Hello! My husband and I have access to roughly 5 acres of land and we would like to move there soon. We have a van which we will be living out of, no problem there.
We have a (thus far) solid plan for meeting all our needs with the sole exceptions of a method for charging two cellphones and (occasionally) a "nutribullet" blender. My husband doesn't want to use the vans battery to charge the cellphones because it is apparently very bad for some part of the van .__. (I know nothing about anything to do with the function of vehicles).
I am wondering what our options are in the way of charging those electronics. The land that we would like to move to did have power hook-ups but that was in the house that burned down many years ago and I really don't want to use city-power to charge the cell-phones and nutribullet. Do you have any ideas on refrigeration? ...only "needed" through the summer because we live in NC and winters are cold enough for us to go with out it. My husband would love to use solar panels to meet those needs until we throw out the phones but he and I don't know where to begin with any of that. Our monetary allowance toward a "reliable" power-source is 300.00-ish/mo but is somewhat flexible.
As you can see, my knowledge with all of this sort of stuff is very limited so I am eager to hear any suggestions/tips/tricks of the trade.
Charging cellphones is a very small problem, as there are plenty of solar options. The small cheap stand-alone solar chargers are not very good though so I would not recommend those. I live off-grid in the UK and for the last 2 years have been charging 2 cellphones from an old car battery that is permanently hooked to a 4 watt solar charger. You can buy a clip-on cigarette lighter socket to attach to the battery, and car chargers for phones etc for very little money from Ebay or elsewhere. (this charging set -up of mine lives in the corner of a polythene tunnel(hoop) greenhouse to keep it dry.
To charge larger items like your blender, You'll probably need a more powerful solar panel, and probably an inverter to give you mains power from your battery(you may also need more batteries, but I'm not familiar with your blender so cannot advise about that) Once again, inverters can be bought online for a minimal amount of cash.
Whatever, you should be able to do those things easily within your budget.
Refrigeration is a more difficult problem so I'll leave someone else to hopefully contribute there.
Good luck, and I'm sure you'll enjoy your land.
Oliver's setup would work, if you upsize the panel a little (You can get a 10 watt panel for the price as a 4 if you shop well) and add a small inverter. You should be able to do it for about 300, but I would spend a little more to get 2 golf cart batteries instead of just a single deep cycle marine battery. They are just better.
Run it during the day when you are making plenty of power. You would need more solar panels for this, but not too bad money wise. Put the ice in a high grade cooler and you are good for a fridge.
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I am a big fan of solar energy so I would suggest you invest in 2-3 solar panels, a battery and an inverter. These items will cost about $500 - $600 in total. I am running my fridge for more than a year on just 2 solar panels and I also own a nutribullet
Since cellphones consume very little energy and I assume you are running the blender less than 5 minutes a day this is an easy off-grid solution.
Go green, reduce your energy footprint and spread the idea of distributed energy production
This depends on how often you run the van. You should be able to charge phones several times a day and even supply constant power during the day to phones without issue so long as you run a meaningful amount of time occasionally.
A power system similar to an rv would be great and all you need is a battery and an isolator. You could simply upgrade the starting battery and be fine. As long as you are already using the van as transport daily and your charging and battery system are good, phones and a smoothie should be ok.
There are automatic switches for load control that disconnect power to protect reserve power for starting rv/marine/utility.
All of these tacts would easily take solar input, it just depends on if you want power independent of the van at base-camp or if the van is base-camp and stays put like a parked rv with run-about/other vehicle.
No doubt a pv panel is probably the best solution for long term power provision. As an appliance/equipment investment in your homestead, its hard to beat and will likely outlast all but durable tools and the best buildings.
For $300-$500 you could have a 340 or so watt system; battery, control, panel, mount, wire, fuses, made of good parts. Even less of you simply add 50 or 100 watts solar and a controller to your van.
You can get 100w and smaller for about the same money, so if budget and mounting location allows, 150w-250w is the smallest at a cost effective price. Most any simple pwm charge controller will handle either of these panels and the battery will be ok if your controller is sized to not exceed max amps charge.
Trucker and rv-marine appliance suppliers and even truck stops have DC appliances of all sorts, and smoothie blenders are popular, so unless you are loyal to your nutri-bullet or need ac power for other loads, you could easily get by with no inverter.
The vortex blenders are great! I even used ours to grind coffee in a pinch. Pretty rough job and hard on the blender, but it worked. When im lazy or its a big job, i chuck my cordless drill motor onto the crank drive of the vortex. It will smoke a bit.... but it survived! Kidding, no smoke. I stop when i smell warm gear lube.
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