Off Grid Upgrade

Some time ago we decided that we needed some upgrades to our van, because we intend to go to the continent in the New Year for three months. This means that we need to convert to refillable gas from Calor and we also wanted to get a solar panel so that we had less need of electric hook-up.

Our garage was also packed with two bikes and all of our chattels and yet we still wanted to put in a barbecue, outside table and some chairs, which were never going to fit. Therefore to free up some room in the garage we decided to put a bike rack on the back of Cosy.

There were also some minor issues with the van that needed attending to, the biggest of which was the alarm that should go off when we drive away with the step still down. All of this was a lot of work so the van was duly booked in to Elite Motorhomes for two days on 30th November and the 1st December. During this time they let us have a loan car and also sleep in the van on the forecourt, which saved us a bit of cash – which is just as well since all this work was quite an expense.

We had the following carried out on our van:

  • Gaslow conversion: we had a system fitted with two 11kg cylinders, with automatic switching between the cylinders and an external filler. This will give us ~44 litres of gas.
  • 150W solar panel: with an MPPT controller this charges both the habitation batteries and the van battery. You can see this fits very neatly in the centre of the roof, so should not generate any extra drag.
  • Bike rack: this is Thule bike rack for two bikes, although we plan to keep Lisa’s bike in the garage, just putting my bike on the rack.
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All the work was carried out as expected and on time and budget. The items which needed fixing got fixed. The thing that always surprises me is that having all this equipment fitted nobody from the dealership wants to spend any time with you explaining what has been fitted and how it works. I had to ask how to refill the Gaslow system. Doing a proper job of handover takes very little time compared to the work carried out and makes customers come back to you.

The van was washed and looked new, won’t last long.

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