Solar RV and lifestyle you always wanted
On the one hand our daily routine, work, lifestyle is so much dependent on electronics, on the other hand people are always seeking for free way of life. Interestingly, this opposition in fact can be harmonized if sun is invited for help and you have your RV ready to go solar.
That kind of dilemma was in a couple’s from Lithuania, Konstantinas and Raimonda, heads. Freelancers in video editing and copyrighting were looking for ways to escape daily boundaries and at the same time be able to cope with work that provides income. Thus, this adventurous young couple came with a conclusion: set up their RV with solar power to get prolonged independence and travel across Europe all year! ”The Camperheads”– this is how they call themselves since then.
“Camper is a home which can be taken with you everywhere. You can take all the things you need together with you without concerning is your luggage too big. You can also stay with your family wherever you want, thus all worries, like where to sleep and how much money you need is luckily long gone”, – said Konstantinas.
Flexible solar panels met 0.4-0.5 kWh power demand per day
I want to live like this, but how?
Such adventurous mood is really appealing to a lot of people and gets spread like a good virus! The same happened with Raimonda and Konstantinas fews years ago. They were just caught by another couple’s initiative called “Expedition happiness” from Germany. “Expedition happiness” have turned American school bus into a RV loft (can you imagine?) and travelled through North and South Americas freely.
However, while hippie-kind-of-lifestyle sounds attractive to a lot of people, not all of them decides to go for it. Let’s make it a bit easier by explaining, what steps you need to take. First, you need a camper and electricity. Most campers already have 220V systems installed, that makes life easier. But if you don’t – you have to look for alternative source of energy, a solar module for example. It is always best to think in advance – how much energy you’re going to use for your electronics. As one of “Camperheads” goals was to work and travel – they wanted to charge two laptops, mobile phones, camera and household appliances like blender. To keep them working, they needed approximately 0.4-0.5 kWh power demand per day. So, you have to make sure your chosen panels would generate it.
Then you need to consider what kind of module you are after – the rigid solar panel, which is used in solar farms and households or the customized panels which are much lighter, flexible, shock and vibration resistant. Taking into account that the first one is heavy thus its usage may result in damaging old “Camperheads” car roof, tailor made panels are built to last, can be integrated seamlessly and require almost no maintenance, the couple concluded to look for these. “Metsolar” was the one to meet their extraordinary needs. According to “Metsolar” Head of Commerce Dainius Horbačauskas, for the reasons mentioned above, flexible custom-made solar panels are number one pick for all types of RV and marine applications. And what was the most important – they generate enough power to sustain all “Camperheads” household appliances used on the ride. In this particular case, two semi-flex panels create around 0.55 kWh per day and 200 kWh a year in northern Europe. More South the number may increase up to 300 kWh.
One more important thing to consider – dream big. This is what happened with “The Camperheads” – they expressed their wish to make such off-grid van and “Metsolar” not only consulted, but also provided all what was needed for free. “We can call it as our contribution to the society. We are happy about this young couple and their dreams as well as their understanding that solar systems can be utilized in everyday life to make it better”, – said Juras Ulbikas, CEO of “Metsolar”.
To finalize, few more elements are required to make a camper completely solar – it’s charge controller, inverter and storage solution. After all these are mounted in your car, you’re free to start your voyage!
Enjoying the wilderness
Today our couple can be inspiration to others. They have travelled through 9 Europe countries already and made more than 180 stops. It may sound even more impressive, if you realize that they have been using an old Ford van made in the 90’! So you’re right, there has been plenty of life-changing experiences.
“We admire that feeling when you are constantly in motion, things change all the time, every night is a new experience as you never know if you have stopped at a good, safe spot. Also driving in a mist, clouds or snowstorm were also unforgettable and vivid moments”, – says Konstantinas.
He also tells that flexible solar modules are very handy – he’s happy as he does not need to look for cafes to charge phones, laptops or a camera. Being off grid gives you the feeling of safety and independence, he smiles.
However, there has been some things to worry about. One of the biggest challenges they had was due to the vehicle. The couple fell in love with the mountains and now always seek to be around them. Obviously, the higher – the better. But here the fundamental question takes place – is Ford going to last another uphill or not.
“Close to Iseo lake in Italy we thought that we are going to ride down to the lake – we completely lost our brakes! Or that time, when a gearbox almost blew up while driving up to hills in Austria. But when we finally “climbed up” and reached San Marino, we gave a gold medal to this car. It is simply unbreakable!”, – Konstantinas shares his most interesting stories and adds that they have gone 10 000 km all together and the car did not let them down, whereas there were some friends wondering if the couple really knows what they are up to.
Does it pay off?
If we would do in the same manner as “Camperheads” did, full energy solution for similar RV would have cost around 1200 euros. Good question to ask – is this investment worth the money and will it pay off?
Let’s make some simple calculations. “Camperheads” have gone from Lithuania to Poland, Slovenia, Czechia, Italy, Austria and Croatia so far. Based on the number of cities they have visited – 185 in total, let’s assume that they have spent only one night there and moved forward. If we agree that one night at a hostel costs around 10 EUR and at a cheaper hotel around 30 EUR per night, they would have paid from 1850 to 5550 euros only for sleeping already (of course they didn’t, as they have an awesome camper – yay!).
So, only this very simplified calculation draws a conclusion to the question: does powering RV with solar worth investment? And the answer is straightforward – the more you travel, the bigger pay off you will have!
“Camperheads” have been traveling for a several months already. They are a great example how innovative ideas can be adopted into daily life – to make it the way you actually want it! “Life is like a travel – how we manage ourselves in life’s labyrinth depends only on us. On our dreams and understanding where we should go. This travel – is an ambition to live an interesting life and to reach our goals for independence”, – concludes Konstantinas.
After having a short break from travelling here in Lithuania, “The Camperheads” can’t wait to go off on a road again – Portugal, UK, Norwegian or even Asia are on their list. Follow our blog updates and we will let you know how young couple’s journey is going on.