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Author Topic: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments  (Read 1575 times)

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van Sinn

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As you know, things have been and still are very problematic for me, so I've been looking into alternative living, like campers and RV/autocampers.
Now, fully living off-grid isn't too practical here in dk, so lets consider partial off-grid.

Rules and regulations doesn't exactly facilitate even the partial approach, but things could be possible.
Due to the dk world record tax on cars and also road taxes, autocampers are expensive, so I'd go my own route and convert a truck into a semi-livable thingy.

Now, what makes a truck being an autocamper is the presence of fixed installations that turns it into a full-time living space.
So, avoid fixed installations, and it'll be a truck with survival capabilities, no?

Example: A carpenters truck could have a shower/toilet cabin installed, but still won't be a living space.
An intermittent bed could be folded down, because the carpenter could be on a busy assignment, away from night-over options.
A small fridge with freezer box would be there for the lunchbox, juice and milk for the coffee. And so forth..
The big problem is the kitchen, but methinks this could be arranged as a non-fixed assy in a chassis that can be lifted out, serving as a field-kitchen - for my weekend sports activities, of course.


Apart from the kitchen, electricity will be my main problem. Sure, all camping sites as mains ac plug-in spots, but I'd want to not have to be at a camping site all the time.

So, I'd install solar panels on the roof, and there's a whole range of info on this on the web.
Just had a chat with MJMP, here's what we briefly discussed:

Sinn: I'm thinking of buying a well-used suitable mid-sized truck and build it into an approximation to an autocamper, and of course add panels to it.
Should be possible to generate about 800 [peak] watts up there, of course depending on the type of panels and whether they're flat all the time or I add the means to angle them towards the sun.
Plus of course avoid using the thin types that can be glued on; distance to roof is needed for cooling.

I've been through some vids about smart setups, but I'm still investigating controllers, inverters, chargers and hybrid ones with several functions in one box.

Seems like it can easily get fairly expensive relative to how much I'll be able to get off-grid.


MJMP: ...the inverters have to see the "grid" else they drop out which is normal if the grid shuts down for a reason.

Now I do know the best way to get the most out of solar panels is to let them follow the sun. But for the rest can't tell you much, I don't even know if you can buy off grid inverters here, they all have the C10/11 label.
(C10/C11 are EU standards)

Sinn: For mobile uses, controllers are made differently, as they obviously cannot be connected to the grid, at least only when a vehicle is parked on a designated RV parking/camping slot - which likewise obviously defies the whole purpose of living, at least partially, off-grid.

Here's a few interesting posts'n'stuff:

Combined battery charger and Power-Boster
PowerPack Basic: 223 x 270 x 70 mm, weight 6 kg, €759,00 / 5.700 dkk
Büttner Elektronik, http://buettner-elektronik.de/

Danish article about it, but has useful graphics: http://autocamper-info.dk/index.php/dk/2013-01-31-07-20-51/udstyr-artikler/item/573-kombineret-batteri-lader-og-power-boster-pa-cmt-2016

This video is just one of many about general RV living, but has some interesting info on the electric systems, which starts about 9:40 :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl9lAP7FXhc
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Harley Hexxe

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
« Reply #1 on: Time Format »

Sinn,

    I wonder why you are looking at solar panels and such, since there are such things as power inverters that you can plug into the cigarette lighter on your dashboard. These convert 12VDC into household AC voltage.
    When I was on tour years ago, I had to drive a semi-tractor/trailer, and I used these for several appliances. You only need be sure the wattage will cover what you want to plug into it. I also had a cooler that plugged into the same automotive power receptacle to keep a few groceries and drinks in. I still have it, and it cost me $35.00 USD. I don't know how many truck drivers there are in Dk., but if you can talk with any of them, you might get some ideas that are more affordable for mobile living.
   Many people here in the US, buy vans, and re-model them into camper type accommodations, yet they still use them for everyday driving.
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rnolan

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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Don't know if these would be too heavy  :dunno: (https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/solarroof) but you could coat the truck in them.
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van Sinn

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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@Harley: The solar panels, and associated electronics + regulators, are intended for these needs:
1. I'd add a heat blanket to the floor [note 1]
2. I'll have a hybrid toilet/shower installation
3. I'll have LED lights and stuff
4. I do not want to ride my power requirement off the ordinary battery
5. I need to have power available when not being on, say, a camping site

Note 1. All will be well insulated. Floor will have the heat blanket, then the top flooring added. The heat blanket is there to avoid having to using propane 24/7. This electric heating will work during day time, but only with proper insulation.

This potential adaptation actually won't be an autocamper, but be registered as a car; however, can still live in it.
I've been reading up on law/regulations and cases in court, and in this country it seems a car under two tonnes total full-ready weight, max 5 meters long, having less than four bed-able arrangements, having no fixed seats in the rear, will not be an autocamper, and as such can be driven on public roads and can be parked anywhere on normal designated and framed-in parking slots.

It can still be allowed to be used to live in, provided I do not park it, live in it and sleep in it on these designated ordinary non-camper parking slots.
For the living part, I'll need to be on a designated area, say, a camping site.
I already have my address registered on a camping site.

To sum up: The car must be livable on a camping site, yet be driveable and parkable on public roads.
It is this compromise I've reading up on. Seems I'm closing-in on the rules specific to my needs.
You know, Denmark is littered with specific rules, preventing our beloved free-life-hacks, but nevertheless, the court decision are quite clear in their specifications and language, this to make it very clear what's allowed and what not.


@Nolan: Thanks for the tip ;)  Well, I don't think roofing panels are any good for mobile use. They aren't made to handle vibrations, are too bulky per section, and, AFAICT, do not fit with the kind of electronics used for mobile applications.
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van Sinn

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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So, well..  having researched law and poked various court cases, I've come to the conclusion that in my country virtually any possibilities has been covered by law to not be able to convert a van into a living space without new taxation.
But! as we all know, a true paranoid always has at least one way out ;)

What I can do, is arrange a van with clothing cabinets, folding bed and table - but no kitchen or bath/toilet.
This will not be a car arranged undoubtedly for living, but will be merely for crashing.
Kitchen and bath can be arranged in a small mini trailer, which will be left more or less permanently on the camping site. Such a trailer, if kept at max 500 Kg, isn't covered by regulations, so I can arrange it to my heart's contents.
I've even come up with a way of hooking the two together so I won't have to go back'n'forth between them.
And, as the van can thus be chosen a bit smaller, fuel economy and parking space requirements are improved too, plus road tax is decently lower. The light trailer has no road tax to it. Sexy solution, methinks.
Add solar panels and batteries to both parts, and I'll be partly off-grid.

I'm turning into a venerable anarchist - from Latin: an archia - without King, without Ruler.
All I need now is a job to cover the costs. We'll see..
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MarshallJMP

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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Don't you love all those rules  8) 
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van Sinn

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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No love there; simply circumventing the wheel of rules, starting to enjoy peek'n'poking the law, so that I can arrange my live at least almost as I see fit, within the context of the law.
Law is f'ckin' like self-spanking, starting to feel the need for an SM chick just to cope with reality.. :facepalm:
In this country it's like Harmony Rose saying "well, that's the thing about bondage, you can't get away"
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Kim

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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I've always said that "..if the government and their agencies want your money bad enough, they will get it."   Hence all the weird and sometimes downright idiotic rules and regulations in place to try to make sure no one is side-stepping any duties, taxes, or fees.

It's like trying to fight a charge in court over a $500 fine.  The system makes sure you spend $5,000+ to fight that in court.  You might win the case, but now you've spent far more than it's worth.  So...people just suck it up and pay the $500.  It's extortion from the very system that's supposed to help fight extortion and other crimes.
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van Sinn

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Re: OT: Off-grid living, request for comments
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Yo Kim, I know this is how it works in the US, but the dk court system actually is a touch different - well, until the attacking lawyer is meeting office for high court..
In ordinary court cases here, the judge actually in general follows the rule of law, so the charged individual do have a chance, and even, if knowing something about law, by representing and defending him/her self.
Another difference from the US is that the one loosing the case must pay for both parts.
In the US, many cases gets settled per definition, because it'll be too expensive going for the win, even if it's an absolutely certainty to win the case.

Back to the autocamper vs  build-up a van/truck thing..
In the court cases I went through, it was very clear the judge did not support dk tax any further than to rule according to the laws and regulations, and in several cases ruled in favor of the complainer, when tax had tried to interpret their own regulations in order to shrink-wrap money out of the complainant.

Two examples:
A. the autocamper owner had removed the kitchen in order to make more room inside for driving six loads of garbage. This means that the car had been altered from it's purpose of being undoubtedly designed for being a livable car. The complainer lost the case, and had to pay new registration tax. I think this is 180% on top of the car's import price.
B. The complainer did not have the collapsing kitchen mounted, likewise a table weren't mounted. However, all the parts were present in the trunk. Therefore, the judge ruled that all parts required for the car to be acknowledged as undoubtedly being designed for being livable, were on board during driving on public roads.
So, tax lost the case.

In other words, law states that all things needed for a car's purpose  that are present at the time of check and registration, must be present at all times when driving on the public road net.
This may sound nutz to some, but from a dk law/tax point of view does make sense.

One of the totally rectal regulations is that a car, in order to called an autocamper, must have four seats and four bed-able arrangements. Well, I'm single and don't need four beds, do I now..?
Even if I should get the chance to do the Fritz The Cat trick "mmnn.. three at same time, that a kick I've never tried", I think we wouldn't need four separate bed-able arrangements :lol:
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