What makes a fulltime camper happy?
Camping happiness is two full propane tanks, a full fresh-water tank, empty waste tanks, a full tank of gas, a well-stocked refrigerator, and an inverter reading 14 volts before noon.
I wake up this morning, hug Bridget and Spike, and send them out the door. “Ah yes, another beautiful day. . . Time to put the percolator on.”
“What? No propane? Oh, nooooo.”
Yesterday afternoon I moved us over to this new camp. It’s lovely here. We can still see the mountains, yet our camp is more secluded as it’s away from the wide part of the pond. There’s a tiny island of reeds and bushes where birds come and go.
I also feel it’s safe to let the crew off-leash, as long as I keep an eye on them.
Well, I’m glad I didn’t unhitch last night.
Off we go for propane. Our neighbor at our former campsite across the pond told me where to find it. ( I’ve learned to ask questions.) Soon we have our two tanks full with the lid to the propane tank cover securely in place! I also gas up the Perfect Tow Vehicle. As I tow the Casita back to our new campsite, I’m relieved to see no one has moved into it.
Propane and gas are my first two expenditures of the new year.
One of my new year’s resolutions is to keep better track of my expenses. From mid-August, when I picked up my new Casita, until now, I’ve only made sure the money going out was less than the money coming in. I’ve got to do better than that. I’m going to record the day’s expenditures at the bottom of each blog entry. Maybe that will make me more fiscally responsible!
Back to the wonderful 14 volts in the morning . . .
I feel a song coming on. . . “Oh what a beautiful morning, fourteen volts all the day . . . Oh what a beautiful feeling, sunshine is coming my way . . . “
Anyway. Certain readers of this blog are impatient with me for not fully explaining my solar escapades. Here’s a history and a summary for you solarites of which I am one.
My solar was all set to go when I was in New Mexico.
The 3000 watt inverter, which came mounted in the PTV when I bought it used, was integrated into the system, even though it’s way honkin’ huge for the job. Once everything was finished, a snowstorm blew in. Then I discharged my batteries when I turned the fridge off of propane during the night, not thinking about it automatically switching over to suck power out of my batteries.
I took the PTV to a NAPA place to get the batteries charged up. Immediately the weather turned rainy and cloudy FOR ABOUT A WEEK, thus making it impossible for the batteries to keep their charge, because rvsue couldn’t stop turning on the monster inverter every single day in order to charge her laptop so she could blog, blog, blog, and reply to comments …. Whew!
I’m leaving out some of the story.
No need to go on and on about all the comments, advice, and helping hands that got involved along the way. I find myself sitting in the beautiful desert fed up to my eyeballs while trying to get my solar to do its thing. So I pull up stakes and get us to Yuma, where I was planning to go anyway, and immediately motor on over to Starlight Solar. I camp in their parking lot.
Larry and his crew go over everything and suggest some changes.
First off, the Monster Inverter is just too darn big. It adds too much load on the batteries, especially on a series of cloudy days.
Larry suggests I only turn it on when I want to use something with a heavy draw, like a microwave, toaster, or hair dryer. Then I should turn it off and leave it off.
I can use this small inverter that connects to the “cigarette lighter” 12 volt outlets in the Casita (or PTV). I can plug my television or laptop cords into this small inverter. I also can run lights and charge up things like my camera and phone.
How does this inverter get its power from the batteries in the PTV?
A cord (or wire, whatever) runs from the battery box underneath the PTV to the bumper, ending in a nice little outlet with a cover.
Another cord (or wire, whatever) runs from somewhere around the refrigerator panel box, underneath the Casita, to extend out along the Casita tongue with a plug on the end.
I keep this plugged in all the time, except when I want to go somewhere in the PTV.
Okay. You still with me?
There was a problem with the relay in the PTV’s engine compartment. It worked for a short while and then died. Another type relay was put in to allow charging of batteries while the PTV’s engine runs. I was assured there is no way the engine battery will be drained.
The wire going from the solar panel to the batteries was okay.
However, it was not UV wire. In other words, it would deteriorate in the sun. That was replaced. The charge controller I have . .. a SunSaver MPPT . .. is considered topnotch. It needed to have the “jumper” removed on it to adjust it for use with AGM batteries.
So that pretty much sums it up.
If you have questions about the panel and equipment I have, click on the menu items under “Solar Power” in the header. I’ll be adding more information to it in the future.
Did it cost a lot of money?
Yes, it did. Having a three-person crew working on your solar costs over $100 per hour. The Starlight Solar people do great work in a professional manner. They work incredibly fast and are careful and thorough. Everything was explained as they went along, and I had the opportunity to say yes or no to any of the work. Larry kept me informed of the cost. He gave me a discount for paying by check, instead of by credit card. Well, actually, what he did is not charge me for the little inverter.
I stayed three nights in the Starlight Solar parking lot.
During the evening my batteries were hooked up for a trickle charge. They checked my Casita battery and it is fine. The Casita was plugged in to their shore power both nights.
Larry told me to expect my little inverter to read between 12 and 14 volts throughout the day. This should give me the power I want for my typical usage. Last night I watched television for about an hour and had plenty of juice to spare. I would have watched more but every channel I get here in Yuma is in Spanish!
It’s time to sit back and enjoy my solar for a change. I love it! Never has sunshine felt so good.
rvsue1/1/12 . . . $0 1/2/12 . . . $ 22.75 for 8.4 gallons of propane, $71.86 for 21.14 gallons of gas 1/3/12 . . . $0