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  • Writer's pictureairschooled

Solar power in a vintage VW bus?

Is it worth it? Would I do it again? Was it easy to set up?

Yes to each and every one of those. And while I do not consider myself an expert by any means, I am confident that I can proffer the Air-Schooled Theory of Onboard Power Needs:

Everybody spends too much time, effort, and mental energy on electrical builds.

Here's Buddy's electrical list:

- Car stuff (headlights, ignition, etc)

- Stereo amplifier with subwoofer

- Refrigerator

- Power inverter for charging laptops

- Water pump with inline filter

- LED cabin lighting system

- USB and 12v ports for charging devices

If that list was posted on internet forums anywhere in 2021, I would be told to buy an upgraded alternator, 400-watts of solar, and a 100-pound auxiliary battery.

Instead, I have a 52-year-old German generator, 100-watts of solar panel on a tilting hinge, and one battery that runs the car AND all my living accoutrements. Beer is kept cold by the heat that makes it refreshing. My phone/GPS is kept alive all summer by the beauty that keeps us chasing the sunsets. E-mails are sent indefinitely, because they seem to stack up that way…

I think all that is pretty cool, while also being more economical and less wasteful. But my hobby isn't spending money on my car, it's driving it.


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