Climate control for art supplies

My biggest issue right now is finding the right plan for keeping my art supplies from freezing in the winter and baking in summer (or when parked in sun-laden cooler areas). I am often in Alaska but my triangle of nomadic life includes Durham, NC and Pittsfield, ME (where I have family). I am not talking about personal comfort, I need to protect ink, paint, paper, etc. Anyone with vanlife art studio experience or thoughts pls advise! Thx so much.

An ice chest will help stabilize and protect the supplies from temperature extremes. No ice - only the art supplies. Temperature will still rise and fall, but the ice chest will cut the peaks and lows.

I really can’t move supplies into and out of an ice chest. I was hoping to find a broader solution for the entire inside. I have a whole wall and cupboard of supplies. I can never let the inside of the van freeze and ideally it shouldn’t get over 80-90° inside.

If that’s the case, then you probably need to be plugged into shore power 100% of the time to keep AC on in the summer and heat on in the winter. Or follow the seasons - north or up high in the summer, and south in the winter. Keeping a van 100% climate controlled all year round would be a challenge without being plugged in all the time - might as well rent an apartment.

Greetings & Welcome!

Sun in the winter, and shade in the summer are my first choices for climate control. When those aren’t enough, I use a wick type kerosene heater or wick type kerosene stove for heating. They require no power, are fuel efficient, and will run on kerosene, diesel, or even vegetable oil, whatever is readily available and cheapest at the time.

For many years I used a 12v indirect type swamp cooler to keep me comfortable in the hot weather, and they were extremely power efficient and effective. There are some that are commercially available, but many people just build their own to save on costs.

This summer, I am experimenting with a new prototype thermo-electric heater/cooler that is liquid candle powered. It hasn’t been too hot here South of Miami so far this year, so the jury’s still out on this new one. If it doesn’t work out, I can always switch back to my extremely reliable swamp cooler, but both heating & cooling that requires no electrical power (either AC or 12v) has been a long time goal of mine.

Growing up in the hot & humid swamps without electricity, our swamp cooler had a liquid candle powered stirling type engine. Our off grid home was powered entirely by liquid fuel, either kerosene, diesel, or gas. Heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, refrigeration, & hot water were all powered by kerosene/diesel. Our washing machine was powered by a gas engine. I believe many of the Amish still live without electricity today. The bottom line is that most of our needs can be met without the need of electricity.

Electronics of course are a little different story… Computers, phones, TV’s etc. require power, and I’m not ready to live without them. The good news is that they require very little power when compared to the above, and can be powered by a simple house battery charged while driving, with a generator or shore power for a backup. Solar panels are another option, but it’s the most expensive, and many people aren’t happy with it, but they are also usually trying to power more than just a few electronics with it.


"Those who believe money can't buy hapiness, don't have either."
~ An Anonymous Vandweller

Thank you for this very helpful info! I really appreciate it!

Hey Karyn!

I’m Karen, too, but with an “e” as you can see. (No, i’m not trying to rap or be Dr. Seuss. LOL),

And I know it’s been over a year since you posted this, but who knows maybe this will help . . or not.

Depending on how the walls on your van are insulated, wired, accessible, etc., you may be able to install some type of heating element into just that wall — similar as people sometimes do with their floors. Just an idea. . .

Hope things have already worked out for you. I am also a creative type and will be bringing lots of supplies with me.

My mediums are mostly jewelry and hand embroidery, so I don’t have to worry too much about those issues.

However, I have do have some paints and glues, so it’s good to read your post and be forewarned.

How have you found it to be traveling on the road and producing art? I’d love to see some of your work if you have a website or someplace it can be viewed.

Wishing you all the best