I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve made a post. Apologies for those who have been asking for updates. We have been plugging along this winter but by the time we get home from work each day, it’s dark and freezing so all we’ve wanted to do is curl up on the couch and stay warm. Anyway, I’ve just taken some photos today of what we’ve been working on.
We’ve had a really good think about what next for the bus, and what to spend our money on. We actually went and got approval for a $10,000 loan from
our local bank in order to buy a solar system so we can be energy independent and decided on building a trailer to house the system so that we can in hot summers, park the bus in the shade and keep the trailer out in the full sun but after doing our research, it seems that many believe that with the release of the Tesla Powerwall in Australia next year, the prices of other battery off-grid system is going to drastically reduce in order to stay competitive so we’ve decided rather than spend our money right now, we’ll just wait a little longer until we’re closer to living in the bus full time, and see what the offerings are then.
One of the benefits of looking into solar now, has been to map what our required energy needs will be once we’re in the bus, which required us to look at all of the appliances we’ll be using and estimate the amount of time each week that they’ll be running. This allowed us to gain an understanding of what size system we’d need, with around three to four days battery back up for these cloudy Melbourne days. Other than the fridge (which is 12v, 24v or 240v switchable) the biggest draw was going to be the heating element in our Sunmar composting toilet. However, we just discovered that here in Australia, most people turn the heating element in their Sunmar off, as it’s really for extra cold climates. That’s going to save us a lot of energy draw. Hooray!
Anyway, on to the other things we’ve been doing! We’ve had Luke our wonderful carpenter out again and he’s built us toilet walls and a sliding door. We needed to take the shower out in order to cut the front lip down so it will sit flat, so you’ll just have to imagine it back in there in the pictures, between the toilet wall and the couch. He’s also built us a little cabinet for the Thetford oven that I found secondhand but never used on Gumtree for $500. Normally they retail for $1200 or so, so it was a real bargain. It’s gas but has one 12v electric burner so if we happen to run out of gas we still have one burner to work with. It’s also got a full oven and grill so we’ll have all the options to cook still.
I found some awesome panels on ebay that we’ve used to line the old grey on the walls. They look like pressed metal but are actually vinyl so they’re super light and I was able to just stick them on with glue. We’ve got some copper ones and some purple/green and if we get sick of them at any point, we can just pull them off and put up something else. We’re planning on getting some in white and using them as the ceiling once we’ve done the wiring and insulation in the roof. Plumbing in the shower, kitchen sink, and gas heater and oven is the next job. Then wiring and insulation and then the bamboo flooring that we’ve bought ready to go once we’ve finished construction. Once the plumbing is done, Luke will come back and fill in the final walls on the toilet and between the shower and couch, add some curtains and we’re done!
Until we get our solar array, the appliances will be wired for 240v and we’ll just run a power line in, like we’re doing now. Oh, and we’ll be installing a diesel heater (we think) that will run directly off the petrol tank and be ducted from the bedroom to the living space. Eventually an airconditioner in the back skylight will complete our thermal comfort needs.
Since the last blog, we’ve finished off the bedroom apart from the ceiling and curtains, and a mattress for B & I. The girl’s are sorted though and Indi has already populated her shelves with some of her toys. We’re asked every weekend if we can have a sleep out in there but without the insulation or curtains yet, it’s been a bit cold. They are bright and happy places though and the girls play in there for ages. B has also made a door between the bedroom and living space so they shut that and tell us we’re not allowed in there. Fair enough.
We’re sure that there will be challenges with us all living in such a confined space but the fact that our pack always wants to be within arms reach of each other anyway, we’re pretty confident that we’ll really love living in the bus. We can’t wait.