Published at 21:33 on 23 September 2023
I mean, one of the chief advantages of having any RV, even a tiny one, even a simple one, is that it shields you from the weather better than tent camping, thereby extending the camping season.
So kits like this one and this one are just plain stupid. Notice the kitchens. They slide out of the rear. You cook outdoors. Again, the whole purpose of an RV is that it should shield you from having to cook outdoors. Suppose the weather dawns rainy and windy and you just want that cup of hot coffee or tea. With an RV, that should be no problem, turn on the stove, and heat it up. No struggling to cook in the rain.
Yet you can’t do that with these RV’s. You get to cook outdoors in the rain and wind, just as if you were tent camping. Yes, I see that tail gate lifted up. Such gates do not provide very good protection from the rain. Anyone who has tried to use them as such when camping can attest to how they let water drip into the interior when left up. They are intended for briefly sheltering from the rain while loading and unloading, when a few stray drops are no big deal. That’s it.
But why, I wondered. Why do they have such stupid kitchens, when Westfalia showed the world long ago that intelligently-designed interior kitchens can fit just fine in a smaller van.
I think I figured it out:
- Making life easier for DIY’ers.
Both are related to propane and fire. If you don’t want to rely on a big battery, an RV stove is a propane stove. Now you have to permanently install a cabinet, a propane tank, and route fuel lines. Nowhere near as easy as assembling some furniture and plopping it in.
Worse for the manufacturer, what if those DIY’ers you encouraged botch the job of running gas lines or installing the tank? The result could well be a fire or explosion. What if the stove was installed with improper clearance and setbacks? Fire. In both cases, lawsuit time.
You can’t legally call it an RV unless it ships with a sink, stove, and bed. So you can’t simply leave a kitchen out of something marketed as an RV conversion kit.
The solution to the problem is to have a place where the user can put a portable camp stove. Propane line installation headaches, gone. Propane line installation liabilities, gone. Portable stoves are not certified for interior use, so the design has to be an exterior kitchen that slides out, getting the stove away from interior spaces.
Problem solved! For the manufacturer, at least.
End result this that conversion kits inevitably have designs that seriously limit their functionality as RV’s. Probably a big part of the reason why there aren’t many sellers of such things. Really, the only practical options are paying someone to customize a van, or doing it totally oneself from scratch.