We took a break from building and attended the incredible Asheville Van Life Rally. This was the first year it was hosted as an overnight (two nights) event. Dozens of van’s , trucks, tents, and various campers came and made this quite an amazing experience. We really want to send out a big thanks to Micah Pulleyn and the event team for putting on a great, well-organized rally. A big shout out, too, goes to the June Bug Retro Resort. What a lovely, hospitable spot.
We snuggled in with our buds and van conversion inspiration friends Tay and Vicki in their 2005 Sprinter that Tay converted. It even has a recording studio built inside.
We got settled fairly early but the place started to fill up. Everyone was great and eager to share experiences and ideas. Lora and I were particularly eager to see what we could learn from others and from a more extended off-the-grid camping experience. After all the work on the electrical system, I was really curious about how well our Lithium-based system would perform. So here’s the report:
We camped off the grid for 48 hours, running the fridge/freezer, lights, and occasional use of the water pump and 120V one time for cooking eggs in the Instapot. When we left today, we had 35% reserves. We drove 35 miles and the dedicated alternator brought us back to 55%. Then I plugged into an outdoor outlet with a 15A limit on charging current from the house. After 2 hours, we’re at 80%.
I’m VERY pleased at how quickly the alternator charges. If we were on an extended trip, we’d likely be able to camp off grid without solar or starting the engine to charge for about 2 days. But a short 35 mile trip boosts us up 20%. Impressive.
A couple of hundred watts of solar would gives us a bit of extra staying power on stays 2 nights or longer. We’re wired for solar, and have a controller already installed, so all we need to do is buy the panels. I’m leaning towards two rigid 100W panels that will not be attached to the van so we can move them into sunny spots while parking in the shade.
Our 100ft outdoor extension cord is specified to operate at 15A. It’s slightly warm but not hot. I left part of it coiled up and it’s predictably pretty warm. Probably ok, but I uncoiled it. It appears to be quite adequate for the load.
Plus, did I mention?…..Lots and lots of fun was had?
And with that, I’ll end the post with a pic of one of the many amazing people we met: Victoria, who has been living for the last three months in her Sprinter she beautifully converted herself.