A Bed And A Solar Generator

So, I believe I have finally found the bed I would like to build that will hopefully be easy on my back when I pull it in and out. The Slide Out Slat Bed. What are your thoughts on this bed? Is it easy to slide in and out? Is it easy to build? I already have the frame from the current bed.

Also, I found a little solar generator. I will be using a shed as a tiny house for a short while. It says 13 hours for a fridge. I have a 12-volt alpicool. I am hoping this will power it. I have the solar panel for this. Thoughts?

I will also be using it to travel in my tiny travel trailer. I have a few trips planned and the first is in 3 weeks.
I would like to thank you all for putting up with a tiny travel trailer person’s questions. You van lifers seem to have some of the best build knowledge.

Also, can you feel the slats when you’re sleeping? I have a futon mattress for it.

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Those sliding slat beds are the absolute pits. They’re a pain to build, and a pain to open/close. That design was scrapped 80+ years ago for better alternatives until some idiot reintroduced it to make people think he was a genius. He wasn’t.

Sofa/beds are simple, cheap, and easy to make. Much easier and cheaper than those slat beds. The most comfortable ones do not have flat seats or backs. The L is tilted backwards so that the front of the seat is higher than the rear, and the back is at an angle as well. It only becomes level when pulled out into bed mode. Comfort is pretty high on my priority list… I have built a number of variations of this design, and can probably help you with your design if desired.

Depending on your space & design, a futon sofa/bed might be a great ready made solution.

I’m not very impressed by the power station linked to. I don’t like the fact that they aren’t being up front about exactly what battery it has. If I’m doing my math correctly, 48000mah=48ah. 178wh/48a=3.7v !!! That would be roughly the equivalent of a 14.8a 12v battery, but offering much less power due to the conversion process. That’s not much power. I wouldn’t trust it to run your fridge reliably.

I would suggest a DIY power station using a cheap ~100ah 12vdc deep cycle battery. That would give you 4-6 times more power, for a comparable price. It won’t have the inverter, but the one on that power station is more for window dressing than actual use. In either case, you will likely need a charge controller to go along with your solar panel.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

The ad you link to claims it will run a small cooler refrigerator for 13 hours. Perhaps it will, but throw in a few LED lights and charge up a phone and tablet and your battery supply is on the edge. You can likely charge the battery unit and run the fridge and stuff off the vehicle while it’s running (faster and more efficient than solar) for 12 hours a day, and run 12 hours at night on battery, but you are right on the edge of draining the battery completely almost every 24 hour cycle. Everything will have to work out perfectly every day. What do you do on the days you don’t run the vehicle engine for 10-12 hours?

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I always read a lot of the 1-star feedbacks, several of the 3-stars and a few 5-stars to help me make my decisions. I bought a Renogy to start but I plan to get a higher watt one from another brand too, unless I try to do what @Van_Dweller suggests. Renogy is a well-known, reliable brand.


Good luck!

The Renogy ad you linked to also only has a 189 Wh capacity - not much more than the first unit mentioned.

They would be fine for charging most cell phones or most cameras. But long term use of high draw devices like a refridgerator, laptop, CPAP machine, hi-fi, AVR, or moderately sized TV (even if turned off, in many cases, especially if it is an older design) would drain them fast. I’m bothered they show a plug-in ice box, and what I guess is a moderate size flat screen TV. It might be OK for a few hours for that - to cool a drink. But not for long term use.

Also, all lightweight power station units are probably using Lithium Ion battery technology - which performs badly, or can even be damaged, by moderately low or high temperatures. It is my understanding that most such batteries have fairly limited lifetime too. (That said, they are the standard in cell phones, rechargeable power tools, and other compact lightweight use. And I use a fairly good brand - Panasonic Eneloop - in my remote controls, a low drainage use.)

I’m not an expert on batteries, but AFAICT, In theory a better battery technology for wide temperature range use and charge storage is Nickel Cadmium - but that would be very expensive. A high capacity deep cycle lead-acid marine battery seems to be a widely used moderate cost compromise, which is probably why Van_Dweller likes them. Lead Acid batteries are mostly too heavy and bulky for light weight backpackers, but you aren’t doing that.

In cold weather backpacking use, people keep all rechargeable batteries next to their bodies, to maintain charge and avoid damage, even while asleep. But you probably want more convenience for a travel trailer. And there are no good fixes to avoid hot weather damage and charge loss.


Many if not most of these so called solar generators seem to have a pretty limited lifespan. The ones with either lead acid or AGM batteries do seem to last longer though.

To equal a 100ah deep cycle battery, you would need at least a 600w LI battery one, or 1200w LA or AGM type. (since only ~50% is usable)

My choice is to build my own. It may not be as pretty or as fancy, but it’s much cheaper, more capable, and possibly the most important, easily repairable, something that most power stations aren’t.

I just put my house battery in a marine style battery box, add 12v accessory outlets to the outside of it, and plug in a 12v to USB adapter into one or more of them, and I’m done. I charge it via a cheap isolator, and don’t need solar. The total cost of the portable power station is under $100, and only takes about 10 minutes to assemble with no tools required. The isolator & wiring is well under $50, and only takes maybe 20 minutes to install with minimum tools.


"Practical beats popular every time." ~ Truth Matters