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Author Topic: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion  (Read 7951 times)

doounder

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Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« on: July 09, 2017, 02:06:59 AM »
Hi all,

I'm new to the forum. We are a small Scottish family living in Melbourne. I converted an old Hiace Commuter a couple of years ago but it was a rush job. Just spent the last few months redoing it and I thought you might like to see it.

Does anyone else have a similar Hiace? Keen to learn and share more as project continues - I have plans!

We call it "Trashcan" by the way - was very badly dented when we got it - previous owner drove it into a low bridge or underground car park I think.


Camper_Dan

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 06:26:16 AM »
Greetings & Welcome!

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure you'll enjoy it for many years and many great memories.

Cheers!
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Freetasman

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 08:49:19 AM »
Hi doounder,
You have done a fine job. Which kind of insulation have you used?
I live in Tasmania and have my vintage restored caravan for sale so I can get a Hiace Commuter like yours to convert to a camper.
Think of getting a 2.4 petrol because I am worry of the maintenance costs of the 3.0 diesel one.
Cheers

Camper_Dan

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2017, 12:32:59 AM »
Insulation is way over hyped, and over rated.  In a cargo van it can help with keeping the road noise down, but most passenger vehicles are already designed for a quiet ride...

For both heat and cold, I prefer no added insulation in my window van.  It is much quicker to both heat and cool with the factory floor, walls, and ceiling.  The windows can provide a lot of free heat from the sun in the winter, and added ventilation in the summer for cooling.  When I had a very well insulated cargo van, I was constantly fighting the weather.  Too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter.  It worked exactly the opposite of  what I wanted.  It kept the heat out in the winter, and trapped the heat in in the summer, and moisture was an unending problem.  My window van solved all of that and cut my conversion cost by a fortune in both time and money too.

One old timer I know swears "Ventilation not Insulation", and so far my experience seems to agree.  Combined with sun in the winter and shade in the summer, my heating and cooling costs dropped dramatically, and my efforts to stay comfortable have been minimized.
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Freetasman

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2017, 11:22:07 AM »
Dan, in my Mazda T3500 converted bus I have not used insulation and the condensation on the windows was terrible in winter leaving all wet below them.
IMO a well-insulated van with good roof ventilation will e the way to go.
You can see that all the van dwellers in USA are insulating the vans to make them livable.
 

Freetasman

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2017, 11:23:50 AM »
I am flying to Melbourn nest week to get a Toyota Hiace Commuter with low Km to converting to a camper.

Camper_Dan

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2017, 08:13:20 AM »
Dan, in my Mazda T3500 converted bus I have not used insulation and the condensation on the windows was terrible in winter leaving all wet below them.
IMO a well-insulated van with good roof ventilation will e the way to go.
You can see that all the van dwellers in USA are insulating the vans to make them livable.

From many years of experience, I'll take a window van with the stock interior and no roof vents or any other holes in the roof.  I've tried cargo vans, roof vents, insulation, and most everything else.  My current van and setup is by far the best I've ever had.  Warm in the winter, cool in the summer, no moisture problems, plenty of power without solar panels, and it just doesn't get much better in my book.

Cheers!
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Freetasman

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2017, 10:17:52 AM »
Dan, in my Mazda T3500 converted bus I have not used insulation and the condensation on the windows was terrible in winter leaving all wet below them.
IMO a well-insulated van with good roof ventilation will e the way to go.
You can see that all the van dwellers in USA are insulating the vans to make them livable.

From many years of experience, I'll take a window van with the stock interior and no roof vents or any other holes in the roof.  I've tried cargo vans, roof vents, insulation, and most everything else.  My current van and setup is by far the best I've ever had.  Warm in the winter, cool in the summer, no moisture problems, plenty of power without solar panels, and it just doesn't get much better in my book.

Cheers!

So, warm inside, 2 to less than 10 degrees outside and no condensation on the windows?
How you manage to have plenty power without solar panels?
I need 12 vots for the fridge and the inverter to charge the batteries of the cameras, 2 laptops, mobile phone, shaver and few things more.

Camper_Dan

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2017, 04:01:45 AM »
So, warm inside, 2 to less than 10 degrees outside and no condensation on the windows?
How you manage to have plenty power without solar panels?
I need 12 volts for the fridge and the inverter to charge the batteries of the cameras, 2 laptops, mobile phone, shaver and few things more.

I never said no condensation...  We all get condensation, and much more than most people realize, and not just on the windows but on the entire skin of the vehicle.  Nothing can be done to stop condensation.  Wall coverings, with or without insulation frequently hides it from view, but it is still happening, and still doing its damage if nothing is done about it.  Passenger vehicles handle the condensation & moisture problems by wicking the moisture away from the outside skin to the interior where it can be evaporated out.  This is one of the major failure points of most of the camper van builds and why nobody keeps them for long, because they're riddled with mold.

With a window van, the sun can supply sufficient dry heat, that combined with adequate ventilation, the condensation can be dissipated.  A cargo van is much harder, and if they have been insulated and/or paneled, it is likely that the moisture is trapped and can't be evaporated out.  With adequate dry heat or dry A/C and proper ventilation, any moisture which isn't trapped and the ventilation can  reach, can be evaporated out year round.  The normal stock vehicle heat & A/C both qualify as dry, as long as they aren't set to recirculate.  Moisture can not be evaporated out of a sealed vehicle either.

The second biggest failure in most camper vans is the use of the highly recommended unvented propane heaters such as the "Buddy" or "Olympian" type heaters.  Not only are they way under powered for winter use, they introduce a pound of moisture into the air for each pound of propane burned.  This makes it an extremely wet heat, which is the exact opposite of what you want to fight moisture problems.  You'll never dry a van out using unvented propane heat no matter how much ventilation you have.

Factory camper vans come with big heaters, many times bigger than those recommended heaters, because they understand that no amount of insulation is going to compensate for not having enough heating or cooling power.    Van dwellers and boat dwellers have many things in common.  Among them are moisture problems and the need for dry heat.  The standard for boats was kerosene for well over a century, providing heating, cooking, and refrigeration.  Kerosene was the most efficient and safest fuel for the task.  Veteran van dwellers have since embraced that same  knowledge, bringing them safe, cheap, efficient, dehumidifying, and dry heat, especially those who choose to winter in colder areas.  Wood heat is also dry, but not nearly as convenient, and requires a chimney.   

I too use kerosene, in a window van, with no added insulation.  I spend winters in places where the temperatures frequent -40f and below, and don't rise above freezing for months on end.  You do need ventilation, and you also need enough heat to compensate for that needed ventilation.  When it is cold enough, my heat runs 24/7 unless I'm driving.  I do not cover my windows, nor do I separate the cab from the cabin, because I want everything to remain dry and above freezing, not to mention at a comfortable living temperature.

This post is getting long, so I'll go into power and refrigeration in my next reply.


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Freetasman

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2017, 05:41:11 AM »
Regarding heating, I am considering a diesel heater so we can leave it on during the night. The AC on the van it is excellent so it would help to control the humidity when the engine is on
We do not like to have a generator.

Camper_Dan

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2017, 09:35:12 PM »
The diesel heaters are good, but  they are also expensive, and require cutting a hole in the van for venting.  Personally, I won't cut holes in a vehicle for any reason, to preserve both resale value, and to prevent any possibility of leaks.  Do make sure that your diesel heater can be fired up without a power source.

An additional feature that I like about about the portable kerosene heaters, is that they can be taken outdoors, and even if campfires are banned or not practical like under cover if it's raining, people can gather around the kerosene heater for both the heat, and the atmosphere of the flames of a campfire. 

They do have propane powered fire pits, but for me that would mean one extra thing to carry when space is already tight.

In your camper, heat or no heat, and regardless of how cold it is, it requires constant ventilation, and if heat is required, you need enough heat to compensate for the needed ventilation.

I believe some of the diesel heaters also have the option of being water heaters as well, so you might want to look into that as well.

For anybody camping remotely, a generator can mean the difference between life and death.  Nothing else is as reliable, and it is a cheap and worthwhile insurance policy.  Some people do consider things like a motorcycle or a bicycle as their failsafe, but you DO need a plan B, and a plan C isn't a bad idea either.  Be prepared, or be prepared for failure...

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Freetasman

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2017, 07:21:19 AM »
Cutting a hole in a $9000 van it is not an issue to me and a simple thing to do.
Diesel heaters are IMHO the best of the lot including in ocean going yachts (of which I built 4)
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are another important addition to any well-planned van even if there are no any open flame heater or cooking appliance.
There are tens of thousands vans out there used by people in long expeditions or that live on then and do not need a generator.
I lived nearly 3 years in my converted bus in cold climate areas and we never have the need to have a generator. Our well designed solar system was enough.
If I was going to considering an addition to the solar will be a win vane like the ones used on the yachts.
I guess that we all have different opinions based on our own experience and research.
I believe in insulation and my experience shows me that a properly designed and installed insulation will be the best way to go in combination with an effective ventilation.

Camper_Dan

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2017, 08:50:33 PM »
Sounds like you have both a plan and experience, so I will just wish you the best, and look forward to your updates.
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rockyroad

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Re: Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2019, 04:46:43 AM »
Regarding heating, I am considering a diesel heater so we can leave it on during the night. The AC on the van it is excellent so it would help to control the humidity when the engine is on
We do not like to have a generator.

Still waiting for any updates - how it's going?

Electric dehumidifier is what we have used for years. In fact we camped in the rain this weekend and had zero condensation It is running now to dry out the bunk ends of our hybrid. Truly only real solution we have seen. And we don't need insulation.
Without the dehumidifier it's a lost cause trying to keep condensation down.
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