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The most important aspect of creating the perfect campervan electrical design is getting the size right.
But it’s a bit of a minefield.
Here’s just an example of some of the typical questions asked when designing and building a DIY campervan conversion:
- How many batteries do I need?
- What type of battery do I need?
- How much battery do I need to run my fridge?
- What size inverter do I need?
- What size solar panels do I need?
- How should I wire my solar panels to get the most charging capacity from them?
- What size charge controller do I need?
- What size wires do I need in my electrical installation?
And the list goes on.
There’s no one size fits all answer. We need to consider many factors:
- Is our campervan electrical system critical to our lifestyle?
- Will we live off grid for days or weeks at a time?
- Do we have access to reliable charging supply like shore power?
- Will we use an alternator to charge our batteries and if so, will we drive much?
- Will we live in the camper during the winter?
- How much electricity will we use?
- What kind of budget do we have for the electrical installation?
Again, more questions.
So where do you start in answering all this and sizing your electrical system?
Fortunately we have a collection of electrical calculators for campervan conversions and RV owners to help!
This is a one stop shop to calculate your total RV solar system.
Enter the electrical appliances and devices you’ll power from your RV batteries and we’ll calculate the solar panels size, charge controller, battery bank and inverter you need.
It’s a great place to start as it helps identify the components you need to know a little more about before making the final configuration decisions.
If you intend to use any AC appliances powered by your batteries, you need an inverter.
Even if you only use the appliances when you’re hooked up, if you power them from the battery, you’ll still need one.
Note though, if you only use the AC appliances on a main circuit on shore power, an inverter is not necessary.
The inverter needs to be sized large enough to cope with the total demand at any one time.
This will help you estimate your total daily power usage and the minimum size batteries needed to meet that demand.
Remember, not all campervan batteries are the same.
Some types of batteries are less efficient than others.
This calculator will workout the minimum size battery needed for each type.
Now you know the minimum size batteries of each type, use this comparison calculator to determine which type of battery you want.
You can compare total cost of the batteries over a specified length of time and learn how many times you’ll need to replace them too.
This will help you decide the type of battery you want.
You can use the calculator to compare different batteries of the same type too.
Once you’re ready to buy, you can run the different specifications and prices through the calculator to help make your final decision.
Selecting a solar charge controller is one of the most important and most expensive components in a camper solar setup.
Whether you want a PWM or an MPPT, you must size the device to suit your solar array.
This calculator sizes both a PWM and MPPT controller for your solar panels.
Do you know wiring your solar panels in series or parallel makes a difference to how efficient they are?
While the aim of the installation is to get as much power from the total solar panel wattage and minimise losses, there’s no one right answer for everyone.
This post helps you determine which is best for you and provides a calculator so you can choose the wiring configuration for your panels with least losses.