Newbie video editor/content creator building van/shuttle bus! Need help :(

Hi! My name is Cam and I work as a video editor / content creator / streamer. I’ve been researching on what to do and what to buy in order to power everything that I need! I’m covered with what I need as for internet - but the part that I’m struggling with the most, is solar panels, batteries and wattage usage. I’ve already calculated how much I’d likely use in a day, which is about 1391 ah for batteries. So that’s about 4 400w lithium batteries. (as a bonus, I can get 2 backup generators powered off gas or propane!)

The issue is, now I’m finding out that 12v can’t handle 2000w of solar panels? 24v is recommended so now all my research for 12v feels like it’s useless now D: I’ll include my information here so it helps! I’ve been using a wattage meter as well. As for getting a laptop, I don’t plan that as I built myself a newer rig this year and I preferably prefer desktop PCs

PC specs:
GPU : EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3 ULTRA GAMING 24GB Video Card
CPU : AMD Ryzen™ 9 7950X3D 16-Core, 32-Thread
AIO Cooler : MSI MAG CORELIQUID C360 78.73 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
Fans : x4 Deepcool RF M 56.5 CFM 120 mm
Ram : Corsair Vengeance RGB 32 GB DDR5-6000
PSU : Corsair RM850x SHIFT Fully Modular ATX Power Supply - 80 PLUS Gold

I use 3 monitors

I hooked up the wattage meter to my entire PC setup for a couple of hours, so this isn’t just the PC alone. (mic, LED lights, keyboard, mouse, streamdeck, etc)

Idle/browsing/discord, etc: 200w-250w
Gaming: 600-660w
Video editing: 300w - 450w

As for streaming, I’d average for it to hit the 700w - 800w for sure but I only stream twice a week, 3 hours.

Rough total usage for items & ah/wattage:

So from what I’ve gathered, I’d need at least 2000w of solar panels (so that’s 400w x 5 panels or 500w x 4 panels), a 2000w (or 3000w) inverter, 4 batteries of lithium 400w or possibly a bit more - to be able to use my PC for at least 9 hours, 4-8 hours for work and the rest is usually 3-5 hours - and allow some space for other appliances as well. I’m also planning to use propane for the stove/heater to save on electric usage and I’m still thinking about AC. I’m considering a minisplit but it uses a lot of wattage - so I might opt for a more energy efficient option. However, if I can run a minisplit, please let me know!

With that data, what would you recommend? Sorry if it’s a lot of information. I understand if it’s not feasible but since I don’t have a deadline and I can easily save up as much as I can, with buying a cheap used shuttle bus (or possibly van but I’d like to start already), I can cut corners for other things & safely budget. Thank you so much!

I have (2) 12V 400 aH batteries in Parallel. I have (3) 200 W Solar Panels.

Lesson #1: I originally wired the panels in Parallel. Why? Because I thought that having a 12V battery it was necessary to wire so the output was 12V. Wrong! The Solar Controllers can take either 12V or 24V inputs and still charge the 12V system… and if the panels are wired in Series… they produce up to 50V of current. What I failed to understand in the beginning, was that the 12V Parallel Solar Panels only produce about 18V. The problem that this scenario has is that the voltage could drop below the required 17V minimum very easily. Therefore I was not getting any solar energy when there was a slight degradation of sun energy. Whereas, the 24V Series configuration was always giving me plenty and the Solar Charge Controller was cranking on the 50V and producing way more amp Hours.

Lesson #2: Solar is never enough to manage large usage of amps. I was able to maintain a full battery when doing everything, but big current draining. Once I begin to plug in the BIG current draws and noticed my charge levels dropping to below 60%, I would drive and use the Alternator to add to the solar. I maintain a healthy charge by supplementing the Solar with Alternator… and for those days that rain/clouds/early sunrise and sunsets don’t produce… I may have to plug in. So far, this system has been sufficient.

You should be able to do what you need to do with an 800 Ah battery bank, but will need to be efficient with your PC usage.

BTW, I bought EG 400aH batteries from Signature Solar. Best deal I could find. I spent $3000 for 800 aH. I have a Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 50 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller. Go Victron… don’t skimp on this component. I have a 12V AC unit and have used it sparingly. Usually when the dogs need to stay in the van and it is summer. If your particular configuration, doesn’t give you quite enough… you can always add another battery. Good Luck and Happy Trails.


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I’ll echo everything that Scott @ksdiegel said and add that those batteries just saw a HUGE price drop, so I just bought 800aH for just over $2k. Solid battery if you plan on going 12v like I am in my build.

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For me the path of least resistance was the out-of-the-box portable solar power stations. I went with the brands Bluetti and EcoFlow. You get the entire power station in one unit so select the size unit to power anything in your van or buss. It has all the plugins AC & DV the majority will need. If one part of the unit stops working you have to take in or mail in the entire unit. I bought 2 different units for this reason and one broke so I used the other. Five weeks later the Bluetti was replace by the company. Now I have 2 working 2000w inverters and 7K battery storage. I am mindful of lower tech back up systems, another huge topic.

The biggest part of my work was placing and adequately securing it to the van. The units are in and easily removable. I added 600W roof solar that I can tilt on hinges and lift with gas spring struts, I also carry a 2200W Honda generator if no plug in power is available. I am thinking about installing some kind of alternator charging thinking I may not have to carry the Honda generator.
The portable power statins are expensive but they saved me months of figuring out (and paying others) for an electric DIY system.

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