A Super Simple AWESOME Off Grid 12V System... Step By Step With Diagrams

Updated: Jun 16





Hey everybody, so we had a lot of comments that our last full system set up was a bit over the top for most peoples needs and to be fair it was all singing all dancing. Another complaint we had was that is looked really complicated however we are just going to put that down to people on facebook just looking at the post thumbnail rather than reading the post as we have been told by far more people how awesome and easy to to follow it was.


The set up was aimed at full time van lifers who wanted all of the luxuries of a home but in a van and we think we smashed it.


If you haven't seen it yet take a look it might be exactly the sort of thing you want for your van conversion, it is in four parts but all are available to see on our blog now. This is part one...





So we have decided to reply to the comments with a totally awesome but super simple fully off grid set up that we hope will be an awesome solution for many of you.


We hope you all find it helpful...


The first thing you are going to need to be off grid is somewhere to store your energy and for that we use a battery, for this set up we are going to recommend an AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery.


AGM batteries are perfect for Vans as they are sealed so there will be no dangerous fumes leaking into your van whilst you are sleeping at night.


This battery is quite expensive but literally one of the best AGM batteries on the market anywhere in the world, at its recommended 50% depth of discharge it will give you 1400 cycles (and probably a lot more).


Rolls S12-290AGM Deep Cycle Series 12 Volt Battery



YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE



https://ebay.us/ASzd5X



As we mentioned above these batteries are quite expensive, but they are the best AGM batteries on the market in our opinion and they store about three times more power than your average leisure battery. However if this battery is too expensive for you check this post out for a few more good options...





This battery will give you 260AH @ a 20 hour rate of discharge however don't forget that you should only discharge an AGM battery to about 50% of its capacity so in actual fact this battery will give you 130AH of useable power. Please see picture below...






Leisure batteries are very easy to install and basically they just need securing into place so they do not move when you're driving and then you need to earth them somewhere on your vans chassis.


To do this you will need a cable and some lugs, when it comes to batteries that have the ability to supply very high amps all at once it is always best to be safe rather than sorry and over size your cables so they have no chance of getting hot and starting a fire.


It is also a very good idea to run the shortest length of cable possible to each and every component in your build for the same reason as above and to minimise volt drop.


With that being said to earth your battery to your chassis we recommend using 50mm2 cable.




As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases




All Trade Direct 1M Metre Black Battery Starter 50Mm2 Cable Kit Car Van Truck Marine 240A 240 Amps




YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE




https://amzn.to/3vf0DsZ



SELTERM 50 mm² M10 Hole UL Marine Grade Wire Lugs, Battery Cable Ends, Tinned Copper Eyelets, Tubular Ring Terminal Connectors [B68] - 15 Pack


YOU WILL NEED 1 X SET OF THESE




https://amzn.to/3hR975D



Building your battery cables yourself at home will save you lots of money and is very simple to do, first you remove just enough of the cable sleeve to fit securely into you lugs. Please see picture below...






Next you need to securely crimp it into place however these things are huge and quite solid so you will need a specific tool for the job or improvise with a hammer and punch. We suggest using the correct tool for the job. Basically you put your cable and lug in it, whack it with a hammer and it is done...




Draper 64335 Battery Terminal Crimping Tool









https://amzn.to/2RKLFMH




To earth your battery bank you need to either find an earthing point that is already there or make your own, it saves a little bit of time if you already have an earthing point near where you want to install your battery bank but it only takes about a minute to make your own.


To find one that is already there you just need to find somewhere on your vans chassis that already has a bolt in it, the most common places to find them in the back of a panel van would be near your light clusters where your lights have been grounded but they are usually quite hight up.


To make your own drill a hole into a bit of your interior bodywork that is connected directly to your chassis, remove all the paint from the area around the hole with a grinder or some sand paper so it is bare metal, pop a bolt through the hole, attach the earthing cable, screw a nut onto the bolt and you are done.


So first take your 50mm2 black earth cable and securely crimp a lug to each end, then bolt one end to the negative - terminal of your battery. Next take the other end and bolt it to your chassis earthing point and you should have something that looks like this...




The next thing we are going to add to this set up is an awesome bit of technology called a SOC (state of charge) shunt that will let you accurately monitor the state of charge of your battery in a few different ways, we need to attach this to the negative battery terminal before we attach anything else so now is the perfect time to do it


For this you will need...


Renogy 500A Battery Monitor


YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE


https://amzn.to/3oLLdtV




All Trade Direct 1M Metre Black Battery Starter 50Mm2 Cable Kit Car Van Truck Marine 240A 240 Amps




YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE




https://amzn.to/3vf0DsZ



Once you have the bits above you are ready to install it, so first take your 50mm2 cable and cause 30cm off of one end so you are left with two cables, one short (30cm) and one long (70cm)


Take the small 30cm length and just like before securely crimp a 50mm2 M10 cable lug to each end. You should have some of these left from the pack I recommended earlier. Please see picture below...







Next bolt one end directly to your negative terminal of your leisure battery.


please see picture below.

Once you have done that you will need to find the 500 amp shunt that will have come with your Renogy battery monitor and connect the B - (battery side) to the cable.


Please see picture below...



AMENDMENT


We got something wrong, because of something we will be adding later on in the set up we have to change the way we earth the battery and we have only realised when it was too late.


So instead of earthing your battery from the negative terminal on your battery like in the picture above. We now need to earth it via the P- (load side) of your shunt.


Please see picture below...








Next find your remaining 70cm length of 50mm2 cable and again securely crimp a 50mm2 M10 cable lug onto each end, then connect one end to the P- (load side) terminal on your SOC shunt.


Please see picture below...





To power your battery monitor and for the shunt to be able to measure how much power you are using you will now need to connect the shunt to the positive terminal on your battery, the kit comes with the correct cable with the correct size lug attached.


So find the red positive power cable that came in the kit with your battery monitor and attach the side without the lug on it to the B+ terminal on the battery side of your shunt.


Next take the end of the cable with the lug attached and bolt it directly to the positive terminal on your leisure battery.


Please see picture below...





And the final thing you will need to add to finish the shunt install is the battery monitor itself, this is pretty self explanatory really as it has a plug on each end. One connects to the controller and the other one connects to the shunt, it couldn't be simpler.


Please see picture below from Renogy...





You should now have something that looks something like this...



For the shunt to work properly and register all of the power being supplied by your chargers or used by your accessories it is very important that everything you install to be connected to the load side of your shunt instead of directly to your battery, to do this you are going to need to use some bus bars.


Because we need to attach so many bits and pieces to the shunt it would be very hard to find a single bus bar that has a high enough amp rating with enough terminals to fit everything onto, so we will need to be a little bit creative to make sure everything has its own separate terminal.


So for this you will need...





VTE 7753N7N14 BLACK 700 Amp Super Heavy Duty 3 way bus bar 1 x M10 & 2 x M8


YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE



https://ebay.us/PxYjWo







T Tocas 300A BusBar Box - Heavy-Duty Module Design Power Distribution Block with 4 x M8 Terminal Studs



YOU WILL NEED 2 X OF THESE




https://amzn.to/3yEjrEa







All Trade Direct 1M Metre Black Battery Starter 35Mm Cable Kit Car Van Truck Marine 240A 240 Amps



YOU WILL NEED ONE METER OF THIS




https://amzn.to/3fJmJxf





All Trade Direct 10 Copper Tube 35Mm X 8Mm Lug Battery Starter Cable Welding Crimp Terminal Ring



YOU WILL NEED 2 X SETS OF THESE




https://amzn.to/2TewKe5




Once you have all of the bits above the first thing you are going to need is your 3 way 700 amp bus bar. I know 700 amp seems a lot but that is its maximum load its nominal load is much lower making it perfect for this set up.


So take your 3 way bus bar and attach the cable that is attached to the load (P-) side of your SOC shunt to the biggest terminal (M10) and both securely into place.


Please see picture below...


Next take your 35mm2 negative (black) cable and cut off 2 x 200mm (20cm) lengths.


Take both pieces and securely crimp a 35mm2 M8 cable lug onto both ends of each cable, you should now have 2 x very short battery cables with a lug on each end.


Please see picture below...


You now need to bolt one of these cables to each of the remaining terminals on your 3 way bus bar, make sure you do it in the same direction as in the photos so the T-Shaped cover will fit on correctly.


Please see picture below...

The next step is another really easy step, you now just need to attach one of your 4 way 300 amp bus bars to each of the cables you have just fitted. They have 3 x M8 terminals and 1 x M6 terminal, you want to connect the cables to one of your M8 terminals.


Please see picture below...




Now we have finished the negative bus bars and you now have somewhere to earth everything that we are going to add to the set up so it will register on your battery monitor.


Next we are going to add some positive bus bars to the set up too to keep everything tidy, cables lengths as short as possible and so we don't have to run everything all the way back to the battery.


Just to keep things as simple as possible for everybody we are going to pretty much replicate everything above again but with a few added extras.


For this you will need...


All Trade Direct 1M Metre Red Battery Starter 50Mm Cable Kit Car Van Truck Marine 345A 345 Amps



YOU WILL NEED 1 X METER OF THIS



https://amzn.to/3voneDF





All Trade Direct Mega Fuse Holder



YOU WILL NEED X 3 OF THESE



https://amzn.to/3fnVuZY





HELLA 8JS 742 902-071 Fuse - MEGA - 300A - Grey - Quantity: 1


YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE


https://amzn.to/3p4uDFT




All Trade Direct 200 Amp Mega Fuse Blue



YOU WILL NEED 2 X OF THESE





https://amzn.to/2SzxkDa






VTE 7753N7N02 RED 700 Amp Super Heavy Duty 3 way bus bar 1 x M10 & 2 x M8 BUSBAR


YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE



https://ebay.us/VbDPi8




All Trade Direct 1M Metre Red Battery Starter 35Mm Cable Kit Car Van Truck Marine 240A 240 Amps


YOU WILL NEED 1 X METER OF THIS



https://amzn.to/3bVw3go





T Tocas 300A Bus Bars Heavy Duty Module Design Power Distribution Block Busbar Box with 4X M8(5/16") Terminal Studs Red Cover


YOU WILL NEED 2 X OF THESE



https://amzn.to/3uxKrSF




The first thing you will need to do is take your 50mm2 positive (red) cable and cut into two pieces


1 x 30cm length and 1 x 70 cm length.


You should now have 2 x separate cables, then take both cables and securely crimp a 50mm2 M10 cable lug onto both ends of each cable. You should have some of these left over from earlier.


Next bolt one end of the short 30cm cable directly to the positive terminal on your leisure battery.


Please see pictures below...




The next thing you will need is an inline fuse to protect your cables from over heating and starting a fire in your van if anything goes wrong. With the correct fuse fitted if anything goes wrong the fuse will blow before any of your cables get hot and will break the circuit so these are 100% essential.


We already know from the diagram above that 50mm2 cables can carry 345 amps safely, and our load will actually be under 300amps for this cable we are going to use a 300 amp mega fuse and a mega fuse holder


These are very easy to install, you put your 300 amp mega fuse into the holder then bolt the red positive cable that you have just connected to your battery to any side of your mega fuse holder.


Please see picture below...



The next step is just as easy, bolt the 70cm red positive cable to the other side of the fuse holder.


Please see picture below...



Just like we did with the negative side to make things as tidy and simple as possible we are now going to add some bus bars to the set up, and again just like before we are going to start with a 700 amp 3 way bus bar.


To do this all you need to do is take the red positive cable that you have just fitted to your fuse and attach the other end to the largest (M10) terminal (the middle one) and bolt securely into place.


Please see picture below...





The next thing we are going to add to the set up is the 2 x 300 amp bus bars, for this you are going to need to find your 35mm2 240 amp red cable.


You should have 1 x meter of this but we are not going to use all of it we just need to cut a few bits off of it.


When we installed the negative 300 amp bus bars we used 2 x 20cm lengths of cable however on the positive side we are going to need to install fuses in the circuit so to keep all our cables the same length so for this we are going to need 4 x 10cm lengths.


So cut yourself 4 x 10cm lengths of red 35mm2 cables and securely crimp a 35mm2 cables lug onto both ends of each cable.


You should now have 4 x very short battery cables that look something like this, please see picture below...


Take two of the cables and bolt them both directly to the 2 x remaining terminals on your 700 amp 3 way fuse holder, make sure you do it in the same direction as pictured so the t-shaped cover fits on correctly.


please see picture below...




Next find your 2 x remaining mega fuse holders and your 2 x 200 amp mega fuses, put a fuse into each of the fuse holders and then bolt one fuse holder to each of the red positive cables attached to your 700 amp bus bar.


Please see picture below...





Next find your 2 x remaining 10 cm battery cables that you just made and attach one to the remaining terminal of each fuse holder.


Please see picture below...



And the final step to finish your positive bus giving you an awesome foundation for the rest of your set up is 2 x 300 amp 4 way bus bars just like we did with the negative bus.


This again is very easy as you have already attached the cables you will need so all you need to do it bolt one cable to each 300 amp 4 way bus and it is good to go.


Please see picture below...




Ok so now you have a battery installed and an awesome battery monitor so you can accurately monitor your batteries condition without having to guess, you have a full negative bus so you can earth EVERYTHING in your system through your shunt so your battery monitor works and you also have a full positive bus with cables more than thick enough to run EVERYTHING in your van at the same time without anything getting hot. Congratulations that's pretty impressive give yourself a pat on the back.


Next we are going to add solar to your set up.



Before we do that though we have an exciting announcement to make, we have just launched our very own BRAND NEW Youtube channel and we have some amazing content planned for you over the next few months including...


Full Van Conversions

Product Reviews And Recommendations

Chinese Diesel Heater Videos including installations

Off Grid Set Ups

Van Life Hacks

Van Build Hacks

Simple Van Build Step By Step Guides

Van Life Cooking Budget/Cheap Van life Builds

Interior & Exterior Upgrades V

an life competitions and raffles

And much more ​


To keep up to date with all our new content and be the first to see our new videos please subscribe to our YouTube Channel be following the link below and clicking SUBSCRIBE...


CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE YOU OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL




Ok that is enough with shameless self promotion, let's start on the solar...



The battery that we suggested for this set up has a recommended charge rate of 52 amps and a maximum charge rate of 91 amps so when it comes to solar we want to go big but not so big that we exceed the maximum charge rate with both the solar and the 60 amp B2B charger (we will be adding later) working at the same time.


So for this set up we are going to go for a 365w solar panel by LG as they are the perfect size for a MWB van with a roof fan at either the front or back or a LWB with a a roof fab both at the front and back. If we go much larger than this panel you would have no room for anything else on your roof and for a camper this would not be good.


So for this set up we recommend this panel as they are very powerful for the size...




365W LG Solar Panel - Mono NeoN2 Black frame - New A grade - 60 cell



YOU WILL NEED 1 X OF THESE




https://ebay.us/iE5BRr




So now we know how many watts the solar panel is (365W) we can do the maths to work out what size SOLAR MPPT CHARGE CONTROLLER we will need.


So it is


365W ÷ 12V = 30.5 Amps


This means that we can't use a 30 amp controller as it is slightly too hight so we need to take the next step up to 40 amp. This is a good thing though as it is alway good to oversize your MPPT so it does't have to work flat out to keep up with the demand so should last longer and not get hot