be connected to the end of the distribution block, this will then allow for the solar connections to be disconnected and a separate solar charge controller added to the circuit if required in the future.
Lots of thought and research has gone in to the solar panel and a folding 100 watt option has been decided on, this gives us the most efficient use and flexibility. Wanting the solar to be a simple fool proof plug and play facility a 50 amp Anderson plug will be fixed to the external front of Pod. Routing 15 amp cable back to the distribution block where it will be connected via a 10 amp blade fuse to the solar terminals. This allows the panel to be connected via its own circuit to the battery by simply being plugged in but also with the capacity to accept up to a 120 watt panel.
The power socket and twin USB charging points are complete kits so already come with appropriately rated and fused cables. Locating these sockets will be very much cable length dependant and crucial as holes will have to be drilled. Using the supplied instructions a 30mm blade drill bit will be used to make two holes in the bed box in to which the sockets are going to be mounted. The supplied fused cables will then be routed back to the distribution block and connected to the two chosen terminals which will already be powered via the power socket spur. Using a plug in and read volt meter in the power socket will give a reasonably accurate indication of the battery voltage, crucial when we are on solar doing our bit of wild camping.
There may be occasions when we want to use the outside shower or our additional coolbox. Not wanting to invalidate the water ingress warranty by drilling a hole in the body another 50 amp Anderson plug is going to be fitted to the underside of Pod at the rear. Routing a 15 amp cable back to the distribution block where it will be connected via a 10 amp blade fuse to a spare terminal from the power socket spur. Attaching an Anderson plug to the end of an old waterproof 12v power socket the rear external plug can then be used, both for its intended use and as an emergency plug in for the solar panel. As with the case of the solar input the Anderson plug has a dust and weatherproof cap fitted, best to be prepared for any eventuality.
With scuba diving as a hobby, drying of LadyB’s hair post dive is of upmost importance, so therefore how to go about this whilst on solar requires some consideration. Thoughts then turn to inverters continuous and max power, modified or pure sine wave. This problem is yet to be addressed, possibly for the 2016 dive season and will be a topic on its own.
These modifications will meet our needs with loads of room for expansion, with all the components purchased and fitted for far less than the costing of a factory fitted power socket, USB upgrade and solar provision. For easy identification each cable run will have a waterproof label on too, nothing worse than not knowing what a cable goes/comes from.