In the summer, I get questions about how I deal with the heat.
Being the more agreeable seasons, spring and fall are generally less concerning to people.
I've talked about dealing with the cold already. Just throw on a few of your favorite layers and cozy up with a comfy blanket. But winter is so last season. With Bay Area temperatures occasionally reaching triple digits, it's as good a time as any to talk about dealing with summer.
Normally, when trucks and temperature come up in casual conversation, I'll say something about how the Bay Area is one of the most temperate places around, and that's enough of an explanation for most people. But if we're being honest with ourselves here, it certainly has the potential to get a bit…uncomfortable in summertime Boxland.
And it's true, the truck is an absolute oven in the summer. If it's parked in direct sunlight, the temperatures in the box can reach nearly 150° F.
That sounds, uh…toasty?
Most definitely, especially if you're one of those people who doesn't like being baked alive in their home. I happen to be one of those people, so this would absolutely be a problem if I spent any time in the truck. Thankfully, I don't. As I've undoubtedly belabored, I'm only in the truck from around 9 PM until 6 AM. Even on weekends, I'm not generally one for sleeping in past 9 AM or so. I'm out of the oven before it heats up, and back in the oven after it's cooled down. And that's worked well for me for the past two years, enough time to try each season twice over.
Beating the Heat
So I survive the truck heat by…well, just leaving, but obviously my possessions can't do the same. They just have to sit in there and take the heat, for better or, more likely, worse. I figured it wouldn't hurt to do some due diligence and think about the kind of problems I could run into with a hella hot home. So that's what I'm going to do, think about the stuff I have and how the heat could cause any problems.
Aside from the truck, my bed is the largest thing I own. It's also one of the cheapest. It's your run-of-the-mill, twin-sized, coil spring mattress that I picked up for $99 (box spring included) out of a shady back road storefront somewhere in East Bay. The heat doesn't really affect it as far as I can tell, but it is starting to sag in the middle, so I'll be replacing it soon. And that's what makes this kind of interesting. A coil spring mattress might be fine, but if I want to replace it with a real bed made for people who value their sleep, I might be considering a nice memory foam mattress.
Does excessive heat ruin memory foam mattresses? The hell if I know. It's also extremely hard to search The Internet™ for answers, because when you type "memory foam heat", all of the results are about how memory foam beds feel warmer than other types of beds. Also, normal, high-functioning members of society generally don't worry about their home being 150° F and destroying their belongings, so there's not exactly demand for this type of information.
The closest thing I could find when searching around is people asking if it's safe to use a heating pad on a memory foam mattress, and the results were mixed. Some sources were saying it can degrade the mattress, others were saying the heat will just temporary reduce the elasticity of the foam, which is how memory foam mattresses work in the first place. In any case, any self-respecting mattress brand will have a 5-10 year warranty. If there was a problem, it'd likely be covered; I can't really imagine they'd realize I've been slow cooking their mattress in a truck-shaped oven for months at a time.
It's made of wood, it'll be fine.
Though there is something to be said for the contents of the dresser. Clothes will also survive in the heat, but my entire bottom drawer is filled with all manner of tools, hardware, and sometimes, even a random assortment of chemicals. Here's what the bottom drawer looked like, circa 2015:
Rope, latex gloves, disinfectant wipes — definitely not a serial killer.
This was when I was preparing to fix "The Hole", so I had fiberglass resin and a few other heavy-duty chemicals rolling around in there. And a few months after all the hole-fixing shenanigans were done with, summer came around and a distinctly chemical-y smell permeated the truck on the warmer days. Rather than get secondhand contact high on a cocktail of vaporized paint thinners and resins, I tossed all that stuff out, and that solved that problem. I've been more leery about storing any chemicals in the truck now, especially anything pressurized. When in doubt, check the warning labels. If still in doubt, throw it out.
Aside from my bed and dresser, the only thing of consequence I own is my laptop. It's normally with me, meaning it's normally not in the truck, but on rare occasions I'll leave it in there for a day or two. While it hasn't been a problem so far, I was still curious. So I looked up the spec sheet for my laptop, a Dell XPS 15 9550, and it does indeed list a storage temperature of 149° F, which is just shy of my roughly guesstimated 150° F truck temp. Given that I haven't had any problems yet, I'm inclined to believe it's fine. Plus, processors in modern computers have a higher power density than a nuclear reactor, which I put in bold because it still blows my mind even after every single engineering professor I had in college would mention it on the first day of class.
I swear, some variation of this graph was in the introductory slides of every electrical and computer engineering class I took. From Semiconductor Engineering
If my CPU can push more power per square centimeter than a nuclear reactor and handle it effortlessly, I'm inclined to believe leaving it in the truck for a few days is just fine.
Rule #2 of Truck Club: No Food.
And that's really it. The only things unaccounted for are small things like shoes and backpacks. I guess the only other place I've noticed the heat is on the insulation I put in last year, because the tape I used in between EPS foam panels will occasionally peel back around the edges. Not a big deal, but not something I thought about at the time.
Like I said, by the time I get back to the truck, it's normally 9 PM or so. Even on the hottest days, it's still perfectly manageable by then, and the sunroof is great for letting any extra heat escape quickly. Maybe it's just because I grew up in a place with actual seasons, but the truck life is perfectly palatable year-round here in the Bay. I can confidently say that if I ever do call it quits, it won't be the weather that does me in.