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2021 Midwest Passage electrical rebuild/repair

It's not very often I get commissioned to gut and rebuild a factory offgrid power system, but that's exactly what this Mercedes conversion needed. The list of poorly installed electronics was long enough that there was really nothing to do but pull it all out and start over.

With a large, 2000VA inverter connected to a tiny 80ah lead acid battery, it was really no mystery that the battery died quick, fast and in a hurry. The fact that the battery system and inverter were nearly 18 feet apart wasn't helping the situation.

With the original solar system being a single panel connected directly to the battery with no solar controller or circuit protection, one may try to theorize if it was the inverter or the solar panel that killed the battery first.

With the generator and shore power only connected to the air conditioner, it's no wonder they couldn't charge their woefully undersized battery no matter what they did. There was no way this van was ever going to yield successful offgrid, or ongrid, adventures.

For this install I came prepared with all the wiring, fuses, breakers, switches and hardware necessary to install this equipment from scratch, as well as some extra goodies for the purpose of upgrading to lithium and adding an extra solar panel at the same time.

In what was no quick or easy feat, this system is now operating correctly with 200ah's of Battleborn batteries and proper circuit protection for all the accessories. The main breaker panel was rewired to allow the inverter to supply power to all the circuits as well as being able to actually charge the batteries when operating on shore/gen power.

It took quite a bit of trial and error to make sure the factory, Firefly load shedding system wouldn't cause any functionality issues with the rearranged breaker panel, but we got it all to work in harmony.

This was definitely a long 4 days on this project, but I can't help but wonder how many extra days it would have taken me to dissect and rearrange this system if I didn't already have so much familiarity with these vans and power systems. What's the old saying? Something like: 'it took me years to be able to do that in 10 minutes.'

These adventure van owners were an absolute pleasure to work with and I look forward to seeing their adventures soon. Hearing them tell me, "I feel like we finally got our van!" was the icing on the cake.

Happy travels you two!


  • 200ah’s Battleborn Batteries

  • Victron BMV-712 battery monitor

  • 200 Watts of Zamp solar panels

  • 2000VA Victron Hybrid inverter

  • Victron bluetooth solar controllers, MPPT 100/30


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