If you have ever dream't of having a camper vans but have gasped at the price then why not make one yourself, with the difficult economical climate Colin Grace has made this dream a possibility for a fraction of the cost with a clever conversion of a 15 seat Ford Transit Minibus into a 4 berth camper van. Colin has published an electronic book about the project which has been well received in several countries.
âI have been producing technical documentation professionally for over 20 years in the heating, airline, newspaper and retail industries. After looking for a family camper van at a reasonable price and being unable to find one that could provide 6 seats for travelling and eating and 2/4 berth for sleeping, I decided to look in to converting my own.
I spend about 12 months researching how to do it and talked to people who have completed conversions before.
I decided to do it and over one Winter I converted a 15 seat minibus into a 4 berth camper van, whilst converting I documented and photographed the whole process.
The 12 months research and the conversion documentation all rolled into my camper van conversion Ebook.
I have had many family holidays in my camper van and it has proved itself and the conversion many times.
The 63W Solar Panel I purchased from Sunshine Solar does a wonderful job at keeping my batteries in tip top condition.
This month we are pleased to include pictures and the background story behind what is achievable with some inventiveness when faced with an off grid situation. Sent into us by Chris of Cheshire we hope this account is of use to anyone planning a simular project.
In the words of Chris
"The story behind the system is that my parents were good enough to part company with some land, one acre. Upon getting this land I decided it would be nice to have a holiday home, but the cost of building a "house" + planning permission and usual problems people end up with when doing such a project are a pest..... hence the idea of a
19.6 m2 cabin ( no planning permission required) and doing it entirely off grid (cheaper than running power lines / water / waste water to it).
The master plan is to have two 19.6 m2 cabins (no planning required), and have one as a living space such as lounge / kitchen / diner, which is shown in the photos. The other cabin will be sleeping quarters, which will require less power.
It has been worked out that the required power for a reasonable life style is as such the current solar system, but it still needs another two 120W panels to get it to the desired charging current (this will happen later down the line).
I made the school boy error in the initial calculation of 660W at 12V made up of
3 x 100W and 3 x 120W Sunshine Monocrystalline Solar Panels to get the charging current, this is not right... should have been the working voltage of 17V, this is the reason for the additional panels in the future.
All six solar panels are regulated through
one 60A Solar Charge Controller which will also handle the additional power generated from the extra solar panels I intend to add to the system.
The holiday home in question is exactly that for the short term but as I get closer to retirement age I will be interested in being there on a more full time basis.
The system itself has two power rings one at 12V to minimise the loss in the power to the required pieces of equipment being used.
The other power ring is the good old 230 Vac which includes two power inverters one 500W and one 1800W for those items that cannot be attained in 12 Vdc.
The bulk of the electrics are housed in a weatherproof cupboard on the outside of the building this includes five Deep Cycling 110AH 12V Leisure Batteries for storing the generated solar power (see picture on the right).
The water system to the cabin will be gray water (rain) used for washing up + showering - hot water provided by a self built solar water heater and a log burner with a backup system of a small 12V water heater. Water will be pumped to the desired places using caravan pump systems, 12V ones.
I would like to Thank Sunshine Solar for all the tech support you have provided to me as it has been invaluable"
Sunshine Solar would like to thank Chris for taking the time to send us this information we are happy to have been of assistants and look forward to further updates on your ongoing project.
Phil & Skippys, Atlantic Row!
After our recent involvement with ocean rowing, Sunshine Solar are proud to be associated with Phil Pring from Cornwall and Ben Cummings (aka) Skippy from Devon who are taking part in this years premier event in ocean rowing the 2009 Atlantic Rowing Race, the race starts from La Gomera, Canary Islands and concludes in the idyllic English Harbour, Antigua.
More people by far have climbed Everest than have sucessfully rowed an ocean in a rowing boat so this really is a tough challenge for the West Country pair.
The 3000 mile race begins on Sunday 6th December 2009 and power generation onboard during their journey will come from our latest range, one x 60W and two x 30W Sunshine Marine Solar Modules specifically designed for the harsh marine environment.
Both rowers are raising money for the Cornwall Blind Association, Phil was particularly keen to raise funds for the CBA through his and Skippy's rowing venture. Having had a close family member be affected by blindness he has experienced the difficulties and stress that visual impairment can cause. He has also been impressed with the work of the CBA and hopes that his Atlantic crossing can help maintain the excellent services that they currently offer.
We will be tracking Phil & Skippy's progress during the race and wish them every success.
103 days at sea, record breakers return home
In the words of James Thysse
It's with great pleasure I announce our arrival back to the UK.
"The solar panels proved vital to keeping the batteries charged even during lower light conditions allowing us to run vital pieces of equipment such as our water maker, GPS and sat phone. Weight and space onboard an ocean rowing boat is always limited and the flexible panels sponsored by Sunshine Solar were perfect for the job. Team OztoAfrica would like to send their thanks to Sunshine Solar for the equipment supplied for the boat making our record breaking crossing possible"
Well done on your achievements and impressive facial hair!!!
Official race website www.indianoceanrowingrace09.com
Rowing 3600 miles for charity from Australia to Africa!
The first ever Indian Ocean Rowing Race! Get under way in April raising money for Headway and Sparks, Jamie Facer-Childs and James Thysse both aged 21 will set out to become the youngest ever duo to row the Indian Ocean.
The boat will be completely self sufficient and is designed to carry all necessary equipment and supplies, drinking water is produced by a water desalinator and electricity will be provided by solar panels fitted to the cabin roof.
When Jamie and James asked us for sponsorship from Sunshine Solar in the form of solar panels their brief was they needed to be lightweight and robust which very conveniently coinsided with the introduction of a brand new range for us the:-
Sunshine Flexible Solar Panels.
Mike Charville Director of Sunshine Solar said "the Indian Ocean Rowing Race will provide the harshest of tests for our new range of solar panels, specifically designed with the marine market in mind we are confident that even under these tough conditions they will provide the power needed for the vital onboard equipment such as GPS and watermaker"
At only 21 years of age Jamie and James have many life changing experiences ahead of them and as many of us sit behind our office desks it is hard to imagine rowing for 90 days in 2 hour shift 24/7, the mental and physical challenge of such an extremely stressful situation will almost certainly be the most memorable of life changing experiences never to be forgotten and we applaud their sense of adventure that will raise much needed funds for their designated charities. We wish them a safe and succesful trip.
Everybody's heard about EBAY, but everyone should know about E-DAY
Back in August Sunshine Solar lent out a solar panel, battery and lights to four lads who were cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats (see August 07 Blogg) well the team of Will Cantello, Pete Clutton, Ben Meaker and Tom Tapper have just finished editing a short film about their journey which will be shown at St Pauls Cathedral and online as part of 'E-Day'
What is E-DAY?
Energy Saving Day (E-Day) will be happening between 6pm on Wednesday 27 February 2008 and 6pm on Thursday 28 February 2008.
Over 24 hours, E-Day will be trying to show how even small energy saving measures can be made to add up, and potentially play a part in tackling climate change.
Everyone who wants to take part in E-Day is being asked to leave off household electrical items, which do not need to be on, and to leave these items off for as long as possible.
These might include lights in rooms that are not being used, televisions left on standby, mobile phone chargers left plugged in, unused printers, etc, etc. A launch event will take place at St. Paul's Cathedral at 5pm on Wednesday 27 February 2008.
"The small things in life can make a big difference"
LED lighting aims to make impact
LED lighting powered by solar panels and rechargeable batteries can provide great impact to developing countries, says Tony Newton.Visiting Sri Lanka in 2005 soon after the tsunami, Tony Newton, owner of Newtons Computer Systems based in Windsor, UK, was disheartened by the suffering of villagers having to depend on non-eco friendly, dim and dangerous paraffin lanterns to light up their homes. Hoping to make a difference, Newton has produced an eco-friendly LED lighting system utilising only solar power.
Newton is presently in contact with Professor Balachandran of the UK's Brunel University to optimise the lights to maximise illumination with minimum power consumption and to increase the lifespan of the devices.
Balachandran and Newton are very keen to utilise renewable energy with solid state technology to bring free, affordable, safe, healthy, efficient and environmentally responsible illumination to many who do not have access for adequate lighting. "The concept of understanding the sustainable energy solutions and related social, economic and
environmental issues are uncomplicated. To make use of these simple solutions to better the life of many rests solely on the respective Governments and not on charities and NGOs," says Newton. Utilising carbon-credits from these lights should be a good incentive for major industries and local governments to participate for the betterment of the world, he adds.
Tony has developed the lighting kit using a 5 Watt Amorphous Solar Panel .
We would like to take this opportunity to wish him every success with the project.
Land's End to John O'Groats - 1000 miles The Zero Carbon Cycle Expedition
On the 18th August 07 four former students from the UEA set out to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats promoting green living and from the recent email expedition updates visiting a few West Country cider factories along the way was also on the agenda (purely for re-hydration purposes only... of course). To make life on the road more comfortable Sunshine Solar were only too pleased to loan the team a complete solar kit centred around a 46 Watt Solar Panel, to provide power to run basic low energy lighting in the evenings.
Sunshine Solar would like to wish Will Cantello (Fatboy), Pete Clutton (Peteycles), Ben Meaker (Frenchy B) and Tom Tapper (Tapshki) every success for their mission and we hope the wet weather gear holds out for what surely must be the wettest August since time began.
Below in their own words are details of their ethos behind the expedition.
Through 'The Carbon Cycle' we aim to promote the benefits and potential for innovation that can be garnered by low-carbon living. We hope to push climate change from an issue of dry science and politics into an arena of proaction, positivity and just having some fun!
Where did the idea come from?
While this project may seem a little bit of an off the wall idea to some... it feels more like a logical progression for us! Firstly, the four of us are passionate about the desirability of a reduction in the environmental footprint of the global population. Moreover, we are equally passionate that the way to achieve this could largely lie in the communication of this message with a positive and fun attitude. This a favourable alternative to the doom and gloom fear mongering sometimes used in relation to climate change or the number-crunching of the, undoubtedly important, but dry climate boffins! Secondly, we each enjoy cycling! We cycle in our everyday lives but have also been part of other long distance cycles. For example, Tom has already completed the Land's End to John O'Groats circuit once before for Cancer Research and the four of us (with other friends) cycled over 60 miles dressed in red hot pants and capes for comic relief 2005! Thirdly, the time invested in this documentary has been a fantastic opportunity to justify our immense ability in the field of procrastination when it comes to other important but less enthusing tasks such as essay writing or part-time work.
So here we are, embarking on 'The Carbon Cycle'! It is also appropriate at this point to, perhaps reluctantly, acknowledge that in actual fact this was not our idea at all! In truth our lovely friend at UEA, Miss Anaїs Reding, first planted the idea in our heads. So cheers Anaїs! We'll send you a postcard.
Cycling is carbon neutral so where's the challenge!?
This is a common misconception. Cycling its self is a form of carbon neutral transport and is environmentally far superior to the car; however, transport is only a part of the carbon we emit in our everyday lives. The food we eat, the electricity that powers our lighting and mod cons and the water we drink and wash in all has an embedded carbon footprint. This means that at some point in the production or transport of the good concerned carbon is emitted. Therefore the real challenge (aside from the 1000-mile cycle!) is to;
We do not profess to be environmental angels we are normal students: we like beer, bacon and cheap holidays. But, realising that there is a fundamental need to change our lifestyles, we want to prove to ourselves and the public that it is possible to live a low-carbon lifestyle.
Sunshine Solar comes to the aid of the British Red Cross!
Sunshine Solar were delighted to be able to help the British Red Cross at the recent Sandringham Flower Show.
They needed a power solution to power two laptops and a projector. Their first thought was to hire a generator, but in view of the noise and pollution issues they wanted to opt for a green answer.
On the day, we arrived equipped with a simple quick and easy to install system and set about the task. We set up two systems one just powering a laptop showing a slide show and one running a laptop, projector and speakers to run a number of DVDs illustrating the work of the Red cross in the UK and Worldwide.
The equipment we used for each system was a 46 Watt Solar Panel, 5amp regulator, 110amp Leisure battery and a 1000w-2000w Inverter.
As the patron of The British Red Cross Society, HRH Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall visited the marquee where they met staff and volunteers and viewed the DVD presentation run with the aid of clean, green solar energy.
For more information on the work of the British Red Cross please follow the link,
Probably a world premier.... as environmentally friendly solar busker takes to the streets of Norwich.
We are used to unusual requests here at Sunshine Solar but when Grant called in to see us, looking for a solar power solution to electrify his busking act this was a little bit different and after we had heard him play in an X factor style audition we rose to the challenge. Using our Solar Testing Device we were able to establish how much power the Marshall Amplifier and Electric Guitar were using when run off a 12volt battery via an inverter. The power consumption was quite steady with the exception of some Hendrix style guitar moments which pushed the boundaries to 900mA. Once we had established the draw of power from the battery we could recommend a panel to keep the battery topped up.
Without the aid of a host of roadies Grant needed portability so opted for the Solar Briefcase Charger 28 Watt, even on overcast days this unit has kept Grant's battery fully charged allowing the musical vibes to ring out through the streets of Norwich.
Obviously plugging into an electric wall socket was never going to be an option for Grant but this problem has resulted in a great example of using alternative energy to power the electrical appliances we all love in a sustainable environmentally friendly way.
During the summer you can catch Grant performing live in various locations throughout the city, just follow your ears and check out Grants solar busking act.
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