MASTERS IN A VAN

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  • There is lots of point in carrying batteries that can only be half discharged, almost everyone with a motorhome or caravan across the world does exactly that, it's down to cost, simplicity and convenience.


    Lead acid batteries are still in use because they work, if your worried about carrying a battery a sealed gel type lead acid battery (such as an Optima or whatever) could be stuffed in the bottom of a rucksack along with a cheapy smart charger and plugged in for the day, plus you get a free workout lugging it about.


    There is no doubt the more modern batteries are lighter and provide more output or stay charged longer, but they are much more expensive and require more expensive charging systems, you don't have to worry about balancing out cells, making up packs, making sure your van is set up for them or the fact most people wont be interested in buying avan with a weird battery set up in it after you finish with it.


    A cheap battery you kill in a year or two is often a better investment than a much more expensive one that still may only last 4 or 5, my lead acid 90ah sealed leisure battery was less than 40 quid delivered, I can't see why you'd need to complicate things for a cheap van that will be used for a couple of years, I could buy three or four of them for the price of anything else and they don't need any "mollycoddling" at that price point.


    Not that I'm saying don't check out all options of course, but the old ones shouldn't be dismissed just for being old.

  • Frankly I wouldn't want to carry an optima battery into uni each day. And it would still need access to a battery charger or he would have to carry that in as well, I was thinking something like this,


    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobby…S2P_30C_LiFePo4_Pack.html


    7 ah usable per day (8.4 ah capacity) , should last a couple of years of daily use with slow charging, and just a kilo in weight. 50 quid delivered though. Should be more than enough to power a van for an evening, the OP should be studying most of the time anyway.


    And with this to charge it from the mains.


    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobby…C_DC_Battery_Charger.html


    Plonk your bag down next to the mains outlet, plug it in to charge.

  • Thanks for both your feedback!! Languid Virago this is exactly what I was thinking!! It is nice and light and I will easily be able to charge it from the mains in the uni!! Will this last being charged every day and used in the evenings??


    Would this be enough to power this heater solely on its own??:
    http://www.propexheatsource.co.uk/heaters/hs2000.


    While I have a leisure battery to power lights and everything else. The main thing I will be using in the van will be the heating as I will only be using the van to sleep in! I think this will be my best option, is there anything I am forgetting in terms of heating and charging in the van?

  • If memory serves the fan on the propex is 1.6 amps, so would use 1.6 ah per hour of use. Call it 3 to 3.5 hours as you will want lights on and need some left spare. enough to warm the van before going to bed and take the chill off in the morning. invest in a quality sleeping bag and a damn good duvet, van temps tend to go down very fast.


    Also look at fitting all LED lights, very bright for shockingly low amounts of power draw, just a warning, avoid pure white as it is a very tiring color, especially of reading , buy warm white, or RGB colour changing ones as they look nice but do use 4 times the electric.


    Battery should last a couple of years. Should, I have given a link to a LiFe or Lifepo4 battery which are super stable, safe and can cope with multiple charge cycles, less energy dense than a lipo, but liPos and small spaces are a marriage made in hell. Also LiFe voltage is very constant throughout the discharge, about the only battery I know that is like that as most drop off, 4s battery = 4cellequal 14.volts nominal voltage, which anything made for running off of 12 volts will cope with as the alternator kicks out 15 volts when the engine is running.


    But still, it is cheap Chinese product sold by a company that have zero customer service. Batteries from this company I have used I other projects to great effect, the prices are great, the charger is new to me and I do not know enough to make a product reccomendation.

  • Don't think a 7ah battery is going to cut the mustard, I reckon you'll get two hours use out of it if you have a light, the heater and charge a phone for instance, let alone want to watch a dvd or have some music on, or work on a laptop.


    I know they vary but my phone needs 3.2 amps to fill it back up from empty just by itself!


    If the van is literally going to JUST be a place to crash out then maybe you can manage on the starter battery and a small portable pack, but if you actually want to live and spend time in there your going to need a some proper power, can't think of anything more miserable than a wet, skint, Sunday stuck in a van with a flat battery.

  • Don't think a 7ah battery is going to cut the mustard, I reckon you'll get two hours use out of it if you have a light, the heater and charge a phone for instance, let alone want to watch a dvd or have some music on, or work on a laptop.


    I know they vary but my phone needs 3.2 amps to fill it back up from empty just by itself!


    If the van is literally going to JUST be a place to crash out then maybe you can manage on the starter battery and a small portable pack, but if you actually want to live and spend time in there your going to need a some proper power, can't think of anything more miserable than a wet, skint, Sunday stuck in a van with a flat battery.


    I am assuming his technology items will be charged at uni or in the library, a bigger portable LIFe battery can also be bought, or two wired together, just trying to open up options, frankly a big solar panel, MTTP charge controller and a couple of AGM batteries are my first choice and what i would reccomend above other options, fit and forget and he will always have the power he needs, think he will spend more time in the van than he thinks, but he is looking at 500 quid for that, easy to sell used and will add pretty much that value to the van after it is no longer needed, but different strokes, he has quite a bit to buy to get started and we aren't all rich hippies.


    Deep ( what a joke) cycle lead acid leisure batteries are no longer the only game in town, I have never made a secret of that I think they are an expired technology that is barely fit for purpose, battery storage costs are plummeting at the moment and the life span of non lead acid batteries is many times greater, but i use them too, probably for the same reason most do, cheap and idiot proof. That tiny budget 7ah battery I linked to, it is rated to 30c 30 times 7= 210, so it can deliver 210 amps at a constant voltage and current till it goes completely flat, then can take a full fast (say 2c for safeties and longevities sake, so charged in 30 minutes) recharge and do the same day after day. You do that with a lead acid leisure battery weighing 30 times more and it will be knackered in a week. Price per Ah, well, you have me there.


    I agree with you about being the misery of being wet, skint, and stuck in a van on a sunday with a flat battery though. I curl up under a duvet ( two duvets and a heavy blanket or three somedays, and read a book on those days, and I seem to have read a lot of books.

  • Got my solar set up running for just under 300 quid including a 250w panel and all the wiring. It may not all be the best gear but it works.


    I'm sure it's possible to pick holes in the gear I have but as I said it works, was affordable and wont break the bank if any of it needs replacing in a year or two.


    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2910…geName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT


    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3214…geName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT


    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vict…y-Combiner-/261969453464?


    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2618…geName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT


    I spent about £20 on brackets and sealant to fit the panel to my roof already had a small fuse box and the wiring I needed but even allowing for buying those its possible to get a decent amount of sustainable power for good money now.


    Believe me I looked into more modern options, I have been running RC stuff since the mid 70's so I have seen battery technology change since the only option we had was Nicads, but lead acid is still king where size and weight are not a huge concern unless you have the money to build serious packs and charging equipment, I can double my battery capacity for £40 delivered and just plug it in and it'll work......


    That's a lot cheaper than 500 quid.

  • I think we are both right anyway. I was looking for an option he could carry in each day with ease, Your set up looks a good choice for a budget. An MTTP charge controller is worth the extra expenditure though if funds are available. Yes, lead acids are still king for building into a vehicle on a budget. Best bang for the buck sand basically idiot proof with cheap equipment. But as batteries they have terrible performance levels compared to the new chemistries.


    What RC stuff are you into? I fly RC aerobatics( fixed wing) and have Trex heli which I am very slowly learning to fly, I remember the NiCad days ( 80s for me) with RC planes so heavy with batteries that they were flying bricks.

  • Yeah sorry probably a bit argumentative, stuck inside with a bad back while the half finished van is just outside. I will probably upgrade bits of my system eventually but with the big panel I'm not to worried about losing a bit of efficiency from my controller.


    I was running hydroplane boats with my dad early on, got one of the old Tamiya Hilux 4x4 trucks from my grandad for xmas one year, metal chassis real leaf springs etc etc wish i still had it it they are worth money now!


    Stayed mostly with the off road racing stuff over the years just for convenience really, as there are a couple of local tracks. did some V12 indoor ministocks for a while.


    I got banned from monster truck racing at my local track because I bought a Monster GT while everyone else had faster Savages, Mine was bigger and wide enough to catch them up due to faster cornering speeds and then just run them over to get past so i haven't competed for about 8 years.


    Had a few cheap planes over the years and keep looking at them for when my van is finished as something to take out with me, thinking about drones as well, have seen some good vids of FPV quadcopter racing that look awesome fun.

  • Hugs and kisses, sorry about the bad back though, always annoying when you want to get on and do something constructive.


    What kind of Ah per day are you getting from your solar set up at the moment.


    As for the off topic stuff, i think FPV quad racing seems awesome too, the FPV gear is still a bit spendy for my taste, but I am sure the prices will come down and quality of the headsets will go up as the popularity increases, also very compact hobby for van dwellers. All the gear in 2 or 3 small aluminum cases.


    I keep a couple of electric RC planes under my van bed in aluminum boxes, park up by a nice playing field and go fly. Why I have a bigger than average solar setup, charging 6s lipos uses buckets of energy off of 12 v supply, but at least it is a hobby that uses power during daylight and when there is more sun about to charge them.


    I had an original Rough Rider, the poor mans Tamiya, though as you know both are now mega collectible, who would have thought that at the time.

  • I don't know what it's doing daily I haven't really checked it, I have been using some power tools via an inverter inside the van as I've been working on it plus I've had the van CD player on all the time I'm out there and using the lights a bit and the panel is keeping both batteries well topped up.


    It says its had 85ah go through the controller and into the batteries since I fitted it on the 20th of last month, but it has been disconnected several times while I've been working so I'm quite happy with that i think considering its been dull more than sunny since then.


  • Old fashioned hot water bottle with a cover that my mum knitted for me saved my life last winter.... probably not exaggerating much there either... woke up one morning with the bottle of water next to me frozen solid :D I was happy and toasty in my sleeping bag though.... :D

  • I have an emergency military surplus pattern 58 sleeping bag stashed in my van (actually i used to chuck it the back of all my vehicles as it rolls up tight and becomes its own tough bag) guaranteed to keep you alive although not necessarily comfortable at -12 .:S

  • Hey Guys,
    Just to let ye know I have purchased a van and I will stick up a few photos of the inside tomorrow! It is a 1996 Mercedes sprinter which has had the necessary work done on it so that it complies with the LEZ guidelines. Happy with the purchase as I think I got a good deal, I hope ye think the same :)

  • On the heating front your first port of call has to be insulation and lots of it. Also a heavy curtain between the living quarters and the cab. The windscreen can act as a massive heat sink. Plus the curtain will hide you from prying eyes.


    You may be able to get a mattress from a caravan breakers and also try to get the slatted bed base as well. We got our mattress from a sail maker (they also do boat cushions etc) It is firm foam with lower density foam top and bottom and is very comfortable. We put this in an old duvet cover which is removable and washable. You really do need ventilation under your mattress. We used 2x1 timber slats to make our bed base with open storage under ans have not had any problems with damp



    Paul

  • A gently serrated bread knife is awesome at cutting foam for a mattress, or cushions, The ones with wobbles and not teeth. Then just machine up a simple mattress cover to protect the foam.


    Source, I upholster for fun and alas rarely for money. My sewing machine cost more than my van, now that is a proper priority in life.

  • Thanks for the positive feedback! Its all going well so far!!


    I'm hoping to get exterior locks for the back and sliding door, but the following fixtures are present on the van already. Would anyone know what locks I can get to use on these fixtures ??? (shown on the pics)IMG_0274.JPG

  • Thanks for the positive feedback! Its all going well so far!!


    I'm hoping to get exterior locks for the back and sliding door, but the following fixtures are present on the van already. Would anyone know what locks I can get to use on these fixtures ??? (shown on the pics)IMG_0274.JPG


    Hi, I came across this thread as I embark on a similar journey, having been on boats in London for a while.


    The whole parking situation & LEZ makes it quite a difficulty in London, not to mention quite a few other large European cities (though none that i have found have such strict requirements as the LEZ).


    The thing in your picture is the remains of what looks like quite a good quality 'hasp and staple' type lock; only with the jointing bar missing (they are sometimes removeable). You may have to use a bit of trial and error in B&Q or similar to find a part that fits.

  • Nice I hope your journey is going well!! Are you living in london?? Yes the LEZ is very strict and hard to get around but I havnt got any fines in the post yet so I hope all is good!!


    I'v tried to find what you mentioned but cant find anything that suits :(


    Any other suggestions??

  • Just wanted you to no about the LEZ filter. It needs to be tested every year and pass with yer mot. You pass a mot and dont get the filter tested vosa will grass yer up! That hapend with my mate when he got a PG9 on his truck. Had to get a mot an didnt do the filter test. A week later thers a fine in the post! That was a 7.5 toner wiv a vosa test tho. Is yer van 3.5 ton? Was gona pm yer but I am not alloud.