Free help for those who need it


#1

Does anyone need any help with figuring out their electrical system or even an overall van-plan?

Send me a message or replay on here. I’m always available and happy to help


#2

That would be a godsend! My van plans keep evolving (and, at times, devolving) but the electrics, and figuring out my power needs and the best way to meet them, is the area I have the least knowledge of. I don’t know if I should go with solar, something like a Jackery, propane, etc., I think a generator would be out of the question though because of the need for gas and for the noise. I like the idea of solar, but I don’t know what an amp hour is or how many watts are needed for things, etc., I’ll be starting from scratch, knowledge wise.

I’ll write down what my current plan is and what I think I’d need power for and list them here for your suggestions. I’d PM them but listing it here might help others.

Thank you!~


#3

I can absolutely help you calculate all of that. Bounce idea’s off of. Whatever, man

my website is just getting up and running but I am starting to post some good information on there. I am an engineer by trade and training and I’m trying document and report the struggles and victories throughout the vanlife process. Filling in the blanks that are in the conversion part of the internet

thevanplan.fun


#4

Greetings!

I try to keep my power needs minimal, since that is easier than creating more power. I ditched solar, not worth the hassle. Charging while driving gives me all the power I need 99% of the time, and I don’t typically drive that much. I’m usually in the same area for at least a month at a time, and just drive maybe 2-4 times a week to get supplies, go out to eat, etc. Probably under 50 miles a week. If you don’t use much power, it’s easy to keep your house battery topped up.

Generally all it takes is a better muffler to make any generator super quiet. My $99 generator with a $17 muffler is super quiet. I haven’t used it to charge my house battery in over 2 years, but it gets exercised charging other peoples batteries regularly, and one 4th of July I used it to power a fireworks stand I was helping to run.

I enjoy taking full advantage of the sun during the winter, but during the summer parking in the sun is pure torture, and I’d go without power before I’d ever resort to that again. As it is, I have a single deep cycle house battery that will last a week+ between charges, and a deep cycle starting battery that will last another week, and still have plenty of power to start my van. That gives me up to 2 weeks, and it is very rare that I’m not going somewhere much sooner than that.

I’ve had my share of complicated systems, but today I stick with as simple as possible and have never been happier.

Cheers!


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller



#5

When I first learned about van life, I saw videos with fully loaded vans that looked like condos. I was impressed. This started out as my goal. After researching for several months, I saw the value of keeping it simple. After all, I enjoy simplicity.

But, there’s still a part of me that thinks that, if I’m going to live full time in a van, having a few van luxuries isn’t a bad thing either. If I’m blessed enough to get a van like a Ram ProMaster hightop with 159" wheelbase, I wouldn’t mind having a shower in it. I live minimally enough to afford the space. I could do that because I’d like to have a large water supply available. Ideally, a 42 gallon tank would be perfect. After all, nothing says you have to fill it completely all the time.

I’m a country kid that’s been living in big cities for far, far too long. I want to get back out to the country. I want to look up at night and see an ocean of stars instead of four stars and six satellites. I want the ability to stay in natural settings for two weeks if I can. Having that much water, and the ability to shower, helps in that. Dirty sheets and a pile of dirty laundry would stink up the van so taking quick occasional showers would help with that, too.

In my apartment, I even have this portable washing machine and dryer that work great! The 110 volt washing machine is better than any home washing machine I’ve ever used! It washes better and spins clothes almost completely dry! It takes jeans and towels (heavy material) just 15 minutes in my 110 volt dryer. They’d fit in a van if I chose to take them so it would be interesting to know how much power they’d use. I may not bring them but, if nothing else, it will help me learn how to gauge power needs. That’s something I really need to learn so that, when I do take off in my van, I’ll make fewer, and less expensive, mistakes!


#6

Even though I’ve not made any decisions about power yet, I am leaning more and more in this direction. I’m enjoying the learning process.


#7

When it comes to power, my must haves would include the ability to charge my laptop, phone, LED lights and an electric kettle. (I do enjoy my electric kettle, thanks to my time in Europe!)

The next thing I would add to that would be an instant hot water tank for outdoor showering.

Luxury-wise, as silly as some would see this, would possibly be my current portable washing machine and mini dryer, both 110 volts and pictured in my previous post. I’m a homebody. I’d be living IN my van as much as living OUT OF my van. The dryer would run 15-20 minutes at a time and the washing machine takes about 20 minutes.


#8

I can help you calculate your electrical system needs. It’s easy if you know what youre looking for. Can you find Amperage needs for your kettle and washer/ dryer?

The hot water heater would most definitely be propane. You can also run a fridge and heater off propane. That might be something to consider when looking into how you want to power things

I love my solar panels, they power everything without issue and don’t need or use a generator. But when I start upgrading things I will invest the money in a propane fridge and heater. For a few reasons but mainly for spending a week in the PNW can be rough on a solar panel system


#9

Yeah, I forgot about the fridge. I have no idea what I want yet though. I’m all about efficiency and bang for buck. I’m even open to a cooler as long as it’s super efficient. I don’t want to have to buy ice every couple of days or spend a fortune on a Yeti. I’ve heard good things about Engel Coolers. But, I’m still researching.

I’m also open to the possibility of a MaxxAir fan but, if not, then I’d need two portable fans as long as I had windows that opened. Air flow (while parked/sleeping) is a must. Can’t do without it. (I’m open to all advice.)

My current Kettle says: 120Vac 60Hz 1500W. At any rate, I want to get a new one for van life.

Washing Machine says:
Power Supply: 110V/60Hz
Rated Wash Input Power: 240W
Rated Spin Input Power: 120W
Total Power: 360W

The Dryer says:
Power Source: 120V/60Hz
Power: 1400W

I realize I’m not giving you an exact list of my needs but, if I were to go with solar, even an educated guesstimate as to what I would need would be helpful. That’s going to be a big determining factor whether I go with solar or not.


#10

I use the kooltron 36qt 12VDC fridge and it works great. Runs at about 4.5 amps, which is a little high but I haven’t had a problem with it.

The Maxxair Fan is more than worth it and they move a lot of air. I would say its a must. That is about 4A, I think.

The washing machine: ~3.2Ah
Dryer: 11.6Ah

With that you would also need to have an inverter capable for an output of 120/220V. A shore-power DC converter might not be a bad addition either. They are cheap and would give you all power needs when plugged in at a friends house or RV park. Perfect time to run the dryer and TV

I don’t run any high amperage appliances and only consume 12Ah at the most. 300W Solar panels and a 300Ah battery bank work fine and cost $1200


#11

Thanks for that. The dryer isn’t a must but I sure like having the washing machine. It spins everything 90-95% dry so I’m not opposed to line drying since I’d be using it in more rural places.

I still don’t understand s :sunny:lar, inverters, converters, and how it all works but that can all be learned. For right now, it’s nice to know what I should reasonably expect to need and the costs involved if I go that route. When the time comes, I’m not opposed to taking off with a sleeping bag and cooler just to get out there!


#12

Ask me anything, man. I’m a wealth of knowledge hahah


#13

Thank you so much for taking the initiative.
You should check out the search as well: :slight_smile:
https://forum.projectvanlife.com/search?q=electrical