The Cheapest Ways to Power Your Camping Vehicle
Living the vanlife is all about harnessing the great outdoors and enjoying simple pleasures. Less is more, so to speak. This mantra also includes spending less on the essentials, which many fail to consider power supply in their campervan budget. You might not receive a power bill at the end of the month when living in a van, but you’ll certainly feel the financial strain of powered sites at campgrounds or refuelling your portable gas generator. Luckily we have a few handy tips to keep your power costs low with these five ways to power your campervan for cheap!
1. Solar Panels
Nothing comes cheaper (and more sustainable) than the energy produced by the sun, so it’s with no doubt that solar panels top this list of the cheapest ways to power your campervan. Once you have solar panels installed, whether they’re affixed on top of your vehicle or are of the portable variety, grabbing that solar energy is 100% free. But what is the upfront cost of solar panels? Solar panels are getting more affordable year-on-year, especially high-quality portable and versatile solar panels like the BLUETTI PV200, typically priced at A$749 in the sales or A$1,499 when combined with a power station (see the point below) like the EB55 + PV200, as is the case in the BLUETTI Boxing Day Sale.
2. Portable Power Station
Swap traditional gas-guzzling generators for the electrical alternative and you’ll find a much cheaper source of power for your campervan. Not only can portable power stations source free power when connected to a solar panel, but the other electrical input alternatives tend to be much cheaper than filling up a tank of fuel. With that in mind, portable power stations offer a cheap way to power your campervan in the long term. As for that upfront cost, BLUETTI tends to have some very decent sales on their wide range of portable power solutions, especially during their Boxing Day Sale (see below).
3. Motorhome/RV Battery
Most prefabricated motorhomes (RVs) have 12-volt batteries that are separate from the battery that powers the vehicle. Otherwise, motorhome batteries are also available to install in camping vehicles. They are typically 30 or 50 Ah systems that power basic appliances in the campervan, such as lights, vent fans and the water pump, for example. The upfront cost is similar to that of portable power stations, while also having the option to be powered by cheap inputs, such as a mains supply and/or solar panels. They can last for a few days with the aid of solar panels and/or a deep-cycle marine battery.
4. Vehicle Battery (Power Inverter)
Certainly not a recommended power supply for most campervan users, a power inverter to access the battery power of your vehicle can be a good solution for those in a small van or car camping. Although you won’t get anywhere near as much power as you would with the above solutions, using your vehicle battery to charge devices like your phone or laptop is one of the cheapest ways to power your campervan. The major drawback is, of course, the risk of draining too much power from the battery and your vehicle won’t start. However, those who require minimal power while camping will find that simply recharging the battery while driving to your next camping destination is a cost-effective way to get power.
5. Campground Powered Sites
One final way you can get electricity for cheap, at least while camping for just a few days, is by hooking up to a power supply in a campground, known as a “powered site”. Your vehicle will need a motorhome battery, a power input and a cable to connect it to a powered site’s electrical supply. While the benefits of being connected to a campground power supply mean that you will be able to power heavier appliances, such as a microwave, air conditioner, heater, etc., the main downside is that the campground fee for powered sites is not cost-effective for an extended trip, especially at NZ$23-$50 per night. Nevertheless, if you’re campervanning for less than a couple of months, paying for a powered site once every three days to recharge your motorhome battery makes more financial sense.
To learn more about powered sites, check out How to Get Electricity When Camping in New Zealand.
Get Your Campervan Power Supply for Cheap at the BLUETTI Boxing Day Sale!
Sustainable power innovators, BLUETTI, have made getting power for your campervan for cheap even easier with the BLUETTI Boxing Day Sale! From 26 to 31 December, BLUETTI is offering huge discounts on portable power stations and solar panels, as well as free gifts! There will be a lucky draw for every order over A$1,000 with items such as an EB3A, PV120 solar panel, A$100-$200 coupons, a mini fridge and other useful gadgets up for grabs.
Some of our favourite camping power stations are also on sale, such as AC200MAX for $2,599 (was $2,999) and the EB55 + PV200 for A$1,499 (was $1,849), as well as power stations for off-the-grid living like the AC500 + B300S for A$5,999 (was A$6,999) and the AC300 + B300 for A$5,199 (was $5,999). Head to bluettipower.com.au for more deals.
More Ways to Power Your Campervan for Cheap
Need more advice on ways to power your campervan for cheap? Check out our other power station guides:
- 6 Best Power Stations for Camping
- 8 Best Ways to Save Money on Camping Power Stations
- How to Get the Best Deal on a Portable Power Station
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in How to Choose a Generator for Your Motorhome, Campervan or Tent.