Welcome to Manins' truck camper project

The Cooktop

IMG_0014.JPG

Jannette cooking up a delicious meal on the cooktop.

A De'Longhi Domino DE302 IB-1 induction two-area cooktop, purchased on special from The Good Guys, is used for all major cooking in TT30. We supplement this with a second, smaller, portable induction cooktop for use outdoors and have as backup a butane canister stove. Strangely, the User Instructions for the DE302 IB-1 are not available from De'Longhi but I did locate a manual on the Web. The "-1" version has a more compact control area than that listed by De'Longhi Australia.

The De'Longhi DE302 IB has a 200 mm dia. rear zone and a 160 mm dia. front zone. Each has nine power levels + a boost mode: up to 1400 W for the front and 3000 W for the back. We restrict our usage to a total of ~2500 W (~200 A DC) to stay within the rating of the inverter.

We eventually rejected gas cookers because of the fitment, storage and ventilation requirements, and the difficulties we have experienced in the past in refilling the bottles. Fuel stoves were rejected because of their danger and fumes. The Webasto diesel cooktop was rejected because it is slow to start and it is difficult to cook a complex meal using its graded heated area. This left electric, and induction electric was the obvious choice.

Our previous experience with Lithium batteries showed that an induction cooktop would work if we replaced the AGM batteries, found a reliable inverter, and wired the camper for 230 V. These we have done, and are very happy with the result.

It took a lot of effort to decide on the De'Longhi. We deemed a two-area stove as essential, as is the ability to start at low power levels to be kind to the inverter and to food preparation. It had to fit in the space available, so one area has to be in front of the other and is restricted to a total depth of no more than 510 mm.

We experimented with induction cooktops, first purchasing a $50 one off eBay. This proved to be a waste of money: it would only start on full power (2000 W), pulsed the power badly to achieve the few lower settings, would not work at low enough average power levels, and was hard to operate. A second cooktop, an Ecoheat Power Lite costing twice as much (but presently for sale for a ridiculously high price), is much better. It starts up at 500 W, and is rated at 500 W, 1000 W, 1500 W and 2000 W. It also pulses strongly but at least there is the chance to operate it off a smaller inverter. Its major problem is that it is big; there is no chance of having two areas for cooking on the TT30 benchtop using this cooker.

Of the several correctly oriented two-area cooktops we considered, the De'Longhi is both small enough to fit the space available and of sufficient quality to justify the effort and expense in making the necessary changes.

Installation of Cooktop

Talk about 'measure twice and cut once'! Cutting the massive hole in the benchtop for the De'Longhi (270 mm x 490 mm) is not for the faint hearted, but was not difficult: masking tape, a hole saw, jigsaw and multi-function tool made quick work of it. There is enough bench material at the front to keep adequate strength there.

A start in cutting out the space for the De'Longhi Cooktop.

The cutout for the Cooktop is finished.

The De'Longhi Induction Cooktop in position, ready for use.

Like the inverter, the cooktop requires good ventilation. Air is able to rise up from behind the fridge, into the space behind the drawers, through two grates in the floor of the top compartment, and out the front through a gap in the top drop-down door below the cooktop. Given the relatively short times the cooktop is actually used, the provided ventilation is more than adequate.

A hole for ventilation is visible near the bottom on the right of the drawer space. The rear of the shelf has two large holes for ventilation into the cooktop space.

View of the cooktop space. The isolation switch is on the left, as is the 15 A surface mount socket for the De'Longhi Induction Cooktop. Ventilation grills on the shelf at the back.

Just below the front lip of the Cooktop, the top of the drop-down door is cut away to provide ventilation so warmed air can be expelled. Above the cooktop, a ventilation fan can expell fumes out of the camper through a skirt window.


Extraction Fan

Cooking produces lots of fumes and vapours that need to be expelled from the camper. Our solution is to mount a Caframo Sirocco Model 807 Fan, the same as that over the bed, to direct air out the pop-top window above the cooktop. The fan can be turned to blow inwards at other times. The new fan is mounted so the pop-top skirt can bunch inwards without damaging the fan. It is wired into the reading light cable above the seat next to the cooktop.

Caframo Sirocco 807 fan mounted on the ceiling. Pop-top up, skirt window open.

With the speaker removed, the wiring in the roof is exposed. The fan wires are snap-locked into the circuit for the reading light.

The Caframo fan was purchased from a good supplier on eBay, located near TravelTrucks. The fan has three speeds, is gimbal mounted, and has a low current draw of under 0.5 A.


LINKS