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In addition to the solar power, I got a few items to make the van experience more comfortable. After three years of heavy use, I can happily report that the van is perfect for me and makes my lifestyle pretty comfortable. Hi Cody, the solar power doesn’t make the van go places, it just powers plug in devices for use inside the van.
Hi, Ive got the solar set up and a honda generator but had I had it to do all over again I wouldve just charged up my 6 deep cycle batteries up from the alternator. I agree that the power from the alternator really puts a lot of charge into the batteries, much more so than the one solar panel on Vanifest. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. Vans launched a campaign to support creative talent using words, images and motion pictures to tell your own story.
I got this van from new and converted it with a lot of hard work, a few mistakes and good help here and there.
Having a campervan opens up so many opportunities for adventure and for getting "off the grid". While researching how to convert my van and looking for ideas I came across a lot of helpful videos but I was also surprised how little advice there was out there.
Ultimately it's a home and for me a campervan is "freedom" so let's share what we know and make life even better.
I don't have all the answers about motorhomes, campervans, living off the grid and things like that. Being a computer geek, it was important to me to keep my electronics safe while plugged in. I can power a 1500 watt appliance for about 5 minutes each day, such as the electric kettle at left which boils water in just a couple minutes. It’s best to just sip 50% of the power and only on rare occasions take it lower than 50%. These items have made the van lifestyle so much better for me and I think most van dwellers would benefit greatly from these items. I don’t have any desire for the stress of searching for a bathroom early in the morning, hair rumpled, looking homeless. Yes, you can sleep with this heater on but I usually just turn it on in the morning or evening when I relax in the van.
A passive solar water tank on the roof of the van sounds like a great way to have a warm shower. You could try van life with your mom’s house as a safety net or a place to go between trips. This is your opportunity to submit a 3-6 minute video where you interview artists, musicians, athletes or anyone who is #LIVINGOFFTHEWALL! Call it a Campervan, land yacht, mobile home, house on wheels, bat mobile, or whatever you will. At the bottom I've put some links to other projects and works stuff I'm involved in so if you want to say "thanks" and help spread the love of all things campervan then check out those links too. If you're enjoying it and want to help support me then please check out some of the other things I'm involved in. Vanifest is the longest model of Dodge Ram Van (19 feet) and had been converted to 4×4 before I purchased it. It was a good price for the large amount of wattage it provided and that was why I chose it over a specialized vehicle solar panel which tend to be smaller and more expensive.
I had a custom plywood box built for it to enclose it, but for smaller batteries plastic boxes are available. I have it hooked up to my sealed battery and it’s draw is so low I hardly even notice it. This porta potti is always ready when I need it, doesn’t smell at all when properly closed, is easy to empty in an outhouse and fits right under the sleeping platform. This one seals completely and doesn’t leak, is easy to pour from, and has a flat surface for food preparation. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears.

My solar panels were intended to constantly trickle charge the batteries so they stay as close to 100% as possible. During the first year of living in my van I rented a parking space for $100 per month at a house with some really fun roommates, you may consider that, too. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer. I was sat in darkness on the roof of the van looking out to the flickering city lights in the distance when I had quite an overwhelming feeling; I am off-grid, I’m doing it! It has some neat safety features, too, like automatically shutting off if tipped or if the CO2 sensor detects that there is too much CO2 due to the heated area not being vented enough.
In my Dodge Ram Van, it’s easy to position the spout at the side door over the plastic step.
I do rely on dump stations or outhouses to empty the toilet, faucets to refill the water, and propane to run the heater and camp stove. I also find a cell phone signal booster helps me get even further out and still enjoy good cell service. I’m wondering if you have ever tried or if you do use passive solar to heat up water. I felt like I had just learned to ride a bike without stabilisers all over again – a huge sense of accomplishment and a crazy feeling of freedom.Being off-grid probably isn’t the easiest way to live but it does seem to offer choice and much freedom with no white lines or boundaries. The plywood box is bolted to the floor under my bed and vented to the outside through a small, plastic vent. I also have plenty of power for smaller items like my laptop (and curling iron, blow dryer, haha) whenever I want. Ice is expensive and so is ruined food, so I feel this expensive fridge was a good investment. I only need to worry about these things once per week at most, and could go much longer if needed. Thats something i would love to do to mine but i don’t know how much it might cost, and does it still have enough power to go fast for interstate travel? I can position the van, my home, wherever I want; I can have the sunset in the back window, the mountains in the front window AND I can live here comfortably with everything I need (apart from a good internet connection). I have only been approached twice while boondocking in my van, and I’ve been sleeping in random places since 2010. In the unlikely event the sealed battery offgasses, the gasses go outside through the vent and not into the sleeping area. The amount of power available is highly variable based on the sun and amount of driving I do, but for my lifestyle it has worked out well. I considered trailers in a mobile park and 5th wheels but each require a stay in a park, which for a single person, may not be too safe for me.
You can find vans that are already converted, and then you wouldn’t need to customize the van yourself or deal with unknown costs. It is (temporary) freedom and I cannot believe my luck.Electricity, water and gas are vital things I need to live comfortably with Internet now being quite a luxury. I can spend about 12 days off-grid before having to get more water and probably over a month if I am near a spring or well.
I did a lot of calculations to decide how much power I needed, and I recommend you do the same. I have been living for 3 weeks now using 2x100W solar panels to power all the my electrical needs via two big 220Ah batteries.
I also wonder about convenience of bathing and using the toilet because if I am not stationed at home with the vehicle, it can be hard to find places to shower, etc. After some tweaks, the solar powered electrical system is completely self sufficient and almost maintenance free.  I’m not exactly frugal with the electricity either and there have been 3 of us living in here for more than half the time.
I plan to do this mobile thing, but want to be stationary until I decide to set off somewhere and I am planning to quit teaching and find work more suited to my passion. I estimate the usage to be about 60-70Ah a day (24hr).I do have a backup in place to charge the batteries from the alternator or mains hook-up cable but have not yet had to use either. Water supply is something I just didn’t really think about in a house and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  My water tank in the van is 70L, which is used for cooking, shower, coffee, washing dishes, and drinking if we have no bottled water. Learning how to be frugal with water is an on-going challenge, although I think I’ve come far in the last few weeks.

OK, showering was at a bare minimum (there is a hot spring and river for washing) but making 50L last a week between two people has required constant care and thought whenever you reach for the tap. I’ve always been able to get connected Internet everywhere I go – its just there, like water. There have been countless times when I just need to check something on the Internet but have not been able to get any connection or I’d have to drive around looking for a WIFI signal, pointing my antenna at apartments, cafes, hotels, Mcdonalds (always have WIFI). This usually means I have very limited online time since I cannot be hanging around at the side of a road in the van for too long.At the moment I am using a 14dB directional Yagi antenna, which does work well (distance wise) but I still have to rely on there being a WIFI connection. If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations then please let me know. I never really thought it was possible to be this disconnected. I’m sorry for the emails I haven’t yet replied to and to the people checking my site asking where I am and why I haven’t posted anything in a while. I have a backlog of posts on my computer but I guess they are useless without an Internet connection. PS we thought you may have been locked up and that was why you weren’t posting you position. Gonna head to Portugal today… see what happens matt campbellppps we (me lewis jose and a few others) are going to be in Benidorm on the 26th till the 28th of september.
I’ll probably be East by then- wanna be near Berlin for end of summer if I can Camper Van ThingsNot sure if you have a smartphone with wifi, but it is fairly easy to set up tethering with an iPhone or android phone so your phone becomes a wifi access point. Me and Dawn have been out in Europe in our Convoy since the start of July, 7000 miles in to our tour. We have spent the passed month in Croatia staying on a camp and picking olives and grapes but now have the urge to move again.
My waknes is electronics and no matter how much headscratching I do can’t seem to fathom stuff out, maybe you could help? I plan to buy solar panels and kit soon, gonna look at prices out here, fancy a meet up and a bit of ‘paid’ installation work? Sorry about this being longwinded keep it lit Trevor and Dawn (2 fifty somethings who are loving the life) Mike HudsonHey Trevor, I’m still waiting to see another Convoy on the road in Europe.
I think there are a few people on forums like Wildcamping and SBMCC who will come to you or meet you to install panels.
I’ve been getting on well with buying a local SIM, putting it in my phone and setting my phone as a wifi hotspot. I found Spain and France really bad for mobile internet though but everywhere else is great (Romania being miles ahead with their comms infrastructure)Give me a shout any time if you need any help and come back with the electronics questions (if you still have them). Trevor BennettHi Mike, The Bimbletron (our Convoy) runs as sweet as, our only problems have been operator error and a flat battery in the immobiliser key. I have found a few places local to me who can provide panels but have yet to come back with prices so for now I just wait. Further research into Sat Int shows the footprint is no good for eastern Europe but I have not checked East Europe suppliers. I think we to will go for the local sim card option too but buy a network signal booster to use if we can find free wifi.
Heading home at the end of Nov but will be back out early next year when we have cleared my lockup (I hate having to pay to store stuff) now we have made the decision to do this travel thing full time.
I like good stories about LDV Convoys going round Europe and never having a problem ??How come they don’t have prices? It’s almost impossible to deal with problems when you have to send panels back to China. Although, they do rarely go faulty.Yeah I also have a signal booster with a really high gain antenna. Just look at how many business offer free wifi… Clive Adams3 allow you to use your allowances in a number of European countries with no extra charge. The further East I’ve gone though, the less of a problem with internet there has been. It would be nice to have just one SIM that would work everywhere though (and fairly priced) camper manI travel all over the US like you do (but in stealth mode to save money in a Vanabode).

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