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Old 06-27-2018, 07:00 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6
Conversion for living/studio space

Hello all. Been lurking around here for a few years and getting closer now to pulling the strings on buying a bus. And that's just the first step lol. For finance reasons I'm going to be living in the bus while converting and have a plan of finishing the conversion in a year or two. Because I want it done right and I don't want to skimp on things if money is an issue. I have a lot of things to consider and I could really use some input.

Where to start? LOL First I live in California which is the main reason to buy and live in a bus. Do I need to mention what rent is in SF Bay area? I work full time right now because I cant live here otherwise until after I get the bus done. But I have my own business for over 10 years now. I design clothes from vintage fabrics and sell on etsy. Also buy and sell vintage clothing. The plan is to go back to my business full time after the bus is ready. I will be hopefully holding pop up shows and using the bus at events. I have some cool ideas for my bus. I hope they work out.

So for needs:

Lots of power. Will have two sewing machines and an 1800w iron. of course they all wont run simultaneously. Have no idea what that consumes but I found a chart online which helped me figure it out but still no idea what that means for solar needs. The main question here is how much possible power can I get with solar and what setup would that require?

Need as much natural daylight as possible. I currently use (2) 4 ft daylight led shop lights from home depot plus the built in light in my current sewing room and its just enough light but could be better. (plans are for a white interior to also help with brightness)

I will want a washer/dryer as its pretty much necessity for what I do. I can make do with washer only but a dryer would be good for winter.

I will be using it mostly for stationary living first few years and I'd say 30% travel ( a lot of which is to Arizona) eventually.

I would really love everything to be complete solar electric but I see that propane for the stove/fridge may be more ideal. Or a combination of the two.

I also haven't decided on heating. I really want to conserve space as much as possible for my business needs and I really don't like the idea of a wood burning stove in that small a space, but I also hate the cold. I also must consider odors. If there are any long term odors that result with wood burning or propane, it will be a HUGE factor for me as I know in small spaces odors are not only amplified but linger longer. I cannot have odors on my fabrics.

I know I'm doing a composting toilet and I sort of have a layout idea as well as what type bus I want with a possible roof raise and thats as far as Ive gotten. I figure I have more than enough time.

Do you think what I'm trying to do is even possible? Do you know of others who have some type of work studio in their bus? I guarantee I'm one of the only or rare few women seamstresses who wants to do this on a bus! Every one of my friends thinks Im nuts lol. (on a side note trying to find a cool name for the future bus to do with sewing)

Thanks for listening to me ramble. And thanks greatly for your input.

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Old 06-27-2018, 07:58 PM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,333
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
Sounds like a neat idea.

Odors, and wood stoves kind of go together, for me I like the smell, however it may not be what your clients want, so propane is going to be better in that regard. I am using propane for heat, cooking and hot water. There are propane furnaces available for RV's that the exhaust is vented outdoors. An oil furnace would be another option, might even be a better one for full time living.

roof raise, hard to live in it and do that. Might suggest get a bus that has a higher roof. Seems most buses are around 6 ft headroom in the center, but there are slightly higher ones with about 6 1/2 ft headroom . Maybe that is high enough, if so it sure saves a lot of work.

Power, a Kill- A -Watt meter can be had for around $20. I bought mine from . The meter plugs into your outlet, then whatever you want to test plugs into it. It will give you a much better idea of what you are using. Best to do a days work and record what was used for a day on each item. Something like the iron will use it's 1800 watts while heating, however once it reaches temperature it will cycle on and off, so the meter will give a much more realistic power usage.

I think it is going to end up taking a fairly large solar setup to do what you want, as well as the batteries to go with it. There are others with much more experience on solar then me, so I am just going to leave it at that.
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