At Battle Born Batteries, we love camper vans! We have a soft spot for the classic Vanagon and Westfalia, but are also drawn to more modern road warriors like the Sprinter, Transit, and Pro Master.
Their ability to handle and maneuver comfortably makes vans the perfect choice for the minimalist traveler, weekend warrior, or seasoned full-timer. A camper van is a more compact package, while still offering many amenities you’d find in a larger RV.
What Is a Camper Van?
A camper van provides both transportation and sleeping or living accommodations. Essentially, it’s a van converted into a camping unit. The van’s cargo hold can have a bed, kitchen, bathroom, shower, seating, and workspace. In addition, there are countless floor plans to consider.
A camper van gives the freedom of choice while still fitting in the driveway. You can build a mobile workspace, a base camp for outdoor adventures, or a camper that blends in on the daily commute before hitting the road for the weekend.
You’ll find many built on a Ford, Chevy, Ram, or Mercedes-Benz large van chassis, but Sprinter Vans are the most common. There are also minivan camper conversions with tighter spaces that are the same concept.
Camper vans can have black and gray water holding tanks as well as freshwater tanks. Similar to a class B motorhome, the tanks are usually relatively small.
These tiny homes-on-wheels also need a way to get power, whether it’s through LP lines or electric hookups. Most will have a camper battery and a generator so that the user can enjoy lights, electrical outlets, water, and other features built into the van.
How Much Does a Camper Van Cost?
Camper van costs vary pretty widely. Many people do a DIY conversion, purchasing the van separately and then building out the interior. This can reduce costs significantly compared with buying one from a manufacturer.
When doing the work yourself or hiring some of it out, you can manage the budget and timeline. For example, you might purchase a newer-model van for $20K and spend $5K on the build. Professionally built camper vans can cost upwards of $225K. Small companies provide more affordable options, such as Custom Crafted Vans. They do custom builds from $10K-$60K on the van you choose. Other operations offer conversion kits after you purchase the van.
How Much Does a Camper Van Weigh?
A camper van’s weight will vary depending on several factors. You must consider the van’s dry weight and its cargo-carrying capacity. Builds that exceed the overall vehicle weight, including cargo, can be unsafe.
So how do you figure out how much your van build can weigh? First, find your van’s curb weight and GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). It’ll likely be on the same sticker as the VIN. You could also locate it in the owner’s manual or look it up online. Then, subtract the curb weight from the GVWR to get the cargo-carrying capacity.
If you’re doing a DIY build, don’t go over the cargo-carrying capacity, also known as payload capacity. This weight means everything in your van, including passengers, fuel, etc. So if your camper van has a GVWR of 9,000 lbs and a curb weight of 6,000 lbs, you can technically only have 3,000 lbs worth of cargo and passengers. However, the numbers get a little tricky with van conversions. If you take out original van components, you can subtract their weight and add that to your cargo capacity.
What’s the Difference Between a Camper Van and a Motorhome?
A camper van and a motorhome are both homes on wheels, and they’re technically both RVs (recreational vehicles). Some sleeper vans are categorized as class B motorhomes. To be classed as a motorhome, the unit needs a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. But there are some more obvious differences between these two types of motorhomes.
The vehicle’s chassis is the most significant divider. Camper vans sit on a van chassis, whereas a motorhome has a specific chassis depending on the model. Class A motorhomes, for example, usually have a solid heavy-duty frame that can withstand the sheer size and weight of a large motorhome. However, similar to commercial trucks, the tires are also more prominent on a class A chassis.
The living space can also differ. Most camper vans have less interior space than a motorhome. Since they’re on a smaller chassis, there’s less space for the interior build. For example, some have a wet bath, but it’s rare to find a camper van with a full bathroom.
Types of Camper Vans
There are many camper vans on the road today, with creative people customizing different brands and models. Here are three of the most common types.
Pop-Top Camper Vans
A pop-top camper van has a roof that pops up to create more headroom or sleeping space. The pop-top usually has windows or screens in it and lets more natural light into the van. When the camper is not moving and popped-out, you can have an open floor plan on the “main floor” and a separate bedroom up top. As an example, check out the Winnebago Solis that features an extended roof.
High Top Camper Vans
A high-top camper van is higher from floor to ceiling than a regular van. The extra height allows for a person to stand up with enough headroom. It also provides more cargo space. Airstream’s Interstate models are examples of a high top on a Mercedes-Benz® Sprinter van chassis.
Vintage Camper Vans
A vintage camper van is more than 50 years old but less than 100 years old. One of the best examples of a vintage model is any Volkswagen van made before 1970. Older models are typically smaller and have fewer amenities than modern ones.
Pros of Camper Vans
While camper vans aren’t for everyone, there are many benefits to owning one. We’ve identified the three pros that we hear the most.
Easy to Park
Camper vans are easy to park. They’re less than 24ft long, which means they can fit into a regular parking spot. Ease of navigation in almost any parking lot is a game-changer for RVers. For example, you can park at the grocery store without having to straddle multiple spaces.
Vans are also easy to park in campgrounds. Backing up is similar to a car, and new models tend to have backup cameras. Rather than taking you 30 minutes to get into a campsite with a large motorhome, you can park your van in seconds.
Camper vans are more fuel-friendly than a motorhome or a truck pulling an RV, owing to a van’s size and weight. And a lot of vans are diesel, which is more fuel-friendly than gas engines. Saving on fuel means you can explore further if your budget allows it!
If you can drive a truck or minivan, you can drive a camper van. They’re straightforward to operate, and they handle well. High-top vans are prone to swaying slightly in high winds, but overall their drivability is excellent.
Camper Van Cons
Like with any camping unit, there are some cons. Here are the three most common negatives we hear about camper vans.
Living in an 18ft to 24ft van is tight, especially if you travel with more than one person. Camper vans are ideal for one person, but even then, there’s little room to spare. It’s trendy to DIY or customize van builds to maximize the living space to fit your needs. Of course, if you know you’ll spend most of your time outdoors, tight quarters might not be an issue.
Difficult to Bring a Car Along
Some camper vans have a towing capacity high enough to tow a car, but not many. When you don’t have a car, it means you must drive your van, which can be particularly annoying if you’re at a campground. You’d need to unhook from water, electricity, and sewer every time you wanted to go somewhere.
It’s possible to travel in a sleeper van without an additional vehicle–you just have to be creative. You can do things like tow a golf cart or install a bike rack so you can use the bike for errands and activities close by. Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular in the RV community for this very reason.
Luxury Comes with a Cost
As we indicated earlier, the cost of a completed camper van from a manufacturer can be high. It may have all the bells and whistles you want, but luxury comes with a price. Consider what your priorities are to determine if saving money outweighs having a few luxurious features.
Can You Live in a Camper Van Year-Round?
The short answer is yes. However, there are many factors to consider. Depending on what type of climate you’re traveling in, features such as heat or air conditioning are likely to play a significant role in livability. If you’re in a cold climate, make sure you have adequate heat and a way to power it. Similarly, if you’re in a hot environment, an air conditioner will come in handy as long as you have access to electricity or a solar and battery set up.
Some people live in a camper van year-round. You can find van lifers with a quick search on social media or Youtube. Irene Iron Travels is an example of a couple that lived in an Airstream van for a few years.
Electrify Your Camper Van Adventures!
A mobile power solution from Battle Born Batteries can electrify your van, new or old. Lithium will eliminate any battery anxiety plaguing your travels.
We offer the highest quality lithium batteries, solar equipment, inverters and accessories to build a system of any size to power your van build or upgrade your current rig. Our batteries are lightweight, sealed, and don’t emit any off-gas, which means they can be housed inside your van safely and securely.
Battle Born has the right products to ensure your comfort doesn’t take a backseat to your power and energy management.
Last 10 Times Longer than Lead Acid
Even after 3000 – 5000 life cycles Battle Born Batteries retain 75 – 80% of their original capacity. For most users, it will take 10 to 15 years to reach this amount of life cycles.
2 to 3 times more power
Our batteries will supply you with two to three times the power in the same physical space of a lead acid battery.
Charge 5 Times Faster
With a high charge rate of half of your total bank and short absorption times, your batteries will charge in a fraction of the time of a lead acid. This faster charging rate allows you to use your generator less which means less fuel consumption, less noise, and less pollution.
High Discharging Capabilities
Our 100 Ah batteries provide a continuous 100 amps of power, surge of up to 200 amps for 30 seconds and even higher loads for a ½ second.
Efficient and High Performance
Our batteries have virtually no internal resistance and will not heat up or swell when charging or discharging. We also have a real power rating so whether you’re using 1 amp for 100 hours or 100 amps for one hour, you will receive the full amount of power your batteries are rated for. With a very flat discharge curve, power remains much more consistent with Battle Born Batteries even at a low state of charge.
Environmentally Safe and Non-Toxic
One lead acid battery can contaminate acres of municipal waste, but Battle Born Batteries are not toxic and are made with the safest lithium chemistry on the market. This allows you to place them anywhere in your rig whether it’s under a bed, a dinette, or even a small enclosed area without the fear of our batteries “off gassing” like lead acid.
Our batteries are ½ to ⅔ the weight of a standard lead acid battery with more deliverable power.
Battle Born Batteries have a built-in management system to help protect you and your investment in the batteries in any strenuous situations such as high/low temperatures, high/low voltages, current surges, and short circuits. They also can be placed in your system with zero maintenance, so you no longer have to worry about adding water to your batteries or cleaning corroded terminals. Our batteries also have a very slow self-discharge rate so they can be left in storage for over a year without requiring you to hook them up to a trickle charger.
Designed and Assembled in the USA
Our batteries are designed and assembled in Sparks, Nevada. This makes it easier to receive support for your battery system and makes returns hassle-free.
We employ a team of experts at Battle Born Batteries to help with your customer service, sales and technical needs. Our industry-leading team utilizes clear communication via phone and email, along with product knowledge and problem-solving skills to assist with any questions you may have along the way. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your batteries, a complete power system or anything in between our team can provide the expertise needed to guide you through a lithium conversion. Feel free to contact our team at (855) 292-2831 or [email protected].
We believe in our batteries and we want you to believe in them too. That’s why we ship every battery out with a 10-year warranty. If you have a problem, we want to fix it as quickly as possible so you can go on your next adventure!
Excellent Solar Systems
Battle Born Batteries allow you to take full advantage of solar by creating fast charging and fully sustainable power systems with a variety of applications.
Alternator Charging for a Lithium Bank
Before discussing this topic please note that when connecting to a towable trailer (such as by a 7-pin connector), you typically get a low amount of charge into your lithium (aux) battery bank and an isolator or current regulating device is usually not necessary.
In motorized RVs, vans, and skoolies, very often the alternator will charge lithium batteries at the proper voltage (14.2 to 14.6 V), but we recommend not to exceed a 50% charge rate, this means a max of 50 amps for each 100 Ah battery.
An example would be a high 220 amp alternator putting out its full charge to the electrical system. An alternator charging the starter battery, running the electronics in the vehicle, and if wired with thick enough cables, might have around 150 amps leftover to charge your Battle Born Batteries. In this instance, three of our batteries would be a good match for the alternator’s charge.
What To Consider
When connecting a starter (lead acid) battery to a lithium battery bank:
- 2 lithium batteries or less, you will probably want to use a battery to battery charger such as the Sterling product on our website:
- Higher amp units charge the batteries faster. These devices will not only regulate the charging current but also replace your existing isolator.
- For 3 or more lithium batteries connected to a starter battery we recommend our Li-BIM.
These are generalities, but if you give us the amperage of your alternator, the model of your isolator, and how many lithium batteries you are planning to use, we can give you a better suggestion as to what you may need. Call us at (855) 292-2831 or contact us at [email protected].
Battery Isolation Manager
The battery isolation manager (BIM) is typically used in motorized systems with 3 or more Battle Born Batteries. Lithium batteries tend to pull a lot of power off your alternator, which over time could cause it to overheat.
The BIM works on a duty cycle. It charges your house battery bank for 15 minutes, then taking 20 minutes to rest so your alternator can take a break and never has the opportunity to overheat.
Battery to Battery Charger
Battery to battery chargers are typically used in applications where you have 1 or 2 Battle Born Batteries. This is because our batteries have a recommended 50 amp charge rate per battery. If your alternator is applying a higher amperage to your batteries than the recommended charge rate, you will need to limit the amperage.
The battery to battery charger will limit the amperage coming off your alternator and will apply a safe charge to your batteries.
Both devices will properly isolate your lithium batteries from your starting battery.
To determine whether your devices are compatible with BB batteries, take a look at the manual for each component and look at the specifications. If the specs in the manual match up with the Charging voltage: 14.2-14.6 V and the Float voltage: 13.6 V or lower, they are compatible with our batteries.
If you can adjust settings (such as a custom profile) on your devices to various charging and float voltages, then simply change the settings to match ours.
You are also more than welcome to give us a call at (855) 292-2831 or contact us at [email protected].
In some cases, you might have to replace the current converter/charger that come stock in the application due to the output voltage of 13.6 V. Some very common WFCO and Progressive Dynamics converters will rarely get to their higher boost of 14.4 volts when a lithium battery is connected.
Although these converters will charge your Battle Born Batteries (very slowly), they may never get to a 100% state of charge and will not trigger the passive balancing effect that starts at over 14 volts.
In addition to their standard models, many converter manufacturers now offer LiFePO4 chargers and most are highly compatible with Battle Born Batteries.
Answering this question can depend on the amount of space you have on your vehicle and how fast you want your bank to charge.
As a general guideline we recommend 200 to 250 watts of solar per 100 amp-hours of battery. This will give you the ability to charge from nearly empty to full in a six to eight-hour time frame.
Many factors can change this calculation and you are invited to call at (855) 292-2831 or email us at [email protected] if you would like to discuss in greater detail.
Many RVer’s run into trouble in deciding which solar charge controller to choose and there are many specific models with different voltage and amperage ratings. Which one is right for your application?
Victron’s standard “Blue Solar” model is a set and forget controller without readouts or internal Bluetooth. If you would like a Bluetooth version with all viewable information via the “Victron Connect” application from your mobile device, then the “Smart Solar” version is your best choice.
Second, decide how many watts of panels you want in your solar array and take a look at our compatibility table to determine the product that best fits your system, here.
Upon request we will program your Victron solar charge controller for the number of Battle Born Batteries in your bank at no charge.
Our charging parameters consist of the following:
- Bulk/absorb = 14.2 – 14.6 V
- Float = 13.6 V or lower
- No equalization (or set it to 14.4 V)
- No temperature compensation
- Absorption time is 20 minutes per battery (if it’s an option)
Bulk/absorb 14.2 – 14.6 Volts (we usually recommend 14.4) float 13.6 Volts or lower
No equalization (or set it to 14.4 V), no temperature compensation and absorption time is 20-30 minutes per battery (if it’s an option).
Bulk/absorb 28.4 – 29.2 V (we usually recommend 28.8 V) float 27.2 V or lower
No equalization (or set it to 28.8 V), no temperature compensation and absorption time is 20 minutes per battery (if it’s an option).
To view the chargers in our Battle Born Shop, please click here.
If you need assistance with charging parameters or settings for a certain device, give us a call at (855) 292-2831 or email us at [email protected]
When considering cable sizing there are a few factors to consider.
First, what is the size of the load you are powering with the battery bank?
Second, how far away from the battery is the load? You can do voltage drop calculations to see if you need to step up your cable size.
Here is an easy reference chart:
As a rule of thumb, you can use these numbers as a guideline.
-4 AWG wire approximate max rating is 157 amps DC
-1/0 AWT wire approximate max rating is 291 amps DC
-4/0 AWT wire approximate max rating is 456 amps DC
Yes, you can mount your battery in any position. There is no acid inside of the battery, and the small amount of liquid electrolyte is contained within each sealed cell.
You can decide what is best for your application. Our lithium technology gives you the flexibility to put the battery in places you normally would not have placed a lead acid battery.
Lead acid battery manufacturers will state: “do not mix old and new batteries. Doing so will reduce overall performance and may cause battery leakage or rupture.” They also recommend replacing all batteries within a bank at the same time.
A partially used lead acid battery will drain energy from a new one, reducing the total amount of battery power available.
This is not the case with Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries. You can add new batteries to your original Battle Born bank up to two years down the road without damaging, reducing lifespan, or harming them in any way.
Our batteries are drop-in replacements for typical lead acid batteries. This means that our batteries are designed to fit like a normal Group 27, 31 and GC2 battery in your bank.
This, however, does not mean our batteries are plug and play. Our batteries still may require specific components and programming to run your application.
To figure out if your components will work with our batteries, give us a call at (855) 292-2831 or send us an email at [email protected].
Our batteries are safe. All Battle Born Batteries use the safest and most stable components, including a LiFePO4 cathode and a built-in Battery Management System (BMS).
The BMS protects the cells against excessively high or low voltages, high currents, short circuits, and excessive heat or cold. These are the most common causes of battery failures, and we have taken every precaution to mitigate these risks in all of our batteries.
In addition, all of our cells are manufactured in a state-of-the-art automated facility, and each cell is cycled multiple times to ensure quality and consistency.
Li-ion batteries can be safer than lead acid batteries, which have no protection against ground faults. Our built-in BMS that protects against ground faults.
We strive to include all the best safety features into our battery, and this is what makes us a leader in the deep cycle replacement market. We are constantly developing new innovations to increase safety in our batteries.
Please watch the video above for more information on winterizing your Battle Born Batteries.
The storage temperature range is -10°F to 140°F (-23°C to 60°C). We recommend bringing the Battle Born Batteries to a 100% charge and then disconnecting them completely for storage. After six months in storage your batteries will remain 75 – 80% charged.
Storing batteries in subzero weather (-15°F or more) has the potential to crack the ABS plastic and more importantly could cause a faster loss of capacity, in some cases drastically more than the typical 2 – 4% per month loss.
Battle Born Batteries protect themselves from charging in cold temperatures and won’t accept a charge once the internal cell temperature drops to 24°F. At this point they will continue to discharge even down to -4°F. At this temperature we recommend no longer pulling power to avoid damaging the batteries.
Insulated battery boxes, heating blankets, and placing your battery bank inside your RV will help keep the temperature stable. On the high end of temperature range, the batteries will shut down once 135°F is reached.
You can use any standard charger, solar or wind charge controller to charge our LiFePO4 deep cycle battery. There are some chargers and controllers that are programmable to get full usage out of your battery, but most will have an AGM setting which normally bulk charges about 14.4 volts and floats at 13.6 volts. These levels are great for your Battle Born battery.
Our Battery Monitoring System, or BMS is rated to 3 different levels.
- 100 amps continuous (1200 watts at 12 volts) – this means you can pull 100 amps out of the battery when you need it until the capacity is all used up.
- 200 amps for 30 seconds (2400 watts at 12 volts) – if your device has a surge an individual battery can deliver 2400 watts for 30 seconds.
- ½ second surge up to the max capacity of the battery. If you have a high momentary over 200 amps the battery will handle this for ½ second.
*Keep in mind that when you have two batteries in parallel you will double these surge numbers. With four batteries in parallel you will quadruple these figures.
Check out our Customer’s Systems!
Battle Born Systems
In November of 2015, Nathan and Stephanie Yarbrough from EXPLORIST.life, previously known as “Adventure In a Backpack” decided to make the leap. They moved into a 2008 Golf Stream Crescendo RV to started travelling the country full-time.
They’ve been together for over 14 years, so staying in close quarters wasn’t a difficult transition for them. They fell in love with the flexible lifestyle of being able to go on any adventure and take detours along the way.
In 2017, they decided to move into a 2007 Mercedes Sprinter van, and then outfit it with Battle Born Batteries. If you would like to stay up to date with all their adventures check out their Website, YouTube, FaceBook, and Instagram. You can also read more about them on our blog here!
Their current system consists of:
- 6 – Battle Born 100 Ah 12 V batteries
- 1 – Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor with Bluetooth Built-in
- 1 – Victron SmartSolar Charge Controller MPPT 150/85 – TR
- 1 – Battery Isolation Manager
- 1 – 2000 W Inverter Charger
Take a look at some of our EXPLORIST.life bundles! Nate and Steph worked with us to create these bundles to help van lifers who may need help starting their transition to lithium.
- 3 – Battle Born 10012s 100 Ah 12 V LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Batteries
- 1 – Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor with Bluetooth Built in
- 1 – Precision Circuits Battery Guardian
- 1 – Precision Circuits LiFePO4 Battery Isolation Manager
- 1 – Victron Multiplus Inverter/Charger 3000 W
- 1 – Victron MultiPlus Digital Multicontrol Panel
Levi Allen is a filmmaker and had been living the van life for 5 years when he and his wife, Janelle, got their van together.
Since then, he has been renovating his van to fit their full-time needs. His Sprinter van is now equipped with Battle Born Batteries! Check out his setup below.
- 4 – Battle Born 10012s 100 Ah 12 V LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Batteries
- 1 – Victron Multiplus Inverter Charger 3000 W
- 1 – Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor with Bluetooth Built-in
- 1 – Victron MultiPlus Digital Multicontrol Panel
- 1 – Victron SmartSolar Charge Controller MPPT 100/50
- 1 – Precision Circuits Battery Guardian
- 1 – Battery Isolation Manager
- 1 – 300 A Fuse Kit