How big, and how much will this electrical system cost?
To get an idea you need to find out the electricity you will consume each day. To do that gather together every item you expect to power.
You will need to calculate your usage in Amp Hours (Ah).
Amp Hours = Current in amperes x Time in hours
Current: the amount of electrons flowing in the wire. The unit is Ampere.
Time: Some items will not be on very long. For example, if you have a hot water heater it will be on for about 15 minutes to heat the water. It won’t be on all day long!
There are many calculators available online to do these calculations. The math is easy. The difficult part is getting all the appliances together to get the information!
You will only get an estimate with any of these calculators. Remember you energy production and usage will vary with the seasons. In the summer you will use more electricity to keep your refrigerator cold. In the winter you will not produce as much electricity from your solar panels since the sunlight days are shorter, and they may be covered with snow.
The key is to calculate what is the maximum power that you will need at any given time. To find out, add the power of each device you plan on using simultaneously.
You need to select and inverter that will handle your simultaneous power usage.
For example, I have a 4 gallon hot water heater that is 1500 watts. I do not expect to use that at the same time I use the insta-pot which is 1200 watts. But if I did use them at the same time, that would be 2700 watts. I would need a 3000 watt inverter.
I can go with a smaller inverter, but went with a 3000 watt. Why? To future proof my build. My needs may expand in the future. Spending a little more money now is the frugal thing to do. Otherwise if I find out later that I needed a larger inverting I would need to go to the expense again to buy a larger …..
Below are some of the products we selected for our van build:
Solar Panels https://amzn.to/307QaVV
We selected these solar panels due to their size. The fit perfectly across the rails on the top of the van. The provide 200 watts per panel in the smallest physical size.
I did a great deal of research on inverters and solar charge controllers. The key reason I selected Victron products was Bluetooth. They all integrate with each other and I can monitor everything from my phone.
Solar Charge Controller https://amzn.to/3BRTbXd
I did a video explaining how to select the correct size of Solar Charge Controller.
Battery Monitor https://amzn.to/3o8XoRC
One of the best products Victron has there battery monitor. If I was to have only one Victron product it would be the battery monitor. Having this allows you to monitor your electrical system with your cell phone. This is an excellent Frugal Factor approved product!