EmPOWERing RV Entrepreneurs with Off-Grid Electrical Solutions – RVE # 332

Neil Gibson of Nomad Electric discusses the best off-grid electrical solutions for RVers with Rose on The RV Entrepreneur episode #332.

If you’re thinking of transforming your RV into an off-grid capable machine, you need to know about the services and education Neil Gibson provides at ⁠⁠www.nomadelectric.net⁠⁠

Neil, a seasoned nomad, has spent the past four years living off-grid with his family in the South-West, immersing himself in the freedom of van life. Transitioning from a career in IT, Neil found his calling as a mobile RV and Solar technician, dedicated to assisting vacationers, businesses, and full-time road-lifers in transforming their RVs, buses, or vans into fully off-grid capable machines. Beyond repairs, Neil offers comprehensive on-site education to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills to confidently navigate their electrical systems. This means YOU help with all aspects of the install!

Tune in to hear how Neil empowers RVers to mitigate common electrical mistakes and hazards.

Learn his unique approach to designing electrical systems, setting him apart from other DIY RV Techs. Discover his advice for entrepreneurs looking to get into RV tech. And hear about his heartwarming success stories as well as some of the worst systems he’s had to repair!

Neil invites you to embark on a journey towards safer and more sustainable RV living.

off-grid electrical

EmPOWERing RV Entrepreneurs: Navigating Off-Grid Electrical Solutions

With Neil Gibson of Nomad Electric

Your Host: Rose Willard





Listen to The RV Entrepreneur Episode #332

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The RV Entrepreneur #332 Full Episode Transcript:

EmPOWERing RV Entrepreneurs: Navigating Off-Grid Electrical Solutions with Neil Gibson of Nomad Electric

ROSE: What if you had a custom solar and battery system designed for your RV and your needs, and the installer had you assist on all aspects of the installation? And what if this empowered you with the knowledge to troubleshoot regardless of location, saving you time and money?

RV LIFE: Welcome to the RV Entrepreneur Podcast, the weekly show for nomads, work campers, RVers and entrepreneurs looking to earn a living or build a business while enjoying the RV lifestyle. This week’s host is Rose Willard. Let’s settle in and enjoy the RV entrepreneur podcast brought to you by RV life.

ROSE: Welcome to the RV Entrepreneur podcast. I’m your host, Rose Willard, and today’s episode promises to be electrifying, pun intended, as we dive into the world of off grid living and RV electrical systems. With Neil Gibson, the founder of Nomad Electric. Neil is a nomad who’s been living off grid in a van with his family in the southwest for four years now. He transitioned from a career in it to become a mobile RV and solar technician, helping vacationers, businesses and full time road lifers transition their RVs, buses or vans from stock units to completely off grid capable machines. He also offers repairs and on site education. In this episode, Neil will dive deep into the array of services he provides, from custom solar installations to onsite education, empowering our viewers with the knowledge and tools to navigate their electrical systems confidently. With a firm belief in the power of education, Neil emphasizes the significance of understanding these systems to mitigate common mistakes and hazards on the road. I took away so much valuable information from this episode, and I think you will too. But before we welcome Neil onto the podcast, let’s take a short break to hear from the sponsors that make this show possible.

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ROSE: Hi Neil, thanks for joining me today. Welcome to the show.

NEIL: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

ROSE: I am really looking forward to this conversation with you today, because we’re going to be talking about a very important subject for our viewers working from the road, whether they’re plugged into shore power or off grid. And that’s our RVs electrical systems. And we need these systems to be safe and reliable. But before we get into all of that, please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

NEIL: I’m Neil, I’m the founder of Nomad Electric. And what we do is we, uh, design and install custom solar and off grid electrical solutions for RVs, buses, vans, cabins. And we also offer on site education while we install.

ROSE: Okay. That’s great. And you are a nomad. You’re living in your van full time. Yes. Or your RV. And how long have you been doing that?

NEIL: We’ve been on the road now for five years.

ROSE: Oh, congrats. A nice, long time. Um, and can you share a little bit about yourself before? Like, how did you get into RV in the first place?

NEIL: Well, I was a nine to fiver working an office job as an IT guy. I as an IT geek. We owned a home, had a mortgage and we were just struggling to make ends meet. So we sold them the house and moved into an RV. It was cheaper to live in. And then I got laid off of my job, and my partner was a nurse at the time, so she activated as a travel nurse. So we decided to just move around and do the travel nursing thing.

ROSE: Oh that’s perfect. So how did this lead into establishing Nomad Electric?

NEIL: Well, when when I got laid off, there was a huge influx of people in the IT sector. So it was saturated with people and I couldn’t find any work. So naturally, I had to figure out one way of pivoting to something else, using the same skills that I had developed as an IT professional. And that was, uh, initially pivoted into becoming an RV tech, like just generally fixing RVs in general. So I went to a tech school to do that. And, and I started my first iteration of my business was, um, the rig doctor mobile RV services, and I was the rig doctor for a couple of years. And the main issue that kept on cropping up while I was fixing RVs was electrical and people not understanding electrical enough, causing problems, and it seemed to be the biggest hazard when RV is electrical and not understanding how it works. Why it works.

ROSE: Yeah, that is very, very true. It’s so complicated. And can you tell us a little bit how you like what the process was for becoming an RV tech? Was that also when you became a solar tech as well?

NEIL: Uh, no, I went to school. There was a school in Texas that I went to. It was offered a couple of courses, and, um, it was during Covid, so it was all over, um, WebEx, things like that. Uh, zoom and I also went into inspecting RVs, pre-purchase inspections, like a third party inspector, and it just transitioned from there.

ROSE: Oh that’s great. So since this is the RV entrepreneur podcast, what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

NEIL: Being an RV entrepreneur means supporting yourself and your family by yourself most of the time, which is also outside of the conventional means, such as 9 to 5 rat race stuff. Because, um, living in an RV means you have less, um, less money going out makes it easier to be an entrepreneur when you you have less of, you know, less out. You can worry less about what’s coming in.

ROSE: Yeah, you have more control, I believe, of all of that. You know, as an entrepreneur and as an RV, you can control how much you’re spending each month to stay or if you’re boondocking in your off grid, like that’s your specialty, you can save a lot of money. And that was what we really dove into. And that was that’s our thing. We absolutely love that. Not so easy on the East Coast though. So no, just so you know.

NEIL: That’s where we started was uh, in Georgia, Florida, Georgia area. Yeah. And you kind of have to be plugged in there during the summertime. Otherwise you just fry with the humidity and it’s just yeah.

ROSE: It’s a lot. Yeah, a lot for the system. So okay, let’s dive deeper into Nomad Electric now. So what are the services that you offer? I think you mentioned a little bit. Let’s dive a little deeper.

NEIL: Okay I offer custom solar installation. I design the system, I create a wiring diagram for the system. And once the parts have arrived, we go on site. We come to the person. So if you’re boondocking in BLM land, we come to you. Or if you had an RV park, we come to you and we install with you there. There’s no shop involved because we’re mobile. We’re in an RV. We don’t we don’t have a shop which has huge amounts of storage for components and parts. So the way I’ve structured the business is I build the wiring diagram and based off of the client’s needs, what they want to run and for how long, etc.. And then I build a, uh, parts list, which are generally just Amazon links that they follow, and they can shop around to get the parts to their budget, and then they order them and the client orders the parts in. And then I come in when everything’s there and we install them, and because we don’t have a shop, the rig is not dropped off anywhere. The client is there on the day, and I encourage them to bring a notepad and pen because I, I lambaste them with information because by the time I’m done, they need to be able to administer their own electrical system by themselves and troubleshoot and be confident enough to do that. Because living the lifestyle, I’ve come across multiple situations personally where I need to know where my wires are. I need to know where my fuse box is. I need to know how to test to see if things are working the way they are, because they govern things like fridges and lights and CPAp machines. It’s this is not, um, it’s it’s not playtime anymore. When your first time in an RV. This is serious business. And if things go wrong, things can can go wrong badly. So that’s why I offer those services the way I do.

ROSE: That’s fantastic. I agree with you 100% that as the RV owner, you need to be educated in your systems and especially those electrical systems, and then you can troubleshoot a little and try and figure things out. And you don’t get into trouble, especially, you know, being off grid. You don’t really have that luxury of being near someone that necessarily that knows what they’re doing. So I think that’s very, very good. Yeah. So what’s your approach to designing these off grid electrical systems for the RVs? You know, what factors do you prioritize in your designs need.

NEIL: The first part of the of the process is to meet up like we’re meeting up right now. We talk about okay, so what do you want to do? Like I’m not selling parts. I’m not I’m not a salesman. I establish what they want to run and I tell them, look, I’ll make a list. What do you want to run on? For how long? You want to run a microwave? You want to run this? You want to run that. Okay. And then we kind of have a come to Jesus moment when it comes to certain things like, okay, so this is the real usage. Like some people want to run an air conditioner. Okay. What kind of air conditioner do you use? You know, and for how long. Right. So the first process is to design a system based off of their needs. And basically that system is not the be all and end all of their electrical system. If their budget doesn’t match, I build to get them where they need to be at to a certain point, but safely. So we’re using switches. We’re using fuses we’re building to, um, a North American electrical code. So that it’s safe and it’s reliable and efficient. So once that’s established, I come back and I, I go away and I design their system on paper.

NEIL: I actually put it down on a wiring diagram. And this is all the wires, the wire sizes, the location. And then I send that to them and say, okay, this is your new system and this gets them. This is starting the education process. So they’re like okay, so this is what my new system is going to look like on paper. And when we’re done with the build that a finalized version is sent to them and they can laminate it and put it in the bay where their electrical system is. So if they do need to have some guy come and fix their system later on, they have a map as to where everything is. And that’s borne out of me fixing other people’s systems where they’ve dropped off their rig, to these installers, where they’ve thrown wires all over the place and they have no idea what’s going on, and they get their rig back sight unseen. And I come in there, I’m trying to fix it. I don’t I don’t know where everything is. Where do they put this? Where do they put that? So yeah, out of experience. The wiring diagram is is an essential part. And then from the wiring diagram I build them a uh professional parts list which has lengths of wire components, specific components.

NEIL: So if they want to find it in a different place outside of Amazon, that’s cheaper. As long as they get the right component, that’s fine. It matches their budget, gives them control. And it also it’s part two of the education system is like they’re starting to educate themselves okay. So this is what this is for. This is oh so this one’s for this. This works okay. So they’re starting to formulate in their head before I even put hands on their system how it’s going to look and come together. So they order the parts and then they contact me. And then depending on where we are, if we’re close by, I’ll come in person and do an inventory of the parts, make sure everything is there, or we’ll just do a zoom meeting or a Google Meet meeting to just go over the parts, make sure everything is good, and then we schedule an install date and I show up. I come to them bring I bring my expertise and my tools, and they have the parts and they’re ready with a notepad and pen ready to participate. They participate in the in the build as it gets put together.

ROSE: That’s excellent. I absolutely love that. That is the way it should be for sure. Since you also fix electrical systems, what’s the worst that you’ve seen? Like how bad have you seen some systems?

NEIL: Uh, yeah.

NEIL: Well, remember I told you that, uh, a vast amount of people, other businesses that do what I do, they operate a a shop where the rig is dropped off for X amount of days, and it’s all done sight unseen. Mhm. So I’ve seen, uh, fundamental misunderstanding of the physics behind electricity. And one of the worst ones I saw was in a ProMaster van. The client had dropped it off sight unseen. And one of the among many grievous, uh, infringements upon electrical code that I found was, uh, they’d use an actual DC blade fuse block to distribute electricity from an inverter, and then they plugged in outlets into the DC fuse block. So which caused it to. It was so bad. Uh, because it’s not designed or see, a DC fuse block is only designed to distribute 12 volt DC. That’s 12V, uh, two 24 volt. And while he he decided to use AC, which is 120 volt. So suffice to say I couldn’t physically remove the the lugs and the wires attached to it because they had arc welded themselves together. Oh, so I had to snip all the wires off and physically remove it. That was. Yeah.

ROSE: Oh, wow.

NEIL: Another thing is splices. People have no idea how to do splices. I mean, I do linemen splices, which is a braided system with a heat shrink over the top. And a lot of the issues like, um, one person came to me and said the solar panels stopped charging my battery bank, uh, when I hit the brakes in my van when I’m driving, I’m like, what? What? So I go, I’m on site and I’m looking at it and I. I pull out the, uh, the wire coming down from the electrical panels, and I hear this. And what they did was they spliced two wires together because they didn’t have they didn’t run enough wire, so they just spliced them together. And I was able to just just pull it apart in my hand. Live, live wire from the roof, from a solar panel. Now, the electricity from a solar panel before it goes to the charge controller is it can be upwards of 100V, you know, or more depending on how many panels are up there. So that will zap you big time. Oh yeah. Of course. Yeah. Cause fires and problems. I mean, I’ve seen, uh, one lady came to me and said, hey, um, I think I, somebody saw somebody stole some solar panels from the top of my roof. So I get up there and I found that, no, nobody had stolen the panels. Whoever attached the mounting brackets to her solar panels used roofing nails instead of quarter inch screws. You know, washer, lock, washer and nut to keep it in place. So it’s vibration free, though she didn’t she didn’t have them stolen while she was driving down I-40. They came off the back of her van and could have caused some serious, uh, issues and safety issues.

ROSE: Yeah, that’s an example that it’s not only hurting you, it can hurt others down the road, for sure. So this kind of brings me like, what are some common misconceptions or like you’re talking about some, well, purposeful mistakes I guess. But what are that people make when it comes to their systems? Like how can these be avoided?

NEIL: Education is the best thing. Yeah. Understanding I mean being confident around electricity is is huge misconceptions of I think the biggest one is air conditioner use understanding.

ROSE: I have to agree.

NEIL: How much that draws. It’s a lot. And I build electrical systems that can power them. But for longevity, how long you can power and depends on the battery bank.

ROSE: Right. You need a lot of, uh, lithium battery, uh, those solar panels and inverters. Yeah.

NEIL: And, you know, there’s ways of there’s ways of doing it. I mean, just wait and wait until it’s the sunniest part of the day so that your solar panels are offsetting some of that usage. And there’s different units you can get. There’s some DC air conditioners on the market now which are pretty efficient as well. And you can get window unit some. A lot of people don’t realize that window units are super efficient. They run about 400W compared to 1500 1600 watts. So you can run a window unit in a smaller space for longer than an RV, which is designed to run off of a 30 amp or 50 amp short power connector.

ROSE: Um, yeah. Have you installed any of those typical air conditioners in an RV?

NEIL: Uh, 48V? Uh, I haven’t installed a 48 volt. I have replaced, um, air conditioners on on RVs.

ROSE: So when you are putting in these systems, have you encountered any challenges like what are some common challenges when you’re designing these systems? I mean, you’ve got all types of different RVs. Some are round, some are boxes, some are small big.

NEIL: Yeah, that was going to be my answer right there. No RV is the same. Uh, or right bus van. Everything is different. The black box that you have, usually it’s under the fridge or somewhere where it shouldn’t be under a sink. You know, electrical. You know, where your breakers are and your DC, uh, blade fuses. If I’m retrofitting an RV, then I need to tie the inverter into a transfer switch, which eventually goes into the distribution panel. So the location of the distribution panel, which feeds basically all the other circuits, the branch circuits that are in the RV, that location can be in the opposite direction of where the battery bank can be. So the challenge is connecting all the systems together and managing voltage drop and keeping the wire runs as small as possible. That’s the biggest challenge. I like to keep all of my DC systems close together for efficiency. So I want the battery bank, the inverter, the charge control, everything in the same area right there and then run, um, the, the AC wires because they’re higher voltage 120 volt, they can run longer without having a voltage drop. So generally I try and keep those the longer if I have to keep those longer so they can reach the distribution panels and things like that. That’s the main challenge, is that it’s different every time. Every build is going to be completely different. There is no cookie cutter build.

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ROSE: That’s a good thing, you know, and have so much experience with it that you know what you’re doing because my goodness, it is complicated. Don’t do it yourself. You will be dangerous sometimes. Yes. Get someone who knows what they’re doing. So let’s see. Let’s get into the trends in this off grid living. And it definitely seems to me that there are more RVers wanting to go off grid more for many different reasons. But how have you seen this demand for off grid solutions in the RV and nomadic living community evolve over the years?

NEIL: Yeah, I’ve seen it evolve from mostly people running, uh, lead acid and AGM as the prices of lithium phosphate batteries have dropped, more people have been jumping on to do this because it becomes more affordable to to do it because lithium batteries 4 or 5 years ago were $1,000 for a 100 amp hours. Absolutely astronomical. And some brands still are thousand dollars for one 100 amp hour battery. And now batteries. You can get $250 for 100 amp hour battery, or $400 for 100 amp hour battery. And the size of the batteries are shrinking all the time. I was at the, uh, Big Tent event in Quartzsite this year, and I saw a 200 amp hour lithium phosphate battery, only slightly bigger than your generic 100 amp hour lithium phosphate battery, which is astronomical. It’s great to see. Um, so things are shrinking. One thing I haven’t seen change is the efficiency of, uh, solar panels. Um, solar cells basically have a max efficiency of only 23%. I was expecting them to come up a little bit, but I haven’t seen it change. I’ve seen the inclusion of bifacial solar panels, where they have the solar cells underneath the panel, as well as on top, where it captures light that bounces from a surface underneath where the panel is mounted. But it only really adds about 25% to the output of the panel. So it’s kind of not worth the price tag right now. So plus they’re heavier, much heavier.

NEIL: So yeah, I mean, things are shrinking. Things are getting smaller.

ROSE: Well, that yeah, that’s good for the RV world. I mean, with those batteries, especially the lithium batteries, you have to put them inside, like, especially for cold weather, right? They don’t do well at all in cold weather.

NEIL: And it’s it’s good for me.

ROSE: Put them under beds. Yeah. It’s good for you.

NEIL: It’s good. Yeah.

NEIL: You should see some of the. Yeah. I mean, I should have people take a picture of me when I’m working on some of these rigs. I’m like a contortionist. I’m trying to like a cat trying to get into a one of those glass bowls. You know, if it fits, it sits kind of thing. It’s like, yeah, my my core strength is really high because I’m, I’m basically doing planks to put some of these, some of these, uh, components together in such smaller spaces. So it’s nice to see that they, they’re making the components smaller for me to work with.

ROSE: Yeah. Uh, we’ve been kind of looking into some vans, uh, for some part time living. We were looking at the storyteller overland and, uh, the newer. Not sorry. I’m sorry. It wasn’t not it wasn’t storyteller. It was mod vans. I’m sorry. They are now making these. They’re installing these lithium battery cells that go under the floor and they’re super small. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of, like, the.

NEIL: Tesla Tesla cells that sit underneath the floor kind.

ROSE: Of. Yes, yes.

NEIL: Okay.

ROSE: So that I thought that was neat.

NEIL: I have concerns about that.

ROSE: Okay. Oh wait. Go do tell.

NEIL: Well, same the same concerns I have for Tesla’s if there’s a crack. Have you seen a lithium fire.

ROSE: Oh no I have not.

NEIL: They are they are the most yes, they’re the most violent mixings. And all it has to do is, uh, is raw lithium or the lithium cells come in contact with water and that’s it. And that fire is almost unstoppable to put out. It burns. It’s like, uh, watching phosphorus burn, and it’s it just goes, and you cannot stop it. It will melt through everything. My concern with floorboard, um, flat cells is being comfortable with the containment of it. If it’s if there’s a crack and you flood out, you can imagine. And we’ve seen some of that in Florida with some of the hurricanes that come through there. These Teslas, they’re just melting down because they are getting flooded out. And there’s a there’s a hairline crack somewhere in in the cell in the battery pack.

NEIL: Oh my goodness.

ROSE: Yeah. Yeah. So where do you feel like the best place is for the lithium. And I guess not the cells then huh.

NEIL: Yeah. Well the battery itself, the whole thing. I prefer to mount them, um, elevated up off the floor slightly.

NEIL: Okay.

NEIL: In an RV or a van, it’s like, um, building a small one inch table for them to sit on. So a. Plywood on top of stilts so that if there is a water leak, it runs underneath and not over.

ROSE: Very good. Anything interesting in your designs that kind of stand out and is different and you feel maybe safer and better besides that, some of your wiring.

NEIL: Well, um, I.

NEIL: Mean, I like to I mount everything up high up off the ground. Don’t worry it directly to the ground. So I kind of build to worst case scenarios. Okay, so a tree limb comes through your RV and it’s storming outside and water’s getting in. Your electrical system needs to be waterproof to an extent so that it doesn’t get affected by that and causing problems because it causes fires. And, you know, it’s a it’s a life safety issue. If, um, if it’s not, I built your electrical code so I, I size wires correctly and I size fuses to protect the wires. I always use a dual pole disconnect from the, um, solar panels before they reach the charge controller. And I always installed battery disconnects, which is so that when I’m done, you, the client, can switch it all off and administer it to yourself. You want to make additions? You can. Big success story of my education was one gentleman who had a ProMaster van, um, that I fixed up and he wanted. It was the same gentleman that had the DC, uh, fuse block distributing his AC loads. I said, no, you need a an actual distribution panel for your AC, complete with breakers. And, um, we couldn’t get one on the day, unfortunately, it was raining. It was, you know, we couldn’t find it. So he was like, you know what? By the time we were done, he went from not being comfortable to sending me pictures of him installing his own AC distribution panel into his van and wiring himself.

NEIL: Fantastic.

NEIL: He was that confident from being nothing, being like, oh no, I can’t touch this. What if I do this and they get zapped to actually just getting in there, rolling his sleeves up and making additions? Because what I build can be added to later on. You can modify it. What if you want to add a diesel heater later on? How do I do that? Well, you will know by the time I’m done.

ROSE: Yeah, your education is priceless. So what has been, uh, your favorite or your most memorable project where it made a real significant impact on one of your clients off grid experience.

NEIL: Okay, yeah, I definitely one lady, um, reached out to me. She was, um, she was pregnant at the time, a single mom to be. And she had a, uh, an RV, uh, up in the mountains of Colorado. And she had a semi homestead kind of setup, but her RV was stationary. She wasn’t moving, but she had an RV that was stationary. Um, there’s no power lines out in that part of, um, Colorado. And so she wanted an off grid system built so that she could power her furnace and everything in her RV overnight to keep her warm, because it gets down to about -20 sometimes up there, you know, and it’s provided she has enough power in her battery bank to run her furnace. She’ll stay warm and and be fine. So I designed a system much like I do, and I send it to her and she got the parts in and parts came in. We set a date and I came over to install. And her water breaks when I get there. So you’ve seen, uh, you know, HGTV where they’re like, oh, the Property Brothers or this, that and the other and like, oh, we’ve got 48 hours to transform this house into a blah, blah, blah. But that was literally what happened. She went to the hospital, had the baby, and I had two days to retrofit her RV so that she could bring a baby back, run a microwave, you know, kettle, uh, everything that she could possibly want. Plus keep the heat going overnight so that nobody froze. And yeah, I did. By the time she got back, I had everything installed and she was crying.

ROSE: Oh, I bet how rewarding for you.

NEIL: Yes, that.

NEIL: Was a very rewarding project.


ROSE: Fantastic. So for individuals who kind of maybe want to start a business in the RV industry, whether they’re fixing RVs or they’re electric or solar, what advice would you give them based on your journey with Nomad Electric?

NEIL: The first iteration is not and doesn’t have to be the one that’s the most successful or the one that carries forward. Like, I started off as a RV tech, like a generic RV tech, and it evolved. So your business evolves over time and it’s not the be all or end all of your existence and career as an entrepreneur. So take it in your stride. Make changes as you see fit. Things evolve as they should.

NEIL: Mhm.

ROSE: Yeah. And you were passionate about fixing things to begin with in the RV space. Like you had the it that kind of background. But this is something that came from your desire to learn more, teach yourself help others would you say.

NEIL: Yeah definitely. It was um, I definitely had to do a pivot and I had to learn some new skills to. You’re always going to be learning. I’m still learning. There’s always stuff, new stuff to learn in in my field, in everyone’s field.

ROSE: So that is true. Never stop learning. So what are some key lessons that you’ve learned being an entrepreneur in this RV space that might benefit others looking to enter this market?

NEIL: Take your time. Have a back up plan. Be open. Be open to change. And just because you woke up one morning and had an idea doesn’t mean it’s the quick, get rich quick scheme. Don’t assume that any of your ideas are going to be get rich quick schemes, you know or what I mean. Scheme. Scheme sounds very derogatory, but you know what I mean.

ROSE: I know it takes time.

NEIL: Let it evolve and and take your time with it.

ROSE: Right? Yeah. Anything good that’s worth creating definitely takes time. Um, so from your perspective, how do you see the RV industry evolving more, you know, in terms of these off grid capabilities and sustainability? Like where do you see this future going for RVs?

NEIL: You mean like, um, on the showroom floor kind of thing, or as people using RVs.

NEIL: People.

ROSE: Using RVs, like in that off grid type? I guess maybe both. Let’s say both. Let’s say like for the companies, what are they going to be producing more of? And then like people in their RVs, you feel like they’re going to continue using, you know, being more off grid. I mean, I know you don’t have the crystal ball to tell you this.

NEIL: But.

ROSE: What do you feel?

NEIL: Well, uh.

NEIL: The companies that that make the RVs, the ones that I’m seeing on the showroom floor, they’re starting to incorporate more of the components that I would normally install as a full setup. But they’re not. They’re doing it, uh, halfway. Really. It’s not like I’m seeing fifth wheels where the Victron charge controller in it and a couple of panels on the roof, but then they’re slapping a big ol it’s got solar in it, you know, sticker on it. So I think the RV industry as a whole, as far as the, as the building of them at the factory, they are way behind everything. They don’t expect them to come out with something that I would build, uh, any time soon. Now, as far as the industry, as far as being off grid, the advent of Starlink and internet services like, um, Wi-Fi hotspots are improving all the time, which are making it more feasible for people to be off grid. And these systems are using less and less power all the time. Starlink, not so much. It’s in its first iteration, uses about 80W of continuous power, which is quite a lot for just internet. Like my hotspot. I have a four year old Nighthawk M1, and it uses three watts of power. So yeah, but shrinking the shrinking of components and the more efficient efficiency level of components is is basically on the move all the time. Um.

ROSE: I know we touched on this, the education part, but can you kind of go back a little bit and discuss what what someone really needs to know initially right off the bat for their off grid, like you were saying, what do you want to use more? What’s your usage? Can you dive a little bit more into that past? Just the usage?

NEIL: Yes. As I said before, technologies are changing all the time and there’s a lot of manufacturers out there with components. Now that Bluetooth directly to your phone. I use Victron components in almost all of my builds because they make them so user friendly. It’s ridiculous. So getting things like Victron components, and then you can open your phone and you can see live what your system is pulling. It makes it easier for you to manage. It gets easier than you think. Just have to have to have the right components put in. But once they’re in, you can put settings in and you can see how much your microwave is pulling, and you can see for how long you can run things like how many hours left, like the my van has. As a 300 amp hour lithium phosphate battery in it with victron components, and I can run an air fryer for four hours straight. And I know that because of my Victronconnect app on my phone. So your power usage habits will change as your power usage becomes more visible to you, so don’t worry.

ROSE: Yeah, that makes sense. And it’s good to have that feedback. And then you can directly just change your habits if need be. It’s perfect. That’s great. So I feel very strongly and I’m sure you do that community and collaboration in the RV thing and the off grid space is very important. So how do you how does Nomad Electric engage with the RV community beyond providing the services and your education? Are there events or forums or things that you participate in to connect with these fellow RV enthusiasts?

NEIL: I use Instagram, I go to events like the RTR and the big tent event and things like that. I also use social media there. I’m not very good with social media. I do reach out in forums like that.

NEIL: Yeah that’s good.

ROSE: So where can we all connect with you and follow you and get in touch with you for your services?

NEIL: Well, my.

NEIL: My website is Nomad Electric Net. You can go on there and schedule a discovery call with me. Um, if you have questions and things like that. I also have a bunch of testimonials on there and pictures of my work. I’m also on Instagram at, uh, Nomad Electric LLC. If you go to my website, there’s a link to my Instagram right there, and there’s a link page on there as well.

ROSE: Do you have a blog on there as well, where you give a little more education about some of the things that you offer?

NEIL: Yes, there’s a there’s a blog on there as well.

ROSE: Excellent. So is there anything exciting or any new projects in the future coming up for you?

NEIL: I have a couple of builds coming up. Um, one is, uh, a class C retrofit. All of the components are in that I need to work with are under the bed in the back of the van of the RV, and all of the solar panels need to be on the front, so it’s going to be a challenge, uh, getting everything. It’s probably going to be my most compact build yet, because I’m cramming in a lot of stuff that the client needs. And a big issue with, uh, RVs is that they don’t make them with, uh, the mindset that somebody needs to come in and fix it. So things are everywhere. So it’s a spaghetti mess of wires.

NEIL: So that’s it. Yeah.

ROSE: Good luck.

NEIL: Yeah, yeah.

NEIL: And I mean, every manufacturer, whoever told if somebody asks me, oh what’s the best manufacturer of RV? I said, they’re all the same. They are all the same. Yeah. From the most expensive to the cheapest. They’re all the same.

NEIL: So yeah.

NEIL: That’s going to be a challenge. And I like challenges. And that’s what’s unique about the way I run my business is every single one is is different. Every single one is.

NEIL: Different is new.

ROSE: And different. Yeah. How exciting. Is it just you that works on these or do you have anyone that helps you out?

NEIL: Just me. My partner will sometimes. She usually takes pictures and videos and things like that. But it’s just me and the client because I’m like, you get over here. This is how you do this. Come here. Crimp this wire. This is how you do it. Yeah. Come here. Crimp this wire. Connect this together.

ROSE: I absolutely love that. That’s just that’s awesome. Because that learning in the hands on that’s I mean, it stays with you. Right. And then you form such a great connection with your client. Yeah.

NEIL: I’m not afraid of my workmanship, so that’s awesome.

ROSE: Now, do you have anything? Where, uh, once you’re done with the whole thing, can they still contact you? And just like, hey, troubleshoot a little bit more or.

NEIL: Yeah, they they can reach out to me anytime. I have a discord channel that they gain access to. They can come in and post pictures, they can text me and things like that. Okay. Ask advice. Hey, I want to add this to my thing. What do you think? I said, yeah, awesome. And I’ll put together a wiring diagram for them and send them out to him. So hey, connect it like this and they’ll do it because by the time they’re done, they they have the tools and the know how to do it.

ROSE: One last thing. Do you have you ever thought about, uh, maybe virtual calls for some, like, minor troubleshooting, that kind of thing? Or is it just always in person? Which is great, but I’m just wondering.

NEIL: Yeah, I do virtual calls for troubleshooting. Um, usually it’s just simple stuff that I don’t need to put hands on.

ROSE: Right. Yeah, that’s that’s what I would assume. All right. Well, is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience, whether it’s about Nomad Electric or the RV lifestyle or just RV entrepreneurs? Anything you want to add or say?

NEIL: Yeah, I.

NEIL: Said this to a lot of people that were at the, uh, the Rubber Tramp rendezvous, which is the, um, the Van life, uh, group that meets every, uh, January in Quartzsite. We went to the open house there. We showed off our van like the one we live in, and they were amazed by, you know, the build and everything, like. And I just I think the closing message is, uh, there is no wrong way to design your van. If you put an electrical system in, there’s built it so that, you know, you can expand on it so you can grow later. You don’t have to install the $10 million electrical system in one go like you can. You can do them in in sections if you need to.

ROSE: Yeah, that’s very good. We don’t think about that. But that’s very good advice. Well, I want to thank you so much, Neil, today for taking the time to share your story and some very good tips and advice, and I’ll be sure to put all your links in the show notes.

NEIL: Great.

NEIL: Thanks for having me.

ROSE: It’s clear that the journey of RV entrepreneurship is not just about hitting the open road, it’s about understanding the intricate systems that power our adventures and businesses alike. From Neil’s story, we’ve learned the importance of safe and reliable electrical setups in our RVs, as well as the invaluable role of education and community in navigating the ever evolving landscape of off grid living. I really like the way he has structured his business model to empower and educate the client. His foundation and passion of educating really comes through, and I love this because it’s so crucial that we as Rv’ers know our systems. His business offers so much value to the client. So I have a question for you. Is there a way that you can model your customer service systems in a similar way to Neil’s business model for customer service? I bet you can, as you continue on your own entrepreneurial journey in the RV world, remember Neil’s words of wisdom there’s no wrong way to design your van or RV, as long as you’re equipped with the knowledge and support to do it safely and efficiently. I hope you enjoyed and learned something from this episode, and if you did, please go into the RV Entrepreneur Facebook group and share your comments with us. I’d love to continue this conversation over there. Have a great week!

The RV Entrepreneur is presented by RV Life – Tools that Make Camping Simple

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Rose Willard