The Vegfalia Gets Solar Power!

9 06 2011

I finally had a chance to install the solar system on the Vegfalia.  It consists of a 60 Watt solar panel that is mounted over the rarely-used luggage rack on a homemade, tiltable rack.  Running the cable through the roof, under the headliner, down the wall and behind the stove/wall panel, I mounted the Sunforce charge controller on the outside of the hanging closet.  This worked well to charge the dual Optima 50 amp-hour batteries that are in an enclosure in the closet.  On it’s inaugural voyage for two nights of fossil-fuel free camping in Big Basin State Park North of Santa Cruz, we traveled 397 miles on veggie oil and biodiesel, had plenty of power for our lights, phone charging, and the iPad.  We were also able to spend a few hours introducing Orion to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

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6 responses

27 11 2011
George Weiss

Would like to know where you placed the VGO tank on the Westy. Also what was the cost for the solar panels? Nice set up…

Thanks

George

27 11 2011
theseep

Thanks! The SVO tank for the Westy is under the rear seat, so you have to remove the heater, but that leaves coolant lines for you to use for the heat exchanger. You can put one in the spare tire bay up front as well.

The solar panel was around $350 from MrSolar.com, the inverter $150, charge controller $125, 2 Optima batteries at $125 each, plus various wiring and connectors, so under $900 for an awesome renewable power station!

29 01 2012
threeye8finger

Incredibly awesome! When I get the funds to build my own dream vehicle I’m gonna bug you guys for some tips, cool? 🙂

29 01 2012
theseep

Thanks! You’re certainly welcome to ask for some tips, there has been a lot of learning in this labor of love. Unfortunately after the engine is done being rebuilt, we’ll be selling the Vegfalia as we’ve been forced into pragmatism by our second child and needed all the modern safety features of a Honda Odessey. We’ll still have the biodiesel Jetta, and I’ll hopefully be rebuilding another Vegfalia at some point in the future!

16 07 2012
Ian

Love it. I just bought an 86 Synchro and plan on working on a similar conversion, although I suspect it may take several years to complete. Regardless, this is inspirational and instructional.

16 07 2012
theseep

Thanks Ian! Because of the birth of our second child, we’ve decided that unfortunately we have to sell our beloved Vegfalia. It’s on the Samba for $50k OBO, complete with portable VO filtration system! Let me know if you’re interested in taking her for a spin! If not, enjoy your conversion process. The biggest problem we had was getting it switched to diesel by the CA dmv as it was a German 1.9L TD engine. Make sure the engine you put has been CARB approved (like a 1.9L TDi – but more complicated) if you’re doing it in CA to make it easier.

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