Our Perfect VAN LIFE SOLAR SET UP // We talked with the pros

let's get rollin why just do that all right that's embarrassing hey welcome to another frequently asked question video where we set up the camera and we answered the questions that you submit where Chris and Sarah and today we're answering a question that we get asked a ton solar a lot of y'all have asked what is our solar system like in our van and yes I think it is officially called a solar system a lot of people laugh at space a final frontier so a lot of you guys have asked what our systems like how many watts of solar we have what kind of batteries we have and we are finally answering this for y'all and the reason we've waited for so long is because we really wanted to talk to our friends am solar they're the professionals they helped put together our custom package on our van so instead of us trying to explain why we chose we chose we wanted to walk you guys around their shop and today we finally had a chance to stop by their shop in Eugene Oregon and talk to them firsthand you may see that I'm talking a lot in this video and that's just because I actually handled most of the electric in our van she's amazing not really I was actually really embarrassed when we showed a on solar RV and earlier when I put together the wires it was like oh please don't laugh at me but we did ask them was this the worst thing you've ever seen and they said no which is high praise for me I'm really excited about that so thank you guys so first things first we're gonna start off with Garrett who is the president of am solar he's an engineer and he knows everything about electronic electric whatever the word is but he's the guy for this we asked Garrett y'all's questions and at the end of video we'll tell you our entire setup on what we have in our van so stick with us Garrett answers some really great questions that some people ask some people have in us and I think you should be asking these questions we did go through am solar and by going through am solar when we say that we did do our own system but we contacted them directly and we told them hey this is everything we're gonna put into our van how many batteries do we need me what solar do we need all this kind of stuff and they said this is the package for you know and they customized it for us and by no means is this a paid endorsement this is somebody that we actually trust and we purchased from we she reached out to them to say hey could we walk our camera through your shop and show people what you guys do and they said yes come on over they're the nicest people by the way nice people and you'll find out soon enough fast customer service so before we go through the rest of the video we do have a coupon code make sure you see that in the description below and we'll say what it is at the end of the video and all of our products that we have in our solar system that you can buy online whether it's like the charge controller or the inverter or whatever those are down below so check them out to get going let's go meet Garrett [Music] these are all examples we sell it was amp and this panel right here is this is a custom panel that zamp makes only for us this is our watt panel and yeah so they're normal panel is like a 90 watt that they use in folding panels and it doesn't have this bottom row of cells so we decided to add this last row of cells to boost the voltage a little bit which works great on like air streams with their pre wire that the wire gauge is a little bit small this area here is a customer viewing area where customers can come up and monitor the status of their install without getting in the way of the installers and we have laser pointers so they can help people figure out like oh I kind of like to look up if you put the panel over there move it this way and we give some guidance like well that's a little too close to the air conditioner that's gonna be shaded you you might want to walkway here and so forth just kind of laying this out for a new system that they're building so that you take the major components you arrange them in a way that looks neat and then based on that you plan wire routes and then you stick it on a board so I'm guessing what they do that they do lay everything out actually yeah and you know they'll use like string or they'll put it on like two dry erase board and draw like paths with markers like and maybe it'd be more efficient if that was moved over here and so forth and just try and jam it all in a really tight spaces and make it a work of art you know I tell the people that you're not just assembly workers you're your artists this is artisanal energy systems and you know this this kind of thing this is somebody's house they want it to look good and they want it to function well Frank that's what we do sometimes people send me pictures and I see their negative terminal there's a battery with all kinds of wires going off of it then one wire going to their shunt you can't do that everything goes to the show that's the biggest mistake is the most annoying but you know I guess it's it's a common thing they just didn't understand it interrupts right here and in for a second that right after Garrett said this he wanted to see how we put together our system and how everything looked and we actually made that mistake and then they sat there and fixed it they put their toolbox out there and said here we'll fix it for you I am solar [Music] yeah there's a ton of bad information online I don't know what it is about the topic of solar or an energy that seems to attract crazy people but there's a lot of crazy people talking about solar and they don't have accurate information and the information changes constantly because you know a technology evolves but the advantage of working with AM solar is that our crew has been doing this for a long time founder started his business in 1987 and we've got guys on our crew I'd say there's probably four guys on the crew that have more hours working on RV power systems than anybody in the world we take what we learn and we make kits based on that we have our kits four vans divided into like five different subsystem areas so you start with solar on the roof for charging then you have alternator charging then the third kit is batteries and battery monitoring then to get power out of the batteries you have your inverter and inverter charger system then you have your DC distribution system and we've designed our system so that all of our kits mesh together you don't have to think about it you don't have to think is this going to be compatible that we make it so everything is compatible everything you need in our kits from the lugs to the heat shrink the cables the charge controllers every little thing when somebody buys from us they're buying a kit that we've tested many times other people have used in and then once a purchase is made then we can design a complete set of wiring diagrams that show all the components how they all interact with each other and then we can break it down per subsystem and then here's the order that you put it all together and then programming instructions for the various devices we provide the know-how for you you can give us a phone call we can do FaceTime you can do email whatever and as you know you've experienced you spend a lot of time talking to our support staff and it wasn't so much a mistake it was just you had a piece of equipment that was faulty and we eventually figured it out but now you've got a system that works the main things I want people to think about are what are the loads that they want to run that are absolutely essential and then what are some loads that they'd really like to be able to run and then I base my system design off of that so like if you're saying you really need to make smoothies in a blender every day then I'm gonna know that you need at least a two thousand water if you say I like to do smoothies and I don't even want to think about if there's any issue with running my microwave over my coffee pot at the same time then a 3000 watt inverter or if people want to run an air-conditioner it's always a 3000 watt inverter and I want people to also think about their budget I can design systems two ways I can get a rough idea of what your loads are and your budget maximum I can give you the most bang for your buck but a lot of people don't want to play their cards that way they just want to tell me what they want to run and see where we come in and I can give you you know a very conservative number on what it would take to power everything that you're looking to power zamp solar panels because they're made in America they're made in Bend which is like two hours away I like their quality they make specialized product for us they're dedicated to doing products specifically for RVs and bands and you know they're not cutting corners a lot of other panel manufacturers they use Asian product and I feel like it's just kind of a race to the bottom just competing on price we're not competing on price we're competing on just having it the best system that actually works if you want to compete on price and provide the level of support we do it's not going to work because you're going to be providing tech support all the time your business has been a fail but we have to just do the nicest stuff that's gonna work all the time and then you got Victor on batteries and birders and charge controllers we really like working with Victor on we feel that's top of the line we like how in your system you have all the same brand for all of those components that's that's a common way to do it it's not the only way to do it the advantage of using all Vic Tron in your case is if for some reason am solar weren't around and you've got a situation with your wig that you can't resolve the phrase you've got one throat to choke you can go to Victor on and say hey this doesn't work whereas if you had a whole bunch of mixed components they would point the finger at each other and you wouldn't get in what I think one of the main questions we get a lot is like lithium versus ATM batteries are people so doing indium batteries yeah with so I'm guessing you guys are mainly thinking about van type systems and it seems about a third of the people are still doing AGM batteries if someone's only using their van for just maybe 10 weekends a year a GM's are a good option lithium's are ideal because of their light weight and their lifespan so if someone's full-time definitely get lithium's light weight lifespan and the volume the energy density is is unbeatable with we're gonna run through this really fast tell you the components we have and then we're gonna tell you how that's working out for us so on the roof we have two 100 watt solar panels by grape we have to 160 amp our lithium ion batteries and those are in the garage and then we also have a 3000 watt inverter and that's a large inverter but we'll tell you why we have that yes we also have other smaller components like the charge controller and the battery monitors and we're not gonna tell you exactly we have the descriptions the links to all those are below so check them out we let AM solar pick those out for us we verify that those are the ones we wanted and they've been great for us we want to tell you guys how it's working out for us cuz I know that there's a lot of mixed information online as far as what solar you need to run a van and if you've seen our van which I'm sure you have by now beauty standing behind us we have a lot of stuff in our van yeah a lot we've got to IMAX we have a blender we have a electric water heater I run a hair dryer and curling iron pretty regularly when people look at our solar setup and they see that we only have two 100 watts a lot of times we get this question of like how in the world are you doing that well it's because I am solar and they know what they're doing and they said this will work and it has it really has so we have three ways that we do charge our battery one is through the solar panels the second way that we charge our batteries is through our alternator which has been a game changer we're able to drive and if you we drive maybe 30 minutes a day it charges our batteries up to 80% and it's been a game-changer yeah they're not strong enough values to really get it over that 80% mark but what it does is we have plenty of battery to run off of the third way that we can charge our batteries is through our shoreline which basically means if we get a campsite we can plug that into the outlet and charge it that way but realistically guys we don't really need to do that I think we have twice and April and it's mid-august and really those times we've decided you that it's really just because we have either a lot of dishes to do and we wanted showers in the van and if we want to run our hot water heater over and over and over and have it keep recharging the water or heating the water then it's a nice cool to plug in so we're not draining the batteries because the water here is probably our biggest power consumer in the van so you may be wondering how long can you actually go off grid in your vein you call it an off-grid vein but you guys have a kind of electrical stuff in there yeah yes we do but our van can go off grid for without running the car anything we can go off grid for at least five days and we go off grid for five days what that means is we can run anything we want in the van except really the water heater we just have to kind of sacrifice having the water here cuz the water here does zap the batteries like that so it's just if you're gonna have a smaller system and save weight in your van for not having a ton of batteries to run water heaters or whatever you want all the time it's just a sacrifice but yeah so about five days of running that's like the fridge the fan our computers charging cell phones the water pumps electric all that kind of stuff we do last a pretty good long yeah which for us is plenty of time we don't have any plans of going off grid longer than that I mean if we are like chances are gonna run out of groceries before we do yeah I mean you still need water so you still have to go out to get water yeah so and there's a common misconception that computers suck a lot of energy and actually so I guess it just depends on your computer but I do know that Apple has it on their website where you can go and look to see like your computer and your year of it and it tells you how much power it pulls so when we put together our system and I was talking to Garrett on the phone I actually sent him exactly what computer we had and those stats of it and he said okay and just plug that into this formula or whatever he did to set up our system Solar is awesome definitely add to your van if you're doing or vantur school or RV or whatever you're doing consider it it's quiet its efficient its lightweight and the solar panels himself are very inexpensive yeah yes so we actually partnered with AM solar for you guys if you're building out a van or maybe you're interested in just talking about it you can go to their website and contact them for a free quote or if you give them the coupon code let's be us five up until October 31st 2019 2019 you'll get five percent off your entire purchase which is a huge huge savings so if you are interested in that make sure you reach out the am solar and tell them we sent if you've seen our video about how much our van cost we'll link it up here somewhere you know that our solar system was very expensive it's the probably the most expensive thing in our van it is the most expensive thing in the van but it's worth it we have a high quality system and 5% off would be about four hundred and fifty dollars who would have saved if we'd have this so if you guys are considering going with somebody who knows what they're talking about and I don't mean us you go with an solar and definitely use that promo code so we're we've been on the road for over ten months now which is Wow that's amazing pretty good milestone guys we've been everywhere from Florida Keys to Arctic Circle so what do you think of our system so far it's been great there's been no complaints it's gotten us everywhere yeah we haven't any issues something I'd like to speak on about AM solar though is that they're really responsible financially for the customer which you may not hear that a lot from people who are trying to make a profit this is a business for them but when I talk to Garrett the first time I told him our budget essentially like this is it and he set us up with a really good system that um one we could run everything on he said I think this is what you guys need to run your system Brent all your electric stuff he said but the beauty of this is that you can add to it later so if we want to add one to five more batteries we could we don't think we're gonna need two we think we're really happy unless we do something major like one day get like a I don't know I don't give anything else we need yeah well if there's something big if we want to install a 50-inch TV and then we'll think about it but right now we're not going to do that so we're really happy with their setup their setups are great because you can't add later on solar panels batteries whatever they're looking out for you and their main goal not to be a sales pitch or anything yeah we're not being paid for no but their main goal is to make sure that you're happy and then maybe five years down the road you would still say yeah that is a great system and it hasn't me yeah it's been over a year since we ordered our system through a.m.

Solar and we worked them they got a lot of calls from me and Chris their customer service is on point they dealt with us which guys I was a complete newbie putting this together and they were so patient with me so when you paid them to put together your your kit you're getting wired diagrams you're getting every single wire in love which may not seem like that much money and it may not be that much money I mean copper wire isn't cheap but what you're paying for is not having to run back and forth to the store all the time like when we renovated our van we were almost half an hour from the nearest hardware store and so we couldn't just run out and they saved us trips they put everything here and said this is what you need to put together your kit and so you're getting wire diagrams reading wires lugs all the components and guys their customer service is like top-notch yeah so thank you a.m. solar for letting us just show up and throw our camera and every Nick and cranny and I don't even know how to say that so thank you thank you thank you for just being who you are and allowing us to answer these questions to these fine people on YouTube so that's it for this FAQ video if you have any questions about van life about working from the road about how sarah has amazing hair go to let's be dot us slash questions and there you can submit your question and we may answer it you

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