Don’t get me wrong, I love ramen noodles but eating them daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is frowned upon once you graduate college so a proper kitchen was a must. The cooler and ice thing got old fast so I knew a refrigerator would be the ultimate game changer. Turns out, RV fridges are crazy expensive, well actually, ALL RV things are crazy expensive! My insanely generous parents offered to buy me a fridge as a van warming gift, meet Jax and Bruce, the most awesomely supportive people of my unconventional lifestyle
I chose a DC powered fridge that would hook up to my solar panels. I won’t go in to too much detail on the solar installation but thats mostly due to the fact that I didn’t comprehend ANY of it. In lamest terms I have two 100 watt solar panels wired in parallel which run to a PWM charge controller which then connects to my two 6 volt AGM batteries that are wired in series to make a 12 volt battery bank. The concept is simple but actually putting it together is a whole other story which was why I turned to my electrical engineering friend Kevin for guidance.
I can say however that I did mount them myself! (more drilling holes into my expensive new toy)
A huge thanks goes out to Kevin for lending a helping hand. Without him I probably would have electrocuted myself
The layout. The proximity of the beer in the fridge in relation to the rest of the van was crucial! Ultimately we went with this set up. Fridge would go in the large empty boxed in area just above the mess of battery stuff.
The countertop was made out of an old dining room table that Court hadn’t managed to sell in his (not so) wildly successful yard sale.
The table got chopped up and ultimately 3 pieces would make up the countertop (above the fridge, sink/stove, and backsplash) which I then painted green, because well, I don’t know why, other than I like green! Then a layer of epoxy was added and bam, you’ve got yourself a waterproof countertop!
My sink system is very basic. One of those green jugs contains fresh water and the other is empty which will fill up with grey water from the sink. A hose runs from the bottom of the fresh water up to my hand pump which dispenses water and the bottom of the sink has a hose running to the grey water tank. It’s simple but gets the job done.
The kitchen table is a point of pride for me, mainly because I came up with the idea completely on my own and executed it in 2 hours without the help of the internet. Not to say there isn’t someone out there who thought of it first but I can at least say I didn’t “steal” their idea.
It’s very basic, like everything else in the van. Two hinges that allow the table to be up or down and a 2×4 attached with a hinge to allow it to drop down or hide behind. Tada, a dining area!
Next up were drawers, which I found to be not so basic. I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again, drawers are stupid and hard and stupid! But at least they are done now.
The ghetto bathroom locks are so the drawers aren’t constantly sliding out while driving. It may not be the most elegant fix but it’s effective nonetheless.
Next up were cupboards above the countertop area. No space can go unused in the van! We found these cupboards hard to build mainly because of the lack of contact points we had to the van. We were able to find 3 places for screws to the roof and 4 places for L brackets to the wall. That oughta do it, we hope…
The doors of the cupboards were made up of the same material as the table and drawers. Hydraulic gas struts are to keep the doors closed when they are closed and open when they are open. The struts may be a bit too powerful for these tiny doors seeing as one of the doors broke off shortly after being installed. Some hinge placement finagling seemed to help however. Damn hinges! The furthest left cubby is left open as a bookshelf because, well, how can anyone see how rad you are if all your climbing and backcountry guides are behind closed doors??
Next up on the todo list is to tidy up all the electrical stuff underneath the fridge and give the fridge a prettier frame in hopes to take away from the destruction Yogi the bear caused. (top right of the vent)
Not to worry though guys I’ve got a “furocious” security system
This whole process lasted about one month mainly due to the fact that a lot of the things in my van had to be purchased online because there’s no giant RV superstore warehouse in Tahoe, who woulda thunk it??? This is extremely inconvenient and annoying. Nothing kills your enthusiasm more than realizing midway through a project you don’t have everything you need. For example, my stove (also purchased online) can very easily connect to a large propane tank however, I was in hopes to use the small Coleman bottles. I do not have a vent out the side of my van or a propane locker so using a large 20lbs tank would be highly unsafe. Finding the right connections for this proved to be no easy task.
But it’s done now and ready for boondocking!