Updated: Dec 13, 2022
When you’re living on the road, having enough power supply to charge electronics is a common concern among van lifers. Generating power from your van is an important aspect to van life and there's nothing worse than a dead battery on the road!
Here we discuss simple ways to generate electricity to avoid the future headache. There are four common ways to boost and collect energy. Using a generator, solar panels, campground electrical system, and the vehicle’s alternator. These all depend on what you use your electronics for and how often you use them. Check out these examples below ↓
1. Powering Electronics using the vans alternator
Plugging your electronics into the van electrical system is the most go-to thing to do while driving. To charge while driving, you need some sort of adapter that has multiple charging ports so you can charge multiple electronics while driving. Charging your phone is easy, but when it comes to charging other stuff, it becomes a bit more difficult.
When you turn your car off, there is no longer alternator power going so it will drain fairly quickly if you leave things charging or keep the lights on. That's why using the alternator can be great to charge a second battery. That way you don't have to leave your car idle while you charge your electronics.
2. Powering A Van Using A Generator
A lot of van lifers also power their vans by using a generator, Generators create consistent electricity and keep it flowing throughout the night - unlike solar panels.
Generators can be a great back up plan if you are using solar power for your main source of charging your things. Since generators often rely on gas, it’s important to always bring an extra gas container on your journey.
Generator : PROS and CONS
PROS: - Generators can be powered rain or shine
- Diesel generators run longer
CONS: - Very noisy, even the quieter ones
- Always need fuel
- Fuel power not the best for the environment
3. Powering Van With Solar Panels
Solar panels are a great solution for people who want to live a clean, minimalistic lifestyle. Solar panels are a very popular way of living, however have a high up-front cost. Because they are a little bit more difficult to install, hiring a professional is strongly recommended.
Solar Panels : PROS and CONS
PROS: - No noise
- Better choice for the environment
- Saves money on energy cost over time
CONS: - Upfront cost of a solar power system is very costly
- Hiring a professional to install a solar powered system
4. Campground hook-ups
If you don't want to worry about the hassle and have the money, paying for a campsite to use the RV hookups can be one of the best options. Using the campsites electrical hookups can power big electrical appliances such as microwaves and air conditioners. Campground hookups are great because of how convenient they are, but the cost can add up. Some campsites are as little as $20 a night but can be as high as a hotel room depending on the time of year and what kind of campsite it is.
Keep in mind, not all campsites allow van conversions to use RV hookups, so check with the facility first before using.