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Old 11-15-2020, 11:36 AM   #21
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Light availability and angle. Depending on where you live of course. Being reliant on a heavily consumptive electric stove vs propane requires solid steady solar if you intend to winter camp for any kind of extended period. Getting your panels on angle will help significantly. Or perhaps incorporating a suitcase panel set up with an angled stand allowing you to capture the best of whats available.
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:20 PM   #22
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Sort of what I figured . . . thanks! We're still headed that way (all electric), but I will definitely:
  • Add a portable propane stove and a couple of 1-lb bottles (already own this :-)
  • Look at adding a 3rd 100W solar panel
  • Check into the portable panel (great idea!)
Thanks!


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Old 11-15-2020, 01:25 PM   #23
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All electric vs mixed

We are awaiting delivery (late Nov) of our Austin Sportsmobile on similar chassis, mid length high top. Our 3 prior used ones were mixed. We opted for all electric with vehicle gas powered cabin and instant on hot water. We have a single burner induction cooktop and electric microwave, convection unit. Because we are cramming so much into the cabin, the convection cooktop doubles as extra counter space and we gave found that the Gas One dual fuel single burner buffet style burner we already use works great on a small table just outside or on countertop. We have two 300Ah lithium ion (cheaper than propane) batteries with two 150 watt solar panels and separate portable panel. Have found a foldable Coleman oven that works great on stove outside. BUT also have 7 cf frig/freezer so we can defrost overnight and heat in oven next day. Have shower/cassette toilet, regular bed running lengthwise in rear crammed in with only room for two seats by turning front seats around, Wr travel to hike, canoe, and bike (tandem) and tow an Ď84 Jeep CJ-7 as our trailer, scoot around vehicle. Plan is to NOT usually have hookups, but about every 10 days or so. I use a CPAP machine which IS a big draw, but calculations done indicate we can stay without external power up to 4 days.with battery capacity and solar.

We ďcookĒ very little other than oven and water heating. GET lithium ion batteries no matter what as they can operate at capacity much longer than AGM.

Keep in mind that we ordered ours over two years ago.

We are in our 70ís and this will be IT for us.

Good luck.
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Old 11-15-2020, 02:23 PM   #24
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Mitch -

Thanks - this sounds VERY similar to our plan. We are currently set for only 1 - 300Ah battery and 200W solar, but I might try to up those. Our heaviest loads will be AC, fridge, cooktop. Once we get the van ordered, I obviously have a significant wait time until the conversion starts :-)) so we can tweak the config.


I'm curious about the hot water - which product did you use?


One of the other possibilities for heat/hw would be an Espar hydronic setup with a heat exchanger for hot air, but I don't know if I can persuade the crew in Indiana to do that - I think it would be a new thing for them.


Good luck with the new van!!!


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Old 11-15-2020, 03:59 PM   #25
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Another negative to propane cooking is that you are introducing water vapor inside your van.

I am going with Espar furnace and a diesel cooktop (Wallas 85Dt), so no propane at all. There are downsides to diesel cooktop like price and they take a while to heat up. So far with 2 100Ah AGM batteries I only use about 30% of the batteries per night which really means that I can only camp one night without running the engine to recharge. Summertime means I can recharge using solar panels, but probably won't be able to charge 30% in winter with panels.

But I haven't done snow camping yet - coldest has been about 40F.
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Old 11-15-2020, 04:36 PM   #26
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We are all electric, unfortunately not as fancy as cthayn and we get by most of the time since we only camp once in awhile without electric hookup. I made a cover for the electric burner. out of a small plastic cutting board trimmed out on the bottom with some left over plastic decking material so it just fits on out edge of the stove frame, so it doesn't move around. Then we put a one burner butane stove that all stores in a small case that it came in and tucks under the sink. Gives us the option of using it inside or out and doesn't take up much space. The one we bought will also run on propane with an included adapter. I carry the adapter and an extra butane tank or two depending on what kind of camping we are expecting. I figured if we ran out of butane you can buy the 1lb propane tanks most everywhere, butane you have to look for but is smaller to store for normal use.
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Old 11-15-2020, 05:37 PM   #27
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I think you're making a great decision by going with the Espar gasoline heater, so I would recommend continuing with a portable stove for cooking and save the expense and storage space required with propane cooking. We have both a Jetboil system, which we use primarily to boil water for coffee, and a 22" two burner Partner Steel stove. The JetBoil works incredibly fast and uses very little fuel. For the Partner Steel we have an 5lb propane tank which is much easier to deal with and takes up a lot less space. Since the propane tank is stored inside the van we have a hard wired propane detector.
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Old 11-15-2020, 08:36 PM   #28
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With espar and butane burner we donít miss propane and donít use induction cooktop

The one thing we almost never use in our Sportsmobile is the induction cooktop. We bought, (for about $50) a little Iwatani wind-resistant butane stove (like they use in Japanese restaurants) to cook outside the van. We like it much better than our old Coleman stove. And we like cooking on it so much that we usually set it on top of our induction cooktop and use it inside the van too. With the little butane burner and the microwave, the induction cooktop is redundant.
The Espar does a good job of heating the van even when temps drop below freezing. And it does a good job of providing us with hot showers. . In two and a half years of camping we have never run out of power from our two AGM house batteries when using the Espar, the microwave and the little butane stove.
Now, with all that said, and with the frightening number of forest fires and burn-bans recently, we often wind up carrying a little propane tank and a little propane powered fire pit in the van. It provides ambience and a surprising amount of heat without the danger of wood-fire embers starting the forest on fire. Not including the propane fire pit, we have not missed any of our old RV’s propane appliances, or the hunt for propane vendors. Also, our little 12v marine fridge puts the old three-way propane fridges to shame.
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Old 11-15-2020, 11:31 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmitchell View Post
Another negative to propane cooking is that you are introducing water vapor inside your van.

I am going with Espar furnace and a diesel cooktop (Wallas 85Dt), so no propane at all. There are downsides to diesel cooktop like price and they take a while to heat up. So far with 2 100Ah AGM batteries I only use about 30% of the batteries per night which really means that I can only camp one night without running the engine to recharge. Summertime means I can recharge using solar panels, but probably won't be able to charge 30% in winter with panels.

But I haven't done snow camping yet - coldest has been about 40F.
[/QUOTE]

Iíve got a 2016 sprinter 4x4 poptop. I looked at all electric, but the cost and complexity of a big lithium battery system was going to be more expensive and complicated than going all diesel with the Wallas Nordic DT double burner and heater (Doug M, why are you going with a separate espar heater and Wallas stove when Wallas makes a simple all in one?).

I still added a second 275 amp alternator for the house bank and 300w of solar on the roof, bucause when camping in the summer I want to be in the shade, and in the winter snow wipes out solar. The big alternator makes up for solar deficit on trips, but Iíve kept electrical needs low as I donít want to be reliant on idling the motor to function. I have an isotemp water heater with a 750w Electric heater and an engine coolant loop, and 20 min of driving gives me a day+ of hot water from the engine heat. Overall the system has worked out really well. Love the diesel stove/heater and we cook inside all the time. I also lived on a sailboat for a while so comfortable cooking in a small space.

Lots of good info on this site on preparing an energy budget to plan your system. I think 200w of solar will net you 50-60 amp hours a day in optimum conditions, which may cook an induction meal, but wonít heat the van also.
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Old 11-16-2020, 07:23 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmitchell View Post
Another negative to propane cooking is that you are introducing water vapor inside your van.

I am going with Espar furnace and a diesel cooktop (Wallas 85Dt), so no propane at all. There are downsides to diesel cooktop like price and they take a while to heat up.
I've done some reading on diesel cooktops and another issue I've seen is they are almost all designed for boat use - at sea level - and they can run into AFR problems at higher elevations.

One of the reasons I bought a diesel van as the starting point for a DIY build is the "one fuel" concept and no propane. So a diesel heater/water heater and a large Li battery bank is my plan. I even pondered a home built diesel generator/AC compressor system for off-grid A/C but after running the numbers, I determined a large bank of lithium batteries is about the same cost as a diesel generator (and with a classic car collection I already have too many engines in my life).
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