Vancamper Help Desk

Answers to our FAQ - and support if you need it.

How do campervans get power?

Campervans can get power in several ways, including batteries, solar panels, generators, shore power or through the van's alternator.

Here's a run down of these different power options:

  1. Batteries: Most campervans have a deep-cycle battery or a bank of batteries installed to power lights, appliances, and other electrical devices. These batteries can be recharged using solar panels, the van's alternator, a generator, or by plugging into an external power source.

  2. Solar panels: Solar panels can be installed on the roof of a campervan to generate electricity from the sun. This energy can be used to power appliances and devices or recharge the van's batteries. For a portable setups, solar power generators with folding solar panel briefcases are also an option.

  3. Generator: A generator can be used to power a campervan when an external power source is not available. Generators can run on gasoline, propane, or diesel fuel and can be portable or built-in.

  4. Shore power: Shore power allows you to plug your van into a power outlet at a campsite or RV park.

  5. Alternator: The vehicle's alternator can be used to charge the battery or batteries while the vehicle is running.

Typically, most campervans combine a few different power options to cover a wider range of use cases and power needs. Solar panels + charging the batteries from the vehicle's alternator is generally the most common approach used, since it provides enough power for most use-cases and works well in off-grid situations.

If you are just getting into vanlife and are unsure about how you are going to use your van, consider buying a portable solar generator instead. These charge from the 12v outlet of your van (and via optional solar panels) and are a great low cost, plug and play solution.

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