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For my camper van electric conversion, I wanted to have an entirely solar off-grid solution. To live for days or weeks in the woods, I could not rely upon shore power. But I’d never wired anything before, and knew nothing about batteries or power consumption.
Solar Off-Grid Electricity Needs
Electricity needs will differ wildly from person to person. I know some vandwellers who have nothing more than a portable solar battery for charging their cell-phone. I am a computer programmer by trade, and part of my goal was to be able to work from anywhere without concern for power. Though I splurged extensively on the electrical system, it’s something that can cost as much or as little as you want.
The first thing I did was to consider which devices I would be running, and how often:
- 4x LED lights (~10 hours / day)
- Dometic dual-zone refrigerator/freezer (24 hours / day)
- MaxxFan (8 hours / day)
- Computers (~12 hours / day)
- USB charging of phone/Kindle (4 hours / day)
I’ve intentionally over-estimated much of these needs, because the goal is to get an upper bound of my usage. Next, I considered how I’d use the van. My goal, I decided, was to be able to go on a 4-day weekend trip and not worry if there was no sunshine to power the solar panels.