Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

Living in a RV in a campground with "full hookups (water, sewer,and electricity)" is the same as living in a regular home, albeit smaller.

RVs have the ability to dry camp (parked without any hookups), meaning they have running water, propane for heating, hot water, cooking, and 12 volt lighting. On board water tanks supply water and holding tanks hold the waste water. The frig can also run on propane. Everything you need except for 120 volts. Lots of 12 volts appliances are available so the only thing you really have to have 120 volts for is air conditioning. Your rv can be miles from an electric line and you can live a very normal life.

Our rv holds 40 gallons of fresh water, three 40 gallon holding tanks. One each for shower, kitchen, and toilet. That translates into about a week before our tanks need attention. The 12volt battery will also need charging after about 2 days.

An inverter with take power from your 12 volts and turn it into 120 volts. Still can't run you a/c but you can run things like your tv, microwave, hair dryer, and other small appliances. This is limited by the size (wattage) of your inverter and the size (amp hours) of your batteries.
To further complicate this, there are two types of inverters. Most are modified sine wave (almost like the electricity at home) and will run most things. A pure sine wave (just like your home electricity but more expensive) for your high-end electronics. A simple solution is to buy a larger wattage modified sine wave inverter to run most applications and a smaller pure sine wave inverter to run high-end electronics. Most tv's will run on a modified sine wave inverter but I don't want to risk a $1000 tv on a cheaper inverter.

One other solution is just buy a generator to run everything. A small one will run microwave, tv, and ect. A larger one will also run one a/c and still larger one will run both air conditioners.

The options for dry camping with all the amenities are:

Runs everything
No need to upgrade batteries or buy an inverter
Fuel costs and maintenance
Their use not also permitted (or restricted hours of usage)

Will extend your 12volt usage
Have enough power to add on inverter for limited 120volt usage

Weight (battery weight adds up fast)
Space requirements (may or may not fit you present battery compartment)
Need a way to recharge

Will supply most 120volt needs

Deletes batteries (they have to be recharged)

SOLAR PANELS(solar panels are really just battery chargers that use to sun to obtain their energy)

Recharges batteries to supply battery and inverter needs
Free energy after purchase

Cost (isn't that always a con?)

Now I would like "all the above" but for me the generator seems the logical first step as the one purchase will do everything (at the expense of the cons). Also it is the option that will have the best resale value if I choose to sell it.

I wanted a generator that would run at least one of my air conditioners ( the only real reason for a generator). Something in the 3000watt range would do the job fine. Purchasing used would be a wise choice in case I wanted to resale.

I always check Craigslist for my used purchases.

I found a gently used Yamaha 3000iseB generator at an excellent price. It is among the quietest on the market and very fuel efficient and a reasonable power to weight ratio. Weighting in at about 150lbs.

It came with the optional cover and a new battery.

I will place it on the rear bumper of the travel trailer and thus one of the pieces of the puzzle will be in place.


Cyndi said...

I keep seeing other people's posts about their solar panels - yes, they sure would be nice to have, but they're just too expensive for us. We were able to get a small (2000) generator, which helps a lot when we're at forest service campgrounds with no hookups. When we "hit the road" in a year or two, we're going to also take our large (3500) generator that we've used as a backup power source here at home. It'll fit in the back of our truck. We're just trying to figure out how to do all this and still DO it - meaning we'll most likely take our 28-foot trailer into full-timing until we can afford something else. We're at the point now where the actual "doing" it is more important than what we do it in. Since you live in a TT too, you know what I mean. You do what you can and be happy about it.

squire said...

Cyndi, I totally agree about the price of solar panels and they are in the future (if ever). First I need to see just how much boondocting we will be doing. A little gas in the generator between campgrounds will take a long time to pay for solar.


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