Solar power gives you power from the sun. Building your solar system for your particular needs is the goal. Here are some tips from Wicked Cool Vans.
What items will you need power for? How much sun where you will be traveling? Do you have a maximum price you are able to spend on your solar system? Are you going to depend entirely on solar power? Will there be a back up plan for power?
Food for thought. Will you be shopping for food often? If you need to keep food cold or frozen you will need a place to store such items. A refrigerator is most likely an item you want in your van. Refrigerators draw a lot of power. The option of a smaller 12 volt refrigerator is your best choice. The 12v systems can keep your items cold or even frozen. Having a small refrigerator can let you stay away from civilization longer.
The unit above is calculated at 45 watts of power. The motor only kicks on when the temperature falls below your settings. We find it a perfect unit for our needs and solar system size.
There are other options for cooling your food. We recommend one like this cooler style refrigerator. Cold air sinks. With the units that have a door on the front tend to loose the cold air faster. This makes your unit turn on more often. In turn this uses more power and is less efficient.
Here are some other refrigerators we recommend:
Dometic CRX-65 75500.000.21 12/24 Volt DC Compressor Black Refrigerator and Freezer https://amzn.to/39cLxex
Norcold Nr740Bb Dc Refrigerator 1.7 Cu Ft, 20-1/2″ x 18-1/2″ x 21-1/16″, Black https://amzn.to/3d68AZJ
Dometic CD-50 (DC only) Drawer Refrigerator 47-Liter Capacity and Removable Freezer https://amzn.to/3d4lNCk
Other power items we use are water pumps, water heaters, USB ports, lights, heaters, cooling systems and fans. All of these items can be found with 12 volt power options.
The items require a draw off of your batteries. The wattage they use must be added up to find out what amperage you will need for your system. After you come to that number you must choose your batteries. Lithium batteries or sealed gel batteries? What will your budget allow? We personally have sealed gel batteries in our Wicked Cool Van. We suggest to our clients to go with the lithium from the start if your budget allows.
Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery – 100Ah 12v with Built-in BMS – 3000-5000 Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery – Perfect for RV/Camper, Marine, Overland/Van, and Off Grid Applications https://amzn.to/3cfdQe8
After you find your wattage needs you will be able to pick your solar panels. We like the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel, Compact Design 42.2 X 19.6 X 1.38 in, High Efficiency Module PV Power for Battery Charging Boat, Caravan, RV and Any Other Off Grid Applications https://amzn.to/31dG0jv we have four on our van.
Size of the panels and your roof top application can determine how many you can fit. We have four 100w panels on our van. More could fit if we needed extra charging power. The Renogy panels are a good size for multiple configurations.
Renogy Rover 40 Amp 12V/24V DC Input MPPT Solar Charge Controller Auto Parameter Adjustable LCD Display Solar Panel Regulator fit for Gel Sealed Flooded and Lithium Battery https://amzn.to/3vYgzAv is needed to connect your solar panels to your batteries and other equipment.
Renogy 3000W 12V Pure Sine Wave Inverter 3000 Watt Solar Power Battery Converter 12VDC to 120Vac ETL Listed https://amzn.to/3tTkDjA is needed if you intend on using items that require a 120v plug. The inverter allows your solar to power most any lower wattage plug in items. If you intend to charge a computer, plug in a cooktop or run a water heater an inverter is needed.
Multiple breakers and fuses are needed in any system. This allows the proper amount of energy through your cables. If the cable is overloaded the breakers or fuses with break/stop. Helping your system perform in a safe manner.
Blue Sea Systems ST Blade ATO/ATC Fuse Blocks https://amzn.to/3riyI8T
T Tocas 100 Amp Circuit Breaker with Manual Reset, 12V- 48VDC, Waterproof (100A) https://amzn.to/3rjZYDP
Above are a few we use. The sizes and how many you need depends on your particular system.
Other items you will need on hand to make connections
Glarks 300pcs 22-16 16-14 12-10 Gauge Nylon Fully Insulated Male/Female Spade Quick Splice Wire Disconnect Electrical Insulated Crimp Terminals Connectors Assortment Kit https://amzn.to/2OTsmzD
Wire Lugs Ring Terminal Connectors AWG8-2 Ends Heavy Duty for Battery Cable Lug tinned Copper Tubular Wire Electrical Eyelets Terminal 12Size 120PCS with 3:1 Dual Wall Adhesive Heat Shrink https://amzn.to/2OVXz5g
Hammer Battery Lug Crimping Tool for 8, 6, 4, 2, 1/0, 2/0 American Wire Gauge (AWG) Wire and Cable https://amzn.to/3rfvKld
100FT 14 Gauge 2pin 2 Color Red Black Cable Hookup Electrical Wire LED Strips Extension Wire 12V/24V DC Cable, 14AWG Flexible Wire Extension Cord for LED Ribbon Lamp Tape Lighting https://amzn.to/3lNBPEk
4 Gauge 4 AWG 25 Feet Red + 25 Feet Black (50 Feet Total) Welding Battery Pure Copper Flexible Cable Wire – Car, Inverter, RV, Solar by WindyNation https://amzn.to/3tNm2by
ALOVECO LED RV Lights, 12V Led Lights Dimmable Camper Interior Lights 3000K Ultra-Thin RV Lights Interior Waterproof 12 Volt LED Ceiling Lights Motorhome Sailboat Yacht Case of 8 Packs https://amzn.to/3d3NACF
Ulincos Touch Switch UT19T1 Stepless Dimming Switch DC 6V to 24V Blue LED Suitable for 19mm 3/4″ Mounting Hole https://amzn.to/3chjjkX
HBOX Solar Panel Connector Y Branch Connector 1 to 4 Solar Connector Solar Cable Combiner – 1 Male to 4 Female(M/4F) and 1 Female to 4 Male(F/4M) Solar Panel Cables and Connectors (1 Pair 1Y4) https://amzn.to/31gZow5
BEP Battery Switches https://amzn.to/31f8GZm
Quick Charge 3.0 Cigarette Lighter Outlet Splitter, 12V USB Charger Waterproof Power Socket Adapter DIY Kit with Blue LED Dual USB Ports for Rocker Switch Panel on Car Boat Marine RV, etc https://amzn.to/3tQZVRG
Link Solar Weatherproof ABS Solar Double Cable Entry Gland for All Cable Types 2mm² to 6mm² for Solar Project on Rv, Campervan, Boat https://amzn.to/3tOvStD
Titan 11477 Ratcheting Wire Terminal Crimper Tool for Insulated Terminals, Fixed Jaw Crimper https://amzn.to/399JsAb
If you are going to add a 30amp service to your electrical here are the item we suggest:
3-Bank, 30-Amp (10-Amp Per Bank) Fully-Automatic Smart Marine Charger, 12V Onboard Battery Charger, Battery Maintainer and Battery Desulfator with Temperature Compensation https://amzn.to/3lTJYaE for lithium batteries
ProMariner 44020 ProSportHD Series Battery Charger – 20 Amp https://amzn.to/2PlvAeY for agm batteries
10/3 AWG Triplex AC Marine Wire – Tinned Copper Boat Cable – Made in The USA https://amzn.to/3sjFlZQ the size wire will depend on what you will be hooking up
Custom Cable Connection 16/3 SOOW 16 AWG 3 Conductor 600 Volt Portable Power Cable – 50 Foot Roll in a Bag https://amzn.to/3tNOKJo
Leisure RV 125V 30 AMP Power Plug Twist Lock Inlet with 3 Stainless Steel Pins, White https://amzn.to/3tR81d6
Square D by Schneider Electric QO2L30SCP QO 30 Amp 2-Space 2-Circuit Indoor Main Lug Load Center https://amzn.to/2P6voAp
15-Amp 1-Pole Plug-On Circuit Breaker https://amzn.to/3f8wjuX
20-Amp 1-Pole Plug Circuit Breaker, https://amzn.to/3rojnUk
30 amp female locking connector with LED Power Indicator https://amzn.to/3chl4OZ
You can choose a few different sources for back up power. The most popular is a generator. This option can be less convent. Generators tend to be noisy and not always welcome. Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter with Quiet Technology https://amzn.to/3w3JXpl large size one like this. To smaller options – 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator w/Fuel Shut Off, CARB Compliant, Ultra Lightweight https://amzn.to/2P42Asf
We find staying parked in the sun gives us enough power for our needs. This way we are only drawing excess overnight from our batteries. Recharging again in the morning.
The links provided in this post will help you build your system. Links will bring you to our affiliate program. You many need more or less of our suggestions. If you would like Wicked Cool Vans to build your solar system send us an email email@example.com
Shop hundreds of options for a solar system on our affiliate link https://amzn.to/2PsbAar