New to Project Van Life

I’m new to this community and excited to learn whatever I can.
My name is Debbie Johnson and I bought a Roadtrek Zion in 2017 and began living in it full-time in 2021. I’m looking for a class B that is better insulated and want a newer model to have the warranty.
I figured the Project Van Life Course would help me to be a more informed buyer. I’m not sure if I want a custom build or not. Very doubtful that I could do the build myself but I’m excited to learn more so I can better determine what I want.
Thank you for the well organized class that is available on this forum.

Greetings & Welcome!

I wouldn’t consider switching just for a warranty. If yours is running good and you like it, I’d keep it.

Tons of reports show that quality control on new RV’s is terrible, and getting warranty repairs can take months or even years. That can be really bad news for full timers.

Insulation isn’t nearly as important as some would like you to believe. The necessary ventilation pretty much defeats any advantage of extra insulation. The correct solution is to have powerful enough climate control to keep you comfortable in spite of the necessary ventilation. Being an extreme weather camper myself, I can assure you that’s the only truly workable solution. Even with no added insulation, and no window covers, my camper is the most comfortable place on earth regardless of the weather outside.

Extra vehicle insulation also often leads to moisture, mold, and rust problems. Vehicle manufacturers have spent millions of dollars to determine how to keep passengers comfortable & healthy, while also protecting the vehicle from mold, moisture, and rust problems. Adding insulation might appear to fix one problem, while exasperating other hidden problems. Climate control is the proper solution, not added insulation.


"The Devil you know is often better than the Devil you don't." ~ Better Choices

Hi Van_Dweller!

I am intrigued by your post! Could you please give me specifics of what exactly you use for climate control in both cold & hot conditions & in what type of rig?

Thanks in advance!


For climate control I’m currently using a peltier heat pump, which offers both heating & cooling. It has a thermostat, and uses a little under 5a @ 12vdc when running. The only downside I’ve found is that like other types of heat pumps, it can’t keep up if it’s below freezing.

Previously I enjoyed great success using swamp coolers for cooling. They basically use no more power than just a fan alone, (water pump uses like 0.01a) The direct works well in dry areas, and the indirect type works well in humid areas.

After a propane leak & explosion destroyed a friends camper & left him with terrible burns early in my nomad adventures, I switched to the much safer wick type kerosene appliances. Over the years, I’ve had many different types of kerosene heaters/cookers, most of them store bought. These wick type heaters/cookers are very simple & reliable. Basically they are fancy liquid candles. At some point I started experimenting with building my own. My current DIY heaters/cookers cost a total of $6.00 to build from dollar store parts since their price increase. Basically a 36 wick liquid candle using floating wicks. Cheap, quick, simple, & easy to make from readily available parts. Example below…

Then for fan forced electricity free heat, I can put a heat powered fan on top of either my heater, or on top of my liquid candle based table top fire pit, which I love.

Wick type liquid candles can run on many different fuels. I’m currently using cooking oil which is readily available in any grocery store. It’s only about $8.00 a gallon for store brands, and a gallon will last me over a month.


You adjust the heating/cooking power by how many wicks you light. I rarely use more 8-10.

These also work well with the folding ovens. Unlike some other tippy canoe cookers, these are very stable.


"The road to success is often littered with failures." ~ Rubber Tramp