RELiON Solutions Empower Van Homeowner to Save Money & Pursue Dreams

Posted May 12, 2020

After ten years of working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, California, and while facing ever increasing rent, Jarrod Tocci opted to join the fast growing van life movement and hasn’t looked back. The average rent for a one bedroom in Los Angeles is $1,707 per month and Jarrod was tired of paying rent and having nothing to see for it at the end of the day. In May 2019, he decided to instead invest that money in a Mercedes sprinter van and live out of it while pursuing his dreams of being a touring comedian and a digital nomad, as well as being much closer to nature on a daily basis.

The only thing holding Jarrod back from transitioning to full-time off grid van life was making sure his van was able to power his life the way his apartment did. He was contemplating a solar and energy storage system, but didn’t know where to start. That’s when he met Wes and Savana from Tiny Watts Solar, a successful family-run solar+storage kit business, at a van festival. “I was completely relieved when I met Wes and Savana,” Jarrod explained. “They were both very down to earth, didn’t beat around the bush and I also loved that Wes has a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering.” Having installed countless solar panels with RELiON solutions, Tiny Watts readily recommended a solar panel system as well as four RELiON RB100 batteries to Jarrod.

Why did you choose RELiON solutions specifically?

Jarrod: “I trusted Wes and Savana’s recommendation, given that they are renewable energy pros with a great deal of experience. Additionally, I researched a ton on my own, comparing RELiON batteries to Battleborn, for example. The RELiON batteries have a solid warranty and a stellar Battery Management System (BMS). Especially compared to lead acid batteries, which I’ve used in the past, the RELiON batteries are much lighter, which is crucial given van weight limitations. The old lead acid batteries I used weighed 260 pounds, which is more than my entire solar + RELiON power system now. In addition to being very lightweight, they also come in a range of different, highly compact, sizes. They also use the safest battery chemistry: lithium iron phosphate, which is key if you’re sleeping next to them.”

Jarrod’s solar+storage system includes a 500W military-grade thin film flexible solar panel that lines the roof of his van, four RELiON RB100 batteries for a total of 5,120 Wh of energy storage, an OutBack Power FXR 3200W inverter and a Victron charge controller. His system also comes with a Victron 712 Smart Battery Monitor for real time monitoring and controlling of his solar+storage system. He can easily check the Victron app on his phone to determine the state of charge of the batteries and solar panel power output, among other things.

Did you have to limit your energy use to transition to full-time off grid van life?

Jarrod: “Not at all. These are some very powerful batteries. I’m continually impressed by the amount of high draw items they’re able to power. I literally never worry about not having enough power. When it comes to van life, the power system is crucial. The solar array and RELiON batteries power a refrigerator, radiant floor heating, an induction cooktop, a roof fan, lights, pumps and a filter system for a recirculating shower. Unlike a lot of people I know, I can actually go into the wilderness for a month without having to replenish my water tank due to the solar+storage system powering my recirculating shower. My system also powers an intricate lighting system that consists of 120 feet of LED strip lights for filming for my job."

Jarrod has already taken his van to Santa Cruz, San Diego, Boston and Portland for both work and play, with no end to his adventures in sight. His transition from apartment to full-time off grid van life was and remains seamless thanks to solar, his reliable, safe and lightweight RELiON solutions and Tiny Watts Solar.


Follow along with Jarrod's journey on Instagram at @jarrodtocci and YouTube at Jarrod Tocci.

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COMMENTS

  • Karen Bryden

    Thanks for the interesting article! The solutions Jarrod used gave me some fresh ideas.
    One thing I added (probably Jarrod doesn't need it) was a Victron Orion-Tr Smart 12|12 - 30 DC/DC Charger to manage charging the coach batteries from the vehicle alternator while in transit.

  • Ed Dennis

    Enjoyed Jarrod's RELiON Van upgrade! We pull a M-B Sprinter behind our Newmar Dutch Star and are considering adding a RELiON based PV system. The custom Solar Energy System on our motorhome features a battery bank of four RB300-HP RELiON 12v 8D batteries totaling 1,200Ah and 15,360Wh. We have twelve 200w PV panels on top (2,400w) feeding two identical legs of a Magnum Energy 100w Solar Controller, a 3000w Pure Sine Wave Hybrid Inverter/Charger, Auto Generator Start, BMK (Battery Monitoring Kit) and MagWeb so we can see our stats on our cell phones or laptop. With batteries and inverters mounted between the frame rails, we have ideal weight distribution and protection from freezing temps. Essentially, we have two 30a legs without a hook-up! We chose RELiON for its build quality and BMS. We chose the HP version so we have a combo batteries with 300Ah Deep Cycle storage and up to 800a starting power for onboard devices. Our two 15,000 BTU air conditioners have EasyStart installs that reduces the starting load. We also have a 23 cu.ft. refer/freezer w/ice maker and a hydronic heating system with two 15,000 BTU heating rods. RELiON made our 6-year fulltime multi-national RV adventure more reliable and a good deal more comfortable! Our unique RELiON enhanced rig has already been replicated by other RVers.