Actually using all this stuff!

Just got back from a 4-day campout with a bunch of friends, and couldn’t be happier with “Let’s go!”, which seems to be the van’s name.

I got a 120 ah deep cycle Energizer battery from Pep boys for about half the price of an Optima with half the capacity. A group 27, its box just barely fits beneath the zbed. In the hours before leaving, I wired some lighter plugs, the flourescent light, and the radio to it. Next week, maybe I’ll get it onto the alternator with a relay or isolator (the debate rages over which is best), but the solar panels topped it off quickly after each use.

Found the perfect place for the fridge while camping, since I still haven’t found my seat swivels. It’s a bit fussy on propane; seems to stop working though it’s still showing green on the meter, but a restart gets it chilly again. I’ll have to experiment to see how long it can run on 12v with the big new battery. Anyone know why they tell you not to use the propane and electric elements at the same time? Please leave a comment!

Solar panels tilted up to maximize the morning sunlight, solar shower on roof heating up 5 gallons of bathwater (gets TOO hot in just a few hours of sunlight, an incredible return for $10 investment):

I braced the rear hatch with some tent poles and hung a tarp – instant shower room! The bracing is necessary to make the hatch hold the bag of hot water up:

In the past I’ve spoken highly of the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, but after a near-disaster this weekend I’m withdrawing that. It’s not the fault of the unit, just that the space is too small for it. A pillow fell onto the heater and burst into flame. All it took was a few seconds of distraction (I fell out of the open rear hatch and my girlfriend was overcome with hilarity. Popped my head back up and saw the smoke rising behind her.. “FIRE!”) Fortunately I didn’t have to use the extinguisher, but no more Mr. Heater in that tiny space.

What a joy camping with loved ones and a Vanagon!

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