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Free 400-Watt Solar Plans (For #Vanlife)


Click here to download the 400 Watt Solar System Diagram

A 400 Watt solar system is by far the most common van set up on the road today. We personally have been using our 400 Watt system with DC-DC charging for about 3 years now.

With our system we’re able to run a Maxxairfan, a small DC Refridgerator, LED lights, Cellphones, Laptops, induction cooktop, diesel heater, and a water pump for the kitchen. During sunny weather, we do all of our cooking with induction.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $1200 for this size solar system without the cost of batteries. Your exact cost will depend on where you source your equipment.

Components List

Main Components

Solar Array

Battery Bank

Everything else

For everything else needed to complete your project, please visit our Installation Components Page. There you’ll find all of the fuses, breakers, busbars, wires and tools you’ll need for this project.

Installation Guide

For detailed instructions on how to build and install this system, please read our Solar System Installation Guide.

Component Information

Power Inverter

A power Inverter converts DC electricity (from your batteries) into AC electricity. AC electricity is used to power typical household appliances. If you don’t plan to use household appliances, then you won’t need to install a power inverter.

This design uses a 1500 Watt Power Inverter, but feel free to use a smaller inverter or skip the inverter altogether if you don’t need to power A/C devices. If you wish to install a larger inverter, you’ll need to recalculate your cable and fuse sizes. Read our Guide to Wire Selection or Guide to Fuse Selection.

If you plan to plug in at a campground, we recommend installing this Inverter/Charger. Inverter/Chargers have a built-in battery charger and transfer switch, which allows you to plug into campground poles or normal household outlets.

DC-DC Charger

A DC-DC Charger let’s you generate power on demand, whenever you’re engine is running. So if you do alot of driving or you’re planning to do winter vanlife and you want a backup charging method, do yourself a favor and install a DC-DC Charger.

Solar Charge Controller

We recommend installing the Victron 100|30 MPPT Solar Charge Controller for this solar system. You can however, choose any charge controller you want as long as it’s specifications meet or exceed the Victron 100|30.

Solar Panels

This design uses two 200 Watt Solar Panels. These are “12 Volt” solar panels, which have a Voc of around 20 Volt, plus or minus a few volts. Check the back of your panels for a Voc rating, make sure it falls between 16 to 24 volt. Anything higher is not compatible with this design.

The solar panels are to be wired in series for this design. If you wish to wire them in parallel you’ll need to fuse each panel accordingly and recalculate solar cable sizes. Read more about When to Wire Solar Panels in Series or Parallel here.

Other Useful Resources

Guide to Wire Size Selection Learn to size your wires the uncomplicated way. Learn more…
Guide to Fuse Size Selection Fuses protect your investment. Learn how to size them quickly and easily. Learn more…
Installation Components Everything needed to complete your Solar Project. Learn more…

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