For those of you who read my blog for a while it won’t be a surprise when I write that I own a Volkswagen Vanagon Camper (RV) and spend some time camping in it each summer.

This year I had my first fully off-grid holiday. Last year I connected the camper to the mains on the campsites I wisited, while this year I didn’t and relied entirely on energy captured by my solar photovoltaic panels and stored in my two gel batteries.

The batteries have total capacity of around 80 Ah (ampere-hours) which is roughly 900 kWh (kilowatt-hours). That’s more than enough for my laptop computer, some chargers, water pump. Even lighting in my camper (two fluorescent bulbs) would get enough power if I finally connected them to the camping batteries (at the moment they suck power from the starter battery).

Here are some photos of the setup.

Od Volkswagen Transporter T3

Those are the two PV panels I own. They are laminated in glass, and seem like were manufactured to be installed as a part of a car’s roof. 40 W each at 12 V voltage. Of course the panels are not carried here, as they’re not connected to the chassis. I only put them out on camping sites and carry inside in between.

Two gel batteries, 38 Ah capacity each. Connected in parallel, of course! 😉

That’s how I use the power from the batteries, with a lot of help from a cheap inverter. 😉

I loved living off-grid!

Living off-grid is cool, as you don’t pay electricity bills, right? When you’re camping it’s more important than ever! I’m pretty sure you don’t overpay for power anywhere else as much as you overpay on polish campsites, where mains connection costs about 10 PLN (2.5€) per day. That’s an equivallent of 20 kWh of electricity. Imagine what you would need to run to use that much electricity…

Using your own power source also gives you more freedom. Just like in homestead-scale off-grid systems, you can place your mobile home (the camper) anywhere you want. Within campsite limits, that is, or outside. You can choose a place close to a river or any other pleasant place, and not close to the grid, as you would have for on-grid camping / living.

The more I think about it, the more I see off-grid camping is very similar to off-grid living… I don’t think I will be building off-grid home, but probably grid-intertied and off-grid-capable one…