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450 Watt Van Solar Power Setup

This guide for a basic 450 watt solar setup is good as a template for planning your electrical system. It covers the parts and acts as a visual reference for how things are connected. For important information on calculating electricity and individual component choices, explore our electrical page. In particular, read our post on wiring your campervan before purchasing anything. Just like baking a cake, it’s good practice to be familiar with all of the steps before diving in.

450 Watts is enough to power small electronics such as laptops and cell phones as well as larger items such as TV’s, refrigerators, vent fans and possibly an induction cooktop. Keep in mind that if you plan on wiring in an alternator or generator the system layout changes a bit. It’s better to plan for them at the beginning than try to add them in later.

Electricity is a serious task to take on. There are many examples of things online that “can” be done but should not, so consume Youtube instructions and articles such as this one with caution. It is always a good idea to consult with experts before you buy expensive parts to make sure the way you are planning on using it will be safe.

Want a different amount of solar? We also have guides on a 100 Watt solar system and a 200 Watt solar system.

400W Solar Installation Parts*SizeQuantity
Monocrystalline Solar Panel150 Watt3
Solar Panel Roof Mounting Z-Rack-Optional (3)
Solar Panel Adjustable Tilt Mount-Optional (3)
MPPT Charge Controller60A1
AGM Deep Cycle Battery150AH2
Pure Sine Inverter1000W1
12 Way Fuse Block (bus bar included)-1
Bus Bar-1
Battery Terminal Connectors-2
Electrical Wire Crimp Connector Assortment Kit-1
Fuse Holder80A2
Fuse Holder100A1
Battery Connect Cables12in3

*Not included are the wiring and small fuses needed as those vary between installs and can be bought at a hardware store.

400 Watt solar panel setup guide

Total Cost of a DIY 450 Watt Solar Panel Kit:

When choosing to buy just the basics, you can expect to spend around $2000 on a 450 Watt solar kit including everything except the wires themselves (this can vary depending on how much wire and how many devices you’re using).

Alternatively, a Goal Zero Yeti kit can be purchased and includes everything except the solar panel mounting hardware. This would be the equivalent of a 100Watt solar suitcase paired with a 100Ah AGM battery and 1200 Watt inverter. Our estimate that the DIY pieces separately for this would be easily under $1000.

DIY wiring guide for a 450 watt solar panel system. Perfect kit for a campervan build! I want this on my own van build! Perfect solar power setup of #vanlife
This Post Has 26 Comments
  1. Thank you. This information is so helpful. I’m starting handy man service out of my van.
    So I need to run equipment from the van. I will tell me friend’s about this also.
    Great information.

  2. I had a very similar setup on our boat. We ended up with LiFePo battery of 500AH. Only problem I had was noted by you when you mentioned that the MPPT controller had to be customized to charge LiFePo batteries. The engine charger took care of it when the battery finally needed to be topped up properly.
    Your poster *sub note shows a battery bank of 3000 Ah and I believe you may have intended 300 Ah.
    I hope to build a new system for our fifth wheel, but that is not a priority at this time.

  3. Hi, Awesome source of information, love the diagram. I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed trying to plan out my own set up so I’m glad I found this page haha. I am planning to hook up the cars alternator so it charges when I drive. Where would that fit into this set up?

  4. Ever thought of writing a book? I’d buy a copy and I’m sure many others would as well. Jeff and Rhiannon’s comments are spot on; awesome source of helpful information.

  5. I think the battery wired in series specs are incorrect. You state that adding two 6 volt 300 AH batteries in series will make one 12 v 3000AH. You have one two many zeros.

  6. unusable….. help to make 400w of load, runs 24hours, sun production timing 10 hours, batteries should full in 10 hours and load will constantly run 24 hours day and night. during day time, load will run as well as batteries may full to provide 14 hours of backup during night to consume 400w of load..

    anyone ????

    1. Vrai inutile d avoir un tonneau de vin si personne ne boit le solaire à besoin d être utilisé utilisé par ciel d hiver il faut 400w l été divisé par 2 de plus trop chaud il diminue sa puissance de charge

  7. great info. looking to follow this info. do you have instructions for how to add a portable generator into the equation. thanks again.

    1. Pour le froid et période temps sombre il faut plus frigo à compression plus télé lumière recharge d appareils si le vent est dans le secteur une éolienne fera affaire j ai cette installation mixte sur mon camping car

  8. Good guide. One thing you omitted that a lot of RV solar folks HIGHLY recommend is a battery monitor. These usually have a shunt that goes between the battery and all the loads to measure current in and out of the battery. The Bogart Trimetric 2030 is highly regarded, and Victron also has a few models.

    1. Chas-

      I haven’t review this one in awhile! Yes, for the specs listed, a 40A CC will work fine. We originally wrote the article for a 400-600W setup, and I didn’t catch that we upsized the CC for this.

    1. Doyle-

      Alternator can be wired using a battery isolator, or even better, one of the B2B charger options. A battery isolator connects your whole system to the vehcile’s built in electrical system and is a cheap, effective way to get alternator charge. A B2B charger is a bit more pricey, but also much better in the long term for battery health. Both systems can be installed right along side of your solar power (with the exception of the CTEK B2B stuff which replaces a charge controller as well).

  9. Hmm. I may just be confused, but doesn’t this diagram show the PANELS to be wired in PARALLEL, not SERIES? Thanks for the help!

    1. Finally, why is it necessary to ground the auxiliary battery to both the chassis and the grounding block? Thank you. Again, thank you for your help and awesome diagram 🙂

      1. It’s a small safety measure for the system and there are two schools of thought: First, I want to note that many people (including professionals) don’t ground the auxiliary battery and create what’s called a “floating system” in the van. This works if you’re not using a battery isolator, and the reasons for doing this are:
        1) Less potential corrosion in chassis connection bolts (electricity causes corrosion in mating surfaces). This is a long term effect and won’t be noticed unless you are in constantly wet or humid conditions for 10+ years at a time. If you run return (-) wires from all of your components, this effect is reduced even more because very little electricity will be running through the chassis bolts.

        2) Grounding to the chassis can cause electrical interference in some electronics. I’ve never experienced this so I don’t know the conditions: I think it has to be older vehicles’ radios and I think some CB radio equipment can be disturbed by it. This is what I’ve read, but grounding to chassis is so common that I think the issues would be better documented if there were any problems with drive-ability, etc.

        Ok, so those are the reasons to *not* ground the chassis. The reasons we draw it with a chassis ground are:
        1) If you’re installing a battery isolator/relay, it’s necessary to charge the auxiliary battery with the alternator as the alternator is chassis-grounded.
        2) By not having a floating system, you reduce the danger of having a short between electrified components (inverter, sink pump, etc) and the chassis. Again, I’m not entirely sure what scenarios this can come up in because the event is quite rare, but it has been explained to me on the electrical forums that it is a safety measure for proper fusing. For smaller systems with no large electrical components, it might not ever happen.

        So, in short, it’s not necessary in all scenarios, just our recommendation. We’ve seen professionals do it both ways in identical builds, so the pros/cons are fairly minimal.

    2. These panels are drawn as wired in series. If you look, one wire from each panel is connected directly to a wire in the next panel in a long string. If it were drawn in parallel, then the (+) wires from each panel would all be combined in one junction, and all of the (-) wires would be combined in another. I think you’re right, the colors might be throwing you off. Having a red wire come off from each panel might make more sense.

      In the real world, all of the wires are black, and they have female and male connectors that will only connect as it is drawn. You cannot connect (+) to (+) directly without a combiner, so attaching panels to each other will automatically be wired in series.

  10. Dans pièces d’installations Combien me coûterait l’ensemble tel que décrit. Si je pourrais les commander ? Je pourrais avoir un électricien pour me connecter.

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