This player is building a solar-powered PC…in a van
Two of the coolest photos you’ll find online are panoramic photos of van life and glowing RGB gaming setups. Would it be possible to live on the road in a van without giving up your favorite games? A YouTuber decided to answer this question using solar panels, a bit of math, and a compact gaming PC.
Van Life with your gaming rig
Gamer and content creator Trent Arant, also known as @TTTHEFINEPRINTTT, lives in a van, travels the country and camps in incredible landscapes. It does something that worries many of us: traveling with a gaming PC without unplugging the GPU. Arant figured out how to run his full-fledged gaming setup entirely from solar panels mounted on the roof of his van.
On his YouTube channel, Arant explained that he initially played with a Razer laptop because it was easier to fit in his small space. It then moved to a compact mini-ITX PC. Both were powered entirely by his solar power setup. The panels are connected to a battery which stores energy when there is no sun. Arant’s setup can run for up to 14 hours fully charged on battery alone if there’s no sunlight to recharge it.
Arant even shows how he can play online games like “Halo Infinite” and “World of Warcraft.” It uses two separate Verizon access points for internet service to avoid data speed throttling. There’s almost nowhere Arant can’t take his gaming rig.
Could anyone run a PC on solar power?
Anyone can replicate Arant’s solar-powered gaming setup, whether they’re looking for off-grid or sustainable gaming. This is a technical process that will require some electrical and math work, but if you’ve built your own gaming PC or worked with electronics in the past, it should be manageable.
A good starting point is assemble the different Components, including solar panels, battery, your PC and all electrical parts. You will need a minimum of 300 watts of power per hour from your solar panels, depending on how much power your PC is consuming. You will probably need more than one panel.
Getting into off-grid and sustainable gaming is an investment. Arant mentioned that he spent $10,000 to renovate his van to live and play. If you just want to run your gaming PC on solar power from home, your panels and electrical gear won’t cost as much. However, if you’re hoping to live on the road, you’ll probably need to save up for a while first. In the meantime, you might want to think about preparing your PC for the trip.
Tech: laptops, GPUs and batteries
Running a gaming PC solely on solar power isn’t exactly plug-and-play, especially if you want to live on the road in a van. You will need calculate how much energy your configuration needs and find a system that can deliver that kind of power. You will also need to learn about direct and alternating electrical currents. Solar panels collect DC power, which must be converted to AC for anything that would plug into a wall outlet.
Also, you might want to invest in a battery to store the solar power unless you want it going straight to your PC, which some people have done with success.
Your PC may also need tweaks to withstand life on the road. It can be a chaotic process. Most of us tear down our PCs to protect all the components, especially when it comes to the GPU, which can rip your PCIe ports straight from your motherboard in one fell swoop.
It is possible to have a great, sustainable, solar-powered gaming setup. Laptops are definitely an option, and they’ve gotten better in recent years. You can also try Arant’s tactic and opt for a compact, mini-ITX or micro-ATX build. You might not be able to cram three GPUs and half a dozen hard drives, but you’ll be able to fit everything you need for a great rig into a small, durable package.
Solar power games on the go
Arant’s van life game setup is revolutionary. Gone are the days when PC gaming meant a huge tower rooted in a massive desktop. Now PC gamers can take their device on the road. Running on solar power reduces the carbon footprint even at home, making sustainable play possible for anyone who wants to dive into electronics.