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u/tatertom · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

Thanks for the encouragement! I get flak for being so wordy sometimes. That said, there's a lot I didn't really cover.

House battery choices are plentiful. My personal preference is to just use the biggest 12v deep cycle I can afford, for simplicity. You definitely want a deep cycle battery for that task, as draining it below halfway over and over again will wear regular batteries out with a quickness. Now, consensus actually dictates 2x 6volt batteries wired in series (making the output 12v) is better for longevity, but I don't see the benefit to that living in Florida, where I'm lucky if any battery sees longer than a couple years' worth of regular usage. If I weren't primarily in Florida, I'd consider it, but anywhere you see "battery" in my little diagram there can be replaced with 2 6-volts wired in series, and everything will work exactly the same. To add capacity, you can also wire in additional 12v batteries (or pairs of 6v batteries) in parallel. "Connected in series" means connecting the positive of one to the negative of the other, and the two remaining posts become the positive and negative pictured. Parallel means positive-to-positive, negative-to-negative, like jump-starting a car. There's longevity considerations in having different sized batteries or different length cables between them, too - make them the same if you can.

I'll take a moment to suggest you research how to run wires on a vehicle, particularly when it comes to running them through the body. Hopefully, the electrician that did your van up the way it is did it well, and you can take a lot of his work as an example, but without seeing it myself end-to-end, I can't make much of a judgement on that. Most of the hate from people like me in low volt and comms towards 'actual' electricians comes from electricians misunderstanding how communications wiring works, as there's more to it than just making the connections. They do just fine, if not better, running power wires for power purposes.

Figuring consumption is simply working out each device's current, and adding it up. Many devices tell you how much energy they use. You want to work towards finding out how much current (in amps) each device uses, and use generous estimates of how long you'll use it for in a day, in hours. Multiply them together, and you have the amp-hours, a common consumption figure found on batteries. Electronics devices sold in the US have figures on them somewhere, though they may tell you watts instead of amps. Use a calculator like this to convert. If it's not obvious, you want more storage than consumption, and be able to regenerate your storage before you'll consume it.

I'll also make a special mention of your prized inverter - try not to use it. You take an efficiency hit on everything you run through it, and add a couple steps when figuring out consumption. Additionally, if it's a "modified-sine" inverter, some gear might not work correctly or have a reduced life from using it through an inverter. Try to find 12v power supplies or non-electric alternatives for anything you think you want to plug into that. That said, it's likely a huge benefit to have that already installed, especially if you can locate your house battery real close by. Its hookup is almost identical to a house battery and all components you'd attach to the battery, making the whole ordeal much simpler on a novice.

Finally and again, reducing your power needs is the biggest step you can take, and continue to take, in making this all simpler. I go farther in this direction than I think most of the subreddit does, too, so you may want to make separate posts for specific topics to get a better feel, but I'll let you in on some of my tricks:

  • I live primarily in Florida, so don't need to heat things very much in the first place. That includes cabin space, myself, and it helps with heating liquid for various purposes. Staying cool and dry is another story, though...

  • I subscribe to the "task-uniform" method of wearing clothes, and use a lot of clothing that lends itself to more usage before needing washed. I drop it off at a laundromat for wash-dry-fold service, which costs me less than $20 every 2 or 3 weeks. At that rate, it's not worth my time to sit in a laundromat for 2-3 hours doing it myself, and requires me to produce zero energy to have clean clothes.

  • I have a Coleman 'dual fuel' stove that runs on gasoline or diesel, and I collect wood when I'm out in the wild to burn instead of using it. Food tastes better with a little wood smoke in it anyway.

  • This is my shower. I mix regular water with water I've heated in a bucket, and drop the pump in. I rinse down, shut it off, then dip my lufa in the bucket, lather up, and kick it on again to rinse off. I'm 250lbs of wonderful, and my showers take less than 2.5 gallons of water. I recharge the pump thingie once every 2 weeks or so. Double-win on efficiency.

  • I use gravity to dispense water for other purposes. This is my potable water 'tank'. It takes me a couple weeks to use it up, as I source my shower water elsewhere. I currently just set it on the bench in the van, but I have plans to make a cabinet for it. I store additional potable water in old 2-liters, which easily cram into places I don't find much other use for.

  • I offload energy-intensive things to my work. I tend to drive between multiple job sites per day, and that charges up all my stuff off the alternator, while the energy bill is compensated in my pay. If work is slow, it's okay for me to hang around the office, playing PC games while my laptop and van charge up. I cook at least one meal there each day, and challenge coworkers to weekend cookoffs. I do van customizing, outfitting, and re-fitting tasks at the shop. The shop has a wet room where I take a lot of showers, utilizing an immersion heater. I hang out there when it's stupid-hot out, or invite coworkers to a restaurant or bar to avoid the need for air conditioning.

    Between my geo, energy diversions, habits, and amenity choices, I don't even have a use for solar unless I'm off work for like a week, and even then, I'm surely driving somewhere far away, probably a few places. Between consumption-reduction being a major viability factor to solar, and the cost vs. warranty on the panels, I don't know how the hell anyone in a house actually sees a benefit to buying them, even with a government grant.
u/CamelCityCalamity · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

TL;DR: You could run an Xbox One on my 40" LED TV for 4.4 hours using a 129ah 12V battery. (Assuming an 85% efficient inverter, and 112W console, and keeping the battery above 50% charge.)


EDITS: I added my own real example, because I own a Kill-A-Watt, I also added a "Quick Step 3" as a good, high estimate for power usage, which is what I did for my example. I also did some math for an Xbox One using values from the internet.

Added TL;DR.

Added bit about how deep you should really cycle a battery and modified numbers.


Real wattage

We need to know the real wattage of your devices, under an example load.

  1. Buy a Kill-A-Watt.
  2. Plug a power strip into it.
  3. Plug things into the power strip, like a TV and Xbox and play your most graphically heavy game for at least an hour or two, and track how long you actually played.

    In step 3, the time is from powering up to powering down. The Kill-A-Watt has a timer, too, so you can just use that, but if you forget to look when you power off the devices, its timer will just keep going. Or if you didn't start playing right when you plugged the Kill-A-Watt into the wall. Take realistic breaks when playing with the console still on just like you would in real life. The goal is to simulate an actual play session and track the energy usage and time.

    The Kill-A-Watt will tell you how many kilowatt hours your devices used while plugged in and powered on. Later, we can convert this to amp hours at 12V.

    Alternate Quick Step 3

    Play a heavy game through some loading time and a graphically intense screens and keep an eye on the Kill-A-Watt in Watt mode and simply note the peak wattage. Take that wattage, multiply some nominal gaming session length in hours (like 4?). That gives you watt hours, which is what you really need. (No point in dividing by 1000 to get kWh when you're just going to multiply by 1000 in the formula.)

    300W times 4 hours = 1200 Wh = 1.2 kWh


    Batteries are measured in amp hours (ah). E.g.: 100 ah could theoretically power a 4 amp device for 25 hours. So we need to know the ah of your batteries and the amperage of your devices.

    IMPORTANT: The faster you discharge a battery, the smaller its real capacity. Most batteries are rated for a 20-24 hour discharge rate. For example, a 100 ah battery run down in 5 hours might only have ended up giving you 85 ah.


    Very easy math.

    Amps = Watts / Volts

    You can just multiply both sides with hours:

    Amp hours = Watt hours / Volts

    1 kW is 1000W, so:

    Amp hours = ( Kilowatt hours * 1000 ) / Volts

    That last one is the formula we will use.

    An example:

    Let's say the Kill-A-Watt recorded 1.2 kWh. That could be 300W for 4 hours, for example, or some other mix. (That's way too high of an estimate, as we'll see below.)

    Using the last formula from above:

    Kilowatt hours = 1.2
    Voltage = 12

    ah = 1.2 * 1000 / 12

    ah = 100

    So, if it took you 4 hours to use those 1.2 kWh, then you need a battery rated at 100 ah for a 4 hour discharge rate. That would be around a 130 ah battery. Example. I know that this battery is rated for 100 ah at a 4 hour discharge rate because there's a handy chart in the spec sheet.

    Note: this is a 75 pound battery. It's huge.

    You'd probably need an even bigger one, because any electrical system has inefficiencies. Or just play for less time. However, I highly doubt the Xbox/TV combo is actually 300W. My entire living room including my gaming PC, 60" LED TV, desk fan, and some other things is only 320W under load.

    Online calculators

    Convert kWh to ah: NOTE: you need to multiply the kWh by 1000 first because this page asks for Wh.

    My own real example:

    40" LED 4k TV plus a Wii U running Zelda: Windwaker

    It peaked at a mere 67 Watts! Note: that's at 25% backlight (5 out of 20). The TV itself is about 36W at that brightness. At full brightness it's 86W. Of course, the Wii U is definitely no Xbox!

    67 W * 4 hours / 1000 = 268 wH = 0.268 kWh.

    268 Wh / 12 V = 22.3 ah.

    On the 129 ah battery I linked above, I could play for maybe 21 hours. (EDIT: 20.8 according to the math at the very bottom, accounting for inverter efficiency. Not a bad guess!)

    Hypothetical Xbox One

    This article says an Xbox One is 112 W when playing games. That plus 36W from my LED TV would be 148 Watts.

    I'm getting sick of fudging numbers, so I'm going to do some real math.

    Given the spec sheet of the 129ah battery I linked above, here are the values from the spec sheet, throwing out the first and last data points to ignore the extremes, then converting amp hours to amps by dividing by the hour value, and then converting that to watts by multiplying times 12V:

    | h | ah | a | W |
    | 2 | 100 | 50 | 600 |
    | 4 | 103 | 25.75 | 309 |
    | 8 | 113 | 14.125 | 169.5 |
    | 24 | 129 | 5.375 | 64.5 |

    Using Wolfram Alpha, we can infer an exponential formula for watts vs hours. The reason we threw out the extremes was to allow Wolfram Alpha to better fit a curve to the data.

    That formula is 42.7061 e^(-0.00910558 x)

    Now we can just plug in values for x (in watts) and get the expected battery time!

    For 148 W, that's 11 hours.

    However, this website
    says the average inverter efficiency is 85%, so it's going to draw about 18% more power from the battery than our devices draw from the inverter. (0.85^-1 = 1.18)

    148W * 1.18 = 175W

    For the 175 W, which the inverter is actually drawing, it's 8.7 hours.

    However, I've learned that you shouldn't drain even a deep cycle battery past, say, 50% otherwise you'll really reduce it's lifetime. So cut that number in half: 4.4 hours.

u/KaBar2 · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

I was concerned about drilling any holes in my roof. Being a born pessimist, I figured if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. The fewer holes in my roof the better.

I started looking for a roof rack. What I really wanted was a full-length roof rack with a diamond-pattern, "hardware cloth" platform surface upon which to mount my solar panels. All the racks I could find were around $600. Getting a rack custom built was estimated at $1300. Too much.

I finally found a very heavy-duty-looking rack made of black-painted round tubing for $311. "That's more like it," I thought. I ordered it off the internet.

When it arrived, I was annoyed to see that all the parts weren't there. Two long side panels seemed to be missing. I called the vendor, and after a very confusing conversation, it turned out that I had only ordered "half" the rack. The other part number was the side panels. Guess how much they cost? $300. ($611 for the whole rack. Dammit.)

Once I got the whole rack at my house, and started trying to install it, I realized that it's a two-or-three-man job. I finally got it installed, but Lord, what a pain in the ass!

I bolted a piece of 4x8 plywood to the rack tubing using large U-bolts. The PV panels bolt to the plywood.

I feel pretty sure that bolting the panels directly through the roof would work just as well, maybe better.

A really good book that describes solar panel installation is "Photovoltaic Design & Installation for Dummies" by Ryan Mayfield. He is the president of the Renewable Energy Associates solar power company.

A solid wire is called a "wire." A bundle of wires together covered with plastic insulation is called a "cable." You want cables of at least 6 gauge diameter. (The smaller the gauge number, the larger the cable. I know, it seems backwards.) A lot of solar power kits come with 8 gauge or even 10 gauge cable. TOO SMALL. Cable this small is inefficient for DC current, for our purposes.

You will need a "cable gland" (Amazon) and a good quantity of "Dicor self-sealing lap sealant." (Amazon). Be generous with the Dicor. Every time a cable goes through a steel bulkhead or floor you MUST put a grommet of some kind (rubber, plastic) there to protect the cable insulation. If you ground out a positive cable, it could cause a fire. Ground the negative (black) cable of the system TO THE VEHICLE'S FRAME, directly to clean steel (NOT PAINTED STEEL), through the floor. Bolt the ground cable connection securely to the frame. Don't forget the grommet.

Always use BLACK cable for the negative (ground) side of the circuit and RED cable for the positive side. This will prevent you from screwing up and short-circuiting your system. Hopefully.

Do not hook up the PV panels until everything else is installed and you have tested it for continuity with a digital multimeter (DMM.) The kind that has a "clamp", automatic ranging, and an audible alarm is best. (It looks kind of like a lobster claw and doesn't necessitate puncturing the insulation of the cables.) You start wiring from the storage battery bank and work backwards to the PV panels. Keep in mind--if those panels are exposed to the sun, they are GENERATING ELECTRICAL CURRENT POTENTIAL. Cover them with cardboard or heavy paper and tape until you are ready to energize the system. You don't want to get electrocuted accidentally. The risk of shock is small, but it does exist.

You need either a fuse (good) or a DC breaker (better) between the positive cable between the PV panels and the charge controller, and also between the charge controller and the battery bank. If you install an inverter, you need a breaker on the positive cable between the battery bank and the inverter. (Inverters burn amps just sitting there hooked up. You need to be able to "turn off" the DC power supply to the inverter. Turn the power to the inverter back on to use it.)

Try to make the cable runs as short and direct as possible, within reason. The longer the cable run, the more resistance and the more voltage drop. All cables should be secured to the bulkhead with cable clamps in a neat, tidy, workmanlike fashion. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing correctly.

u/nathhad · 7 pointsr/vandwellers

Not a bad price on that kit. Personally I pieced together my own, using a Renology 100W panel and a cheap Mohoo PWM controller, and what you're looking at looks pretty comparable for a comparable price.

To try and actually answer your question, though, here's a fairly quick run-down of how to roughly size your battery. I'll use my own situation as an example; I have a small popup camper my wife and I use in the boonies, nowhere near power, for days at a time. This will assume you're using decent quality, sealed AGM deep cycle batteries, not the garbage RV/Marine "deep cycle" batteries, which are not true deep cycle, just slightly tougher starting batteries.

First step is actually the hard part, the rest is easy. You need to know what you want to run, how much power it draws, and how much you want to be able to run it between charges. That sizes your battery. Finding the current draw on your items if you don't already have them can be the hard part - if possible, it's often best to have what you want to run, and measure it for actual numbers.

For example, my main loads are:

  • I wanted to be able to run a pair of Fantastic Fans on low (1A each) overnight, for up to 10 hours each, which is roughly 20Ah.
  • Alternately, on colder nights I have a propane heater with a fan that draws about 3A, but which would only run for about four hours tops in twelve hours on a really cold night, so that's only about 12Ah. Since that's less than the fans and I wouldn't be running both, I don't count it.
  • I have a water pump that draws about 3A but that is only used for minutes a day (not worth counting)
  • LED lights that are 3W (about 1/4A). Let's assume I want to run one of those for up to 12h per night, so that's 3Ah.
  • I also recharge two phones overnight, which are usually roughly 2Ah batteries each, maybe 2/3 discharged. The charge circuits aren't very efficient, so you can assume at least 2Ah each to recharge those phones, for 4Ah total.
  • I'm also recharging a pair of 2.5Ah small batteries for e-cigarettes ("mods" ) overnight. They aren't fully discharged, but assume 5Ah to charge those up.

    My worst case overnight loads basically work out to 20Ah (fans) + 3Ah (lights) + 4Ah (phones) + 5Ah(mods). That's about 32Ah of load per day, pretty much worst case in hot weather.

    Now, you can do a few different calculations to get a minimum battery size from that.

    Number one, you really don't want to regularly cycle your battery below 50%, unless you want to be replacing your good batteries a lot. Hence, your absolute minimum recommended battery size would be 2x your load between charges. In my case, that's about 64Ah. A deep cycle discharged to 50% will usually last about 400 charge cycles.

    Now, given the choice, you really don't even want to discharge that low. A deep cycle discharged only 30% (roughly 1/3) will usually last 1100-1200 cycles. I generally recommend you size for at least triple your daily load. This pays off big time in the long run. For 50% more battery, your batteries will usually last nearly 200% longer (3x as long). Enormous cost savings long term.

    Hence, my recommended sizing would be 32Ah x 3, or 96Ah. I'm running a 100Ah battery, UPG UB121000, part number 45981. In practice I'm not regularly discharging this battery more than about 25%.

    Now, you get some extra benefit from oversizing as well. By sizing to 1/3 discharge, I can run two days without charging if I have to, and not be worse than a 70% discharge. That's a good emergency backup, since if you regularly discharge anywhere near 100%, your battery usually won't last more than 100-150 cycles. That covers me in case I get a day with absolutely zero sun. In practice this isn't a big worry for me, as on days with poor sun I'm only running the fans about half as much anyway, and if I couldn't get topped off during the day, in a pinch I'd just connect jumper cables to my van and have the battery at full charge after about an hour at idle.

    Next, once you know your average daily usage, you can also size your solar panel. You actually need to size more by charge time than by pure wattage, since a 100W panel will not produce 100W using a PWM controller. My 100W panel produces about 5.3A at 19V under ideal conditions (that calculates to 100W), but since the PWM controller just knocks the voltage down to an appropriate battery charge voltage, I'll never actually get 100W out of this panel. The current maxes out at 5.3A, but my battery pulls the voltage down to around 13.5V at charge, so at most I'm actually getting about 72W out of it.

    To size your panel, look at the optimum operating current (usually listed as Imp), and use that to size in amp hours instead. Plus, you also need to include any loads you'll be running while you charge. In my case, my panel puts out about 5.3A, but if it's a hot day, I'm going to be running one of those fans on medium (2.25A) for our sheepdogs in the van, so I really only have about 3A to work with to charge. If I can get a solid 8h worth of good charging light, that's about 24Ah useable per day. As you could see, I'd really do well with a second panel. As it is, it's been just sufficient with one panel to mostly keep me topped up, since I haven't had a ton of hot weather where we've really had to run the fans a lot.

    If I added a second panel, I'd have roughly 8A to charge with even with that fan running, and could reliably charge my bank all the way with only about 4h of good, full sun.

    I know that's a bit long, but hopefully it'll be a help to get you going in the right direction!
u/Fizzlethe6th · 6 pointsr/vandwellers

I actually just finished going through all of this.

  1. I would recommend going solar. Powering your house batteries from your alternator works, but it puts extra stress on your alternator which means you'll have more repair bills down the road.

    1b) I have 2 vent fans installed in my roof, and it does wonders on a hot night. Set one to blow in, and the other to blow out, and you'll get some great airflow. Humidity is another story though. Even with the two fans humidity can be rough, but at least its something.

  2. As for battery usage for the fans, the ones I linked you to use about 60w, so you are going to want to make sure to buy enough deep cycle batteries to last you however long you sleep. Two 60w fans running for 8 hours is going to be about 960w. I have 4 35 amp-hour deep cycle solar batteries, which give me a total of 1620 watts to play with, so I can run my fans all night, and still have 660w left over to play with in the morning. BUT, seeing as you are looking to also have a fridge, that is going to mean more batteries depending on the kind of fridge you are thinking of using. A fridge like THIS would only use about as much as your vent fans, and would save you money on batteries. Here is a calculator that helped me out when I was trying to figure out my battery bank.

  3. Charging your house batteries off of your alternator only takes about 15 minutes or less for a full charge. Solar might take a few hours, but its less stress on your van in general.


    If you are worried about solar being too expensive, it really isnt. You can get a full 100 watt solar panel kit for $118. That give you all the wiring, a panel, and a charge controller all at once. Then all you need are batteries, which you can get a set of 4 for $250. You don't need those specifically, but just make sure whatever batteries you get, you make sure they are DEEP CYCLE batteries, and not starter batteries.


    Hope this helps! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask, and I'll be glad to help. Anything to help another vandweller so they don't have to go through all the hell I did trying to figure it all out myself. lol


u/rosinall · 24 pointsr/vandwellers

Using solar in a van is simple if your expectations are in line, and unworkable if not.

First, the bad: If you want to run devices that heat or cool with electricity, such as coffeemakers, hotplates, A/C, toasters, hair dryers, etc., you will not make your numbers or anywhere near them. Give that all up. There is a reason whole-house systems cost $30k, it is heating and cooling.

For a quick example, say you have a tiny 700 watt A/C unit. This represents half a normal small window A/C, or half a hairdryer. A 100Ah marine cell (basically a car battery that swaps maximum acid/lead contact area for thicker internal lead plates) from Wal-Mart ($100) has 100Ah, which translates to roughly 1200 watt hours. You do not want to run a wet cell like this below 50% or so; a fully-charged marine cell will run a unit like this for about 50 minutes. So, if you want to run it 10 hours a day off batteries, you will need 12 fully-chrged batteries, costing $1200 and weighting 700 pounds. You would also need a semi-sized trailer covered in panels to charge them. Oh, and the A/C compressor takes double the load when it starts up — which will tire the batteries out quickly, so expect that $1200 in batteries to be a yearly thing.

Now, the awesome: IT WORKS. I ran 30 feet of LEDs, a laptop, a small but nice stereo, a PoE wireless antenna, a wireless hub, iPhones and iPods, 18v DeWalt battery packs, a fan — plus whatever I am forgetting — off of 2 x 100W solar panels and 2 x 100Ah marine cells while boon docking in my camper for ten weeks.

To run a full system you will need a solar panel, an inverter, a battery, and a charge controller.

First you must go ahead and do all the math of your usage, because we are are still at the stage where we must all do all the math, and math is good, but when you are doing all the math to the third significant digit, and looking up the model of that rechargeable flashlight you like for its charging amperage requirements, maybe say screw it and start with half what works for my boon docking setup; one beefy panel, one solid battery. You can then add another panel later if your location or climate require it to keep the battery charged.

As to wiring, your charge controller will have connections that include a legend where to hook up your batteries, panels and inverter, so easy peasy there. See the link below for an example. I recommend spending the extra on an MPPT controller, which converts some of your extra juice (the 12V panel below can run almost 19V) that normally is dumped when charging into increased amperage of the charging current. Do the math of your expected load, it's possible you will want a 20A.

YOU WILL WANT TO DO THE MATH on wire sizes. There are calculators online. For your small setup, the important run is going to be between the battery and the charge controller. This is where the fires start. If you think you will EVER add another battery dig deep and wire for it. Also, fuse your system correcly, there is a schematic on the charge controller link below. Don't skip this, you can get the fuse holders and fuses at your local auto parts store.

For inverters, I feel better about everything by getting a well-respected pure sinewave unit. I run a Cotec 350W for the solar, and it seems bulletproof. I also run a Xantrex 600 in my 4Runner and it seems just as solid. You could save a ton by getting a cheap modified sinewave one and seeing if it meets your needs. Either way they will have outlets on them, so you don't need to wire it further.

Also, no wet cells inside the vehicle unless properly secured, sealed to the inside, and vented to the outside.

Solar panel:

Charge controller (10A likely okay, do your math, I got the 20 amp)


u/asdfkjsdfsafdasdfa · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

It's actually not that expensive.

Well, expensive is relative, but you can get it done for a few grand, and you'll have a kick-ass electrical system to boot.

Get the 400 watt kit from renogy (650), the 200 watt kit (450), 4 of these batteries, and wire them up. Insulate van well and add a ~$100 wall unit (5000 btus, energy star) through a rear door.

all told you're looking at about $2000. You can get the components for those kits individually on amazon for cheaper (save a few hundred), or find alternatives that do the same thing without being as shiny (save 500+).

As a rule of thumb, 600 watts of solar to run at all. 800 or so to give yourself some leeway. It might not keep it at 70 degrees exactly, but it'll keep it comfortable enough, and when the temps cool down you'll have enough juice for anything short of an arc welder.

2k for an essential comfort doesn't seem too bad to me. It's an investment, but can definitely be done.

I think those estimates are based on no/shitty insulation. RV's are, as a general rule, insulated like crap (~3-5r). You can easily get 10r in every direction in a Promaster (unless you're super tall)

u/Minivan2016 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

It doesn't snow here in L.A. so I don't worry about heating, but I have herd from a lot of people here that this is the perfect thing to own if it snows where you are, or if it is too cold. I'd suggest you give it a try for the winter. It has really good rating here and in amazon, so it likely is very good. It has a built in detector for oxygen levels, but you should also pick up a Co2 sensor. I got one. Go check out the ford transit connect with the EcoBoost engine. It is smaller than the express, but has better millage. If you want MPG go for the Transit Connect, but if you want space then Try out the Chevrolet Express, or if you have the money pick up the Long Wheel Base Ram Pro master. It is half a foot longer than the Long Wheel Base Chevrolet Express. Anything longer than that is a Mini-Bus and those won't give you great MPG. Longest vans are the Long Wheel Base Chevrolet Express and the Long Wheel Base Ram ProMaster. The ProMaster being Half a foot longer than the Express. It'll be expensive to own an RV+Car. If you use the shower/toilet you will also have to go to a dump station every so often and refill the water tank. These are just things you will have to do on top of everything else. I don't recommend dumping the water on the street since it gives a bad image. If you do get an RV though I suggest you get like a Geo metro, something that gives you a lot of MPG because you will be returning to the same location everyday. I guess it would depend on how mobile you want to be. For me I travel about 10-15 miles mon - sat then do about 20 - 25 on sunday. Not much, but it is better to stay at the place you are going to than having to return to your RV on a daily basis. It just doubles the drive. that also cuts down on the MPG of the car you use since you have to drive around more. Then there are the other expenses I mentioned. If the RV has the fridge, stove, toilet, heater, ac, pump, and electricity working then it could be worth it. but you have to make sure they work. It would be like returning to a regular house. Other wise it would be like going back to a large boxy van.

u/hunsuckercommando · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Here's the basic mods I went with for our Vandura. We wanted to keep it simple and get it done in a couple months. Since I work full-time, time was the major constraining factor. We only use ours for a weekend fun vehicle so your needs may be different. We like ours, but it's definitely not Instagram worthy. I'm assuming yours has the conversion setup inside (wood paneling etc.) so it should be similar

- Replace the factory valence and center lighting with LEDs. The stock lights are garbage and one of the valence lights shorted out with the previous owner and was a safety issue. We used multi-colored dimmable lights for the center ( ) and simple LEDs for the valence ( ). After install the valence lights are SUPER bright; in retrospect, I'd use just one strip for all three valence lights

- Remove the rear captains chairs and install vinyl flooring in the middle. We have an electrically driven sofa/bed in the back that we wanted to keep in case we need extra legal seating, so we only installed flooring in the middle portion of the van between the cab and rear sofa seating. We found some vinyl "planks" at Walmart for dirt cheap (~$20 for the whole area) but the adhesive they came with didn't work great, especially with drastic temp changes. I'd suggest going with single sheet vinyl or laminate or, at the very least, using liquid nails as a substitute adhesive.

- Built a counter space/storage cabinet. I just used basic sideboard plans found on the internet. This stores our aux battery, fuse block, inverter and gives some additional storage space

- Install a battery isolator, aux battery, fuse block, inverter etc. We went with the Battery Doctor isolator ( ) because of the added ability to use the aux battery to supplement the starter battery in emergencies

- Install forced air ventilation. I didn't want to cut through the roof for a MaxxAir fan because we liked the lighting. Since the conversion van has 3 sets of sliding windows, we created a make-shift side vent fans out of 12V computer fans ( ). Three fans fit in each sliding window. Each fan is rated at 52CFM so (in theory) we get ~200-300CFM with two windows (eventually I'll get accurate measures with an anemometer just for curiosity's sake). Since we don't cook in the van and the van has multiple windows that open, this just helps the forced airflow to prevent condensation while sleeping.

- Upgraded the CRT TV to a flat screen ( ). Side note: the TV remote IR frequency changes the color of the multi-color LEDs. Maybe you can get around this with a different LED setup. We just turn the TV on before the lights to get around it

- Wired the TV, vent fans, and center lights to the aux battery. We originally had the valence lights hooked to it too, but since they're so damn bright we never used them and I reconnected them to the starter battery.

- Eventually, I'll build a storage compartment in the back that also opens to a table out the back hatch.

- So far, we're happy with just a cooler between the cab chairs. If we eventually go to a 12V fridge, we'll probably need another battery which doesn't make economic sense for what we use the van for

u/pyromaster114 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

First off, to answer your question:

That's almost certainly a flooded battery. It's probably a, "maintenance free" flooded battery. This simply means of course, that it's a piece of junk because you can never add water to it. It'll still off-gas like a normal flooded one though. So not good for indoor use really.


Second, you don't want those batteries:

You really need something that's actually deep cycle, not one of those 'hybrid' types used for starting a motor and running a few lights on a boat. You can tell because it states the "CCA" or Cold Cranking Amps. This is a starter battery, not a true deep cycle. It's also a very cheap one, which doesn't bode well for it's performance either in your application.

I'd advise you return those batteries and buy some good, true deep cycle, AGM batteries.


This is more in line with what you want, most likely:

Universal UB121000-45978 12v 100AH Deep Cycle AGM Battery 12V



So, here's an (well, maybe) easy test: Pick up the battery and shake it around. If the battery 'sloshes' like it's full of water, then it's flooded for sure. If it doesn't... well, no guarantee either way still.

Note, this will take quite a bit of strength, careful not to hurt yourself.



So, I've called the local Advance Auto Parts here in my town, and they THINK it's an AGM battery... though the lady didn't sound too sure. Still looking for a data sheet though, that's the only thing I'd trust at the moment without seeing the battery myself.

u/steezburgers · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

The most recommended setup I see from other vandwellers in Renogy. They make pretty much everything you need, and it's competitively priced.
You can buy a kit and have almost everything you need but a battery or you can build from scratch. The big components are deep cycle battery, panel, charge controller. There are obviously lots of other smaller things you'll need as well such as fuses, wires, mounting brackets, etc.

This option is much more cost efficient but also requires a good working knowledge of electrical setups (or the desire to learn them) in order to do it safely.

u/Kriscolvin55 · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

I can't imagine an oil lamp being safer than propane, not to mention the minimal heat. Oh yeah, and they don't burn as well, so you'll be breathing in a lot nastier air.

Honestly your best solution is a Mr. Heater. It's what I use in my van. It's super efficient, and super warm. No power necessary, just propane. You can use those little green 1 pound propane tanks, or hook it up to a 20 pound tank (that's what I do).

u/StolidSentinel · 4 pointsr/vandwellers

Super cut a hole, and super be done with it. They have super glands for this. They are super.

EDIT: Super!

u/SunnySouthTexas · 1 pointr/vandwellers

We use a propane Camp Chef COven . Not only does it cook your food, but it’ll warm you van, too!

Warm belly full of lasagna, warm van, perfect to go to bed! LOL!

u/cr0ft · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

You can build a van with underbody tanks and a shower, but that's much more involved. You also need a heating system to keep those from freezing, etc.

But there are any number of ways you can keep clean between showers, and in the states Planet Fitness (as has been mentioned) lets you both work out and shower almost everywhere.

Washcloths and basins of water would be plenty to get clean, if not as luxuriously as a shower.

Put room temperature water in a bucket, pour in a pot of boiling water to get it lukewarm, and use this: (drop the pump into the bucket and shower away. If you get a wider basin you could even stand in it and let the water circulate a couple of times and extend the shower time.) Or combine with a drop-in bucket heater, to shower in hot water. Just have to get creative.

People have kept clean for centuries without showers. It's not as nice but it's doable.

u/matrixifyme · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I'm not a pro on the subject but I think you should start the process with a budget in mind. Then you can look at amazon or eBay and find something like this:
Preferably with good reviews within your budget and the documentation that comes with the product will usually explain pretty clearly how to connect everything together. Remember you can always add more batteries and panels in the future.

u/DrTom · 1 pointr/vandwellers

This is the most popular solar set-up. Then a battery like this. You may need an inverter, too, but that depends on your needs.

Water depends entirely on you. You can get five gallon jugs that re-fill at Home Depot for $7, for example. A lot of people get water for free at gas stations or parks.

It seems like you're just getting started thinking about this. I recommend the FAQ. There's lot of good stuff in there!

u/renogy · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Hi there! Our Starter Kit might also be a good alternative for you as well because unlike our Bundle Kit, it also includes Z-brackets and a tray cable. If you have any questions relating to your system, feel free to message us. :)

All the best,

The Renogy Team

u/SexyLoverBoy · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I probably wont be doing much until the weather warms up and I can afford to deck it out. My plans are to get a Fantastic fan, some solar panels, batteries and wire it all up. After that I am thinking of mounting a propane tank underneath where one of the fuel tanks was as well as a fresh water tank. It will have a very small kitchenette with a propane powered stove with oven. Not sure if I will go with a minifridge or just use a cooler. Also there will be a toilet. Sounds like a lot to cram in there once I write it all down, but I think it will be great. Keep an eye on the sub, Ill definitely post pictures when I do make progress.

u/jacco1995 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

So easy and so worth it. When you install an aux battery, change the power source for your van's inverter to it.

Isolator Relay:

AGM Battery: or Something comparable

Voltage monitor (very helpful!):

100A fuse

2-4 gauge wire

terminal ends

A voltimeter is very helpful in finding a wire that runs > 12v while the car is running. Have one, buy one, borrow one, etc. This was really the only challenging part of the installation because you have to test multiple wires for voltage.

Once you're done installing it you'll be able to comment on these posts and tell people how wonderful and easy it is too!

u/Zaporah · 1 pointr/vandwellers

My bf and I slept in a regular size prius for 2.5 weeks this summer. Just put the back seats down so it was flat and used backpacking sleep mats and sleeping bags and a pillow. Was as comfy as my bed! So any of those should be fine.

I would recommend just barely cracking your windows for air flow and either getting a sun shade or parking strategically so you aren't woken up by the sun. At that time of year I don't think you need to worry about the heat at least :-)

Also if you ever do it more long term these were an amazing purchase. Kept the sun out, bugs out, privacy and air flowing! And super easy to pack down.

u/gdhillard · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I just got this one from amazon. Free shipping, thank goodness, since it weighs 75 pounds. 125 amp/hrs, AGM sealed battery, needs no venting or battery box. I just strapped mine o the floor, under the bed. Requires a good charge controller. Should last 10 years or so with no care what so ever.

u/Kurtvannegut · 8 pointsr/vandwellers

Maybe $350 ish? Basically just this guy or 2 and some wires

be careful to wire everything properly safely, ground, and add fuses for safety. Too many safety measures is the perfect amount.

u/Other_Western · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Depends on your needs. Renogy has great kits at decent prices, you can get the parts a bit cheaper off Amazon but then there's no warranty.

If you're just looking to charge stuff and run a fridge and water pump, 200w is a good place to start. Get the panels, tape them up on the roof using VHB tape (seriously, it's the best way to do it without punching a shitload of holes in the roof, and the tape is extremely strong).

Follow the wiring diagram from Renogy for wiring up the batteries ( are the cheapest watt/dollar that you'll find for sealed batteries. I'd recommend sealed over unsealed, adding water etc is a pain in the ass and if you forget the batteries are dead) and the inverter.

Remember, every wire exiting a power source must have a fuse within the first two feet of wire, and every wire must be gauged to handle the max amp load it will face, and must be fused at less than that gauge wire is rated for. Follow those three rules and it'll all be safe if not necessarily pretty. Good luck, and feel free to ask me any questions if they come up!

u/TheRoadAbode · 7 pointsr/vandwellers

This is the same problem we had when learning how to setup the electrical system and I feel like rarely talked about. You need a fuse block like this one:

You run a wire from your charge controller (load +) to the + terminal on the fuse block and another to the - terminal. You can then wire all your 12v outlets and appliances (lighting, vent fan, etc) to that and mark on the cover what wire is what so you know when doing repair/maintenance

We'll be recording and posting a video about this in the near future because I feel like the little details in electrical are not talked about and require a lot of research for first timers. Feel free to ask more questions and we'll try to help! 😃😃

Edit: I forgot to add some info about the ground. With an off grid system like yours, it is usually a closed system which means you don't have a ground. Just positive and negative wires going to and from the battery/charge controller/fuse panel.

u/rebeccasf · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I have a Mr. Heater Buddy heater. I use it in my tiny camper and it heats the place up in 10 - 15 minutes. I have to turn it on and off again to keep from turning my place into a sauna. Typically, I'll run it for 10 minutes and off for 20. So I run it three or four times before I go to bed and then turn it on when I get up in the morning to take the chill off. Now that it's winter, I go through a bottle of propane about once a week.

I also have a carbon monoxide detector in my camper. In all the time I've used the heater, the only time it registered on my detector, was at the end of a bottle when it was not burning completely for a few minutes. My CM detector registered 31 but never went off. I opened the top vent and it went back to 0 in two or three minutes. The heater is frikin' fantastic. I consider it very safe and am not worried at all about oxygen depletion.

u/-poopsicle · 26 pointsr/vandwellers

It's actually real easy. When I built the bed I purchased [these] ( off of Amazon. They provide some privacy, keep the sun out, and most importantly, allow us to let breeze through the windows while keeping bugs out.
Additionally, I purchased [this] ( to black out the front. Both items have been perfect for camping so far!

u/TAOLIK · 6 pointsr/vandwellers

>Is the volt chart from Wagan Tech really correct?

Looks more or less close, I think a netbook would use more. The best way to find out is to check yourself with a killawatt.

>I think a trucker fridge or something designed for RVs would have a lower consumption.

You should look into a chest freezer conversion. It is very simple all you need is a thermostat controller, it is easily customizable. During the hot summer my outdoor chest freezer used 200 watts A DAY. Right now it uses about 10 watts a day because it's outside.

>What does 150AH a day require to support it? How fast would that drain a deep cycle battery?

Deep cycle batteries have different ratings for 20 hour periods. Example a battery with 150AH rating for 20 hours, would be able to support 150 Amp hours over 20 hours-meaning it could support 7.5 amps an hour. Which would translate to 90watts of DC an hour (7.512), OR 720watts AC an hour assuming inverter is 80% efficient(7.5120*0.8).

>24V deep cycle marine batteries are what I thought was gold-standard for van applications.

The gold standard is usually 12V battery systems, whether it's two 6v's run in a series or one 12v battery.

For more information I urge you to visit handy bob's site, which is a little harder to read but a wealth of knowledge.

u/lookitsaustin · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

You're most welcome! I bought the following:

4x100W Panels

Panel Mounting

Solar Panel Connectors

Tool Crimper

Assembly Tool

Panel Connectors

Power Information

CTEK Charger

CTEK SmartPass

200ah AMG Battery

Fuse Block

300W Pure Sine Wave Inverter

LED Strip

Dometic 35 Fridge

I bought all these items with research into my solar needs and following the advice from here in the vandwelling subreddit and also information I gathered from Amazon. I am probably doing a bit of overkill on my solar setup but I thankfully have the money to do it and don't want to mess with adding anything later.

I will have to do research myself on how to combine the four panels into the battery but that will be a few weeks away so I haven't done much in that area. I do plan to buy 10GA wire from Lowes and use the crimping tool and connectors to form my own wiring harness so it will be clean looking. \

EDIT: Adding info.

u/frothface · 1 pointr/vandwellers

It's kinda like trying to weigh a letter for postage with a scale set up on a trampoline full of kids. It's bouncing up and down, so it looks like the letter weight is going up and down because it doesn't have a stable reference point because it's getting noise from the power line.

Laptop, you'd have to find a DC adapter for that model of laptop. Dell used to make some, not sure about other brands. They are kinda pricey considering you already have the inverter.

For phones, there are a couple different charge technologies, but they are all USB (sort of). Normal 5v USB is limited to 0.5 amps, so it charges slow. There is a higher power 5v USB, which is I believe 1.1 amps, and then there are USB charging adapters that put out somewhere around 2 amps. 2 amps is about the limit for the cable, so to charge faster than that they have what are called 'quick charge' adapters, which operate at voltage higher than 5v, either 9 or 12v depending on the device being charged.

Most of them are wall adapters, so I'm assuming that's what you mean by 'mains charging [was] faster'. But, they do make [DC quick chargers] ( that will charge just as fast as the wall. It will also be more efficient than firing up a 1kw inverter to step it up to mains voltage to run a 30ish watt switching power supply that converts it back down to 5/9/12v. I'm not recommending that specific model; it seems to have good reveiws but I've never used that specific one.

Just make sure your phone supports quick charge, and know that there is quick charge, qc2.0 and qc3.0. They should be backwards compatible (it would charge at the highest voltage that both support), but I'm not 100% certain on that. You'd also need some way to connect that to the battery, something like this.

u/Y_BOT · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

>Hmm, it seems as though if I'm going to need a toggle switch for the solenoid I might as well save myself the money and the hassle and just get one of those large manual isolator switches. Unless you disagree.

they both do the same thing, but i would go with a solenoid personally. however, there's another option that i noticed we haven't talked about, and that is an automatic isolator. something like this :

(take note of the wiring diagram picture on that amazon listing, it may help you).
an automatic isolator like that will automatically charge your deep cycles once the starting battery is charged up, and prevent the deep cycles from discharging your deep cycles. unlike with a solenoid or manual isolator switch, there is no chance of you forgetting to disconnect the deep cycles batteries and accidentally draining your starting battery. i would highly recommend going with something like this - it is simpler to wire up AND will be more user-friendly once installed.

>If I do in fact skip the solenoid I would imagine I would place the isolator switch on the positive wire from the deep cycle battery to the car starting battery.


>If I keep everything wired as you laid out in the diagram above, would I be able to charge my deep cycle batteries without draining my car battery AND without actually starting my car? Ehh now that I write that out it doesn't make any sense. fuck

yea the car has to be running, the alternator is what actually does the charging and its not going to put out and power unless the engine is running.

u/Econolife-350 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Everything will need to be grounded or it will not operate. The easiest way to do this is to use a fusebox as you mentioned. The number of items you'll want to power should determine the number of terminals you'll need. Connect your Anderson Powerpole terminals to their corresponding spots on the Blue Sea Systems fuse box (12 terminals with negative because you can always not use some, but you can't add any on the 6 terminal model).

Use a disconnect switch below and a ring connector cable to make sure you don't draw any power when not intended. It will go between your positive leads.

For the wiring to indidual 12v sources I use copper-clad aluminum because I'm cheap and use 12 gauge (non-awg because it's cheaper and only slightly smaller in gauge diameter) and it hasn't given me any problems because for the price I go a bit bigger than I might need.

For the fridge though you may want to go to 10 gauge.

Look at the 12v chart below and make sure you're within the range for the length of wire you want to run which I can't imagine you wont be since everything you're describing is super low amp.

Then to connect the equipment to power you can either solder the wires together or use these below to crimp them (crimping video below that). You're wire stripping pliers should have a crimping portion on them already. if not buy the ones in the 4th link.

You'll then use the terminal rings from the link above (pretty sure that's the correct size ring) to connect the end of those wires to the fuse box on the negative and positive sides. Fuse based on the amps you'll be drawing. Since I think someone somewhere will complain that this is expensive and there are cheaper ways to do it, I set you up on the "new everything" route since I don't think you'll have any of these things and if you're getting a goal zero I don't think price is a limiting factor. Unless you already have a lot of experience with wiring this is the basic version with everything you'll need pre-made as much as possible.

u/slicedbread1991 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I'm looking at this [oven]( on Amazon as a potential option. Would it be safe in a oven and what kind of precautions should I take? Are there better options? Cooking in an oven is important to me as I enjoy cooking and baking.

u/homescrubb · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I got this ALPS Mountaineering sleeping pad from amazon. Its self-inflating and very reasonably comfortable. A 12v fan is also nearly essential for muggy summer nights. Lastly, these window socks are awesome in that they let you keep your windows down without bugs getting in.

u/RV9 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Silicone won't last up there, but can be a temporary fix. Keep in mind you will have to remove it and clean the area quite well when you do the permanent fix. Dicor Self Leveling Lap Sealant is what you need. I provided the link so you could see the label. Camping World will carry it for sure, if you have one near you. I am not sure if Lowe's or Home Depot carry it. This is THE solution you need.

u/justhereformyvans · 1 pointr/vandwellers

3 questions, please bear with me!

  1. Anyone have experience with the low frequency AIMS 1250w inverter / charger? I've seen alot about AIM's other units, but not this. Thoughts? Also, after looking through the manual, still having a tough time figuring out the right fuse size.


  2. Also considering using the Wirthco battery doctor instead of the Keyline 140amp battery isolator because of the jump start ability. What do you think?


  3. I've seen alot of people attach to the CCP points on the ford transit. Any reason more people aren't just going straight to the battery terminal?


    Thanks for the help

u/motpalage · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

First, my needs:

  1. Power 1/2 LED monitors at ~30W each
  2. Occasionally charge laptop
  3. LED lighting
  4. 2 Maxxair fans

    Second, the components:



    Y connectors

    Cable entry

    2 Gauge wire

    Terminal rings

    Crimp tool

    Terminal block



    Vent vans


    Puck lights

    Strip lights

    Fuse box




    I know my needs are fairly minimal. I see opportunity to grow with this system if I ever need to. I’m excited to lay it out with the actual parts soon and begin thinking about it in the real world.

    Any suggestions, info or questions are completely welcome. I know little about electrical, only what I’ve learned from reddit and youtube. Thanks pals and again /u/StolidSentinel for the help and replies to all my messages and questions!
u/WestCoast-Willy · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Camping world, in general, is grossly overpriced on a lot of things.

I'm gonna be honest and say that fan looks like shit. Sorry bro. I'm just not sure id want to skimp on such an essential part of the build, and when you compare it to the batteries and plywood, it's really not that pricey. For me, it's essential to keep moisture out with some good air flow.

This doozy has treat me pretty well. The rain cover is much sleeker and can be up while driving. That's shweet. Maybe I'd have gotten the remote. Idk.

u/atoine · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Sorry for the late response... we spent some time on public land, no wi/fi!
You can get a cheap (but good) Renogy 100W kit:, then shop locally for a small battery (in the 50-100 Ah).
Or you could just charge using your alternator with an isolator (cheap solution, but in this scenario you need to drive frequently).
If you don't want to worry about wiring/fuse etc, Goal Zero has good plug-and-play solutions but they're NOT CHEAP (
Good luck!

u/CaneyJ · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

The battery size and solar size is fine.

Save a ton of cash and power using my fridge design linked here:

I've measured it to use about 12-15 AH per day or 0.5-0.63A per hour. Simply change the digital thermostat setting to below freezing to turn it back into a freezer.

Easily replaced by solar though it depends where you are. Even in winter you should at least get around 1A per hour from a 200w panel during daylight hours.

A 10A or 20A version of this EPSOLAR MPPT controller is a good solid choice.

Use one of these to link your domestic battery to the engine:

u/hamslamwich · 5 pointsr/vandwellers

I have the RinseKit, as its gaining popularity down here in SoCal. I love it for its purpose - I keep it in the trunk of my car to hose off diving/surfing gear. But debating whether to make space for it in the van. Like others have said, after a quick few minutes, its just a waste of space until you find another spigot.

I've also seen this which is intriguing.

u/etch-bot · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

Get a fuse box like this then attach wires to cigarette adapters. The fuse box is connected directly to battery with another fuse between them.

EDIT: Mind you, I'm still trying to figure out what size fuse, circuit breaker goes between them LOL

EDIT #2: Also, from this fuse box, you directly connect LED lighting, your cig adapters and any other 12v source you may have. All the fuses are in one place instead of in-line. Makes it easy to diagnose problems as you can just pull the fuse to work on something. Make sure to label!

EDIT #3: Also.. get some these fuses. It's cheap and now you have a ton of extras!

u/c00ki3znkr34m · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Thanks for the help!! Probably going to to use this one:

Seems good? I doubt my alternator is rated at like 200 amps, it SHOULD be 100...... O_O. Ford Van. Econoline.

u/xtremeadvanture · 1 pointr/vandwellers

we use a when needed. we usually crank it up around dinner time when were done running around get it to a warm temperature and shut it off before bed. Durning the night we just use a good sleeping bag or many confuters. Never had any problems yet. It has gotten down to 17 inside the van, to the point where we've had an icicle coming out of our manual pump faucet. Crank up the heater in the morning, get back in bed for 10 minutes so the van get to a manageable temp then start breakfast. Also a tip we've learned.
10 minutes or so before arriving where we will park for the night we crank the heater of the van on full blast pushing all the hot air into the rear compartment of the van. Usually works great for us. sometimes it even eliminates the need for the mr buddy.

u/Way-a-throwKonto · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I'll copy paste something I wrote elsewhere just now. What do you think?


My plan is to use a shower pump like this:
Then boil some water on the stove, and mix it with room temp water and put enough in the floor of this to cover the pump:

... set up underneath the roof fan, with some velcro holding up a hula hoop holding up the shower curtain tucked inside the tub. Get a thing to stand on so my feet aren't soaking, attach the shower head to the hula hoop, put a cloth bag over the pump as a rudimentary filter... Voila, recirculating, hot shower, for as long as I want, for just a few gallons of water.

Bonus, the shower water can be used to wash your clothes if you separate it from your regular gray water.

u/repoman · 6 pointsr/vandwellers

I assume you are on a tight budget, but if you can come up with a little extra you will be much better off with this battery.

Also, a pure sine wave inverter will be far better for powering/charging sensitive electronics.

For an additional $250 or so, you'll have a battery and inverter that will both last years if used properly.

u/philc79 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

The best thing to do is find out exactly how much power it uses by using a watt meter ( It is certainly doable. You'd need to find out power consumption, then determine how long you intend to play a day, and do the math to determine it's daily power usage. From their you can design a battery bank that will suit your needs.

u/PhiladelphiaCollins3 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I just bought some mesh window covers for getting some ventilation and keeping out bugs while camping in my suv. They fit over the entire top half of the door frame and are black which helps with blocking anyone from easily seeing in the windows. The downside is that they're not very secure and wouldn't be difficult to move out if the way so I would be careful urban camping.

And I've been putting a lot of thought into this myself recently, and I'm not sure there's a good way to stay cooler during the day other than putting something like reflectix in most of the windows , which definitely isn't stealthy. Maybe get that silver looking window tint and reflectix wouldn't be noticeable behind it.

u/tonyk345 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Please get yourself a proper container for those buses. At least one of them should be covered to avoid shorting.
Or get a all in one fuse box like this.

Next something looks wrong in your wiring. Is there a ground line and positive running to those switches?

Lastly please put a fuse between the bus and the battery. That way if those buses did short it will blow first.

Edit: I understand the ground going to the switch now. It looks like you have illuminated switches with need a ground.
Probably worth mentioning as there are double throw switches that would short out if someone wired it without understanding.

u/ExpertCommission4sdf · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Only real adjustments to this I'd suggest; for charging off the car's alternator, just go with a solenoid. It's cheaper, won't drain your car's battery at all (the smart isolaters do draw a small amount of power all the time), and if you can give your car a jump start if needed by turning the key and letting the house battery charge the car battery. And there's no downsides. Smart isolaters are a waste imo.

Also, save $30 and get the unbranded version of that battery.

Same specs I believe so it's probably even made in the same factory in China. I've had great results with mine the past few years

u/theoryface · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Yeah, I thought anyone interested in the thread would be! But as soon as I posted the original version with amazon links, it was auto-deleted. Weird.

Oh well, here are my products:

Solar panel:

Charge controller:

House battery:

Battery isolator:

Van fan:

LED lights:

Fuse block:


Main line fuses (inline):

u/CockasaurusRex · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Is this the kit you had in mind: Thank you for the straightforwardness. Do you have a fuse box that you would suggest as well?

I never really considered solar energy before this post but I think I'm going to go for it, especially since I don't really have a need for a lot of power. Thanks again man!

u/FireClimbing · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Solar pannels are always getting better, just do some quick checks on the internet(amazon for me) and compare the efficiency of the panels. If the efficiency it is not directly stated divide the panels power by the panels size. Ex 100Watt panel / (47.3" X width 21.3" ) = 0.1 watts per square inch.

my example pannel

u/benlucky13 · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

depends on the model, but the 'cozy cabin' heater by dickinson marine uses a small pilot light that has trouble staying lit at altitude. others have a low-oxygen shut-off feature that can be tripped by thinner air. the mr. buddy heater in particular only works up to about 7,000 ft

I mention the cozy cabin because I spoke with dickinson about that model specifically in the past, I assume (but don't know) that their other heaters operate similarly.

their response to whether it works at altitude is:

"Unfortunately the cozy cabin will not perform well at altitude. It has a small orifice in the pilot light assembly that can not be altered and the unit rely's on the pilot light to keep the thermocouple active so when you try and use it at altitudes the pilot light become erratic and will not keep the thermocouple engaged and the heater will not stay lit."

they never gave a specific maximum altitude, but my original question to them asked about 10,000ft or more.

my suggestion is to first, get a natural gas detector if you don't already have one in the van. second, test it out at incrementally higher altitudes, only while you are awake. after a couple nights of no issues then if you feel safe use it while you sleep.

u/hombrent · 1 pointr/vandwellers

No, I haven't. I have a boat that has these hatches, but I have not installed or serviced them yet.

I bought a Maxxfan deluxe for my van.
because I wanted the fan feature. I haven't installed it yet, though. Maybe I'll put in one of each, so I can have a good intake and an output for circulation.

If I just wanted an openable skylight, I would go with the marine hatch. Marine hatches are significantly more expensive - they are built to be stronger, more durable, and water proof. You can even walk ontop of them. They need to perform all these functions to be able to prevent a boat from sinking. They also can be big enough, and open wide enough for you to climb in and out of. Would be cool to be able to go up on your roof - from inside the van.

I imagine that installation is about the same. Cut a hole in the roof ( scary ). Apply liberal amounts of marine sealant, screw it in to adequate backing boards.

u/Sierrasclimber · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Or 1200 watts for $180 or $0.14 per watt. Its slightly larger and you can use cheap chargers on it. Lithium maybe the future but the price point is too high for most unless what you're doing is really minimal.

What are you going to run at 120V? That is not minimal. Using an cell phone battery is great for charging cell phones, not much else.

u/alp728 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I bought this one:
because I live on nachos and frozen pizzas and really wanted an oven. The van isn't finished yet but I've been using it in my house for the last few weeks and I love it.

u/1984Society · 5 pointsr/vandwellers

The shower builds I've seen in smaller places usually consist of a metal basin you can stand in, with a hole drilled down through the floor for a drain, with basically a shower curtain however you want to hang it (hula hoops work nicely) and then using some sort of pump (electric or manual) for the shower.

I don't have a shower IN my van, but I do use this - - With a 5 gallon bucket and it works great

u/pbewig · 1 pointr/vandwellers

It is unlikely that you will be able to power a heater with solar power; heaters simply require too much electricity. A sleeping bag rated for the temperature you will experience is probably the most effective thing for you.

A quick look at Amazon shows the Nintendo switch has a wall outlet power adapter that outputs 5v at 1.5a. Assuming that is correct, you can charge your electrical devices from a wall outlet at McDonalds or Starbucks, or from a cigarette lighter adapter in your car. If you won't be in cities or won't be driving daily, a small solar panel and battery (I like that battery for its dual inputs, which makes it charge twice as fast) will likely be sufficient. Price for solar panel and battery about $100.

If you need more electrical power, put a roof rack on your car, then buy a battery and a 100-watt kit from Renogy (the kit includes mounting hardware, cables, a solar controller and instructions to wire everything together). Price for solar panel kit and battery about $400.

u/TheSpin1 · 4 pointsr/vandwellers

I got one of these. Definitely recommend it.

12V 140 Amp Dual Battery Smart Isolator by KeyLine - VSR - Voltage Sensitive Relay Specially Designed for ATV, UTV, Boats, RV's, Campers 5th Wheels Of

u/RiverVan · 8 pointsr/vandwellers

Many vandwellers use the Portable Mr. Buddy heater:

  • Approved for indoor/outdoor use; clean-burning; nearly 100-percent efficient

  • Auto shut-off if tipped over, if pilot light goes out, or if detects low oxygen levels

    (Also available at Walmart stores and Cabela's)

    It's a good idea to have a carbon monoxide (don't confuse this with dioxide) detector in your van and to leave your windows open a bit when the heater is being used.

u/NugginLastsForever · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I have something like this heater for camping when it gets cold. Also got an adapter to refill the little tanks from a big one. Seems to work well and fairly cost efficient.

u/gingermuffinboy · 1 pointr/vandwellers

This is exactly what he said when referencing a battery isolator - "You use it to isolate two batteries and you don't need the solenoid.
Plus it correctly regulates charging. There are variants of the pic so get the correct one for your voltage and current needs. They even make one that will allow your storage battery to boost your starter battery. They cheaper ones do not do this but can be jumped with a bypass switch.

What you have there is a potential fire. Also with 6v batteries, the charging rates can be different. Batteries in a series are always problematic."

But I just to make sure I understand you correctly. This device:

That will cover me in the same way that both the solenoid and the isolator switch will?

Also side note, I plan on purchasing two of these:

Both, if I am correct, would go on the car battery positive terminal and the golf battery1 terminal.

u/Naughty_Burrito · 1 pointr/vandwellers

We're getting ready to install some/most of our electrical setup. The plan is to charge the house battery via shore and alternator, with the option to add solar in the future. Are these essentially the only charging components I would need? Does the Ctek replace the charge controller? I just found out about it recently.

Samlex Smart Charger (Shore Power)

Ctek D250SA (Alternator/Solar)

u/truckerslife · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Start the vehicle. Use something along the lines of the below device. It makes it so you can add the vehicle battery into the mix. But you never discharge it to far so it's always able to start the engine.

You also put an alarm on the system like the link below that. Also if your decent with electronics... I'm sure something like a raspberry pi or Arduino could be set up so that it would auto start the vehicle on low voltage and shut it back down when the batteries are charged so you don't even need to get up of your batteries run low.

I haven't tried to build the auto start circuit (I did a quick look and didn't find one) but I'm Pretty sure I could set something up in a few days.... shit.... I don't think you'd even need it to be as complex as needing an RPi. You could set up something with a relay. The relay would deactivate below 12 volts and a simple circuit to not re engage the relay after it hits 14 volts across the battery bank..... and honestly a lot of that is in the battery isolator. So you'd set something up so that when the system disconnects the main battery off the network it starts the vehicle and shuts it off once the batteries are charged.

12V 140 Amp Dual Battery Smart Isolator by KeyLine - VSR - Voltage Sensitive Relay Specially Designed for ATV, UTV, Boats, RV's, Campers 5th Wheels Off Road Vehicles Rhino Polaris Artic Cat ETC

12V Lead Acid Battery Capacity Meter Voltage Tester Multifunction Voltmeter Battery Capacity Indicator with Low Voltage Alarm Function

u/WashedSylvi · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I'm getting super lost trying to calculate amp usage and determine necessary battery size. I've read the FAQ a few times and it's not helpful for cases I keep encountering.

For example, this fan doesn't list watts anywhere, not on Amazon, not on Home Depot, not on the manufacturer website. Some comments say it uses "3 amps" others "5", I have no idea how to use this information.

Then on things like a fridge (Dometic CFX 50US), it says: Rated input power (AC) 50 W . Does this mean it uses 4.16 amps an hour? This would mean 100 AH per 24 hours. Although Amazon comments say it uses much lower than this, one person saying 18AH a day. Stuff like this is super confusing because I don't know what number is accurate or what I'm supposed to plan for. Should I plan for 100AH? 18? 50? 69?^(nice)

Does anyone have some videos that help explain this because I am so confused.

u/taelor · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I'm doing exactly this, and I've decided on these two devices...


This can server as your alternator to Battery bank charger, as well as your MPPT controller for Solar, its basically a two in one product for the isolator and solar charge controller. /u/brutimus also uses this, and when I asked them the other day, they said they liked it and its working well.

AIMS 1000W Inverter-Charger

This inverter is a beast. It works as a AC to DC 3-stage smart charger, 1000W inverter, AC-passthrough (so that when you are hooked up to AC, you can just use it like normal without draining battery), and has lots of other nice features. There is one feature where if you are out away from an AC hookup and have a generator, once your batteries are drained, it can send a signal to the generator to turn on, keeping your power going, but only after your batteries have been depleted.

u/SeveredKibbles · 4 pointsr/vandwellers

I had a similar idea a while ago and the general consensus is that a solar generator, while it seems practical, isn't much more simple than a DIY solar set up, but it is much more expensive.

Heres a simple list I could find that'll give you the same wattage (someone correct me if I'm wrong with this, I'm no electrician):

$185 [100w panel (comes with mounts for your roof)] (

$189 [Inverter] ( (the gene you linked is a bit sneaky, saying 5k watts, but thats the peak, not the continuous, so this inveter is the same wattage). Also, the generator produces a modified sine wave. This means the inveter isn't suitable for things like lighting and (so i've heard) isn't good for expensive electronics, [you can do some research on the difference between pure and modified] ( The one I've linked is pure and good for any electronics.

$183 [100 AH sealed AGM deep cycle battery] (

$100 for the extra wire you'll need. You have to get wire for the charge controller to the battery, then from the battery to the inveter, so not too much. The $100 is probably much more than you need.

So in total, thats ~$660 for the same power. You could toss the components into a box and seal it up and make your own generator if you really want to.

Just to add, I thought it'd be cool to see what I could do with the $1000+ the gene costs. For just ~$150 more, you could more than double the system with [these panels] (, [this inverter] (, and [this battery] (

u/chriz3268 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Good stuff, thank you all. One more question though, regarding the battery monitor, in order to monitor the discharge rate and not go below 50%, do I need a victron BMV-700 ($150) or can I just use this bayite meter:

u/krustyy · 1 pointr/vandwellers

If cost is an issue, I'd suggest a crappy solar setup just to keep lights and fans going. There's also some DIY methods to greatly increase the efficiency of your cooler. With a highly efficient cooler and enough access to refill your ice there's not a lot of need to invest in a proper mobile refrigerator.

For some quick and dirty solar:

If you need more than 45W of power, add one of these buggers:

You can tie it into your current vehicle battery or split it up and get a dedicated battery or two for your power needs.

u/butterbal1 · 6 pointsr/vandwellers

ok lets start off with correcting your requirements..

Phone 3.24Ah x 3.7v = 12Wh

Laptop = 42 Wh (per spec sheet)

Fan .5Ah x 12v = 6Wh/hour of run time

LEDs 0.8Ah x 4.5v = 3.6Ah (assuming 3 batteries)

With 7 hours of run time on that fan lets call that an even 100Wh/day that you will need to generate which that panel should be able to crank out in about 1 hour of direct sunlight if it was perfect with no loss anywhere so plan for 2 hours and you will be very safe if you never have a cloudy day without charging.

In theory a 20Ah 12v battery will meet your needs based on your stated design with only a 50% discharge. (less if you recharge the laptop while the sun is out)

My suggestions:

Use this panel kit instead . Same rated output but the mounting kit saves some headache and gives flexibility on the charger about what kind of batteries it can feed.

For batteries I would highly recommend looking at a pair of 35Ah 6v golf cart batteries run in series.

For lighting just get some 12v LEDs and run the straight off the battery and don't mess around with AAA batteries.

Extra note - Any time you are charging something else there is a voltage change and you are going to lose some energy in the step up/down transformers or inverters that can be as horrible as 20% loss. Just keep this in mind when doing calculations.

u/Greeneee- · 1 pointr/vandwellers

The cheapest and easiest thing would be to buy a 4000 watt generator..

You've made it clear you don't want to run a generator. You'll want at least 120-200 amp hours in batteries. Pulling 30a, on one battery from 100% to 40% will kill that battery real quick. Having two will spread the load and extend the lifetime of the batteries. Wire a 10 amp battery charger that you plug an extension cord into every night.

Have a 4000 watt inverter, pure sine not modified, otherwise you will use 120-150 amps in battery power, just to get 60 amps into the scooters (massive efficiency loss). Have that hooked up to your two deep cycle batteries. Run a power strip and plug in all your scooter chargers. Then when your home plug in the shore power to recharge your batteries.


u/LastTreestar · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Seen this one yet?? It's not full sized, but just sharing an option I've had in my list for a years. Just don't think I need an oven enough to justify it.

u/optionsexplored · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

You can get a manual opening version that is much lower profile and let's you control how open you want it to be.

But as mentioned in other comments the limitation is that you can't use it in the rain and it's pretty unstable on the lid if open while driving.

Personally I would go with the white Maxxair fan because I don't think it is all that noticeable. Plenty of white work vans have stuff on the top. If you really want stealth, get a used ladder rack and stick a ladder on there to help hide the fan and disguise yourself :)

u/SVKissoon · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Ive found this on Amazon:

Anyone have thoughts on this? Ive you read the reviews, in reference to van power, they're generally positive.

u/baumat · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Much appreciated! I'm in the US so that doesn't work for me, I've found a 100ah on amazon for the same price though. I think there's a UK alternative too

u/Xenomorphsexual · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Thank you so much for all the info. There are two places near me that sell reclaimed building materials that I want to get as much as I can from and build this myself. Even so I was assuming that this will cost a lot so I wanted to be over prepared. Your build list has helped to put things in perspective.

I found a propane oven/stove combo that is a little pricey, but I'll be using it on the regular so it should be worth it.

Btw your link goes to a deleted post.

u/brutimus · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I just got done installing my panels and went with one of these entries: I drilled a 1" hole, primed the bare metal, put a 1" grommet in the hole to keep it from cutting my wires, cleaned the paint around the hole, put down VHB tape, stuck the thing I mentioned a second ago down on the tape, then used some Dicor around the perimeter to seal it all up.

So far it's working great and has survived a few days of rain with no leaks.

u/Azsu · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Have you checked out the smart battery isolators? I was looking at 12V 140 Amp Dual Battery Smart Isolator by KeyLine - VSR - Voltage Sensitive Relay Specially Designed for ATV, UTV, Boats, RV's, Campers 5th Wheels Off Road Vehicles Rhino Polaris Artic Cat ETC

u/stinkypuggy · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Try a Heater Buddy.

Used one September through near the end of November while traveling through colder areas in Montana & Wyoming. Lifesaver.

Only downsides are the little tanks only last 6 hours so you have to wake up and re-light. Bigger tanks are an option though.

Might be wise to buy a carbon monoxide detector just incase. It says you can use it indoors but I don't know how small and tightly sealed your van is.

u/galvanised_computer · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

ps4 is about 200w gaming and has pretty high idle consumption of 50w so disconnect when not in use. Add in the power usage from your TV (Let's say 100w which is overkill). Your laptop drawing 13A? That seems too high, no laptop draws 1500w. my high end laptop draws 170w. 1500w is a really big gaming computer with dual gpus.

I'd estimate ps4, tv, and laptop power usage at 400w (overestimated a bit) if you wanted to do that 6 hours a day that is 2,400kwh. I've read you shouldn't discharge a battery below 50% so cut any ratings in half.
This battery is good for 750 watt-hours

For your whole setup you would need 3.2, maybe 3 of those batteries.

Take this with a grain of salt, I'm good with power calculations, but don't have too much knowledge of solar system design.

u/nowyouregone · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I have one of these installed in my rig and its fantastic. It currently lives under the bench seat. If you are adding a second battery to an already existing auxillary battery setup be aware that the current life of your battery now can affect your new battery. Basically batteries need to be installed in the same condition (ideally new) or they can screw each other up. If you're just adding a new Aux battery that will be isolated from the starter battery you should be good.

u/waboosh · 1 pointr/vandwellers

This is what I use, 100Ah

Get a sealed deep cycle battery. No maintenance and worry free.

I don't power much. Pump for sink, roof fan, lights, and my electronics so 100 was enough for me. I would say 150 should do the trick and might be too much but you'll need to calculate all that to be sure.

u/java_230 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

There mini dehumidifiers get good reviews with the RV crowd. They are "recharged" by plugging into 120V for a couple hours.

u/Comeatmecena · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

If you're a baker, a propane oven is essential. Here's a good one if you don't already have one:

u/Lazer_Eye_Power · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Oven. I'll definitely have some sort of a cooktop, even if I keep the big fridge.

u/N_Rage · 1 pointr/vandwellers

Found them on amazon:

They are made by a company called shade sox, though there probably are some cheaper ones available.
It might be an advantage to look for ones that are bigger than your windows to cover them fully,mine were about 1/2 inch too short and I'd rather have had bigger ones.

u/jedielfninja · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Nah op, just buy a deep cycle battery and isolator relay to charge it off your engine. Then you can silently charge things at night etc.

Also buy
12V Plug Socket with Eyelet Terminal

And any usb cigarette adapter for charging your devices off the battery.

As it sounds like you will be in cold weather here is a bonus. It seems pricey but is so effective. Temperature settings and everything.

DC12V Electric VACUUM INSULATED kettle boil cup

u/bkrassn · 5 pointsr/vandwellers

You will have more time to study. You may want to read:

I'd suggest you live in your current car before you go to university if you can, even if only for a couple of weeks. See how you like it, and don't cheat. If it is OK but you just need to make a couple of tweaks, good to go. If it is miserable or stressful and you think somehow a pretty van with high tech gizmos will make it work -- I'd caution against going forward.

u/insert_comment · 6 pointsr/vandwellers

I'm in the UK. It needs a bucket. I typically boil a kettle & mix that with a bucket of 'cold' water to make it not freezing. Works... OK :)

u/mupersan · 6 pointsr/vandwellers

Lets do a quick run through so you can compare:

The Yeti 1250 is 12v 100ah and 1200 watts for $1250. It has 3 USB and 3 standard plugs + other ins and outs in addition to a solar charger.

A 12v 100ah deep cycle battery off amazon is $159. You would need a charger unit ($50 on amazon) in addition to some basic electrical wiring ($20-50). Then you would need an inverter (this one is $65 w/ three plug ins and two usb inputs) for 1000 watts. Last you would need to invest in a solar charger unit (often comes with solar panel kits and those can run around $30. So probably close to $350-400

So then however you want to store these (plywood box construction and a little DIY elbow grease) you can build essentially the same unit for about 1/4 the cost.

u/MrBroccoli89 · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I found this site,, to have a lot of good product options and a whole of info for learning about solar in RVS or in our case vans.

For cheap batteries I was going with this:
Since it is 12V you don't have to stay even in numbers.

As far as solar don't forget your van has an alternator that charges batteries.How much it will charge depends on how much you drive daily, the size of the alternator, and the load demand from you vans accessories on it. Just make sure to get a battery isolator. This may lessen the amount of solar you need.

u/ohheyheyCMYK · 1 pointr/vandwellers

My 60" LED TV uses slightly less power than a 60W light bulb. Assuming yours is smaller, shouldn't be a big deal.

If you can't find how much juice it pulls in the original literature, you can buy (or rent) a kill-a-watt device that will tell you.

u/TreborEnglish · 5 pointsr/vandwellers

I have a 75 amp hour group size 24 flooded lead acid battery. At 37.5 amp hours, 50%, that's 450 watt hours. It was $80 at Sam's. The inverter I have, a Harbor Freight 400/800, is $25, I got it for $20 with a coupon.

You mentioned control switch. I don't have one as I replaced my starter battery with my deep cycle battery. To have two batteries with a switch, consider the amazon voltage sensitive relay, $85.
What it does is it detects when the alternator has charged the starter battery then it turns on the connection to the house battery. There is no need to find a circuot that is on at the right time to control a big relay.

If you want a 120 volt battery charger you could get from Amazon, $55,
It's a 10 amp charger.

$240 for the cheap do it yourself flooded lead acid system. Solar is another $150 or so. The $450 Yeti is similar. Yeti gets you lithium for less weight and easier charging at $600. With solar it's $740.

Is this what you wanted with "site some examples"?

u/aboyhasn0name · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

How much driving vs. staying in one place do you plan to do? If you're on the road a lot, it might work to just use a battery isolator so you can charge from the alternator. Something like this:

u/moore77 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

There is a link in the FAQ on the page for how to do this. If it's an AC device (plugs into a household wall), then the most accurate thing to do is buy a Kill-a-watt meter and actually measure it.

Most devices list their max power draw, either in watts or amps. If it's in watts, just plug that into the calculator. If it's in amps, we have the converter at the top of the page to get the watts. If you can't find the power listed on your device, but own the device, you can get an ammeter (like this one) and measure as it's being used.

u/geo38 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

> I know the link has "ref" in it,

For Amazon links, remove everything starting with the ref and whatever may follow to get a 'pure' URL.

u/swiftcock · 1 pointr/vandwellers

>To my understanding, the relay is connected to the ignition so when the vehicle is started

Yes that's a way you can do it, but imagine that you're camping and you totally depleted your deep cycle battery, and now you have an empty battery and a good battery, as soon as you turn your key (even before the engine is running) both batteries will be connected in parallel. If you try to start your car you'll find that you cant since the good battery is essentially charging the bad battery, if you keep trying start your car you'll soon find the the voltage of both batteries is 6v. If you find yourself in this situation you will have to manually unplug the depleted battery to be able to start the car. This scenario is exactly what the power stream is meant to prevent since it will not connect both batteries unless the alternator is outputting 13.4v.

Yeah I guess for your application the Goal Zero is the way to go. That's why I Initially just mentioned an extra battery with a cheap inverter hooked to it, and charge it whenever you come home. If you want to charge it while on the road just take the leads of a cigarette lighter plug and connect them directly to the extra battery to charge it, it'll be a slow charge (5~10Amps) but that's exactly how the Yeti Goal Zero does it. But if you have the $600 to spend on the yeti, go ahead.

u/TinyMetalTube · 2 pointsr/vandwellers
  • Renogy Eclipse 100W: 40.8x20.7" = 844.56 sq in = 0.118 W/sq in
  • Renogy regular 100W: 47x21.3" = 1001.1 sq in = 0.0999 W/sq in
  • Renogy 300W: 65x39.2" = 2548 sq in = 0.117 W/sq in

    Looks like the 300W is roughly on par with the Eclipse, but both would be much better W per sq in than the non-Eclipse 100W.

    You'll need a little space on two sides for the Z-brackets. so you'll end up getting better W/sq in with the 300W since it needs 1 set of brackets instead of 3 sets.

    However, 300W is much heavier, and damaging one panel is a bigger problem.

    Everything in life is a tradeoff.
u/Zerhackermann · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

I read this.
Not a bad read. It might include some thoughts you had not considered. The author was at Duke. North Carolina is considerably warmer than chicago.

I grew up in Alaska. You can effectively draw a line from Anchorage to Buffalo NY and pull that middle section way down into Chicago and Gary and get approximate winters. Chicago is arguably worse than Anchorage because Anchorage has mountains between it and the arctic circle. The midwest has a whole lot of nothing.

Anyways...The reason I drone on and on about that is that winter can really exhaust you. And it is a slow attrition. Picture this: Its january. You are tucked in a library study carrel. The library is about to close. And soon you have to leave. To walk across campus. It is 20F out. And thats before taking the wind into account. You will walk a mile in that deep freeze to arrive at home...where everything is just as frozen as the outdoors. The only difference is the wind. Inside you wait for the van to warm up. your hands are stiff and clumsy.your feet ache. much of what you own is wither frosty, or when it warms, wet. This is day 60.

Okay I do engage in a little hyperbole there. Worst factors all at once and all that. But this is the sort of thing that leads to Cabin Fever which you really dont need when you are studying. I'm not trying to scare you off. Just offer some thoughts to consider. Do the research and if you decide its what you want, then jump in with both feet

u/asdlkfsdlk · 1 pointr/vandwellers

I'm open to suggestions, but I don't know of any new options that can beat them in that category. Used can be cheaper of course.

My normal recommendation is these guys, which blow lithium out of the water watt per dollar, and the walmart batteries are even cheaper. I don't normally recommend them because they're unsealed, which is a pain, and includes the risk of destroying it early by forgetting about maintenance, but they are the same capacity for $70 less.

Lithium lasts longer than lead acid (7-10 years vs 3-5), and you can safely use 80% of the nominal capacity without damaging their lifespan instead of just 50% of it for lead acid, but the price difference is still too high to make it worth it.

Since lithium gives you 1.6x the usable capacity (80/50), and lasts twice as long, that results in a price premium factor of 2.6. Aka, a 100 amp hour lithium battery is worth 2.6x the price of a 100ah lead-acid battery. Or, saying that differently, you would have to buy 2.6 100 amp hour lead-acid batteries to get the same capacity over their lifespan as you would get from one 100 amp hour lithium battery over it's lifespan. Lasts 2x as long, and provides .6x more power for the same nominal capacity.

With that said, the lithium equivalent to that walmart battery would be a $260 100ah LiFePo4 battery.

Renogy sells a 100 amp hour LiFePo4 for $899. The cheapest sketchy ebay one I can find is $500 after shipping. Lead acid still rules for capacity by price, by far. Unless, of course, you have a better source than I do

u/bannik1 · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

I calculated that I would be using ~75a per day and everything will be drawing 12v DC.

I bought

I'm planning on running

  • Fridge 1.5 amps *24=36amps
  • Fan low speed .3 amps*12=3.6 amps
  • Fan medium speed 2 amps *12=24 amps
  • Cell phone 1 amp *6 hours=6 amps

    Total =~75amps daily.

    I figure the panels will generate between 75~90 amps per day.

    I will have 200 amps of deep cycle sealed acid as my bank.

    I don't plan on connecting to the alternator, the solar electrical will be isolated.

    My question is, is there any need for me to get an inverter if everything I'm running is 12v DC?
u/hotandchevy · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

The dehumidifier we were looking at was this sorta thing. It's not electric, gel based, but then you plug it in to reverse (de-un-humidify) the gel back to normal.

u/DazarGaidin · 3 pointsr/vandwellers

Mr heater buddy propane heater, crack an exterior window, buy a co detector.

u/TheFlyingDharma · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

Air out as normal and run the heater for a minute?

u/dr_mrs_the_monarch__ · 2 pointsr/vandwellers

/+ a bucket + a shower curtain to direct water back into the bucket is a very simple DIY recirculating shower. I'm planning on using upgraded versions of those parts in my more permanent build. All the other recirculating showers I've seen seem wildly overcomplicated

u/qchambs · 1 pointr/vandwellers

The batteries are AGM( and the controller is The solar is completely separate from the vans electricity so that wont be an issue. The charge controller and the inverter both display the voltage but I also have a multimeter I can double check with. I set the battery type but I don't see any option for setting the AH. I assumed it wouldn't need to know the AH since it would just turn off once the voltage was high enough. I have the PV off set to 13.7.