When it came to the PowerHouse of the Van I knew it would likely be the most expensive part but also the most important, so I wanted to make sure it was done correctly – AKA I didn’t do this myself, I had these experienced humans. As I continue to Live in the Van, I’m learning my electrical but I did do thorough research before purchasing everything I needed.
November/December 2021 Update: I was experiencing multiple issues with the charge holding with my batteries along with household items losing life due to low power supply. My fridge was dying, my water pump broke, my water switch fuse was constantly blowing. I had to get down to the bottom of this issue and contacted the MOST INCREDIBLE company, highly recommend them (True North Custom Campers). They took one look at my previous electrical set up and knew exactly what needed to be replaced/changed/fixed and although defeating to say the least I instantly felt they were the solution and I was in hands.
Below are links and information to every major thing you need for a fully functioning home on wheels!
For my Build, I chose the MotoMaster Nautilus premium AGM Battery, 105 amp-hours. While a standard Van Build will usually use two batteries, I have 3 because I went with an Induction stove cooktop which uses more and likely the most power in the Van. Two batteries in a basic build will be plentiful for all your essential needs!
Price for three batteries; $1,019.97
Battery Update: I ended up changing my batteries out for two, 6v gel 220AH Valiant VTG6-250 Batteries. These provide optimum and reliable service under extreme temperatures and frequent power failures making it highly suited for outdoor applications such as off-grid solar systems, RV, and telecom/UPS systems.
Price for two batteries; $790.00
When you look for Solar Panels, you will quickly notice there are MANY options to choose from, but I am familiar with Renogy and saw a lot of Van Lifes use this brand so this is what I went with.
A standard build can get away from 200 Watts but again because of my induction stove I wanted to make sure I never ran short and went with the 400 Watt Kit, I highly recommend buying a full kit versus just the Panels and needing to buy things separately.
My 400 Watt Kit came with everything I needed,
- 100W Monocrystalline Panel(Compact Design)
- Rover 40A MPPT Charge ControllerMounting Z Brackets
- Renogy 20ft 10AWG MC4 Adaptor Kit (A pair)
- Renogy 8ft 10AWG Tray Cables (A pair)
When choosing an inverter, I’ve seen options from 1500W (which is really all you need) or 2000W (if you’re chosen an Induction stove lol). I chose the MotoMaster Eliminator 2000W Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter, it comes with a simple on/off switch for when you need it or you can run it 24/7 but I personally don’t recommend it (nor do I think it’s needed). Further, it comes with AC outlets and 2 x USB ports for my electronics that may need charging! You can never go wrong in my opinion with too much power!!
This is essential simply to separate multiple batteries from one another to ensure that a vehicle has access to a backup power source. I have the Smart 140 Amp Dual Battery Isolator, these attach to the vehicle’s alternator, which is the device responsible for providing the vehicle with electrical power and for charging the vehicle’s battery.
Upgraded in early 2023, throughout my travels across Canada, I started to notice on gloomy days my batteries weren’t charging when the Van was running. So when I got back to Alberta, I had the best guys at True North Custom Campers, install this Victron Energy Orion-TR Smart 12/12-30 (360W) Non-Isolated DC-DC Charger . Ever since I had this installed, I am AMAZED at the charge my batteries get, in addition, this one comes with an App so I can keep track of the input/output!!
The lighting is completely personal Preference, when planning my build I had lights everywhere and then once it was wired I realized I overplanned my lighting – but is that a bad thing? No. In my build I have the Super Slim LED Panel Light, they are 12V so they use little power and are meant for RV’s and Motorhomes!
I have lights coming from all my overhead storage and running down my ceiling! You can never have too many lights! 🙂
Price per box; $59.76
A few of your smaller Electrical buys that are also essential are below and don’t need much explanation. The one thing to note is you’ll always want to look for 12V options with the exception of a power Outlet as these will be similar to a house home.
I have the Kohree 12-Way Blade Fuse Block; this is where absolutely everything will be connected and run from.
Another option for a USB is this Duo; comes with a USB, Cigarette Outlet and power display.