Thinking of full timing - advice wanted

Discussion in 'Full Timers' started by Baxtersoup, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Baxtersoup

    Baxtersoup

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Hi all,

    I'm in a rather unique situation and am considering spending a year building a suitable conversion for full timing - perhaps for 6 months or a year at most then returning to civilisation. If I outline my plans I'd appreciate any feedback people can provide.

    I'm in my mid thirties - recently divorced but in a steady relationship. I see my partner primarily at the weekends because of work conflicts during the week. I've always had a yearning to travel and do get away lots, but love having the comforts of home with me so don't enjoy hotels.

    My work is Internet based and I work primarily from home, or in one of several offices - so don't need to be in any one place. Over the last six months I've found that I'm in three bedroom house, that I hardly use and have considered downsizing - but my house is owned and very good value.

    I'm considering building a conversion to my specific requirements, then putting my furniture in storage and going full time for a while. I'll rent out my property as an investment, but if I stop full timing I'd downsize on return anyway.

    I'll need lots of power so have looked at a combination of solar + large batteries, with the option of a fuel cell - but this looks a very expensive option.

    I'd plan to be travelling (only in the UK) during the week - stopping at a site as needed. My vehicle will be rather discrete so I'd find places to park the rest of the time - including the office car park :)

    I'd return to my partner at weekends. As my house would be rented to a relative, a permanent address etc is no issue.

    I'd welcome any thoughts or advice people can offer.

    Thanks,

    Craig
     
  2. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    28,934
    Likes Received:
    25,574
    Location:
    .
    Hi and welcome.. we have several full timers on here.. at least one who uses his van as an IT work base..
    my wife and I and our two kids did it for three years.. we didn't work, but used it as a journey of experience for the kids..

    if you post more specific questions it may produce more replies.. :)

    also have a look at Motohome365 .. a sister site .. and free

    The Motorhome Fulltimers Association
    The Motorhome Fulltimers Association aims to give a stronger voice to fulltimers in their struggle with officialdom. Too often fulltimers are penalised because the “system” is not geared up for those who wish to travel full time in their motorhomes.
    These problems include obtaining the relevant insurance, receiving pensions and benefits, driving licence problems along with issues with bank accounts, travel documents and the police. The association will set out clear objectives and then form a plan of attack to achieve them.
     
  3. Baxtersoup

    Baxtersoup

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Hi, thanks for the reply.

    Good point, here's my main questions;

    1. Parking not on a site - I can see how a motorhome itself would stand out and not be appropriate to park in various places. But does this also apply with a converted van? I would like to park in pub car parks etc (with their agreement of course) so I can visit villages around the areas where I'm working
    2. Power - I'm thinking of getting 2x 220ah batteries. A fuel cell looks to cost the best part of £3k, it would seem more cost effective to me to invest heavily in energy efficient equipment in the van, solar and then run the engine when they need a charge
    3. Anyone else used their van as a base for work?

    I've lots more questions but I'll put them in other parks of the forum.
     
  4. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    28,934
    Likes Received:
    25,574
    Location:
    .
    I'll give my answers.. others will no doubt add to mine..

    1. Having a van that doesn't look like a motorhome is a definite advantage if you want to 'wild camp' . many pubs etc are quite happy for you to park , provided you are buying drink or food.. so it may not work out cheaper than a CL (certified location, Caravan club small 5 van sites.. many less than £10 per night) .. there are plenty of places to park 'off site' .. just use common sense.. disturb no one, don't make it look like camping, ie using levelers, door step out etc.. .. and don't break any street parking regulations..

    2. 2 x 220 ah batteries is good starting point.. I suggest around 200 watt of solar panels .. (more would be better).. and for charging when the sun don't shine, a Sterling Battery to Battery charger.. (more commonly written B2B charger) .. as a last resort for an emergency, a 1 or 2 kva Honda inverter generator

    3. yes.. @Gromett .. Karl, does.. he will be along shortly no doubt with a lot more info..
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  5. Mousy

    Mousy Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,079
    Likes Received:
    6,421
    Location:
    Sa15 2DG
    There was an interesting thread a few years back of a guy doing exactly what you want to. He converted his own van and worked in I T. Sorry I can't remember his name.

    All the info was on his website.

    Anyone else remember him?
     
  6. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    28,934
    Likes Received:
    25,574
    Location:
    .
  7. thehutchies

    thehutchies Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    1,541
    Location:
    The Wheelèd Shed
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Mousy

    Mousy Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,079
    Likes Received:
    6,421
    Location:
    Sa15 2DG
    That's who I was trying to remember, well done.
     
  9. Baxtersoup

    Baxtersoup

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Thanks all, very interesting reads so far
     
  10. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,211
    Likes Received:
    9,590
    Location:
    Dorset
    a major drawback of a stealth camper (a windowless van) is that you cant register it with DVLA as a motorhome. likewise many sites wont allow "vans" to camp on their pitches
     
  11. thehutchies

    thehutchies Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    1,541
    Location:
    The Wheelèd Shed
    A van doesn't have to be windowless to be stealthy.
    My work van had dark tinted windows and I often used to wildcamp or urban camp :)
    It was also allowed on campsites because they usually only object to signwritten vans.
     
  12. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    28,934
    Likes Received:
    25,574
    Location:
    .
    excellent point..

    however.. you only need one side window to be classed by the DVLA as a motor caravan (motorhome)

    this may or may not satisfy SOME site owners.

    full list of DVLA requirements to register as a motor caravan
    http://www.campervanlife.com/building/legal
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    3,301
    Location:
    walthamstow east london
  14. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    3,301
    Location:
    walthamstow east london
  15. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,924
    Likes Received:
    13,974
    Location:
    UK
    I have done exactly what you are thinking about doing. Been at it 6 years now.

    Unfortunately I am without a computer at the moment until my new laptop arrives tomorrow. Complicated story but I am typing this on my tablet so it makes long responses difficult.

    On the power front. I have 240Watts of solar, 500AH battery bank, a 50Amp battery charger and a 1Kw generator.

    I will be happy to advise after today when I have my laptops all back in working order etc.
     
  16. GeriatricWanderer

    GeriatricWanderer Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    868
    Likes Received:
    3,144
    Location:
    Now back in Sarfend for a couple of months.
    I'm not able to contribute much here but I recently ran a panel van (no side windows) self build and wanted to lose the "no vans" restrictions but didn't want to go to the effort or expense of having windows put in.
    Following advice from someone who had been in a similar position, I stuck some glass tint film straight onto the side panels. A little bit of edge trimming and hey presto - perfect.
    Almost impossible to tell they were fake.

    Just a thought.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Baxtersoup

    Baxtersoup

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Thanks for all the replies. In particular Gromett I'd like your advice. I've been reading Wissel's notes and I'm focussing on the real tech stuff like;
    - laptop, 12v PC or inverter with my normal computer. These last two options are a little more complicated for me as a Mac user
    - satellite Internet (damned expensive) or 3g/4g - if so, which network(s) - multiple will be necessary as you can almost guarantee that if I only have one it will never work where I want it to
    - external aerial?
    - combine computer into TV/media system (every boy has to have his toys)
    - recommendations on batteries and split charger?

    lots to think about. I think i'd have to give up my beloved 27inch iMac as it draws min 70W and anything up to near 300W when the CPU is maxed out
     
  18. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,924
    Likes Received:
    13,974
    Location:
    UK
    Ok, got my new laptop so back in action...

    For the computer, I have a rackmount case with a large PC system built in, hot swap drives the lot. This is for use when I need the power and storage and I will go onto a CL for a hookup to use this.

    I then have a decent laptop which covers me for most work I do. This is an XPS 13 [2015 model] which frankly is a fantastic bit of hardware only ruined by having windows installed on it.

    All my hardware in the van works off 12V and this is close a golden rule for me now. The only exception is my toothbrush charger and my big computer.

    On the internet connection front. I carry spare PAYG simms for the other networks. I use Three as my primary one as they give the best speed in my experience. I have EE as my primary backup as they have the best coverage if not the best speed.

    I am just ordering my new battery bank as my 8 year old one is on it's way out now. The new battery bank will be 4 x Trojan T125's http://www.batterymegastore.co.uk/product/T125/

    I have a 45Amp B2B charger. And a Sterling 50Amp mains charger. I would recommend going for an uprated charger that is capable of putting C/10 amps into your batteries. Where C is the capacity of your full battery bank. The reason for this is that if you want to start your generator to charge your batteries you want to be putting as much juice in as quickly as is safely practical so you can switch the generator off sooner. The 50Amp Sterling charger requires at least a 750watt generator.

    My generator is 1KW Sine. This allows me to run the charger and my main computer side by side.

    For solar panels I would ideally like to have the same number of watts as I do AH in the battery. But fitting 500Watts of solar panels on a panel van is just not practical so I settled for 3 x 80Watt panels which were dirt cheap. Ensure you get an MPPT charger though.

    The solar panels are enough to keep me going off hookup for at least 6 months of the year. for an additional 4 months they extend the time I am off hookup. For two months they are practically useless.

    I did have satelite internet but to be honest it is either dog slow or seriously expensive. There doesn't apear to be an in between. In addition the 3G network in this country is very good providing you are prepared to carry multiple simms and move if you aren't getting a great signal.

    Ask any questions you want I will be happy to give you my advice. Which you are of course completely welcome to ignore :p
     
    • Like Like x 2
Loading...

Share This Page