Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Heating, Cooling, Ventilation

My Prius RV is set up for good ventilation and to maintain a comfortable temperature.  For both privacy and to keep the sun from baking the inside, the windows are tinted.

Tinted windows (at Nevada's Great Basin National Park).
The Prius is a Toyota Hybrid; as such, I can have air conditioning or heating turned on without running the engine contstantly.   The engine only runs intermittently to keep the batteries at a sufficient state of charge.

So, for example, when I was at South Carolina's Congaree National Park last September it was very hot and muggy at night.  I started the car and turned the air conditioner on when I got ready for bed.  This helped get both me and the bed cooler for sleep.  Then, I turned the air conditioner down a bit and went to sleep. 

The Prius' engine runs for about 4 minutes every 30 minutes in order to keep its batteries charged.  That is, the engine acts like a generator while the air conditioner runs off the batteries.  But, this generator only comes on when its batteries need to be charged.

I've yet to need to run the heater overnight.  But, I expect it would work similar to running the air conditioner overnight.

Although the Prius is not air tight, I still crack the windows while sleeping to insure sufficient oxygen.  The only times I don't crack my windows is if I'm in bear territory where they've learned to break into cars, like Yosemite.  I also carry a CO2 alarm (and bear spray).  

No-See-UM Mosquito Netting over left passenger window.

No-See-UM Mosquito Netting over right passenger window.



















The rear passenger windows are covered with No-See-UM Mosquito Netting. Velcro is glued to the base of the window sills and to the bottom of the netting. When installed, bugs can not get underneath. The top and sides of the netting are tacked to the door frame, making the interior bug-tight when the doors are closed.

Visors are attached with double-stick tape above the windows.

A dusting of snow demonstrates how the visors keep snow and rain
from coming inside.
Visors are installed over the roll-down windows.  They look kind of like eyebrows. When it is raining or snowing, I can roll down the windows about an inch for ventilation and not get any water inside.

2/1/11

33 comments:

  1. You are truely an inspiration to me.
    I used the planters Dry roasted nut bottle, until you suggested the laundry detergent bottle for my night time relief.

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  2. Hello,
    I'm reading about the visors. Where did you get them? Are they made specifically for the Prius? Or? They work really well!
    Thanks,
    Maggie

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  3. Hi Maggie. I got the visors on ebay and they were made specifically for an 04-09 Prius. But there are visors to fit most makes and models of vehicles. If you don't find visors for your car on ebay, do a google search. Best of luck. Suanne

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  4. Can you plug the car into an electrical outlet to keep the batteries charged instead of having the engine start and run as you described?

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    1. My 2004 Prius is 2nd generation and has no option to plug in. However, one of the newer 3rd generations does have a plug-in option. Thanks for reading my blog!

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    2. Do you still have the same flexibility to boondock away from electricity for indefinite periods of time?

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    3. Bob, I believe the plug-in version of the Prius is also a hybrid. That is, it has a gas engine in addition to the electric motor. So, the answer to your question is "yes."

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    4. Hi Suanne, have you read up on or noticed any long term effects of using your Prius as a generator and its effects on battery longevity? I'd like to full time in something as simple as a Prius, as it gets great gas mileage and the purchase price is relatively low. But I am worried about wearing out the battery pack prematurely and having to replace it as it might be costly. Then the economics go out the window. Many thanks for your documentation here, it's the best source for Prius camping / living!

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    5. Hi Bryce, I'm so glad you've found my blog useful. My original high-voltage batteries show no signs of giving out. I've owned this Prius for exactly 12 years this month. I've put 210K miles on it and still trust it to be dependable. I'm currently camping out of it in the desert back country of SW Arizona. And, I expect to put another 4500 more miles on it by the first week of January. The economics of it has certainly worked out for me.

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    6. Yes, I saw you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLEb5AoFLik

      Enjoy, and thanks for the feedback. I guess you exchange less living space for climate control and better MPG. :)

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    7. Hello suanne!! Love the blog! I have a question about charging items such as cell phones , etc .. plus I also have a question about using the ac/heater all night. First, do u actually turn the car completely on (as u would in order to drive it) or do u use the other "on" options? I have used my prius to heat the car at night during 30 degree weather by turning it completely on but a warning signal came on saying my battery was dying? Hmmm... plus my avg mpg went into the 30's. I am confused about how to use the prius as I have read in order to stay comfortable during the night. And I use the dc outlets installed to try to charge my electronics but it doesn't charge fast enough unless the car is moving on the road for long periods of time. I think I'm not doing something right...

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    8. Hi! While your transmission is in "P" (park), you can use the AC, heater, and/or charge your electronics while your Prius is in "Ready" mode. If your dash doesn't say "READY," then it's in accessory mode and you will drain your battery. Your MPG will go down because you are using fuel and not moving; mid 30's is reasonable. You will notice less of a decrease on MPG when you just charge your electronics and leave your climate controls in off. AC is more efficient than a heater as long as you don't try to make your car really cold (I turn my AC to 76 to sleep in humid conditions). The heater uses to most fuel because it gets its heat from the running engine. I hope this information is useful to you.

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    9. Susanne I love what you're doing! I own a Prius and I often sleep in there when visiting friends or if it's too hot and humid to sleep comfortably in a tent. I've probably slept 50-75 nights total in the 8 years I've owned it. Zero noticeable effects on the battery or gas mileage. The first dozen times I used a portable carbon monoxide detector but never heard a single buzz from it so I don't bother anymore. I always run the AC on "recycle" mode with the windows fully up. I like it cold so I set it to 70-72 and close the 2 side vents so the middle vents blow more strongly to reach all the way to the back of the car. It's a rare treat when it's cold enough in Texas to sleep without the AC. Another thing I use is custom shaped reflective/insulated covers for every window (even the tiny triangles near the back!) I bought them from https://www.heatshieldstore.com/. A bit pricy but huge difference if you ever want to sleep in the hot sun, like it dark so you can sleep in, or want 100% privacy. I'm not sure they're as stealthy as black curtains though.

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    10. Also I'm 95% sure the plug-in Prius doesn't let you turn on the car while it's charging. So you couldn't run the AC "directly" off campsite power. Too bad...

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    11. Thanks for the info Marcel. Although my carbon monoxide alarm has never gone off, I still carry one. In fact, I just replaced my 10-year-old alarm with a new one last week. Thanks also for following my blog.

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  5. From 20 degrees to 90 plus, and induction cooking twice a day, I find using AC or heat takes about 10 gal of gas every two weeks with the Prius auto starting to recharge the battery as needed. If I dont drive. The plug in Prius only drives 11 miles on a charge so it would probably be more cost efficent to add solar panels for more extended boonedocking.

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    1. I don't hear much about induction cooking and wonder why..... that's all I use in my home. Clean, safe.....no fumes, accurate, no wasted energy.

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    2. I've opted to not use the 12v battery for cooking with any 110v electrical appliances. I'm using a butane canister 2x's per day and it lasts me a week at a cost of $3/canister/week (vs. $2/gal * 10 gal = $20/week for 110v cooking). Plus I haven't needed to purchase and connect an expensive inverter to the 12v battery in order to run the 110v appliances. In comparison, I paid $25 for my dual-fuel stove at REI. Induction cooking is cool, but not cheap unless you have lots of solar and a sufficiently large bank of batteries.

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  6. I love it, I road trip in my prius and love sleeping in the back. It's great to wake up make some coffee and be on the road, full of adventure. Thanks for sharing. peace -s PS where are you now?

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    1. Yes, the Prius is a great car for road trips. Many find it hard to believe that you can easily sleep in it. I'm currently in Pahrump, heading east tomorrow. Next stop: Death Valley for the super bloom and the new moon.

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  7. Very cool Suanne. It looks like you are enjoying life. That's what it is all about!

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    1. Thanks for checking out my blog Marty.

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  8. Hi Suanne,

    You say that the bug netting is tacked to the doorframe. How did you do that? In the picture it looks like tape.

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    1. Hi Joseph, In the photos it's velcro. I attached the velcro to the door frame with Gorilla Glue. Unfortunately, after about 4 years, the Gorilla Glue failed. Currently I've attached the netting with Gorilla Tape all of the way around. It's held up well for over a year now.

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  9. Hi Suanne, Thanks for sharing your experience and inventiveness. Your blog is so helpful! In 6 days I'll embark on my second cross-country jaunt in Prius 2006. My trips are to assuage my music / dance 'addiction': I drive East from CA to play in dance bands, to dance, and to visit east coast family. Question about Gorilla tape and netting: is the tape secured to velcro, which is then attached to the netting, or do you just directly tape the Gorilla tape to the netting?

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    1. I've directly tape to the netting and no longer use the Velcro. Thanks for checking out my blog, and happy trails to you!

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  10. Hi Suanne! Just wondering 1)how u hooked the bungee to the rear window. 2)how to run a/c thru the night, ie do u "turn the car on" any differently? 3)any other "good" public overnight parking on transition nights & what to know. (Thx so much for ur blog & sorry if ive missed prior answers)

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    1. Hi SoulStretch, 1) I tie a small loop around each strut and hang an "S" hooks on those loops to hold the bungee. 2) The Prius has a push power button that works similar to turning the key. Since it's a true Toyota hybrid, the engine only comes on when the high-voltage batteries need to be recharged. It's different than a non-hybrid car. 3) When I'm on my way someplace and need to stop to sleep I typically choose rest areas or Walmarts. When those aren't available, I've slept at truck stops, hotel parking lots, or 24-hour stores. I usually go to sleep right after I park, leaving at first light. I hope that was helpful.

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  11. Hi Suanne. I've read your post over at cheaprvliving and I've been browsing your blog here a bit. A couple of times you mention using an inverter to charge your laptop, but I can't seem to see anywhere your mentioning more specifics about it, how it works, do you need to be an electrician to install it, etc. I'd love more information on that if you don't mind. Thanks a bunch!

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    1. Hi Lumi, Currently, I use a 12v charger (plugged into the cigarette lighter) to power my laptop instead of using an inverter. By using a 12v charger I don't lose any power in the converstion from 12v to 110v back to 12v. I hope that makes sense. I still do carry an inverter to charge other things that don't have a 12v charger available (e.g., toothbrush). Here is a link to the type of inverter I use http://amzn.to/2baksYY. I hope that's helpful. Suanne

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  12. If you come to Pahrump in 2017 please send me a note, I would love to meet you. I'm in Vegas. Also please let me know of any other u tubers or bloggers who travel and live out of a Prius Thank
    You. I have a Honda fit.

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    1. I'm not sure when I'll be getting back to the Pahrump area. One Prius blogger who I enjoy following is Brent. He's prolific! His blog is at http://macaloney.blogspot.com/ ... enjoy!

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