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build pages/appliances

The refrigerator is a Vitrifrigo 3.2 cu. ft. 85 liter Model # C85IBD4-F.  This refrigerator operates on 12 volt DC or 120 volt AC.  It automatically switches to 120 volt AC when AC is available.  Refrigerator does not use propane.  This Vitrifrigo has the compressor and condensor mounted at the bottom back of the refrigerator.  This location is preferred to the normal upper back location found in most refrigerators.  The bottom back location allows for a much larger freezer at the top and uses the difficult to access bottom back part of the refrigerator.

In order to decrease power usage additional insulation was installed around the refrigerator.  Cabinet opening is 3" wider than Vitrifrigo requires. On the sides, top and bottom 2 1/2" of rigid polyiso insulation was installed.  The sides had 1 1/2" plus 1" inserts in the 80/20 framework.  Glued to the back there are two layers of 1" closed cell foam.  Also have a 4" square hole in the van floor directly behind and under the refrigerator location.  Hole provides cool air to the refrigerator.

The normal RV refrigerators have a serpentine condenser coil mounted on the back of the refrigerator.  The Vitrifrigo uses a small radiator and fan instead of the coil.  The fan location at the bottom left side requires a hole in the cabinet for air flow.  Was surprised to find out that the 85 liter Vitrifrigo uses about 1/3 less power than the 80 liter Dometic I had in the Sprinter.  Same extra insulation and size/brand of compressor.  Only major difference is the condenser design.  The condenser design is the same as that used on chest type refrigerators.  Believe the better efficiency of the Vitrifrigo is the condenser design and not due to cold air loss from a front opening door when compared to a chest type top opening door.  The old wives tale about cold air falling out of the front opening refrigerator is not the reason chest type refrigerators are believed to be more efficient.  It is the condenser design.

The portable two burner propane stove is a Camp Chef Ranger II.  Wanted a portable stove for several reasons.  Did not want to use up the limited countertop space with a permanent stove installation.  Also wanted to be able to use the stove outside on the drop down sink table or on a picnic table.  Prefer not to cook in the van.  The stove has two 17,000 btu burners instead of the normal 10,000 btu burners in most portable stoves.  The stove in the Sprinter was a Coleman Fold-an-Go portable stove with 10,000 btu burners.  Had trouble on windy days boiling water.  Due to the larger size of the CampChef, a open slot storage space at bottom of the sink cabinet was needed to store the stove.  Use refillable 1 # propane bottles.  Bought a cast iron griddle that is flat on one side and ribbed for barbequing on the other side.  No need to carry a separate barbeque.

Purchased a Dometic Model 72 portable toilet.  This model is designed so it can be attached to the floor.  The attachment hardware is Dometic part # 385320005.  Toilet is located at bottom of shower cabinet and sits on the shower water tank.  Water tank raised the toilet up to the correct height.  The toilet is not moved for use. The items above the toilet in the shower are moved out of the way to use the toilet.  We do not use it often but definitely want it available.  Wife uses it more often than I do.  My use of a wide top Quik powdered chocolate container for # 1 is much more convenient than using the toilet.  A bit of Clorox in the container solves the odor problem. Have no need for a cassette or a composting toilet for our use.

The Transit has a 1000 watt pure sine inverter powered by the Transit 12 volt system.  That inverter can provide 120 volt AC power with the engine running.  This inverter can be used to power the house 120 volt AC duplex plugs or the shower water heater or the 750 watt electric baseboard heater.   The heater is a household 1500 watt heater with two 750 watt heating elements.  Heater is a Broan Model 124 with a Broan Model 86 W thermostat. One of the heating elements was disconnected to make a 750 watt heater.  Heater is used on a cold morning to heat the van interior.  Start the engine with the remote start while still in bed.  The heater and the dash vents warm the van before getting out of bed.

The shower water is heated with a 625 watt "10 gallon" 120 volt AC electric heating element.  The tank is a custom stainless steel 6 gallon non pressure tank.  The heating element is part of a kit that is sold to convert a RV propane water heater to electric.  The under $100 kit includes a thermostat.  The water is heated to 95 degrees in about 45 minutes when starting with 65 degree water.  All the water in the tank is the correct temperature. Tank is located under the portapotti to raise toilet up and also to utilize that wasted space.  The water is pumped out of the tank to a garden hose with a small 12 volt DC submergible pump.  Tank is filled with a garden hose. Design does not require plumbing or hot/cold water mixing. Power can come from three sources.  Shore power, "shore power" from the vehicle powered inverter or from the house battery/inverter.  Using the house battery/inverter depends on the weather conditions.  If excess solar power is available, I can use the house battery/inverter.  Heating the water uses about 10% of the capacity of my 255 amp-hr battery.  The above system is still in place in the conversion but a better method of heating the shower water is now used.  A cooking Sous Vide water heater is now used mounted in an Igloo cooler.  Sous Vide machine has a 750 watt heating element, thermostat, water circulating pump and a digital display for setting time and temperature.  Now heat 3 gallons of water from 65 degrees to 95 degrees in 20 minutes and used about 15 amp-hrs of battery capacity.  Changing to heating 3 gallons of water instead of 6 reduces the heating time in half.  If two people need to shower then just repeat the process for3 additional gallons.  Any water left in the Igloo container can be pumped back into the SS shower water tank.

The "600" watt microwave is a Westinghouse .6 cu. ft. Westinghouse part # WCM660B.  Microwave is the old fashioned simple two dial design. Heat dial and a time dial.  No clock or fancy pushbuttons. Does not draw any power when not in use.  The unit uses 950 watts when running.  The house 1000 watt inverter is used to power the microwave.  Turn house inverter on when microwave is used and turn the inverter off when done.  Microwave uses about 1 % of the 255 amp-hr house battery capacity for every 2 minutes of operation.

In cold weather I do not heat the van interior.  Instead I heat the person in a zero degree sleeping bag.  Under the sleeping bag is a 12 volt DC bunk heater.  The 30" x 60" bunk heater is made by ElectroWarmth.  Cost was under $100.  Heating pad draws 6.2 amps when it is powered.  Dial has 7 heat level positions.  Have never needed to set it higher than the # 2 position.  Pad cycles on and off so power use is intermittant.  Most of the power usage is offset by a refrigerator that runs less in a cold van.  Two problems with this system.  Van is cold in the morning and my head gets cold at night because it is not inside the sleeping bag.  Solve the cold van in the morning problem by using the Transit optional remote start before getting out of bed.  Gas engine can be idled. Dash vents and the 750 watt air heater in back of van heat the van.  The cold head problem is solved with a balaclava.