We mostly stay parked nowadays (unlike many here). We treat our bus like an apartment on wheels. We move our "house" place to place as work requires. I have to stick here until Spring 2014. Then we will move someplace else. Just not sure where at this point.
To me the only difference between boondockers and folks like us is capacity. I believe WE (personally) need to be self contained for several days even though WE (personally) are normally on full hookups. This is because WE (personally) have been in situations where we have lost power and/or water for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. We also tend to parking on parking lots when we travel for a couple of nights. This is a personal thing. But I want to be a self contained for a few days in case we have to leave out (chased by a hurricane) and are forced to stay in a parking lot or someplace without facilities due to a mass exodus. But then I also keep a stocked pantry too. Boondockers tend to need to be self contained for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or months. Other than capacity, the basic systems are still the same.
This is what we came up with that suits us and our needs, both real and perceived. It probably will not suit anyone but us. That's okay.
The solar air collectors will be sized to fit the bus windows (we kept part of the original windows) and be small enough to store during the summers. I can attach the collector to the top down window and slide it back up, then tip the window screen back into place (keeps any bugs out that may sneak past the collector... NM roaches never go away, they try to come inside year round). I will pick up a couple el cheapo car solar vents this summer for this project because I do not want to use any wiring. When the sun goes, and the heat stops, so do the fans. I know how to keep the units from siphoning the heat back out. We got a lot of passive solar heat gain during the winter here in Central NM on sunny days. Overcast days were a different story but I feel the solar collectors would still collect a lot of heat. I would like to utilize it better next winter. We spend a lot of energy heating the bus in winter. Right now, we don't pay for electric (unless we go over a certain amount) but we have in the past. Still, I like to keep the power usage down. The solar air collectors should allow me to keep the bus warm without the hydronic heat kicking on until late at night and they will be cheap to build as well. I'm all for cheap. Takes too long to make those $$! The propylene glycol antifreeze fluid will be heated using an old 6 gallon LP RV water heater that we will convert over to AC for $75 by installing a Hott Rod (part of the LP parts are missing we think, if all there, they would have to be replaced completely anyway, too many $$). We had an LP/AC water heater that we used from 2006 thru 2011. Never in that time did we ever use the LP side of the water heater. So why pay for the LP or dual fuel ability when we don't seem to have the need for it. The heating side is a slight variation of this
set up. The chiller will be plumbed into the fluid line somewhere. Our domestic hot water will be supplied by a 20 gallon electric water heater. I plan on having a top load washing machine and an apt sized dishwasher added to the bus in the next year. I will add a generator (before we leave here) that will easily handle the 20 gallon water heater along with everything else for when we need to shower in a parking lot while traveling. Unless we stay in a public campground with no hookups, a parking lot is the closest we get to boondocking. Our livelihood prohibits boondocking for the most part.
As for the chiller... that is an "experiment" that I won't go into detail over. I haven't been able to find anything (DIY) online that would work for us. So we dreamed it up ourselves. It will be put together soon. If it can keep us cool during thru the NM summer, then we feel it will be a success. We just want to keep the bus about 20°F or so cooler than the outside air. So we are hoping for 30° to 40° air from the chiller. I don't want the temp difference to be so great that we can't stand to go outside in the heat because we have gotten accustomed to the cold air inside. The old noisy rooftop Coleman on our old Class C could keep the old RV so cold it was like standing in a freezer. Some folks keep their homes like a deep freeze. I don't like that. So the double fans on the heat exchanger should work great to keep the air moving and allow us to keep the bus slightly cooler in the summer. If I go into details now, then everyone will tell us it won't work. It's only a small part of the heat/cooling system so we will not say anything until we have tried it out. It it doesn't work then we aren't out all that much money.
We are trying to keep our power usage down plus we are only wiring for 30 amps based on our long experience in campgrounds. In our personal experience, 50 amp is harder to find, it always costs more and more sites are 30 amp than 50 amp. I think what we are putting together will use less energy than most off the shelf systems. Like with everything we do or plan to do... THIS IS WHAT WILL WORK FOR US! I do not expect it to work for anyone else. We've been in campgrounds both as weekenders, long-timers and full-timer since 1979 (we met in a FL State Park campground). We have mostly been in public campgrounds and are familiar with them. I generally put the info out there just to help some folks do a little thinking before they mindlessly follow everyone else like good sheep. Too many don't bother to stop and really think about how they will use their bus both now and a few years from now. It disturbs me a little to see how many don't insulate (keeps you warm AND cool plus quietens the outside down a bit) and/or put in a toilet. We've stayed in a few places that either didn't have a bathhouse at all, you either couldn't use it (out of order) or didn't want to use it (filthy). Some of our fav public campgrounds would get so slammed on weekends that the bathhouses were simply unusable. Even a cassette (portipotti) toilet that you can dump in the bathhouse toilet is better than nothing. I know, it's what we used in the popup for years and we fulltimed in the popup with a cassette toilet. The kids and I always seemed to "go" more when it rained! All that "running" water?
is a great resource. A great deal of their stuff is archived online. I like the older DIY stuff when they weren't so hot to have you buy something you could make yourself. A great deal of it can be adapted/modified for mobile use. Just read enough of the variations of any one method and you should be able to figure out if you can adapt for mobile use.