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Considering an RV- need some suggestions/advice
So, I currently have a conversion van that I've converted to a camper with the intent of full timing.  It's great, but I find that because I'm basically stuck here due to my job currently, I haven't used it as fully as I intended.  This means I'm stuck in one spot for long periods of time, and running electronics for the last half of the day since I work most nights remotely.  Since my power needs are drastic, and now that its winter in the mid west, I find I only use the van when my shift starts and spend the rest of the time in my parents house to conserve my power for work. 

I am at the point where I can afford the luxury of an RV and am considering upgrading to a BT Cruiser, or other class B/B+ with a rear entry floor plan.  I feel like with the convenience of the larger generator, and the RVs house batteries in addition to my own solar system, I would have enough power to run virtually all of my systems all day and not have to worry as much about conserving energy.  Simply put, it would be easier to full time in an RV in this part of the country year round, 24/7, which was my intent with the van.

But before I pull the trigger on this, there's some pretty serious issues that I need to consider and get figured out first:

1.  Solar Panels:
Currently on the van, I have 2 340 watt kyocera panels mounted to a ladder rack over my high top, with a 224 amp hour battery bank (same battery system bob had in his van build series).  This system serves me well, and as I've only had it for a year, I do not plan on replacing the panels.  I also need/want to maintain a large system for the reasons mentioned above and am not willing to compromise on my solar system.  The problem here is, these solar panels are very large, somewhere around 52 inches x 64 inches I believe.  So large, that there is not enough real estate on the roof of a BT cruiser to accommodate both of them without some sort of modification.  I am wondering if there is some sort of roof rack system for RVs that I could purchase that would extend above the roof mounted air conditioner and mount my solar panels up over top of everything on the roof.  I am thinking maybe some sort of ladder rack designed for box trucks might work?  I am not really interested in fabricating something myself, and know virtually nothing about drilling/mounting things to an RVs roof, so this may be a task I pay some shop to do.  However, I have no idea what kind of shop would perform this task, or if any place like this even exists in my area.  I have searched around to see if anyone else has done this, and the only things I saw were completely custom, home built racks, so I may be out of luck on this.  Any suggestions?

2.  Insurance:
As this will be my primary, daily driver, I am wondering how insurance works for these and what the costs are?  Is "Full Time RV insurance" more expensive than regular insurance?  Do I need to specifically get RV insurance, or could I simply insure the vehicle as a "Ford E450", etc?  I dont plan on carrying anything irreplaceable with me, and since I'm not really on the road, I'd like to spend as little as possible in this area.

3. Maintenance:
In the event that I do get to travel around, where can you have your routine maintenance done on something like this?  For things like oil changes and what not, can you take an RV like this to a regular place like jiffy lube or Valvoline to get oil changes and common maintenance, or do you have to find some sort of specialty shop?  What about more serious mechanical maintenance like engine/transmission issues?  I assume I could get this serviced anywhere since its built on a common van chassis, but I'd like to be sure.

Sorry for the long winded post, but I want to make sure all my ducks are in a row here before I make any serious decisions.
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On rig choice; I've been intrigued by the B+ arena as well as the rig you mentioned. This one seems to check a lot of the boxes while meeting a price point. It's easy to get too expensive in this category, but as far as motor coaches go this is my focus too.
On solar; Do you have the ability to view the RV in person, perhaps a dealer or an RV show? Take a little 12' tape measure with you and go up top to get numbers you can work with. Sketch the roof top and plan panel placement.
On insurance; The RV will be insured as an RV, not a "E450" etc. There's full-time RV insurance as well as part-time RV insurance. Talk to your current agent for more info, and if your unsuccessful there I can offer some insurance company/underwriter choices. I've been happy with Progressive for a very long time.
On maintenance; One advantage of Class B & Class B+ over Class A motorhomes is that the chassis on which it's built enables maintenance nearly anywhere in the country. The engine, drivetrain, brakes, and tires can all be handled by an automotive dealer or any mechanical repair shop with a bay that can fit your RV, and in many cases just outside their garage.
It's a brand new day
   Cheers, Rick 

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Kroswind (12-11-2017)
Yeah, the B+'s and specifically the BT cruiser seem to be the best medium of everything imo. Its like a small apartment on wheels. I have seen them listed for 10-20k here frequently. I do wonder if that's a good price range to be in, or if that's too cheap for a reliable RV in this category?

That's great to hear about maintenance, as I hope to one day actually hit the road full time. I was hoping I wouldn't have to find a specialty shop. As for the insurance, I'll look more in to that. It would be nice to hear some figures from others who have an RV in this category just to give me an idea. Obviously many factors come in to play with the pricing, so I probably wont pay exactly what someone else will, but it would be nice to see maybe a ball park figure.

As for the solar, this is really the deal breaker for me if I cant figure this one out. Unfortunately there don't seem to be many actual motorhome dealers in my area. The few that I know of are both 2-3 hours away. Everyone here who is local to me only deals in trailers. So I don't have the luxury of finding one here local at a dealership to go and take measurements. On top of that, I do not currently see any listed for sale on sites like RV trader that are in my aforementioned price range and are worth looking at. There is one that got recently listed on that's up for 25k, but it looks a little sketchy from the pictures. One of the back caps has severe discoloration, on top of the description saying "recently resealed", makes me think there was probably some sort of water damage along the way that was repaired or could be hidden somewhere. Id like to avoid these issues the best I can.
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I've viewed the BT Cruiser on youtube and discovered that "camper van Kevin" has one, perhaps his videos has info to help?
It's a brand new day
   Cheers, Rick 

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BT Cruisers are nice little RVs but putting that much solar on the roof is going to be tough. A rack high enough to clear the air conditioner and opened roof vents will probably bring your total height to about 11'. Our RV is 10' 8" and we have problems finding oil change places and self-service car washes with high enough bays. Just something to keep in mind.

You should buy full time RV insurance because if you have an accident and the insurer find that you are a full timer but did not buy full time insurance they may refuse to pay for damages. Prices vary depending on your home location. I don't know if it makes a difference but tell them you will be staying in one area for the most part.

The best place to take an RV for service is a Ford dealer or other repair center that services trucks. Many other service centers do not have lifts that can handle the weight or height of an RV. We haven't found many who are willing to do the work outside.
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My two cents. The B+ units tend to be luxury models, so you pay more for less. They also tend to be heavy. You can do a lot better with a mid-90's diesel pusher. I had a gas class A motorhome and will never, ever have one again, nor will I ever suggest one. Too heavy for the drive train. Class C's tend to get creaky and leak after a while. Spend the same amount of money on a good diesel Class A that has under 100K miles. I just got a 1996 Safari Sahara for less than 15K. The average is $25K for one of these. All it needs is a good cleaning and about $2k worth of paintwork. I wouldn't hesitate to drive it across country. For about $80K, you could be in a 10 year old 40' with four slideouts and 60K on the odometer.
Still Workin...
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(12-11-2017, 06:52 PM)ZoNiE Wrote: For about $80K, you could be in a 10 year old 40' with four slideouts and 60K on the odometer.

But the OP said this:

"As this will be my primary, daily driver"

Forty foot long, diesel pushers, make lousy 'primary, daily drivers'. 


The OP needs a more nimble vehicle for city use.


About to be 'vanless' after FOUR years...
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Have you thought about keeping the van and pulling a small travel trailer? This would add roof area for solar, provide comfy, but small, accommodations, and could be left at your parents as your own room when you get there, and pulled along when you do travel.

Of course, fuel mileage will suffer and yes, dragging a trailer in town is a pain. 

Still, it might work for you.
About to be 'vanless' after FOUR years...
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Well, there is that.
Still Workin...
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this funny little story has to do with getting service at places that have the right equipment. one time I took my truck to Costco for tires. I told them not to put the truck on their puny lifts and to use floor jacks they always listen before. well I went in to do some shopping while I was there. when I came out what did I see, my truck up on a lift. so they got the tires on the truck and went to lower the truck, it came down about a foot and then made a funny noise, the whole truck shook and that was it. their lift got cocked and it bound up, it would come down any more. the tires were still about 2 feet from making contact with the floor. it took them almost 3 hours of jacking and blocking to get my truck off that stupid lift. I never took my truck back to Costco after that. I would take the rims off and take them just the rims and tires. highdesertranger
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The following 1 user says Thank You to highdesertranger for this post:
Florida Black Bear (02-03-2018)

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