But the ultimate creation for sustainability and freedom with #vanlife is the ability to run completely electric. Which Brett Belan has accomplished with his custom 1973 VW bus that runs off an electric motor powered by solar panels installed on top of the canvas pop-up roof.
In the video, Belan gives a detailed rundown of the build and it’s technical aspects. Taking about two years to being able to drive it, Belan has essentially built an entire electric vehicle that runs on the solar panels within a VW bus that he converted into a camper — not an easy feat.
“One of the challenges in doing a vehicle like this, is that there just isn’t a lot of components available,” Belan says in the video. “So we have to get kind of creative.”
The bus runs off four, 305-watt panels that tilt up to around 40-degrees for maximum charging. The top also then turns into a sleeper. The motor and transmission are also both electric, and are very easy to work on, Belan notes. And incase Belan is dealing with poor weather for solar collection, he’s also added the ability to charge on the grid as well.
The build also includes customizations by Belan like an electric-assist power steering column, vacuum-assisted braking, an induction burner for cooking, a pump sink and some quite luxurious seats.
While this all sounds amazing, the bus is still a work in progress. It currently only has a range 50 miles when traveling at lower speeds, which suits Belan’s desire for it to mostly be used as a camping mobile with his family. But Belan is planning to replace the 12 lead-acid batteries with higher-quality lithium-ion phosphate batteries.
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