Noobie Seeking Advice

MR E30

Active member
That’s huge. Made up my mind for me, Condensation was always our worst enemy when camping in our TT with single digit ambients using propane furnace. Only way to remedy was to open roof vent and turn on fan. Quickly got cold again and remoistened in no time. Plus it burned a lot of fuel. Imagine the diesel heater is more efficient than propane. Thought it may be better to mount it on the inside, so it’s not exposed to elements, rust, corrosion, and just run a fuel line to an outside fuel tank, but IDK. Never installed one B4. Also thinking with 50 amp Orion, a 5 hour drive yields 3,000wh of charging.

Have you posted any photos?

Dave linked my build thread above for reference, if you care to check it out.

Diesel is way more effective for sure. One gallon of diesel currently lasts ~20 hours set on low. Outside air temp in the 40's, thermostat set to 75 in the camper. Periodically run it on high for a while to help keep the unit in good shape. I was able to get the camper to ~120 degrees when it was 35 degrees outside. Incredibly effective.

Yes, mounting the unit inside would be the way to go. I did not incorporate a diesel heater into my original layout/build, as I thought LPG would suffice, so I had no interior space to mount the unit. I don't routinely camp in the cold (I try not to at least, hard to truly escape it in the winter), so the compromise worked for me.

Driving for 5 hours certainly dumps a bunch of charge into the batteries, but I personally don't drive that far in one go, basically ever. So a stout solar setup was my area of focus. Also, my charge controller touts itself as a 50a model, but it will only do 500w maximum (~37a). Also, the moment any tiny bit of sun (I'm talking predawn haze that registers at .1a) hits the panels the charger automatically limits alternator input to 25a. Not sure if the Orion unit has that limitation as well. Just another thing to consider.
 

Ozarker

Pontoon Admiral
I'll pass on a name here, a guy I listen to about solar stuff, "Professor Hobo" he's the reason I went with a 2000+ watt Bluetti and it has a max input of 700 watts by panels (can be charged with shore power, gen set and panels at the same time). This set up will run an RV roof A/C pretty much all day with decent sun. Check out his video with his roof A/C.
BTW, another name in solar guru world is Will Prowse, also good tech stuff.

I also have a Bluetti EB3A, about 700 watts I think, that just runs the power for the truck while on the road as needed.

Electric heat calls for more juice than A/C and since the cold is generally cold all day and night, very hard to get enough solar to heat with, it would probably take around 6000 watts with 12/1400 in panels, never tried it nor do I have an electric heater suitable for that purpose. I might try one of those radiator oil filled heaters, they are pretty efficient.

I doubt 400 watts would turn an RV roof A/C on, much less run it, due to the surge power to start it up.

Besides seeking info here or on line, I suggest you get out there are talk to those doing it and look at their setups, how well they work under real conditions.
 

Marine359

New member
@Marine359 , you have a lot more reading to do I think, before you try to nail numbers down like you are. When you aren't even aware of how a diesel heater runs a separate combustion loop outside, so there is zero moisture added...nor that there are similar closed loop propane heaters (Truma, Propex), then you need to hold off on all these pre-conceived solutions you have until gathering a bit more info ;)

Here are some links.
Spreadsheet with common electrical items and their power use, adds up to see what system you need to run.

Trying to find a basic system build spreadsheet I saw that lets you input devices used like this, battery size, solar panels, where you are, how long you need batteries without solar, etc. Then it shows you what you can run on a battery and panel size, for how long. Can't find the thing again...

Anyways, that air-conditioning you are looking at... meh, not a very good solution. But your large battery sizing plan is good to see ;)
IME. I have a pretty good consumption data from my years of camping with LFP and solar. And, yes, I do have a power audit spreadsheet based on data collected from my shunt. I know exactly what every ac appliance uses, and what my typical dc draw is in both hot weather and cold weather with a dc compressor fridge. So, I think I have that part nailed. Just knowing I can’t really do all-electric in Arctic cold is a huge help to set me on the road to using a diesel heater. I’m really good at DIY, so I don’t think I’ll have any problem with install. LFP is so cheap now, it’s a no brainer to go big on it. Even a single 230ah LFP will give me almost 5,000wh with my Ecoflow. Enough to start build and take a few trips. Can always buy more battery if needed. The only thing I need now is more info on diesel heater and it‘s installation. Electrical is my thing (I’m an engineer), and I found it quite easy to do upgrade my camper to where we could dry camp for more than 5 days without generator. Limited only by tanks. But in this pop up, planning to use a separating composting toilet. There’s several on the market, or I can just build one. Contemplating whether to buy two small fridges, using one as freezer, or one big dual zone fridge/freezer. And whether adding insulation to the hard-side pop-up is worth the effort. I don’t need to start with an A/C as my first two odysseys (Alaska and Newfoundland) will not be to hot weather zones
 

Marine359

New member
I'll pass on a name here, a guy I listen to about solar stuff, "Professor Hobo" he's the reason I went with a 2000+ watt Bluetti and it has a max input of 700 watts by panels (can be charged with shore power, gen set and panels at the same time). This set up will run an RV roof A/C pretty much all day with decent sun. Check out his video with his roof A/C.
BTW, another name in solar guru world is Will Prowse, also good tech stuff.

I also have a Bluetti EB3A, about 700 watts I think, that just runs the power for the truck while on the road as needed.

Electric heat calls for more juice than A/C and since the cold is generally cold all day and night, very hard to get enough solar to heat with, it would probably take around 6000 watts with 12/1400 in panels, never tried it nor do I have an electric heater suitable for that purpose. I might try one of those radiator oil filled heaters, they are pretty efficient.

I doubt 400 watts would turn an RV roof A/C on, much less run it, due to the surge power to start it up.

Besides seeking info here or on line, I suggest you get out there are talk to those doing it and look at their setups, how well they work under real conditions.
My Ecoflow has the same specs as the Bluetti 2kWh unit, except it has 1,000w max solar input, and charges faster on ac. But I think Bluetti is more reliable, and it has a high amperage dc output, which I wish I had. Ecoflow high amp outlets only work with other Ecoflow products. (Bleh). It has 2400w max output and does run my easy-start equipped roof A/C but only for about 90 minutes. But I’m not planning roof air. The Battery operated Ecoflow Wave 2 has gotten good reviews, and can be hooked to my existing Ecoflow Delta 2 Max for high speed dc charging. I don’t know anybody who has one that can give me an honest review. Everybody on YouTube is selling something. So is Hobotech, whose reviews are pretty good, as is Will Prowse.
 

Marine359

New member
Here. This is his truck camper adventure blog, one of my favorite, I check every day to see if he has an update. His energy use and info is, right now, the #1 most valid data I have found online... and I read everything posted for canopy campers lol...


@MR E30 great reply, glad you took the time, I didn't want to type so much and burst his bubble besides saying his heat plan wasn't going to work lol... (@Roadkill69 over there...)
Thanks for the link. I can learn a lot from Dave’s build. My build likely will have full length bench on passenger side for napping and stealth camping. Toilet under front bench. Galley on drivers side. Barn Doors a must for us geezers. Lead time on the Hiatus is over 8 months. That’s ok because I didn’t think I’d be able to start this year until i get a bigger truck and install my prep work, like dc/dc charger, floor, prelim wire harnesses, and rear seat platform. Has anyone wired up a dc/dc with two Andersen connector female connectors? I’d like the option to put my powerstation in the back seat, or in the camper truck bed. Two outlets would be dope. If I do get a Wave 2 which would be in the back seat, I could just plug it into the Andersen outlet in the back seat. If I can pick up the camper next spring, that’ll suit me fine, if I live that long. I can’t afford to waste too much time.
 

Dave in AZ

Active member
Thanks for the link. I can learn a lot from Dave’s build. My build likely will have full length bench on passenger side for napping and stealth camping. Toilet under front bench. Galley on drivers side. Barn Doors a must for us geezers. Lead time on the Hiatus is over 8 months. That’s ok because I didn’t think I’d be able to start this year until i get a bigger truck and install my prep work, like dc/dc charger, floor, prelim wire harnesses, and rear seat platform. Has anyone wired up a dc/dc with two Andersen connector female connectors? I’d like the option to put my powerstation in the back seat, or in the camper truck bed. Two outlets would be dope. If I do get a Wave 2 which would be in the back seat, I could just plug it into the Andersen outlet in the back seat. If I can pick up the camper next spring, that’ll suit me fine, if I live that long. I can’t afford to waste too much time.
Ok good to know on engineering basics etc!

So that blog isn't me, thats MrE30. However, I think you would benefit from some power and insulation vids I did for popup truck camper, will link.

First, from all your posts, I am going to recommend the Tune M1 camper. Largest interior, good weight, t slot everwhere. I did spreadsheets with 30 options, tune was best. #2 was Ovrlnd. I looked at Haitus and Oru, they are waaay smaller inside and sleeping.
Alu-Cab canopy camper, like MrE30 has, was top of line for quality, until I found the Tune, with twice the interior space and bed completely over the cab, so all volume always usable. Proj M is similar but much worse design and build. I can fit 1000W of solar on the roof of this thing!!

My Tune showing bedding fit

Climbing in, quite easy, wouldn't need barn doors, this shows "70s accessible ". However, Tune will have a barn door or actually Alu-Cab style sideways opening, next year. And a diy guy has built a great one you could copy.

Diesel heater install in truck bed.

Dc fuseblock, I run off a Pecron 1536Wh station.

Tune is now selling an insulation pack for tent. Rest is easy to insulate also, or all diy:

I've been researching optimal air-conditioning setup for a month, split phase and dc and minimum electrical use, sized for this camper size. Still working on that, but a lot of info.

I have a diesel heater in mine, but Tune is now offering a Truma heater install, propane built like diesel, separate combustion loop vented outside, air heat loop vis heat exchanger all inside.
https://youtu.be/kgpR8Ny3dsw?si=HqRd7Ns4ziYbbd4w

There is a good Facebook owners group, with all the buildouts showing exactly the side bench, cabinet, front bench, bunks, water setups, electrical and cooking, etc.

 

ThundahBeagle

Well-known member
While I have had nearly 200k miles of good fortune with my GMC Sierra 5.3, I would want to note that regular oil changes with the proper synthetic 0w 20 oil is a must. The L83 5.3 liter is not like the old 5.7. That engine wanted 5w 30 but I could run any reasonable weight oil on either side of that number, dinosaur or synthetic, but no way would I consider running anything other than the synth 0w 20 in today's GM 5.3.

Keeping it between 45 and 55mph, or otherwise at or about 1500 rpm can often get me 19, 20, 21 mpg over a 50 mile stretch even as I traverse to and from sea level to 1400 feet above, doing over a hundred miles on a daily basis. I could do better but sometimes I'm not patient.

I dis have to replace my transmission at 175,000 miles, with one from Lake (?) Transmission. Better than new. Built up all the parts that typically fail in the GM transmissions.

I hope that helps with the drivetrain selection, ar least.
 

Marine359

New member
I’ll be running my LFP to dc bus bars, with neg grounded to chassis, just like I did with our TT. From pos bus bar to BlueSea spade fuse block. Through the block, I can use different fuses for different circuits. Will install ac outlets all around the camper using romex. For charging Ecoflow from LFP, probably will by pass bus bars and connect through inline fuse directly to one of the two Ecoflow XT60i solar ports. Two SAE ports. I’ll put in a a/b switch so the same port can be used by a portable panel. The other solar input will be wired to roof array. Glad LFP now available with self heating and Bluetooth, so I won’t need a shunt monitor. Maybe need a 12v tank heating mat for the Ecoflow. Almost stranded once in sub-freezing ambients before getting the mat. BMS shut down. Had to use PTC heater to heat up one of the batteries.
 

Marine359

New member
Thanks for the Tune M1 video link. Very nice design. But in our 70s we gotta have a barn door entry. Not sure I’d opt for anything but hard-sided, but the Tune is a lot less money.
 

dstefan

Well-known member
Thanks for the Tune M1 video link. Very nice design. But in our 70s we gotta have a barn door entry. Not sure I’d opt for anything but hard-sided, but the Tune is a lot less money.
For barn doors (as long as you can deal with a pop-up) look at Ovrlnd campers in Flagstaff (https://campovrlnd.com/). Also look at the Ovrlnd owners thread here for info and build out. Jay will build custom and if you really have to have hard sides, I’m betting he would do that too.

We love ours, and we’re in your same age range. Also been very happy with at 2nd gen Tundra, but did rework suspension as we like going some more difficult places.

I also agree with @Ozarker in his early post on avoiding overland bling, which to me also includes unecessary camper systems. Keep it simple and easy and build what fits your needs.
 

Marine359

New member
For barn doors (as long as you can deal with a pop-up) look at Ovrlnd campers in Flagstaff (https://campovrlnd.com/). Also look at the Ovrlnd owners thread here for info and build out. Jay will build custom and if you really have to have hard sides, I’m betting he would do that too.

We love ours, and we’re in your same age range. Also been very happy with at 2nd gen Tundra, but did rework suspension as we like going some more difficult places.

I also agree with @Ozarker in his early post on avoiding overland bling, which to me also includes unecessary camper systems. Keep it simple and easy and build what fits your needs.
What say you about canvas sides? Do they make lots of noise when it’s windy? can they be as warm as hard sides? Does the canvas hold up to weather and sun? Does a lot of dust and dirt come in through the tailgate and hatch? I think I do need to look at canvas sided. Overland is half the price of Hiatus.
 

Ozarker

Pontoon Admiral
What say you about canvas sides? Do they make lots of noise when it’s windy? can they be as warm as hard sides? Does the canvas hold up to weather and sun? Does a lot of dust and dirt come in through the tailgate and hatch? I think I do need to look at canvas sided. Overland is half the price of Hiatus.
I can't answer about that camper, but as to canvas sides.....

I had the honor of playing in 12 to 16 feet of snow at 52 degrees below zero with the 10th Mountain Division, (17th Avn & 110th MI) at Ft. Drum. While we had a few nights in snow caves most of the field duty was in a tent.

Insulated canvas tents can be heated and/or air conditioned. Basically, the trick is to use excess resources to maintain a comfortable environment. Considering we would crank up a diesel heater where you could strip down to your underwear, get cleaned up, dress then go outside, spit in the air and nothing but ice crystals would hit the ground.

At Ft. Polk, 5th Avn, 5th Div. we would use 5000 btu A/C portable units to cool a GP Medium in 100+ degree heat, (where the 3rd Bn, 10th Div. was created), keep the generators cranking and A/C could keep the bottom 6 feet of the tent in the upper 70's.

This is with military grade canvas with insulation liners, puffy type, and a shell (fly covers) when available. You also learn to set up camp in the shade or in low lying (but dry) areas out of the wind. Keeping windows and doors tightly closed and using ground cloth canvas on the floor, over the snow.

Seeing that 1/4 inch foam with foil backing makes me snicker, while it may be some insulation, that looks more like a gimmick for the novice camper dealing with 4 seasons. The best insulation is air, trapped air in foam or blanket materials, which is also best for moisture.

Which reminds me, I have a new, never issued, Army medical surgical tent that is PVC coated inside and treated to deny heat seeking devices and chemical attacks, about 16' wide and 24' long in my garage. This stuff is much better than the stuff I dealt with wearing a uniform. I'm trying to think of a good use for it, like a DIY popup tent on a trailer.....I hate to cut it since it's new! It would also make a nice inflatable boat!

Bottom line, make an insulated blanket for that M camper and consider a canvas canopy over it as well.
 

MR E30

Active member
What say you about canvas sides? Do they make lots of noise when it’s windy? can they be as warm as hard sides? Does the canvas hold up to weather and sun? Does a lot of dust and dirt come in through the tailgate and hatch? I think I do need to look at canvas sided. Overland is half the price of Hiatus.

Ozarker brings up a lot of good points, reminds me of my time in the Corps at the CWMWTC in Bridgeport, CA, but the overall applicability of a military grade system to a mobile, routinely opened and closed truck camper is a bit of a stretch.

For the warmth, it all depends on the canvas sides and the hard sides. Simple hard sides can be almost as bad as decent canvas sides. I don't know enough about their construction, material type, layering, etc. to say for sure. Hard sides will most likely outperform canvas sides in all areas, except in overall weight and maybe ease of use, again depending on how the tent is deployed.

Here is my experience. This is coming from an Alu-Cab Canopy Camper, which in my experience has some of the best canvas (dual layered, thick AF) in the pop-up market:

- In the wind it is quiet until gusts exceed ~28 mph. At this point the noise primarily comes from the back window awning flapping around, as it is supported by two curved tension rods, and is not as fixed in place as the rest of the canvas. The ACCC uses (4) struts to hold the lid open, and even with (4) rigid solar panels on my roof I still need to put probably 75% of my 180 lb. body onto the strap to pull it down. Other campers don't hold the lid open with such force. GFC's for example will flap in much lower wind speeds.

- I've attempted to sleep through 55+ mph gusts, but that wasn't possible. At those speeds the entire truck was swaying considerably, and the fabric was being curved inward/outward, and the lid was actually closing partially as well. The noise was very loud, and I thought that the fabric would be ripped away from the framing (it didn't). After two hours of that we closed the lid and slept downstairs, uncomfortably.

- My canvas appears to be holding up to the sun without issue. It likely has already been exposed to the sun far more than the average pop up owner will expose their fabric to the sun, and mine looks exactly like it did the first time I ever opened it. It has not faded in the slightest, or faced any other issues.

- Yes, a lot of dust will come through your camper/bed interface if you only do what most YT channels or people online recommend. I spent close to 24 hours sealing up my camper (with Sikaflex), and I don't even have a tailgate to worry about. It gets much harder (nigh impossible) with a tailgate. I have near zero dust penetration and no water penetration at this time. This was a very tedious portion of the camper install btw.
 

dstefan

Well-known member
What say you about canvas sides? they make lots of noise when it’s windy?
No. They’re stretched tight on the Ovrlnd. There’s no real flapping, partly because there aren’t tall sections like there are on wedge campers and are supported by the hinge mechanism front and rear. We’ve been in very windy conditions up to around 45 or 50 miles an hour in gusts and been surprised at how little flapping there was. The camper/truck rocked more than anything.
can they be as warm as hard sides?
Nope, but you can add a thermal pack liner that makes a pretty big difference. They will condense if you don’t ventilate well and/or have a forced dry air heat.You may need a heater depending on where you go.
Does the canvas hold up to weather and sun?
We’ve had our camper for three years, in Phoenix, and spent close to 100 nights in it all over the southwest as well as further north (eg, the great lakes area) and had plenty of rain/storm nights. We’ve never had leaks of any sort, and the canvas is not really in the sun that much, unless you camped all day with the top popped all the time. We treat it a couple times a year with 303 UV protectant and it’s fine.
Does a lot of dust and dirt come in through the tailgate and hatch?
Not if you seal it correctly and have a positive pressure vent (an option from the builder at Ovrlnd, or you can add later easily). But you do have spend some time initially sealing your tailgate. The hatches on the Ovrlnds are bulb sealed and quite effective. Also, a Bedrug makes a huge difference in dust control as well as insulation factor on the floor and walls of the truck bed.

Look through the Ovrlnd Owners thread in the Poptop sub forum (and other threads). You’ll find a lot of info.

Bottom line: if you want to be as comfortable and house like experience as with a trailer, don’t buy a pop-up! OTOH if you want to be much more comfortable than you would be in a rooftop tent, a ground tent or some other set up, and you don’t want the wind resistance and be able to go on tighter rougher trails, then a pop top can be very effective. A bonus is the bed rail mounted pop tops like the Ovrlnds, Tunes, FWC Project Ms and the wedge pop-ups are much lighter.
 

simple

Adventurer
Ozarker brings up a lot of good points, reminds me of my time in the Corps at the CWMWTC in Bridgeport, CA, but the overall applicability of a military grade system to a mobile, routinely opened and closed truck camper is a bit of a stretch.

For the warmth, it all depends on the canvas sides and the hard sides. Simple hard sides can be almost as bad as decent canvas sides. I don't know enough about their construction, material type, layering, etc. to say for sure. Hard sides will most likely outperform canvas sides in all areas, except in overall weight and maybe ease of use, again depending on how the tent is deployed.

Here is my experience. This is coming from an Alu-Cab Canopy Camper, which in my experience has some of the best canvas (dual layered, thick AF) in the pop-up market:

- In the wind it is quiet until gusts exceed ~28 mph. At this point the noise primarily comes from the back window awning flapping around, as it is supported by two curved tension rods, and is not as fixed in place as the rest of the canvas. The ACCC uses (4) struts to hold the lid open, and even with (4) rigid solar panels on my roof I still need to put probably 75% of my 180 lb. body onto the strap to pull it down. Other campers don't hold the lid open with such force. GFC's for example will flap in much lower wind speeds.

- I've attempted to sleep through 55+ mph gusts, but that wasn't possible. At those speeds the entire truck was swaying considerably, and the fabric was being curved inward/outward, and the lid was actually closing partially as well. The noise was very loud, and I thought that the fabric would be ripped away from the framing (it didn't). After two hours of that we closed the lid and slept downstairs, uncomfortably.

- My canvas appears to be holding up to the sun without issue. It likely has already been exposed to the sun far more than the average pop up owner will expose their fabric to the sun, and mine looks exactly like it did the first time I ever opened it. It has not faded in the slightest, or faced any other issues.

- Yes, a lot of dust will come through your camper/bed interface if you only do what most YT channels or people online recommend. I spent close to 24 hours sealing up my camper (with Sikaflex), and I don't even have a tailgate to worry about. It gets much harder (nigh impossible) with a tailgate. I have near zero dust penetration and no water penetration at this time. This was a very tedious portion of the camper install btw.
Checked out your build and travel blog. Super cool. You sir are a badazz and have a lot of experience to offer on this subject.
 

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