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Old 01-26-2010, 10:13 AM   #1
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First Time Really Boondocking

This was the first time we really Boondocked. In the past we camped a couple of days, but this time it was 14 days on BLM Road Runner area off La Paz Rd just south of Quartzsite, AZ.

The DW enjoyed herself so much she wants to try long Term BLM next year.

Fresh water lasted whole time [100 gals], but we had to dump black tank after 9 days.

One question we need to know the answer to is "when should we think about solar panels over generator. We used about 7 gals of diesel for the 14 days. Filled tank just before went to BLM and topped it off when we left.

We have to thank many people on iRV2 for all the tips that they have posted and it was a big help.

Oh well, that's why I have the iRV2 name {I}read & {I} learn.
Thanks again Joe

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Old 01-26-2010, 10:48 AM   #2
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It sounds like you were conservative with the generator. Solar would probably be a good choice for you. Quartzsite is selling 135 watt Kyocera panels for $495 ea. A controller would add another $225 or so and installation another $200. This would give you a pretty consistent 10 amps per hour of good sun light. Depending upon weather and time of year at least 50 to 60 amps per day minimum. That would run your TV and conservative use of lights. We supplement our solar with a Honda EU2000i inverter generator. It is quiet and doesn't use much gas. With the generator we don't have to move, just fill up the 2 1/2 gallon can once a week or so. Using LED and fluorescent lights will reduce the power demand.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:19 AM   #3
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What worked for you (or didn't?) regarding dumping your black water? Move coach; use portable dolly (what size) tank?
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:15 AM   #4
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It sounds like you were conservative with the generator. Solar would probably be a good choice for you. Quartzsite is selling 135 watt Kyocera panels for $495 ea. A controller would add another $225 or so and installation another $200. This would give you a pretty consistent 10 amps per hour of good sun light. Depending upon weather and time of year at least 50 to 60 amps per day minimum. That would run your TV and conservative use of lights. We supplement our solar with a Honda EU2000i inverter generator. It is quiet and doesn't use much gas. With the generator we don't have to move, just fill up the 2 1/2 gallon can once a week or so. Using LED and fluorescent lights will reduce the power demand.
$3.67/watt is too much - Quartzsite is the worst place to buy panels. And a single 135 watt panel isn't much more than window dressing. 10 amps out of 135 watts? NOT LIKELY. In theory that would be true but in practice at this time of year at Q - maybe 6 amps. And that's 6 amps for about 4 hours with the balance of the day more like 2.5 amps, depending on battery state of charge.

Run the TV? Not without the generator. TVs are notorious power hogs.

Bottom line for the OP - don't sell your generator. And don't get caught up in the solar hype. Do it if you don't like running the genset but don't do it to save money on fuel because you will be way ahead buying a bit of diesel.

Real life experience this year at Q: 200 watts of solar power and our generator went down for a week. We had a maximum of 1 hour per day of combined TV/computer use and nothing else other than lights and water pump. I watched the solar only coaches very carefully this year - they're dark most of the time. They go to bed early, they don't watch TV and they certainly can't use microwaves or toaster ovens. There's nothing wrong with that if it suits your lifestyle but it doesn't suit mine.
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:22 AM   #5
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As for the amount of time of running the gen was about 5 hrs per day and that would be during high use time-TV-furnace-microwave plus we have 4 agm house batteries.
We knew we get good fuel results running gen as this was 2nd time used gen for more than 5 days.
We unplug anything we are not using and yes TV would have been pulling big time when not in use if we did not unplug it.
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:53 AM   #6
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I have solar and the HD TV , along with my VIP722 dual receiver is on most of the day.

I also have internet by satt and that, along with the laptop is also on from about 6 or 7 in the morning till I go to bed around 10 PM.

I use the microwave just to warm things up but if I need it for over 10 minutes, I use the Honda 2000i.

I like to tinker and have various saws and drills that I use a lot, all from the batteries that are charged to full each day and are usually full by noon each day. The batt bank is 8 deep cycle golf cart type.

I do have to admit that the Hot Air cooker, which pulls 1500 watts, is never used without a generator. The same for the diesel engine heater, always with the generator.

My hot water is from solar because after the batts are full, rather than let the solar available go to waste, its diverted to a plug-in heat device that replaces the drain plug and uses lower wattage but in about an hour I have a tank full of hot water.

Wee, that's enuf - - the point being, of course solar works, that's why millions of us use it, and millions more in their homes that are off grid!

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Old 01-27-2010, 08:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by read & learn View Post
As for the amount of time of running the gen was about 5 hrs per day and that would be during high use time-TV-furnace-microwave plus we have 4 agm house batteries.
We knew we get good fuel results running gen as this was 2nd time used gen for more than 5 days.
We unplug anything we are not using and yes TV would have been pulling big time when not in use if we did not unplug it.
Wow. In your previous message you said you ran the generator for 14 days. At 5 hours per day and only 7 gals. of diesel that is about 0.1 gals/hour. I have never checked how much fuel our generator uses and didn't know it used so little fuel. Do you have a 7,500-8,000 watt generator?

We have 300 watts of solar and as previously stated, you REALLY have to manage your electrical use to stay within the recharging capacity of the solar panels if you rely only on solar. However, with the solar charging during the day and if we run our generator for 1-2 hours/day in the morning while brewing the coffee we can bulk charge our four AGMs sufficiently to cover most of our electrical use from the night before.

A pretty reputable firm out of Oregon (AMSolar) sells solar setups (we got our system from them). I just looked at their website and I think you would spend about $2,200 for a three panel system from them. At your rate of diesel usage (0.5 gal./day @ $3/gal) you could boondock every day for 4 years before you would spend that much in diesel fuel. For most of us conversion to solar just doesn't pencil out.

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Old 01-27-2010, 09:52 AM   #8
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$3.67/watt is too much - Quartzsite is the worst place to buy panels. And a single 135 watt panel isn't much more than window dressing. 10 amps out of 135 watts? NOT LIKELY. In theory that would be true but in practice at this time of year at Q - maybe 6 amps. And that's 6 amps for about 4 hours with the balance of the day more like 2.5 amps, depending on battery state of charge.

Run the TV? Not without the generator. TVs are notorious power hogs.

Bottom line for the OP - don't sell your generator. And don't get caught up in the solar hype. Do it if you don't like running the genset but don't do it to save money on fuel because you will be way ahead buying a bit of diesel.

Real life experience this year at Q: 200 watts of solar power and our generator went down for a week. We had a maximum of 1 hour per day of combined TV/computer use and nothing else other than lights and water pump. I watched the solar only coaches very carefully this year - they're dark most of the time. They go to bed early, they don't watch TV and they certainly can't use microwaves or toaster ovens. There's nothing wrong with that if it suits your lifestyle but it doesn't suit mine.
Sorry Bob, I meant to say 2ea 135 watt panels for 10 amps. However, I haven't seen new Kyocera 135 watt panels cheaper than $495 any where. Onan says that that generator consumes .13 gal/hr no load, .49 gal/hr half load and .96 gal/hr full load.
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:24 AM   #9
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I bought 2 Kyocera KD135GX-LPU panels for $412 each from Northern AZ Wind & Sun about 4 months ago. I think they are $420 now.
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:04 AM   #10
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After your post I went back over my records found a few mistakes 13 nights not 14 days-makes 1 days less running gen. The 7 gal figure was a estimate as you can never fill the fuel tank the same amount each time.
My gen runs off the main diesel tank. The 7 gal figure was base on the following: X number of gal fuel devide by # of miles. Multiply the aveage MPG by # of gals than subtract the lower # from the larger # Than devide that milage by your avg MPG.
Now that number of gals of fuel can be off by up to 4 gals.
Bottom line my estimate can be off by 50%.
Have no proof on this figure, but have been told you should burn 1 gal of fuel every 8-10 hours.
Again my way can be so far off base, but to me it fits the things I did on this little trip.
My OP was to find out when you should think about Solar Power and what I am seeing is I do not boondock enough to to save money, but would lower my carbon footprint which isn't a bad idea
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:51 AM   #11
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I have 320-watts of solar panels, AGM batteries, and when at Quartzsite in January I tilt the panels to get more amps. I have boondocked as long as 14 days without running the generator, but I keep the inverter turned off except when we need it. I'll watch TV and surf the net a couple of hours a day; otherwise I don't use much electric. The biggest user of electric can be running the furnace at night, but I have a catalytic heater.

We have the same tanks as you - 105 gallons fresh, 65 gray and 45 black. With a lot of planning and careful use my wife and I can go 13-14 days before needing fresh water and a dump.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #12
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Sorry Bob, I meant to say 2ea 135 watt panels for 10 amps. However, I haven't seen new Kyocera 135 watt panels cheaper than $495 any where.
270 watts for 10 amps I can believe. Sun Electric has new Kyocera panels for $2.44/watt.
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:26 PM   #13
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Kyocera 135 watt Panels

There are two 135 Kyocera solar panels, the GX and SX. At Discount Solar the GX is $60 cheaper than the SX. According to them the GX is not warrantied for RV use, only for Grid/Tie systems. The diodes are encapsulated in the panels and not replaceable. They are in the junction box of the SX model. The GX uses MC connectors and the warranty is void if they are cut off. I read the warranty and don't see any exclusion for RVs. They do however, list the GX only for Grid/Tie use. Electrically they are identical. The difference appears to be in the junction box, diodes and frame.
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Old 01-30-2010, 06:35 PM   #14
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We are currently watching TV and on the computer using inverter powered by batteries charged by 1 135 watt solar panel. As we dry camp at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This is our tenth winter season in the Arizona desert. We too spend at least one week at the Roadrunner site in Quartzsite. Solar power only supplemented by generator if we need microwave. Or if it has been raining, as it certainly did this year.
TV watching good for 2 or 3 hours each day. We have recently replaced almost all interior lights with LEDs, a big power saver. And tilting the solar panel up to face the sun will help. You can do it if you try.
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