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A Simple Guide to Wiring an Advanced Off-Grid Electrical System

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Once I had planned and installed the solar panels and battery in my tiny-home/van, I was prepared to begin wiring everything up. Okay, maybe prepared is an overstatement. I was… eager, then. It was March, and I hoped to take it skiing at least once before the mountains closed. With short days and cold nights, I had a deadline to get the lights shining. In this post, I’ll cover how I...

Planning an Off-the-Grid Vanlife Solar Electrical System

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In early 2018, my new Ford Transit van had insulation, floors, walls, cabinets, and a bed. I was even able to take it to go skiing one weekend, parking near the mountain and sleeping comfortably through the cold night without heat. One major thing was stopping me from taking it on longer trips though: electricity. Vanlife Electricity Needs Electricity needs will differ wildly from person to...

Van Build: Cork Floors and Wooden Ceiling

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My parents helping me work

With the walls up, my van was almost starting to feel like a living space. The ceiling and floor was all that was left to hide the industrial cargo shell. Wood Ceiling Time: 1 day Cost: Under $100 At this stage of the project, I was still in San Diego with my parents working on the “frame” of the van. I wasn’t sure how to approach the ceiling, but my mom suggested using shiplap...

Installing Solar Panels and a Fan on a Van Roof

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With the insulation and plywood walls up, the inside of the van was starting to look good. Before I could move on to the ceiling, though, we needed to do the scariest part: cut a hole in the roof to install a fan. Layout I purchased a MaxxFan to keep the inside of the van cool in the summer and well-ventilated while cooking. It offers some great options, like the ability to turn on automatically...

Days 2-6: Installing Sturdy, Good-Looking Plywood Walls in a Van

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Walls are the thing that that first transformed the way my cargo van felt. It went from an industrial/shipping vibe to… something vaguely cozy within just a few days. Why Plywood? I liked the idea of a wood aesthetic, but I didn’t want the walls to look too rugged. The idea was for a little woodgrain to show through lightly-stained walls to improve the sense of spaciousness in such a...

Day 2: Installing a Passenger Swivel-Seat for Maximum Living Space

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There’s not much living space in a cargo van. A swivel-seat installed on the passenger side can help fix that. What to Know Swivel seats can rotate 180 degrees so that a seat is facing backwards. In the case of a van, this increases the effective living area by turning the cabin into more seating for the living room.   It’s hard to capture just how much of a space difference this...

Day 1: Insulating a Van for Summer & Winter Living

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The first thing I did to my new Ford Transit van was rip out all of the factory-installed cargo gear to make room for insulation. Insulation Needs I wanted to be able to park my van to the base of a ski mountain, like Tahoe, so that I could get first runs in the morning. In order to not freeze my butt off, I knew I’d need some good insulation. Heat retention in insulation is measured by its R...

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