The Nomad Living Lifestyle has always been a fascinating aspect of life to a lot of people. Not only does it attract a certain minimalistic sense of living, it also inspires creativity and the possibility of being anywhere that you’d like to be without having to worry about expensive accommodation. In recent times, this type of living has been made much easier with digital connectivity almost everywhere around the world where a lot of people have even based their whole lively hoods on the Digital Web.
However, one must always keep in mind to have all the necessary supplies and facilities ready to go at all times in order to enjoy peace of mind and to allow for digital connectivity. Your Nomad Home should always be stocked with electricity to power all your appliances and digital devices at all times because more often than not, you will find yourself in situations where there would not be any electricity for miles.
Your Appliances should also be able to be charged with a system that provides 12Volts of DC Power instead of the conventional AC Power that we receive in our homes that is later converted into DC by some appliances. Therefore, you need to go through a comprehensive guide that will elaborate some of the requirements and prerequisites for your nomadic lifestyle.
Almost everybody goes for 12 Volt Power for Mobile Off-Grid Nomad Living and it seems like the only possible solution to this predicament. But the question is, what type of power to opt for and what devices/connection to use 12 Volt Power isn’t able to power every appliance and it requires special appliances that are compatible with that sort of energy as most household appliances are AC powered.
Before you go and buy yourself a certain appliance or 12-volt power system for your off-grid tiny house, it is of paramount importance that you understand some basics about AC (Alternating Current) in your normal wall outlets and DC (Direct Current) supplied by batteries. Both of these current types are used in our daily lives and if you plan to build yourself a self-sustaining 12-Volt power system, you need to understand the difference between both.
This type of current is called Alternating Current because it reverses its direction and alternates with time. Almost everywhere in the world, this type of current is used to transmit power to people’s homes and to offices and buildings. Transporting this current is much easier because it is easy to manipulate its Voltages. For Example, a transformer is used to step up and step down its voltages as its gets nearer or further from the target respectively.
This type of current is used in transmission of electricity to homes because transmitting through this causes far less heat dissipation and losses rather than using DC current. At a transformer, the current is stepped down to 240V or 120V (Depending upon where you live) in order to make it more conventional for peoples’ use.
This is current that moves in only one direction and doesn’t alternate at all. This type of current is supplied by batteries and most 12-Volt Power systems generate and use this type of current instead of an Alternating one. The DC Current is used by some household appliances as well by converting AC to DC.
Types of 12volt power sources available for off-grid and nomadic lifestyle:
- Solar Energy:
Solar Power has become one of the most widely adopted types of 12-Volt Power source that is used almost everywhere in the world. Even countries are investing more and more in Solar Power which allows for a greener and efficient energy generation that comes at very little cost to the end-user.
While creating a Solar Power option for your off-grid tiny house, you will deal with four main components that are essential to have a fully operating Solar Power System. First comes the Solar Panel itself, the Regulator, the Battery, and the Inverter. All of these play a vital role in the production and consumption of solar-powered energy.
The Solar Panels are responsible for harnessing the energy of the Sun and are classified according to their energy generation ratings in Watts. This rating is given to the Solar Panels according the amount of energy that they are expected to produce during a single peak sun hour. A peak sun hour represents one hour of the Solar Panel being exposed to the Sun and its rating represents the amount of energy that it would generate during those hours.
For Example, during one Peak Sun hour, a solar panel rated for 60 Watts would generate 60 Watts of Electricity in an hour. Keep in mind that you will only get certain number of peak hours in certain geographical locations so you have to be very thorough with the selection of your Solar Panels and study the number of Peak Sun hours that the location where you are visiting is going to get and also keep in mind the consumption of Electricity per hour from your end.
As the Sun isn’t always up, you also need to make sure that the battery storage that you choose is big enough to keep you powered up even when the Solar Panel isn’t generating enough electricity.
The second component of the 12Volt Solar system is the Regulator, this device is responsible for controlling the amount of charge flowing from the Solar Panel towards the Batteries and basically prevents the Batteries from being overcharged. Most Regulators also contain a feature that cuts off the power from the Battery to the consumption source if the voltage falls below the cut-off point and thus prevents the Battery from being damaged. Solar Regulators are typically rated depending upon the amount of current that they can receive from the solar panels.
The Third Component of the 12Volt Solar System is the Battery itself which is rated on the basis of electric current that it can store. You definitely want to invest in a good battery and we will be explaining different types of batteries in detail in this article so that you can select the one that you feel fit to power your off-grid tiny house.
The Fourth and last component of a 12Volt Solar System is the inverter which is responsible for converting the DC power from your battery to AC power which is typically 240V. There are two types of inverters that you can get on the market we recommend, a Modified Sinewave Inverter and the Pure Sinewave Inverter. The Modified Sinewave Inverter can sometimes cause issues with certain appliances but is more efficient with the conversion process but the Pure Sinewave Inverter is the one that we would normally recommend if you are going to be charging Laptops, Mobile Phones and using other appliances because electricity from the Pure Sinewave Inverter is identical to the one found in our homes.
This pretty much sums up 12Volt Solar Power System and if you can get a good deal on it, this would probably be the go-to type of 12-Volt system that most people would be using to power their off-grid nomad lifestyle.
- Wind Energy:
Wind Energy is another type of potential power source for a 12Volt Power System for your off-grid tiny house as it is one of the cleanest and greenest forms of energy generation. A wind Generation system is pretty easy to set up and doesn’t require an expert to operate. It operates mostly similar to a Solar Energy System does and contains almost all the same components except in place of a Solar Panel, it contains a Wind Mill that generates Electricity from the Wind.
The Wind, as it blows across our planet, contains kinetic energy, and this energy is used to rotate the fans of the Wind Mill and in doing so, the energy is converted into an electric current which is then regulated into the Battery using the regulator. From the Battery, it can be converted into AC current using an inverter which can then power your outlets and all appliances can be used normally.
The Wind Energy Generation system for your off-grid nomad Lifestyle has some obvious benefits of the 12Volt Solar system that we discussed above. For starters, Wind blows during both night and day and you will be getting energy almost at all times from the rotation of its fans. This setup is comparatively much more expensive than the Solar one and it much less mobile.
- Hydro Energy:
The Principal of generation of this type of Electric current is much similar to the Wind one, only in this case, instead of using the Wind as a source of kinetic energy, Water is used to turn the turbine which in turn leads to the generation of the electric current which is then stored in a battery using the Regulator and can be changed into AC Current with the implementation of an Inverter System.
Hydro Energy is also a very clean form of energy and comes with little to no damage to wildlife and life sustainability. This is also a very efficient form of energy generation and if you find yourself downstream from a flowing source of water, it should be the go-to form of energy generation system for you because of the cheap and constant energy that it will provide you with.
- DC-DC Systems:
DC to DC systems are also sometimes used for changing the voltages of DC current and HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) is a process in which Direct Current is transported over long distances by stepping up Direct Current to greater Voltages. This is a somewhat complex and expensive setup that isn’t really practical for a personal nomadic living lifestyle so we won’t be discussing it in detail.
Now that we have discussed some ways of generating 12Volt Power for your off-grid home, we should now discuss some different types of appliances that you can get in order to sustain this lifestyle without having to convert it to a higher voltage AC current. While an inverter can be a great addition to be able to use almost every household appliance, it is important that you are familiar with some other 12Volt Appliances as well.
Nowadays, portability and off-grid living has become such a norm that you can get almost every household appliance in its 12Volt counterpart as well. Below, we will be discussing some 12Volt Appliances that you can buy right now. But before we do that, make sure that you are familiar with some common terms that you can use to estimate the electricity usage and the scale of the system that you will require
Amp Hour is a rating that is given to most batteries to estimate the Amps of Current that it will be able to provide for a certain amount of time. For example, if a battery is able to provide 20 Amps of Current for over 20 Hours, it is said to be 20 x 20= 400aH. So, you need to calculate the total number of appliances that you are going to be using, the Amps of Current that they will be drawing from your battery and the period of time for which your battery might go uncharged from your power source and adjust accordingly the scale of your power system.
You never want to be out of electricity so your system should have some redundancy in order to compensate unusual weather or a cloudy day or two if you are using Solar power source. Check the rating of your appliances for how much current they would draw over an hour and then check to see how much time your battery might go uncharged and then decide to buy the suitable battery and power source.
- Freezers: You can get some pretty cool and compact 12Volt freezers that will operate on your Batteries by running on 12V DC power. These are some well-performing freezers depending upon the capacity and the company that you choose to go with, you will get some solid performance from these. Typically, a Freezer draws about 5 Amps when it starts up and then moves down when the compressor isn’t running but on a Freezer, the compressor might be running 50-60% of the time so these can draw a lot of power.
- Refrigerators: You will have some pretty diverse options with the Refrigerator as well and you can choose between the capacity and the power rating of the Refrigerator. The bigger the refrigerator, the more time the compressor will be running to keep everything chilled, thus more Amps will be drawn from the battery. Normally, the compressor should draw about 4 Amps which should run over 40-50% of the time depending upon the temperature you set it at and the temperature of your surroundings.
- Televisions: There are a lot of neat options for Televisions as well and you can choose from a line of different manufacturers, sizes, and power ratings but even the larger Televisions should draw about 1.5-2 Amps as it greatly varies with size and modern technology.
- Coffee Makers: Coffee makers are also readily available for 12V systems and they can be bought off the internet to be delivered to your doorstep. It will really be your own personal preference to get a Coffee maker that you like and you can choose from a wide range of power ratings and features.
- Vacuums: Some Battery charged Vacuums are also available to keep your off-grid tiny house clean and neat. Investing in the vacuum will also depend on your personal preference and you can check its power rating to analyze the amount of electric current that it will draw from your battery.
Almost any appliance that you can think of, it will be available in a 12 Volt variant so you really shouldn’t be worried about that if you are thinking of running a 12Volt power system in your nomadic style home.
Now that we have discussed both the power source and the appliances that you can choose for your off-grid tiny house, it is time that we discussed the main component of your 12Volt Power System i.e, the battery. There are some different types of leisure batteries that you can get on the market and you should be familiar with all the different sorts so that you can develop a better understanding of your needs.
- Lithium-Ion Batteries: Lithium-Ion Batteries were developed in the late 20th century and is a very widely used type of battery that can be charged very quickly depending upon the size of the battery and can hold very high density of energy which means smaller batteries contain more energy than some of their counterparts. These batteries can be more cost-effective than lead acid batteries but it varies from manufacturer to battery capacity. Lithium-Ion Batteries are also very efficient at holding charges and most of them feature an efficiency of about 95%.
- Lead Acid Batteries: Lead Acid Batteries contain an Acid that holds the Electric charge and they are also used to power the startup of some old school vehicles. This type of battery is almost completely recyclable and is in some cases cheaper than its Lithium Ion Counterpart. However, its energy density is very low compared to the Lithium-Ion Battery and thus is heavier and larger than it. Lead Acid Batteries are much less efficient than their Lithium-Ion Counterparts and are able to hold an average efficiency of only 85%.
- Gel Batteries: Gel batteries are very similar to Acid Batteries and in that, they contain silica inside to make the acid thicker and are completely sealed which means that they don’t require maintenance compared to Lead Acid batteries. They are somewhat more efficient than Lead Acid Batteries but still fall short of Lithium-Ion Batteries in terms of Longevity and Efficiency.
- AGM Batteries: These batteries are often categorized as Absorbent Glass Mat batteries as they contain a fiberglass matt to absorb the acid inside. They are spill proof, require no maintenance and are comparatively charged faster than Lead Acid Batteries. One main advantage that these batteries boast in comparison to the other ones is that they can work in subzero temperatures while all other forms of batteries require temperature regulation below zero temperatures in order to function properly.
If cost isn’t an issue, we would recommend that you go for a Lithium-Ion Battery because they would serve you quite well for use in an off-grid tiny house for nomadic living. These batteries require no maintenance, have great efficiency and can be discharged more as compared to the other ones. Therefore, an investment on a good lithium-ion battery won’t go to waste and should serve you quite well.
Overall, 12Volt Appliances and Systems are a great solution for off-grid nomadic living because of the sheer simplicity they offer instead of having to install an inverter, and even if you do that, you will have to supply so much energy to the battery as AC drains faster and uses more current. Comparatively, a 12Volt system would offer you a much more efficient and worry-free experience which for sure is a huge priority for people interested in the nomadic lifestyle.
12Volt Systems are more mobile and require less maintenance and can also be very cost-effective not to mention that you would be saving a fortune on electric bills and utilities. All in all, with a good power source, you can create a completely self-sustaining electricity system for your home or RV without having to worry about any power interruptions.
Hopefully, this guide was able to guide you about some different power sources that you can use for your nomadic off-grid lifestyle and now you will be able to make a more informed decision about your investments on a great 12Volt Power supply and dissipation system.