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Old 06-15-2016, 02:32 PM   #15
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Maybe it is just because I am melting in the south currently. I can imagine doing it without AC. This will be a power issue for you boondocking. Avg Temps in Fla in sept can still be 90 during the day (32c) and I cant imagine LA/TX/AZ/etc being much cooler.

I am not a solar expert, but do consider the heat and humidity of the SouthEast US when doing your calculating. There are several state parks that you can stay in the ~$20/night range that will get you power/water while staying down there.
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:27 PM   #16
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With portable solar and a generator you no longer have a set time to leave. My generator only runs a few hours every couple of days using less than 2 gallons of gas for a week and a half. My solar does most the work but it is nice when the sun is not out to top off my batteries. I use a small inverter for my electronics when I am off the grid. I don't use large kitchen appliances just charging my laptop and the tv at night for a movie occasionally.

Don't the no of the generator as part of your energy plan, think of it as your back up plan and it will work great.

Your fridge is fine to be ran the entire time. The amp draw is small and not noticeable. You will use more running your water pump so watch that usage. Showers and lots of dishes inside is what stops boondocking before power.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:27 PM   #17
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With portable solar and a generator you no longer have a set time to leave. My generator only runs a few hours every couple of days using less than 2 gallons of gas for a week and a half. My solar does most the work but it is nice when the sun is not out to top off my batteries. I use a small inverter for my electronics when I am off the grid. I don't use large kitchen appliances just charging my laptop and the tv at night for a movie occasionally.

Don't the no of the generator as part of your energy plan, think of it as your back up plan and it will work great.

Your fridge is fine to be ran the entire time. The amp draw is small and not noticeable. You will use more running your water pump so watch that usage. Showers and lots of dishes inside is what stops boondocking before power.
Thanks, that's very helpful and quite reassuring how many watts do you have on your portable solar set up if you don't mind ?
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Old 06-16-2016, 06:29 AM   #18
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FWIW I'd check these folks for solar. They will be there to answer the phone if you have a question and have a decent entry level kit:

Renogy | The Future of Clean Energy

Assuming you buy in the range you indicated for a MH you generator will use around an half gallon per hour of gas. Assuming you set up to run everything off 12 VDC you might need 3 sessions/day. Morning when arising and late afternoon/evening coinciding with maximum power usage. Maybe a boost noonish. Solar will help most with the mid day boost. Invest in at least a remote reading voltmeter you can see from your work station. That will let you keep an eye on the battery charge level so you can maintain them above 50%. (It will not be the rated 50% charge voltage because you will need to account for the added voltage needed when charging. Read the level before starting the generator and again 30 minutes or so after you turn it off.)

You are looking at some prime tourist country. It will be hard to boon dock. Check the cost of a weekly rental with and without supplied electric at the tourist traps. You might be able to cut a better deal if you include one weekend in your 7 to 10 day stay.
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Old 06-16-2016, 07:18 AM   #19
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FWIW I'd check these folks for solar. They will be there to answer the phone if you have a question and have a decent entry level kit:

Renogy | The Future of Clean Energy

Assuming you buy in the range you indicated for a MH you generator will use around an half gallon per hour of gas. Assuming you set up to run everything off 12 VDC you might need 3 sessions/day. Morning when arising and late afternoon/evening coinciding with maximum power usage. Maybe a boost noonish. Solar will help most with the mid day boost. Invest in at least a remote reading voltmeter you can see from your work station. That will let you keep an eye on the battery charge level so you can maintain them above 50%. (It will not be the rated 50% charge voltage because you will need to account for the added voltage needed when charging. Read the level before starting the generator and again 30 minutes or so after you turn it off.)

You are looking at some prime tourist country. It will be hard to boon dock. Check the cost of a weekly rental with and without supplied electric at the tourist traps. You might be able to cut a better deal if you include one weekend in your 7 to 10 day stay.
Good advice.
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Old 06-16-2016, 07:38 AM   #20
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Hello !

I've been going through some posts here to get some information but I would like to have some first-hand feedback about my trip.

Me, my wife and our three pets (1 dog, 2 cats) are going to move from Montreal to the Vancouver Island at the end of this year.

We are planning on doing the trip using a used but recent / low mileage Class C RV (something like that: Fourwinds - Chateau 24C | VR St-Cyr).

We will do the US east coast, then the southeast (we want to spend some time around the beaches and hot weather, we don't have that here in Quebec !), to continue with all the sights we can see while crossing to the west (Zion / Grand Canyon / Shoshones etc.) and then go back north through the west coast.

So that's a lot of driving, I will be working while on the road (I have the chance of working remotely as a web developer) and my wife will get some time to relax, she'll also make a blog to document the trip.

We plan on staying at some locations for a few weeks at the time, the total length of the trip being between 3 and 4 months (we want to be in our new permanent home by the end of the year).

For these weekly stays, we'd like to do some remote camping / boondocking. I found several nice spots in the campendium website with everything we need (lot of sun, some network coverage, free and with beautiful landscapes).

My main concern is about the electricity needs: we will both use our laptops, I will use one or two additional screens (pretty much needed for my work). We will try to avoid having to use the fridge (buying mainly dry food like pasta and rice + fresh vegetables that we can keep at room temperature) as well as the lights (mainly by going to sleep and waking up with the sun).

We'd like to avoid having to use the generator (because of the smell and of the noise) and are looking at our options in terms of solar.

We will have basically 6 to 8 devices that will use energy: two laptops + one or two additional LCD screens, two smartphones (one of them will provide the wifi hotspot), the stove or micro-wave to heat water to cook and for beverages, and all the other small things I can't think of right now (we are looking into composting toilet for example, I think these use some very small amount of energy to run, I'm also wondering about a heater, maybe we'll stay for a couple of weeks around SF in November and Washington in December, we might need some heating, even though we're used to the cold).

We are looking at something relatively easy to setup and use, like i said we probably won't spend more than 10 days in the same location and we will try to reduce as much as possible our energy consumption.

Would a couple of panels like that be enough ? https://www.amazon.ca/ECO-WORTHY-Por...portable+solar

I'm not sure also about what I need to go with the panels, I guess additional battery sets, maybe inverters and some wiring to do, is the whole thing doable on my own or would I need to look into hiring someone for that ?

Any advice / recommendations / feedback about our trip ?

It's the first time we'll go RVing but we are fans of back-country camping and hiking so we know about some aspects already (food and water limitations / making drinkable water from sources and lakes / how to handle our trash etc).
What is your blog site I would like to follow your trip. I too am a newbie.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:16 AM   #21
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Maybe it is just because I am melting in the south currently. I can imagine doing it without AC. This will be a power issue for you boondocking. Avg Temps in Fla in sept can still be 90 during the day (32c) and I cant imagine LA/TX/AZ/etc being much cooler.

I am not a solar expert, but do consider the heat and humidity of the SouthEast US when doing your calculating. There are several state parks that you can stay in the ~$20/night range that will get you power/water while staying down there.
The State Parks are there as above but...I hope you already have reservations! Snowbirds reserve early in the same parks that they have stayed at before. We are Floridians and have a hard time finding places to stay in the Winter. For boondocking in Florida google water management districts. Each district has a website with areas you can boondock for free or little money. Good luck.
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Old 06-16-2016, 04:46 PM   #22
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I have 200 watts on top of my trailer, the most I have been able to get in one day is around 70 amp hours of charge with solar. I do find spots that don't have a clear view of the sky in the afternoon, not on purpose but I stay in the woods or around a lake when off the grid. We have some pretty tall trees in the PNW. In a lot of places you can do even better, watch the video by Gone With the Wynns on their power usage.
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:26 PM   #23
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What is your blog site I would like to follow your trip. I too am a newbie.
Not created it yet, I'm working on it
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:48 AM   #24
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Sounds very interesting.

I would like to follow your blog. Please message me when you have it set up. I hope the rules allow that.

Gerald
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Old 06-17-2016, 01:24 PM   #25
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I also would love to follow your blog.

We have done a bit of boon docking so will give you a run down of my take on things related to power.

You need to run the generator to run AC or microwave, & if you need to charge up house batteries. House batteries are also charged up when driving so we have seldom run the generator to charge them. We often top off with solar panels.

You need to make sure your batteries are in tip top shape and you know your draw on them as drawing them down too far will damage them. Allocate some dollars to battery replacement when you buy your RV.

We use portable solar panels when our RV is in storage to keep the batteries topped off. We also can put these on the roof to charge while boon docking. It is important to tie a brightly colored sign to your steering wheel when you put them up so you don't accidentally drive off while they are up there.

We can go about 3 days/nights running lights (haven't switched to LED yet but should), water pump, the furnace at night (the heat comes from propane but the fan is run off the batteries), refrigerator (cooling is done off propane so very little electricity used). We tend to charge our phones and laptops while driving or while plugged in. Alternatively you can get dedicated solar laptop and phone chargers.

After 3 days we either are driving on (as our tanks are getting full) so the engine charges the batteries.

Never run a tv. If you want to watch a video use your laptop or phone and then charge those when you can.

The propane tends to last a long time so you don't need to worry much about it for your refrigerator and furnace.

Your generator will not start if you have less than 1/4 tank of fuel. For instance our gas tank is 80 gallons. So if we have less than 20 gallons the generator will not start. This is done on purpose so you can't strand yourself by running your fuel down with the generator.

Get a portable outdoor grill/camp stove so you can cook outside. That keeps the heat, moisture and smells out of your RV.

Don't be afraid to plan extensive use of the fridge. It is not much impact on your power draw. Because you can't run a fridge if your rig is not level I keep ice packs in the freezer which I move down to the fridge if were going to be parked somewhere that I need to turn the fridge off (Example - sight seeing parking lot). When were camped for the night (and level) I move them back up to the freezer to refreeze. Most times they are still frozen. RV fridges are really well insulated.
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Old 06-17-2016, 03:58 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by micd View Post
I also would love to follow your blog.

We have done a bit of boon docking so will give you a run down of my take on things related to power.

You need to run the generator to run AC or microwave, & if you need to charge up house batteries. House batteries are also charged up when driving so we have seldom run the generator to charge them. We often top off with solar panels.

You need to make sure your batteries are in tip top shape and you know your draw on them as drawing them down too far will damage them. Allocate some dollars to battery replacement when you buy your RV.

We use portable solar panels when our RV is in storage to keep the batteries topped off. We also can put these on the roof to charge while boon docking. It is important to tie a brightly colored sign to your steering wheel when you put them up so you don't accidentally drive off while they are up there.

We can go about 3 days/nights running lights (haven't switched to LED yet but should), water pump, the furnace at night (the heat comes from propane but the fan is run off the batteries), refrigerator (cooling is done off propane so very little electricity used). We tend to charge our phones and laptops while driving or while plugged in. Alternatively you can get dedicated solar laptop and phone chargers.

After 3 days we either are driving on (as our tanks are getting full) so the engine charges the batteries.

Never run a tv. If you want to watch a video use your laptop or phone and then charge those when you can.

The propane tends to last a long time so you don't need to worry much about it for your refrigerator and furnace.

Your generator will not start if you have less than 1/4 tank of fuel. For instance our gas tank is 80 gallons. So if we have less than 20 gallons the generator will not start. This is done on purpose so you can't strand yourself by running your fuel down with the generator.

Get a portable outdoor grill/camp stove so you can cook outside. That keeps the heat, moisture and smells out of your RV.

Don't be afraid to plan extensive use of the fridge. It is not much impact on your power draw. Because you can't run a fridge if your rig is not level I keep ice packs in the freezer which I move down to the fridge if were going to be parked somewhere that I need to turn the fridge off (Example - sight seeing parking lot). When were camped for the night (and level) I move them back up to the freezer to refreeze. Most times they are still frozen. RV fridges are really well insulated.
I think this is what you have been looking for - Good Info

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Old 06-18-2016, 06:34 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micd View Post
I also would love to follow your blog.

We have done a bit of boon docking so will give you a run down of my take on things related to power.

You need to run the generator to run AC or microwave, & if you need to charge up house batteries. House batteries are also charged up when driving so we have seldom run the generator to charge them. We often top off with solar panels.

You need to make sure your batteries are in tip top shape and you know your draw on them as drawing them down too far will damage them. Allocate some dollars to battery replacement when you buy your RV.

We use portable solar panels when our RV is in storage to keep the batteries topped off. We also can put these on the roof to charge while boon docking. It is important to tie a brightly colored sign to your steering wheel when you put them up so you don't accidentally drive off while they are up there.

We can go about 3 days/nights running lights (haven't switched to LED yet but should), water pump, the furnace at night (the heat comes from propane but the fan is run off the batteries), refrigerator (cooling is done off propane so very little electricity used). We tend to charge our phones and laptops while driving or while plugged in. Alternatively you can get dedicated solar laptop and phone chargers.

After 3 days we either are driving on (as our tanks are getting full) so the engine charges the batteries.

Never run a tv. If you want to watch a video use your laptop or phone and then charge those when you can.

The propane tends to last a long time so you don't need to worry much about it for your refrigerator and furnace.

Your generator will not start if you have less than 1/4 tank of fuel. For instance our gas tank is 80 gallons. So if we have less than 20 gallons the generator will not start. This is done on purpose so you can't strand yourself by running your fuel down with the generator.

Get a portable outdoor grill/camp stove so you can cook outside. That keeps the heat, moisture and smells out of your RV.

Don't be afraid to plan extensive use of the fridge. It is not much impact on your power draw. Because you can't run a fridge if your rig is not level I keep ice packs in the freezer which I move down to the fridge if were going to be parked somewhere that I need to turn the fridge off (Example - sight seeing parking lot). When were camped for the night (and level) I move them back up to the freezer to refreeze. Most times they are still frozen. RV fridges are really well insulated.
FREEZE AND REFREEZE ICE BAGS IS A GOOD IDEA.
try this to save $
Fill the plastic freezer bag with one cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water. For a less dense gel, reduce the amount of water to 1 cup. Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut, then put it inside a second freezer bag this way there is less chance of a leak. I ADD FOOD COLORING SO IT WILL NOT BE CONFUSED WITH JUST FROZEN WATER (adapted form a printerest post)
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Old 06-19-2016, 09:58 AM   #28
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I would not worry about heading north on I5 in the winter. At most you might need to move your pass crossing time a day or two to make the over the pass timing for clear highway. We go south in Jan every year and have never needed to stay an extra night to get over the passes. But we do monitor the weather. Rolling Hills casino and Seven Feathers are our staging points on either side of the passes. Take it slow and enjoy your adventure.

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