Van – Solar and power

Electricity in a camper van is extremely useful (and to be fair, outside of a camper van as well). In my van, I use is to power the lights, diesel heater, water pump, wifi access point, sound system, microwave, kettle, and the roof vent (and even all at once, if for whatever reason I ever find the need to).

The internet is full of a lot of valuable blog posts about people’s various takes on designing their battery and solar systems, each having a different set of priorities and constraints. For me, being able to power all of the above without having to be extra conservative with energy usage as well as being able to leverage solar energy were the key requirements. Additionally, I wanted to be able to monitor the system remotely. The setup I ended with is a 5kWh custom LiFePo4 battery pack, monitored and charged using an ElectoDacus SBMS40, and an array of 600W of solar panels.

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Vanlife – Intro

Last year I finally pulled the trigger on what was a dream of mine for many years. Following a festival that left me questioning how I should spend my free time and energy on, I decided to embark on the adventure of buying a large cargo van and converting it into a vehicle I can take to festivals and occasionally (and maybe at some point full time) live in.

After much research I have decided that I would like to get a 158” Dodge Sprinter, either 2005 or 2006. The reason for this was that this was pretty much the only vehicle within my budget that I can stand in. It’s possible I could’ve afforded a newer Sprinter, but they are considered very unreliable and that scared me. Once I knew what I was looking for, I spent about two weeks refreshing Craigslist any moment I was awake, until I landed on an ad from a guy named Tim who owns a business called Sprinter Pit Stop in San Diego. He had a 2005 Sprinter with 257,000 miles for a bit less than $10,000. After a bunch of email exchanges (he was super helpful, answered all my questions, sent pictures, etc.) I decided it’s time to go see it in person and booked a flight. I met him the next day with a friend of mine who knows a thing or fifty about vehicles, and we took it for a drive. My friend did the mechanical inspection and nothing major came up. After sleeping on it for a night (especially because it does not have an AC which was hard to swallow) I decided to go for it. Some price negotiation took place, and I was the proud owner of this ex-FedEx delivery vehicle which I then drove to San Francisco. And so it began.


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