Phase 1 and Phase 2 of My Van Build

Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3

No one goes into a house right away and says I want this house. Many people are even in a position to build out their houses so this is what I wanted to do with my Van.

Since I was going to be living in my Van for a minute, it was important for me to understand what was being done to her, so, therefore, I chose to do my ‘Van Buildout’ in Phases.

Phase 1: I added 2 Maxx Air Fans. I finally added Fan Covers so it’s dark inside because I chose the black instead of white color even though my van is white. The black fan covers match the black stripe on the side of the van and because of the 2 fan covers, I can also leave the fans opened for ventilation as I drive down the highway or when it’s raining.

Phase 2: I added 800 Watts of Solar to the roof then connected the wires on the Solar and Maxx Air Fans to the Power Box then connected the Power Box to the alternator under my front seat.

Phase 3: I am on my way to Texas over the next few weeks and a carpenter there is supposed to help with Phase 3 of my van build out but I am still conducting research on how I want it and trying to make sure the materials he will be using, especially for the insulation is not toxic.

I am still looking at the following that will complete Phase 3 of my van build – such as the insulation, floor and side paneling, cabinets, sink, bed frame, and garage/storage under the bed.

I will be buying the refrigerator, an Apicool when I reach Texas. I also need the front seat turned around, which will give me another seat to work at and I need the electrical port on the side of the van for plugging in at RV parks.

I am not sure yet whether I will cut the bed off and/or turn it sideways or keep it longways. The carpenter wanted me to throw it away and get a 6-inch foam mattress, even though it’s only a little over 2 years old. 

The bed is the reason I have enjoyed my van life up until now, therefore, he and I are in disagreement on this and this is why I might have to find someone else to help me with the completion of my van build, which might take many more months.

However, now that I have my power box, which means I can be on the computer and prepare my dinner in my steamer and blender at the same time — I am satisfied.

Finishing Up Phase 2 of Van Build

On Nov. 12, 2021, I just had a very awesome week finishing up Phase 2 of my van build in Flagstaff, AZ, which is a #GameChanger. I got pretty much all the power I need now in my van so I can retire my Jackery 500 and Portable Jackery Solar Panel — unless I use it for an outdoor reason.

It feels really good to be able to remove the Jackery 500 and Solar Panel after 2 years out of my front compartment and store it in the back of my van. It has always laid between my two seats so it’s nice having that extra space in my van to jump in and out of the front seat to the back of the van.

The new power box, which I put behind the front driver’s seat, has made it a priority to keep the area around it clear so this has freed up even more space in the front part of my van for working on the computer or even getting in the floor and exercising.

So far I am happy with the Aspen Power Box and 800 Watts of Solar that I bought from www.LightHarvestSolar.com and once a mechanic nailed the Power Box and Inverter to the floor on a piece of plywood in case I have any type of spills, it all just seems to work out fine.

The Aspen Power Box is a substitute for using a smaller Jackery or another power box and it is also a substitution for building out an expensive “Battery Bank.” 

To install a Battery Bank in Vans — it can cost anywhere from $4000 to $8000 (with Parts and Labor), but since I opted to use the ‘All-in-one’ Aspen Power Box System instead, I saved thousands of dollars.

The ‘Power Box’ is powered in two fashions. Of course, once the sun goes down at night, the power box is no longer powered by my solar, but it is powered by the main source most of the day, which is my 800 watts of solar.

So, therefore, once the sun goes down or on gloomy or rainy days when the sun doesn’t come out, I can just crank the car to power up the box in minutes.

The solar is powered on the DC power of the Power Box and if I decide to put in electric lights — it will also be powered on DC power, but everything else is powered on AC power such as my phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, camera equipment, blender, steamer, ceiling fans, etc. so all I have to do is flip a switch when I want to use my AC power.

I will be using the pop-on lights instead of adding an electrical system for the lights because I have seen these go out too much on youtube shows. I will however like several plugins by my bed for my phone, tablet, computers, etc.

Top 3 Van Build Mistakes

The top 3 Van Build mistakes on youtube shows were:

1) Not buying a van you can stand up in.

2) Not installing two fans on the van.

3) Installing an air conditioner which took up the space for solar or a second fan.

Right now all van builders and carpenters are extremely busy especially because no one was working in 2019/2020 when I first went out on the road because of COVID. Now the wait for van build-outs is anywhere from 1 to 2 years — everywhere.

So understand I am not just a prepper but I am also a researcher. I research things before acting on them. Then I narrow everything down then make a decision.

The way I did my van build just allowed me the opportunity to see how everything was installed from the beginning to the end. I wanted to get to know my van (#StarShip) before having everything added. Surely you can understand that. After all, I am a prepper/planner. That is just how I am wired.

 
Cathy Harris is a #VanDweller living ‘The Good Life.’ Her blog website is www.SimpleLifeRVing.com. She is also an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Advice Columnist at DearCathy.com, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Business and Love Coach, and Self-Publishing Expert, and the author of 26 non-fiction books at www.AngelsPress.com. Her books cover topics such as family and community empowerment, health, youth and adult entrepreneurship, writing/publishing, workplace discrimination, whistleblowing, government, law enforcement, domestic and international traveling, politics, media, beauty, car buying and selling for women, aging/retirement – just to name a few. She offers seminars, workshops, and consultations at www.CathyHarrisInternational.com