Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trying to stay cool in my 94 degree van

It has been insanely hot all week, which is extremely unusual for this time of year. It is only May, and we've recently had day after day after day of 90 degree weather. It was 92 yesterday, and as you can see on my little indoor/outdoor thermometer, it was still 94 degrees inside my van around 7pm last night. I slept with my rear hatch open and it didn't even really seem to cool down that much. Right now it is 90 out and currently hotter here than it is in Naples, Florida! I don't even remember one single day that was this hot here at ALL last summer. I'm pretty sure it didn't even get into the 70s until late June or July. I like it hot (and so do my plants), but this has been a little too hot for my liking. I've been sweating like a pig.
If all my windows stay closed during the day, my van obviously turns into a oven/sauna on wheels.

However, with all my screened windows open, it does manage to stay pretty shady and quite tolerable inside.

Yesterday, although the temps were in the 90s, I spent most of the day just laying around inside the shade of my van with a 12 volt fan running, the rear hatch open, my ceiling bubble skylight/vent cranked up, and both side windows open. Someone asked me awhile back how I stay cool inside my van during hot weather, so here are some photos of the fan & window screens that help me survive in hot weather.

This 12 volt fan works GREAT.
It is a $5 clearance Walmart item, and it clips right onto my dash:


I don't know what I would do without my rear-hatch screen. It keeps out the mosquitos, flies, wasps, and bees, along with the intense stuffy heat of a vehicle. I bought the screen from GoWesty.com, but I made the holes & installed the snaps myself. The project took me several hours a couple of years ago, but the end result was a perfect fit:



Both of my side sliding windows also have screens:

And what might someone do while they are relaxing (or hiding out) inside a hot (yet breezy) van all day? Get crafty!
The majority of my yesterday was spent laying around on my bed, sewing up a fun little padded iPhone holder for my dash. Now I have place to safely put my phone when it is plugged into the cigarette lighter to charge OR plugged into my newly installed, working TAPE DECK (woo hoo!!) to play music via my phone's iPod. My phone would previously just dangle there, slide off my dash while I was driving, or hang out down on the floor, none of which made me happy... I've already chipped my screen from when it once slid off my dash and landed onto my plastic floor console. SO.

I combined a plastic cupholder (50 cent yard-sale find) with a padded headrest cover (originally came with my matching seatcovers), and ta-da! A custom-made iPhone holder that matches the seatcovers that I love so much. I had no use for the matching headrest covers (I like to be able to see thru my headrests so that I can switch lanes easier), but I am now SO glad that I didn't throw them away. I also snapped off the top handle of that cup holder since it wasn't needed for my purpose. After wrapping the headrest cover tightly around the cupholder and sewing everything into place, I velcroed my new little phone-holder to it's new home on my dash, and I am very very happy with it.
+ =

21 comments:

Todd Temple said...

Super nice job on the van screens. That has to make a huge difference in comfort.

erowe3 said...

I have only been living in my van for two weeks now, but I have been through some 90 degree days already. The biggest help for me is this guy right here:

http://www.fantasticvent.com/

If you can get a friend to help you install it in your roof, I think it will become your new best friend. The model I bought was about 200 bucks, but worth every penny!

If you have a moment, I'd love for you to follow my blog :)

http://erowe3.blogspot.com

Stay cool!

-Heidi said...

The roof vent is a life saver, but when I lived in my van without one during the summer (and in the city where I couldn't just leave doors open), I had to resort to an old fashioned approach.

When I lived in Mesquite, NV the museum told me that the residents used to pull their beds outside in the summer and sleep under damp sheets.

Keeping that in mind, I opened my side windows and used a large sack cloth type dish towel to make damp. I was able to get to sleep under it and by the time it dried out, it would be cool enough to sleep through the night. It worked great in the hottest weather.

Also, I took a motorcycle class and had a great time - hope you have fun with that too. :)

~Heidi

NomadRip said...

I would say come back down to Florida, but it's pretty warm here, too. If you make it down to St. Pete again this year, give a shout.

FRANK said...

IF YOU WANT TO STAY COOL, MAKE WHAT'S CALLED AN ICE CONDITIONER.

GO TO A MARINE STORE BUY A 12 VOLT DC TORNADO FAN, IT HAS SPEED CONTROL SO THE AIR BLOWS HOW YOU WANT. IT,S A FAN FOR $20 BUILT INSIDE A FOUR INCH TUBE.

YOU THEN BUY ABOUT FOUR FOOT OF PLASTIC VENT TUBE, THERE ARE TWO SIZES, THREE INCHES AND THE SIZE YOU NEED THE FOUR INCHES. IT WILL SLIDE RIGHT OVER THE TUBE FAN CREATING AN INLINE VENT. YOU CAN EVEN BUY A CLAMP FOR IT. BOATERS USE THESE HOSES TO VENT THE CABINS AND HAVE FANS THAT CONNECT TO THEM, BUT ONLY USE THE TORNADO FAN SO YOU CAN CONTROL THE AIR FLOW. THE OTHER FANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPEED AND ARE FOR HARD WIRE.


NEXT YOU BUY A GOOD PLASTIC ICE CHEST THAT CAN HOLD TWO TWENTY POUND ICE BAGS, FOR A TOTAL OF 40 POUNDS OF ICE.

LEAVE THE ICE IN THE BAG TO KEEP THE HUMID AIR DOWN, BUT IF NOT VERY COLD REMOVE THE PLASTIC BAG. COLD HUMID AIR IS BETTER THEN HOT HUMID AIR, THEY CALL THIS PROCESS SPOT COOLING. YOU COOL ONLY THE AREA YOU SIT IN OR LAY IN, SO NO INSULATION IS NEEDED. BUT DO KEEP THE WINDOWS CLOSED SO THE COLD AIR STAYS INSIDE AND THE ICE WILL LAST MUCH LONGER, AT NIGHT IT SHOULD LAST TILL THE NEXT MORNING.

NEXT YOU STICK THE HOSE INTO THE COOLER AND CLOSE THE LID WITH THE HOSE PUSHED DOWN A LITTLE, THIS WILL LET NEW AIR IN THROUGH THE SMALL OPENNINGS ON THE SIDES, PICK-UP THE COLD AIR FROM THE ICE, PASS THROUGH THE HOSE AND THE INLINE FAN THAT YOU WILL PLACE IN THE CENTER OF THE LID. THE AIR WILL COME INTO THE LID FROM BOTH SIDES.

THE FAN COMES WITH A CLAMP AND CAN ADJUST MANY WAYS. POINT THE FAN AT YOU FOR VERY NICE COLD AIR AND THE ICE CAN BE BOUGHT AT ANY STORE.

THEY ALSO USE THESE ICE AIR CONDITIONERS IN MEXICO. MAKES VANNING OR RV MORE EASY. PLUS THE SYSTEM IS VERY PORTABLE WITH NO WATER OR PUMPS NEEDED. JUST A SMALL PLASTIC VENT HOSE, A FAN, AND THE ICE, VERY SIMPLE.

BUT YOU DO REALY NEED TWO DEEP-CYCLE BATTERIES FOR THIS, AS YOU TALKED EARLIER.


GOTTO GO NOW, BUY AND STAY COOL.
YOUR BUD FRANK.

Don West said...

Please be very SAFE on any motorcycle you ride. If you don't feel like you did well in the safety course, don't go out on the street! It's VERY tempting to go fast on any bike...even a scooter. DON'T risk your precious life ok?

A good book to read in advance is "Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough. Top notch! Here's a link but It's probably available at any well stocked library.

http://www.amazon.com/Proficient-Motorcycling-Ultimate-Guide-Riding/dp/1889540536

I've ridden for years. Bikes are NOT to be taken lightly. It is rare to go down at 35mph and get up "ok". Raise the speed and raise the risk of injury or death by many more times. You must pay much more attention to what is going on around you than with a car. Other drivers do not see you as readily.

You can do well and be a safe motorcyclist if you accept the reality of the danger and risk. Take a look on youtube for motorcycle accidents and scooter accidents and you can analyze what went wrong. Nine times out of ten the motorcyclist took it for granted that another driver was going to do what they were supposed to do...like stop for a red light. The trouble is, unlike in a car, the motorcyclist will never be able to argue his point in court because he often doesn't survive such a crash. Bikes are great fun but only if you live to tell about it. BE SAFE! You're too young and sweet not to be :-)

footballboy3 said...

Motorcycles are awesome!! I've been riding about 2 years and I love it. I agree with what Don W. says about not taking motorcycling lightly. You have to stay super aware of whats going on around you. Even the best rider can't control the distracted soccer mom on the cell phone with 4 kids screaming in the back who's about to turn left in front of you at an intersection...

I've not taken an MSF course but I've heard they're informative and fun. I'd highly recommend a FULL FACE Helmet, motorcycle gloves, and a good motorcycle jacket as a bare minimum to be worn even on the shortest ride. Motorcycle pants and boots are also a good idea although I don't wear pants and boots on every ride.

Check out ADVrider.com. It has tons of info on riding. Its geared towards adventure riding and touring. The members there have a wealth of knowledge and are always helpful.

~~Mike~~ said...

Hey nice job on the creative phone holder! Seems like it does a nice job :) The snaps on the screens look like a great move as well!

On the motorcycle riding, I agree with those who have said to be safe. Thing is, after riding for the last 30+ years, I can tell you I have seen a lot of people scare themselves into accidents. Respect them but be confident. You will be fine. If you ride scared, you are more likely to overreact. Definitely take the motorcycle safety course if you have a chance. Anything that will build you confidence will be good. Ride smart and have fun! :) One very cool thing about riding a motorcycle is that it will make you a much better van pilot as well! You learn to watch the other cars on the road with different "eyes", staying out of their blind spots etc. It's a habit that stays with you behind the wheel too.

Great news on the van mechanicals too! Healthy vans are happy vans :)

-Mike
97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"
HTTP://WWW.VanTramps.Com

Ryo said...

I lived in Chicago for a while and hated those hot, humid summer days (though I loved the summer rain and thunder storms). Fortunately, the weather's nicer in California. It stays very dry, so even when the sun's beating down and the thermometer reads 90F in the sun, it'll be a nice cool 70 in the shade. Though, at 4000ft elevation, I'm having a different problem up on my property: snow in May...

Also, have you looked into making your own swamp cooler? They can be made for next to nothing, use about as much power as your fan, and can be very effective in dry climates. The humidity in the midwest might make them less effective (since it uses evaporation for cooling), but it might be worth a shot.

OGT said...

I consider myself fortunate, 20 years riding motorcycles Zero accidents. Im movin on to dirt bikes or atvs now I think.

The Traveler said...

Todd - thank you! They make an incredible difference.

Erowe3 - interesting, never heard of it, thanks for the link. Also, sorry it took me so long to check out your blog - I just finally did, Nice! great info, glad to see another vandwelling page out there. I added a link to your page on my mobile links page, http://www.faliaphotography.com/2008/10/links-tips-on-vehicle-living.html. I also became a follower.

Heidi - what an ingenious idea! thx for sharing

NomadRIP - James, I didn't know you are in St. Pete. I'll definitely be back down there again, maybe this time for the winter. Who knows. I love Florida. Maybe I will buy property there.

Frank - hey, thanks for the detailed info. I made a note to reference back to it someday when I've got a 2nd battery hooked up. I'm always up for trying new ideas.

Don West - I really really appreciate hearing what you have to say regarding motorcycle safety. Having never ridden, I feel like a sponge, wanting to absord what anyone says about it. I looked up the book on Amazon, it sounds excellent. Really good reviews. I'll have to see if the library has it while I'm here today.

footballboy3 - thank you so much for your input/tips. I just ordered a full-face helmet on-sale from Iron Pony. I hope it fits b/c it was originally 140, marked down to 40. I have a very small head apparently. Sounds like I need a size XXS. I can't wait to take the class. Hopefully I don't suck too bad.

Mike - Very good info, thanks, Mike. Also what a great observation - I can see how riding a motorcycle would make you more aware no matter what vehicle you are driving. I can't wait to have those different "eyes." I'm nervous, but excited to learn something new. I will try to remain calm and not over-react when I am first starting out. I wonder how long it will take me to get used to riding.

Ryo - snow in May? yikes, glad i'm not up that high right now. Hmm, swamp cooler? Not sure what that is. I will open a new window right now and google it.

OGT - wow, that is terrific. You must be a very good rider.

FRANK C said...

CHECK-OUT WWW.CAMPINGLIFE.COM
IT'S REALLY A NEAT MAGAZINE.

ALSO WWW.COOLWORKS.COM
FOR TRAVEL EMPLOYMENT.

AND WWW.RVBOOKSTORE.COM

JUST SOME INFO. BUY

The Traveler said...

Frank - will check them out, thanks!

-Heidi said...

Hey, I saw you! lol

Daniel said...

It's probably a good thing that you don't live in Australia, where we can experience anything up to 113 degrees fahrenheit on the east coast, and even hotter inland. :P

I found many of your blog entries extremely interesting to read -- thanks for the time you've put into them.

D said...

love the homemade bug screens. I am going to try it myself. Enjoy the bike riding and stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I've read through parts of your blog. Let me make a suggestion regarding entertainment. If you like to read, try ebooks. You can get an e-reader like mobipocket for your Iphone and computer and there are tons of free ebooks online that you can download for entertainment. Just a couple of quick resources are the Baen Free Library if you're into sci-fi or Project Gutenberg. I have over 200 books on my BB and while the screen is small, it's a fantastic way of keeping yourself entertained while you're stopped somewhere.

Best regards.

J

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. I seriously sat down and read the entire thing to the point I've thought about living in a vehicle myself. That's more hardcore than staying at a hotel and saves much more gas than hauling a RV around.

Good luck with those motorcycle lessons. It's intimidating at first but you learn very quick. The only thing I couldn't help you with would be dealing with street bikes, since I've only driven dirt bikes.

Also, good luck with your travels.

The Traveler said...

Heidi - too funny! yeah i didn't leave it up long.

Daniel - ugh. I couldn't stand that. way too hot for me! hey thx, i'm glad you found them interesting and not boring :)

D - you will love them, they work great!

Anon/J - hmm, you know, ebooks would actually be a good idea. I have never really considered them before. I might try that when I run out of actual books (I've got quite a stack in my van currently and too little time to read them).

Anon - lol. glad you liked it! Yeah, i'm honestly pretty intimidated by a motorcycle. The first step will be getting myself to go the class! I hope I don't chicken out. I shouldn't, I'm a tough girl when I suck it up and want to be. I already signed up and pre-paid. although nervous, I'm really excited. I'm constantly trying to remind myself that it will be fun! (after I eventually learn....)

Redbeard said...

Interesting tip I learned from the Iraqis and probably the only thing I learnd that I care to share..To cool a bottle of water, place the bottle inside a standard wool sock. Tie a string to the support ring on the bottle (The large ring just under the cap where the neck of the bottle starts) Soak the sock with water, tie it up in a breezy area and let sit. As the wind blows over the wet sock, it will cause the moisture to evaporate and therefore cool, which in turn cools off the bottle. It may take a few cycles depending on the temperature of the water, but it definately works!

Redbeard out!

FALIA REVIEWS: said...

Redbeard - very cool tip. Thanks for sharing