Author: Nate (Page 1 of 3)

Update On The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 After One Year – Buyer Beware

As you may or may not know, we decided to use a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 as the basis for our power needs in the van. Now that our system has been in use 24/7/365, I’d like to report back on how it’s holding up.

The short answer is: mediocre

The Yeti 1250 came with a one year warranty upon purchase, which I didn’t think much of at the time. I figured it was a relatively short warranty mostly because of the battery. The life of a lead acid battery can be drastically reduced if it is run completely dead (more than 50%-60% depth of discharge) multiple times, and especially if it is left uncharged for extended periods. I can understand how Goal Zero would rather not be responsible for replacing abused batteries, so a one year warranty makes sense. Besides, the battery in the 1250 is user replaceable, so when the battery does eventually need replacing, it’s much cheaper than the entire unit, and very quick and easy.

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Van Furnishings – Cabinets Part 1

We’ve been living full time in our van for over a year now. The only things permanently installed are the sofabed and the composting toilet. Everything else has just been scattered around on the floor. It’s time for that to change.

We didn’t expect to be waiting so long to install more fixtures in the van, but it’s taken us this long to figure out exactly what we wanted to do (we also tend to prioritize outside activities over ‘house work’).


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Curt Trailer Hitch Install

Picked up a Curt class IV trailer hitch for the van. No, we don’t have a trailer, and aren’t currently planning on getting one (for the moment). But in my experience, having a 2 inch hitch receiver is quite handy for things like bike racks, etc. Plus, they are fairly cheap and stupid simple to install, like, done in 10 minutes in a parking lot simple, so we figured why not.


Curt class IV 600lb. tongue weight, 6000lb. towing hitch ready for installation.

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Our 1 Year Vanniversary

We sold our truck and camper and bought our van exactly 1 year ago today. We’ve done a bit of reflecting back on how that year has gone. Not everything quite went exactly as planned, but that’s the nature of (van)life.

Colorado Trail Sign

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Van Furnishings – Batteries and Charging

It’s been quite a while since we installed solar panels on the roof, but we haven’t yet talked about what those panels are connected to. When we were trying to figure out how much solar we could get, we were also simultaneously trying to figure out the whole battery situation: how much power we need, how much of a battery bank is possible based on how much solar input we can get, what kind of batteries we wanted, and how much space the batteries would consume.

When we completed the solar, way back when, we left some wires dangling from under the headliner, ready to be plugged into whatever charge controller and battery we chose. The actual amount of power and batteries we get is limited by how quickly they can be recharged by the amount of solar that we managed to fit onto the roof in addition to the cargo boxes.

Circled in red are the two wires coming from the solar panels.

Circled in red are the two wires coming from the solar panels.

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Van Exterior – Solar Panels

Power is absolutely necessary.  We like our computers and refrigerated food among other things.  Living in Colorado makes solar a no-brainer with the 250ish sunny days we get per year, not to mention it is silent, stealthy, and reliable.  In the future, when we’re out of debt and able to travel, we may end up in places with fewer sunny days, but hopefully it will still be a worthwhile investment.  We know from past experience with solar on both of our previous truck campers that we want the most power we can get, but somewhere around 250 watts is just about right for us.


We ended up getting two 135 watt panels for a total of 270 watts.  After assuming an 80% efficiency, we should be expecting about 215 watts of real output.  If we need even more power, we have a pair of 30 watt portable solar panels that can be quickly deployed, boosting our total theoretical output to 330 watts, and the expected output to about 265 watts, but these will only be used when we don’t have to urban camp.

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Insulating The Van Part 10 – Cargo Area Hulliner

We are finally to the last layer of insulation for the walls and ceiling!  While we lived with pink walls for a number of months before having the time to finish up the insulation, the reflectix was only exposed for a week or so.  Freezer status was quite temporary.  That’s right, this post is all about hulliner.

We ordered 10 yards of hulliner to cover the inside of our van.  In theory, we should have had plenty of extra.  In practice, it was just right, leaving us a number of small scraps, but not enough to fix any big problems.


We started with the largest piece, the driver side wall.

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Insulating The Van Part 9 – Cargo Area Reflectix

We have officially moved to freezer status.  At least, that’s how it looks from the inside.  Today, we finally get around to lining the walls and ceiling with reflectix.  This was put off for so long because we’ve been living in the van and to get all this done, we have to completely empty it, including taking the sofa bed out.

We chose to start from the bottom and work our way up, so we got some funky pieces from working around the wheel wells and struts.  We used the same 3M High Strength 90 glue we used on the pink insulation, holding the reflectix up and trimming as we go, then spraying the glue on both surfaces and sticking them together.  Lastly, foil tape on the seams.


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Insulating The Van Part 8 – Front Cab Floor

We finished up the front ceiling area, so lets move on to the front floor.  It’s fairly straight forward, just a bit of work.  So, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

First up, remove the front seats.


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Insulating The Van Part 7 – Front Cab Ceiling

Okay, it’s finally time we stop neglecting the front cab area and insulate it.  This time, we tackle the ceiling, which will get sound deadener and reflectix.  Unfortunately, there is not enough space between the metal van skin and the headliner for any pink foam board insulation.


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