Trying to decide (for camping in a van) for power: Solar vs. Generator vs. Alternator

How much power could a van (assume a Ford E150 Econoline) deliver with the standard alternator per hour

  • at idle
  • driving at highway speeds

Could be in Amps/hour (at 12VDC)


  • I assume I'll need some sort of regulator to prevent overdrawing from the alternator (and melting it)
  • 2
    The alternator output is based off of the alternator in question. You state a Ford E150, but I'm seeing alternators which putout anywhere from 95A to 200A for the 2000 model year. (I randomly chose a 2000 model, but would assume the variety of available alternators would be the same across the many years the van has been produced). Apr 24, 2022 at 19:02
  • Usually vehicles used for RVs have either an extra large alternator or they add a second one. Usually this is only used to power the RV battery system and not the vehicle systems. You may want to look into isolating the two 12V systems as nearly all RVs do.
    – jwh20
    Apr 25, 2022 at 10:17
  • 1
    Or you get a battery charge controller that takes input from your vehicle (if on) or a solar panel (if connected). The ones I have take up to 25A or 50A (depending on model) which is generally well within the range of an alternator. Also uses the appropriate charging algorithm depending on what type of aux battery you have. Then at camp throw your solar panel out in the sun and plug it in.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 25, 2022 at 13:06


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