How to get the right solar and battery setup for your van
It has been really hard to know how much we need in order to be fully self-sufficient. It Is such a testing game. IPads and iPhones are great because they don't use it up a lot of electricity. Fridges and computers are awesome but they suck… heaps of electricity. The only thing that we couldn't find in USB or 12 V was our Mac computer charges. And Then when we were in Byron this cool guy that had converted a Mercedes van from scratch told us that you can get them from Amazon or eBay. I felt like just hearing that information made things better. I ordered them the next day and when we got them I realised that they suck a bit of juice. This brings up the good point. It is really irritating having to watch your usage all the time and it can cause some arguments, so it is good to have enough energy and have lots of backups.
So this is the solution we came up with in the end. It wasn't the cheapest way to do it but it is awesome if you can.
Main Car Battery
We have the main battery in the front that powers the car and a lighter plug that tells us how well that battery is doing. We also went into battery world and get them to test it to see if it is okay. They do this for free and our guy cleaned the battery even though it didn't need replacing, but then again we did spend a bit on other things in the shop. I really like it when people take a lot of pride in their job and just want to make sure your product is the best it can be, whether they have sold you something or not. Kevin (from battery world), you are a dude. …
Spare 100 amp Hour battery connected to the the car and 150 watts of solar.
This was already connected to the car. The solar on the roof feeds through meter then goes through a regulator with a fuse that then goes to the battery. When the car is running it tops up the front battery first then fills up the secondary battery. So it has a bit of energy coming from 2 ways. This was connected to the 2 way fridge and it was sucking most of what we had and when we started charging our Mac computers that was when we noticed that we needed more power.
We then went and got a Braintech Powertop 100 Amp Hour Battery and a 100 Watt Solar Panel from Road Tech Marine.
This is our way of being able to charge everything we need for our portable online business. The great thing about this unit is it has a regulator so you can use a normal solar panel with it. It is able to charge both computers and all our other devices. There is an option to be able to charge off the front battery too but we are waiting to hook that up. The coolest thing is that you can plug it into a 240 volt socket and charge off that so you can get it topped right up. Now that is cool.
I would love to hear if anyone else has cool information on this so I can share it on the blog. Please leave a comment below so we can make this the best post on this topic.