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this episode is a van episode – we gotta talk about how fucking hot it gets in your van during the summer.
i’ve been living in my van now for over 500 days, and the humidity and heat in southern texas will kill you if you let it.
it gets so hot and humid that one day i found myself googling “benefits of using a sauna” just to find an upside to letting myself pass out from heat exhaustion every night between june and september.
now that i’m in my second summer, i’ve learned a couple of tricks to managing both the heat and moisture during the hottest months that involve not having to kill yourself.
now before i give you TOO much hope, just know that if you live in the deep south like i do where you basically reside in a swamp, the percentage difference will be minimal. you will not be able to drop the temperature much lower than the outdoor ambient temperature, and the humidity decrease is minimal, but 10% is the difference between absolutely sticky icky icky and easy breezy beautiful cover girl.
i told myself after last summer this would be the LAST summer i spend in the south because it was so horrible. in houston, the temperature in my van stays in the hundreds until around 6, unless i park in the shade, which of course, diminishes my ability to charge my batteries via solar the last few hours of sunlight.
even if i park in the shade, i am lucky to get it down to the mid 90s by 8pm, but the humidity is a manageable 50%. that means i’m boiling, but at least i have room to sweat.
by 10, the temperature may drop to the mid to high 80s but the humidity has skyrocketed above 80%.
at midnight, i wake up in a cold sweat, legs stuck to the sheet, face sticky. if it’s raining outside, i’ve seen my humidity gauge at 97%. super steamy.
the humidity compounded with the heat creates a horrible sleeping environment. but managing one or both will make or break you during the summer.
last summer, my method of relief was as many fans as i could plug in at once, using my maxxfan for outflow, and leaving my windows slightly open to allow fresh air to enter. i’ll talk a little more about the changes i’ve made for summer 2020.
generally speaking, if you’re sleeping in your vehicle during the hot summer months, the rule of thumb is that you should spend as much of your waking hours outside of your vehicle. this may mean going to the mall, library, your mom’s, the park, whatever.
sadly, with this covid crap, daytime activities where you can find air conditioner are severely limited. if you’re self-quarantining right now in your van with scarce resources, between this and being unable to use planet fitness for showers, idk how you’re doing it, honestly. the not having access to showers thing would kill me.
fortunately, my brother lets me use his facilities; otherwise, i think giving myself a spongebath in the back of my van might be a necessary evil.
during the day, you should be using a sunshade on your windshield, especially if you’ll be parking in direct sunlight. it definitely limits the amount of effort you’ll need to put in in the evening when making your bedspace comfy.
so if at all possible, spend as much as your daylight as possible outside of your car, but be sure to crack the windows if you can. the temperature inside of a closed vehicle will rise a lot quicker with the windows rolled tightly. cracking them will allow the hot air to rise and escape so it should be easier to cool your car in the evening.
go take a walk around the park but practice social distancing, don’t be estupido.
once the sun begins to set, you can get back in your car, turn up that a/c and find your designated sleep spot.
this year, in addition to the fans, i did a little pre-summer preparation to see what my best options were for keeping cool during the summer.
i saw a ton of DIY 12v “air conditioners” that were essentially insulated coolers filled with ice water with both an inflow and an outflow.
i considered making my own since it seemed inexpensive, but with very little project space and crazy high temps, i decided to trade comfort for money, which is something i hate to do because money is hard to get, but the time i’d have to dedicate just didn’t seem worth it to me so i took the lazy way out.
however, if you’re more crafty than i am and have space to sprawl out and do some work, then by all means do some research on these homemade air coolers. it doesn’t actually seem difficult, but having to buy more tools for one project doesn’t seem ideal for me right now. you, on the other hand, may have all this shit lying around already. if so, get to work.
anyways, i settled on a product called the mightykool k2. i flipflopped back and forth about whether or not it would work for me since it is only really recommended for places with low humidity, but after sending some messages back and forth with the manufacturer, i decided to make the purchase and work on ways to improve my airflow and reduce moisture buildup.
the mightykool isn’t meant to be an air conditioner. to run an a/c in your camper off of batteries would be impossible without a massive battery system. that or a loud gas generator or shore power. but for most offgrid people like myself, air conditioner is not a possibility, which is why some full time vandwellers move up north during the summer. obviously, not everyone has that freedom, so we adapt and make due with what we have.
here are my thoughts after using it now for maybe a month or so now.
if we’re talking about our best option for cooling the temperature without a generator or shore power, this may be one of your best options.
most full size air conditioners kill too much power and would eat through your battery bank quickly without a crazy number of solar panels, and for most rv, van and car dwellers, your roof space is limited.
further, if you do go this route, you need to have a pretty large battery bank and charge frequently, either through solar or alternator. probably both.
along with that, you need a reliable pure sine inverter, and that’s gonna cost you a pretty penny.
so unless you’ve got unlimited power, something like the mightykool might suit your needs.
it’s low power, runs on 12v so it’s energy efficient, it’s inexpensive, and it does a good job of cooling the air directly in front of the vents.
yes, this means you will have to sit right in front of the thing if you wanna feel it, but it’s outflow packs a bit of a punch and is adjustable.
the downside is this runs on water, which means it’s spitting moisture back out into the air, raising the humidity in your sleeping area to unbearable heights.
people tend to overlook how much humidity plays a role in whether or not you’re comfortable in your environment. the heat alone is bad, but when you combine high temperatures AND high humidity, it can exacerbate that disgusting “i just took a run and fell asleep in my sweaty clothes” feeling, not to mention dehydration, the potential for heat stroke. you really don’t wanna be falling asleep in a hot, humid van.
i just wanna spend a second to point out the dangers of high humidity.
when the temperature is high, your body responds by sweating to let out the heat.
when the humidity is high inside your room, your van, your enclosed space, this is a moisture buildup. when you sweat, the perspiration has nowhere to go, which can lead to hyperthermia, even heat stroke, coma or death.
it doesn’t take much to reach that point. if your body temperature exceeds 104, you got a real problem.
so please, if you’re capable of spending your summer anywhere but the south, please relocate. move up north where the risk of permanent damage is lower.
if you’re a swamp creature like me, stay here. but just know that’s rough, and if you’re doing this, you’d better not be dragging your kids or pets into it because you will run into some issues like a lawsuit or a cps case. don’t do it.
i’ve also talked about damp-rid before, which does a good job at collecting moisture from the air, but in a room that you are exhaling carbon dioxide into for several hours a night, damp-rid may not be enough to control the humidity level.
so beyond damp-rid, i decided to buy a mini dehumidifier on amazon that has low power consumption. it was probably less than $40 but it’s awesome at sucking the moisture out of the air.
the smallest one you can get for your area, the more energy efficient, so it’s probably best to not go for a full size dehumidifier.
using both a cooler and a dehumidifier will make a huge difference when you’re in the midst of summer; its just a matter of finding the best tools for your setup.
okay so cool story, kind of a side note.
the other night whilst i was contemplating the merits of an onlyfan page, i’m like, “hmm, is patreon like an onlyfans page in that you are creating content, minus the boobies?”
and while i thought, “damn maybe showing my boobies may be easier” i decided there may be more merits to letting you INSTEAD know about my patreon page.
which i’m gonna be honest, i completely forget it existed until i checked it the other night and saw i had a patron! so of course i jump onto the website, and after an hour of wrongly guessing my password and was able to get in.
so shout out laura, my very first patron! i started clicking around because it seems like it could be a good platform for getting all of you in one place. i didn’t know you can do things like private posts and livestreams, things like that.
not that a livestream with me would be interesting, but it does seem like a good way for creators to interact with their listeners or viewers or whatever.
there’s a link to my patreon over on my website hihowareyou.US if you wanna look at it, i’m not begging, but i am throwing it out there to see what kind of response i get.
if you get anything at all out of this podcast, or even my radio station @ramblinvanradio, then feel free. i think the lowest tier is $1 a month? that little bit might help with hosting and licensing, junk like that. but there’s no requirement to be a paid patron. public posts are a thing too.
i added a poll for anyone who wishes to participate. patreon is at patreon.com/hihowareyou
i am working on offering incentives to all of you, but once this pandemic stuff started up, i figured trying to get any merch printed out right now might be a pain in the ass. so instead, let’s use this downtime to get to networking with each other, all get together in one place.
i figure since i one day want to buy some land and live a minimalistic life, now is a good time to get some likeminded people together so it can begin to happen organically.
if you have similar goals or have interest in off grid, simplistic living with a dash of hard work and year round comedy, then please, let’s all get in touch.
even if you don’t and you just really enjoy this podcast and need an accountabilibuddy, hit me up. i’m a human of many interests, pushing multiple balls forward at once, slowly but surely.
email is blue@hihowareyou.US. don’t be shy, shoot me a line. for group stuff, patreon might be the place for us to be, right?
if you really want, you can add my on my personal instagram @blueaesthetics – i post sometimes if i feel inclined, but it’s another avenue of communication, in case you’re scared of email.
aight toodles, poodles.