If you’re willing to get to grips with the nomadic lifestyle and hit the road in a self-made campervan, you need to make sure you incorporate some essential campervan tech.
Once you’ve determined your budget, purchased a van, and planned your campervan layout, you need to choose what features you want to install. There are a lot of tempting gadgets on the market, but it’s important to know which technology is really going to benefit your van life journey.
To help you decide what you need, here are seven essential campervan tech features to install in your van.
1. Solar Panels: Your Free Energy Source
If you’re planning on running a self-sustaining campervan, you need a source of power. Installing solar panels is arguably an essential campervan tech feature as it will provide you with a renewable, efficient and free source of energy that you can use to power everything in your van.
Before you buy your solar panels, you need to calculate how much electricity you need. Buying too few solar panels will not provide enough energy, and will end up being a waste of money. You can use an online solar power calculator to find out how much solar power you need. You’ll also need to learn what Ohm’s law is and how to use it to calculate how many watts you need to power all of your campervan equipment.
Before making your purchase it is worth spending time learning about the different types of solar panels to find out which one will best suit your needs. You will also need a solar charge controller to control the voltage output of your solar panels. You can learn more about solar charge controllers in our expert guide on the key components of an off-grid solar power system.
2. Leisure Battery: Convert solar energy into electricity
Your solar panels are useless without a means to store electricity, which is why you need a holiday battery.
A holiday battery is an essential piece of campervan technology as it will convert the energy from your solar panels into usable power that can run your campervan equipment. Vacation batteries are designed to provide a steady release of power over long periods of time, which is very beneficial when the sun won’t be out to play.
For more advice on choosing the right holiday battery, see the Camping and Caravanning Club’s expert guide.
3. Split Charge Relay: Your back-up on cloudy days
A split charge relay is an essential campervan tech feature to include in your van build because it serves as a backup when your solar panels cannot receive enough sunlight energy (i.e. on cloudy days).
The split charge relay will create a closed circuit between your engine battery and leisure battery. This means that the engine battery will charge the leisure battery, but only when optimum energy is available. (In other words, you will not drain your vehicle battery when you use a split charge relay).
Arguably, you could forgo the solar panel system altogether and rely on your vehicle battery to charge your leisure battery via a split charge relay.
Split charge relays are widely available to buy online – you just need to make sure you select the right split charge relay for your battery first.
4. Lights: Light up your van at night
Light is an essential part of campervan technology, especially when it comes to wild camping. You need a source of light for your evening activities, such as cooking and reading.
You should spend some time researching the best type of lighting for your campervan, but there are some basic considerations you can consider first.
In choosing the right lighting system for your campervan it is important to take into account your power supply and efficiency as well as the purpose of your lighting.
5. USB socket: easy for all devices
Almost all of our equipment can be connected and charged via a USB socket, which is why installing a USB outlet in your campervan is essential.
You need to think carefully about the placement of your USB sockets, as well as how many you want to install. If you need to charge your phone or smartwatch overnight, it is recommended that you install a USB socket in the bedroom area. Having additional charging points in the living room and kitchen can also be beneficial.