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Old 10-27-2017, 10:28 AM   #21
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Howdy Ryan, I don't think any of this is relevant but maybe it will lead somewhere...

If the goal is 'low expense living', your best options are solar and wind. The cost of running/maintaining a generator adds up pretty quickly.

It takes 1 BTU to heat one pound of water one degree. In my case (11 gallon electric water heater with a 1500 watt element and heat exchanger), the necessary power can be obtained from solar electric (though I have not done so yet - but I am thinking about it). I've also considered a small solar water heat collector on the roof (circulating glycol) and warming the water stored in the hot water tank. I'm still in the research stage of this so not sure if it is a good idea for an RV/bus yet. Finally, if sitting in one place for long periods, maybe one of the small wind turbines is a possibility. I think for most RV/bus folks, they are not a good option due to height and nuisance of putting it up/taking it down (sitting in one place helps that).
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:51 AM   #22
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Rob, totally get what you mean mate. Itís nkt so much me filling up with diesel itís that the diesel, petrol and lpg pumps are all side by side and majority of filling stations in the UK are generally soaked as our pumps donít have the drip protecting things on the nossils here like the ones Iíve used when Iíve been in the states or Canada so out handles and nossils are generally covered in fuel and you have to wear gloves to fill up. So generally fumes around even before you pick up a hose! Good tip about a shut off though. Iíd considered thinking something like that would be needed for a fuel fill up anyway because itís just common sense after what the eccotemp manuals say. Itís more remembering thatís the thing - need a huge sign on fuel gauge saying ďdisconnect the water heater before you fill up Ryan you idiot so you donít blow the place upĒ haha
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:13 AM   #23
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Howdy JD, I don’t mind if it’s relevant or not, like you said sometimes a seemingly irrelevant comment can spark an idea in the noggin so I’m always happy for any comments and suggestions, I appreciate it.

Not entirely irrelevant though, I’m also in the planning stage hopefully ready to get cracking in spring (the only thing that affects that is auction times and bus suitability - if I’m super lucky to find one around then... boom, cracked it and away I go).

I hear what you’re saying about a generator. I probably wasn’t clear in my original post, it was already turning into an essay as it was haha - the plan is to run as much as possible (with exception of heating/aircon) off the solar & battery bank (via invertor). I though a generator as a backup that comes on on demand for if I need to use the A/C - (been looking at the domestic freshwell 3000 under bench). I want to put in a nice small wood burning stove for general winter heating. The foam insulation should hopefully keep the heat in for that enough, avoids the need for extra propane too I guess. Should be able to source plenty of free fire wood from the forest from fallen old branches and trees.

That’s good to note about how many BTU is needed for how much water per degree.

Regarding the wind aspect, I don’t think it’s really an option for me - side note: I designed back in 2008 a product that utilised solar panels and a mini wind turbine to power a remote camera system for filming anything that required live or recorded video or stills - won’t go into detail but basically it used the mini turbines from Marlec Engineering in the UK. The main issue was like you say height and also surroundings in terms of wind flow because of building or tree or obstacle heights causing turbulence reducing the efficiency of them. They really do need optimal location and height to work and on a bus it’s not going to be the case in a lot of places. certainly a lot cheaper than solar but the output isn’t always as much as expected so you’re lucky to power much more than small electronic low power stuff really. Same can be said with solar but the only thing to factor in with solar really is angle of the panel in relation to your latitude. So for me, optimal angle is 65 degrees from horizontal, obviously as I’ll be mounting them flat I’ll need to factor that into the calcs meaning I’ll need more to compensate for reduced efficiency. Also need to make sure zero shadows are cast because depending how it is set up, a tiny shadow on one panel can reduce the entire system by half (unless you configure it a specific way but that’s another topic).

As you said, I’ll be in one place for a decent length of time so in that aspect wind would seem a good option but having worked with those turbines before which are great turbines, I don’t thing they’d serve me all that well. Not saying they wouldn’t be good for someone else though - the thing I’ve found about Skoolie conversions so far is that a lot of things work for most and some are really specific only to specific people and builds because of how unique and diverse US buses can be. It’s great how versatile they can be isn’t it.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:15 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by TheBusHome View Post
One example - it’s cheaper for me to get and import a US Skoolie than it is to buy a bus in the UK. Skoolies seem to have low mileage like 70-200k tops from what I’ve seen. U.K. buses don’t get retired until they’ve got like 10 times that on the clock and even they they sell them for at least 4 times what you can get a Skoolie for and they’ve probably had about 4 engine replacements in that time haha they get hammered.
This is because the UK doesn't do "school buses". When kids go to school by bus, they catch regular city buses.

The big attraction here in the US is that school buses only run about 4 hours a day, for 180 days a year. The rest of the time they are parked.

So buses average maybe 15000 miles a year. The equivalent city transit buses sell at the same age, with 7-800 000 miles. They get a "half-life" refit at around 500 000 miles, and when they sell they really are approaching the enf of their lives. DOesn't make them a bad buy, but you have to be extra careful about what you are getting.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:48 AM   #25
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Itís more remembering thatís the thing - need a huge sign on fuel gauge saying ďdisconnect the water heater before you fill up Ryan you idiot so you donít blow the place upĒ haha

Good plan ;)

Thereís lots of info online about adding a hot water coil to a wood stove. In general Iíd say this is a very attractive option, but keep in mind like solar itís really only compatible with a tank based system. And you would only get hot water when the wood stove is being used. So practically you would need a second source.



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Old 10-27-2017, 12:16 PM   #26
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Twigg, very true mate. You hit the nail on the head. That’s why I’d rather import a US Skoolie I don’t fancy the risk of a city bus at all.
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Old 10-27-2017, 12:21 PM   #27
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Good plan ;)

There’s lots of info online about adding a hot water coil to a wood stove. In general I’d say this is a very attractive option, but keep in mind like solar it’s really only compatible with a tank based system. And you would only get hot water when the wood stove is being used. So practically you would need a second source.
Yeah I stumbled across the coil method for stoves accidentally a while back and it really appealed to me. At the time I was looking at all the options including converting a shipping container (but don’t have land to put it on, then tiny homes (again though, no land and t silver parking issues where it’ll be parked as well as camp ground cost (like £20 a day!). So I looked at motorbikes and ended up discovering the Skoolie conversion movement which I committed to completely . I sadly don’t know if I’ve got the room in this particular build, I’m trying to work that out - mainly because I need so much water which will take up most of not all the room underneath on this bus.

I’ll be doing another build after this and vlogging that too so maybe on that one ....
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Old 10-27-2017, 02:47 PM   #28
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A DIY solar water system is not that expensive.
A series or loops of pipe on the roof.
Open up water heater casing and coil the solar loop piping around the outside of the tank just like the stove idea and stuff it all back in the casing with insulation.
Find and size a 12v pump that can handle the temp and the head pressure to get it to the roof and back.
Use antifreeze in the solar loop(ethylene/glycol).
And a 20-30$ point of use TMV (thermostatic mixing valve) at each fixture.
And a thermostat with an aqua stat to control the solar loop pump that runs the pump when the outside piping temp reaches 80-90 and you want it to run during the hottest parts of the day to keep the system from overheating/boiling out.
That's the simplest solar system and there a lot more designs like a drain back system that I think we be a better option because instead of the pump having to run to keep the system from overheating it allows the pump less run time but it requires another tank in the build to store the glycol when it's not needed and a little bit more valves and vents in the system.
I am not a solar water guru but I have done several types of commercial installs that I think are very doable for a SKOOLIE.
If you want to look into the idea that could be your secondary source in the summer to your wood stove source in the winter.
Good luck
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Old 10-27-2017, 04:01 PM   #29
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Jolly Roger bus 223,

I read that with the A-Team theme in my head haha That sounds like you could totally do a video making one with the A-Team theme music over the top of it. Sounds like a great project mate. I love it when people like you engineer innovative stuff like that with basic low cost parts. It’s the sort of stuff I see a video of and am like if the world goes to s**t I want that guy on the team haha
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Old 10-27-2017, 04:26 PM   #30
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You can you tube stuff all day and like it without understanding it?
I do piping for a living in many various applications so sometimes I have to dumb myself down to see what the DIY ers are actually accomplishing without all the computer based controls and measuring devices,programming installed? That I deal with daily? A lot of times I really enjoy looking at the basic idea's and start building what suits me from the basics of what to do.
Grew up with and love the A-TEAM wish they were still on TV.
You way up North yank's watched the A-TEAM? Thought that was an AMERICAN show?
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