What are the options for power, so you can use electronics on the road? Read this info sheet to find out. Then complete our Power Checklist.
Lithium Batteries: Your New Best Friends
If you want to use any electronics while your van is not running, you’ll need to store your own power so you can use it later.
Many of us don’t think about where our power comes from or how much of it we have left. (It comes from the wall, silly, and there’s always more!) In a van, you will develop an intimate relationship with your power supply and in particular your batteries.
Why lithium batteries
We only use lithium batteries because they are the most sustainable option for power storage. With lithium, you don’t need to worry about over-charging or over-draining your batteries. They don’t have any “memory” the way other batteries do, so charge them freely and often. There’s a failsafe on the battery that keeps them from draining to zero. So use them until they run out! They’ll fill back up when you turn your engine on or when the sun comes out.
How much battery storage do you need?
Ideally, we set you up with a battery bank that’s customized to your needs. That way, you can run your typical electronics and appliances without running out of power.
A good starter battery is 100AH. If you plan to run high wattage appliances like hair dryers, an electric cooktop, or microwave, you’ll want a more robust battery bank, up to 600AH. We can help you figure out how much power you need.
How will you charge your batteries?
There are three ways to charge your batteries:
- by running your engine
- by plugging into shore power (like at a friend’s house or a campground), or
- via your rooftop solar system.
Store power so you can use it when you need it, without worrying about draining your batteries.
Lithium batteries last longer and are easy to use
They can be drained and recharged without hurting the life of the battery
Levity Vans prefers:
Solar Power: Put Your Roof to Work
Is your roof just sitting there, doing nothing? You might as well make it your own personal power plant!
Rooftop solar converts photons from the sun into useable energy in your van. It allows you to charge your batteries and use electronics while out in nature without needing to turn on your engine for days or even weeks at a time.
Different types of solar panels
There are different types of solar. You can use small panels that typically come in 100W or you can use high-efficiency household panels which are larger and are typically 300+W. You can even use a portable solar panel connected to your system so you can park in the shade and drag your solar panel out into the sun.
Your panel absorbs sunlight, which goes through a charging device that charges the batteries, then goes to your plugs.
If you want solar, we’ll set up a solar system built for your needs and detail all the components that make it work.
Ideal for van dwellers who like to park in one place for days or weeks at a time. Put your roof to work!
Panels range in size, both in wattage and square footage
Determine your panel size based on your power usage and roof space
Inverters: Plug It In
Now that you have all this power, what are you going to do with it? Without an inverter, you’re stuck trying to charge everything off your cigarette lighter.
If you want to be able to plug regular appliances like your laptop or your stovetop (or your Vitamix and movie projector??) into wall outlets, you’ll need an inverter to convert your 12V battery power into 110V household power.
Inverter Size Matters
The size of the inverter determines how much power you can draw. Just want to charge your laptop? A tiny 40W inverter will do that. But if you want to run a microwave, stovetop, or hair dryer, you’ll want something larger and more permanent like a 2800+W inverter.
Pure vs. Modified Sine Wave Inverters
Inverters come in two styles: modified sine wave and pure sine wave. Modified is an older style that adequately powers very simple electronics, for example, a fan. Certain electronics won’t work or charge due to the “choppy” frequency of a modified inverter.
Pure sine wave, which is what we use, delivers power exactly how it would come out of the house and allows you to use more delicate electronics, like your TV and charge other devices like your phone or laptop.
Charge Two Directions with Inverter/Chargers
Inverters also come with the option of converting power as well as charging your batteries. These are called inverter/chargers. They allow you to plug into your friend’s house or to campground hookups, for example, and charge your batteries while also powering your outlets. If you plan to do a lot of camping near electricity, this might be a good option for you.
USB plugs can be mounted anywhere convenient in your van. They can also be included in your household plugs for a dual household power/USB experience.
We’ll help you figure out how all these pieces fit together in terms of how much battery storage and inverter power you’ll need to do the things you want to do in your van.
If you want to be able to plug appliances and electronics directly into the wall.
Plug your everyday electronics straight into the wall
To use household plugs, you'll need an inverter
Add USB ports to household plugs for easy charging
Decide what types of appliances you’ll want to use to figure out the size of your inverter.
Converts 12V battery power to 110V household power
Get the size you need to power your appliances
Parked by power often? An inverter/charger will charge your batteries
Help us create a customized design and an accurate quote by knowing your options
🔋Do you want stored power, aka batteries, on board?
- Yes, and I know how much storage I need
- Yes, and I need help figuring out how much power I need
- No power storage
☀️Do you want a solar system?
- Yes, and I know the panel size I want
- Yes, and I need help figuring out the best panel type for me
- No solar system
🔌Do you want household-style plugs for your electronics?
- Yes, and I know where I want them and how many
- Yes, but I need help knowing where’s best to place to put them
- No outlets
🏡Do you plan to camp near shore power often? At a friend’s house or near RV hookups, for example?
❓What other power features are you considering?
- We want to hear about them!
How do you decide what’s right for you?
Our three biggest tips as you’re dreaming and designing:
- do your research,
- know what you want, and
- know your budget.
Then you’re ready to go! ⛰🚐✨
Van conversions are like home sales: you want the best your money can afford. (How is a van sale different than a home sale? With your van, you can always change your location! 😉)
Similar to buying a home, it helps to know your price range. Levity Van conversions range from $35K for basic essentials to $150K for luxury models, excluding the van. We’ll help you get as many features as you can for a price you can afford.
Choose your features
Your price depends on the features, components, and systems you need.
- Stick with these basics if you want to keep your conversion costs low.
- If your budget allows, we can suggest modest upgrades to increase your comfort and enjoyment.
- If you want the total
vanlifeexperience, you’ll need a bigger budget. Just remember you’re investing in a tiny home: it’s worth it!
- Are you a go big or go home person? Turn your van into a truly unique pleasure, sport, or full-time vanlife vehicle. We’ll help.
Once you know your options and are 75%+ certain about what you want in your van, fill out our Conversion Worksheet. We’ll set up a time to talk on the phone about design ideas and price estimates. Here’s an overview of how the process works. We look forward to hearing about your project!
Not yet sure what you want? Tell us about your project ideas and we’ll send you relevent suggestions and resources.
Meet Our Team
My love of building and mechanics began decades ago with brake jobs at age 10. I wired my first house at 13 with my dad, then became the high schooler who upgraded everyone’s stereo systems. Levity Vans was born 4 years ago when I saw my uncle’s empty Transit van and thought: “I could do so many customizations to make that truly unique!” I’m happy to help people’s travel dreams come true.
Our first two-week road trip in a converted ProMaster got me hooked on vanlife travel with kids. The freedom, sense of opportunity, and comfort of being able to go anywhere, anytime inspire me to support Jimmy’s vision of Levity Vans. Follow us on Instagram to see my handiwork and to share your travel photos. One step closer to adventure!