In the far frozen north near Canada, one man in his mid-30’s found shelter in his old Dodge Power-Wagon during deep snow season. Temperatures that winter (maybe 3 years ago), were down to 20 BELOW. This young man found himself homeless and jobless. How he survived in his old Power-Wagon is a testimony to the indomitable spirit of a true survivor.
Mr. “B” (we’ll call him) set up his small inverter to run TV, VCR, and laptop. Using cans of sterno, cheap hand warmers from the dollar store, extra clothing, and occasionally his car heater he managed to stay warm enough.
In the back of his wagon he set up a tent for extra warmth, laying down two old “down-filled” sleeping bags from the army surplus store. I do not recommend using a can of sterno to warm the tent before bed, because I can’t officially recommend that….But, it kept him warm.
Since I happened to have a small inexpensive 2000 Watt Inverter handy, I asked Mr. B to show us how to rig it up to run such nice extras in a vehicle. His inverter had cables similar to battery cables attached to the place on the back of the inverter marked with a red cap, and a black cap. Stripping one end of his battery cables, he attached red cable cord to red on the inverter – then, black cable cord to black on the inverter. The clamps were run through the firewall of the dashboard, and clamped onto the battery carefully – again, black to black (negative) and red to red (positive). He slid the inverter out of sight underneath the driver’s seat.
On the inverter is a gauge to indicate the charge level of your car-truck battery. If it begins to get low the beeping sound goes off to warn you to stop using it. This is most necessary if the vehicle is not running, of course. While the wagon was running along the road, it was no problem.
There are 110 plugs on the side of the inverter where he plugged in his 19” TV, and his VCR. After a movie, he simply turned it all off and readied himself for bed. It also easily ran his laptop.
This was a very simple process that could easily run also an inhaler/breathing machine for an asthmatic. Any number of items could be utilized with this system. If done while the engine is running, with the vehicle moving along the road, this did not affect his battery in any way.
In answer to where he parked, he grinned at me. Then, he named several places. “Churches in our small town don’t usually mind a few nights, or at least a night.” Mr. “B” also slept in wooded areas where no one ever came by. He found secluded wooded areas in warmer weather where he could set up his camp outside the vehicle. Often, obtaining permission from a farmer or rancher to camp somewhere on his property. Obtaining permission is essential to avoiding trouble. Courtesy, politeness, and good manners go a long way.
This information is useful to know; and the cost of equipment depends on new or used, would only run about $130 to $160 for the inverter, plus a set of battery cables which can be purchased for as little as $14.
Hope you enjoy this story of our “Survivor Man” friend. He has lots of stories to tell.
Here are additional tips:
There is a fantastic website with a blog http://vandwellers.org/
Car – Van – and Campervan Living. They cover every imaginable topic like bathing, communicating, lighting, and cooking. The electric shower unit was interesting and here’s a clip below. The full article is at http://vandwellers.org/bathing.htm
Electric shower unit – Saw these selling on eBay some time ago and figured for the $30 or so they were selling for, it was worth a try. So I brought one. Basically it is consists of a length of plastic hose with an inlet nozzle at one end, a shower head at the other and a small water pump in the middle. The pump plugs in to a 12 volt outlet. You dip the inlet into a container of warm water, stick your body over a container to catch the water and have a shower. I gave it a try and it works fine. Through some experimentation I would suggest the following:
* If you live in a rural area have a shower outside of your vehicle. Heat up some water, plug the unit in, dip the intake in to the warm water and have a shower outside. Wear a bathing suit if required.
* In urban areas you can buy a plastic storage box large enough to stand or squat in. This can allow you to reuse the water as you shower.
* If you have a transformer with a cigarette lighter outlet you can plug this unit in to a power outlet in a bathroom and get warm water from a sink and have a shower in a toilet room, wash room, laundry, any place with power and warm water. http://vandwellers.org/bathing.htm