Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Equipment

Update 6/6/2011:
As you should have gathered from previous posts, I did end up needed to run the generator again.
Here we are at the "22-month" status.  My operating expenses come to $50month and if you factor in the original equipment costs ($4,750) divided over 22 months ($215), it comes to $265/month expenses.  In other words, I spent $5,860 over the last 22 months vs $13,200 on an apartment ($500/month rent + $100/month utilities) for 44% savings!

Update 4/14/2010.   I have been collating my recent expenses.  While I still plan to add updates and summaries below, a detailed list of my expenses is being kept here.  I will not be tracking vehicle fuel on this spreadsheet, but will maintain that on a separate sheet (soon to be available).  Additionally, since I shouldn't be running a generator anymore (it's not even on the van anymore), I don't expect generator fuel to increase either.

With the recent conversion to solar panels, I spent an additional $1737 on solar panels, charge controllers, insulation, batteries, and various wiring.

As of 4/14/2010:
Non-Fuel Operating Costs: $387
Equipment Costs: $4698
Total Costs: $5,085
Comparitively, a $500 apartment plus $100 utiltiies ($600) would have cost me: $5200
So, as of today, I have a $115 savings.  This is somewhat low as a result of me purchasing all the van renovation stuff.  However, I shouldn't need to purchase anything large for a LONG time.  If my current solar panel is not up to the task of keeping my batteries charged, I may have to consider another $600 solar panel for the roof, but I'm hoping it won't come to that.

I have also freed up the Sharp Air conditioner and the PoweMax generator for use at the house.  I could claim to sell them to myself and reduce my equipment costs, but I like to keep it real.

I break down the cost of my equipment and expenses below, but my equipment cost from August 2009 till today (2/19/2010) is  $2,856.  

Operating Costs (as of 2/19/2010): $890.66
Omitting travel related fuel:  $290.70
  • Van fuel: last fill-up 12/3/2009 ($21.07), running total: $599.92
  • Gen fuel: last fill up 9/28: $5.68.  running: $25.68
  • Propane: (as of 2/19/2010): $9
  • Insurance: $20.17/mo starting 8/2010.  As of 2/19/2010:  $121.02
  • Gym Membership: $20/mo startin 8/2010.  As of 2/19/2010:  $120
  • Other: $15 (inspection)
From 8/17/2009 - 2/19/2010 (6-month mark) total: $3746.79
  • Operating cost monthly  breakdown:  $148.43 (w/o travel:  $48.45)
  • Total cost monthly breakdown: $624.44 (w/o travel: $524.45)
 Initial Equipment

  • '91 Chevy Van G20 with 122000 miles  ($1800)
    •  This beast came equipped with a hardwood dashboard, seat that folds into a bed, and dual-blinds on each window in the rear.  It also has a 2" hitch, luggage rack, and ladder to reach the roof.
    • I added curtains around the rear interior of the van to further block out light and provide additional insulation.
  • Haul-Master 500lb Cargo Carrier ($80)
  • PowerMax XP4400E 4,400 Watt 6.5 HP OHV Gas Powered Generator With Wheel Kit And Electric Start (CARB Compliant)  ($480)
    - I wired in a "remote start" that allows me start and stop this beast from inside the van.  The generator sits on the aforementioned Cargo Carrier.
    - This portable air conditioner  has a duct/vent that I can run out a van window. In fact, I have semi-permanently mounted the duct/vent in the van window and I can connect and disconnect it from the air conditioner as needed.  This keeps the inside of the van cool on hot days.
  • Century 6205 2.6-Gallon Portable Toilet ($50)
    This double-gasketed portable toilet allows me to perform necessary functions without hoofing it to the treeline or a neighboring gas station.  It's a step up from using bottles and keeps the smells inside.  Most dept. stores and RV shops sell the pour in "deodorant" for these to help keep the smell from building up.  At the end of each week, this gets emptied into a regular house toilet.

 Initial Cost: $2,665

Equipment added in September, 2009:

  • Coleman SportCat Catlytic Heater ($50)
    This is a catalytic propane heater that runs off of the smaller propane tanks (16oz).  These heaters are considered safe for indoor use if you have some ventilation.  They produce no harmful gasses or smoke, consuming only Oxygen.  As long as the vehicle is vented (allowing fresh Oxygen to enter), they are very safe for use.  This one is supposed to run for 14 hours off of a 16.4oz tank.  The problem I had with is is that it only puts out 1400btu.  I want something that will crank the heat out to quickly warm the van.  Then I would shut it off while I slept in my sleeping bag.  In December, I replaced it with the ProCat.
  • Two 16.4oz propane tanks ($3 - included in operating cost)

 Running Cost: $2,715

Equipment added in December, 2009:

  • Coleman ProCat Catalytic Heater ($85).  This replaced the SportCat Heater above and kicks out 3,000 BTU.  It also has a small fan that runs off of two D batteries. 
  • Inflatable Twin Air Mattress ($50).  The bed that came with the van was quite uncomfortable.  The air mattress takes care of that.  It also comes with a built in pump to quickly inflate the mattress as needed.

 Running Cost: $2,850.

Purchases in January, 2010:

  • Two 16.4oz propane tanks ($6 - my how prices double in winter, operating cost)
 Running Cost: $2,850

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