So it’s been a month
Yup, you read that right. We’ve now lived in the van for just over a month!
There are tons of things we knew, thought we knew or knew that we didn’t know when we set out on this adventure, living in a tiny house, a van or something similar has been high on our minds since before we met each other. But this first month has taught us things we hadn’t thought about and brought us new things to think about. Let’s dive in.
Space, or lack of.
The space in the van is of course restrictive, but we did make plenty of places to keep things nice and in order. But even our main storage area, under the bed, is packed to the brim and we still have items and boxes out in the open, things we have to move back and forth depending on what we are doing or want to do in the van.
We are working on getting things better organized and into place, but it’s taking its toll and time.
We haven’t had any issues with our heater per se, it works fine and does what it’s supposed to do. Our problem is mainly that I (Axel) decided to mount the 15L diesel tank inside the van and use it rather than connecting the heater to the van’s diesel tank under the van. That in itself isn’t the problem but it means that we have a limited amount of diesel for the heater and we need to fill it once a week, and for people living on a tight budget that is a problem. I’ve also noticed that this Chinese diesel heater we bought isn’t using the electricity it says it is. Our experience is that it’s a bit higher.
The heater says it uses at max 5A during start and shutdown, but when simply running it can go downwards to 0.6A. But from what I can see it’s doing more than 4A on average all the time. I can’t be sure of this since we don’t know if the house batteries are 100% OK or not, so it could be just that.
The house batteries
Yup, I’ve talked about it before, both here on our blog and in some of our videos I think. But last winter we had a bad day when we found out that somehow a fuse in the MPPT charger blew and we didn’t know about it until it was too late. This meant that the house batteries we had drained all the way and since they’re lead acid batteries that meant certain death for the batteries. We did get ourselves a 25A AC charger from Victron to charge them up again from what I think was 4V when I measured them after I got them into the apartment we lived in at the time. And it did work, or so we thought.
The batteries have been behaving nicely until this last month or so when they will not charge above 12.07V. The batteries are Bosch 105Ah 12.8v L4 leisure batteries and after an extensive search online I couldn’t find any information on what charge levels should be used on them, at least not from the manufacturer. I did however find mismatching numbers all over the internet regarding general lead acid batteries and did my best to use my common sense to create the battery profile within the Victron mobile app. And since we are using a DC/DC charger from Victron as well, both chargers use the same battery profile.
I did a test and raise the float and absorption voltage levels a bit and now the batteries seem to charge higher, but I still think they are draining faster than they should, compared to what few items we are running on the 12v circuit in the van. They seem to be charging to 12.64V now on average, but we haven’t been driving that much lately and the sun hasn’t been giving us enough juice since it’s been cloudy a lot here. So, they might fully charge to 12.8V if we drove for a while, if my calculations are correct we’d need to drive for about 4-5 hours to fully charge the batteries from 50%.
So, either the heater is using much more power (as stated above) or the batteries are just getting close to being dead in the water.
Not just complaints!
I think I’ve been a bit too heavy in this post so I’ll add some good things too.
Being able to just live and be, on the move, is wonderful. We go where we want to, we don’t bother anyone and if we don’t like what is going on outside the van we simply move on to another location. It feels fantastic.
Yes, this has been a strange experience to move into such a small space, two people and a cat together in what is barely 8 square meters I think. But somehow it just feels right and for me at least, I feel it is perfect!
We are having a wonderful time just cuddling, watching movies, going on walks and all in all just enjoying life!
We will travel soon when we get our finances in order and set up a plan and budget the heck out of ourselves. But until then, city living is just fine and we haven’t had a knock on the door (yet).
We have a big plan in motion that we will share with you when the first big step is reached. Hopefully, that will be soon since we can’t wait to share it with you.
We haven’t been making any videos since we moved into the van as our YouTube channel can attest to, but I am working on fixing that as well.
Great post. It takes courage to jump into the van before it’s “perfect”. There will always be something to tackle, challenges to handle. You both have got this 💪🏼
And yes, there will always be some things that aren’t “done” or “finished” =D But then again, according to other people in the vanlife movement, you’re never really “finished” at all. There will always be some things you want to change, modify, add or remove down the road.