Just an update on bus life.
We're currently experiencing a cold snap in Silver City, in the mountains of SW New Mexico at 6000' above sea level. Last night the temps dropped to 12*F. I had an electric heater running (a Lasko brand ceramic element model) on high, which is 1500 watts (or 5,118 BTU). (Yes, I'm on grid power!) At the coldest point of the night/morning, just before sunrise, the inside temperature was 42*F. Up until recently I've been able to leave the heater on low (750 watts/2,559 BTU), and the overnight lows in the 30s would result in inside temps in the 50s. So using the electric heater I can count on a reliable 20 degree temp rise on low setting, and a 30 degree rise on high setting.
I also have a Big Buddy propane heater, with settings of 18,000 BTU/hour on High, 9000 BTU/hour on Medium, 4000 BTU/hour on Low, connected to dual BBQ-sized propane tanks (which are installed in a box under the bus). Even though I have a CO alarm, I try not to run it while I'm sleeping. The obvious advantage to the propane heater is being able to make heat without electricity.
If the day is cold but sunny, I can count on getting some heat from having the curtains open on the south-facing windows. If the outside temps are in the upper 30s or higher, I can open the curtains and turn off all heating appliances, and have temperatures in the 60s inside.
This may not be mentioned in the conversion log, but I have a quilted curtain that hangs from the ceiling just behind the driver's seat. It started life as a king-sized quilt, and was cut down to fit, including the ceiling curve. It hangs from about a dozen small hooks that are screwed into the ceiling. It's far from an airtight seal but it really helps keep a lot of the heat in the living space.
During the summer months here, the temps can get into the mid-90s, with thankfully low humidity. During the warmest part of summer, I'll open all windows from sundown until mid-morning, letting the breeze bring down the temperature of what little mass I have in the bus. When the sun rises, the curtains on the south side are closed to keep the sun from roasting the inside. When the inside temperature starts to creep into uncomfortable territory (usually around 90 for me) I close all windows (leaving some slightly open) and turn on a portable evaporative cooler box fan (Essick brand, for the curious). I have it situated at the front of the bus with the quilt curtain draped over it so that it is pulling dry warm air from the driver's area. On High it can blow a 70-degree breeze through the bus, though the effect is mostly felt within about 10' of the fan. And of course as the outside humidity rises, the cooling effect drops.
During spring & fall, and on mild summer days, I can pretty much regulate temperatures by opening & closing curtains & windows on either the sunny or the shady side of the bus. I can also put up or take down the front curtain as needed.
This is where I make the case that it's best to park your bus in an east/west direction, regardless of the season. In winter, you can open your curtains and let the sun shine in to harvest some of that free solar energy. In summer, a bus parked north/south may present a smaller surface to the southern sun, but the broad sides will get roasted by the long morning and especially long & hot afternoon sun. Parked east/west you'll also have a defined "sunny" side and "shady" side, making it easier to regulate temps by opening or closing curtains.
In other news, I made a small modification to my RV-500 on-demand water heater (install info
). Despite having a built-in anti-freezing mechanism that senses freezing temperatures and runs the burner for 20 seconds, I have had the heater freeze over night. To prevent this I installed a small 12vdc muffin fan in the side of the sheet metal enclosure to circulate some heated cabin air over the copper coils. There was already a removable metal panel on the side of the heater, so it was super easy to do. If the forecast calls for temps below 30*F, I'll open the cabinet doors under the sink and switch the fan on before going to bed. This has prevented the unit from freezing so far and IMO is something they should have done from the factory.
That's all for now! Cheers to my fellow bus dwellers, past, present and future.