It’s been a busy month! Ian and I haven’t done much adventuring since we’ve been completely absorbed in van building, but we’ve got some exciting new van build additions to share.
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve been working on this summer.
We’ve slightly revised our solar plan since we started our build, but it feels like we’re now close to exactly what we need with two 100-watt panels mounted to the roof of our van. We started with an expensive Goal Zero Boulder 100 Briefcase — even on sale it was quite pricey — but now we’ve got two 100-watt Renogy slim panels (with space to add two more if needed), and our Boulder 100 is our backup.
Campervan Roof Rack
If you’re familiar with our van build plan, we originally thought we’d wait until the end of the build to tackle our roof rack, but that changed when we discovered how annoying it would be to have to transport and drag out solar panels all the time in order to charge our battery. We decided to hold off on the “Bells” phase of our build (shower and ‘escape’ window) and move immediately on to our “Whistles” (the roof rack).
Our roof rack is currently in progress, but we’ve built enough of the roof rails out to be able to mount things up top. We’re building it out of black anodized 80/20 T-slot rails.
When we’re ready to figure out our ‘escape’ window, we’ll configure and construct a rooftop deck area around it, our ventilation fan and our solar panels. At that point we’ll also likely add a ladder for easy rooftop access.
Projector and Screen
We researched extensively to figure out a plan for the best way to watch movies in the van, and we finally settled on a portable Nebula Capsule projector and a foldable spandex projector screen. The projector is small, lightweight, and easy to mount in multiple locations — we’re using tripod ball-head mounts for easy aiming. The foldable screen allows us to quickly tuck it away when we’re done watching.
We’ve only had the projector for a few days, but so far the Nebula projector seems comparable to the projector we chose for our condo in Chicago.
If you’ve read our original van build plan, the fridge was originally a low priority for us, but we bumped it up on the list after our first test van trip.
We decided to get the largest low-power refrigerator that we could fit into our layout, which meant it had to have a maximum depth of 15 inches. The best fit with good reviews was an ARB fridge freezer. We have so much room in the fridge we can fit everything we need and more for several days on the road.
This one was a really big deal as it involved cutting our first hole in the roof of our van. We pulled out the ladder, and I (carefully) climbed atop our van with a drill and jigsaw to cut out a 14″ wide square hole in our campervan roof. Since the Transit’s roof has a slight slope to it, we used a specially manufactured roof adapter to mount the flat fan to our sloped roof.
Our new MaxxAir Deluxe fan has the ability to both push air in and pull air out, as well as a thermostat mode so it can automatically turn on and off to help regulate the temperature.
We’ve gotten a ton of stuff done, but we still have plenty left to do. Here’s a quick list of what we plan to focus on next.
- walls and ceiling
- swivel table
- bedside cabinets
If you or someone you know is building a campervan and you have any suggestions for us, or if you’re just excited about our build and have an idea for how to make our van better, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Please let us know in the comments.
Want to read more about our van? Check out all of our Ford Transit camper van posts here.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
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