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DC Converter


PowerMax AC-to-DC Converter PM3-75LK -- $150


    So, the MaxxFan works!  Yes, it was Step 1, you’re right, but it took four months before I got around to powering the dang thang.


    The Maxoak Bluetti EB240, with its 2400Wh, has just one socket for DC power, and the Alpicool CF45 has a monopoly on that. 


    But DC power is The Way To Go in van life so something had to be done.  The ceiling lights, the cabinet lights, the MaxxFan, probably the TV, and plennnnty more gadgets are going to be powered by 12V DC, as opposed to 110V AC.  As you well know, watts = volts x amps, so a 12 in the V spot in that tidy equation is going to buy a whole lot more watt-hours than a big fat 110 will. 


PowerMax PM3-75LK    So, I contacted Hobotech, fessed up to the gaping hole in my basic knowledge, and asked him whattup with the only-one-DC-socket thing.  He took the time to reply and informed me that a DC converter and a fuse box would be needed.  The fridge could still use the direct DC plug, but everything else would have to make a little side stop along the way.  This was going to require an unexpected financial hit (though not a big one), and a good bit more work.  But, it would give me a dozen or so DC feeds, so it seems like a worthwhile endeavor.  I thanked Mr. Hobo, but I was thinking inside, greaaaat, more electrical stuff to figure out. 

    There were a number of DC converters on the market.  I was on You Tube for a while on this.  I started with Google, but it was hard reading the product descriptions on them because they tended to be written towards people who live and breathe all things electric.  I pretty much honed in on amperage.  It seemed like a high number there would be a good thing.  Triple figures went hand-in-hand with high prices and I wanted to stay under $200 if I could.  Plus, that just seemed like more than my little van home would need.  I still couldn't tell you with any certainty how many amps my average devices would pull, but I was pretty confident that most if not all of them would be single digits.  I mean, a 10 amp thing is a pretty potent thing, isn't it?  Isn't it?

    PowerMax could handle 75 amps. I wondered if Will Prouse would be all giddy about that 75 amp rating, or if he'd scoff at it.  That sounded pretty capable to me: like double what I'd probably ever use, especially since my microwave and electric fan would almost always be running directly off the AC outlets of the EcoFlow Delta and bypassing the converter altogether.  Will wasn't around to ask, though , so I made my decision, fired up Amazon and made the score.

    So, next, I had to learn what all this mish-mash means:


Wiring chart for conversion van ac-dc electrics



     The cockroach-looking-thing on the left is the fuse box, with the various anticipated circuits.  Only one of them is currently (get it?) connected, and that is the aforementioned MaxxFan.

DIY van build - DC converter and fuse box

    I wanted to keep all this convenient to the Maxoak, so I attached a slab of the leftover floor plywood to the wall under the table, and then screwed the fuse box and the AC-DC converter – yes, the brand name is PowerMax – onto the wood. 


    The way it goes is that the converter plugs into one of the Maxoak’s AC outlets.  It takes that AC, converts it to DC, then sends it out its top side and along that thick red wire to the fuse box.  The thick black wire that comes out of the top is the ground wire; it’s bolted directly to the metal body of the van.  The black line coming out of the bottom of the fuse box is another ground wire; it attached to the body, just below the plywood.  The thin red wire is the positive from the MaxxFan, and the thin black one is the fan’s negative.  All of those empty terminals can be used for future DC gizmos.


    Got all that?  I’m surprised that I do.  Actually, making that chart in Corel gave me a really good understanding of it all.  If you had just shown me the diagram, it would have befuddled me, but putting it all together in a way that would make sense, well, made it all make sense.  Does that make sense? 


    Anyway, I connected it all, held the AC plug in my hand, said aloud “Hold onto your butts” (with a tip o’ th’ hat to Mr. Arnold, Samuel L. Jackson’s ill-fated character in Jurassic Park), and inserted it into the Maxoak. 


    Nothing exploded, no sparks flew.  Cool.  The green light atop PowerMax glowed serenely. 


    I stood up and pushed the On button on the MaxxFan.  It immediately started spinning.  Yee-freaking-haa!!   On high, in exhaust mode, I could feel the breeze created by the fan sucking exterior air through the back windows.  Perfect!


    This under-the-table spot might be the permanent location for this stuff, it might not.  I’m going to build some cabinets up by the ceiling, over the windows, and I planned on putting this stuff up there.  If I have fuse problems, I’d rather be standing looking at the fuse box at eye level than crawling under the freaking table, so, like so many other things, we’ll see.  But for now, it works!  Next!

    Spoiler:  I did move it up to the safety of the cabinets, and it hosts a good number of wires.  Really glad I moved it.  Under the desk, where my feet would be kicking around when I was sitting there, would have been a damn stupid place to have a spaghetti bowl of wires.

    PowerMax does makes some noise.  It hums for periods of time and it draws power from Bluetti as it does so.  I assume the humming is a by-product of the converting since it makes no noise at all when none of my DC devices are active.  The hum is not very loud, especially when muffled by a cabinet, but I only notice it when I deliberately listen for it.  It's not something that would keep me awake.

    The PM3-LK75 was a good choice. 

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