From across the Pond (UK)

My name is Gordon I live in the north of England. I have just completed my first off-grid camper-van build.

Because LPG is being phased out in the UK I am therefore using diesel and electric. The cooker is diesel, heating and hot water are diesel, all are fed from the vehicles fuel tank. My van is off-grid, I simply fill the vans fuel tank at the filling station with diesel and go.

Charging is solar and a Battery to Battery 60amp Sterling Charger keeps the batteries full.

I kept my own diary of the build for friends and family by making myself a website. Hopefully its ok to post a link (Its zero profit and google cannot index it so it really is private and non commercial).
Step by Step images of my build click here

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Congrats, and welcome to the forum! That’s a very nice looking van. Why are they phasing out LP gas in England?

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Thank you for your warm welcome.

Regarding LPG I should clarify, it’s really the gas stations that are phasing LPG out. A lot of campervans have underslung tanks and fill from a pump at the gas station. The demand is too low for it to be profitable as fewer cars are running on LPG these days.

I don’t think bottled LPG is affected.

Greetings & Welcome!

That’s quite an intro! Looking good.

It’s nice to see someone who appreciates the value of windows too. I will never understand the people who like or at least promote cargo vans with no windows. I had one, and talk about depressing… It was like the walls were closing in on me. I fully appreciate the value of windows.

My van runs on gas, and so does my portable generator, but I chose wick type kerosene appliances. I chose wick type because that makes them multi fuel compatible being able to run on diesel, or even any kind of cooking oil. That gives me lots of flexability on both price and availability in any given area. An added bonus is that none of them require any power at all, just fuel. The fan for my heater is a heat powered fan, so even it requires no battery or electrical power. My goal is to make everything possible fuel powered.

Last summer, in hot & humid southern Florida USA, I tested out my 100+ year old 18" stirling engine (external combustion, basically candle powered) fan that I plan on incorporating into a candle powered swamp cooler (water powered air conditioning). Very impressive. As much breeze as a big box fan on high, powered by a fuel efficient liquid candle. Now I just need to figure out how to power the water pump without electricity. I know it can be done, because we had a candle powered swamp cooler when I was growing up off the grid… I love experimenting with forgotten technologies, especially those that could prove useful for nomads, or other off grid people.

Again, great post, and looking forward to your participation here.

Cheers!


"The less you have that CAN go wrong, the less you have that WILL go wrong!" ~Murphy


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Very interesting read Van-Dweller, and one reason I considered joining an overseas forum to get an insight into other ideas and learn how people in other countries have ways of solving problems. Fascinating stuff thanks for sharing.

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Nice job, did you use solar and what kind of batteries? what did you do for heat?

I am using a single 300 watt Sharp monocrystalline solar panel with Victron Mppt Charge Controller. This is ample even with the UK’s poor sunshine at times.

Batteries are 2 X 110ah AGM, this gives me 110ah “useable power” (not 220). The manufacturer claims they are capable of giving 80% usable power but I am doubtful or should I say I don’t trust taking them below 50% of their capability I think any more will harm them.

I may go Lithium one day. I think lithium-ion is making progress, early batteries were not perfect, I have heard of many problems with them. But I have heard some good reports recently.

Just as importantly I have a Sterling battery to battery charger that delivers a big 60amp charge from the engine, the van has a “smart alternator”. (Lith-ion prefer a hard charge so I am already prepared for it).

It’s not as complicated as it may sound. It’s all documented (lots of images) on my website if you need visual help the link is above in the first post.

I hope this helps you, all the best.

Greetings & Welcome!

This is a great place, and we’re glad you’re here!

Cheers!


"The less you have that CAN go wrong, the less you have that WILL go wrong!" ~Murphy


Greetings!

Excellent choice on not taking them below 50%, and in actuality the same holds true for lithiums, no matter what their claims are.

All the good reports on lithiums come from people who just got them, their problem reports will start a little later…

Cheers!


"The less you have that CAN go wrong, the less you have that WILL go wrong!" ~Murphy


It would seem there are still problems with some Li-ion batteries, time will tell hence my decision to get AGM first. I’ve probably got another 3 years before I will need to replace them, they were a fraction of the price of Li-ion so no huge outlay unlike Li-ion.

Even the AGM’s I am using are not preferred by everyone. There is a strong case for using the old Lead Acid. Some car manufacturers are moving away from AGM in favour of Lead Acid. You can’t beat a good Lead Acid battery, it’s been around a long time for a reason. (Since the Egyptians built the pyramids).

Greetings!

I’ve actually been buying used 12v deep cycle batteries from junkyards, and getting 5-7 years out of them for under $20 each.


"The less you have that CAN go wrong, the less you have that WILL go wrong!" ~Murphy


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