Hi guys, I hope you're all well.
I thought I would share the story of how I lived in my LDV Pilot for two years with three cats and two lizards. It's of course an ongoing project. I had to build the van in 10 weeks, from a minibus into a home, including custom vivariums above the cab to keep the lizards in. 520amp hours of batteries, 3 solar panels & a split charger. It was a very hectic time but I got through it and I would say that this van saved my life. The cats soon adapted to their new way of living. It was the end of a 7 year relationship, I was being made redundant, had no savings, just a lot of debt, severe OCD & and a broken heart. After years of watching channels like Kombilife on Youtube I knew this was what I had to do. Somewhere that was mine. Nobody could take it away from me or tell me I couldn't keep animals there.
Vanlife saved my life <3
Bearded Dragons have such specific requirements and they need a lot of UV & a basking spot. Having rescued two with metabolic bone disease I had seen the awful effects of this condition and had I rehomed them, I knew I could've been sealing their fate in a similar way since proper care wasn't guaranteed. That led to me living a totally crazy life for a couple of years. I used a T5 light bulb which is VERY strong and generally needs at least 30cm (12") distance or it can blind the lizard. I used filter screens over the bulb as the distance I could get was only 8". I used an Arcadia deep heat projector which used a steady 8 amps of power to get a steady 35' basking spot. The vivariums were designed in a way that I only needed one basking bulb. This one product made it possible to keep my Bearded Dragons.. a regular basking bulb would've used way too much power. THANK YOU ARCADIA!
When I did finally get back into work I'd finish 14 hour shifts, spend 2 hours driving at night with no aim other than to charge the batteries up to last the following day when I'd be working again. In the British winter my 450w of solar would only make around 8 amp hours of charge all day... and I needed 168! with the engine running whilst cooking I could run things like the extraction fan and charge my laptop for a couple of hours evening use if needed.
The next challenge was SUMMER! This was the opposite... I now had reptiles in an OVEN above my cab. I fitted a little dome extractor fan on a thermostat to mantain the basking spot at 35', it cut in every time the temperature raised above this. With a flexible solar panel on the roof above the cab this absorbed so much heat from the metal roof skin that it actually kept the vivariums cool whilst generating me lots of power. On hot sunny days I was seeing up to 17 amps of power!
I'm back living in a house again now, with my three cats and my bearded dragons (Who are now back in their giant vivariums!). Life is still difficult but it's getting better. I now have my dream van which is a weekend warrior for true adventures. I owe it all to that little thing!
Peace & love guys. Keep on smiling
Edited by Mini-Mad-Craig, 10 September 2020 - 04:42 PM.