Inverter to alternator and solar

Very novice when It comes to the electrical aspects of this. Wondering what kind of power I would need to run a few outlets, water heater and pump, led lights, roof top vent electric stove and possibly a fridge. Looking to buy a 12v 200 or 400 watt solar set up, a lithium 12v battery 170ah and a 2000w inverter charger. Products by renogy. Two questions I need answered can I wire my inverter to my alternator as well as my solar panels to my house battery so I can charge and run everything I need. If I can’t, will the solar panels do the job with lots of sun?

Your appliances are probably too power hungry for the proposed charging system. Anything that produces heat (stove, water heater) will use a whole lot of battery power.

You need to start by calculating an electrical budget. Once you have an electrical budget it will become clear what’s feasible for you and what’s not.

You can wire your house battery to the alternator, but with an ignition cutoff relay (isolator). If you don’t run an isolator and get carried away with power consumption you’ll have a dead starting battery. Starting batteries aren’t designed for deep discharge, so even if you get a jump start you’ve done damage and it won’t last long. Starting batteries should be preserved only for starting the van.

I wrote a tutorial on installing solar and it’s all in there. Here’s a link:



Heating, cooking, water heating, and even fridges are best run on fuel rather than electricity. While there are 12v fridges available, they’re still power hogs. A 3-way fridge is a better choice, and a simple ice chest is preferred by many.

Inverters also waste a lot of power, so keeping everything 12v is advisable.

Isolators should never be hooked up to an alternator, only to the starting battery.

Lithium batteries are a huge waste of money. Even buying new is far more costly and less eco friendly than buying used or recycled/refurbished. I’ve been buying my batteries used from wrecking yards for under $20, and they’ll last 5-7 years, just like new ones.

I just charge my batteries while driving, then for a backup plan I have an el cheapo $99 generator and a $29 battery charger. That combination is capable of charging my house battery(s), starter battery, and providing house style power if I need it. It will run for 8+ hours on a single gallon of gas.

I purposely try to keep my power needs as minimal as possible, and want to be able to live comfortably even if the power system should fail. Because of this, absolutely none of my essentials require any power at all, only fuel. A lack of power is pretty common amongst nomads.


"It is always cheaper and easier to conserve power than it is to make it." ~ Road Warrior


thank you for that! that. pdf is super helpful!

Hey thank you again for sharing some really helpful info! Looks like I will just run that stuff with gas. The generator is great idea too. So if I’m understanding correctly you just use a few car battery to run mostly everything else ? My goal is to have my rig somewhat luxurious so I can rent It out when I’m unable to be using for extended periods of time.


Not just car batteries, deep cycle RV batteries. Many junkyards do RV’s too.


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