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Choosing an engine for your vanlife home

Whether you’ve made the decision and are about to get started working on your van or the #vanlife culture has just piqued your interest, one of the first questions you’ll have is what are the best vehicles to live inside of? The decision, of course, is quite important as you’ll be spending the foreseeable future living inside of the vehicle you choose so think deep!

There are many things to consider when building a mobile home, all the way from the type of engine to the class of a vehicle and even the color of external paint depending on the purpose of your home you’ll want to customize it to fit your needs like a well-tailored glove. We’re going to take a look at the different vehicles out there in the world and provide some clear pros & cons to help you figure out which type of home you’ll want to be living in.

The different types of vehicles will allow for different accessories, and enable traversal of different regions, they have varying {degrees of stealth} so whether you intend to boondock it amongst the stars and need to be able to store your mountain bike while still having room for your dog or you want to remain a ghost living off Tesla Charge ports in the heart of a city we’ll help you make the right choice!

Choosing a vehicle isn’t just about the brand, what’s under the hood counts too!

Gasoline Engines

The Good

The most common engine available, the vast majority of cars on the road operate using these gasoline engines meaning you will always have a source of reliable fuel within reach anywhere civil. The engines run quieter and for the same size engine, a gasoline engine will be lighter allowing it to clock in a higher horsepower. Gasoline engines run cleaner than diesel engines and the repairs are simpler due to the basic nature of the parts. The most notable perk would be the ease of starting in cold weather due to the sparkplugs that ignite the vehicle’s engine allowing for year-round living in any environment provided proper insulation is applied.

The Bad

While they may be simple vehicles because of their design they consume more fuel than diesel engines meaning if you plan on doing a lot of driving they will have a higher cost in the long run on gasoline when filling up. If you’ve got a soft spot for the environment, unfortunately, gasoline engines admit almost 20x the Co2 levels of a diesel engine, not to mention unless you live in the United States of America where gas is cheaper, you’ll be paying more at the pump for gasoline than diesel every time you fill-up. If that wasn’t bad enough because of the design of the engine they break down much closer to the 300,000km mark whereas a good Diesel vehicle can last all the way past the 500,000km mark with proper maintenance and keep on chugging.

Built to power the heaviest of vehicles, diesel fuel is sometimes even cheaper depending on the location you are in!

Diesel Engines

The Good

Diesel engines are absolute powerhouses, consuming less fuel than their gasoline drinking cousins. They have much greater torque at lower RPM’s which makes them the ultimate vehicle for towing allowing you to tack on extra storage to your rear if needed or take your van off-road without fearing getting stuck in the mud. The truly beautiful benefit to diesel is the longevity of the engine, as long as you maintain it if your engine dies on you while out on the road your home is stuck you should buy a lottery ticket that day because you’ve got freak luck. With diesel, you don’t really need to pay any attention to the odometer with proper maintenance you’ll want a new van before it’s even broken!

The Bad

Diesel vehicles are more expensive out the gate costing as much as 20% more than their gasoline counterparts sometimes, combine that with the heavy-duty components producing a louder engine hum (if you’ve ever pulled up next to a truck at a stoplight you know what I’m talking about!) The real doozy is that older models of diesel engines don’t come with engine warmers, meaning if you live in a climate that has winters you will definitely have some rough days dealing with car troubles due to the engine. The final consideration is the price of maintenance, in the event that something does go wrong in the vehicle diesel repairs are much more costly because of the heavy-duty nature of the parts that make the upkeep higher.

Those charging stations are fantastic and plentiful in modern cities. You’ll never find yourself without!

Electrical Engines

The Good

The new kid on the block, for those planning to stealth camp in cities I can’t actually think of a better choice then electrical. With charge ports all over the city, an extremely minimal environmental impact, modern security features and of course that inaudible engine hum they make the perfect vehicle to use as a home in the heart of a city. With many models being released in the coming years it only makes sense to go electric if you plan on living in a city. The capabilities provided by an electrical engine are numerous though I think Elon might cry if he found out you gutted the interior of one of his new Cyber trucks xD.

The Bad

If you don’t plan on living in a city these electrical vehicles while beautiful in form and function just aren’t very practical. While not impossible it will simply take careful planning at every step of the way as if a battery dies on you in the forest you are pretty well screwed without any hope of being able to recharge you’d have to abandon your vehicle march your way back to civilization and buy a new battery, jury rig up a charger and give yourself a boost… yeah, less than ideal definitely. The limits to travel range without easy refills simply make these vehicles a no-go for those looking to head out into the wilderness for long stretches of time.

In conclusion…

We hope this little lesson has helped you along the path to making a proper decision about your engine choice. It’s important to consider all the factors of what you’ll be doing in your daily life and of course the level of environmental impact you are okay with having. If you have any suggestions for bits of info we could add to this page feel free to comment below and we’ll update the page and credit you!


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