Muse & Co. Outdoors Camper Van Electrical Systems Explained
While the system is simple and designed to ‘just work’, it’s still a good idea to understand its ins and outs. That’s why we put together this guide, which details the electrical components that come standard in Muse & Co. Outdoors vans, describes the ways you can add onto and modify your system, and gives some basic guidance about what our systems can and can’t do.
Electrical Components in Muse & Co. Outdoors Camper Vans
The electrical systems in our vans are seamlessly integrated and essential to their comfort. They are responsible for several critical tasks, from keeping the fridge cold, to supplying running water, to charging devices like phones and laptops. We’ve hand-selected every component to ensure that the entire system is top-of-the-line. Below you can find a comprehensive list of the electrical components that are included standard in our van builds.
The batteries are the actual power source in your van’s off-grid electrical system. Our vans come standard with four 100 amp-hour Relion lithium 12V batteries. Lithium is the gold standard when it comes to camper van batteries, and there are many reasons why.
You may have heard of builders using battery types other than lithium for their builds. Simply put, the only real advantage of other battery types is that the upfront cost is smaller. Lithium batteries are more expensive, but they outperform AGM and other battery types in just about every way.
Lithium batteries are way lighter than AGM, have about double the usable capacity, and have a much longer lifespan. In fact, if you consider the lifespan and replacement cost of AGM vs. lithium batteries, lithium is likely to be the cheaper option.
The loads of your Muse & Co. Outdoors van’s electrical system are all the things in your van that actually use electricity. Some of the loads are installed components of your van such as your lights and fridge. Others will be devices you charge and plug into one of the outlets in your van. The following 12V loads are included with every Muse & Co. Outdoors van:
- Dometic fridge
- Espar 12V Integrated Diesel Heater
- Shureflow water pump for on-demand running water
- Two bedside reading lights
- Eight recessed dimmable overhead lights
- Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe Automatic Ceiling Vent with Remote
- Xantrax Freedom XC 2000W Inverter with Panel-Mounted Controller
- Four Standard 110v Duplex with Integrated USB
- Dual DC Wall-Mounted USB Port
Your lithium batteries have a finite amount of power available. In order to keep all of your loads running, your batteries must charge. Muse & Co. Outdoors vans utilize both solar panels and shore power to keep the batteries charged. This gives you a reliable way to charge your batteries, whether you’re parked in a friend’s driveway or deep on rural desert backroads. The charging components included in our vans are as follows:
- Four Roof-Mounted 100-watt Zamp Obsidian Solar Panels (Total of 400w)
- 30-amp Zamp Solar Charge Controller
- Four 100Ah Lithium Batteries
- Xantrax Freedom XC 2000W Inverter with Panel-Mounted Controller
- Waterproof 15 Amp 125V AC Shore Power Inlet
The solar panels and charge controller work together to keep your van batteries topped off wherever the sun shines. When you have access to shore power, simply run an extension cord from a normal outlet to the shore power inlet. Your Xantrax charger will use the shore power to top off your batteries, and the 110v outlets inside of your van will bypass the batteries. This means you can run larger appliances and use them without draining your batteries, as long as you’re connected to shore power.
What To Expect From Your Muse & Co. Outdoors Camper Van’s Electrical System
Our systems are sized and designed with your comfort and ease-of-use in mind. Under normal conditions, you should simply be able to run all of the included appliances, charge your devices, and run small 110v appliances for short periods of time – all without ever needing to think about the charge state of your van’s batteries. We’ve sized our systems with this type of use in mind.
Still, like any camper van electrical system, there are limitations. The most common mistake that people make with regards to their Sprinter van’s electrical system is assuming that they can plug in and run any 110v appliance at any time. In a Muse & Co. Outdoors van with our standard electrical system, you can use your 110v outlets to charge most devices, and power small appliances such as a pressure cooker or external monitor for a few hours at a time.
If you try to plug in and run devices that draw a higher wattage than the inverter (1000w) is capable of providing, they won’t work. And, if you run devices with a power draw that is at or near the inverter’s maximum for an extended period of time, you will drain your batteries very quickly. Remember, however, that if you are plugged into shore power, you can use your van’s 110v outlets as you would at home.
Some people require more from their van’s electrical system than the average traveler. We have customers that use their vans to travel long-term while working from the road. Others want to take extended trips in the dark and mossy forests of the pacific northwest, where solar energy is at a premium. Whatever the situation, Muse & Co. Outdoors offers upgrades for your van’s electrical system that will allow you to travel your way.
Available add-ons to your van’s electrical system are as follows:
- Alternator Charger: An alternator charger takes energy from your van’s motor to charge your batteries while you drive down the road. Although solar charging will be adequate for many travelers, it can be nice to have a backup charging source. Alternator chargers are a must-have for people who plan to camp for extended periods in dark areas. They can also come in handy if you’re traveling during winter and your panels get covered in snow.
- Inverter Upgrade: You can opt for a larger inverter in your van if you wish. A larger inverter will allow you to run 110v appliances that have a high power draw off-grid. Still, remember that doing so, especially for extended periods, will drain your batteries quickly. If you’ve just got to bring that Vitamix or toaster along on the road, a larger inverter may come in handy.
- Battery Status Screen: If you’d like to keep an eye on your batteries’ state of charge, we can add a battery status screen to the inside of your van. The screen will show you what percentage of your battery power has been used up, and you can watch the batteries fill up as they charge.
If you have any additional questions about the electrical systems in Muse & Co. Outdoors vans, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re always here to talk and answer any questions you might have!