Big battery bank and solar question

Hey, new builder here. I’d like opinions on my electrical. I’m thinking of putting in a huge bank, maybe 800 or even 1000w. I’m going to be living in the van with girlfriend and 2 dogs full time. The main reason for such a size is that I’m planning to run the Dometic RTX2000, 12V AC. On top of that, I’m thinking of installing a Truma combi heater/water heater that may have to use some electric if I happen to run out of or have no access to propane (it’s a dual electric/propane). First question is, am I crazy? I’ve never seen anyone go higher than 600w. Next question is, would a 600w solar setup even be helpful at all? I’m thinking 3x200w panels. Obviously I’m going to supplement charging with alternator and shore. Thanks for your input!

Please clarify. Your talking 800ah of battery? And 600watt of solar to charge?

That’s correct, sorry.

I think you could possibly hook up 900 watts and your van would literally be covered in solar panels, but I do not know if they have a controller that would handle that?

I have 300 watts and am only pushing ~20 amps in full sun (so rarely and only a few hours a day). That AC runs at a 19amps minimum and almost 60amps at max. I think even with 600 watts you would have trouble running that AC for very long. At least you could probably run it but not much else and you’d likely always have to be parked in full sun, which in of itself is not ideal.

You might need a small generator to supplement the AC at times. Just my input, but I don’t think 600w solar is enough and an 800ah battery bank isn’t helping if you if you can’t charge it sufficiently.

Along with that an 800ah bank only provides you with 400ah (50% max draw) on standard batteries and about 640ah (80% max draw) if it is lithium.

Plus the weight of a battery bank that large.

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But it’s something right? I will get something out of it. Like I said, I’ll be use alternator and shore. Is it just not worth it? And 600w is all I can do on roof with the AC and a fan.

I thought about that, but I’m willing to cut elsewhere like size of water tanks for example.

Their specs say 20 amps on “eco” mode. Which probably means as low as it can get. 2000w @ 12v is a draw of 166 Amps 144.9A @ 13.8v. Do the math. That would take down a group 31 AGM in under 20-30 min. Another factor is your location, in Southern States I would recommend going up to the next size. Also the color of your van is going to be a big big factor. My first 2 vans were brown and burgundy, big mistake. When the sun came up and hit them in the morning it was like turning on an oven. This build was white, what a difference. First 2 had small units. This one has 5500BTU, but still runs full time and dosent cycle on hot days. It depends how much foot traffic you have in and out. You open the side cargo door and the cool air dumps out in seconds not like a house. Sometimes I sound just like my parents about keeping the doors shut when I was a kid,lol. We run ours on a Yamaha 2000 inverter/ gen. Which is really around 1600. It runs fairly hard especially during startup.


A) It is far easier to conserve power usage than to generate more power.

B) It is totally possible to conserve power, without compromising on comfort, convenience, or reliability.

C) 600w of solar isn’t enough to maintain 800a of batteries under heavy use.

For people who can’t follow the weather, swamp coolers are a good choice. The direct type in dry areas will cool and add much appreciated moisture to the air. The indirect type is more appropriate in humid areas because it will dehumidify while cooling the air as efficiently as an air conditioner.

A swamp cooler uses roughly the same amount of power as a fan alone. The only downside to swamp coolers is they can consume up to a gallon of water per day so they require refills.

Swamp coolers perform their magic differently than typical air conditioners. Instead of the energy intensive process of cooling the inside air, swamp coolers replace the inside air with cooler air. This process is much quicker, and much more energy efficient. Instead of closing your vehicle up tight, you create a breeze way where outside air comes in, is cooled by the swamp cooler, then circulates through the interior exiting on the opposite end, and pushing any warmer air out in the process.

As a nomad, I find the greatest success by treating power as a luxury, rather than a necessity.

I heat water without electricity, using either the sun, a campfire, or my stove. My fan circulated heat is powered by fuel only, no electricity, and the fan is heat powered woodstove fan, so it doesn’t need any power either.

My 100ah deep cycle lead acid battery and an isolator supply all the power I need to live comfortably and earn a living 99% of the time. That being said, I do have a generator & a battery charger for a backup plan.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller

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