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Old 06-06-2021, 09:40 PM   #57
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Solar and one lithium battery

I run 300w of solar panels and 1 x 100AH lithium battery this supplies all my power for led lighting powering my ARB frefrigerator/freezer, two fans, plus cellphone charging, and tablet useage. Also powers my fan for the composting toilet . I have a relay set up to top off my lithium battery while driving if we have run down the battery overnight. In three years of travelling have never run the battery down past about 60% with overnight use of house power.

Lithium battery and associated wiring and relay etc came to around $2800 but never plug into any shore power and usually by 9.00am back to full charge on solar alone even on cloudy daays we managed to charge up without resorting to the relay function.

Lithium battery is about 10 inches x 8 inches x 6 but around $1000 doubt it weighs more than 10 pounds a bit different than the usual AGM batteries .

Stay safe out there
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:04 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob918 View Post
I agree with the others on Lithium batteries.
...
don’t have to be concerned with running the batteries below 50% and damaging them,
Can't dispute the performance of lithium batteries, but will dispute the claim that discharging LA more than 50% damages them. That's just not true.

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Albuquerque, NM
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:14 PM   #59
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The best recommendation is a small lpg genset you already have the lpg on board and running a line to the genset is easy.

This avoids the fuel issue.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:22 PM   #60
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I agree with using a good battery monitor and get a real estimate how much power you really use. Otherwise you're guessing.

A few notes on solar.

Not all solar systems/panels are created equal.
What works for me or someone else had little bearing on your needs and solutions.
If you play the straight cost game solar seldom beaks even. You do solar for other reasons.
People's tolerance for generators varies greatly

We do not work from our RV nor are we full timers. However, we do make fairly long trips lasting 4 to 5 months. There is not an inverter in this rig. Where we camp we need to run the furnace most nights and very seldom run the A/C.

When I installed the 1050 watts solar on the 5th wheeler several years ago I turned off the converters (two of them in parallel) at the breakers and have never turned them back on. Thus the panels have provided 100% of 12 volt for those years. This includes Alaska and even camping north of the Aritic Circle in Canada.

In that time the four 6 volt batteries have been 100% recharged before 10:00 am except one time.

For hose folks that still insist that solar requires full, not necessarily true. Several solar manufactures marker bifacial (double sided) panels. No way does the bottom side get any direct sun ever.

It depends how the solar system is designed and installed as to how well it will work for you.

Yes I do sometimes carry a generator to power the microwave. In 5 months we ran it for a total of 20.4 hours.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:24 PM   #61
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Northern Arizona Wind and Sun have the best prices, service, selection, and products for enabling you to go solar at very attractive prices. I'm looking at their 1300 watt system for $2k (they're having a 5% off sale atm) which should prove more than adequate for your needs. They also have larger, and smaller setups too, so it pays to look around and see what best meets your needs. Safe and hoppy travels from the Boondocking Brewer!

Those panels are 4’ by 6’ the op did does not list his rig for that 1320 system you need a lot of roof space. Since it’s 4 panels.

Santan solar has the REC 350 panels for 150.00 higher output and voltage for less $ but are a bit bigger.
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Old 06-07-2021, 12:34 AM   #62
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Confusing Current with Power

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Originally Posted by cb750 View Post
Hey folks,

I'm one month in to full-time rving. Campsites are great, but the only thing holding me back from boondocking is electric. I work remotely so I do need reliable electricity.

I just wanted to run my plan by some other rv'ers and see if I have any gaps.

I use about 125 amps a day - and that is a generous allocation. That is leaving my laptop, phone, and two wireless routers plugged in for 8 hours. Heating and refrigerator are on propane, I don't use hairdryers, microwave, or AC.

I therefore bought 2x AGM 190 Ah batteries. This gives me 190ah per day. The store I bought them from seriously recommended not running them down to 50%, so at 125amps a day I am under that limit.

I have a 2000w inverter.

I have a 6.5kw Onan generator that puts out 54 amps.

Question: Do I need solar panels? The shop I bought the battery from said I'll be running the generator for ten hours to recharge those batteries. Really? I thought it would be 4 hours at most (54 amps x 4 hours. Does that make sense or am I stupid?). They recommended purchasing solar cells, but unless I have 500+ watts of solar, what difference is it going to make to that 10 hour estimate?

Question: I found a good guide online for wiring the batteries to the inverter, but how do I include the generator in the circuit?

All input is appreciated! Thanks
Great question, but there are problems… you need to use a constant factor, like watt-hours, for all power budgets. Current ‘flow’ is Amps; voltage is ‘potential’. Think of voltage as water pressure and amps as water flow speed. 10 amps at 120 Volts AC for one hour is 1200 watt-hours. 10 amps at 12 Volts DC for one hour is 120 watt-hours. You can (generally) compare AC watt hours to DC watt hours. Solar Panels provide DC power, stated as watts at the DC voltage the panel operates at. A 24 volt 100 watt panel delivers a theoretical 100 watt-hours per hour under perfect conditions of temperature and full, direct sunlight. A 12 volt 100 watt panel delivers 100 watt-hours per hour under perfect conditions.

Typically in Southern California we use a ‘fudge factor’ of 5 ‘hours equivalent full power’ per day. So a 100 watt hour panel, angled toward the sun properly, can be expected to deliver 500 watt-hours of usable energy on a sunny day. It’s about 15-20% better in the summer. At more northern locations, like Detroit or Seattle, that multiplier ‘fudge factor’ might be just 4. Remember, that number only is true for sunny days. Where I grew up in Ohio, you might not have a ‘sunny’ day for 90 days in a row in the winter. Where I live now in San Diego, we can expect about 300 ‘Sunny’ days on an average year (inland several miles off the coast).

Batteries are often rated in amp-hours. You can convert amp hours to watt hours by multiplying amp-hours times the battery voltage. A 12 volt, 100 Amp-Hour battery can deliver 1200 watt hours before being fully discharged. Lead Acid and AGM batteries should be limited to 50% discharge to prolong battery life (up to more than one thousand 50% discharge, followed by full recharge cycles.) Discharging past 50% State-of-Charge (SoC) on lead acid wet cell or AGM batteries can drastically reduce the battery life. Manufacturers publish battery longevity tables, in numbers of discharge/recharge cycles, for different levels of discharge. 50% for AGM and wet cell lead acid batteries is a good rule of thumb for good longevity (4-5 years of daily use). Lead acid batteries do best when maintained at a full charge all the time.

So if you want to draw 100 amkp hours off a 12 volt system (whether two 6-volt, 100 amp-hour batteries in series or two 12 volt, 100 amp-hour batteries in parallel) you can get your 100 amp-hours (1200 watt-hours) by drawing 100 amp-hours off the two batteries, taking both batteries to 50% charge (which have 200 amp hours total capacity.)

As stated in other posts, Lead Acid (either wet-cell or AGM) batteries have a prolonged charging cycle since the higher the state of charge, the slower they will charge.

Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, however, will take maximum amps of charge up to nearly 100% state of charge, so a generator will generally recharge those batteries much quicker, often in 1/4 to 1/3 the time of lead acid batteries of the same amp-hour capacity. Plus, and this is important, Lithium Iron Phosphate can be discharged to down near 5% capacity and recharged to full capacity thousands of times and suffer very little total capacity loss. Manufacturers publish tables comparing discharge percent to full charge, with numbers of cycles, to a percent capacity loss. The capacity loss might be stated as ‘the battery will charge to 80% of it’s full rated capacity after 3000 times of 95% discharge and recharge cycles’. This makes them cheaper, in the long run, because they require only half the number of batteries and can last twice as long as Lead Acid batteries.

Solar will continuously attempt to bring the battery back to full charge, every sunny day. If your RV or camper spends a lot of time in storage, solar will keep your batteries fully charged, assuming the RV is stored with the solar panels in the sun most days, and batteries are connected to the solar charging circuit. San Diego is really good for sunny days; Bellingham, Washington, not so much. If you leave the RV plugged into shore power full time, lead acid wet cell batteries can run low on electrolyte and should be topped off with distilled water at least monthly.

Don’t mix up watt-hours, amps and amp-hours in a conversation. These are not equal things to compare. Stick with watt-hours: watt-hours is what you are consuming and recharging.
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Old 06-07-2021, 02:55 AM   #63
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Question guys I have an 2008 Jayco Seneca 35gs Motorhome. I’m tired of buying deep cell batteries every couple of year I normally have stayed at rv parks with hookup for most of the time in the past especially since I quit competing in sass a couple of years ago. Then I only used the Motorhome a year or two before that I used my trailers. The Motorhome has a on an diesel generator which made it nice over the trailers where I used external generators, usually noises ones.

I’m replace my previous toad with a Jeep Wrangler and plan on attending off-road ralleys in addition to just getting a way and sightseeing.

I’m thinking of changing my power system to allow me to boondocks for a week or more at a time. I plan on initially changing my batteries and inverter/charger from the old archaic devices to in crease the life cycles and time of battery usage. It currently has I assume a typical OEM inverter charger and two dead lead acid deep cycles. I was going to replace the batteries with battleborn batteries until I realize that the inverter charge was gonna have to be swapped out also that negates the justification for the additional expense of the battleborn batteries I was even going with the heated ones until I found out the 300 dollars plus over the nearest competitor would need to be used against the cost of the new inverter/charger/converter to be exact plus a dc-dc converter iirc was suggested for converting the power from the alternator to prevent damage to the lithium batteries.

What I want to do during this retiring of systems is get the proper inverter to power all the outlets in the Motorhome not just the one in the cab over where the front tv is. The ac can run off the generator same with the microwave. I use a cpap at night, usually have a tv on around the clock for noise, during the day throw in a power hungry laptop. Running the generator is possible for morning and evening no problem. Ideally the Motorhome has a auto mode where you run of batteries until the power gets to a certain level then it will kick on the generator with in the permitted times iirc. The only problem with the current batteries were that it drew the batteries down some how by that I mean when in auto mode the generator would discharge the batteries when it was running, I tried a couple of times the quit using it.

I need help determining which inverter to buy, along with everything else. The solar part will be added on later. Currently I use a 12 volt power pack instead of the ac pack but I’m not happy with the connection we tapped into one of the reading lamps over the bed since that was the only 12 vt in the area. It has 120vt Receptacles on each side of the bed below the bedside shelf by the head of the bed.it doesn’t look good plus at times it will disconnect.

Can one of you that know how to redesign the power system in a Jayco Seneca older model please design a power system for me I will pay someone to swap it out I’m afraid I’m not aware of any rv places in the area that I trust to do this if I take it to camping world the only non local rv place in the area I’m aware of we charge me but not do it correctly from previous experiences with them. Took several trip to fix a problem with the microwave killing it self when plugged in to shore power I finally diagnosed it was the inverter was defective. Then they installed a solar panel one of the flexible ones that was blown off during a wing storm. So I’m reluctant to use them again.

I do use a toaster oven at times but normally that would be when the generator is running. Laptop, iPad, iPhone, camera battery charger, modern midsize flat TVs, direct tv receiver and auto dish box, wifi receiver the last 2 are wineguard devices plus a cat 5 hub and router, laser printer as needed that should do the front room in the bedroom the tv, same receiver as front tv, cpap Apple Watch charger which I normally use a usb hub that powers that charges the iphone, iPad and Apple Watch all at the same time I can’t think of anything thing else except during the winter when connected to shore power I use one or two electric heaters not at the same time the large one during the day in the front room and a very small one in the bedroom at night on a timer iirc. Thanks in advance. All the little draws that 99% of motor homes have should also be included. Oops forgot there’s a power vent/fan on a thermostat in the front room and one without in the bathroom I rarely use the bathroom one but the front room I use to keep the front room cooler when possible.
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Old 06-07-2021, 03:54 AM   #64
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Regardless, solar panels would be a good backup plan...Larry 2014 Reyo P

Quote:
Originally Posted by cb750 View Post
Hey folks,

I'm one month in to full-time rving. Campsites are great, but the only thing holding me back from boondocking is electric. I work remotely so I do need reliable electricity.

I just wanted to run my plan by some other rv'ers and see if I have any gaps.

I use about 125 amps a day - and that is a generous allocation. That is leaving my laptop, phone, and two wireless routers plugged in for 8 hours. Heating and refrigerator are on propane, I don't use hairdryers, microwave, or AC.

I therefore bought 2x AGM 190 Ah batteries. This gives me 190ah per day. The store I bought them from seriously recommended not running them down to 50%, so at 125amps a day I am under that limit.

I have a 2000w inverter.

I have a 6.5kw Onan generator that puts out 54 amps.

Question: Do I need solar panels? The shop I bought the battery from said I'll be running the generator for ten hours to recharge those batteries. Really? I thought it would be 4 hours at most (54 amps x 4 hours. Does that make sense or am I stupid?). They recommended purchasing solar cells, but unless I have 500+ watts of solar, what difference is it going to make to that 10 hour estimate?

Question: I found a good guide online for wiring the batteries to the inverter, but how do I include the generator in the circuit?

All input is appreciated! Thanks
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Old 06-07-2021, 06:37 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackey Cole View Post
I’m thinking of changing my power system to allow me to boondocks for a week or more at a time. I plan on initially changing my batteries and inverter/charger from the old archaic devices to in crease the life cycles and time of battery usage.

I need help determining which inverter to buy, along with everything else. The solar part will be added on later. Currently I use a 12 volt power pack instead of the ac pack but I’m not happy with the connection we tapped into one of the reading lamps over the bed since that was the only 12 vt in the area. It has 120vt Receptacles on each side of the bed below the bedside shelf by the head of the bed.it doesn’t look good plus at times it will
We are very happy with our Xantrex XC2000. It can power all 120vac for us except roof air. We mostly boondock, and hardly use any 120vac, so installing a disconnect on it saves a lot of standby draw. The biggest thing we like about it is it’s programmability for any battery profile and any size bank. It can charge at up to 100a. We charge our lithium at 80a. And it will go from 20% to 100% in less than 2 hours. If we can’t farm enough amps to replace our 40ah daily usage with our portable panel, we can still go for 3 days with no generator use. When we do have to fire up our propane genny, it’s a short run time. At $700, the Xantrex was the most affordable solution for us. The Bluetooth will not automatically re-pair with your phone, and that’s kind of a PITA, but overall I think great value.
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Old 06-07-2021, 10:00 AM   #66
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I read this whole thread and there is a lot of good info in here but I was surprised at the number of people recommending against solar for the OP. In my mind the OP is a perfect candidate for solar! I suspect most of the naysayers have not actually tried it.

Regarding the question of what to do on cloudy/rainy days, I have found that my panels still put out 30-50% of their rated power depending on the amount of overcast. The answer is to put as much solar on your roof as you have room for! If you plan for twice as much as you need, you will have plenty to handle the cloudy days... and you still will have your generator as a backup if needed. Solar panels are so cheap these days, I can't see why people stop at a few hundred watts.

Generators have two big negatives for me - one is the noise. It spoils the quiet which is one of the main reasons that I boondock in the first place. The other is the fuel requirement - this is not normally an issue, but could be if the supply chain is broken and you can't obtain it for an extended period of time. Think that's farfetched? Maybe, but it sure is comforting to have my RV sitting outside and knowing that if I couldn't get fuel for it I could still have lights, refrigeration, internet and hot coffee.

I have boondocked plenty with 900 watts of solar and 400AH AGMs and have only had to use the generator for A/C which is rarely necessary in the places I go due to high latitude and/or elevation. Last year I converted to a DC-only fridge and have still not had any issues. In the morning, the batteries will typically be down ~30-40% but by the time I'm up and about (usually by 8am) the panels are already putting out 10+ amps. I fire up the inverter to make coffee which pulls ~60 amps for 5-10 minutes and the laptop which draws a few more amps constantly. Peak current from the panels is usually around 10-11am at maybe 40 amps, after that the batteries charge rate tapers off as many have mentioned and by early afternoon they are fully charged. They don't typically start discharging until close to sunset which in the summer can be quite late. This is all with panels that are permanently flat-mounted to the roof of my RV. There is no way I'm adding more process to my life (tilting panels left, tilting panels right, or God forbid setting up panels on an external stand).

By the way, I am using AGM batteries because I have done so for many years, getting them from surplus vendors for very cheap. Large companies tend to swap out their giant UPS batteries (100 amp-hour, typically) every 3-4 years and they are usually in like-new condition, having been kept fully charged and rarely discharged more than a few %. I know AGM has its flaws but until recently, Lithium-based batteries have been prohibitively expensive. Thankfully that has changed and Lifepo4 is now the obvious choice for serious off-gridders.

First system (2010-2017) was 300W solar, 200AH AGM, 600W mod-sine inverter, 26' class C
Second system (2017-current) is 900W solar, 400AH AGM, 1.25Kw pure sine inverter, 25' class C

I'm already thinking about my "next" system. The rig will probably be similar-sized, either a short class C or possibly a B+. I'm going to remove the TV antenna and fridge vent as I don't use either anymore (NovaKool doesn't require a roof vent) and get serious about covering every available inch with panels. I am reasonably certain I can double my current power output by using the most efficient panels (possibly bifacial) and being more aggressive about mounting them nearer the edges and leaving less standing room on the roof. The next system will also have LifePo4 batteries, probably something like a pair of these 280AH batteries: https://www.ebay.com/itm/313410266666

That would be 560AH@12.8V or 7.2KwH which should be more than adequate. Might even be enough to support a 9Kbtu mini-split A/C system, used judiciously but that is a stretch goal. I will also go for a slightly larger inverter, probably in the 2KW range.

In case anyone is interested in what my current system cost, here is a quick summary:

6x150W Newpowa solar panels (eBay): $900
6x20-amp PWM charge controllers (eBay): $100
4x100AH AGM (used, Craigslist): $200
1x1250W AIMS true sine inverter with remote on/off (Amazon): $180

Wire, connectors, brackets, screws added a few more $ but the total system was only about $1,500 and has been running flawlessly for over three years. Uses no gas, makes no noise, requires no maintenance. I love it!
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Old 06-07-2021, 12:10 PM   #67
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I agreee that if you ran the batteries half way down and wanted to fully recharge you'd need close to 8 hours because the charge rate tapers off as batteries charge.. But if you are running ur generator while working and charging batteries that is 4 hours u r working and not using ba/eries so 4 hours a day should suffice.
I use solar panels because I hate generator noise. If u park where you get full sun 600 watts of solar panels should suffice. If you park in dense shade use the generator.
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Old 06-07-2021, 01:55 PM   #68
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Red face options for working remotely

We are on our maiden voyage in a class C motorhome, on the road since April 1. I need to check email and have Zoom capacity at least 3 days a week for my work. Here is how we have done it:

We bought a Netgear remote hotspot through ATT. As long as we have phone service, we have internet. We also have a phone signal booster- not usually necessary but great to have.

To keep the Netgear and my laptop charged up (we don't use our generator) we camp at an RV park with electricity every 7-10 days.

This has worked just fine.
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Old 06-08-2021, 08:29 AM   #69
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This is a timely topic for me. I’m currently working/studying on building a self sufficient system solely because we want to primarily bundock. I have pretty much settled on 6, 300w panels, 4, G8D-300Ah lithium’s, my MH’s onboard gen and a 3000w Honda gen. I’m struggling to find the inventors capable of handling everything we want to power, which includes ACs; however, just yesterday I “may” have found the solution - need to get a few more details.
Our home is off-grid and solar has been our only option. I have 24, 2w, FLA bats, (300+ pounds each), powered with 20KW of panels, the primary gen and 2 BU gens. My point is, I have no illusions about what I’m getting into but home and RV systems are not as similar as you might think - sort of like thinking of cars and trucks.
Maintaining FLA bats requires MUCH more learning than most people understand. Our home bats are in a sealed, temperature controlled room with air circulation and hydrogen sensor activated ventilation, none of which is an RV option. Therefore lithium is the game changer.
I would happily replace my two, 900 CCA LA chassis bats with lithium; however, the only “stated” cranking lithium’s I’ve found are those I plan to use for my MH’s house bank and they’re G8Ds so no way they’ll fit in my bat compartment.
I have “some” knowledge and experience with solar systems but clearly not as much as some of you on this thread. I would gladly welcome any commentary about my intentions. That being said, I don’t want to steel the thread.
IMH0, the OP’s stated requirements seem grossly underestimated. I think we need to know many more details before anyone can make an accurate suggestion to the OP, especially if the OP is firmly set on LA bats.
My best suggestion to the OP is to seriously consider lithium. Yes, they are considerably more expensive at the time of purchase; however, over time, a strong argument can be made that lithium pencils out to the same or less.
Also, unlike any of the LA bats, lithium doesn’t off gas, so they can be stored inside, in temperature control - if you can make room for them.
I should probably stop here, as there are obviously several knowledgeable people already responding.
Hope I haven’t stepped on any toes.
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Old 06-08-2021, 12:31 PM   #70
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I only boondock and do so for months at a time. I use a mix of solar and generator with the generator being the most important. I have about 200 watts of solar and a 4 battery bank. I have a 1000 watt Yamaha inverter gen. and a Honda 2200 should I need AC and that is rare as I camp at high elevation.
What I have learned is to never drain the battery bank below 12.3 volts with a light load. Run the little gen. on eco mode until it drops to an idle and shut it off until the voltage drops and fire it again. The run time will vary depending on how much battery draw and your solar output. I have long battery life and need very little gas, usually less than a gallon a week. All my lighting is LED and I run the fridge on auto mode to save some propane while the gen, is running. I have two inverters of 150 and 300 watts and use the one that is most efficient for the load.
I don't mind keeping a constant watch on the volts and starting the little gen. 5 or 6 times a day as it is easy to start. I do not like buying batteries because the price of replacing just one will buy a lot of gas. This probably will not work for a coach with a large watt draw but you might try it by upping the size of your gen. A 2200 burns more gas but would work for most coaches.
PS I am using AGM batteries and really like them. Also the little 1000 watt Yamaha is very quiet and with a 50' extension cord I can just hear it inside the coach. I also bring a UTV with me and since I must bring fuel for it means I have fuel for the generator. I like the LI batteries but converting to them and the charging systems along with more solar would not be cost effective for my needs. There are many different ways go for power and this thread is covering them all.
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