This VW Bus Is Powered By The Sun

Solar panels attached to the roof tilt to harness the sun and make space for roof-top sleeping. #Vanlife upgrade!

solar powered VW Bus vanlife conversion

Sunroof gets a whole new meaning with Brett Belan’s custom VW Bus. The all-electric vehicle is a family camper that can charge itself even in wild places.

The 1972 VW bus runs on four 305-watt solar panels, all mounted to the roof. Pneumatic pumps lift the hefty rig up to 40 degrees to maximize energy collection. Once lifted, canvas siding attaches to the solar panels to reveal a cozy sleeping loft.


Of course the rig is entirely DIY. Belan’s take on the #vanlife extends past gutting and decking the interior to electrical conversion and setup. His website goes into far greater detail.

Solar Powered VW Bus

Belan’s bus is a work in progress. He’s still working to improve the range with the addition of 216 lithium-ion phosphate batteries.

solar powered VW Bus vanlife conversion
Batteries galore!

Currently, the bus has a range of 50 miles while traveling at a slow speed (30-40 mph). With upgrades, he estimates the bus’s range will extend to 200 miles.

solar powered VW Bus vanlife conversion
Not your average dashboard

A full charge takes two hours and 20 minutes when plugged in with two 20 amp chargers. An AC motor and 500 A, 144 V controller sit in place of a conventional motor. Charging times with solar vary depending on conditions.

Belan’s setup proves there is no limit to how far Vanlife conversions can go.

solar powered VW Bus vanlife conversion
Not a bad view for the morning

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Midwest born, Nate Mitka started with Gearjunkie after a short stint as “intern”. An advocate of all outdoor activities he’s developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.

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