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Old 08-17-2018, 01:06 PM   #1
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Ideas on how to budget:

RV'ing on a budget; one of the best ways to do this is use less power or add an off grid solar panel system.

In this, I will explain how to save on energy usage/consumption.

It will cost a bit in the beginning but will save in the long run. You don't have to do it all at once you can do it piece by piece.

First thing is switch every light bulb to LED's! They use 1/100th the power the normal RV bulbs do.

See link:
https://rvshare.com/blog/7-things-need-know-rv-led-lights/

Solar doesn't have to be big at first:

I've used this system to power my laptop and several lights:
60watt solar panel: $85
https://www.walmart.com/ip/ACOPOWER-60-Watt-60W-Polycrystalline-Photovoltaic-PV-Solar-Panel-Module-with-MC4-for-12-Volt-Battery-Charging/891659890?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=8690&a did=22222222227073280099&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=& wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=184842533919&wl4=pla-287683875326&wl5=9031305&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl 10=115792295&wl11=online&wl12=891659890&wl13=&veh= sem

5amps charge controller: $22
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Instapark-12-Volt-5-Amp-Solar-Charge-Controller-SCC1205-SET/303695766

250watt inverter modified sine wave: $60
https://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors-Outdoor-Power-Equipment-Generators-Power-Inverters/Less-than-1000/N-5yc1vZbxduZ2bctk3?NCNI-5

Search items like these; I am sure you can get them even cheaper.
Here is a kit: $81 for both panel and charger
https://www.google.com/shopping/product/8595854247734824314?q=solar+panel+60watts&biw=1600 &bih=1091&prds=paur:ClkAsKraX3YcThSQ9LYfDlATKQ2idQ RK2uBAlHCJJK0WKWah6lkAywoQwKvGNNzpjIZFneXOMeIBYYho UoPmbIF1an-QXZkmwiAXW846XmAdcxUPd_mbk1bBBRIZAFPVH70fFs4JnHZ91 FY0DOWz0AYNcSmF0w&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwie5OvCyfTcAhUBIK wKHRm5AhAQ8wIIgAM

Attach this to your house batteries and this will power majority of your lights in your rig!


Edit: Of course, the only time it will work is when the sun is out. You will definitely need to increase the number of house batteries to utilize the energy saved in those batteries when it counts. It is likely you won't use the lights during the day. Though, having the solar and charge controller still connected to your house batteries; you will still save something on your monthly electric bill. The larger your system the more your savings will be.

You can upgrade the charger to a 30 amp and purchase more panels so you can power more items: fridge, TV, and a few other items. As time progresses you keep buying solar panels you will eventually have enough to power your whole rig!

If you purchased one 4000watt pure sine wave inverter/charger for about $1k
https://www.aimscorp.net/4000-Watt-12-Volt-Pure-Sine-Inverter-Charger.html

This will power your whole rig if you are 125vac/30amp service.

or 240vac/50amp service: $1400
https://www.aimscorp.net/6000-Watt-Pure-Sine-Inverter-Charger-24-Volt.html
which will power most of your rig! Get two of these and you will power your whole rig with no issues!


Edit: inverter/chargers: some require 120/240vac input to utilize chargers: search for inverters only if you don't want to use the chargers. Buy separate charger controllers to charge battery banks using solar power. Also, you would plug your shore power line into the inverters over 3500 watts.


I have purchased aims inverter/chargers several times and still use them. I have more experience with them; I am just using them as examples.

For those who don't know the difference between modified and pure sine:
Most electronics require pure since wave: computers, TV's, etc. etc.
Its a cleaner power.

Modified can run laptops, motors, fridges, AC's, appliances, etc.
The power is slightly distorted or other terms squared wave.
See link:
https://www.altestore.com/blog/2015/10/pure-sine-wave-vs-modified-sine-wave-whats-the-difference/

The thing about charge controllers; you can have multiple chargers connected to one battery set/bank. No need to worry about your RV being powered by shore power; the chargers will turn on/off when there is a demand or the batteries are full. So, tapping into your house batteries using a 60watt panel and charger controller; you can still be connected to shore power for those high energy devices.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:43 PM   #2
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Additional ideas:

of course RV's are very efficient as they are. Plus, they train you to deal with limited luxuries.

Key thing to remember is to turn everything off when not in use.

Another thing is your cell phone chargers still use power when plugged in, unplug them when not in use.

Flip the circuit breakers off leaving only the essentials to run: fridge, etc etc.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:55 PM   #3
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Thank you Einstein. ( I had to say that.) I haven't changed a single light bulb. I did add some LED's with a remote. The g'kids like playing with them. I just don't think that for most people solar is a money saving feature. Electricity is cheap. We are always ( or for the foreseeable future ) going to need our AC units . Solar is a nice option and I have enough for being a weekend warrior.
I'm glad that solar is working for you but for most it is just going to supplement other power sources.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:16 PM   #4
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I thought about building a solar array car port over a car hauler which would give more solar panel real estate. Doing this will increase the wattage your solar array can dish out.

Even if you just tow a vehicle you can utilize the roof and hood of the vehicle.

I also thought about building a solar array awning that attaches to the side of the RV; you fold them down when under way (lay flat against the side of the RV) and fold them out when camping; creating shade and power at the same time. Install the array on a pivot system similar to the fabric awnings. When driving it locks in place using a pad lock. when parked fold it out just like the fabric awning. For those tight campsites; the awnings are detachable.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
Thank you Einstein. ( I had to say that.) I haven't changed a single light bulb. I did add some LED's with a remote. The g'kids like playing with them. I just don't think that for most people solar is a money saving feature. Electricity is cheap. We are always ( or for the foreseeable future ) going to need our AC units . Solar is a nice option and I have enough for being a weekend warrior.
I'm glad that solar is working for you but for most it is just going to supplement other power sources.
I am sorry to push solar, it was not my intention when creating this thread.

Why I started it was to give ideas on how to save. I got stuck on solar and its been hard to remember everything I was going to add.

One instance:
Getting a buck/boost autotransformer for the RV. It will assist in saving money too. How it saves: it keeps the voltage constant and provides enough power to your AC's so that they do not run on low voltage increasing the amps and causing heat. Heat is what destroys all electrical and electronic equipment. Reducing the heat by reducing the amps by increasing the voltage allows the equipment to run a little bit cooler.

This will extend life and save on energy too.


Edit:
The solar is mostly for those that dry camp most of the time using gas at $2 or more per gallon. Solar would benefit them. The LED's will benefit everyone. The autotransformer will benefit everyone and the local electric company.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:32 PM   #6
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Everything that I will explain in this thread can save between $10 up to $50 per month on electric bills.

I did this to my home (not RV) and saved almost $60/month.

My electric bill was $120/month after doing the same steps I am sharing now; my bill dropped to $60/mo.

I understand that some of you are full timers may not work for you.

I am hoping others will chime in and share what they have done.

I lived in my RV for about 6 months. My electric bill was about $80/mo. I think I would have saved about $10/mo if I had switched to LED lights.


Edit: We all know what happens to the light cover when a 12vdc incandescent light stays on for hours at a time. We know that even the housing could warp. Replacing it becomes another thing to do. So, switching to LED you can leave it on all day and night without issues of: melting, warping, or even possible fires!
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by einstein2nd View Post
I lived in my RV for about 6 months. My electric bill was about $80/mo. I think I would have saved about $10/mo if I had switched to LED lights.
It would be very difficult to save $10 a month by changing lightbulbs.
The national avg. being about 12cents/kwhr. If you kept a 100watt bulb on the entire month (day/night) the total cost would be less than 10 dollars for the month.

I'm actually a proponent for solar believe it or not. It is what it is though. Most MH are used during the warm season and we need our AC in many of these climates.
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
It would be very difficult to save $10 a month by changing lightbulbs.
The national avg. being about 12cents/kwhr. If you kept a 100watt bulb on the entire month (day/night) the total cost would be less than 10 dollars for the month.

I'm actually a proponent for solar believe it or not. It is what it is though. Most MH are used during the warm season and we need our AC in many of these climates.
Fair enough: $0.12/kwh; where I am tier 1 is $0.15/kwh
100watt times 24 hours= 2400watts times 30 days = 72kw times $0.12/kwh= $8.64
For the $0.15/kwh=$10.80

One AC uses at most 2500watts; 125vac times 20amp circuit.

You can use modified sine wave inverters to run AC's.

Running an AC 24 hours:
Requires 20amps per hour
One 12vdc battery can provide 75amp hour
One 12v batt can run AC for 3 hours
It would take: 8 batteries to run 1 AC for 24hours

To charge 8 batteries with solar:
On average there is 7 hours of sun light in most sunny places.
2500watts x 24hrs= 60kw divide by 7 hours: 8.5kw-hour solar array.
Bump it up to 10kw solar array.
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Old 12-05-2018, 04:21 AM   #9
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This thread is very informative. Thanks for these budget-friendly ideas.
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