Solar project on hold???

To go solar or not?  Me thinks not right now.

Recently I have been doing a lot of reflecting.  As much as a set of solar panels sounds attractive, I’m thinking about not getting them – or at least not till later in the year.  They might not be needed in addition to possibly drawing more attention to the van.  Most of the places I camp have electricity.  If none is available, I have a new generator and have learned that the house batteries are more than adequate.

Solar would be nice but there is plenty of free power right now without having to spend more money.  Dad’s house supplies electricity to charge the batteries and keep them topped off.  Why not keep taking advantage of it and the free driveway?  It won’t be around forever.  During that time, solar technology may continue to drop in price.  It can be added later and likely for less money.

Lately some of my posts in various places have been about building out your van to YOUR needs.  It was time to do this for myself.

There are a lot of cool ideas floating around here but to some degree it can result in a “keeping up with the Smiths and Jonses”…  I’m guilty as hell when I show people the 2500 watt inverter and 460 amp hour house battery system that powers a 15 watt TV and a Koolatron.  I had to have big batteries, a big inverter, a microwave and all that…  It’s what a lot of other people were doing and I’m male – that automatically predisposes me to the “bigger is better” thing.  Add this to the “coolness factor” and it can get more expensive.

After giving it some thought, I’ve decided to table the solar plans and just enjoy camping.  There are still other plans for minor upgrades and tweaks to add some comfort.

If there is one piece of advice I can give newer van campers who are looking at doing a conversion it would be to ask “Where do I plan to camp?”  It can affect almost every decision you make:  batteries, water, bathroom, bathing, cooking, cooling, ventilation, food storage, etc.  No two campers’ situations are completely alike.  Internet information is great but it’s what we do with it that makes it useful or not.

At first it seemed a little disappointing to put the project on the back burner and then it dawned on me.  I’m living what I believe is important.  That’s a cool thing.

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

3 Responses to Solar project on hold???

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Brad,
    I would say it is a wise decision to wait at this time. When I got my 99 Roadtrek it needed a new house battery, so naturally I felt I needed the biggest one I could get in so I enlarged the box as large as possible, got a group 31 Deep cycle,and a 1200 watt inverter. Like you, I stay mostly at campgrounds and when dry camping one or two nights at a time I use the small cig lighter inverter for TV and propane for refer and cooking etc. So far in two years I have yet to need the 1200 watt inverter.
    As you stated, prices may drop & who knows what kind of improvements will be made in solar in a year or two.
    Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on your needs and “That’s a cool thing”


  2. Bradford says:

    Thanks for the kind comment Bob. With the solar idea shelved for a while I was thinking about picking up a fairly small pure sine wave inverter with a relatively small capacity to power the couple of small things (CPAP, radio, and TV). I can always keep the big old Cobra for a backup… It’s been acting a little squirrely anyway.
    We live and learn. That’s a good thing.

    I sure would like to see that Roadtrek… There’s one in the area not too far from where I live. It’s a cool looking machine!