Ken and his young daughter, Kara are the duo behind the van adventures inspiring Ken's educating YouTube, blog, and 80/20 van community resource -- OurKaravan.
"As a full-time environmental scientist and a dad raising a daughter alone, I am not the poster child for someone that should have self-built a van.
I lacked any sort of previous experience building anything outside of assembling furniture from a well-known Swedish furniture store, that also happens to sell meatballs. When my wife was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer months after my daughter’s birth with an eventual passing coming not long after, my life needed a redirection. Bringing home a bare empty cargo van allowed me to refocus on a project that, to this day, continues to provide my daughter and me exceptional quality time together."
Now at 9 years old, Kara "has seen fifteen national parks in ten different states plus multiple trips to Canada, all thanks to the van. We call our van the 'karavan' and is where our 'OurKaravan' name derived."
Ken is well-known for his detailed blog articles, YouTube videos, and pre-cut, ready to install 80/20 cabinets and galley designs. Recently, after spending 2.5 months testing the EcoFlow Power Kit, he knew EcoFlow's new DIYer's dream electrical system was the perfect component to build his own 80/20 storage cabinet around-- completing the all-in-one package for anyone looking to build a safe and highly efficient van. (Click here to read OurKaravan's EcoFlow product review.)
Together, we're excited to release the OurKaravan 80/20 Cabinet and EcoFlow Power Kit Bundle.
OurKaravan 80/20 Cabinets Started with His Own Van Build
On December 26th, 2016, Ken brought home his first new vehicle -- with just 46 miles on the odometer -- and wasted no time cutting his first hole into the shiny van wall for a new vented window.
"I could see neighbors discretely stopping their cars to take photos of this debauchery, and that was my signal that I should be filming this experience and placing it on YouTube. Video after video I received support and encouragement from viewers near and far that apparently enjoyed watching this crazy person hack and cut on their van. My favorite comments were from those who said my videos inspired their family to buy a van and go down the DIY route as well.
The entire goal of my YouTube and OurKaravan.com is to share my van build knowledge and experience and help make DIY van builds more accessible to everyone.
Specifically, my hope is to reduce my viewer’s research time by offering balanced views, explanations on products and provide tutorials for constructing a van build that is beautiful, safe and may very well out-live the van itself."
Ken's design innovations and 80/20 construction style set OurKaravan apart from so many other van build tutorials, and the mounting questions inspired him to start "producing CAD models of cabinet designs so others could replicate" his work. He soon realized he could do even more:
"I discovered that, even with well-drafted plans and instructions, some subset of the DIY population lacked either the skills or the space to build their own cabinets.
I started working with an 80/20 supplier to pre-cut all of the aluminum and mill it in a way that it could shipped to customers and assembled in a similar fashion to that aforementioned Swedish furniture/meatball company."
Why Choose 80/20 Aluminum Construction:
- Extremely lightweight and durable material
- Structurally sound in case of road accidents.
- Strong material bolts through the structure
- Quality cabinet designs are necessary for housing heavy appliances, batteries, and storage.
Early 80/20 Cabinet Designs
Ken says he initially used 80/20 to build out his van cabinets because he simply felt he did not have the "knowledge or experience to build a wooden cabinet."
"80/20 just bolts together and you skin it in wood...done."
Today, there are many more serious reasons he continues to build van cabinetry with 80/20.
"80/20 was the only path where I could achieve a lightweight and durable cabinet that I felt had a chance of holding together in the event of a vehicle accident. 80/20 cabinets have no cabinet-back, no floor or interior dividers, and the sides are lightweight 1/4-inch plywood, drawer fronts and cabinet doors can be constructed of any material you choose.
In the case of my galley cabinet, the cabinet frame is restraining a loaded refrigerator, four drawers loaded with pots and pans and all of our camping gear, plus an entire running water system consisting of a sink, faucet, water pump and 10 gallons of water. I want none of this hitting myself or my daughter in the event of an accident."
Designing the 80/20 EcoFlow Cabinet
After receiving an EcoFlow Power Kit to test earlier this year, Ken put it to the ultimate test: charging a Tesla car on a daily basis.
"This system pushes the inverter as if you were cooking on a high-capacity induction cooktop for hours on end. I was sold on the performance and capabilities, expandability and the truly plug-and-play design of the EcoFlow system. What EcoFlow was missing was a DIY cabinet that could safely secure the EcoFlow system and could be assembled in a short time with only hex/Allen wrenches. I spent a lot of late nights finding ways to adapt the EcoFlow components to the 80/20 structure without requiring use of specialty brackets or hardware."
The OurKaravan 80/20 Cabinet kit is designed to be reversible, allowing install on either side of a Mercedes Sprinter 2500 van. The 80/20 cabinet "accommodates the various battery orientations and allows for future expansion should battery capacity be added later."
"I enjoyed bringing this product from an initial design idea to completion.
Combining a plug-and-play power system with an easy-to-assemble aluminum cabinet will provide DIYers and professional van builders alike a well-engineered and complete power cabinet in a matter of hours."
Why We Love the OurKaravan 80/20 Cabinet:
- Made with durable + lightweight 80/20 T-slot extruded aluminum
- Milled and finished for fasteners
- Pre-cut, ready to install
- Designed for EcoFlow's Power Kit and Brackets
- Can be reversed to fit either the driver or passenger side on any Mercedes Sprinter 2500 144", 170", and 170" ext. WB van wheel wells
- Bolt-in install
- Room to grow: fits up to two 5 kWh EcoFlow LFP batteries, or up to three 2 kWh EcoFlow LFP batteries
- 1.5 to 2 hours average install time
- Length: 54″
- Height: 32″
- Depth: 16-3/4″
- Weight with fasteners: 76 lbs
80/20 Cabinet and EcoFlow Bundle Includes:
- Pre-cut and milled 80/20 aluminum framing
- All fasteners necessary to assemble
- Six angle brackets, bolts, and t-nuts to aid in mounting in van
- All required hardware to mount EcoFlow batteries and Power Hub
- EcoFlow Independence Power Kit: Up to Qty: (2) x 5kWh Batteries, Power Hub, Smart AC/DC Distribution Panel, and EcoFlow Console
80/20 Cabinet Installation
Choosing 80/20-branded T-slot extruded aluminum profiles for your cabinet framing creates "a strong and flexible foundation for the electrical cabinet in your van", and it's simple and fast to piece together with all hardware included.
"All aluminum profiles have been cut to size, milled for fasteners, and all hardware needed to assemble the cabinet are boxed and shipped to your door. A simple schematic is included to aid in assembly of the kit, along with a link to a YouTube video that illustrates how to assemble the kit in a step-by-step fashion. The cabinet frame and electrical components can easily be assembled in approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours using a hex/allen wrench set. EcoFlow components bolt to the cabinet frame using a combination of EcoFlow brackets and the included 80/20 hardware."
Watch the full OurKaravan 80/20 EcoFlow Cabinet Walkthrough:
Check out Ken's full article for more details at OurKaravan.com.
Watch our Campervan HQ EcoFlow Install Video:
For more details on setting up your EcoFlow Independence 5 kWh Power Kit.