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Old 10-03-2014, 11:35 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sknight View Post
More water totes. Walking back and forth to the water source several times sucked.
I'm wondering if anyone's done any type of rainwater catchment system on their RV...
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Old 10-03-2014, 11:48 AM   #16
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Exclamation Back to OP request of things useful for boondocking

Having carelessly hijacked the thread, back to OP question: 10 boondocking accessories beyond our thread stealing solar/LFP battery banks.

1. 10' telescoping ladder. Absolutely great for cleaning snow off panels, leaves out of extended slides etc. Had a 12' industrial strenght. It weighed 45#

2. Rear equipment carrier for the usual stuff that won't fit into the bays.

3. Our rig has 4 x 20# propane canisters which are easily removed. We carry one or two additional canisters tied down in the back of pickup for cool weather camping.

4. Since we primarily boondock, we carry two to six x 6 gallon plastic Jerry cans. The Open Range rigs are set so that you can use the pump to pull in two gallons/minute from water can to refill the fresh water tank. The rig has an 81 gallon tank so this gives us 129 gallons to start a trip and this has proven quite sufficient for three weeks. Our only limit is black water holding.

5. Since we boondock/travel in Mexico where placing toilet paper in the sewers is forbidden, we have taken up the habit of placing the paper in the waste basket next to the toilet (everyone has done this with baby diapers) and this greatly reduces the volume of material in the black tank - and no clogging.

6, Carry the usual large set of Legos for leveling rig when camping. The Legos also provide a wide base for the tires when setting in sand or dirt. They are also used so rear landing gear do not have to be extended so far. We have four 6" x 12" blocks for the front landing gear for the same purpose. Legos also keep the tires off cement (if one is camped at a pad) and cement can leach out stuff that is bad for tires.

7. Take along shovel, entrenching tool, bow saw, axe and machete for setting up.

The Open Range (as most modern rigs) have an automatic leveling system, which can wind up with all four wheels off the ground if misued. So have a level on the hitch so that Elaine (who is far better at this than I) can watch to determine the best spot side to side. A foot or two either way can make a big difference. Prefer to dig out the high side as opposed to putting down 3 levels of Legos. Generally dig a 1 to 2" deep hole for the tires anyway to keep things from shifting. Also dig 1" deep hole for the front landing gear blocks. Have drilled hole through landing gear pad and blocks so that a 10 penny nail can be dropped through. We have camped in high winds at times and I had noted slight shifting on the blocks in the morning, and so we started using the nail.

Always set in 4 chocks before unhooking to avoid mishaps. Not pulled out until hooked up and ready to travel. Have read of a lot of mishaps when folks have not done this.

The axe and saw proved useful in Yucatan. Elaine had gotten us into a really nice spot at Laguna Azul (our favorite spot anywhere - at the northern end of Lago Bacalar) but a tree was preventing us from getting out. The 6'4" German who helped manage (he actually ran an adjacent lovely restaurant) asked us what was the problem. Said we might need to cut down a tree. His answer was"This is a jungle for Pete's sake, cut 'er down)

8. We have had a propane outlet installed under the stove for an Olympic Wave8 (8000 BTU = 2.5 kW) for heating. This uses far less propane and uses zero electricity. Probably just as Simonsurf has done

9. Had wondered about shifting grey water to black; however, it is permissible in most places (not in National Parks) in west to dump grey water through a hose. You have to be sure of the regulations. Did this in Majahual, Yucatan. Asked the owners of the inn for permission to dump grey and they said their flowers needed the water. It is usually permissible to dump dish water in National Forest/BLM etc.

10.The current Open Range rigs (mid-low price or low-medium but extremely nice with huge ground clearance for boondocking of moderate level) have an LED string on the canopy which is really useful. Our grandson installed a string of LED lights on the 5th wheel under the canopy so that we have a lot of light when the canopy is not open. We did change the flood lamps to LED so that now they take a total of 1 amp (12 V) instead of 10 amps.

11. We have had serious problems with dirty power (voltage jumping from 80 to 145 V) in Mexico (this is before we had current solar autonomous system fabricated) and burned out micro-waves in Baja and Yucatan. Son installed 1.5 kW of battery chargers so that "dirty" power goes to 48 V nominal (our battery system) and then all 110/120 V AC is powered via inverter. This is not important boondocking but you sometimes might use line power (and it can get rather bad in a lot of RV parks). Well, in boondocking, it simplifies charging batteries since they are charged directly and not have to mess with the 30 or 50 amp (110 V - have been following Aussie fora and they have 240 V line power and 24 V interior DC).

11'. We do have a Honda 1 kW generator. We run it every once in a while to make sure it still works. Son Cary set up system so that if we ever do want to use 110/120 V AC, we just hook into battery chargers as noted immediately above.

So back to the thread as originally envisioned.
Reed and Elaine
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Old 10-03-2014, 11:55 AM   #17
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Talking

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Originally Posted by Reed Cundiff View Post
...Reed and Elaine
Thanks for your imput Reed & Elaine! Epic post!

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Having carelessly hijacked the thread
Not in the least! I've very interested in solar setups! Keep up the great advice, it's much appreciated.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:23 PM   #18
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Thumbs up

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Originally Posted by Reed Cundiff View Post
1. 10' telescoping ladder. Absolutely great for cleaning snow off panels, leaves out of extended slides etc.
Got any recommendations on a good, compact & lightweight ladder?

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Originally Posted by Reed Cundiff View Post
4. Since we primarily boondock, we carry two to six x 6 gallon plastic Jerry cans. The Open Range rigs are set so that you can use the pump to pull in two gallons/minute from water can to refill the fresh water tank. The rig has an 81 gallon tank so this gives us 129 gallons to start a trip and this has proven quite sufficient for three weeks. Our only limit is black water holding.
5. Since we boondock/travel in Mexico where placing toilet paper in the sewers is forbidden, we have taken up the habit of placing the paper in the waste basket next to the toilet (everyone has done this with baby diapers) and this greatly reduces the volume of material in the black tank - and no clogging.
Sounds like you need one of these!

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Originally Posted by Reed Cundiff View Post
Always set in 4 chocks before unhooking to avoid mishaps. Not pulled out until hooked up and ready to travel. Have read of a lot of mishaps when folks have not done this.
Sorry for the n00b question, but what kind of mishaps exactly?

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Originally Posted by Reed Cundiff View Post
8. We have had a propane outlet installed under the stove for an Olympic Wave8 (8000 BTU = 2.5 kW) for heating. This uses far less propane and uses zero electricity.
Just out of curiosity, why not an electric one?

Thanks again for the second epic post Reed and Elaine, your experienced advice is much appreciated.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:32 PM   #19
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Vince and Susan aka Vesheetz has had some extremely worthwhile information posted on this forum on building your own solar system. I would pay attention to what he has written. The primary solar fora, Northern Arizona Wind and Sun and Solar Panel Talk have a lot of discussions on solar power. The Aussie fora (Grey Nomads and caravan) have a bit of talk on this as well. The Cruising and Yachting Forum is four years ahead of the RV world on LFP.

You asked about lithium (LFP) batteries and mentioned Balqon & Lithonics. Both of these have good reputations. Lithionics fabricated the system for Dr. Ron Jones a few years ago and he is quite happy with it (I think he was the first RV'er to go with an LFP system).

Our older son (who I have mentioned on numerous posts and is a designer/fabricator in solar for business for 23 years) went with Manzanita Micro since he has friends in EV world and they have used the Manzanita Micro batteries for their electric cars and have been quite happy with them. Cary contacted MM and got one heck of a deal from them for our rig. The only problem, and a minor one at that, is that the battery management system is designed for the high C (high power consumption) of EVs. Cary has been in contact with MM and they said they were in process of redesigning BMS for solar usage.

The Balqon 9 kW-hr package is fairly inexpensive (in LFP terms) but weighs 250#. Cary went with four MM 12 V nominal 180 amp-hr batteries at 65# each in series (48 V nominal battery bank). Basically the same weight but he could place four of them around the front bay (checked with OR and they said it was stressed for 400#) in a more effective manner (not as likely to go through the floor if we hit a tope (speed bump) in Yucatan. He works at designing and fabricating primarily for businesses and power companies and likes working at higher voltages. Attached is photo of system in front bay. The individual batteries nicely fit under the propane containers.

The Balqon and Lithionics should work as well.

Note that AM Solar is working with an LFP fabricator to determine if they will be using LFP as an option in the future.

We are currently mootchdocking (a portemonteau of mootching and boondocking - and yes, I had to google that word to make sure of spelling, nothing worse than mispelling or using big words incorrectly) at younger son's backyard and helping take care of 2 year old and 4 week old grandsons. Next, we mootchdock at older son's place for a week in mountains of northern NM, and then mootchdock at daughter's place in southern NM. And then back to Yucatan, we hope.
Reed and Elaine
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:50 PM   #20
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7.3 diesel

Sears has a 12' telescoping ladder on sale for $160. Most RV stores have them as well but I would go with Sears even though we are happy with we one we have. Be even happier once I rub off the caulking I wound up dripping on it (if I close it now, it will never open again).

Mishaps - hitch comes undone and falls into back of trailer, rig slips as you are hooking up and the same or worse happens. We are talking about severe injuries as well as damage to trailer/pickup truck

We gave a 40 gallon black water. This can last for 4 or more weeks if we are frugal. Have talked to a few folks that are really pleased with composting. Bryan Appleby (considered by many to be the king of boondockers) visited us when we were at Eating Blackbones RV "park" (no water, no sewer but gorgeous) near Glacier and he uses composting toilet in his truck camper. These have about 2 gallons of black water. He really likes his composter. He also has 1200 W of solar on his truck amper and toy hauler trailer (BMW motorcycle) combined. He is extremely innovative. He has not stayed in an RV park or national forest CG in two years.

We do not use an electric heater since it takes 2.5 kW and that would drain the battery bank rather darned fast over night. An electric heater makes sense when hooked into line power. Elaine does use an electric pad for her back but that only takes 55 W and we could run that 160 hours on the battery bank. The Wave8 uses about 1/4 pounds of propane an hour at max setting and about 1/2 of that at lowest setting. It keeps the place warm to about 25 F (-4 C). Below that we have to use the forced air heating to keep the bay warm and keep pipes from freezing. Below 20 F, it is time to move on to keep the holding tanks from freezing. You can get around this by putting insulation around the base of the RV and heating it with a 60 W bulb. However, we are "Goldilockers" as in "not to hot and not to cold, just right!" So we go north or higher in elevation when it is hot and reverse when it is cold.

Forgot, our Dometic a/c is also a heat pump and it does warm things down to about 40 F (6 or so C) and does not use a lot of power - we just forget to use it since propane is so cheap.

Reed and Elaine (continuing to hijack this thread, xin loi)
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Old 10-03-2014, 01:40 PM   #21
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Continuing to hijack thread

There were questions about rain catchment on another thread on RV2, probably under "Going Green"

There are several things that extreme boondockers/overlanders (and apparently from reading Aussie fora, many Aussies) seem to use. These can run off DC or AC

1. Split level a/c. Not sure what this really means but apparently using a/c as a heat pump to cool (our Dometic a/c heats but apparently does not cool as a heat pump) but the power is down around 750 W

2. Stirling cycle fridge that runs off 12 to 24 V DC (Aussies use 24 V apparently). This requires one heck of a lot less power

3. Flash showers (normal in Latin America). Our rig has a 10 gallon hot water tank and that is alot of power. No problem if sited in desert and it is not so hot we have to use solar/battery for ac (Dometic is a power hog and takes about 1750W)

We have looked into these but it would cost a lot to buy and install and things are working well as it is. Always afraid of being fried by a flash shower - particularly considering the wiring we have seen in Guatemala and Honduras (we flew down last time)

Reed and Elaine
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Old 10-03-2014, 02:39 PM   #22
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Thumbs up Better boondocking spot in pennsylvania

Hello are you looking to travel through or to Trout Run, Pa.
IAM A PRIVATE LAND OWNER & we are offering adventures a place to park your rig on our land for just $150 month at only $5 a day. Water , sewage, level ground space & free high speed internet. Enjoy the beautiful mountains , hiking trail ( old logging trail ) fishing streams, near state parks & much more.
What more could you ask for at this price. There is no catch we are simply making better use of our private land with amazing views & few amentities. We can only offer a few space so you must act fast. If you have questions contact Elizabeth
Text or emails are welcome BUT FILL OUT THE FORM WRITE AWAY TO LOCK IN YOUR SPOT. Form book for now or later prime season.
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Old 10-03-2014, 03:01 PM   #23
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TElizabeth

Offers like yours are certainly to be appreciated and looked for. Private land does have a number of advantage as it keeps away the rest of the other riff-raff (we riff-raff being already on the land). If we are ever in the Key State, we would love to try your offer.

Reed and Elaine
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Old 10-03-2014, 04:36 PM   #24
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There were questions about rain catchment on another thread on RV2, probably under "Going Green"
Cool, do you have a link to that thread?

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1. Split level a/c. Not sure what this really means but apparently using a/c as a heat pump to cool (our Dometic a/c heats but apparently does not cool as a heat pump) but the power is down around 750 W
Link?

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2. Stirling cycle fridge that runs off 12 to 24 V DC (Aussies use 24 V apparently). This requires one heck of a lot less power
Links?

I'm not turning up any of this technology in my searches...
Thanks
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Old 10-03-2014, 06:14 PM   #25
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Just a note ref lithium batteries and flat panel solar. Lithium are probably the coming thing but at the present time do cost considerable more for power size compared to AGMs. Physical size is however much less. Bit of a concern is their difficulty in charging if cold. Need some type of heat source to get to a temp to support proper charging. Flat panels are attractive for installation for the demonstrated (video in this thread) features. However, need larger physical sizes to get comparable power as opposed to current popular products. Also, mounted to the roof reduces heat dissipation thus reducing output. You may also experience a slight indentation of each cell which becomes a collection point for pooling of moisture and/or dirt. This likewise lowers output and more difficulty cleaning.
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:39 PM   #26
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There is confusion on lithium battery types. LFP can be used from -20 C to 70 C (-2 F to 158F) with some literature claiming -45C (-49C). NASA is planning to use LFP for further space work in these ranges (-2 F to 158F). Their report noted that charging rate at -20C was slower than at +20C.

The problem at charging at very low temperatures are those incurred in the EV world where they will charge at greater than C (capacity). This does not occur in the solar world. We have charged at 1300 W from panels and this was only 0.13 C of our battery capacity. Generally, your battery bank is enclosed and just the operation of the BMS will keep you above 0 F. Batteries at low charge rates found with solar (compared to 10 kW rates and EV world) will result in slow warming of the batteries. The higher rates of 1 to 5 C are a different story entirely.

Am not sure of what is meant by "...Flat panels are attractive for installation for the demonstrated (video in this thread) features. However, need larger physical sizes to get comparable power as opposed to current popular
products.."

Also "...Also, mounted to the roof reduces heat dissipation thus reducing output..l"

Flat panels are mounted about 1 to 2" (2.5 to 5 cm) above the roof to permit air flow and cooling. Flexible panels which are glued to the roof do have this problem of heating. The Aussie fora have discussions of using glued on flexible panels operating at 55 C (131 F) ambient and quite a few times at 50 C (122 F). Hate to think what the temperature of their black panels. Hate to think of boondocking under those conditions. Hate to think of being in an airconditioned building under those conditions
Reed and Elaine
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Old 10-03-2014, 08:50 PM   #27
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RVWheels

OK, was confused on terminology. I believe what you call flat panels are what I know as flexible panels. The efficiency of these are lower than box panels and there are further efficiency losses as they heat up. Folks like them since they are light weight and easily fixed onto roofs (rooves) with glue, gook, double-faced tape etc. We use normal fixed panels. Costs of panels have really decreased from the days when only NASA could afford them. "In 2012 it was estimated that the quantity cost per watt was about $0.60, which was 250 times lower than the cost in 1970 of $150" from Wikipedia.Of course $150 in 1970 terms is $927 in current value.
Reed and Elaine
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Old 10-03-2014, 09:12 PM   #28
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You had a few questions. Will get to the others later.

The thread on water catchment is on IRV2. Got to RV Forums section (Boondocking is on Forums section). "Going Green" is the last sub-forum and there is a thread on "water catchment". One of the worries is that there are state/city laws/ordinances (almost used the word ordnance, another word entirely) that forbid water catchment due to water laws designed to protect the water sheds of farmers and municipalities. I doubt that any law enforcement officer is going to cite someone for collecting water running off an RV. But you never know.

Reed and Elaine
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