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Old 01-11-2012, 02:28 AM   #21
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Hang in there, Meg. For tea get a 12 volt beverage/ soup heater. Walmart carries an immersion heater I believe. It's a little heating element that you put in water/ soup and plug into your 12 volt outlet.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:34 AM   #22
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

For light - a regular lamp with a 23 watt CFL bulb in it plugged into your inverter will give you the equivalent of a 100 watt incandescent. The 23 watts through the inverter might only draw 2 or 3 Ah. Should be very bright inside the van.

For tea & soup:
I haven't tried any of these 12v appliances and they get really mixed reviews...........
You'd need a 12v outlet connected to your "house" battery. If the inverter doesn't have one then something like this clips onto the battery terminals for temporary use:

http://www.amazon.com/Roadpro-Batter...6246613&sr=8-4


Then you could try something like this Hot Pot:
http://www.amazon.com/Roadpro-12V-Ho...6247921&sr=1-5


I remember using some like this years ago:

http://www.amazon.com/NORPRO-559-Imm...6244588&sr=8-1

It could draw 30Ah from your battery though.

There are 12v ones as well which would draw less. ( I see Cherry already posted about the 12 volt beverage/ soup heater )

Maybe read some of the Amazon reviews to figure if it is worth a try. The Hot Pot gets as many 5 star reviews as it does 1 star. Some people at least are very happy with it.
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:28 PM   #23
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

An immersion heater, yes - that's what I was thinking of. I haven't seen anything like it in "my" Wal-Mart but maybe the truck stop would have something; I'll have to see if I can make another trip there soon. I haven't been able to locate one of those 12v outlets, which is kind of frustrating, and I'm not sure mail order is an option when the only address I have locally is "general delivery," but that may also be a truck stop option. It's snowing today so the van isn't going out for a while; it has horrible traction. I'm actually writing this from the day shelter - figured it would be warmer there and I wouldn't have to run the heater during the day.

But speaking of the heater, here's a milestone: I actually got through last night *without* it! I just huddled under the sleeping bag (marko, thank you *so much* for that suggestion). And this morning when I got on the bus to come down here it was too hot. I've never been much for cold weather but maybe I'm getting used to it, at least a little. That would be good because I need to save propane.

Also, thank you for the light suggestion; I'll check into it. I'm now wishing I'd kept one of my lamps; I just didn't think I'd be able to run anything like that off the battery.

Meg
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:25 PM   #24
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Does the van not have a cigarette lighter? You could use that for the immersion heater until you get a better 12v outlet. Just be careful of the battery draw
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:58 PM   #25
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Cooking for one is easily done with one of the backpacking stoves. It does not use up your batteries and adds heat to the cold evenings. Keep it simple and chose one that uses the same propane bottles you are using for heat.

Wal-Mart example:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-1-Bur ... ove/871709
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:24 PM   #26
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Cherry, the van does have a cigarette lighter; I have a cell phone charger and used it for that. The problem is, I can't find a 12v (or even a 120v) immersion heater locally and mail order is not an option at this point. I haven't had a chance to talk to my neighbor yet about whether the truck stop might have one; hopefully I will today. (Still too much snow & ice around to drive the van anywhere.)

Brian, thank you for the suggestion. I did see a lot of stoves like that at the local REI when I was "window shopping" there last month, but they didn't seem very stable; I was afraid the stove would tip over. Plus, they're so tall; I think they'd be great for backpacking when they're used outside but a little too close to the ceiling in the van. Probably a good choice for some, but not for me.

What I really wanted was a single version of the "boxy" camp stove, but I ran out of time for mail order and there was nothing locally. So I got the only thing I could find that looked like it would work and was reasonably priced. I didn't have any practical experience with these so I didn't know what a pain it would be until after I used it. I probably won't replace it now; I'm planning to get rid of this van as soon as I can.

I did buy a clip-on lamp - the only kind I can really use with no surface to put a lamp on - last night but it was too dark (and cold) to set it up. Today the sun is out and it's supposed to be warmer so hopefully I can take care of that. I couldn't find a clip-on that would use anything more than a 13-watt CFC, but comparing the lumens from one of those bulbs with what I have currently, it should still make a big difference. (I have to admit, I was amazed at the prices of those bulbs - $3 each! I sure hope it lasts a long time, especially since I think I'll have to use some special disposal procedure once it's dead because they have mercury in them.)

Thank you both for your suggestions. I'm typing this from the Subway inside the Wal-Mart; it was too cold to work in the van so I brought my laptop in here. I was really happy to discover that not only could I use it here, but there is even a place to plug it in! I'm not sure if this would be the case in other Subways - the plug I'm using is on the wall mainly for a lamp above it - but thought I'd pass it along. I didn't even ask for it, just if I could use the laptop here; the Subway employee volunteered that info, and I'm happy to have it. (There doesn't appear to be WIFI here but I really didn't need that; I have my own modem.)

Meg
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:11 PM   #27
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

What stove do you currently have, that is difficult to use. We may be able to offer some tips to make it easier.

This is an image of the product I posted earlier. It might be a little "tippy". I would be uncomfortable using this in a van also.


I believe this one would be much better.


They both use the same bottle of propane fuel. It is easier to light and cooks easier than the liquid-fuel stoves.


or

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Old 01-12-2012, 10:27 PM   #28
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Here's what the stove looks like:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trai...Stove/14493320
(it says it's out of stock but there are plenty even in this store)

It's designed so that the propane bottle will be at an angle - 45 degrees, I think. That's actually the biggest part of the problem; if it weren't for that the stove might actually fit on the surface I'm using it on. But with the bottle set up like that I have to move it so the left edge is off the edge of the surface, just so the bottle can be *on* the surface. However - I notice with some of the other stoves shown the propane bottle is also at an angle. Maybe it has to be that way for some reason?

I should mention that the stove - and the heater, which occupies the same space (they trade depending on time of day) - is sitting on a couple of big ceramic tiles I got right before I moved out. The surface is the top of one of my bedroom dressers - the only thing I have with drawers - and based on my experience with a warm mist humidifier there I knew the laminated surface couldn't handle heat. The tiles were being discarded by my (former) apartment manager and I'm glad I got them; I feel much safer having anything that generates heat sitting on top of them.

Today after a long and frustrating trip into downtown to retrieve a General Delivery package (which I may write about here too) I just wasn't in the mood to cook what little I have so I got pizza at Subway. It's been more than 2 years since I had any (I was on a weight-loss program, lost 60 pounds) and it was really good. So I'm good for today. I rarely cooked dinner anyway when I was in the apartment; in fact that's probably a big part of this, I just don't like to cook. Everything I made in the apartment was in either the microwave or a toaster oven - neither of which I have anymore. And unfortunately my budget can't handle eating out every day. I've been making exceptions just to try to get over this illness - I think part of the reason I got sick was because my eating routine was completely changed - but I can't do that forever, it's too expensive. Maybe if I had a place to leave the stove set up I would use it more. (Or maybe I wouldn't. )

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Old 01-13-2012, 01:14 AM   #29
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Using the ceramic tiles was a good idea.

With a van, it is easier when you are recreational camping. We set up a camp stove or BBQ etc. on picnic table and can cook pretty much whatever we want. In the van, and without power it is more difficult. We'll heat soups, boil eggs for sandwiches, make tea or coffee. I had a "toaster" that went on top of a propane stove but found that it didn't work very well.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:20 AM   #30
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

OK, you said you would like to heat water, and maybe cook some food; but the stove made that a chore.

The propane stove should work easily, if you had a properly sized flat surface, that was not too close to the ceiling.

You need a board, for your tiles to be glued onto, that has room for the stove and fuel bottle. The board can be stored out of the way, when not in use. Place the board on the floor, or on something level (dresser drawer pulled from cabinet, and sitting on floor), and you should be good to go, for heating and cooking. Your van will feel warmer, if you can get the heater closer to the floor, as it will heat more of the cold air from the floor area.

I have not seen any photos of your van's interior, so I can only guess at what may help.
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:45 AM   #31
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Quote:
Originally Posted by MegA
Yes, it has a low battery indicator and an audible alarm, and (I think) an automatic shutoff as well. I wish I could have gotten one with a digital readout, I would have been able to monitor it more closely, but - no.

Solar panels would be lovely but honestly - not in this rig. I'm still planning to get rid of it as soon as possible. That's part of the reason I held off on the inverter, but realizing I can't always get to the day shelter and there are precious few free plug-in sites (where I don't have to buy something in order to sit there) I kept looking at the ones at Home Depot. Then when Paul found this one I decided to act. But I sure hope I don't have to make any more big purchases.

I really wish I could manage tea; it would help my sore throat. But the only way I have to boil water is with the camp stove and the thing is too big to leave up all the time and a pain to set up and take down. It works fine but the design is just not good; it will definitely not be getting high marks from me once I get around to reviewing it on Wal-Mart's site.

At this point I'd love to find something simple that I could just put in a cup of water to boil it. That would help a lot, and really open up my meal options besides. I'm thinking of those things you used to be able to get that ran on 120v; is there something like that I could use for the van? or would it be too power-hungry for my small battery? (I'd settle for a 12v something but I haven't been able to find one of those 12v connectors.)

I'm also looking for lighting suggestions (cheap, of course). The best ones I have now are really bright, but not for long, and I'm going through batteries quickly. It's hard to get any work done - and hard to stay positive - when the interior lighting is so dim.

The Colorado sun *is* getting stronger; today the outside temp was in the mid-50s but it was almost hot in here. But the sun is still setting so early that it gets cold quickly. This kind of lifestyle really keeps you in touch with the weather.

Meg
I don't know what the operators of some truck stops would say about it, but many of them have sinks with hot/cold
water that's probably hot enough to make tea. You could also try a coffee shop and just ask for some hot water. I
do it all the time in the summer for cold water. Take my water bottles in, and ask them to fill them, and they usually
do. In fact some places like McDonald''s have sort of unwritten rules to give out water to anyone who asks for some.
Keep it in mind if nothing else works.
The weather becomes important when it's cold and you're short on heat. 2 years ago, we were coming home and had
to stop in WVA overnight, in late Novemner. It was around 10F and windy. The furnace worked pretty well, although
it was noisy. I didn't expect the temperature to drop as low as it did, but luckily had begun winterizing before we left
Florida, so we got through it OK.
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:15 PM   #32
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

I got these for warming up a cup of tea. Amazon reviews are mixed, but so far they have worked fine, though water warmup takes time (15+ minutes or more).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003IN ... 06_details

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Old 01-13-2012, 04:54 PM   #33
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Thank you all for your suggestions; I don't think I need any more for cooking/hot water. If I can find an immersion heater I'll probably go with that, otherwise I'll probably just start asking for hot water or maybe just water in general (this is probably unreasonable but I hate having to pay for it). I didn't know it was possible to do that so I glad you said something, Mike. (And Mike, I know what you mean by the weather; I'm more tuned into it now than I ever was.)

Brian, I appreciate your ideas especially coming with the qualifier that you don't know my van's layout. Basically I'll just say that I have practically no floor space; all that beautiful carpet I was so proud of putting down by myself has almost completely disappeared. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a moving van . It seems really crowded in there, especially when I have the "curtains" up at night (so the heater won't have such a big area to heat). But I've seen pictures of other people's vans and mine seems positively open by comparison. So I guess it's all relative.

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Old 01-13-2012, 07:58 PM   #34
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Meg,
ACE Hardware carry them online, NorPro Immersion Heater (55) $8.49. Safe travels, Ron.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:01 PM   #35
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Meg, not sure of your exact location but Walmart has started an order online in-store pick-up program. Wonder if you can have an immersion heater sent to your local wally World for you to pick up? http://www.walmart.com/cp/Pick-Up-Today ... 691#297798
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:07 PM   #36
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Cherry, I'm currently parked in a Walmart parking lot and there is in-store pickup available here. But I can't find this heater, or anything like it, on Walmart's website and I've been looking for more than a half hour. If anyone else finds it please let me know.

Ron, Ace also has in-store pickup and there are lots of locations. But that heater doesn't have good reviews and I'm reluctant to buy something that's going to work once or twice. I did talk to my neighbor about these; he said he hadn't seen one in more than 20 years. Maybe that's why; maybe they just aren't reliable.

He wasn't sure what the truck stop had, though, so I may take a trip up there this weekend. I'll report back if I find one.

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Old 01-14-2012, 01:59 AM   #37
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Adding a link to the "Flooring Question" thread which has some interior pictures of Meg's van.
Photog mentioned he wasn't sure what the layout was, so here it is in pictures.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1975

Here are some ideas for heating/boiling water. Prices vary, so not all may work if your budget is tight.
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1260 ... 6467592502
same thing for keeping hot liquids hot, so it might be hot enough to make tea, at some other stores, including Camping World
http://www.google.com/products/catalog? ... CHIQ8wIwAQ
the immersion heater at Walmart, but it says it's "currently not available"
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lewis-N.-Clar ... g/12086238

Maybe it might be quicker to get a camping kettle or pot and figure out how to make the propane camp stove work
for you? Or visit a truck stop, Camping World, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, or some other "outdoorsy" stores to see
what they might have to do what you need? Is there nothing in the Walmart's Camping section that might work?
A marina or boating supply store might also have 12V appliances.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:07 AM   #38
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

I'm giving up on this search. Wal-Mart doesn't have anything, either online or in their stores, and the other places I've checked - including Bass Pro/Outdoor World earlier today - don't either. But even if they did, I really can't spend anymore on van supplies; everything has to be for food, for either me or the heater, until I can get some more coming in. And I don't know how long that will take. I don't currently have a Denver address, which I think will be a big problem on any job application I fill out (and Food Stamps and other social services); my neighbor suggested a PO box which doesn't cost a lot and would at least give me a local mailing address. But I'm also paying for this mailing service in SD. I just wish I'd known I wasn't going to be able to travel with the van before I set that up. Another case of 20/20 hindsight.

I did notice a sign in the Home Depot across from the Walmart that they're having a "hiring day" for seasonal employees at the end of the month. I'm not sure what that's about; "seasonal" in retail usually means Christmas but HD must have something else in mind (either that or they're planning *way* ahead). I'm going to look into it. If anyone can think of any other companies who do that sort of thing at this time of year, I'd prefer that to being stuck in Denver with another regular job.

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Old 01-15-2012, 04:09 AM   #39
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Default Re: Full-timing in the van - Meg

Seasonal for Home Depot probably would mean spring gardening. Also, after a winter of inactivity everyone gets very busy fast in the spring for construction projects. But none of that breaks until April.
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:37 PM   #40
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I did a search and found several news articles about this. They all basically said the same thing so they were probably from the same press release. Here's the one from the Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1201984.html

The gist is, Home Depot is hiring 70,000 seasonal workers starting as early as February (depending on the location). They did this last year and ended up bringing about half on as regular employees. Definitely useful with so many people out of work due to the economy.

I haven't been able to find any information about physical capabilities for these jobs; if there are any I might not qualify because I have a bad back. Normally it doesn't bother me but I can't lift or carry more than about 30 pounds. I'm going to try to talk to someone later today at the store here about that.

Meg
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