DIY solar system versus solar generator kit

Hello, I am building a Ford Transit 350 conversion van and I am trying to decide whether to build my own custom solar system with panels, inverter, batteries etc or a solar generator kit such as Jackery. Is their hip marketing fooling me? I am looking into the pros and cons and would love your feedback.

To me, it seems like the pros of the DIY solar system is that it could be a little cheaper maybe? Possibly more powerful and customizable. The cons might be that it takes more time to install and decisions about options.

I’m thinking the pros to the Jackery system looks like it’s dummy proof, plug and play, easy to move, but probably more expensive and maybe less battery storage?

Does anyone have experience with both?

I think right now our priority is keeping our fridge supplied with constant power. Lights, small gadgets, tools and electronics will also be expected to run off the system and eventually maybe a mini split HVAC unit, but for now, what’s my best route for the fridge?

Thanks! Loving the beginning of my van life!!

I don’t think the Jackery is dummy proof, you still have to wire everything into it somehow, still have to connect it to your solar. I’m not sure if you would need a fuse panel between your Jackery and appliances/lights or not?

I’m still a fan of DIY and being able to customize the setup better. To me it’s just a glorified battery with no real pros compared to a legit setup. What if you only need to replace or upgrade one component of it? What if you want a usb or power plug located somewhere else other than on the Jackery? Maybe there are easy answers/solutions to these questions, but I would want to know them before I made the purchase of the Jackery.

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Greetings & Welcome!

My preferred electrical system is similar to a Jackery, except DIY, without the inverter, and much much cheaper.

My system consists of a 100ah deep cycle battery inside a marine battery box. On each side of the battery box, I installed 4 acc. outlets for a total of 8. If I need USB outlets, I have adapters that plug into the acc. outlets. No tools are required to put it all together, and the total price battery included is well under $50. I use used deep cycle batteries from junkyards that cost under $20, and typically last me 5-7 years.

My main charging system for it is equally as cheap and simple. A ~$20 continuous duty solenoid, jumper cables for the heavy duty wires, and a few connectors. I also added low battery protectors on both my starting battery and also my house battery.

99% of the time, just driving keeps my batteries charged, but I have an el cheapo $99 generator and a $29 automatic battery charger for a backup plan. Of course the battery charger will also work on shore power if you have it available.

Solar & batteries won’t likely run an A/C, and a big enough system to do so would cost many thousands of dollars. A generator or shore power is a far better choice for that. Personally, I prefer 12v energy efficient and eco friendly swamp coolers. My new one is actually candle powered, but I haven’t had it long enough to give a good report on it. It does both heating & cooling, and requires no external power source, just a liquid candle. So far so good, but the jury is still out. Previously my 12v swamp cooler worked beautifully and used under 2 amps at 12v. This will be my 4th summer south of hot & humid Miami, and it always kept me comfortable.


"It's always easier to conserve power than it is to create it." ~ Off Grid

Jackery and others like it work best when you can charge them at work during the day. Or as a temporary solution for a weekend warrior. I wouldn’t build a permanent/fixed solution around one.

All fixed wiring should be properly fused regardless of what kind of battery you are using. Even if you start the journey with a jackery, plan so that it can be replaced with a proper battery bank later without need to re-wire everything.

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