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Discussion Starter #1
New to forum and on the cusp of purchasing a van and beginning a conversion and trying to decide whether I want to try to do it myself or take it to Wayfarer Vans to install a conversion kit. I'm probably average on the "handy" scale so I know a full DIY would take me a while.

What I seem to be wrestling with now more than anything is the electrical setup of DIY vs. Wayfarer.

As I understand it, Wayfarer seems to be geared a little more to the van vacationer than the vanlife clientele. Reason I say this is because they seem to push for the Goal Zero power system over a fully customized DIY solar electrical system. I don't see power outlets in their conversions, etc

The question I have for the community is which route do you think I should take, not only for electrical needs (Goal Zero vs. DIY solar) but for the build out in general? Wayfarer or full DIY?

We do plan to mostly use it for vacation, perhaps 3 week trips at most a couple times per year with several weekend camping trips sprinkled throughout.

Some of those large trips, however, will be week long desert camping trips where the van will be parked (Burning Man) and we will need an AC unit running for 3-4 hours per day, use of a fridge would be nice as well.

Is this even a realistic expectation? If so, I'd be curious what y'all think my power usage will be. I'm guessing the only way to meet my power needs would be to go DIY solar or the Goal Zero Yeti with a solar attachment, even using a generator to recharge in the desert if necessary.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!
 

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If you need to run AC for and length of time, you're going to need a generator or just use your van AC if it's only for a one event occasion. AC is an enormous power draw that will quickly overwhelm any van solar/battery setup.

As to whether you want a wayfarer conversion or your own DIY, it's up to you. Their conversions seem pretty expensive compared to what you can do yourself, but not everyone is that handy and some people just want to get it done right away.

Your assessment of wayfarer for light camping duty is correct, but you can always add solar if your power needs range somewhere between charging phones and laptops and running an air conditioner.
 

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If you must have a portable power system, by all means Goal Zero, Jackery, etc. If you don’t then an inexpensive DIY will be more power and MUCH less cost.
See my signature below.
 

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Once you acquire basic knowledge of van electrical systems, it’s really hard to assign any value to those goal zero/jackery/etc... systems beyond a perceived convenience for people who think they don’t know enough about electrical to diy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If you need to run AC for and length of time, you're going to need a generator or just use your van AC if it's only for a one event occasion. AC is an enormous power draw that will quickly overwhelm any van solar/battery setup.

As to whether you want a wayfarer conversion or your own DIY, it's up to you. Their conversions seem pretty expensive compared to what you can do yourself, but not everyone is that handy and some people just want to get it done right away.

Your assessment of wayfarer for light camping duty is correct, but you can always add solar if your power needs range somewhere between charging phones and laptops and running an air conditioner.
The speed that a Wayfarer conversion completes is definitely attractive. I’d like to take more of a DIY approach and wondering if it’s reasonable to travel with it even if it’s not complete. Or rather, how complete does it need to be to take it on the road?

Lets say I have the time and skills to fully complete the build in 4 months. Would it be reasonable to say I could complete just the insulation, electrical, bed platform and some plywood flooring in 6 weeks? And then be able to take it on the road?

Trying to assess the feasibility of traveling with a half completed van
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
People take their vans on the road pretty early, and I think this is a good thing in that you get a better idea whether your layout is going to work well for you.

I think insulation is the only thing that its really nice to have done before you go on the road -- you can throw a rug on the floor along with an air mattress on the floor, a camper stove and you are pretty much in business for some trial runs.

Based on mine and other experiences, I think your timeline is probably a bit optimistic. I think some have been able to do a conversion in as little as 6 months, but many take a year or more. Depends a lot on how much time you have and how fancy you want to go. I was highly motivated to get ours done and out on the road, and I could spend near full time on it, and it is a pretty simple conversion, but still took 5 months of calendar time -- there is more planning and research time than you tend to think.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi,
People take their vans on the road pretty early, and I think this is a good thing in that you get a better idea whether your layout is going to work well for you.

I think insulation is the only thing that its really nice to have done before you go on the road -- you can throw a rug on the floor along with an air mattress on the floor, a camper stove and you are pretty much in business for some trial runs.

Based on mine and other experiences, I think your timeline is probably a bit optimistic. I think some have been able to do a conversion in as little as 6 months, but many take a year or more. Depends a lot on how much time you have and how fancy you want to go. I was highly motivated to get ours done and out on the road, and I could spend near full time on it, and it is a pretty simple conversion, but still took 5 months of calendar time -- there is more planning and research time than you tend to think.

Gary
I plan to have 3 - 4 full days per week to have to work on the van but am a newbie with “average” inclination to handiness.

So yes you’re probably right that 4 months is optimistic.

I was more posing the question to get an idea of how much time in terms of percentage of total build completion it would take to get to the point where I could take it on the road.

so let’s say it takes a year to complete, would 3 months be realistic to complete insulation & some electrical?

One of the things I’d like to determine in the first “trial” trips is whether I want solar or not. So my thought is to not complete the electrical work until I make that determination. Once I do, then I can move forward with carpentry, etc
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Yes -- I think you can do that in 3 months.
Once you decide on how you want to do the insulation and have all the materials in place, its a less than a week job (unless you go crazy :)

The time to do the electrical is highly variable depending on how complex you make it and how steep the learning curve is for you.

I'd suggest you take a look at an electrical system based on a couple of 6 volt flooded lead acid golf cart batteries. Connect this to the van battery via an isolator. Add a DC fuse panel with some wiring to 12 volt DC loads and some USB outlets, and you have a functional electrical system. Leave provisions for adding an inverter/charger and solar, so you can add these later if you think they will help. But, a lot depends on what your electrical loads are?

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yes -- I think you can do that in 3 months.
Once you decide on how you want to do the insulation and have all the materials in place, its a less than a week job (unless you go crazy :)

The time to do the electrical is highly variable depending on how complex you make it and how steep the learning curve is for you.

I'd suggest you take a look at an electrical system based on a couple of 6 volt flooded lead acid golf cart batteries. Connect this to the van battery via an isolator. Add a DC fuse panel with some wiring to 12 volt DC loads and some USB outlets, and you have a functional electrical system. Leave provisions for adding an inverter/charger and solar, so you can add these later if you think they will help. But, a lot depends on what your electrical loads are?

Gary
Thanks so much for that suggestion! Not totally sure what the end load will be but I suspect that it’ll be a fan, fridge, A/C, and possibly an electric cooktop
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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The fan, fridge plus USB charging and even the electric cooktop are OK for the system I suggested, but if you really want air-conditioning that runs off the battery system with no shore power, that's a whole other world -- it takes a large battery pack, very good insulation, and an efficient A/C to make this borderline possible. Or, a generator or shore power.

Gary
 

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The speed that a Wayfarer conversion completes is definitely attractive. I’d like to take more of a DIY approach and wondering if it’s reasonable to travel with it even if it’s not complete. Or rather, how complete does it need to be to take it on the road?

Lets say I have the time and skills to fully complete the build in 4 months. Would it be reasonable to say I could complete just the insulation, electrical, bed platform and some plywood flooring in 6 weeks? And then be able to take it on the road?

Trying to assess the feasibility of traveling with a half completed van
You can throw an air mattress in your van off the dealer lot and camp in it as long as your expectations are on the same level as what you get with a tent.

Unless you’re half way through cutting holes in your ceiling or walls, you can pretty much tidy it up and get on the road at any point. The more progress you make the more comfortable and fun it will be.
 

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Nothing against Wayfarer but it's worth looking at VanWorks in Fort Collins. I'm pretty sure you can buy a turn key basic upfitted ProMaster from them. Their upfits look more professional. I'm sure they could install a simple, non-goal zero electrical system for you.
 

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Just my two cents, stay away from the goal zero setup. You'll be close to $3,000 into when all said and done - yeti 1500X, two 100 watt solar panels, their mppt charger and their high rate AC charger. You could DIY or pay someone less than that for a non goal zero setup.
 

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Just my two cents, stay away from the goal zero setup. You'll be close to $3,000 into when all said and done - yeti 1500X, two 100 watt solar panels, their mppt charger and their high rate AC charger. You could DIY or pay someone less than that for a non goal zero setup.
Yep!
 

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19’ Promaster 2500 136” DIY Camper Build
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The speed that a Wayfarer conversion completes is definitely attractive. I’d like to take more of a DIY approach and wondering if it’s reasonable to travel with it even if it’s not complete. Or rather, how complete does it need to be to take it on the road?

Lets say I have the time and skills to fully complete the build in 4 months. Would it be reasonable to say I could complete just the insulation, electrical, bed platform and some plywood flooring in 6 weeks? And then be able to take it on the road?

Trying to assess the feasibility of traveling with a half completed van
Absolutely its feasible I have been full timing it for several months now. I did the insulation in a day houseless, added a precut carpet (van rug). Then I built a super simple bed platform for less than $100. All you need is 2 days max to hit the road. It wont be pretty but it will be comfortable and way nicer than using a tent. You can buy reflectix super cheap to cover all of the windows. The wayfarer kit offers convenience at a crazy high premium.

Their bed platform alone cost $1800 you can build a platform and buy all premium tools mattress and sheets for $400 or less easily and learn something about the van.

Wayfarer floor cost $1700, I just did a floor with way thicker insulation for $300 and I could easily re-build one in a couple of days if I wanted. I also learned how to install vinyl planks along the way. A jigsaw was the only speciality tool that was costly but I already had one And they can be purchased cheap.

Their galley cost $1800, and it has no drawers and the worst hand pump wash basin system ever invented. Its also all made from plywood. You could easily build this for a few hundred or less.

The Wayfarer wall panels look incomplete with the wood/white/gray fabric covers and so does the ceiling in person. It looks very amateur and half way complete. They also can install a cheap $20 4x led lights kit for $150.

I live in the desert and there is no way you are runing an A/C unit to cool a PM off of solar and batteries during the summer. I used a 14000 BTU unit during the summer plugged into shore power, and it ran constantly just to keep the van at 75-80 degrees F.

70114
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If you need to run AC for and length of time, you're going to need a generator or just use your van AC if it's only for a one event occasion. AC is an enormous power draw that will quickly overwhelm any van solar/battery setup.

As to whether you want a wayfarer conversion or your own DIY, it's up to you. Their conversions seem pretty expensive compared to what you can do yourself, but not everyone is that handy and some people just want to get it done right away.

Your assessment of wayfarer for light camping duty is correct, but you can always add solar if your power needs range somewhere between charging phones and laptops and running an air conditioner.
If you need to run AC for and length of time, you're going to need a generator or just use your van AC if it's only for a one event occasion. AC is an enormous power draw that will quickly overwhelm any van solar/battery setup.

As to whether you want a wayfarer conversion or your own DIY, it's up to you. Their conversions seem pretty expensive compared to what you can do yourself, but not everyone is that handy and some people just want to get it done right away.

Your assessment of wayfarer for light camping duty is correct, but you can always add solar if your power needs range somewhere between charging phones and laptops and running an air conditioner.
Thinking more and more about your advice I think a permanent A/C may not necessary for me.

For the one week per year I might need it I’ll do as you say, plug into a generator and run the van’s A/C. Or perhaps have a small unit that I can run, with a vent out the drivers side window somehow.
 

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Thinking more and more about your advice I think a permanent A/C may not necessary for me.

For the one week per year I might need it I’ll do as you say, plug into a generator and run the van’s A/C. Or perhaps have a small unit that I can run, with a vent out the drivers side window somehow.
You won’t be able to run the vans ac from a generator, but you would be able to run a small separate ac unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The fan, fridge plus USB charging and even the electric cooktop are OK for the system I suggested, but if you really want air-conditioning that runs off the battery system with no shore power, that's a whole other world -- it takes a large battery pack, very good insulation, and an efficient A/C to make this borderline possible. Or, a generator or shore power.

Gary
I think I can keep my AC needs to when I can run a generator or connect to shore power.

I do think, however, that my wife will want to run a small space heater if it gets cold.

Revising my electrical needs, I’d probably include these on my list:

Heater
Induction cooktop
Instapot
Charging laptop/phone etc
Water pump
Fridge
Fan
LED lighting

Could the system you suggested handle that?
 

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I think I can keep my AC needs to when I can run a generator or connect to shore power.

I do think, however, that my wife will want to run a small space heater if it gets cold.

Revising my electrical needs, I’d probably include these on my list:

Heater
Induction cooktop
Instapot
Charging laptop/phone etc
Water pump
Fridge
Fan
LED lighting

Could the system you suggested handle that?
You can get all of the above “reasonably” easily to run off 12v with the exception of the “Heater”.
 
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