Ambulance Newbie (solving battery/power issues)

jimmyewilso

New member
Hello -

New to ambulance conversion and super new to expedition Portal. I recently purchased a 2006 e 350 ambulance. I'm trying to do this on a tight budget, so I would like to keep as much of the original build as possible. I'd like to get it to a primitive, yet usable place so I can travel in it and figure out what exactly would be the best way to go about doing a bigger remodel later.

I have begun the painful task of trying to understand the power in the coach of my ambulance. Fortunately, most of the wiring ss accessible without removing any interior, as i love to the build and cabinets in this unit particularly.

1) My goals right right now are as followed:
get the shore power to connect to my inverter (I just acquired a renogy 2000w inverter/charger) so I can power my coach without using the engine batteries 2) I'd like to build a deep cycle battery system to power the coach when shore power isn't available 3) i'd like to add solar (at some point when I have the money) to power my deep cycle system and have a relay between both battery systems.

My biggest challenges are figuring out where to connect to the ambulance power grid with my inverter/deep cycle system and eliminating unneeded wiring/flashers et al from the board so I'm not draining power when the ambulance is off. right now I have to unplug my dual engine battery to keep a charge in them. I have written the manufacturer (Medix) to get the schematics and wiring diagrams but have not heard back. If anybody has them I'd be really grateful.

The great news is my wiring is accessible without moving any panels as far as i can tell and is super clean/labeled.IMG_7600.jpeg

Please let me know if I am way off with any of my goals. I am prepared to be wrong a lot in this process and I''m here to learn. I'm sure these topics have been covered extensively on here, I'm just having a hard to finding specific help (like i said, total newbie here). If anybody has
any advice or links they could send my way, that would be amazing!
 

Ole Chipper

New member
Looks pretty easy to disconnect any of the power supplies from the main feed. Could put in a simple on/off switch to extra battery banks or inverter.

Got tired of trying to figure out the wiring on my ole 89 ambulance. Ripped everything out and rewired it simpler. Don't need a relay and separate circuit for every function or light bulb.
 

0x746a

New member
My wife and I are in the process of doing the EXACT same thing on a 1995 freightliner ambulance. Wiring looks 95% similar from your pic. I am rewiring the entire system though, im a computer science major in a current role as electrical engineering manager; so this is kind of my thing.

All of your ideas at first glance are feasible. A couple points of note:
  1. Expect to pay more. We are ~200% of what we bought or ambulance for. Still a good price point though. Your mileage may vary based on what you NEED and what you WANT. Those batteries you want...they cost a poop ton.
  2. The solar system, if properly done, will take a LOT of research. Sure you could just hook something up and make it semi-work....but chances are that your "load" will be different than what you expect. Calculating all of the amp draws are the cornerstone. Seriously. Once you get these all added up then you decide how much watt hours you need. This gives you total battery sizes. Then from your battery size and your "load" per day you calculate how many solar panels you need to maintain your batteries without them bottoming out. Taking into consideration, all of the things that will make your system ineffective, Temp, shade, etc.
  3. The whelen items in your pic can be removed. These are flasher and power driver for all the fun flashy things that you can no longer use. Won't hurt to leave it there though. As a standard, if its not needed I remove it. I've found that extra non-needed items just add to risk of something shorting....so I just reduce this risk.
  4. My ambulance vendor, american emergency vehicle, sent me electronic copy of the schematics of my specific serial number. This is really important. As there were changes made a long the line at some time. If i were not an electrically inclined individual; this would have been a beast without the schematics. The wire identifiers are pre-printed on my model so it has been a blessing. I believe this is the case for most ambulances. I can't say enough about AEV....they were so unbelievably helpful.
Good luck!!! Make sure to have fun on the way.
 

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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Looks like a fun project honestly! Ill be following!

Like the others side, it would be a TON easier and less work to just gut most of it and start from scratch. Would greatly simplify things and make troubleshooting down the road loads easier

Not to sound rude, but are you sure there isnt an inverter/shore power already there somewhere? Most ambo's i've seen all have inverters and such somewhere, sometimes buried.

I havent taken a good look, but i believed they all had shore power to to keep them charged when not in use. Could be wrong.
 
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jimmyewilso

New member
Thanks! The Inverter was salvaged by the ambulance service. there is shore power already I just have to find where the wiring goes and get it to my new inverter. Unfortunately, this is one of the few unexposed wires in the truck. I am in the process of tracking all the wiring and labeling.
 

jimmyewilso

New member
I found this box behind the seat. I think this is for the shore power. The box is unscrewed and the wires were severed. I wonder if this was done by the ambulance service as a requirement before it could be sold. Now, If i can just route this to my inverter, then my coach power just might work.

Can anybody else confirm that their ambulance has this sort of box behind the seat for shore power and that this is something the service would cut before selling?

Thanks!
 

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iggi

Ian
You're kinda in the wrong area. Most of us ambulance conversion folk are over in the van life section. There's 60 page plus FAQ and a ton of example rigs. Also, I run a FB group called Ambulance Camper Conversions of North America. Couple of the member are techs that have/do work on ambulances.

My ambulance came with a diode battery isolator between the starting bank and the house (deep cycle) bank. The Blue Sea ACR is also pretty popular and apparently better on the batteries.

I haven't used the Renogy unit you have so can't comment if the inverter runs from shore power. In my ambulance the inverter only runs from the batteries.
When plugged into shore power the battery charger runs and the interior AC plugs run from the Shore power.
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
When it comes to solar go with residential size panels...I have used them on my last 2 builds and since I have the roof size for 65x39in panels I am getting 300watts for under $200.
A Victron SmartSolar controller works great with these panels for another $120 and the bluetooth lets you monitor by smartphone and not need gauges and more wiring.
 

jimmyewilso

New member
You're kinda in the wrong area. Most of us ambulance conversion folk are over in the van life section. There's 60 page plus FAQ and a ton of example rigs. Also, I run a FB group called Ambulance Camper Conversions of North America. Couple of the member are techs that have/do work on ambulances.

My ambulance came with a diode battery isolator between the starting bank and the house (deep cycle) bank. The Blue Sea ACR is also pretty popular and apparently better on the batteries.

I haven't used the Renogy unit you have so can't comment if the inverter runs from shore power. In my ambulance the inverter only runs from the batteries.
When plugged into shore power the battery charger runs and the interior AC plugs run from the Shore power.
Thanks for your help! I can't seemed to find a forum called "Vanlife". Are you referring to a different website? Could you send a link?
 
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