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Bus conversion into tiny home  RSS feed

 
Nic Montana
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Hey all!

I'm in the beginning stages of planning my next adventure. I'm going to buy a school bus and convert it into my home. Once completed, my two dogs and I will travel the country. I have several questions that I hope can be answered...

1). What, if anything, was the best advice you were given or you learned from converting your bus into a tiny home?

2). When choosing a solar panel system, how do you calculate how big your system should be? I'm not very scientific, so if someone could break this down into layman's terms, that would be wonderful. I'm planning on having a small, apartment sized fridge, a portable A/C and heater combo unit, apartment sized washer & dryer, and a water heater. It will also be used to power any lights in the bus and any outlets (primarily to be used for phone/tablet chargers).

3). My dogs are very important to me. I have two small dogs, each under 15 in pounds. I already have their medical records in a binder. However, what advice do you have for traveling long-term with animals?

4). I'm estimating that I'll spend close to 20k to buy the bus, convert it and pay off some credit cards. Do you recommend buying the bus in cash and then getting the loan for the rest or would it be easier to get the loan for the bus, too?

Thank you!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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justin rhodes, aka "permaculture chickens" guy, is in the middle of converting an old school bus to a traveling home for a family of 6!  
 
chad duncan
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I live aboard a bus and I would recommend against converting a school bus into a home. Two reasons mostly: 1.  typically a school bus has a lower ceiling than hiway buses. 2. You can buy a finished bus for  less than the conversion cost.

Sizing a solar system can be tricky.  You need to know the power consumption of all appliances  (fridge, lights, lap top, heat, whatever), then you need to know the hours of productive light you will get (tough to do when travelling a full country). The "light hours" should be calculated from the worst possible options,  which is to say the hours of light you will get in the darkest days of the winter.  Your consumption should be calculated using the same,  since your lights will be on the most in the winter. Then you need to factor in how many days of "no light" you can handle.  'No light' days are days in the winter when the sky is so overcast that you don't get your expected amount of solar input.  Once you can put those things into an equation,  the number of panels you need and the number of batteries is easy to figure out.


 
chad duncan
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Further advice:
Is easier to lower your expectations than it is to increase available power. 
To that end: a new high efficiency apartment fridge is a good plan.  Forget running air conditioning or cabin heat on batteries, both draw huge amounts of power (relative). A washer might be fine,  but again I would avoid a high energy user like a clothes dryer.  I would also avoid electrically heating water.

For cabin heat,  water heat I would use propane. I know it isn't as nice as clean solar but no matter how dark it is outside,  propane will still heat you and 'on demand' hot water won't waste a lot of energy.  It would also be a good idea to look into a 2-way fridge (electric/ propane) since an electrical outlet may not always be available to a long term traveler.
 
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