Hi. I’m new to this, and I’m having some trouble understanding what I’ll need to use to charge my lithium batteries with both solar and the van’s alternator.
I’ve been reading everything I can find on the topic, but I’m unclear on whether I need a DC to DC charger, a battery isolator or a solar charge controller, and what kind of solar charge controller.
What I need to run daily is a gaming laptop used for communication and web application development for about 12 hours a day, a powered USB hub, I also have a 27" monitor that I’d like to use, but can work without. The not-all-day items I have are small heater when it’s cold and a drop in water heater element to heat water when I make coffee.
I’m working with an extremely tight budget, so I’ll be using components that no one here would likely recommend by name … there’s an 18 watt solar kit with everything but the battery at the Walmart site for under $100, that kind of budget. I’ll upgrade as I can, you can find it searching the site for “Pwtool 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit Flexible Solar System kit 30A Controller Connector Mono Solar Panel Power Station”
I’ll need to position the solar panel at each stop, so this is really a short-term solution that will eventually become a backup.
So, what I want to do is to charge the batteries from the alternator when the engine is running and solar all other times. What is my most affordable option to set that up, with the understanding that I’m fine having to upgrade it within the next eight or so months if necessary?
Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.