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Old 05-30-2016, 12:57 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Gordon Dewald View Post
We have to run our generator to run our induction stovetop. It is not wired into the inverter circuits. Running the generator on a regular basis under load is good for the generator I am told.
An option to consider is carry a portable induction burner and plug it into one the outlets powered by the inverter.

Cook times would probably be limited by the size of the battery bank.
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Old 05-30-2016, 04:59 PM   #30
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"So, is it really practical to carry a residential refrigerator when your goal is to boondock to the max without having to run the generator?"

Yes. We went for the last 2 1/2 months of our Quartzsite trip without running the generator.

There are a lot of variables that will come into play. Even if you design the "perfect" several cloudy days or the need for AC may cause you to crank up your generator.

If you approach it more from the standpoint of how can I reduce my generator run time the most I think you'll be happy.

Last year we had 1000w of solar tilted at Quartzsite and would need to run our generator every 5 or 6 days. This year we added 500 more watts and as mentioned above have had no need for the generator. Our battery is a 1250amp Lithium.

One caveat; we have a propane stove. With the 1500w and full sunny days we have an excess of solar that could be used for electric cooking.

What you want to do is not hard, and can be accomplished with limited experience and basic tools if you are a DIY person. The benefit is a quite boondocking experience, but be forewarned once you go down this road you may find yourself moving away from friends that enjoy their generator run time and finding isolated spots where you can just listen to nature.

If you want to discuss any of this PM me your # and i'll give you a call.

Kevin
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:22 PM   #31
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Notice everyone says they still use a generator or shore power. What's the point of spending thousands on both solar and generator? Solar is still too expensive in my opinion. You have to replace batteries and parts are fragile. I'll keep spending $5 a night to run my generator until solar is cost effective and reliable enough.
Your choice, but please don't camp next to me. If I don't want to listen to my generator, it's a sure bet I don't want to listen to someone else's.

I installed solar over 10 years ago; it's dirt cheap now compared to then, but I'm still glad I did it when I did.

My coach came with a generator and six golf cart batteries, so there wasn't an additional cost involved for that.

I replaced the original set of batteries when they were 8 years old. I replaced the solar controller after about 10 years. It burned up, and I was actually kind of glad because I upgraded to one that does the diversion thing to the electric water heater automatically, which I used to have to do kind of manually with my old controller.

I'm pretty happy with the reliability.


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We have 1350 Ah Trojan T-105-RE batteries

We have (6) Kyocera KD145 145 Watt Solar Module
(6) Kyocera KD140SX-UFBS 140 Watt Solar Module,
(2) panels in Series with (6) parallel sets.
to a MidNite Solar Classic 150 MPPT Charge Controller with a Whiz Bang Jr is a current sense module.

Our generator run time is 1.44 hr. / day.
We do keep a daily record of our generator run time, battery and solar voltage.
My goal is to be under 1.0 hr. generator run time by the end of this year.
That's a lot of solar panels to still have to run a generator for an hour a day, even with a residential refrigerator. Are you running an air conditioner, or parked in partly shaded places? Or is your controller limiting you during peak periods?

I'm a fulltimer and I have 1,050 watts of solar and 660 amp hours of batteries, and routinely go for weeks without running the generator (with a Norcold refrigerator). I did the math for a residential refrigerator and I'm right on the edge--I could do it if I were willing to run the generator every few days or so. But if I had 70% more panels and 100% more batteries, I would think I'd never have to run it even if I had a residential refrigerator.
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:35 PM   #32
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An option to consider is carry a portable induction burner and plug it into one the outlets powered by the inverter.

Cook times would probably be limited by the size of the battery bank.
We have a portable. We also have the generator on auto so it will start when necessary.
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:41 PM   #33
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Your choice, but please don't camp next to me. .....
She can't if you stay at one of the 50 + parks........sorry just messin.
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:48 PM   #34
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"So, is it really practical to carry a residential refrigerator when your goal is to boondock to the max without having to run the generator?"

Yes..........(see original quotation for explanation)
Kevin,
Having 1500w of solar and 1200w of Lithium might not be practical to some. Possible, yes.
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:49 PM   #35
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Notice everyone says they still use a generator or shore power.
Not everyone.

(Mod Edit)
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:22 PM   #36
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(Mod Edit)

That's a thought. Use a 3-D printer to make a fake open frame generator and set it outside.

But with my luck, someone would see it and think, "Aah, I've found the ONE place where they're not going to mind listening to my Harbor Freight generator."
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:57 PM   #37
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Your choice, but please don't camp next to me. If I don't want to listen to my generator, it's a sure bet I don't want to listen to someone else's.

I installed solar over 10 years ago; it's dirt cheap now compared to then, but I'm still glad I did it when I did.

My coach came with a generator and six golf cart batteries, so there wasn't an additional cost involved for that.

I replaced the original set of batteries when they were 8 years old. I replaced the solar controller after about 10 years. It burned up, and I was actually kind of glad because I upgraded to one that does the diversion thing to the electric water heater automatically, which I used to have to do kind of manually with my old controller.

I'm pretty happy with the reliability.




That's a lot of solar panels to still have to run a generator for an hour a day, even with a residential refrigerator. Are you running an air conditioner, or parked in partly shaded places? Or is your controller limiting you during peak periods?

I'm a fulltimer and I have 1,050 watts of solar and 660 amp hours of batteries, and routinely go for weeks without running the generator (with a Norcold refrigerator). I did the math for a residential refrigerator and I'm right on the edge--I could do it if I were willing to run the generator every few days or so. But if I had 70% more panels and 100% more batteries, I would think I'd never have to run it even if I had a residential refrigerator.
oatmeal

I should have said that we just added (6) Kyocera KD145 145 Watt Solar Module just did not have enough solar power. Our gen time this mointh is less then then 8 hr. this month. We were up in the mountains in snow for a while with no good sun for a few weeks, and we do not skimp on power usage. We always use the gen. for the microwave and induction cooktop.
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:01 PM   #38
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Ok, after all that silliness, let's try this approach.

To nobody in particular and not in reference to any specific post.

I spend nearly all my time boondocking. My solar system (panels, charge controller, meters, and wiring) cost me about $1,300.00 (my MH came with a generator, inverter, and battery bank). This solar system provides all the power I require and, except for a couple very rare occurrences, I don't use my generator (yes, run it occasionally to keep it alive). So, 2.5 years of use later. I have spent no money on generator fuel, generator OR solar maintenance/repair.

If I didn't have solar, I can guess that I would have used the generator three hours per day (totally a guess). If we used the standard .5 gallon fuel per hour guesstimate, and guess that I was boondocking 850 of those 912 days, I would have used about 1300 gallons of diesel in the 2550 hours of operation. This is something around $3900 assuming $3/gallon.

I'm not even sure how many generator oil changes and repairs would have been required in that period of time. Several, I suspect. So, I figure I have saved approximately $2,600 to date - and my solar system is still working without a hint of problems/failure.

The best part, in my humble opinion, is that all of this power has been created silently. I know some hate that concept. In my humble opinion, it is a truly wonderful thing . Being able to sit in a beautiful forest while my batteries are being charged AND simultaneously be able to hear the wind whispering thru the trees is fabulous. In my humble opinion, my quality of life is much better having listened to the wind in the trees, the birds singing, even the water flowing in the creek for those 2550 hours instead of listing to my rather quiet generator running.

To the OP; if you enjoy boondocking, solar is worth it, in my opinion.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:34 PM   #39
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We do a fair amount of boon docking and enjoy the quietness of our solar system. I've got 550 watts mounted flat that keeps our batteries charged when we have reasonable sun. But, I have propane and run the fridge on it when boon docking and the stove is propane as well. Didn't work very well in March in Moab in a snow storm! To use the microwave or convection oven the generator is needed. We do run the inverter for coffee and charging our phones and tablets. We do most of the cooking outside on the BBQ. When the current batteries die I'll add some more amp hours. I like redundancy and duel systems provide that. I enjoy nature but I'm glad I have the option to fire up the Onan quite generator in a snowstorm or use the convection when desired.


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Old 05-31-2016, 05:43 PM   #40
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Oh, I should add to my post above...

I have a microwave/convection oven. I use the microwave as one typically does (warming coffee, heating frozen dinners) from the battery/inverter. I have recently done a small bit of convection oven cooking (max of 60 minutes) from inverter/battery and it seems to work well as long as sun is plentiful.

I stay in warm places in the winter months but use the furnace from battery as necessary.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:50 PM   #41
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I still believe an energy audit is mandatory for anyone who wants to install solar and boon dock. To the OP, I previously gave some suggestions on those. Have you taken the time to look at them?

Again, as others have said, what is your intention? Are you going to conserve as much as possible? Are you going to run everything as if you were connected to the cord? Do you not want to run the genny at all?

Those are very simple answers. IMO any discussion before that is going to just be "in general".

OP, if you don't even want to do the basics (buy a kill-a-watt) and get some real numbers on your usage the comments here are not much help to you. There are tons of members here who are willing to help and we need more information to help properly.
Some good mind-benders there…

Energy audit
I’ve read there are 2 ways to do this. Actual measurement in a coach with a meter. I have no coach. Other is to spreadsheet it. But that’s still just a guess. Or, maybe rely on others’ real world experiences?

Have I looked at them (suggestions)?
Yes Sir, more hours than you’ve been alive. (facetious comment, but you get the point)

My intention?
Live off the grid, limited only by holding tank size. Remain comfortable, cook food, watch tv… all with minimal (preferably no) generator use. Being able to run an air conditioner from time to time would be a huge bonus. (no need to charge the phone or tablets... they're not even turned on)

My take on all this -
Off-grid living (with a residential fridge) seems to be a matter of degree… within variables of sun angle, cloud cover, length of day, your inverter(s), and so many other factors -

If you configure 400Ah of battery & 600w of panels - you’ll run the generator 2-3 hrs per day.

If you configure 600Ah of battery & 960w of panels - you’ll run the generator every 2-3 days.

If you configure 800Ah of battery & 1280w of panels - you’ll never run the generator.

If you configure 1000Ah of battery & 2000w of panels - all the forest animals will be at your coach to enjoy some air conditioning.

Replace electric cooking with propane cooking - you'll improve the situation about a notch.
________

There have been some very helpful comments on this thread. Many thanks to all. (this is not good-bye)
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:24 PM   #42
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...>snip<

My intention?
Live off the grid, limited only by holding tank size. Remain comfortable, cook food, watch tv… all with minimal (preferably no) generator use. Being able to run an air conditioner from time to time would be a huge bonus. (no need to charge the phone or tablets... they're not even turned on)
You have summed up my position exactly. And I know it's possible with enough money

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My take on all this -
Off-grid living (with a residential fridge) seems to be a matter of degree… within variables of sun angle, cloud cover, length of day, your inverter(s)...
...>snip<...

If you configure 1000Ah of battery & 2000w of panels - all the forest animals will be at your coach to enjoy some air conditioning.

Replace electric cooking with propane cooking - you'll improve the situation about a notch.
I think you have the right of it generally speaking. Although, I'm going to have to say that switching out the residential fridge for a propane/electric would seriously stretch the time you could go without having to "poke the dragon" and run the generator.

I'm looking at 2000Ah of lithium if I stay 12v but I'm looking in to a 48v A/C and you can get some decent 48v solar panels out there so I may go that way, just to be able to run the A/C on battery if I have to Still learning the in's and out's of voltage conversion though so the efficiency savings in not converting for the A/C may be lost in having to convert for something else..... #myheadhurts

I'll watch the thread closely and hope to learn a little more
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