Common Van Electrical Components Questions Answered


Electrical Experts for Campervans at Off Highway Van
Electrical Expertise from OHV

Electrical systems are easily one of the most complex parts of a custom van build. If you’ve been considering starting your own custom van, you’ve probably run into the electrical language barrier that so many have discovered. We believe it’s important for our customers to understand these terms so they can make educated decisions about what they need and how it works. Below is a general overview of some important electrical components and upgrades we offer, such as inverters, batteries, and our onboard lithium generator kit.



2000W/3000W Inverter


The inverter really does one thing and that’s convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). In other words, it converts electrical energy to a usable current. But what’s the difference between a 2000W and 3000W inverter?


To explain the difference, it may be helpful to think of electricity like water. Inverters act like the pipes that water travels through. A larger pipe means greater output/capacity and in turn, more power or wattage. In our builds, 2000Ws is enough to power each of your appliances one at a time. For example, our induction cooktops use 1800W and our microwaves are 700W. When used simultaneously, those appliances exceed 2000W.


Electrical Experts for Campervans at Off Highway Van
Powerful Inverters installed by Off Highway Van

A 3000W inverter comes with greater capacity, powering multiple appliances at the same time. This becomes more important to consider as you add more passengers to your trip. One person may want to reheat some leftovers while the other is trying to get coffee started. A larger inverter can help avoid this kind of inconvenience and keep passengers happy.



AGM and Lithium Batteries


Lithium Battery Energy for Ultimate Off-Grid Van Life by Off Highway Van
Lion Energy is trusted by OHV for our Lithium Battery Neeeds.

All of our builds start with a 2.5 kWh AGM battery pack (2 batteries) which can be upgraded to another AGM pack or swapped for all lithium batteries. The difference, simply put, is that lithium batteries use better technology making them more efficient and longer lasting. But there are important differences to be aware of as you begin your build.


The main difference has to do with something called “depth of discharge” which refers to how efficiently a battery supplies energy as charge decreases/as it’s used. Lithium batteries consistently deliver about 95% of their capacity without a significant change in voltage, whereas AGMs voltage begins to quickly taper off after they reach about 75% capacity. Lithium batteries are like an endurance runner who maintains a consistent, powerful pace throughout the race; AGMs are more like the sprinter runner who tires and slows down only after the first leg.


After all that it may sound like AGMs are a waste, but this isn’t true. They are a great option for the more conservative/essentialist build. Our base builds supply you with an efficient and basic system which AGMs are more than capable of powering. They are also a much less expensive option, saving you money on build cost. However, if you plan on using a lot of power or need upgrades like air conditioning, lithium is a must have. Not only do these batteries charge faster, but they also produce an efficient output through each cycle/use. Their long-lasting lifespan and stable output ensure plenty of power and gives travelers peace of mind. Check out one of our trusted partners, Lion Energy , for more information on the lithium batteries we install in our builds.



On-Board Lithium Generator Kit


Upgrades to batteries and inverters are a great start to a more comfortable and capable build. Without an efficient recharging setup, however, you underutilize your electrical system. Our onboard lithium generator kit maximizes your energy use by delivering faster and efficient recharging which in turn provides constant power and greater comfort. The kit includes 5kWh of lithium batteries, a 3.6 kW auxiliary alternator, and a charge controller/protector.

The Ultimate Van Life Off-Grid Setup from Off Highway Van
An Off-Grid Setup with Off Highway Van

Because batteries act as the reservoir for potential energy, some think that more power means more batteries, but this isn’t necessarily true. Rather than taking up space with more batteries, an auxiliary alternator makes use of the batteries you already have by restoring them quickly and safely to full capacity (4-6 times faster than the Mercedes-Benz stock alternator to be exact). To put things in perspective, if you drain your batteries down to about 50%, letting the van idle for just one hour will safely restore your batteries to a full charge. The auxiliary alternator is also set up in such a way that you can continue using power while recharging. When you combine that with 180W solar panels included in each of our builds (We provide options for more solar if needed too), you get an extremely efficient power system.


If you're anything like us, this is a great option for dog lovers. Because some locations don't allow animals, you can hit the trails knowing your pets will stay comfortable and cool with hours of air conditioning. Or maybe you spend most of your time off-grid and need a robust and ready power supply. Whatever type of traveler you are, the onboard lithium generator kit provides greater comfort and abundant power.



Start Building


We believe in making custom vans as efficient and user-friendly as possible. So, when it comes to power, we want to make sure you can easily use what you need anytime, anywhere. Additionally, we want our customers to understand the details of their vans and the thought behind our engineering process. If you have any questions about features in your build, don’t hesitate to reach out - we’re happy to help. Reach out to us here for more information.