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Old 02-18-2022, 09:13 PM   #1
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Hi, I'm living in Mexico though I lived in Chicago for over 20 years. As a permanent resident of Mexico I can't buy an RV/van in the US and import it here because the import duty is 50% plus 8% tax plus 16% VAT.
Anyhow, I found a company in Guadalajara which does van conversions and I visited them and they appear competent. We'll likely order one from them.
My wife and I are planning to travel in the summer up through Mexico to the US and Canada for a few months each year. In the US/Canada we'll likely be mainly in RV parks with power but in Mexico it will be more likely we'll be boon docking.
I am vacillating on how much we want to rely on Solar power. The panels/batteries have improved so much in the last few years that I was wondering if it is realistic to rely on solar for all our power.
I had originally been looking at a build with Solar, Gas Generator and Propane systems.
If I ditch the generator and Propane (increasing the battery capacity to 2 or 3x200 AH batteries and 600W panels, 3 KW inverter I figure I can operate the induction hotplate, microwave because they're used for short periods. Heating water is a concern and any suggestions would be appreciated.
I'd certainly appreciate any advice for or against going all-electric with maybe a diesel heater. We will have a 12,000 BTU AC but I'm assuming we'll only use it when we've got shore power (or maybe run it for a period, now and again).
I'm sorry I'm being so long-winded but I'd love it if you could point me towards any resources.
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Old 02-18-2022, 10:15 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

While I cannot personally speak to many of your questions, I would say that there have been multiple times here when the debate has involved "Propane -vs- No Propane", "Generator -vs- Large Batteries", etc.

As I recall, many have been satisfied with diesel fired heaters, but recommend name brands like Webasto instead of cheaper "Chinese" models.

Also, you can certainly run an induction stove top with the setup you describe because (as you mention) they don't run that long.

Propane is still a good option for heat and cooking as well, but would require much greater install costs and would also depend on available propane sources where you can re-fill.

Others will chime in with more direct experience. Good luck!
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Old 02-18-2022, 11:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotshendy View Post
Hi, I'm living in Mexico though I lived in Chicago for over 20 years. As a permanent resident of Mexico I can't buy an RV/van in the US and import it here because the import duty is 50% plus 8% tax plus 16% VAT.
Anyhow, I found a company in Guadalajara which does van conversions and I visited them and they appear competent. We'll likely order one from them.
My wife and I are planning to travel in the summer up through Mexico to the US and Canada for a few months each year. In the US/Canada we'll likely be mainly in RV parks with power but in Mexico it will be more likely we'll be boon docking.
I am vacillating on how much we want to rely on Solar power. The panels/batteries have improved so much in the last few years that I was wondering if it is realistic to rely on solar for all our power.
I had originally been looking at a build with Solar, Gas Generator and Propane systems.
If I ditch the generator and Propane (increasing the battery capacity to 2 or 3x200 AH batteries and 600W panels, 3 KW inverter I figure I can operate the induction hotplate, microwave because they're used for short periods. Heating water is a concern and any suggestions would be appreciated.
I'd certainly appreciate any advice for or against going all-electric with maybe a diesel heater. We will have a 12,000 BTU AC but I'm assuming we'll only use it when we've got shore power (or maybe run it for a period, now and again).
I'm sorry I'm being so long-winded but I'd love it if you could point me towards any resources.
I have 800 Ah lithium with 195 watt of solar with 3000/12 inverter. I would not recommend going with solar. Solar can be somewhat undependable. Also it will mean parking in the sun a lot of the time when sunshine is available. Meaning you will be running AC to keep cool. The commercial RV parks will usually always have hook ups. Here in California, national, state and county parks are generally booked way in advance and generally do not offer hook ups. For electrical, stick with a good dependable inverter generator. It is good for AC and charging your batteries.

Can you get a gasoline/diesel heating system for water and the van? That way you will be able to least rid yourself of propane.
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Old 02-24-2022, 04:00 PM   #4
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Default Electric is the way to go

We have 300 Amp/hrs Lithium with a 2nd alternator for charging.
We also have two solar panels.

The solar is great for when the van is parked, it will generate plenty to keep the fridge running and add some power back to the batteries. It is not sufficient to fully charge the batteries to balance the use of the induction stove etc.

We are able to stay parked for about 3 days with the batteries and solar 'refills', in a sunny spot, using the Gas furnace (which uses some electricity), the induction stove for coffee and oatmeal, charging computers and keeping the fridge running.

If you plan to drive every few days (even just an hour), a 2nd alternator can charge up 300 Amp/hrs nicely.

For us, having no propane system, and no generator to store and deal with were very important. The gas burning furnace is not cheap, but it's very effective. I've seen other people use 12-volt quartz heaters, or if plugin an heat electric.
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Old 02-24-2022, 04:49 PM   #5
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solar requires sun
I don't like to park in the sun


I do have a small panel which i set up outside and kick to follow the sun through the day
( panels on the roof may have optimal exposure for a few hours daily- they also reduce MPG )


an older class B we use propane for the energy needs of the firdge, water heater, cooker, furnace when off grid
with a single group 27 battery we are good for about 6 days, with my little panel trickling



at 6 or 7 days, we need water, laundry or groceries
( no use carrying 2 weeks of food when you know another factor will require going into town)


we have a genny and have never actually used in camping- the only things which require it are the AC and microwave.
we try to go places where AC isn't needed


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Old 02-24-2022, 05:42 PM   #6
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With a ground up design and build, it is most important that you first figure out what is your desired length of time boondocking (and whether it is you alone or plus significant other). Then you need to size ALL tour capacities to support that parameter. This is even more critical for a class B because the "real estate" available is so limited.

So say you want to boondock 14 days. Based on experience with my RoadTrek, which has no solar, but does have a propane generator, and 235Ah of battery capacity and a 1500/3000W inverter, you would need 30 gallons of fresh water, 30 gallons gray water and 20-30 gal black water capacity. Black water capacity goes to zero if you go with a separating/composting toilet.

I cannot cook or make coffee on the inverter, I need to run the generator to operate the microwave or coffeemaker. My fridge is 3 way, and running on propane when boondocking. My 12 gal of propane lasts a couple of months at least; less if I am running propane heat a lot.

You don't plan on trying to run AC on battery (solar) which is probably good. What I would advise is getting a high quality and quiet 12v powered roof vent with thermostat control, and designing windows so they can be cracked open near your sleeping area. My RT system draws a nice gentle breeze across us when sleeping and makes for very comfortable nights even in hot weather.

Higher capacity invefters require very hefty wiring from the batteries. I uograded from 750W to 1500, but going higher was not realistic given the amount of cabling I would have needed to replace.

In summary think whole systems. There is no sense paying for 30 days running off batteries if you have to go pump waste tanks every week.
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Old 02-25-2022, 12:56 AM   #7
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I resemble mkguitar when it comes to old school class b living. Our record is 5 days of comfortable living with one 12v 100 ah battery and a 100 watt portable solar panel. We don't feel a need for more.

We all have different styles but my advice is to always figure out your planned usage and plan accordingly.
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