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Van Conversion / Re: Fuji fwave 319v roll up solar panels...
« Last post by Camper_Dan on Today at 09:24:40 AM »
Greetings & Welcome!

I fear that you are going into this listening to the hype from the sales people rather than reality.  It isn't always about what's potentially possible, but more about what's practical, reliable, and cost efficient.  Solar is none of those things...

Inverters are terribly inefficient, and should be avoided if at all possible, and if they can't be totally eliminated, they should be used as little as possible.  12 volt appliances and accessories are a better choice.  Anything heating, cooking, or refrigeration related should not require any electricity (AC or DC) at all.

A camper is not a house, and unless you plan on having shore power available regularly, power should be considered very precious.  It isn't always about what you can do, but rather what you can do without, or what you can do better.  You can do much better than solar.

My entire power system no longer includes solar, but it is cheaper and far more reliable.  Mainly I charge my house batteries while driving, and I replaced my solar with a generator and the option to charge with shore power.  Unlike solar, all of these options work rain or shine, daylight or darkness, cost less up front, and under about $20 a year to provide all the power I need.  My $99 generator provides both AC & DC power, for less than the cost of an inverter of the same size.  It also allows me the comfort of parking in the shade in the summer.  It runs for about 8 hours on a gallon of gas, and is so quiet it won't bother anyone.

The old timers perhaps tell it best. "Nobody ~NEEDS~ solar, but they are convinced they want it.  Later they will learn to regret it."  After 3 different failed attempts, and thousands of dollars wasted, I now listen to those old timers, and try to spread their wisdom.

Another pearl of wisdom, regardless of the route you choose, is to buy your batteries at a junkyard, where you can get almost new batteries for under $20 each, and they'll last just as long as new ones.

Looking back, I'd skip the solar, and go with my current system to begin with.  The only things I own that require a generator or shore power are my battery charger, and some heavy duty power tools, but nothing that I need on a daily basis.  Even my electric blanket is 12 volt.  Another good investment is low voltage protectors for your batteries, so you never over discharge them.  They will improve your battery life considerably.  I also put one on my starting battery, to guarantee it can never be drained too low to start my rig, because I do occasionally use my starting battery for power too. ( I switched out my starting battery with the largest deep cycle battery that would fit in it's place.  With my house battery and my stating battery, I can boondock for 2 full weeks, and still have plenty of power to start my rig, without ever needing to fire up my generator.)

A little money can go a long way if we me make the right choices,  and a lot of money can disappear very quickly with the wrong choices.  Everybody has different wants and needs, and ideas on how to get there.  Most of these ideas and dreams come from sales people and people with no real world experience.  Ego and pride can also keep many people from reporting their failures, and 99% of all how to articles/videos are created by newbies with no experience or sales people.    If you google RV solar problems, fires, or failures, you'll find millions of reasons why you really don't want to mess with solar.  Today, my power system is as simple and as foolproof as possible.

Good Luck & keep us posted!
Van Conversion / Re: What foam should I get for my chair/bed?
« Last post by Camper_Dan on Today at 09:23:55 AM »
Greetings & Welcome!

This is a really good question...  Here in the USA we have places that sell camper pads, and they come in different densities (hardness/softness) but we can physically choose what we think is best.  I lay them on the floor then sit and lay on them until I find a comfy one.

It's hard because I think it depends on your size and weight, and everybody's different.  If you can't find a place to buy it in person, I see the place you linked has a phone number listed...  I  would give them a call and describe exactly what you're doing, and maybe they can help you make the best decision.

Good Luck & keep us posted!

Van Conversion / Re: Show me your ride
« Last post by jonathandoornenbal on April 19, 2018, 08:05:25 AM »
Here are some pictures for you to get inspiration from:


Common Room / I'm a filmmaker living in my converted van.
« Last post by jonathandoornenbal on April 19, 2018, 08:00:14 AM »


My name is Jonathan Doornenbal and I'm a filmmaker traveling Europe in a van. I'm working on an in-depth tutorial on how-to convert your nothing to home on wheels. If this is for you than here's my youtube channel on which I regularly post vanlife video's: https://www.youtube.com/jonathandoornenbal

Cheers from the Netherlands!
« Last post by jonathandoornenbal on April 19, 2018, 07:43:48 AM »
Hi there!

I've just finished my van conversion and I'm regularly uploading how to's & tutorials on youtube:)

Here are some pictures for you to get inspiration from:


If you like what you see you can subscribe to my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/jonathandoornenbal

Feel free to ask questions!
Van Conversion / Fuji fwave 319v roll up solar panels...
« Last post by Sonneshine on April 18, 2018, 12:37:23 PM »
Hello family! Hope you are well!

So there is this guy, Viktor from Netherlands who sells these roll up solar panels on eBay, he's been selling them for a few years and I've read some bits from people who have bought from him before. The panels look great but the voltage is 319v which is more than I'd like inside my camper. They are designed to be used for grid lecky.

Link to panels- https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F372210119324

One idea would be to use a step down inverter to take the voltage from 319v to a more workable 12v to charge my batteries so my set up inside my van would look like:

Split charge relay from my engines alternator feeding 2 X 6v 230ah deep cycle batteries wired in series to make 12v 230ah.
Also feeding the battery will be 3 X 100w roll up panels with a step down converter and mppt to take the voltage from 319v to 12v
From the battery I will have a 1500w pure sine wave inverter with fuse box and plugs for domestic appliances, lights etc.

The panels are 1 3.5 meter roll made up of 4 smaller cells, made up of 68 smaller cells wired together inside a flexible lamination. Am I right in thinking that if I separate the 4 cells from inside each panel I can rewire them to decrease the voltage and increase current?

Here is an instructables that I found:

im feel like the cells would be rewired in series and parallel but I'm new to this so I'm just throwing some mad scientist ideas about.

id like to be able to lose the step down converter from the system because the idea of stepping down the power from 319v to charge a 12v battery then taking it back up to 240v with the psw inverter seems like a lot of messing around, bulky equipment and an inefficient way of doing things.

Here is the custom made 319v - 12v dc-dc step down controller custom made by Viktor who is the seller of the panels: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F352214109058

id love to know what you think and if anybody has tried the roll up panels before?

Van Conversion / What foam should I get for my chair/bed?
« Last post by VanMo12 on April 18, 2018, 11:58:09 AM »
I'm really confused, I've found a place to get my campervan foam from, but I don't know what type to get there are loads! Can any of you recommend one please, before I go ordering the wrong thing?


Van Conversion / Re: Winters and price
« Last post by Camper_Dan on April 17, 2018, 12:24:23 PM »

Greetings & Welcome!

If you start with a passenger van, then the floor, walls, and ceiling are pre finished, and the opening windows should provide  all the ventilation you'll ever need.  Nobody needs insulation... They may be convinced they do, but they don't.  What you need is HEAT!  I just spent the winter in -45f degree weather, in a stock window van with no added insulation, while people with heavily insulated cargo vans were freezing their butts off in much warmer temperatures.

To make a long story short, insulation alone isn't going to keep your van comfortable.  With or without insulation, you're still going to need heat.  Without insulation, you MIGHT use a little more heat, but in my humble opinion it isn't worth the added cost of insulation.  I don't even cover my windows unless I'm trying to keep heat out during the summer.

So we have multiple choices for heaters, and several choices of fuel types.  Let's take a look at them.

First there are RV type heaters & furnaces, these are very expensive, very power hungry, and not very efficient.  I don't recommend these.

There are two main types of heaters, convection and radiant.  A convection heater heats the air, and in turn the air heats the surrounding objects.  A radiant heater heats the surrounding objects, which in turn heat the air.  I recommend convection heaters because they are much less of a fire hazard, and require much less clearance in an already cramped space.

I use a kerosene heater and cooktop, because of the improved safety over propane.  The biggest drawback, is that while they are adjustable, they do not have a thermostat.  That means that even on the lowest setting, I need to regulate the temperature by opening or closing windows.  It's not too hard, and pretty easy to figure out.  I have no problem keeping the temperature where I want it. These require no power to run them.  I do safely run mine all night long if  it's cold enough out.

The other choice is propane.  The ONLY advantage to propane is that you can get heaters that do have a thermostat.  They cost more to run, and they're not nearly as safe, but a thermostat is a huge convenience that makes it worth it to some people. These also use no electricity.  But beware, not all of them come with a thermostat.  Also beware that they say it is never safe to run any unvented propane heater while sleeping.

Another option is to use out stoves as a heater.  I can adjust my stove lower than I can my heaters, so sometimes I will fill my dutch oven with sand or dirt to act as a heat exchanger, and place that over a one burner on my stove adjusted down as low as it will go.  I wouldn't suggest running this while you sleep either.

When it's not too cold, I will turn my heat off at night, but I keep it within reach of my bed, so I can turn it on without getting out of bed, then I stay in bed until the van is warmed up.

I also have a 12 volt electric blanket that I use occasionally, along with many choices of coverings to meet any temperatures.  It is important to have the ability to sleep warm, even if you don't have heat.  There are also various head, body, and foot coverings to help in extremely cold weather sleeping situations.

I wouldn't want to live in a van in the winter without a reliable source of heat.  I guess some people get by with just dressing warm enough and maybe the car heater, but I wouldn't suggest it.

Any time you're using heat or cooking in a vehicle, you should have a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector, a fire extinguisher, and ample ventilation.  If you're using propane, you should also have a propane detector, and a low oxygen detector.  Always read and follow all of  the safety instructions too!

To answer the question of cost, my entire conversion cost between $200 & $300.  That includes a bed, seating, full kitchen, toilet  & shower, heat and air conditioning, my power system, and my generator.  It does not include solar panels etc; roof vents, insulation, inverters, or powered fridges,  all of which are added expenses with little to no gain.  I also use junkyard batteries, not expensive new ones.  I charge my batteries mainly while driving, but do have a generator for a backup plan.  I also purchased some of my items used.  Dollar stores, thrift stores, yard sales, wrecking yards, and craigslist are your friends.


Van Conversion / Re: Sound dampening?
« Last post by 1993chevyg20 on April 17, 2018, 11:42:40 AM »
Yes thanks
Van Conversion / Re: LDV Cub venturer conversion
« Last post by Nicksand on April 17, 2018, 09:59:37 AM »
Thanks CamperDan, will take a look.  First trial night away tonight :).
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