Hey all you Wayfarians!
Today we’re going to talk about power. Here at Wayfarer Vans we get asked frequently if we provide any sort of electrical or solar, and our typical response is in the form of another question. We ask, “Well, what is it that you’re trying to power?” and about 90% of you usually answer us with the basics – you’re thinking about a fridge, you want some LED’s or some sort of lighting, maybe you want to run your vent fan off an alternative power source (though we recommend wiring that directly into the van) and you have some small electronics that you want to keep charged - phones, watches, camera batteries, etc.
So, what if we were to tell you that you don’t need solar to keep all of those things running? Furthermore, what if we were to tell you that not only do you not need solar, but what we suggest will keep all of those things running and charged and still leave you with enough extra power to use for whatever unforeseen needs you may have in the future? Staying true to our philosophy of simple plug-n-play - we have a great recommendation for you.
To accomplish those power needs, we recommend the Yeti 1400, which is a portable power station made by Goal Zero. Right out of the box this thing is ready to go and typically comes with a charge of 90% or above. Without any assistance the Yeti 1400 will keep a Dometic CFX 40 fridge cold for 5-6 days; add in a few other amenities such as laptops, LED lights, cameras and phones and it might drop the duration of the battery life down to 4 days. But what if you’re traveling around and you’re gone for more than 4 or 5 days? Well, what’s also great about the 1400, or any Goal Zero portable power station, is that you can buy a 12v adapter cable from Goal Zero that plugs directly into the 12v of the van and will charge the battery as you drive!
If you’re like us, you don’t tend to stay put long. Once you make it to your destination, you’re still moving around. You may take your van to run into town, use it to explore some more remote places in the area or take it somewhere else for a change of scenery. Or, you may be in one location for a few days then take a much longer drive to get to the next destination. Either way, you’re probably not stationary for more than 1-2 days and those little excursions add up to more driving time than you think, which equates to time that the van is running and charging your battery.
For example, we took a 4.5-day trip down to Moab, Utah. When we arrived to Moab, we found a nice camp spot to settle into, which we used as a jumping off point for other adventures. From that location, we did a little bit of mountain biking and hiking but also drove around sight-seeing. Exploring Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, heading into Moab for some last-minute items, a quick shower, and venturing to some farther corners of the area in search of mountain bike trails. All during this time we were running our Dometic fridge, LED lights and charging various small electronics. And since we averaged about an hour or two of driving each day, we could keep the Yeti 1400 charged between 75%-90%. Then on the longer drive home, it charged from 80% back up to 100%. So, if you were to anticipate losing 4-5% a day with heavy use and not much driving, then we’re so bold to say that you could go probably go on a 20 day trip without the use of solar. However, sprinkle in a few days of 5+ hours of driving and you’ll have that battery completely topped off again.
So, if you’ve thought about solar and its left your head spinning or you don’t want to spend all money to permanently alter your van, installing solar panels, running the wiring and then finding out that it’s not something you really need, then we recommend giving this system a shot. The Yeti 1400 may come off as a bit pricey (about $1,899) however for the simplicity of it we feel the price tag is well worth it. It’s truly modular, taking it in and out of your van as you please. Whereas a home build or custom system will permanently bake everything into the van, not allowing you to use the battery power elsewhere if you choose – and costing about the same price if you had someone build you a system.
With the 12v adapter cable and maybe an hour of driving each day, or a couple of hours every few days, we can confidently say that the Yeti 1400 will be more than sufficient for extended trips without making you wonder if your food has spoiled because the fridge isn’t staying cold. Lastly, this is a great starting solution (though we feel it’s the ultimate beginning-to-end solution) and if you get out there and use your van for a year or so and find out that you actually do need solar - well Goal Zero also offers some great briefcase panel options. Or you can always install hard panels on your van, which can plug directly into the 1400, that’s the beauty of your modular Wayfarer Van.