Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • October 01, 2016, 05:19:18 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?  (Read 1181 times)

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« on: August 19, 2016, 11:05:13 PM »
Hey guys,

Me and my partner are going to be purchasing a vehicle which will be converted into a small campervan (motorhome) - We have a lot of the details worked out, but I have a few things I still need answering.

The van itself is going to be run mainly off-grid, for which I plan to have a bank of 4x 135aH Leisure Batteries which will be charged using 2x 200W Solar Charging Units with Lead-Calcium Batteries (and the option to hookup to mains powered electric, if we need to - British weather doesn't allow for much sun...). 

I'd mainly like to know if any of you have experience with power solutions in a motorhome, and if so, what could you suggest for keeping the vehicle running (full time) for a long period of time (This van is where we plan to be living for around 12 months or so, and we want to keep costs to an absolute minimum after the conversion is complete).

I have done a quick 3D design of the van (in Sketchup) here: http://imgur.com/a/2pbBh (The images are not in any sort of order, sorry!).

On top of the above question about power, I'm also curious as to things such as Thermoelectric generators in order to provide more power - I have had a quick look on Google but it didn't really come up with much...is this a route worth bothering with? Is it even possible? Would I generate enough power for it to be worth it?  :tellme:

I do have more questions, but I'll save them until I know there is somebody here who could answer them  ;D


Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,079
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2016, 02:20:56 AM »
Get one where the walls have piping and a pump to push the centrally heated fluids through those. I have spent several days in winter with ice and snow outside (12h a day in the toy expo in Nuremberg, Germany, the rest of the time in the RV) en it was actually very comfortable inside the RV. It used a RV-sized small gas tank and we refilled it once a week. Shower, cooking plate and fridge could be powered by either gas or electricity in that RV, which could handle a max of 6 people sleeping (3x2person bed) in it

Solar energy did cause a problem though. During the day it kept the battery charged, but at night the voltage level dropped, tripping the car alarm, which wouldn't shut off at all. The next day we were rather urgently asked to leave the camping spot and pay a fine for disturbing the rest of the other people staying the night there. Better find out if you have that kind of problem with your RV before you embark on your 12 month journey.

You have different types of solar panels. While most still generate power with daylight alone, some panels are generating more than others. There are even panels that can generate a small amount of power when it rains on them. Those are much more useful in the UK, I would assume.  :P

Depending on the size of the RV/motorhome you will reduce your energy consumption. Mainly because there is much less room to even have big appliances. Or computers. Laptops won't be that big of a deal, energy-wise or space-wise.

Good insulation and electric devices that only use the infra-red spectrum (instead of the common radiating units) help a lot with keeping the RV warm in winter too. These spend much less energy to keep you comfortable, are much more durable than the standard electric heater and you won't wake up with a major headache afterwards. Consider those if you have an RV without plumbing to heat you in winter.

If you must use a fuel powered generator, get an external one and forgo the use of the engine in the RV. External ones are build for the task and are much easier/cheaper to replace if something does go wrong. And make sure you ventilate, day and night if possible.

Last, but not least...keep your spirits up. Living in rather cramped space requires a certain mindset, which a lot of people think they have or can work on. Two/three weeks everyone can handle, but longer periods, such as 12 months in your case, that is much, much harder. Do not underestimate this, the money you'll be saving by living this way, could easily be spent on divorce settlements afterwards.

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2016, 05:24:02 PM »
Quote
Get one where the walls have piping and a pump to push the centrally heated fluids through those. I have spent several days in winter with ice and snow outside (12h a day in the toy expo in Nuremberg, Germany, the rest of the time in the RV) en it was actually very comfortable inside the RV. It used a RV-sized small gas tank and we refilled it once a week. Shower, cooking plate and fridge could be powered by either gas or electricity in that RV, which could handle a max of 6 people sleeping (3x2person bed) in it

As this will be an entirely self--built project (Using a Long Wheel Base Luton Box Van, as the conversion vehicle), I already plan to have underfloor heating which uses hot water being pumped through them.  Seeing as it will be a closed system, I'm not concerned too much about the water needed for this as it will be a "fill once and ignore" system.  The walls themselves will be insulated (Not thick enough for heating pipes running through them though) - Snow and Ice are not too much of a problem on the South East Coast of the UK, so I'm not overly worried about this.

Quote
Solar energy did cause a problem though. During the day it kept the battery charged, but at night the voltage level dropped, tripping the car alarm, which wouldn't shut off at all. The next day we were rather urgently asked to leave the camping spot and pay a fine for disturbing the rest of the other people staying the night there. Better find out if you have that kind of problem with your RV before you embark on your 12 month journey.

You have different types of solar panels. While most still generate power with daylight alone, some panels are generating more than others. There are even panels that can generate a small amount of power when it rains on them. Those are much more useful in the UK, I would assume.  :P

I will have a total of 540aH via a bank of 4x 135aH batteries to keep the van running overnight (plus the lead-calcium batteries from the solar charging system), so I would assume this would keep the van powered during the night, and have the panels charge them during the day/provide enough power to run other things during the day.

Quote
Depending on the size of the RV/motorhome you will reduce your energy consumption. Mainly because there is much less room to even have big appliances. Or computers. Laptops won't be that big of a deal, energy-wise or space-wise.

Good insulation and electric devices that only use the infra-red spectrum (instead of the common radiating units) help a lot with keeping the RV warm in winter too. These spend much less energy to keep you comfortable, are much more durable than the standard electric heater and you won't wake up with a major headache afterwards. Consider those if you have an RV without plumbing to heat you in winter.

As I mentioned above, I will have the van completely insulated, and a small underfloor heating system to keep us warm, and I am also installing extractor fans to keep us cool during war days.

Quote
If you must use a fuel powered generator, get an external one and forgo the use of the engine in the RV. External ones are build for the task and are much easier/cheaper to replace if something does go wrong. And make sure you ventilate, day and night if possible.

The "home" part of the van will be on an optional "one-way" circuit from the engine - this will give me a way to open the circuit to charge the batteries when the vehicle is moving, but disconnect once the engine is switched off.  The rest of the circuits will be via the batteries, solar charging system and LPG tank.  The LPG tank will only be connected to the water heater, fridge/freezer, and cooker - I hope to be able to redirect heat from the oven to the water heater as well, in order to lower the costs even more (No point wasting all that heat!!!).  The vehicles engine battery will be (when the van is not moving, and the engine is off) completely removed from the homes circuit, so could never be drained of power due to the systems in use.

In terms of appliances being used, it will be basically typical of a motorhome.  Things such as the Fridge/Freezer will be on 24/7 (via LPG).  The electricals will be powered via the batteries/solar using a Pure Sine Inverter for the outlets.  I intend to also repurpose an old laptop for use as the vehicles TV (Add a USB TV Tuner so I can have normal live (digital) TV, and also have on-demand services via the internet) - I'm thinking of doing it this way as I could have the laptop battery power up to 100%, then disconnect the charging cycle until it gets below 20%.  That way, the TV system isn't pulling power from the main electrical system, every minute it is turned on.


-----

In terms of living in a small, confined space, it really wouldn't be too much different from our current situation, except where we are moving, we have places we can go, and all of my partners family who we can visit, so we will really only be in the van when we choose to be (even when we had our own place where we are moving back to, we spent 90% of our time, out of the house, only really returning to eat/sleep, or if it was a miserable day which we didn't want to leave the house because of  ;D

-----

Did you have any thoughts regarding Thermoelectric Generators, and whether they are worth spending time looking into/installing?

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,079
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2016, 12:27:32 AM »
To be honest, I wasn't aware of such devices. Heat exchangers/heat engines I did know about, but efficiency of such devices is pretty poor (when not in a controlled lab environment).

After skimming over this document (pdf) it says that the efficiency of thermoelectric generators is even worse. Apparently these cost very little, but if the energy returned by these these devices is relatively little, seems to me like a waste of money.

The document also includes a concept from BMW where they their exhaust system in combination with these generators to generate power. Waste heat from an oven or small kitchen device seems to me hardly worth the effort. Besides, whatever waste heat is coming off these devices will indirectly help with heating the inside of the RV. And that goes a long way when the RV is well insulated, as it will help with the expenditure of LPG to keep your RV on the temperature you have set on your thermostat.

Perhaps you would better spend the money you would set aside for those generators om buying thermal underwear. Retaining the heat your own body generates is the most efficient way of keeping yourself comfortable. Your body has no problem heating the extremities (hands/feet) when the torso remains heated. As a bonus, such underwear doesn't get in the way when you move around in the RV. Parking the RV out of the wind will make you spend much less energy than you could ever hope to regain with the use of thermoelectric generators.

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2016, 06:37:52 PM »
Honestly, the Thermoelectric generator idea was just a thought that didn't have to lead to anywhere, so knowing they are fairly useless, isn't much of a loss  ;D

I'm now at the stage of thinking the heating system will be more than enough to warm us up even on the coldest of days - and especially with being able to control thermostats via the internet, it means that when we are out, I can set the thing to turn on when we are on the way back to the van so it's nice and warm for our return.  That coupled with the small size, I think it will be nice and cosy most of the time  :D

Below is the closed loop underfloor heating system - Underneath this will be an insulated floor, and above will be hardboard flooring which will be carpeted.  The walls will be insulated (maybe double insulated) and the windows are double glazed, so I think heat retention may now be much to worry about..I'm starting to worry it might get TOO hot too quickly and am actually looking at ways to keep that temperature at a more moderate level (I already have extractor fans and such, so that might be enough).

Closed Loop Underfloor Heating.pngAnybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?

I have also learned that the Solar Charging System will generate more than enough power to basically keep us off-grid as long as we need to be off-grid - The only things we will need to take from a "grid" (for lack of a better word) is clean water for the tank, but that will be simple anyway as we can fill that from the same place we will have to fill the LPG tank.

IainB

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 6,054
  • Slartibartfarst
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
RV/Campervan construction - take a leaf from portable homes?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 12:49:56 AM »
@Stephen66515: Since you seem to be at the construction planning stage, I thought you might be able to crib some ideas from ATLAS portable homes - see my notes (below) on same:
The notes are from when I recently happened to be reading up on the thermal insulation standards met by conventional domestic homes versus "portable" homes (i.e., homes on a wheeled trailer) in Europe. I came across what seem to be some very well-designed portable units by a company called ATLAS, based in Hull (UK). Their portable homes seem to be essentially a collection of different-sized trailer-vans fitted out with all mod-cons to accommodate 2 or 4 or 6 or 8 berths (usually with + 1 more possible on a common-use couch). Their homes are apparently regularly exported to Europe and New Zealand, and a review of sales of used vans (e.g., see various internet sites and YouTube videos) seems to indicate that they enjoy a decent residual market value in the UK and Europe, when it comes times to sell them. This is usually a good measure of the market's view of the quality and design of the thing being sold.

You drive the van to where you want it situated, then jack it up onto piles at all 4 corners so that the wheels are just off the ground (i.e., not carrying any load). You then connect it up to electric power, water and sewage utilities and you're ready to go. They also may use LPG, where you'd need to have two large LPG cylinders stuck outside, with auto switchover on empty.

Heating/Insulation:
  • The vans have options for heating - either electric or non-parasitic balanced flu gas-fired (LPG) systems, and there is full insulation underfloor, in ceilings and in walls. All external pipes are fully lagged. The wall panels are apparently made of a prefab sandwich panel including the insulation as a filling, giving the walls an inherently high thermal insulation value and high torsional rigidity and strength, enabling the vans to be transported without risk of disturbing the components of the assembled unit. (Also preserves weather-tightness.)
  • They (I think it's all vans) are fitted with full double-glazing with PVC window and door joinery, with embedded mechanical deadlocks in the door - all standard stuff nowadays.
  • There are options in construction where the buyer can request even higher spec insulation ("UltraWarm") in the construction process for vans to be located in normally much colder environments.
  • Hot water is via either electric or LPG-fired on-demand/instant HW boiler - i.e., not employing stored HW tanks.
    ___________________________________________

One of their models - the 1080-3CL (3-bedrooms) seems to be aimed at the "Export only" market and is designed to meet higher spec EU and other international standards for construction, safety and habitability.

The floor-plans for the ATLAS 2016 Prima-5 range are at http://www.atlasleis.../#section/floorplans  - the 1080-3CL floorplan is the last one on that page.
You can view all the specs for the entire ATLAS 2016 Collection: http://www.atlasleis...ges/2016-collection/
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 04:13:05 AM by IainB »

Ath

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,757
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2016, 01:36:49 AM »
Hmm, looking at those images, I wonder where you have planned your sleeping area? Sleeping in an outside tent isn't a feasible option for 12 months, I presume.

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2016, 01:09:49 PM »
You drive the van to where you want it situated, then jack it up onto piles at all 4 corners so that the wheels are just off the ground (i.e., not carrying any load). You then connect it up to electric power, water and sewage utilities and you're ready to go. They also may use LPG, where you'd need to have two large LPG cylinders stuck outside, with auto switchover on empty.

This would contradict the entire project as we want the home to be 100% mobile, and off-grid - If I wanted to be hooked up to mains systems, then we would just move into a house  ;D

However, when it comes to taking ideas from there, I will certainly take a look.  In terms of the LPG tank, it would also be externally situated on the van I am building...well...kind of...it's in a separate section which will be located at the rear of the van (a metal locker which will be welded to the frame - Not shown in the current 3D mockup)

Hmm, looking at those images, I wonder where you have planned your sleeping area? Sleeping in an outside tent isn't a feasible option for 12 months, I presume.

Ah yes, sorry, I should have specified that the bed is a pullout from the settee (with the bed mechanism folded and contained within the settee) - We have a memory foam mattress topper which will make the thin mattress we will inevitably have to use for that, way more comfortable. - The bed itself will be a double, so there is plenty of space to sleep.

Pull out bed.pngAnybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2016, 01:19:49 PM »
I also had a second option to a typical folded pullout bed - which will be telescopic stands which pull out from the arms of the settee, and a base unit which will also pull out.  The missing cushioning from the bed will be stored underneath the settee also, and places on top when we go to sleep - the mattress topper will then go over both to give additional comfort.  This feels like a more irritating way of sorting out the bed at night, but far easier to repair if it breaks.

A very quick and dirty sketch done in MSPaint is below:


Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,591
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 01:50:50 AM »
stephen, do a google on 'tiny houses'. 

There's quite a movement on building a lot into a small space these days so you might find some good tips/ideas there.

FWIW a lot of them are 'mobile', though whether that's a practical application or a means of getting around local bylaws is open to interpretation


wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,279
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 10:24:31 AM »
^ There's actually a pretty cool show now on HGTV about this movement.

http://www.hgtv.com/...iny-house-big-living

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,079
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 11:17:02 AM »
Tiny House Nation is another show about tiny houses (usually on a trailer) that should get you inspired.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,280
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2016, 11:38:49 AM »
I don't want to be the negative downer person, but I feel the need to add my 2 cents on one issue here.

There is immeasurable value and learning and satisfaction that comes from building something like this yourself.  But if there was ever a day where you could build something like this yourself for anywhere close to the cost and quality of buying an existing one, in my view those days are long gone.

If you do try to build something like this yourself, you should go into it assuming that it will cost you an insane amount of hours for the privilege of spending 2 or 3 times the price you would be able to buy an equivalent well maintained one used.

just my 2 cents -- not trying to dissuade you from the project just making sure you go into it eyes wide open.

i know from personal experience how satisfying it is to make your own piece of furniture, but also how wildly expensive it is these days to pay for that pleasure, both in time and money.

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2016, 02:17:41 PM »
I don't want to be the negative downer person, but I feel the need to add my 2 cents on one issue here.

There is immeasurable value and learning and satisfaction that comes from building something like this yourself.  But if there was ever a day where you could build something like this yourself for anywhere close to the cost and quality of buying an existing one, in my view those days are long gone.

If you do try to build something like this yourself, you should go into it assuming that it will cost you an insane amount of hours for the privilege of spending 2 or 3 times the price you would be able to buy an equivalent well maintained one used.

just my 2 cents -- not trying to dissuade you from the project just making sure you go into it eyes wide open.

i know from personal experience how satisfying it is to make your own piece of furniture, but also how wildly expensive it is these days to pay for that pleasure, both in time and money.


Cheapest suitable Campervan that would be large enough to spend 12 months in without murdering each other, or having to stand on the other persons face just to get to the bathroom, would be around £16,000GBP.

The cost of building one to that size and spec would be around the following:

Van: £1200
Donor Caravan (To steal the bathroom, water pumps, windows, doors, and some other bits from): £200
Custom Sofa-bed: £400
Wall mounted dining table: £125
Kitchen units: £185
LPG Oven + Fridge: £150 (Appx cost of refurbished units)
Water Tank: £60-100 (Depending on capacity)
Leisure Batteries: £500 (Pretty much the biggest expense minus the van itself)
Water Piping (for Plumbing): £60
Electrical Cables (For running outlets from the Pure Sine Inverter): £50
Insulation: £150
Solar Charging Units: £250
Carpet: £40 (Really not much floor space to carpet, so it's unlikely to even be that much)
Underfloor heating: £150
Wallpaper: £25
Microwave: £25
LPG Tank: £80
Tools: £100

Total: £3,610

Even if we account a 30% over-budget allowance (£1,444), that still only brings the total spend to £5,054 - which is a grand saving of almost £10,000 compared to buying a pre-built campervan.

I'm excluding things like vehicle and contents insurance right now as that is an expense I would have regardless of purchasing a pre-build, or custom build van.  However, I have been quoted around £80/month to insure a van of the size we want, which is rather a nice price!

In terms of building furniture ourselves, I think you have misunderstood a little bit.  We intend to have the materials cut to size for us (I have basically no woodworking skills, and don't fancy losing limbs to a table saw!), which will then basically mean we have flat-pack furniture which we will simply screw/hinge together in the places we decide they are going.

We have every intention for getting as much of the stuff as we can, for free or very VERY cheap...we have figured out this is VERY possible.  We have seen a few people over the past few weeks, giving away old caravans to people who can transport them (owing to problems such as broken axels, or rotting of the shell), and if we had a way to transport right now, or a place to store, we could have taken them, and gutted them for as much stuff as we could salvage.  We also plan to drive around and find homes that have skips outside of them (people who are doing work on their houses) - You do see a lot that are filled with old kitchens/huge bits of wood/old floorboards...if we simply ask the owners, I'm sure they would let us have them for free, or a small price (they are, after all, paying to fill the skip up, and if we can half empty it for them, they will have more space to put junk, and not have to pay out for another skip).  Also, by putting the word out on places like Facebook Sales Pages, I am positive (as I have seen them myself) there are plenty of people who have sheds full of crap they don't want, and are not worth enough to sell; that we could take, and repurpose.  For example, last week, if we owned the van already, I could have purchased 2x BMW front seats, for just £20 - which would have meant I could have removed the old uncomfortable van seats, replacing them with comfy leather ones.  Those were being sold by a friend of ours who is always ripping things out of his old cars, planning on doing things with them, but instead has them sitting in his garage for months on end until his Mrs makes his get rid of them  ;D

Right now, one one of the Facebook Selling Pages I follow, there are people giving away old wardrobes, drawers, and sofas - all of which can be stripped down to their basic materials and be re-used.  For example - The settee that is being given away is a 3 seater and 2 seater leather (I assume faux leather though).  These could be stripped down, the foam from the cushioning could be used for the foam in our custom built settee (making the cost even smaller), the leather be used for something like...a foot stool or whatever, and the wood be used as part of the support system for the kitchen units, and the metal brackets from inside the couch could be used as metal brackets (duh?) for any object that needs to be attached to the vehicle, or attached to another object.  Anything we don't use from that can either be taken to the landfill, or simply burned on a nice bonfire!

There are even things like this:

Table and Chairs.pngAnybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?

£30 for 4 chairs and a nice table...now, I obviously couldn't fit that into the van as it is, but I could probably get the price dropped to about £20-25, then split the table down, remove the top from it, cut is down to size (unless it's the right size...who knows, the pic doesn't really indicate how big it is), use 2 of the legs (cut down so they are much thinner) as the legs that will be on hinges, and use the other 2 legs as the wall mounting - This will obviously leave me with the chairs, but I could probably sell those for £15 or so, which will give me at MINIMUM, half my purchase price back! (Even if I don't sell them, I'm sure I could find them a good home) - This would mean the whole table down from £125 to £25 + the cost of the hinges/bolts for the wall, and having the top of the table, and the legs cut for me...so maybe a total of £50, which is a huge saving of £75 which can be put towards other things!

We can even get things like this, to help do some of the woodwork and such, ourselves (The whole bench is just £5!)

Workbench.pngAnybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?

The only things I really WANT to buy as "brand new" are things such as the water tank (So I know it's leak-proof, and under warranty if anything goes wrong), leisure batteries (because batteries get bad over time, so brand new ones will at least be covered for failure for a period of time), the LPG tank (cause there is NO way I'm risking using a pre-owned GAS tank...that just sounds dangerous!!) and insulation (I'm not even sure you can buy second hand insulation...but maybe I can find somebody who has off-cuts or something, to cut the price down!)

What you have to remember, mousey, is that in the UK, campervans are very very expensive items, and not many people own them.  We don't really have people (other than gypsies) living in caravans/RVs/motorhomes, so there isn't a massive stock which causes the price to come down.

Even if you look at a really old camper (Pre-1990) then you have to take into consideration that although you can get one for about £8000 (which is still more than a self-built would cost), those vans are not designed to be LIVED in.  They are more for holidays/nights away, and don't take into account the fact we have a medium sized pooch, who would need floor space to walk around and be happy (his happiness is one of our primary concerns when it comes to this, and a lot of the design has been done around that).

Having the build done by ourselves will mean we can have it exactly to our specifications and taste, and also allow us to give Munch (our doggy, for those wondering), enough space to be happy.

We don't intend to be in the van 24/7, but, like any home, we could be in there for a week or 2, only leaving to go to the store (when we don't want to interact with other humans! haha).

Also, building ourselves to a budget of £4000 (which can be stretched a little, if we decide we need to) over a period of the next 6 months (taking money from each paycheck to buy the things we need (we have budgeted £600 each month for this) would give us a HUGE sense of satisfaction, and a massive appreciation for the place we will be living.  It will also be a very fun project for myself and Katie to undertake as a couple, and give us an excuse to do more things together  :D

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,280
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2016, 02:32:01 PM »
I hear your logic but my brain heuristics tell me it doesn't compute.  I could be wrong but my guess is you are underestimating costs and troubles of actually building this, and overestimating how expensive it would be to buy something reasonable used.  My advice, keep enjoying planning it and keep looking for a used one to buy.

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2016, 02:55:17 PM »
I hear your logic but my brain heuristics tell me it doesn't compute.  I could be wrong but my guess is you are underestimating costs and troubles of actually building this, and overestimating how expensive it would be to buy something reasonable used.  My advice, keep enjoying planning it and keep looking for a used one to buy.

I am going into it with my eyes open in the sense of how painful and time-consuming the project will be at certain points, however, that is also why we are giving ourselves around 6 months to build it.  I don't think that's unreasonable in terms of timescales and doesn't put a huge amount of pressure on things.  Maybe it will take more time, and maybe it will take more money, but the beauty of it is....it doesn't really matter, because it won't be an "all-in-one" expense.  If it takes another 2 months and another £1200 to build, then so be it.  When the end goal is to have no real outgoing costs (other than insurance and fuel), and to be able to afford to move away from here to Katie's home town (which, just so you're aware, would cost us around £5000 to do, into a rented house, then at least £850/month just for rent!!!!!!), I personally see it as a project worth completing.  Buying a used van, even if by some miracle there is one that comes up for a price we could afford all in one go, still would mean we get one with very little floor space, and has been designed for use by people on holiday and not living.  This has to be able to accommodate 2 of us and Munch, comfortably, for an absolute minimum of a year.  If we can manage it for a year, then we do aim to stay in it longer, so we can save enough for the deposit to buy a house (rather than just dumping our savings into rental property).  The ultimate aim, would be to stay in it until we have both graduated from University (which is distance learning) - By doing this, we will be able to save around £21,600 (£600/month for 3 years), which works out at a 10% deposit on a £210,000 home (probably the lowest end of the market in the area we will be living/working), or a 5% deposit on a £420,000 house (I don't want a £420,000 house, but it's nice to know we could have the deposit for one haha) - If we are living in rental housing, then that saving, over the space of 3 years, would probably be more like £5000, at the most (again, outgoings £850/month on rent, then council tax (£110/month), water rates (£20/month), gas/electric (£80/month), insurance (£30/month), food (£150/month) and other associated costs of running a house - Minimum of £1240/month, opposed to the outgoing costs of £120 for insurance(s), £100/month on fuel, and £150/month on food (£370/month total) on a van!) (£870 total saved per month, putting £600 away for the deposit on a house, and having an extra £270 as disposable income).

I guess the ultimate aim of staying in it for 3 years will probably not happen, but it's handy to know the potentials of doing so (and we wouldn't be the first people, by a long way, to live in a camper for such time).

erikts

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 151
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2016, 01:14:18 AM »
How I Learned To Stop Worrying, and Build a Custom Camper Van
http://syntheti.cc/van-build/


Quote
I have attempted to catalog the build process of the van, in hopes that it will be useful in some sense, to someone, somewhere. Even at the very least of curing your boredom, temporarily, while you sit in your cubicle and pretend to work.

And discussion on HN : https://hn.premii.co.../#/comments/12383715
« Last Edit: August 30, 2016, 01:19:49 AM by erikts, Reason: Add link to HN »

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,112
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2016, 01:26:30 AM »
How I Learned To Stop Worrying, and Build a Custom Camper Van
http://syntheti.cc/van-build/


Quote
I have attempted to catalog the build process of the van, in hopes that it will be useful in some sense, to someone, somewhere. Even at the very least of curing your boredom, temporarily, while you sit in your cubicle and pretend to work.

And discussion on HN : https://hn.premii.co.../#/comments/12383715

From a very quick look, this seems like I could take away a LOT of info from it!

Though, why he chose such a small van, I will never know  ;D

Thanks!!

jpfx

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 153
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2016, 08:14:53 AM »
I have a gulfstream BT5291 sitting in the back yard. the housing association harrassed me into keeping it there and not in the drive where it was doing nobody any harm.
The idea of running any pipes carrying water anywhere above and beyond what is absolutely necessary fills me with dread. the first time they freeze and break, it's bye bye good idea, hello horror story. thankfully mine has a weak spot at the shower head that blows when the temp drops and it's easy to fix. that plus I live in arsehat SC so it's not cold 99% of the time.
I would dearly love a tiny house. I have been contemplating getting one for a long time now. but RVs are not Tiny houses and vice versa. one is a recreational toy the other is a permanent house but on wheels, built to code preferably.
       |\      _,,,---,,_         
ZZZzzz /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;, 
      |,4-  ) )-,_. ,\ (  `'-'    
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)

georgeDC

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2016, 04:31:19 PM »
The portable 12v air pump, as someone already mentioned, is important and can be run from the portable 12v battery jump starter.

Depending on the climate where you live and drive, if there is any chance of getting stuck in snow or on ice the best low cost super-effective and easy to store necessity is enough carpet remnants (living room quality) for at least each drive wheel. About a foot-square and flat, they're about @$1.00 or so from home improvement stores. I live in Northern Minnesota and these have saved me from many deep snow/ice stuck events.