#vanlife .


I had been planning on building a cabinet for our van. One day we were shopping at The Christmas Tree Shops and I noticed a mobile kitchen island for sale that was strangely just about the right size if I left the wheels and towel rack off.

I did need to trim the sides of this unit and that dulled my saw blade faster than anything. The sides are made from some very hard composite.

Sliders seem to stay in place while we are moving without anything additional. The draws will open and we have added a strap to keep them closed.

Keeping it cold

For years camping we had used a cooler with ice. Yes it works but there was always a struggle to find something that had drifted to the bottom and become waterlogged. That biased us against the very efficient refrigerators that are in the shape of coolers.

I had no desire to have a 20 lb propane tank or to cut holes in the van for the inlet and outlet so those typical RV refrigerators were eliminated

A quick look at 110v options I knew I would struggle to power them from a battery. They were 1 to 2 amps and I expected start up would be an issue when we are running on battery.

There a number of 12V refrigerators that have low amp draw and low amp hour usage. I chose the Truckfridge TF65 that can run on 12V or 120V. It cost $650 including shipping. It has a Danfoss compressors and is essentially a rebranded Indel B unit.


Making It Hot

We saw many great installation of stoves and ovens but we still did not want to carry a 20 lb propane tank or permanently loose counter space to a stove.  So our primary cooking will be done like it has been any time we camp - a two burner Coleman propane stove.

Of course we usually do not have a microwave when we camp.  But they are very handy so we decided to add one in.  The microwave would only be used when the van was running or when we had shore power. I expected a 700W unit would pull nearly 100A at 12 V.  We picked a Walmart Mainstay unit and mounted above the refrigerator.

Putting It All Together

I mounted the refrigerator in a box next to the cabinet. The refrigerator cabinet is made with 3/4" plywood, screws and glue.  There are holes in the back and side so that the refrigerator condenser fan can draw air from behind the cabinet and discharge toward the front of the van.

To fit both the refrigerator and the microwave the cabinet for them needed to be a couple of inches taller than the storage cabinet.  This brought the height to the same the base of the window so I made a shelf at that height as well.

Shelf and counter is made from 3/4" plywood with banding on the edge. Top is covered with tiles with adhesive backs from Lowes.

The two cabinets are screwed and glued together.  The storage cabinet is screwed to the bed supports which are attached with bolts to the van sides. The refrigerator cabinet is also bolted to the van side.

Now to power up.