© 2023 by Marian Dean. Proudly created with Wix.com

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Major Appliances

 

Ruvati 33” Workstation Sink - https://amzn.to/2GNS2XG

This has been one of my favorite additions to the bus. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, it is built very well. During my first roadtrip, my 300 pound fridge fell onto the sink when I curbed the bus. While the first suffered cosmetic damage, the sink didn’t even show a scratch.

 

Having a larger sink allows me to store dirty dishes longer, which is useful when it comes time to wash them. In my class A motorhome, I utilized a technique that is common with other RVers. I use a plastic bin that the dirty dishes sit inside. As I wash dishes, soapy water will fall into the plastic bin pre-washing the dirty dishes. By doing this, dishes waiting to be washed will take less water to clean.

 

Maytag 20” Fridge - https://thd.co/2TOkegS

I originally purchased a 7cu. ft. Magic Chef fridge for the bus. With the addition of Battle Born lithium batteries, I set my goals a bit higher. After hours of research, I finally settled on this 20 cu. ft., counter depth fridge. It has the best reviews and fit my layout after some modifications to the floorplan.

Thus far the fridge has been holding up very well. I have been on some not so friendly roads and no issues whatsoever

 

Insignia Chest Freezer - http://bit.ly/2TTkOtZ

This 5 cu. ft. chest freezer can be found at Best Buy and is routinely on sale for $160. I decided to go with a freezer/residential unit combo with my ultimate goal to be 100% self-sufficiency for long periods of time. I plan to keep it stocked full of frozen meat from fishing/hunting and veggies from places like Costco.

 

I built the unit into my counter space next to the stove.  Because I have an additional 5 cu. ft. of storage in my residential unit, I do not plan on needing to access the freezer very often.

 

Butcher Block Countertops - http://bit.ly/2X4wbRE

After some research online, American Walnut seemed to fit my aesthetic preferences. I was able to find some units for sale on the Lumber Liquidator website that not only had great reviews, but were available at a great price.

 

Customizing the countertops around the undermount apron sink was a bit of a challenge, but the quality of the lumber surpassed my expectations. After a quick sanding and two coats of a satin polyurethane, the countertops came to life! I like this product so much, I am keeping every reasonable sized scrap in hopes of incorporating them into the build anyway I can. Thus far, I have used the scrap material for my standing desk, base for the diesel heater and protective frame for the digital displays on my solar.

 

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet - http://bit.ly/2IivQY5

After 3 years in a class B and 4 years in a class A motorhome, I was ready to ditch the black tank. I have been using my Nature's Head for two months now with two solid container changes. To be honest, it really isn’t that bad changing out the solids bucket. I diverted the urine to the underbay and will add a 100 gallon tank for grey water storage once my underbays are complete.

 

I am a distributor for Nature’s Head. If you purchase a unit from me, I will include two free orders of cococore with your order.

 

Berkey Water Filtration System - http://bit.ly/berkeyfiltration

The main reason for purchasing a Berkey is the option to use river/lake water for drinking water. The filtration system is so good I could camp close to a body of water, fill up the Berkey, and not use any of my water reserves when dry camping. Plus, it has a stainless steel look fits well with the rest of the bus.

 

Bosch 7 Gallon Electric Water Heater - https://amzn.to/2EduGsP

This was another purchase predicated upon my upgrade to a lithium battery bank. Due to the fact that I have a Victron inverter/charge controller, I can divert power to the hot water heater once my system is floating. In other words, once my battery capacity is full, I can divert the extra power to the hot water heater. If I experience a cloudy day I can conserve power elsewhere and delegate power to the hot water heater as needed. Worse case scenario, I can start my engine and charge my batteries from my engine alternator.

 

Klimaire Mini Split - https://amzn.to/2DMqL55

This 12,000 BTU AC/heat pump is an energy star rated 21.5 seer unit. It features a soft start function that keeps the power draw low upon start up. This unit is not currently hooked up and, to be honest, I do not plan on using it much. This was a feature I wanted to include into the build as a backup just in case I found myself in hot climates. During the 4 years I had my Class A, I used the AC about 4 times. Traveling with the great weather has its benefits.


 

See Level Tank Monitors - https://amzn.to/2tpiYVM

These nifty little sensors attach to your water tanks and give a percentage readout to your water storage. This information is vitally important to me, as I want to subsist on my water storage for months at a time. My two last motorhomes had the stock readouts that only read full, ¾ , ¼ and empty. You never really knew how much water you had left to use.

 

Dickinson Marine Alaska Heater - https://amzn.to/2X8GYKE

I chose to go this route for a few reasons. First, getting insurance for a skoolie is hard enough, adding a fireplace makes it nearly impossible. Another negative to a fireplace is the fact that, if a fire destroys your rig and the insurance finds out you had a fireplace, the insurance company may leave you out in the cold.

I also went with this unit for a couple key functions that were included. First, diesel heaters produce a dry heat. This will help fight any condensation and keep mold away. Second, I installed a network of ½” pex under the floorboards. Some Dickinson marine heaters have a coil built into the unit, mine has this coil. I will be able to pump a glycol liquid through the heater and retain an extra 1-2k BTU of heat that would have been lost. And finally, this is a very efficient unit, consuming 1.3 gallons per 24 hours at 5.5k BTU on its lowest setting.

 

Calphalon Space Saving Cookset - https://amzn.to/2X7Lfy4

While shooting a tour video of a custom cargo trailer tiny home, I was introduced to the Calphalon space saving cookset. Again, looking back at my 10 years of rubber tramping, I knew that this was a game changer for me. I have constantly been fighting to find suitable storage solutions for my cooking utensils. This one set contained everything I would ever need to prepare all of my food and stored away in one drawer!


Stainless Steel Workstation Faucet - https://amzn.to/2XacQyn

Ok, I will admit it, I purchased this faucet because of the way it looks. The faucet I had in my class A was way more efficient with water but shoot, those workstation faucets are sexy…


 

Stainless Vent Hood - https://amzn.to/2Ef2Ex2

This unit seemed to be the best bang for your buck on all of Amazon. The reviews were stellar, the price was right and it fits my stainless kitchen look perfectly.

 

Shurflo Water Pump - https://amzn.to/2TOpgtM

Thus far, no complaints. Again, this unit had the best reviews and I have learned the hard way that cheaper isn’t always better. Cheaper is better for the short term, that is until you have to wedge yourself into your wet bay to swap out pumps.

 

Maxxair Fan - https://amzn.to/2Xa6Kyi

There is always a discussion between the Maxxair and the Fantastic Fan. I had the Fantastic Fan in the Class A and it never let me down. However, having the option to have the fan open, even when it is raining, is what won me over to the Maxxair. Also, having the option to reverse the fan on the Maxxair will allow me to circulate the heat generated from the Dickinson heater.

 

Solar/Power Distribution

 

Battle Born Batteries - http://battlebornbatteries.com?afmc=23

Self-contained lithium iron phosphate batteries. These are 100 AH of usable power per box. They’re a sealed, no-worry drop in replacement for a lead-acid battery. They weren’t cheap, but considering the cost of replacing lead acid batteries every 3-4 years, paying that cost up front and all the other benefits really was the only decision.

Victron 3000W MultiPlus Inverter Charger - https://amzn.to/2DMomaz

This inverter is rated at 3kVA, and has the ability to control it’s intake power, and provide power assist from the battery bank. Additionally it talks to the other victron equipment in this build, so all the devices are coordinated when charging or drawing from the battery bank.

Victron MPPT 150/60 Charge Controllers x2 - https://amzn.to/2IiIypV

These two controllers take the power from the solar panels and convert it to charging voltage for the battery bank. Because the battery bank is set up as a large 12 volt parallel system, two of these controllers are needed to handle the output from the panels.

Victron BMV-712 Battery monitor - https://amzn.to/2X5Hfhj

The battery monitor is a critical piece of gear that counts all the power going in and out of the battery bank. It’s got the ability to integrate into the other victron gear and supply battery amperage control information, and calculates the state of charge of the batteries. It’s configurable with various battery chemistry types, including the lithium batteries.

Victron Color Control GX monitor - https://amzn.to/2TTdw9w

This is the center of the electrical management system - it collects data from all the devices on the data connections, and displays them in a compact, visible location. With the interface I can also set various parameters on the victron devices and get all sorts of detailed information about the system state.

Eco-Worthy Combiner Box - https://amzn.to/2TSZrcb

I picked up two of these combiners and used one for parts during a reconfiguration for the 12 volt system that I wanted to power. Normally these boxes combine several strings of panels into one large output, but for me I needed to just use the parts inside to protect the panels and equipment. It was faster and cheaper to order these then harvest parts inside of them than to individually order all the components and assemble them.

EEZRV 170w Solar Panels

These are of course the source of the power for the off-grid system - not including the sun itself! I’ve configured these into two 5 panel strings. Each string is connected to one of the MPPT charge controllers.

Aims Solar Cutoff Switch - https://amzn.to/2toNsY7

The solar cutoff switch is a high voltage, PV rated switch to isolate the power from the panels from the rest of the equipment. Even when covered with a blue tarp, the panels can push 80+ volts in DC through the wires, so it’s essential to be able to disconnect all the components and de-energize the system if I needed to fix, replace, repair, or upgrade parts of my system.

Battery Cutoff Switch - https://amzn.to/2DLdzNH

The battery cutoff switch is a standard 12/24 volt battery switch. It’s nice and chunky and has a good feel for disconnecting. Don’t cheap out and just unbolt your batteries.

Progressive Industries Surge Protector - https://amzn.to/2X5AVGE

The surge protector is a combination of a contactor and an electrical meter. When you plug into shore power, the computer inside it measures the voltage, frequency, and other possible electrical faults. If any of those tests don’t pass, it won’t contact my expensive onboard system to a faulty rv park power pedestal. It also protects against future issues by immediately disconnecting power if one of those conditions suddenly fails to pass the test.

Furrion Shore Power Connection - https://amzn.to/2TU0ubM

 

This is a 30 Amp twist-lock shore connection. It’s got a lighted indicator on the lid to show that there is power flowing through it. Nice little unit, it was pretty easy to install.

Victron Cyrix-CT Intelligent Battery Combiner - https://amzn.to/2V5II5D

This is a microprocessor controlled heavy duty relay that automatically connects batteries in parallel when one of them has reached a pre-set voltage, and disconnects when the voltage decreases below float voltage level, indicating that one or more batteries are being discharged. The main feature is that there is virtually no voltage loss so that the output voltage of alternators or battery chargers does not need to be adjusted.

Blue Sea 12v Fuse Panel - https://amzn.to/2IlpPdj

This is a simple 12 volt distribution panel for protecting all the power lines going to my various 12 volt consumers in the bus.

30A Shore Power Extension Cord - https://amzn.to/2EhiVRh

This cord connects the twist-lock shore power connector on the bus to a shore power pedestal. It’s 30 amp, single phase 120 volt power would feed the inverter/charger at up to the circut’s rating.

15A to 30A converter - https://amzn.to/2XttLwe

This converter lets me plug in my 30 amp cord into a 15 amp outlet. Of course, I can only draw up to the 15 amps that the circuit provides, but that’s easy to do with the Victron inverter by reducing it’s demand amperage.

Amerex B386T, 5lb Halotron I Class B C Fire Extinguisher - https://amzn.to/2U5f7sP

Halotron extinguishers are important to protect equipment that is expensive and electrical. The more common ABC extinguishers are corrosive and damaging to electrical and mechanical equipment.

UL Listed heavy Duty Wire Lugs 2/0 & 4/0 - https://amzn.to/2U3ieBt

You can pick multiple sizes with this link. These components are necessary for terminating all the battery ends.

Soft Clamps - https://amzn.to/2EqumHw

Soft clamps are common in vehicle applications for holding all manner of hoses and wiring. The rubber strip on the metal band protects from chafing and ensures a snug fit that doesn’t slide around.

MC4 Connectors - https://amzn.to/2EsVqWv

MC4 Connectors are a standard type of power connector found on solar panels. MC means “Multi-Contact” which was the original manufacturer name, and the 4 means 4 millimeter, or the diameter of the contact pin inside the connector. They are rated for high voltage DC connections. I had to custom size a bunch of the cabling that connects to the panels, so I needed to add new connectors to that cabling.

2/0 Wire - https://amzn.to/2EsRhSF

Fine stranded battery cable wiring for connecting all the components together.

Power Distribution Terminal Bar - https://amzn.to/2Er6jrG

The bus bars are a key component - they keep all the wiring organized, and allow the sharing of terminals and connections for high amperage components. They are like a small section of wire that allows bolting other wire to it.


 

Radiant Floor (Still Under Construction)

 

500’ Of ½” Pex Tubing - https://amzn.to/2Ef3l9C

There are many different tools, manufacturers and uses for Pex tubing. Long story short, this stuff is tough! In older RVs, frozen pipes would cost you thousands of dollars to repair. With Pex, water can freeze and the pipe expands with the ice. Regardless of my best efforts, I had my pipes freeze in the Yukon Territory of Canada multiple times on my yearly trip to Alaska. After leaving the bay doors open to the sun, we were back in business in hours with no long term issues.


 

Expansion Tank - https://amzn.to/2TPUrEV

As you probably know, liquids expand when heated. To compensate for heat in the lines, you will need to plumb in an expansion tank like the one shown here.

 

Pex Clamping Tool - https://amzn.to/2EdAFhB

Again, when it comes to Pex, you have plenty of options. Jim, my friend who helped with the interior build, used this type of clamp/ring system, so now I do as well.

 

Pex Rings - https://amzn.to/2V9EUjV

These are the rings you need to clamp the Pex together. A quick word of advice, order all of your gear from Amazon when dealing with Pex components. Home Depot charges 2 to 3 times more than Amazon. Also, order more than you think you will need. Even if you do not use all of the gear, it is always good to have some extra ready and available if a leak happens.

 

Extras

Nest Bedding Alexander Series Mattress + 5% Off - http://bit.ly/NestBeddingMatress

When I work one of my typical 16 hour days, a good night sleep is crucial! My Nest Bedding mattress has surpassed my expectations. If you are building your own custom tiny home I highly recommend their mattresses. 

 

Schaeffer’s Diesel Engine Oil - https://amzn.to/2Eh1nWF

Once you get your new baby home and you know the drivetrain is solid, do yourself a favor and invest in your engine. The oil is the blood of the engine. The better oil you can circulate through its veins, the longer it will live. Tony, one of the most knowledgeable diesel mechanics I know, swears by this stuff.

 

Valvoline Zerex G-05 Antifreeze - https://amzn.to/2tqweJO

I didn’t know this when I first started this journey, but some engines seals will disintegrate if you use the wrong coolant. The most notable example of this is the Navistar engines from 99-03 that need complete rebuilds when people use the wrong coolant. Water leaks into the engine oil and wreaks all kinds of havoc on the engine. Anytime this happens, the entire engine needs to be rebuilt.

 

Also, having extra coolant with you at all times is not only smart, it is mandatory! I have used an entire case since owning the bus due to refilling the coolant relating to multiple issues. Most recently, I was stranded on the side of the interstate due to a coolant line busting on me. Luckily, I was able to fix it quickly and had enough antifreeze to make it back to camp.  

 

The linked antifreeze is what the Cummins 8.3 calls for. Your make/model may be different, but ALWAYS get the correct coolant for your rig.

 

Hand Painted Mexican Backsplash Tiles - https://amzn.to/2EeEJOu

My entire color scheme consisted of black and stainless before purchasing these awesome tiles. I wanted to add a bit of custom color to my rig and these tiles were perfect. They come wrapped in Mexican newspaper articles and each one truly is hand painted. I ended up using mine for the backsplash for my kitchen.

 

Hand Painted Pull Knobs - https://amzn.to/2GyfYiC

I have a box of vintage maps that may end up on the ceiling of my bus. With that in mind, I began searching Amazon for custom map interior design elements. After some research, I found these little guys. Just a heads up, the knob I used the most broke off from its mount after only a month. I glued it back on and thus far it has held up well. I will keep you updated on this.

 

Heavy Duty Drawer Slides - https://amzn.to/2TQRqnW

There are many options for drawer slides out there and many of them are great products. I can vouch for these as they have been carrying the heaviest loads with no issues whatsoever. Also, in the link provided, you have the option to choose from 10” to 24” slides.



 

Extension Ladder - https://amzn.to/2IiiaMI

Again, there are many options out there on Amazon when it comes to these ladders. This is the ladder I purchased for my access to the roof deck and general maintenance around the bus. I am not certain where I will be storing the ladder at the moment, but it is a great addition to the bus.

 

Table/Bench Folding Brackets - https://amzn.to/2V5YjCi

After filming a custom 5th wheel tiny home, I discovered these latches. The family I filmed used these latches for a double fold down dining area and my gears started turning. I ended up using these for my main office area as well as my main dining area. That way, if I have guests over I can put the desk down in the living room area. By doing this,  I can open up more space for activities in the dining area.

 

Bubble Window - https://amzn.to/2V4QCvN

This was one of those “why not” situations. Why custom build something if you can’t have fun with it? While Wess was in Arizona helping me with the roof transition he made a joke about adding a bubble window...I purchased it later that evening. It was very simple to install and sealed up great. Now I just need my pup to start using it more!