Solar Cells and RVs

I did a little research into Solar Cells and RVing.  This is a non bias review of the issue.  I am not involved with sales, installation, boondocking, dry camping, Green Peace or any other environmental cause.  I am looking at it from a purely financial and beneficial stand point.

Let start with the size in amps that would be needed for an off the grid RV.  If you are frugal with your electric use, leaving the lights off, using propane for heating water and air, limiting your tv and computer time you can probably get by with about 20-30 AMP/H.  You have to remember that you have a lot of equipment in the RV that uses electricity even if you aren’t.  You smoke, CO2 and Propane detectors, the converter/inverter, the refrigerator (even on gas uses 12 VDC) and water heater all use DC all the time.  Then you have fans, lights, electronics that also use AC all of the time.  So just to keep the system running I figure you will need from 500 to 600 Watts. Then on top of that you have your entertainment and living wattage. So figure you will need from 800-1000 watts of consistent solar power to meet your needs as a minimum. Now solar panels are only about 6% effiecent.  That means that to create that kind of power you will need 15 sq yards of space on the roof or about 6-8 panels, depending on the part of the country and the weather.

Equipment needed is the next area.  You need the panels, charge controller, batteries, converter/inverter, monitoring unit, wiring, mounting hardware and the available weight on the RV.  So lets talk about weight first.  The solar panels are going to weight around 40-50 lbs each with hardware and wiring.  The batteries will weigh about 50 lbs each.  You will probably have 4-8 6 volt batteries.  The controler will weigh in at about 15 lbs. The monitor is 5 lbs. Total added weight to the RV for 8 panels would be about 900 lbs.

Cost for all of this is the real kicker.  There are all kinds of prices out there from 0 set up to 00 or more.  Basically you will get what you pay for.  A trickle charger setup will not work for boondocking. It is designed to kept the battery charged when not in use.  Basically the first panel will run from 0-00 plus installation. Each additional panel will be from 0-0.  So you can see that an 8 panel full time off the grid system will probably cost you from 00 to 50.

All of this assumes you are living in the desert with no bad weather, that you always have a clear shot of the southern sky and that the panels are mounted to be able to track the sun during most of the day. Which means you will also need a supplemental energy source as well, IE a generator.

I don’t know how long you plan on boondocking, but for the heck of it lets do some math.  First off the resale value of a used solar system is non-exsistent. So you won’t recover any of your investment that way.  The good news is it should last 20-25 years.  The added holes in your roof will probably mean more maintenance and sealant over the years and will affect the resale value of your rig.  So unless the buyer is also looking to boondock and wants to take the solar system as well, you will lose money on the RV when you trade it in.
Solar vs Generator?  There is no doubt that solar over the long haul will reduce your energy expenses, but by how much?  A generator run about a gallon of fuel an hour.  If you are using gas that means it cost about an hour to run and you will run it about 3-4 hours a day to keep the batteries charged, so a day.  So for the first 416 days or so of boondocking you it will be cheaper to use a generator than installing a 00 solar system in perfect sunlight.  Call it two years before you will see a benefit of using solar over generator as a full time boondocker.  If you hook up at a campground at all, then the time extends out even more.

Since we plan on only boondocking a week or so a year once we head West, it was pretty easy for me to see that this wasn’t worth it.  You need to decide if it is for you.

Source: Tips of the Day

Saying Good-bye to Sherwood Forest, for now

Well our two weeks at Sherwood Forest are over.  We have moved on to Crystal Isle in Crystal River, FL.  This was a short trip of 98 miles and again the weather was nice.  Rain on Tuesday, but clear on Wednesday for our travels.

Crystal Isle is a nice park.  Out in the middle of nowhere, but within 5 miles of civilization.  Free cable TV, 50 amp FHU site and fairly level.  Cable is actually Dish TV so kind of nice to have something different from Directv we have for satellite.

We survived the cold temps without any problems.  They did get down to the 20s last night, but by the time I got up it was above freezing.  We did not lose water at all.

Thursday night was a pot luck dinner which was pretty nice.  Tonight is another dinner and country dance.  Daisy hurt her ankle so we are staying home.  She has plans for this weekend and I want to make sure she enjoys herself.

Crystal Isle Site
Crystal Isle Site

Caulking

If you ever have owned a house, you know that every once in a while you need to caulk around the windows and doors, well the RV is even more important.  Imagine as your driving down the road the window and door frames rubbing and shaking as you hit the bumps and dips in the road.  Even while sitting still at the campground the stress that is put on them when leveling the rig.  This movement is normal, but over time it breaks the seal that was installed when the RV was build that prevents water leaking into the RV.  These water leaks may be very evident with wet wall or floors, but it may also be hidden behind the walls.

Caulking is a task that you want to schedule about every 4 years or so.  You will need a couple of days of clear, dry weather to allow the caulking to cure.  This is a simple process and will only take a few hours to do.  You will need a ladder, caulking and some clean rags.  Which caulk is the best?  I don’t know, but since it is exposed to the weather, I would get a good outdoor caulking.  I prefer one that dries clear.

Caulk around the whole frame of each window and door.  If you have a drivable RV you will not need to do the front window as they are sealed with a rubber grommet.  However, if you have an older rig that has some rust around the windows, it won’t hurt to seal that area as well.

I think caulking is an art.  The more you do the better your seals will look, so practice makes perfect.  Best of luck and hopefully we will met on the road.

Source: Tips of the Day

We took a little trip to Antarctica

Daisy and I took a little trip to Antarctica this week.  Saw some great wildlife and did a little bit of diving while we were there.  Here are some of the pictures:

The next generation of sharks.
The next generation of sharks.
Underwater these little guys can fly!
Underwater these little guys can fly!
Four different type of Penguins.
Four different type of Penguins.
More Seals
More Seals
We saw a lot of seals sun bathing.  It is Winter time in Antarctica.
We saw a lot of seals sun bathing. It is Winter time in Antarctica.

Even Shrimp

Water is so clean and clear!  So much to see.
Water is so clean and clear! So much to see.

Sea World

We finally made it to Sea World.

Bath Time Shamu Style
Bath Time Shamu Style
Shamu is a show off :)
Shamu is a show off 🙂
Look at me!
Look at me!
Fine Feather Friends, lots of bird life at Sea World
Fine Feather Friends, lots of bird life at Sea World
This was part of the dolphin show.  Daisy liked it better than Shamu.
This was part of the dolphin show. Daisy liked it better than Shamu.
The dolphins seemed to enjoy themselves.
The dolphins seemed to enjoy themselves.
Here is the first wave runner!
Here is the first wave runner!
Like I said there are a lot of birds at Sea World.
Like I said there are a lot of birds at Sea World.
Divers during one of the shows
Divers during one of the shows
Even more birds.  These Flamingos are very close to you.
Even more birds. These Flamingos are very close to you.

Trip to the Happiest Place on Earth

Daisy and I went to Epcot with Jo Ann and Jim Rohn.  This is truly one of the happiest places on Earth.  All day long even the older folks had smiles on their faces.  It was neat to watch the kids, they were so tired but still had smiles when ever someone was watching.

Word of warning, it will take you a couple of days to get through each park.  Disney has at least 4 different parks.  We saw about 2/3 rd of Epcot in one FULL day.  My only wish is that I would have come here earlier in life.  Hopefully, I will be able to bring my Grand Kids to this wonderful world.

Pluto?
Pluto?
Manatee
Manatee
Daisy and Ray
Daisy and Ray
Another Character, never was good at the fairy tales.
Another Character, never was good at the fairy tales.
Another Character, never was good at the fairy tales.
Another Character, never was good at the fairy tales.
Street Show
Street Show
Pagota
Pagota
Japanese Drummers
Japanese Drummers
Daisy, Jo Ann and Jim
Daisy, Jo Ann and Jim
Disney had characters out everywhere
Disney had characters out everywhere

Videos coming… sooner or later :)

I am currently learning how to make videos for posting to YouTube and this website.  I am going to create a whole series of videos covering the same subjects that are posted on RV Inspection Service’s website (http://rv-inspection-service.com).  Most videos will be short subjects covering all aspects of inspection an RV prior to purchasing.  I hope to have the videos starting this Spring and finished this Summer.

To cover the added cost of producing and hosting the videos I will need to charge, sorry.  I am looking at what I hope is a very reasonable price of .50.  That is a flat one time fee.

I am also working on an RV Inspection Book that you can use to inspect the RV with before you purchase.  Hopefully it will be done this Summer.

 

Source: Tips of the Day

Sherwood Forest and Peaceriveritis

Well we finally left Peace River.  We are now at Sherwood Forest in Kissimee FL (outside of Orlando).  This is an Outdoor World Park and pretty nice.  The site is 50 Amp FHU with a nice open sky to get satellite.  Although cable is free so I end up watch both.

Jo Ann and Jim Rohn are here and they are the Camp Hosts.  We met them at Sea Pines over the summer.  We are also close to Sandy and Ron Edmonson, who are friends from our military days.

Sandy and Ron were over for dinner on Saturday and we ended up playing Rail Baron from Avalon Hill until midnight.  Hopefully we will get together with them again soon.

On Sunday we took a drive to Cape Canaval to watch a rocket launch, but it was canceled at the last minute.  We will have to go back to the cape again to explore.  We have already decided that the Winter of 2015 we will be spending back in FL.  Way too much to see and do for one Winter.

So I know you are wondering what is Peaceriveritis!  When we were camping at Peach River, we would have our coffee and tea down by Peace River which ran behind our campsite.  It was so peaceful in the morning watching the water roll by that I looked forward to it just about every day.  Well when we moved up here to Sherwood Forest, the river is gone.  I woke up the first day here, got my coffee and was head out the door before I realized that there was no river to watch.  I was actually sad and even a little upset that I couldn’t watch the water.  Hence I had Peaceriveritis!  I think I am over it now.  But it took a couple of days.

When we were at Orlando Thousand Trails we had gotten a %50 gift certificate to Boston Lobster Feast.  We went there Friday night for dinner.  It is buffet style with whole lobsters, crabs, clams, Salmon, Sushi and a bunch of other stuff.  It was soooo good.  Daisy had 2 lobsters, I liked the crab better so I ate my fill.  We were so stuffed afterwards.  Hopefully we can go back another time.  It is  a little expensive ($45 each), but was very good.

Tomorrow we go to Disney with Jo Ann and Jim.  Going to be a long day.  Daisy wants to ensure that the little boy in me has my fill.  Later this week we will do Sea World.  Thursday afternoon we stopped at Disney Downtown.  That was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Today is a down day.  Laundry, minor fixes on the campsite and rain.  Will let you all know about our trip to Disney later this week.  Stay warm up North and I hope you get a lot of snow!

Stabilizer Maintenance

Stabilizer Maintenance
Maintenance of the stabilizers is basically the same for electric or hydraulic.   Keep the springs clean and properly attached.  If they appear to be loose or stretched out, it is time for replacing them.  Some stabilizers have internal springs.  If the stabilizer fails to retract fully then maintenance is required.

The pads should be clean and flat when extended.  You do not want the pads to be sloping or unstable this could cause damage to the stabilizer.  Clean the stabilizer rods with hydraulic oil.  Periodic retracting the stabilizers when in long term use will help keep the rods clean and lubricated.

When using your stabilizers, it is a good idea to use pads, wood or other blocking under the pads.  This will help keep the pad clean, prevent sinking into the ground and spread the weight of the rig over a larger area, providing a more stable set up.

Check the fluid levels of the hydraulic system at least once a month.  Fill with the proper fluid as required.

Read you manual for proper maintenance intervals and operation.  If you don’t have the manual, check online for the manufacturers recommendations.  Always follow the safety instructions when operating your stabilizers.

Source: Tips of the Day