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In a van, everything has to do triple duty.

Some conveniences go away.

For example, is there a way to make a combination "wet area" that combines ALL of the needs of a shower, sink, toilet, etc into a 3x3 foot print?

A large refrigerator / freezer setup can be used to store ALL food related items, including paper plates.

There isn't much water in a van, so consider to not wash dishes (yes those dreaded word - paper plates and cups) and only "reheat food " instead of "cooking".

Skip installing a full water system. Use a gallon of bottled water to take a shower.

Reheat pre-made frozen meat instead of frying it in the van.

Combo convection microwave oven.

A bench and a bed become one item.

Mount the bike on the back door when feasible, move it inside only when really required.

From my perspective, the part assigned to electrical might be too small to really work for your likely needs in a mobile office.

Just some thoughts for squeezing out some space.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts. As far as conveniences going away, we are both comfortable with backpacking for a couple nights, but I don't think my wife wants the extended backpacker experience for several weeks at a time. We are good with minimal conveniences though.

"wet area" - I intend to buy a composting toilet, sink with gray water, and shower outside when available.

"paper plates" - We would much rather use plastic dishes than make waste. When we backpack I use a few ounces of water to wash our 2 dishes, and I drink the gray water. A few extra ounces for the convenience of basically RV living seems reasonable.

"water system" - Like I said, when we backpack for a few nights we are fine. But for more than that I would need (very much like) to proper wash my hair, and I'm not gonna cut my hair. I will put in a proper water tank.

"reheat food" - We always cook food. Never had a microwave dinner in my life, nor do I want to start now, but I might install a 600 watt microwave for leftovers. A portable cheapo coleman seems reasonable, and could be moved outdoors for cooking when weather is nice.

"bed and bench become one, bikes outside most of the time" - I am mostly set against this, but this may be SF bias - I've had several bikes stolen. From 3rd floor balcony, from being locked up in well lit attended downtown garage in the middle of the day, from inside a store when I turned my back for 20 seconds. I like my bikes secure, but might consider sketching up a layout with bikes outside while we are awake and in the middle of nowhere. But still, they would need to be inside if we are near town or asleep. Also the raised bed provides extra storage options. Something to think about.

"Electrical too small" - This I really have no idea. I'm a structural engineer. In other words, I hate black magic such as electricity. I was thinking 2400 Wh (2-12V 100Ah LiFePO4 batteries), 400 watts solar, battery to battery charger (I have a 220 amp alternator if that makes a difference), charge converter, fuse box. The fancy ass batteries save space vs the older lunks and last more charge cycles with less maintenance. Basically I just assigned a space as a "design development" placeholder. It could spread out if needed.

Here is a revised layout idea. The fridge by the door was scrapped - Top open fridges are pretty long and I like the cook stove by the door, plus trying to balance weight a bit by keeping the fridge on the driver side. Open to revisions of course. Scrapped the convertible bed. The rear workstation could be stand up at the bed, or pull out while sitting on the toilet box. I may have to chamfer the counter to provide easy access, but that shouldn't be too bad since fridges are typically not super deep (from a quick google search of various models). View attachment 65794
I was mostly just throwing out ideas to see where your design edges are. It sounds like your "design basis" is fairly well understood.

The only downside of a composting toilet is that it really only deals well with #2 and not really that well with #1. They are also somewhat humidity dependent.

The mental transition of "camping" vs "we are in an RV" can indeed complicate things.

Some people will make a space to test the interior design using cardboard boxes. Even without the van you can do a lot of mocking up prior to it arriving.

I have been helping a friend with the electrical / solar aspects of his van not far from Franklin Square. It is an interesting area, and you are right - there is every type of RV / van / tent living imaginable in that area. Theft is also a major challenge.

A lot of people who are outdoor oriented also go to Tahoe in the winter. As long as you keep the Li batteries in the 40 - 110 F range, they will work the way that you expect them to.

Power wise, 2000 watts is roughly the equivalent of one breaker circuit in a home. Essentially the capability of one home duplex outlet, but similar to a home, this can be spread out to multiple outlets for convenience. 1000 watts can work for a minimalist situation, but probably would be a bit light for an extended use mobile office.

Electrical designs can be conservative or stretched, just like structural engineering.

Most batteries on the market, regardless of the labels, are designed to support 500 watts each, so a 2000 watt inverter would ideally be paired with 4 batteries. The storage capacity of these batteries is a separate matter.

I have a small operation in Livermore and offer some modular electrical options for times when installation time is critical. If nothing else it might provide some design ideas.

 

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I say "semi-stealth" as someone who lives in SF and sees very very many stealth and non-stealth campers everywhere. Depending on where they are. There are full on RVs running generators during the day at the park down the block. There is a camp of tents down the other block. Other places one might want to "fit in" more. But I think there are many places where something that looks like a van at first glance, yet seems to be an RV on closer inspection, would fly for a few nights. Thus "semi-stealth". I don't think we are gonna fool any Karens with solar on our roof, and I'm fine with that risk. But I don't want every random passer-by to be a potential tattle-tale. I think my van with a few upgrades could pass in my neighborhood for a week or two before some busy-body felt it's their duty to get rid of me.
I have some solar panels on my work van that power it all. It took the local police and neighbors a while to adjust, but they did.

The other aspect was how many people thought that I had converted the van to an EV and the panels were powering it.
 

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My new van was a work van so selling off partition, shelving, and ladder rack. Should I keep the existing rails the ladder rack is mounted to? Maybe us them for cross members to mount solar to?
Vantech makes an adapter for mounting things to promaster roofs at the factory mount points.

They aren't the only one, but it is a fairly small number of suppliers.

It might be worth looking at the roof mount options before selling the parts.
 

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Ok I plan on 40 A charge controller cuz more current is a lot more $$ and I doubt I'll install more than 400W solar. I plan to be able to fit 600 but that's a maybe someday.

Looking at a 2000W China pure sine inverter on ebay, with all the trimmings like remote control, AC hook up spot and the usual safety features. Only $210 but not sure if this is a good spot to go noname China. Renogy is out of stock and much more pricey for what seems to be the same thing with the same features and the same warranty. Tho I doubt I'll be able to use a direct from China warranty.

My batteries just came in! It'll be a while before I get to put em in but found a deal and bought em. Got a non-china warranty on the LiFePO4 with all the usual safety shutoffs and such for $550/100 Ah.

We are moving apartments today and in the next few days. Then I'll be planning a trip to Iva Bell Hot Springs backpacking in a couple weeks. But after that I'll be full hobby time on the van. So I gotta buckle down and order some windows and research what I will need to install them, and probably insulation at the same time. Hopefully I can get windows and insulation done by Thanksgiving and we can take it down to visit family in AZ with a bed mattress and camping gear.
A good quality inverter runs $0.50 / watt to $1/ watt.

There are factories in China that make inverters. You can have any inverter they make labeled for any capacity that you like. That is what Renogy, Cobra, and others do.

It is literally "what do you want stamped on the box."

A $200 inverter is a 200 - 300 watt inverter that has been labeled as whatever was requested by the re-seller.

US inverter companies make and sell their own inverters and they actually will produce what they are labeled.

There is no greater fraud in the van market today than inverters. It is a really a crime.
 

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This is why I started offering the "rent my shop" option" to DIYers. (Livermore, CA)

Among the other tools and parts, I have 2 tall, heavy duty electrician's ladders. They were not cheap but really handy for van roof work.

It is amazing how efficient a person can be if the tools and a semi - useful helper are right there at the van. You can work while I hand stuff to you.
 

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Very nice build.

Depending on your goals, it can make sense to rent a storage unit for some items rather than carrying it all.

A friend of mine who FTs in a 159 Promaster pulls a trailer around behind him. It provides a way to free up some space in the van and he has another 400 watts of solar on it.
 
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