Hi. Decided to go Nomad - especially during this weird Covid time. I could use some input from anyone. Lol. Especially regarding my power setup. It is really messing with my head. Currently in Asheville NC. Will get my van early December. Trying to order what I need now. Have to finish the build by end of December. Thank goodness for all the tutorials online. Not sure where I will stay at the moment. Looking for least expensive option to park outside of city. Too noisy for me here. Trying to be off-grid, but looking for some advice. Yes, I want to do this myself so I can understand how everything works. Cross your fingers and toes for me.
Greetings & Welcome!
Hopefully you weren’t influenced by the promoters to build your own… For newbies it is usually the worst choice, and the most expensive as well. In most areas, you can buy a cheap, older, factory camper van or motorhome for a fraction of what building your own will cost, and it will be much more comfortable, convenient, and full featured as well.
The best time to start saving money is with your initial purchase. People lose many thousands of dollars when building their own, and then after multiple failures and huge losses, they buy a cheap older move in ready rig. I suggest skipping the DIY part, and do it right to begin with. Then, after you have lots of experience, and honestly KNOW exactly what you want, that’s the time to reconsider a DIY project.
For most people, their time is better spent making money, than losing money. Instagram or Youtube worthy means nothing when your rig is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and none of those fancy gadgets perform as advertised. Cheap, simple, reliable, and easily repairable or replaceable in the middle of nowhere is the philosophy of most successful nomads. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.
Forget most of the tutorials online, 99.9% of them are just after your money. If you’re determined to do it yourself, the best builds cost hundreds, not thousands of dollars. Nobody needs solar, expensive roof vents, 12v compressor fridges, composting toilets, so called solar generators, or expensive battery banks. That stuff is where the promoters make their money.
Start with a passenger van, that have opening windows in the back. They will also have already finished floor, walls, and ceiling, so you have just saved $1,000+ and many hours of work getting started. Take out the rear seats, and you’re ready to move your new furniture in and secure it. Move it in, don’t build it in, that will also save you time and money. A $20 fan in an open window beats 2x $250+ roof vents with fans in both price and performance. Keep everything below the window line unless you’re adding upper cabinets.
Craigslist is full of free and cheap furniture that can be repurposed for a kitchen cabinet & counter space. A portable toilet & shower setup can be done very cheaply as well. Hollywood style bed frames on metal conduit stilts work well, and are cheap. Plastic sterilite style drawers are also a good choice, and pretty cheap. My initial full featured conversion came in at a little under $300. My later additions for extreme weather (both hot & cold), and unlimited AC & DC power came in at just under $200.
I can supply more details if needed…
Hello there, welcome! What I do for power is just some Stanley fat Max. I have two different sizes and they both can be charged through an AC port. So I have them plugged into my DC ports through an inverter while I’m driving.
Bonus is the fact that both of them also include an air compressor, places to charge my small electronics at night, and enough juice to jump start my van.
For the interior lights I just have fairy lights hooked around the perimeter of the ceiling that run on a AAA battery. I installed them 6 months ago and have not had to change out the battery. And the light is dim enough that when it’s on it’s only maybe 5% visible and only if somebody’s really trying to look. I stealth camp a lot.
During the day at work, I have a portable power box that I can charge at work and that has enough juice to charge my phone a dozen times plus my laptop. So as long as all of those are charged I have enough extra power to run anything.
Plus I’ve been able to help lots of strangers with the air compressor in the jumper cables when I’m on the road. I feel like mighty mouse sometimes.
Thank you. Just looking for what works for people. Everything online started making my head spin. Lol
Absolutley! There a gazillion hacks for every issue it seems like. Good luck!
Thanks so much! Appreciate the input.