We love going off-grid in our motorhome, the freedom to park in beautiful nature spots where we may have the whole place to ourselves is one of our favourite things about travelling in our motorhome.
Are you looking to start staying off grid in your campervan or motorhome and you’re wondering what changes you may need to make to be more self-sufficient?
Off grid systems enable owners to travel and stay in the wild while enjoying all the comfort they normally have at home. Whether you are looking for a full-time solution or just powering up your motorhome for a weekend getaway, an off-grid system can be tailored to meet your individual needs.
If this sounds like something you’re after, keep reading to find out more…
What does off grid mean?
An off-grid camper van is one that doesn’t rely on mains electricity for all its power.
Instead, it has its own sources of power so it can stay independent from the main utilities.
This means you can stay anywhere you like (within reason of course) without campsite restrictions, get into nature, and the best thing about these off-grid spots is that they’re usually free. If you’re travelling on a budget like we are, then staying off grid in your motorhome or campervan will be essential to your travels.
Off grid systems typically require minimal setup and can provide you with the power you need, no matter where you are. The system is powered by solar energy and includes a battery bank to store excess energy that you can use as needed. If additional energy is needed, small power banks can easily be added on.
These systems are typically highly efficient and can provide you with a reliable source of energy, no matter your location. Your system will be designed to meet your individual needs, so you’ll have access to the power you need regardless of where you’re at. This means that you won’t have to worry about running out of power while camping and can rest easy knowing your system is providing you with all the power you need.
We have travelled all over the UK and Europe and have often been off grid, and we have found this is the best way to travel. Obviously, this is not the case for everyone, and some people prefer the comfort of being on a campsite, but for us, we love to be off grid.
First Step is How Much Power Will You Need
One of the first things you need to consider is how much power you will need, as this is really important for being off grid.
Try to calculate how much power you will use by thinking about what devices you may be using for e.g., we work in our van, so we often have two laptops charging and cameras charging which requires a lot of power.
We travel full time in our motorhome at the moment, so we need to be using the power pretty much all the time.
If you’re only going to be going on holidays or short trips in your motorhome or camper and not living in it like we do, then you may not need as much power as what we do.
There is no straight answer to how much power someone may need, it comes down to thinking about what appliances you’re going to be using, and how much time you’re going to be spending in your van to consider how much power you may need.
You can use this formula to try and work this out –
Step 1 – You can find out how much energy a device consumes by multiplying its wattage by the amount of time it is in use. Let’s say you use a 125-watt TV for three hours per day. Using 375 watt-hours per day as the result of multiplying the wattage by the time used, we can determine how much energy a 125-watt TV uses.
125 watts X 3 hours =
375 watt-hours per day
Step 2 – However, electricity is measured in kilowatt hours on your electricity bill. Since we know that 1 kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts, calculating how many kWh a particular device uses is as simple as dividing by 1,000.
375 watt-hours per day / 1000 =
0.375 kWh per day
Swapping out Electric for Gas
Having a combination of appliances that can run off electricity and gas is a great way to ensure that you can stay off grid for longer.
For example, our fridge can run off gas, we can use gas to cook with and our boiler runs on gas, and this means that we are able to split our energy consumption between gas and electricity, meaning that we can try and make them both last as long as possible.
We have an LPG refillable gas system in our motorhome which is a great cost-effective way of having gas in your motorhome.
If you’d like to know more about LPG gas systems, then we have written a blog post with more information – LPG Refillable Gas Bottles – Gaslow System for Motorhomes and Campervans
Making a campervan or motorhome off-grid
If you already own a motorhome or campervan and you’re wanting to make changes to it to make being off-grid possible, then here’s some of the things you’ll need to consider.
Inverter – An inverter is a device that you may need so that you can use your electronic devices and appliances that are not 12v when you’re not plugged into mains. If you plan to use devices that are not 12v, such as laptop chargers, say if you’re going to be working whilst you’re on the road like we do, then we would highly recommend getting an inverter.
This really helps you to be off grid more.
If you’d like to know more about inverters, then we have a separate blog post with lots of extra information – Best Campervan & Motorhome Inverters
Solar Panels – Solar panels are a great investment if you’re wanting to go off grid, especially if you’re going to be travelling in the summer or to warm, sunny countries. Solar panels are energy saving and money saving, just to name a couple of the benefits.
If you’d like to know more about solar panels for motorhomes and campers, then we have a blog post with lots more information – Motorhome Solar Panels – Everything You Need To Know
and if you’re wondering how much solar power you may need to go off grid, we also have another blog post in which we have contacted van life Youtubers to find out more about their solar power set up – How Much Solar Do I Need In My Motorhome / Campervan?
Batteries – If you’re wanting to go off grid in your motorhome then your battery set up will be really important, especially if you work on the road or use a lot of electrical devices and appliances. You will need as much battery power as you can get to ensure that you don’t run into any difficulties when you’re in a remote location.
If you’d like to know more about the best battery set up, then we have a blog post where you can find out more – Leisure Battery For Campervans, Motorhomes And Caravans
Portable Power Station – As well as the above, a portable power station is a fantastic investment to take your motorhome off grid. For us, we rely on ours a lot, especially when the weather is bad and we’re not getting any solar power.
If you’re planning to go off grid all year round and not just in the summer, then you may also want to consider one of these as they are there to give you an amazing back-up source of power, or even in some cases, they can even become one of your main sources of power. They also allow you to have power wherever you are in your van, as they are portable, as well as outside.
We have a blog post about the best portable power stations if you would like to know more – 10 Best Camping Portable Power Stations In 2022
Why buy an off grid camper van?
There are many reasons why you might want to buy an off-grid camper van. Perhaps you want the freedom to go on longer adventures, or the flexibility to stay at free nature spots rather than having to pay for campsites.
You may also want to avoid having to rely on public utilities or even have a source of power when the grid is down or when you’re in a remote location.
How to find an off grid camper van
One of the best places to start when you’re looking for an off-grid camper van is to visit a van show. Many vans that are ready to go off grid will be at these events – so you can get hands-on and see what’s out there.
Another great place to check is the Internet. Because you’re looking for a product that’s a bit more niche, van showrooms and websites aren’t likely to be your first port of call.
Instead, you’ll want to look at forums, social media groups and places like Gumtree to find the right off grid camper van for you. You can also ask your friends and family if they know anyone who’s selling one of these vehicles.
Tips for buying an off grid camper van
If you’re buying a van that’s off grid, make sure you test out the systems fully before you buy it.
This includes everything from the solar panel to the back-up power supply. If a seller isn’t willing to let you do this, then walk away.
You don’t want to buy a van that’s not ready to go off grid straight away or that isn’t working properly.
You should also make sure that the van you’re buying has a tow bar. Even if you don’t have a car to tow it behind, you’ll need this to carry the van around easily.
If you plan to do a lot of long journeys, then you might want to buy a dual-purpose van. These have been designed to be both street legal and capable of going off-road with ease.
Consider the van’s age. Off grid vans are typically bought by people who plan to keep them for a long time – so you may want to make sure that you’re buying a van that’s fairly new. This will help you to avoid any of the bugs that come with owning an older van.
Find out how easy it is to fix things on the van. This is especially important if you’re likely to be out of the country for a long time. If you get stuck, you want to be able to fix things yourself – or know that you can trust others in your van to do so.
Where to find information about off grid motorhomes and campers
If you want to find out more about off grid camper vans, you can start by visiting forums like The Camper Van Conversion Forum. This website is a great place to connect with other people who are into van life and learn more about everything to do with off grid camper vans.
You can also try searching for blogs and articles on the same topic or watching YouTube videos. Again, you can find these by searching online. If you want to meet people who own off grid camper vans in person, you can join a club. These groups will put you in touch with people in your area who own and use these vehicles.
And it’s always a good idea to consult with experts in the field when installing an off-grid system. A qualified technician will be able to help you select the components that are best suited for your motorhome and provide you with the expertise needed to ensure a successful installation. So, make sure to do your research and get the help you need in order to maximise the benefits of your off-grid system!
The benefits of owning an off grid camper Van
You will be able to save money by staying at free park-ups rather than relying on campsites. This also means that you can get into nature a bit more, find a nice park-up right in the forest or right next to a lake or a beach.
You also won’t have to worry about the rising cost of energy. This can often put people off purchasing a van that’s connected to mains gas or electricity. You’ll be able to avoid paying for electricity and gas at all. This means that you won’t have to worry about the van’s running costs, and you can use the van for free for as long as you like.
Overall, motorhome off grid systems are extremely beneficial for those who enjoy living on the go. These systems provide an efficient way to access energy regardless of where you’re located, giving you the freedom to travel and explore without worrying about your power needs. With the right setup, you can enjoy all the comforts of home wherever you go.
As you can see, owning an off-grid camper van is a great choice for anyone who wants the freedom to go off the grid whenever they please.
By investing in an off-grid system, you can enjoy all the comforts of home while traveling and exploring the great outdoors. With this system, you can stay powered up and ready for any adventure that comes your way!
Being off grid can save you money but also can get you out into nature more, increase your freedom and enhance your van life travels. The benefits of being off grid are endless in our opinion, and we wouldn’t be able to do van life without being able to off grid.
Keep up with our full time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! –https://pin.it/770Cq1Q
I have always wanted to travel and luckily I always got to travel to some amazing countries while I was growing up with my family and this really encouraged me to continue this and get out into the world on my own when I was older.
My goal growing up was really to see as much of the world as I could, but then I started going to work and really concentrating on my career and travel took a back seat. I still tried to get away a few times a year but I always knew there was an end goal which was to travel as much as possible.
So I got my head down and worked as hard as I could as an e-commerce manager. I have always been techy, I love computers and websites, so that’s where it gave me the idea to start this blog and also have my own web design agency. If you want to check it out or need any help then please take a look rrwebdesign.co.uk (shameless plug there)
But after covid, we both knew this was now the right time to take the leap and go and see the world after being trapped inside our house and working from home for a couple of years. We realised more than ever that you only get one life and you really need to make the most of it and do what you love!