VW Grand California power management upgrade and air-conditioning
We were asked to improve the off-grid capability of the Flagship VW campervan. From standard the vehicle is fitted with a 100AH lead battery under the bonnet, this system is fine if you want to plug the van in on a camp site, but is wholly inadequate if you want to go off-grid.
The customer also had a very power-hungry additional need, I wanted to run his aircon when he wasn’t plugged in to a mains supply, this is possible but you need to have good quality battery storage.
We installed 2 Lithium Pro ArticXtreme 150ah batteries. These batteries are impressive as you can draw 200 amps from a 150ah battery, to allow this, the cell connections will need to be very high quality.
This was connected to a 2KVA Victron Multi, the system was controlled by a Victron Cerbo and GX touch.
In order to use the air conditioner for extended periods, we needed ways to charge the batteries. While driving we upgraded the split charge to a 90 amp Votronic unit, even with the van on tick over we were seeing the full 90 amps being delivered from the alternator.
When fitting systems like this we try and get as much solar on the roof as possible, this proved more difficult than normal due to the lack of space left once the aircon had been fitted. By using 8 small panels we were able to fit 300w on the roof, this is less than we would have liked, but from the pictures you can see there was not much space left.
Normally you need to speck your Volkswagen Grand California with air conditioning when you order it, if you do this it is normally fitted in place of the rear rooflight. Retro fitting
an aircon to a VW Grand California is more difficult, the roof light hole is bigger than the one required for the aircon, so without some ugly patching it is no longer possible to install the unit there. As we have done many times in the past, we cut a new hole to install the air con, before doing this we always look at the roof structure and roof support, if a air conditioner is installed in an area of unsupported roof in a motorhome, the roof can sag and potentially cause water ingress.
The best place in fit an air con is in the middle of the van, this area of roof areas is normally supported by kitchen cupboards or bathroom walls, so the additional loading on the roof is transferred down to the floor. It is also the ideal position for a motorhome air conditioner.