heaters

Heaters for the RV

How To Stay Warm In Winter

STAYING COMFY IN A RV DURING THE WINTER MONTHS IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE. EVEN THE SNOWBIRDS THAT GO WAY SOUTH ARE SOMETIMES CONFRONTED WITH A COLD SPELL OF A FEW DAYS.

Staying warm during such a period can be difficult, yet good planning of your van conversion will keep your Cargo Van and you nice and cozy.

coldHeating issues are common in RV’s, where manufacturers seldom make an extra effort to upgrade the wall, floor and ceiling insulation, which leaves the occupant vulnerable when no electricity is available. With full hook-ups there is seldom a problem, yet many of us with smaller sized RV’s frequently like to boondock and are struggling to stay comfortable.

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financial

Can You Afford A Van Conversion?

Financial Matters

THE IDEA OF BUILDING AN RV ON THE CHEAP, BY CONVERTING A CARGO VAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ACHIEVABLE FANTASY. SPENDING LONG VACATIONS IN IT OR EVEN LIVING PERMANENTLY IN IT, COULD BE ECONOMICAL AND ADVENTUROUS.

To achieve that goal, you have to sit down and start facing the reality, that a substantial sum of money can be involved. The expenditure goes primarily towards the vehicle and the transformation of the interior.

The major expense involves the purchase of the van. Dependent on your choice of a second-hand or new van, the initial outlay can vary between a few thousand dollars up to $40,000 and more.

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flooring-materials

Is Any Floor Material Good Enough?

Living in a confined space, with the outside dirt just next to your living room floor, results in constant dusty floors. Basing the selection of a flooring material on cleanliness, durability and weight, should be a priority.

A common choice in RV’s is regular carpet, which is affordable, easy to install and comfortable to walk on. Looks clean at first sight, but in reality is a collector of dirt, with a major disadvantage: the need of some type of vacuum. In a place with a limited electricity supply, this may pose a problem.

029A better solution is some type of ‘hard’ flooring. In my first conversion I used a product called TrafficMaster Allure Ultra which has stood up well to a fairly rough use. This was installed as a floating floor cover and needed no gluing.

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weigh-station

GVWR: The limit for Cargo Van Conversions

REGULATIONS ABOUT WHO HAS TO STOP AT WEIGH STATIONS DIFFER FROM STATE TO STATE, BUT IS IN GENERAL LIMITED TO COMMERCIAL VEHICLES OR VEHICLES WITH A GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR) OF 10,000 LBS. OR MORE.

weigh-stationIn addition, any police officer having reason to believe that a vehicle or combination of vehicles is exceeding its legal weight limit may require the driver to stop and submit to a weighing of the vehicle.

Outfitting a standard cargo van with additional windows, solar panels, multiple batteries, beds and furniture, will add a lot of weight to the vehicle.

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safety-recall

Cargo Van Recalls

Like passenger cars, your conversion van is always susceptible to factory recalls. A quick review of the type and number of recalls may also give an indication about the reliability of the cargo van and the safety concerns of car company.

Worrisome examples are the two 2015 Ford Transit recalls soon after its introduction and even more for the Ram ProMaster. Although these safety recalls are taken more seriously lately, they should be taken into account during the purchase process of a new cargo van.

An overview of recent recalls of the Transit, ProMaster, Express, NV and Sprinter can be found at Cargo Van Recalls.

version 2.0

Cargo Van Conversion V2.0 – Features

NOW THAT WE ESTABLISHED OUR DESIRES FOR THE DESIGN OF OUR VAN, WE HAVE TO TRANSLATE THAT INTO ACTUAL FEATURES IN OUR FINALIZED VERSION OF THE BUILDING PLANS.

We have the freedom to amend any aspect of the conversion during the actual build, but for now we’ll concentrate on the components that determine the specifications of the new cargo van.

  • Bed
    Storage of large items, like bike(s), would necessitate an elevated bed, which in turn leads to a higher roof vehicle.
    rv bike storage
    bike storage
    bike storage
    bike storage
  • Shower/Toilet
    Again height is a determining factor. Having said that, I still have to figure out how and where to incorporate one into the design, in addition to finding the materials to built one.

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solar-panel-guide

Solar Panel Guide (2)

New approaches for small RV’s.

PHOTOVOLTAIC FACTS

After I introduced Semi Flexible Solar Panels in my previous post, questions remain about the performance of these new semi flexible modules.
semi-flex-solar-panel

SOLAR PANEL TYPES
Rigid Residential Flexible
Amorphous Thin Film Semi Flexible
average cost per watt 1 $ 0.80-2.00 $ 1.50 $ 2.00-7.00
low light performance average good good 2
high heat performance average good good 2
efficiency 15 watt/sf 5.5 watt/sf 15 watt/sf
weight 40 oz/sf 11 oz/sf 7.5 oz/sf
roof penetration yes no no
warranty 20-25 yrs 20 yrs 10 yrs 3
1 2014
2 Several unconfirmed user tests indicate low light and high heat performance are less than rigid panels.
3 Misuse of the limited flexibility is often given as a reason for the shorter warranty period. Product life maybe similar to rigid panels.

As a general indication, prices for these panels are double that of regular rigid modules. For that, you’ll get a substantial weight reduction and a more aesthetically pleasing finish and maybe even some improved fuel mileage.

High heat performance is probably the biggest drawback, where some users indicate a considerable performance drop during the hottest part of the day. Under low light circumstances, they seem to under perform too, however no significant amount of energy is produced those times of the day anyway.
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