Off Grid Solar & Mobile Electrical Systems [Recommended Equipment List]

mobile electrical systems for van life

 

A List of Recommended Equipment for Off Grid Solar & Mobile Electrical Systems

The products listed here are recommend because they have been tried and tested by either ourselves or our friends in the vehicle dwelling community.

It can be a bit of a headache knowing what to purchase when building an efficient off grid solar and mobile  electrical system, there are just so many options and components that you will need.

The follow pages serve to take the trouble out of the process of building your Solar System by recommending tried and tested product that wont let you down, so you can focus on the fun part

…putting it all together.

 

*This page contains amazon affiliate links, any purchases made support may support our content but it will not cost you anything.

Recommended Solar System Equipment For Off Grid Mobile Living

 

All-in-one Renogy 400 Watt Solar Starter Kit with MPPT Controller

Everything you need to put 400W of solar onto your roof, this will power the majority of lifestyles

Bargain kit price here


All-in-one Renogy 100W – 400W PREMIUM Solar Kit

High efficiency panels, MPPT charge controller (up to 30% more efficient for systems over 150W) and remote digital display

BEST FOR: People who want the best and most efficient system (100-400W)

Check the latest price here on Amazon

 


Renogy 200 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with 30A PWM Controller

This is a great budget option for small systems, if you think you will possibly expand in the future you should choose the MPPT charge controller option.  You definitely want the LCD display regardless which option you choose.

BEST FOR: Budget 200W option – Most small vans with a fridge.

Look Up Price on Amazon


100W Budget Solar Starter Kit

Under $200 – Entry level Solar Starter Kit – LCD Charge Controller Option Available, probably not enough to power your fridge full time.

BEST FOR: low power applications, a constant charge for you minimalist digital life.

Current Price here on Amazon


150W Glass High Efficiency Poly Panel

Solar-Panel-Glass

A great cost-effective option for a fixed panel installation. Panels like this will mean your vehicle is getting a charge whenever there is sunlight

BEST FOR: Long lasting installations on a roof rack or flat surface

Latest Price on Amazon


100W Flexible ‘Extra High Output’ SunPower Solar Panel


Flexible panels don’t last as long, but if you have to use flexible panels, use this one!

BEST FOR: Uneven Surfaces, roof boxes, temporary installations, low profile & stealth

Latest Price on Amazon


RENOGY Foldable Solar Suitcase Kit 100W Mono

Ideal if you wish a sturdy solution to allow you to park in the shade and still get a charge

BEST FOR: Weekend Warriors, campsites, semi-portable solution, people in really hot climates

Buy Now on Amazon


SunPower 80W Foldable Solar Panel

Most portable solution, great for backpacking too and allows you to charge USB devices and even a laptop directly from the inbuilt charge controller.

We have one of these in addition to our main solar system as they are so handy for system expansion and for charging solar generators (see above) – also provides shade to the front window whilst charging our portable devices – cool huh

BEST FOR: System expansion, backpacking, people serious about off grid solar

 

Available on Amazon


Windy Nation 30A PWM Solar Charge Controller

A tried and tested budget option for a solar charge controller that wont let you down

BEST FOR: Budget Solar Systems under 150W

Cheapest on Amazon


Morningstar Prostar PS-30M Solar Charge Controller

A pro PWM charge controller and our recommendation for systems under 150W

BEST FOR: A high-end charge controller with great reviews for smaller solar systems
Buy Direct from Amazon


Adjustable Solar Panel Mount Mounting Rack Bracket

Get the most out of your system by tilting your panels – trust us, you will want these

BEST FOR: People who live far from the equator, need a charge during winter, or digital nomads who are heavily reliant on solar

Purchase online here


40A MPPT Solar Charge Controller (with additional remote display)

Reasonably priced MPPT solar charge controller for larger systems and RVs up to 40A total.

For systems over 150W go with an MPPT charge controller.

BEST FOR: Larger solar arrays

Click here for more details


Waterproof Entry Gland for bringing any type of cable from outside to inside

You’ll need this when it comes time to drill a whole in your rig

Available on Amazon


Waterproof inline 15a Fuse

Click for price on Amazon


MC4 Connectors for installing multiple panel systems

Learn more here


Drill Free Panel Mounting Kit

Live Price available here

 

Cable for connecting solar panel to solar charge controller

Recommended Batteries For All Budget For Off Grid Electrical & Solar Systems

The following batteries are suitable as auxiliary batteries for RVs, Vans, Trucks

 

 

100AH 12v Deep Cycle AGM Battery 

This battery is safe for use inside a vehicle

BEST FOR: Well priced generic house battery – can be scaled up for increased capacity

Free Delivery From Amazon


Renogy 200Ah 12V AGM Deep Cycle Battery

Plenty of power and a great price, safe for use inside a vehicle

BEST FOR: Larger Off Grid Systems and people who have the physical space for a 200Ah Battery

Price on Amazon


6V AGM Deep Cycle  200AH Battery Golf Cart 

 

6V “golf cart” batteries can last longer than 12V equivilent and they allow you to distribute the weight more evenly – you will need to join 2 x 6V batteries together in series to yield 12V.

Compare prices online

BEST FOR: People who wish to distribute weight of their system


Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100Ah


Recommended if you want to get the most out of your off grid electrical system

BEST FOR: For people who want a high performing system with fast charging and more usable power than a regular battery

Check the Latest Price Here


Battleborn 100 Ah LiFePO4 12V Deep Cycle Battery

A great option for long length of service built on the most stable Lithium battery technology

BEST FOR: For people who want a high performing system with fast charging and more usable power than a regular battery

Available on Amazon

 


GreenLiFE 260Ah Lithium 12V Battery with built in BMS

Built in safety features and 260Ah of power, a premium option for van life

BEST FOR: Premium option for people who want a high performing system with fast charging and more usable power than a regular battery

Available to purchase here


Recommended Power Inverters for RVs, Trucks, Vans, Cars, Boats and Off Grid Electrical Solar Systems

(Inverters allow you to power AC appliances, like TVs or Laptops from your DC battery)

Note we haven’t included any budget MSW (modified sine wave) options here because we believe them to be a false economy – (they will destroy your appliances over time)

 

300w Inverter Samlex Solar PST-300-12 Pure Sine Wave Inverter

It will power 2 laptop simultaneously, but not more than that

Industrial grade

Silent Operation – temperature controlled cooling fan runs quietly and reduces energy consumption

Low Interference – won’t disrupt the reception of your TV, radio or audio equipment

Two GFCI Protected Outlets

Safety Certified – to UL standards, FCC Approved

BEST FOR: Small power needs, most small vans, possibly wont do power tools!

Buy it here


 

Sunforce 11240 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter with Remote Control

Enough Power for most people’s need and great reviews

Connects to a 12 volt battery and converts DC to AC pure sine wave for power on the go

Ideal for power failure emergencies and guarantees optimum compatibility with sensitive equipment, computers, motors, televisions and more

2000 Watts surge power, 1000 continuous power

Safety features include: an overload alarm and LED light, a soft start system, low battery shut down, DC input overload voltage, output overload, overload temperature, short circuit shut down, and a high speed cooling fan

System includes: two 110V household electrical outlets, a DC/AC power inverter remote control modular connector cable and key chain remote

BEST FOR: Most people

Buy from Amazon

 


Xantrex PROWatt 2000W PSW Inverter

Best option for Large vans, motor homes or boats – 2000W of power is a lot!

 

Built-in digital display for DC volts and output power

Built-in USB port

Dual gfci AC receptacles for safe Operation

Heavy duty terminals for trouble-free Battery connection

Available on/off remote switch (with ignition lockout)

Check Current Price on Amazon

BEST FOR: Larger power applications and motorhomes

 

Recommended Smart Chargers for Van Life & for Off Grid Electrical & Solar Systems

 

Smart chargers allow you to hook up to AC power to charge you batteries.  It is a good idea to have one in your rig so if you do run the batteries down you don’t have to rely on solar or your alternator to recharge, which may not always be possible. This helps you avoid leaving your batteries dangerously depleted for any length of time

It also allows you to hook up to AC power whilst you are camped.

NOCO G26000 Smart Charger (26A)

(12V, 24V, Lithium Battery Charger)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

We like this charger because it is fairly compact, powerful enough to be able to start a car, can charge multiple batteries and it is able to load sense so we can be using our inverter whilst charging our batteries

Available for discount on Amazon

 


 

NOCO Genius GENM2 8 Amp 2-Bank Waterproof Smart On-Board Battery Charger

A 2-bank, 8 Amp (4 Amps per bank) on-board battery charger.

Charges starter and deep-cycle batteries up to 100Ah.

100% completely sealed and waterproof design

Charges 2X faster than most marine battery chargers.

Check live price here

 

Recommended Battery Isolators for Off Grid Electrical & Solar Systems

Isolators allow you to separate the starting battery from your auxiliary batteries so that you can always start your engine no matter how much you run down your ‘house battery’

They are essential 🙂

 

Stinger  200 AMP Battery Relay Isolator and Relay

Branded Solution for mid-range budget

Buy Here


 

Insulated Continuous Duty 12V Solenoid

BUDGET OPTION: Save Money – Get This one for small systems

Max surge of 100A (for 10 seconds)

Check it out on Amazon


 

Smart Dual Battery 140A Isolator VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay)

Senses that there is a charge on the circuit before electrically connecting the two batteries – 0 voltage drop

Buy here on Amazon


Sterling ProCharge Battery-to-Battery Charger 12V

RECOMMENDED PREMIUM OPTION: A Battery to Battery charger is the premium option for people who wish to get the most out of their battery systems, it may also be the only option for you, depending on they type of  alternator you have.  This is the fastest way to charge you auxiliary batteries whilst you drive due to the microprocessor controlled multi-stage charging profiles that the other options do not have.  Without a Battery to Battery charger like this, you are unlikely to charge you batteries over 80% SOC

More details on Amazon

Still think you can get away with the cheaper VSR option?  Watch this handy video first to be sure

VSR vs Battery to Battery Chargers

 

Recommended Battery Monitors
Find it Here

Price on Amazon

 

Magnum Energy ME & MS Series Battery Monitor Kit

This option is more expensive than the other options listed, however a proper battery monitor kit like this is necessary if you wish to have an accurate battery reading at any time during the day.

This kit measures the flow of Amps in and out of the battery to give you a true State of Charge – the other monitors only give you a guesstimate of the current SOC which can be misleading if you have solar or have recently charged your battery, due to the residual surface charge.

For serious installations and boondockers we highly recommend that you invest in a proper battery management kit to avoid inadvertently damaging your battery system  

Current Price Here

 

Recommended Lighting Solutions for RVs and Vehicle Dwelling 

10 x 1 foot (30cm) strip lights

 


Allows you to spit up lighting onto different circuits and spread the light source around your living space (better than one single light source)

Super Cheap Price

 


 

12V Recessed LED Ceiling Light 4 Pack

Available to buy here on Amazon

 


Multi-Color LED Strips with dimmer option and remote control

Price available here


 

12 Volt DC Dimmer for LED, Halogen, Incandescent 

Some LED lights can be quite bright, you will want the option to be able to dim the lights to set the mood in your living space and also for stealth reasons.  You WILL want this!

Grab one here

40ft 18 Gauge wire for LED lighting

12V accessories that you will find useful for Off Grid Electrical & Solar Systems

dual USB with ammeter

quad USB charge

12v Fuse panel


Battery isolator

360 12v fan

Elechomes EH101 Rechargeable Operated Clip

Porch USB outdoor lighting solution

Solar lantern also USB rechargable

low power USB Reading light

12v Propane and natural gas detector

Solar Generators and Portable Power Expansion for Off Grid Electrical & Solar Systems

The following devices are relatively new to the market and have appeared with the developments in Li-ion technology.

With Lithium you can pack much more power into a smaller space than was previously possible with the over-rated and over-prices Lead Acid ‘battery generator options, such as the original Goal Zero.

We don’t consider these ‘solar generators’ a replacement for a permanently installed auxiliary battery, unless you are living in a car with minimal power requirements.

However, we believe that these solar generators are a great addition to your existing system and can be used to provide system expansion and a semi-portable power solution if you are a mobile person who may occasionally need to access off grid power whilst away from your vehicle.

 

ExpertPower Omega 453 Portable Generator Lithium-ion 12V 41AH 453WH Uninterruptible Power Supply

with 500W (Peak 1000W) PURE SINE WAVE for Outdoor and Indoor Use + Jump Start Function

  • Powerfully Compact: The 453Wh (12V 41AH) lithium Ion generator weights just 6.95 Lbs, making it the most powerful and portable generator of its kind.
  • Travel Off the Grid: The Omega 453 is capable of powering all your essential electronics, travel gear, and professional equipment allowing you to stay connected both on and off the grid.
  • Silent Strength: With its powerful 500W/1000W (peak) Pure Sine Wave inverter, the Omega is capable of powering 10+ devices simultaneously with the same clean energy as your house outlet.
  • Rechargeability: Besides traditional wall-charging, this light-weight device can be recharged through solar power with built-in solar charge controller, wind turbines or car cigarette sockets, making it convenient for road trips.
  • Safety and Protection: FCC and CE certified with built-in fuse and full-protection with short-circuit, low-voltage, over-charge, over-discharge, over-voltage, over-load ensuring complete protection for you and your devices.

Current Price here


Jackery Explorer / Powerpro 500Wh Portable Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Quiet Generator with 110V/300W AC Outlet, 12V Car, USB Output

 

  • All-in-One Outdoor Generator: With 500 watt-hour huge capacity powers up your smartphones (iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, iPhone X) (40+ Recharges), laptops (3-6 Recharges), TVs (3+ Hrs), small appliances (mini refrigerators or coffee machines) and more. Small and light, ideally suited for the outdoor life and even unexpected power outages anywhere
  • Rechargeable Battery, No Gasoline Required: Recharge your Jackery Powerpro on-the-go with solar panel (just 7 hours or less with full sun) or via the included AC adapter wall outlet in 6 hours (Solar Panel Not Included)
  • Off-Grid Power Supply: Keep all your gear powered. Plug in your devices in the multiple options: 110V/300W Continuous, 500W Peak AC Outlet, 12V/120W car socket and two 5V/2.1A USB ports. Powerful LCD flashlight offers a light for camps, cabins and unexpected outages

Current Price via Amazon


Goal Zero Yeti 1400Wh Lithium Portable Power Station 1425Wh

with 1500 Watt (3000 Watt Surge) AC inverter, USB, 12V Outputs

 

  • 1425Wh lithium portable power station can power up to 10 devices at once (Single Cell Equivalent Capacity: 396Ah @3.6V)
  • AC inverter (output, pure sine wave): 120VAC 60Hz, 10A (1500W, 3000W surge)
  • Charges phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, drones, and more. Powers your refrigerator, blender, TV, lights, power tools, and medical devices
  • Easily Rechargeable – Keep your Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium powered up from the wall or from the sun (solar panels sold separately)
  • Gas generator alternative with no noise, no fumes, no gasoline, no maintenance
  • USB port (output): 5V, up to 2.4A (12W max), regulated

 More Details on Amazon


 

2000W Compact Honda Gasoline Generator

 

Sometimes you power needs mean that you can’t always rely on waiting for the sun to recharge your batteries.  When that is the case a traditional gasoline generator is the only real option

This honda generator is surprisingly quite, extremely compact and incredibly efficient, using very low amounts of gasoline.  If unlimited power is something you need, this is the generator we’d recommend for the majority situations.  Higher output generators are also available

  • Ideal for TV/DVD, satellite, fridge, coffee pot, and more
  • 2000 watts, 120V, Super quiet
  • Easy to carry – less than 46 lbs(dry weight), Fuel efficient – up to 8.1 hrs on 1 gal of gas
  • Inverter – stable power for computers and more, Receptacles: 20A 125V Duplex
  • Starting System: Recoil, Noise Level: 59 dB(A) @ rated load 53dB(A) @ 1/4 load

Surprisingly affordable – check here for current prices

 

Recommended Tools and Maintenance Accessories for Off Grid Electrical & Solar Systems

12V Multimeter

 

Troubleshooting Light

Assorted Connector Kit

Heat Shrink for making lasting connections

 

 

Portable Butane gas soldering iron so you can make military-grade connections whilst you are off grid away from an electricity supply

 

Assorted fuse kit

pre-made cables for connecting batteries

10 Gauge wire (the most commonly used) for connecting appliances and solar charge controller

battery terminals

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Van-Life-Electrical-Systems-Solar-Guide

A guide to help you build a mobile off grid electrical system that meets your individual power requirements and budget