Electrical system

Hi guys! Me and my girlfriend just bought an Opel Vivaro which we are converting into a camper van (mainly weekends and holidays). We are mainly looking for some input on our plan for the vans elecectrical system. So see you guys around.

Greetings & Welcome!

I have a used under $20 100ah deep cycle battery from a junkyard, in a marine style battery box, with accessory outlets attached to the outside of it with double faced foam tape. This makes it a portable power station. The only installed wiring is an isolator to charge it.

For a backup plan I have a cheap generator, a battery charger, and an extension cord. If shore power is available, I can use the same battery charger without the generator.


"There are those who learn, and those who wish they had learned." ~ Good2Know

Clearly, one person’s electrical setup might not work for another person. Not everybody needs induction cooktops and AC. Similarily, not everybody will be happy with a used junkyard battery and minimal electrical appliances.

You need to decide first how much you are willing to spend and which types of loads you want to be able to put on the system. Induction cookers, AC, and microwaves are large draws that will add a good bit of cost to your electrical system. Fridges, laptops, diesel heaters, etc are in the middle ground. LED lights and phone chargers only require a basic system.

LiFePo4 is worth every penny. Once you look at usable power, charge cycles, weight, self-discharge, and physical volume, lead acid batteries are a thing of the past. Lithium even work out cheaper over the life of the battery than buying new lead acid batteries. Whether you go with a large system or a small setup, Lithium is always the best choice IMO.

You may not need an inverter depending on the size of system you go with. If you do, Renogy makes some decent quality ones that still fit most budgets, and Victron makes some really nice ones. Sometimes you can get an inverter with a solar charger, AC battery charger, transfer switch, or alternator charging built right in. This makes wiring much simpler and is convenient, but it does add points of failure.

Other than those 2 big things, stick to DC with as much as you can, although it’s usually cheaper to buy a mini fridge and an inverter to run it (and other things) than it is to buy a DC fridge.