How To Power A Camper Van

When converting a camper for off-the-grid living, an important part of the set-up is POWER. To keep food fresh in the fridge and to charge phones and laptops, you need electricity. After spending 16 months on the road, here's a simple set-up that works for us. 

 

For size and capacity, we use the V-Max Deep Cycle Marine Battery (125Amps/hr). It's maintenance free and recharges fast with the car battery when we drive or with solar panels even if we're parked all day. 

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The Smart Battery Isolator allows the auxiliary battery to be recharged by the car battery when driving and avoids draining the car battery when the car's off. It's easy to install and takes away the fear of running out of power and not being able to start the car. 

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This is what we plug things into. The Cobra Inverter is great if you're looking for something simple and affordable. There's 3 outlets and 2 usb ports. We always have an extension cord if we need more plugs. It's exactly what we need for two people in a van.

 

Initially we didn't have solar panels but after a year of running out of power and having to drive just to recharge the battery, we installed 200W of Flexible Solar Panels  on the roof of our VW Bus (video coming soon). It's a game changer getting power just by sitting in the sun. We run the fridge all day now and can charge our laptops, camera equipment, and phones at the same time. 

 

The Solar Charge Controller monitors the voltage moving from the solar panels to the battery and to the power inverter. It's cheap, easy to install, and has two usb ports.

 

Wires

4 AWG from the auxiliary battery to the isolator (and from the isolator to the car battery)

8 AWG from solar charge controller to battery and to the power inverter