About Our Design
At Vanning in Plain Sight, we build with a focus on stealth, comfort, and off-grid proficiency. Having the ability to move about freely without depending on campground services is a must for us. We make last minute travel decisions without having to plan around campsite availabilities. We travel as late into the night as we please with the knowledge we will always find a place to sleep without fear of being run out. Not to mention the savings on the ever-increasing campsite costs.
For the above to be possible our vans have a few unique features that differ from other camper vans:
The decision to build sans-windows may seem odd, but has proven critical. A van can be labeled as “stealthy", but windows are a clear giveaway for any curious onlooker that there may be someone living in the vehicle. An added benefit is of course insulation. This van is four-season and can easily handle winters in places like the High Rockies for a carefree and comfortable ski season.
Cab partition wall
Similarly, the partition wall that divides the cab from the living space is critical to maintain stealth. A simple curtain divider is a clear give away that the vehicle is lived in. We decided to felt the wall, and the back of the pocket door to give the view from the windshield a uniform stock cab look. The wall also provides an excellent thermal barrier between the cab and the living space.
Strong electrical system with low-demand appliances
Off-grid living for us is all about going through your normal routine without power usage stress. To achieve this, we started with a full Renogy® power system containing 350 Watts of slim flexible solar panels on the roof ensuring stealth, a 60 Amp DC-DC charger, and a 3000 Watt inverter/charger. These provide 3 ways to charge the 300AH lithium battery bank.
As most focus on the size of the electrical system, we feel most still tend to overload the system with power-hungry items. We’ve chosen the below items to have the van run on 12 volts with minimal need of turning on a less efficient inverter. We believe this will ensure life on the road doesn’t get interrupted by power limitations:
Fresair® roof mounted air cooler.
This unit is not a traditional A/C, but is the best water cooler on the market at the moment. It runs on 12V power and provides nice cool air above the bed to aid in comfort during summer nights.
Dometic® chest fridge/freezer
This is in our opinion the best option for a fridge/freezer. It runs on 12V, only using 50 watts while cooling, and provides the most space to store food and freezer items.
4 Gallon electric Bosch® water heater
This water heater is the largest energy consumer in the van and is 110V requiring the inverter for power. Because of this, it is wired with a switch under the sink so it may be used only as needed.
Webasto® airtop 2000stc air heater
Webasto currently has the only air heater on the market that uses gasoline as a fuel source. This unit has allowed us to tie directly into the auxiliary fuel port provided by Ford to run the heater. This powerful heater will keep your van going all winter long requiring no extra fuel source.
We have noticed the trend in induction cooktops in camper-vans. The benefits of these units are clear, but the often-hidden truth is the power consumption of these units are the highest in the van. Morning coffee, and two cooked meals in a day can be so taxing that it may leave little room for anything else, especially on less sunny days. For this reason, we have chosen this simple and extremely usable stove. It is powered by the common 1lb camping propane bottles that are found nearly everywhere. The bottles are connected directly into the stock port of the stove so there are no extra propane lines or connections to worry about leaking. As long as the Dometic® fan vent is cracked, you can cook freely throughout the day without any strain on your electrical system. Two added benefits are the sizable oven that opens up options for pizza, cookies, etc., and the unit can easily be pulled out of its provided space and used outdoor.
We not only provide 110V outlets throughout the van, we also provide ample 12V outlets to ensure electronics can be charged more efficiently and 12V items can be purchased to avoid use of inverter.
Large fresh water capacity and easy to manage waste
Plumbing can at times be the most difficult part of off-grid van-living. Water can be hard to come by in the American West. The need to find grey and black water dumping stations can be very limiting on travel, and some plumbing systems may simply not allow for winter travel. Our plumbing system addresses these issues as follows:
42-gallon fresh water tank
This size water capacity will allow a couple to drink, cook, clean, brush teeth, wash hands, etc. without refilling for 2 weeks or more (from personal experience).
U by Moen® smart shower system with High Sierra® low flow shower head
This smart shower allows you to, at the touch of a button choose your water temperature and pause/start your shower so you can greatly limit any wasted water.
10-gallon grey water tank with electric ball valve
We have placed a small tank under the van to hold grey water. Large amounts of unwanted water only adds weight, so the idea is to empty as much as possible. If green, chemical-free cleaners and soaps are used in the van, the tank can be drained at any time you deem fit by the flip of a switch located behind the passenger seat in the cab.
Nature’s Head® composting toilet
Toilets are a difficult issue to tackle while living off-grid in a van. We have provided what we believe is the best option available at the moment. This composting toilet makes the solids very easy and manageable. The liquids are separated and must be dumped appropriately as needed.
Waterdrop® water filter
Having a built-in water filter improved our personal van living experience by eliminating the need for carrying packs of water bottles and reducing the amount of waste created.
is key to being happy long-term in a space as small like this. Comfort in sleeping, lounging, cooking, eating, dressing, relaxing, etc. are all very important to consider in the layout of a camper-van. We believe our design is the best available for 1-2 people who intend to cook, take bikes, skis/snowboards, inflatable kayaks, etc. on the road with them, who need a good amount of clothes for any weather condition, and who like to comfortably kick back to a movie at night. A few things make living in this van more comfortable than most:
The bed-to-dinette design is very intriguing, but we have found sleeping on split cushions night after night will quickly have you paying for a hotel room for relief. The effort of transforming the bed to dinette often becomes a task that is dreaded. This elevated stationary bed which holds a full-size mattress (provided) also allows one person to lie down while the other has access to everything in the van, including a seated work space.
The two table pullouts can be used as a leg extension for the bed to allow for sleeping lengthwise, as well as better viewing of the pull-out T.V.
The bench doubles as a pull-out bed for a guest .
Every space is strategically designed for optimal utilization.
The bookshelf in the rear was a choice made for the comfort of the person sleeping against the back wall. The bookshelf provides a nice barrier from the back doors and provides incredible space for books, electronics, and any commonly used items. 110V and 12V outlets are provided in the bookshelf for charging.
The cabinetry at the foot of the bed we imagine to be used as a wardrobe and was designed to suit that purpose
A small cubby with a 12V outlet is provided to the person sleeping on the outside of the bed to place a glass and charge a phone or smart-watch at night.
The bench is filled with drawers underneath and was built with the intent of a wardrobe for a second person (or extra storage for the solo traveler).
There is a large cabinet under the bed and a long narrow cabinet that can be accessed from either inside the van or the garage. The idea for this cabinet was a potential laundry “chute”.
The kitchen has a large overhead space divided by 3 sets of doors that work perfectly as a pantry. 5 drawers on the right side of the kitchen get progressively larger as they move down for all sorts of kitchen and general storage. The cupboard under the stove we imagine to house pots, pans, and small kitchen appliances.
Soft close hinges and drawer slides are used throughout the van.
The garage has ample space for tools, outdoor gear, and more scarcely used items. There are two slides; each capable of holding up to 500lbs, a top hanging slide intended for bicycles and a bottom tray for any items to be easily accessed. There is also a water port provided to conveniently hose off gear or yourself from the rear of the van.
The kitchen was designed with daily cooking in mind. Two large spice racks are provided that are large enough to hold coffee cups and glasses. The sink is the size you would find in any apartment, but ultra-light to suit the van. A table pulls out above the bench to provide extra prep space, work desk, or even a laundry folding table.
A 40-inch Vizio T.V. is installed on a rotating pull-out mount. This provides a large screen for viewing while in bed, cooking, lounging on the bench, and can even be turned to view from outside the side sliding door. The T.V. is easily connected to WIFI through a router provided that requires a sim card from your cell provider. With this you will have WIFI in your van wherever you have cell service. A Weboost cell signal booster is also provided to extend the limits of your cell service.
Peace of Mind
This 2020 ford Transit comes with onboard GPS. This allows you to view the exact location of your van, remote lock/unlock, remote start/stop, gas level, and tire pressure from anywhere through the Ford APP.
Blink cameras are also provided so you may view inside and outside your van through your phone anywhere using your WIFI network.
WIFI enabled thermometers are installed so you may keep an eye on the temperature in your van while away.
A smart rear-view mirror is installed that is always recording in front and behind the van to catch any road incidents on camera. The mirror also allows you to always see directly behind you while driving to eliminate the blind spot.
LISTED VAN SPECS:
Ample 110V and 12V power sources
Cab partition wall w/ pocket door featuring inset mirror
Rear book shelf with retractable screen window
Pull out dining table and counter top
Pull-out bench which converts into secondary bed featuring drawers underneath
Double kitchen spice rack
Shower doubles as a wet room closet with removable shelf and hanger pole
Coffered ceilings with LED lights
Planter with LED grow lights
Pullout bike slide in garage
Water hose port in garage
Dometic®7500 two compartment refrigerator/freezer
Camp Chef® propane two burner propane stove top and oven
Soft close inset hinges and soft close drawer slides
Built-in dry erase board
Custom pocket door with inset mirror
Tile kitchen backsplash with custom inset brass inlay
Aluminum rear access ladder
White Oak butcher block kitchen counter top with removable sink covers
2 X 175-Watt 12V flexible monocrystalline solar panels by RENOGY®
12V 60A DC to DC battery charger by RENOGY®
3000W 12V pure sine wave inverter charger w/ LCD display by RENOGY®
Rover 60A MPPT solar charge controller by RENOGY®
3 X 100A hour lithium smart batteries by RENOGY®
42-gallon fresh water tank
WATERDROP® under-sink water filtration system
10-gallon grey water tank with electric dump valve
U by Moen® smart shower system
Natures Head® portable compost toilet
KRAUS® pintura porcelain enameled steel 21-inch undermount kitchen sink
In-counter Soap Dispenser
High Sierra® low flow shower head
BOSCH® 4 gallon electric water heater
NAUTILUS® self-cleaning retractable shower door
Closed cell polyurethane spray insulation throughout van (floor, ceiling, doors, walls)
WEBASTO® air top 2000 STC heater
WEBASTO® smart temp control 2.0
FRESAIR® eco-friendly & energy efficient 12V roof mounted air cooler
Maxx Air® fan
Maxx Air® bathroom vent
We-Boost® cell signal booster
40” Vizio®1080 p smart TV
Smart rear-view mirror
Govee® bluetooth and WIFI thermometer
3 Blink® indoor/outdoor cameras
We use Sunbrella® indoor/outdoor fabric on the bench cushions
Sunbrella® is stain and moisture resistant
Each cushion cover is removable and machine-washable
Cushions velcro to each other so they don't slip apart while sleeping