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Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Solar panels & Victron bluetooth battery charger

The next and most expensive upgrade for the 4×4 motorhome is the installation of solar panels. I do not want to be dependent on mains power at campsites in terms of power supply. In fact, I want to avoid campsites as much as possible and just wild camp off-the-grid whenever possible! To be able to stand off-grid for several days or even weeks, you need a number of facilities in your motorhome, such as hot water, a possibility to shower and enough electricity.

Also read:

  1. Want to buy an Offgrid 4×4 overland camper? † Tips and what to watch out for
  2. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Solar panels & Victron bluetooth battery charger
  3. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tracemaster GPS Tracker Alarm System
  4. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tough Dog shock absorbers, HD leaf springs and auxiliary air suspension

Solar panels and accessories on the motorhome

Victron Solar Panels

I chose solar panels from Victron, because these came out very well in the test by, among others, the consumer association. Victron is a good brand for which you may pay a little more, but you do get quality for that. It has to do with electricity! I don't want to think about having cheap, unbranded solar panels from AliExpress or something like that on my roof. Such low-budget panels are often of poor quality, have not passed any provable quality tests and are not provided with a quality mark that somewhat guarantees safety and quality. Even though they are a lot cheaper, think carefully about what safety is worth to you before you buy it.

Best tested Consumer Association
Victron Energy BlueSolar solar panel
5.0
€ 115,00

The BlueSolar panels from Victron Energy are of high quality: the toughened glass ensures improved impact resistance and stiffness of the panel. The sturdy, fully anodized housing allows for easy mounting on the roof.

Victron Energy solar panels come with a 25-year power and performance warranty.

Even in low light, energy can be generated with the BlueSolar panels, thanks to the high light sensitivity of the solar cells. When the BlueSolar panels are partially shaded, the energy loss is minimized by the bypass diodes.

Pros:
  • Best tested consumer association
  • High yield
  • Work even in low light
  • 25 year power and performance warranty
Cons:
  • No supplied cables
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Have the installation performed by a professional

For the same reason, I would also advise everyone to have the installation of the solar panels carried out by a professional. Even if you are quite handy and can save a few hundred dollars by doing it yourself, I would think again. You do not want to gradually get a short circuit because you have not installed something well enough or have used the wrong cables that turn out to be unable to handle the power.

Accidents are also increasingly occurring on the road because solar panels are not installed properly by 'home-build' bus builders, with all the associated consequences. People are often afraid to drill a hole in the roof, or think they can do it with only strong glue. There are many travel bloggers who convert a bus themselves and recommend gluing the panels without drilling. I really have serious doubts about this. It will happen to you that such a solar panel comes loose from your roof. Maybe not a problem for you, but for those who drive behind you. Dangerous.

Also read: Tracemaster GPS Tracker Alarm System | Expedition camper upgrades

Victron SmartSolar battery charger with bluetooth

Super efficient
Victron SmartSolar MPPT charge controller
€ 138,00

Are the battery or batteries in your caravan or motorhome charged via solar panels? Then this Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/20 charge controller is indispensable.

MPPT charge controller:

The charge controller will always try to extract the maximum power from the solar panel. As a result, the panels are optimally used under any weather condition. Compared to standard controllers, this can deliver up to 30% more energy.

Smart Bluetooth function:

With this function you can monitor the charge controller on the free Victron app. This allows you to see exactly what the solar panels yield.

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Because I also like to monitor the status of my solar panels, charging and battery capacity, I chose this Vitron Smartsolar battery charger with bluetooth. With this I can easily keep an eye on everything related to the power supply on my SmartPhone. Victron has its own App (VictronConnect) that you can install and link via a QR code. Super simple and completely up-to-date. By the way, you no longer need an extra monitoring panel in your motorhome. Saves pulling wires and sawing again in your motorhome…

Two heavy household batteries

To store all the electricity generated, I opted for two large household batteries instead of one. Perhaps a bit overkill, but I'd rather have too much power with me than too little. Because I will also like a real one Digital Nomad being on the road working for o.a Wereldreizigers.nl and extended off-the-grid camping. I am also still thinking about a 3rd battery (a lithium-ion variant) that can even absorb high peak currents for an electric oven or microwave, for example. More on that later!

Also read: How much does traveling with a motorhome cost? Cost overview + video

12v kettle

After traveling for 10 days in Switzerland, I can confidently say that the solar panels and batteries have done well. I haven't been without power for a moment, maybe not yet! However, the power consumption has been quite limited to date. I have meanwhile (this) 12v kettle bought it to make coffee and tea, it will soon also be taken on a trip. This is a big current draw, so I'm very curious whether I can quickly empty the two household batteries with regular use of the kettle and whether the solar panels can keep up with it.

Install inverter to 220v

Soon I will also have an inverter from 12v to 220v installed in the camper unit. An inverter to 220v makes it possible to simply get 220v from the wall socket with the solar panels, without having to look for a campsite with shore power! That makes long-term 'off-grid' camping a lot more attractive. Placing the inverter is then the last electronics upgrade to the camper unit for the time being. More on that later!

3-in-1 battery, inverter and charge controller
EcoFlow Delta MAX Power Station
4.5
2.099,00€

The EcoFlow Delta MAX is a portable Lithium-ion power station with a capacity of no less than 2016wh. This device makes inverters and charge controllers for solar panels superfluous.

The capacity is expandable and with 4 x 2400W (4600W peak) AC outputs, numerous 12v and USB connections, it is suitable for many applications both indoors and outdoors.

Super fast charging via 230v. Combined charging via 230v, 12v or solar panels is possible. Very popular with motorhome and vanlife enthusiasts.

We have installed this device in our motorhome and it's really fantastic to have so much power at your disposal† We grill, cook, cool almost everything electrically now.

Pros:
  • Large capacity
  • Super fast charging
  • 100w (!) USB-C connections
  • 2400W with 4600W peak power
  • Charging via 230v, 12v or solar panels
Cons:
  • Price
  • Weighs 23 kilos
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Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our link(s), at no additional cost to you.

Also read:

  1. Want to buy an Offgrid 4×4 overland camper? † Tips and what to watch out for
  2. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Solar panels & Victron bluetooth battery charger
  3. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tracemaster GPS Tracker Alarm System
  4. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tough Dog shock absorbers, HD leaf springs and auxiliary air suspension
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