Rich Rebuilds


What do you get when you combine a computer scientist with an engineer? Two successful car designers, engineers and YouTubers. Rich Benoit, of the Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel, and Steven Salowsky, a former Tesla employee, both always had a passion for building cars since they were young and have been continually teaching themselves about how to design and engineer cars as a hobby on the side. They never imagined that their hobby would turn into a popular, educational and comedic YouTube channel with over a million YouTube subscribers and over 125 million total video views.

Although they have previously built Teslas, a solar-powered-Podracer, an electric rat Rod and an electric Mini Cooper, among other vehicles, they recently decided to work on a completely sustainable, solar-plus-storage-powered Mercedes Sprinter van build. They have already installed the solar array and reliable, long-lasting RELiON batteries in the van and have been using the energy provided from this robust system to power their power tools as they continue working on the build. Once complete, the van will be used as a workspace, a recording/podcast studio, as well as a home.

Rich and Steven’s power system includes:

Three reliable and long-lasting RELiON RB200 lithium batteries and a 1 kW solar array power four LED light strips, two induction stoves, a hot water pump, a shower water pump, a freezer, a fridge and all outlets within Rich and Steven’s Mercedes Sprinter van.

Why Rich and Steven switched to lithium:

“We’re based in New England and we know from experience that lead-acid batteries simply can’t handle the fluctuating temperatures of this region. We also didn’t even consider using lead-acid batteries due to their significant size and weight. We designed this build to be as modular and minimalist as possible. For example, we have couches for entertaining that can convert into a bed at night and this wouldn’t have been possible with large lead-acid batteries that would have taken up considerably more space. With the lithium batteries, we could place them in a hidden, much smaller compartment near the spare tire to maximize the living space.”

Why Rich and Steven chose RELiON:

“We have a lot of friends and fellow YouTubers who have used RELiON batteries in their van builds. We could have built our own battery pack, but we liked that these batteries came in a self-contained box and had a reliable and advanced battery management system. They were also quite easy to install. We of course also love that these batteries use the safest, most environmentally benign lithium battery chemistry - lithium iron phosphate, as they have a wider temperature range and we don’t have to worry about them overheating or causing fires.”

RB200 Sprinter Van Lithium Battery

How Rich and Steven’s lithium system helped them challenge their limits:

“We can now travel anywhere we want, for work or pleasure, and for extended periods of time - all without ever worrying about losing power. We designed this van to, among other things, be a mobile recording/podcast studio, and the deep discharge, greater energy density and fast recharge capabilities of these batteries now allow us to record anywhere for as long as we’d like - including throughout darker winter days. Also, when our assistant takes this out on the road and uses it as a home and office, she can focus more on her actual work rather than worrying about keeping her phone and laptop charged.”

Rich and Steven’s advice for people considering switching to lithium batteries:

“The significantly greater weight and space, let alone narrower temperature range and more limited, shallow discharge capabilities, of lead-acid batteries, make them a non-starter for van builds. Lithium batteries - particularly lithium iron phosphate batteries - are a far more superior option for vans, as they allow you to maximize space, reduce fuel use and receive more energy from a smaller package.”

Check out the Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel to learn more about Rich and Steven’s work.