Today’s camper vans run the gamut, from the amphibious, to the luxurious, to the totally tricked out. A impressive new project from electric vehicle wizard Brett Belen shows how they can be super sustainable, too.
Belen, who’s previously created an electric golf cart and postal van, recently completed the first phase of converting a classic 1973 Volkswagen Transporter bus into an off-grid electric vehicle powered by the sun. The first thing you’ll notice about the vehicle is the 1.22kW “rooftop” solar array, which takes advantage of the large surface area atop the bus and can tilt up to 40 degrees for maximum exposure to the sun. When lifted up, the panels also make room for an extra loft tent à la traditional pop-up campers. Believe it or not, the camper also includes a small fold-out kitchen, too.
This first round of conversion, which cost Belen about $25,500, has successfully taken his family of four 1,400 miles down the West Coast. The next phase will replace the current dozen lead-acid batteries with a lithium iron phosphate battery bank that would double the storage capacity and as well the range per charge from 50 miles to 100 miles. Belen also plans to swap in a 6kW folding solar array for the current setup, with the ultimate goal of traveling across the whole continental U.S. on solar energy alone. Find out more details here.