Powering Van Life
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Powering Van Life
Powering Van Life.In this post I will be going through my power system. There are a few options out there to consider:
- Complete solar system with inverter, solar charge controller, battery monitor, wiring, solar panels, solar panel mounts, etc.
- Gas powered generator
- Portable power station – LIthium battery based
Option 1 seemed to be just as pricey as a Jackery with more parts. Plus I would have to install it all myself or pay someone to do it.
Option 2 would require fuel on a regular basis and they can be noisy. Plus being in a minivan camper, I didn’t want to sacrifice any of the little room I have to store the unit and fuel.
I decided to go with Option 3: a portable power station. I chose this option because of the price point and speed of getting started.
For me it made sense to invest in a portable power station rather than investing in the multiple, separate components of a complete solar system because after doing the minivan camper conversion build-out in my 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan, installing a solar system was just not something I wanted to mess around with.
And the price seemed to be more than what a portable power station would cost me.
Which model did I invest in?
I decided to invest in the Jackery Explorer 1000 which I was able to purchase for $850 by utilizing the discount when you sign up for the mailing list on Jackery’s website.
This size was right for me because after starting with the Jackery Explorer 240, I quickly realized that in order to keep my 12v ICECO JP40 compressor refrigerator running for long periods of time, I would need a larger setup.
I absolutely LOVE this ICECO JP40 refrigerator! What really sold me on this unit is the fact that the SECOP compressor has a 5 year warranty. To me, this is money well spent as all of the other brands out there that I looked at seemed to only offer 1-2 year warranty on a lesser quality compressor.
AND this refrigerator came with a cover that is custom made for this unit that helps keep your temperature steady. Eco mode is a nice feature as well.
One thing I did to add a level of protection to the unit is I added aMaster Lock 3/8″ Braided Steel Cable Lock that attaches around the frame of the passenger seat and then around the handle of the Jackery.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is amazing! I love that there are 3 different ways to re-charge it.
- Plug it into my 12v outlet in my van and then when I drive, it re-charges that way.
- Or if I am staying at a campground or mooch-docking at a friend or family’s house, I can plug into a standard outlet.
- And the third way is via solar panels.
Budget Solar Panel
For solar, I use one Togo Power 120 watt folding solar panel. I really like the panel. If I just need to charge my phone or other USB devices, I can set up the panel and plug things directly into the panel and the item will begin charging.
I love having the panel not attached to the roof of my van. When I park in the shade to keep the temperature of the van down, I can still run the foldable solar panel out into the sun via its 12 foot cable.
All in all, with the Jackery Explorer 1000, I now have plenty of power to charge up my various devices: cell phone, laptop, USB fan, USB water pump, etc.
There are many great options out there on the market. I went with Jackery because it is an established brand. Also because these units have everything you need to get started including an inverter inside.
Whether you decide to go with Jackery like I did or another lesser known brand that may still be a great unit, read the reviews of the item. There is no right or wrong way to power your van life. Having multiple options is always a great thing. I utilize smaller power banks to re-charge my phone as well as a hand-crank radio that also will re-charge a phone. I hope you find your mellow nomadic adventures!