Play Pac Conversion to Off grid - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-22-2015, 05:04 PM   #1
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Name: Adam
Trailer: Play Pac
Massachusetts
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Play Pac Conversion to Off grid

Hi All,

My girlfriend and I recently bought a 1973 Play Pac that we think is the coolest thing ever! We are planning a six month excursion around the United States and plan on mostly camping at "dispersed camp sites" as we have a tight budget. We are planning on towing our Play Pac with a 2011 Subaru Forester. We will also be bring our two dogs!!

We are very new to this and have been trolling tons of websites to gather as much information about the Play Pac and ways to travel on a tight budget, but we know we can do it. Anyway to my questions, has anyone converted either their Play Pac or another comparable size fiberglass trailer to off grid?

Can the roof support a load for at least a 200 watt array?

We have the model that has a shower and the trailer can be hooked to AC power, but because most dispersed camp sites do not have much amenities this is our main reasons for why we want to convert it to off grid.

So in regards to hot water we have removed our electric on demand hot water tank and will be selling it and most likely be getting a propane hot water heater. Is this the right kind of thinking for off grid? Any recommendation for a propane heater that comes with a pump? Here are a few that I have found so far:

Zodi Instant Water Heater and Hot Shower - Walmart.com

Hot Water On Demand Portable Water Heater - Coleman 2000007107 - Water Heaters - Camping World

Battery Operated Shower System

I would love to here how others have successfully converted their small trailers off grid!!

We will be posting some images of our Play Pac soon!!!

Thank you!!!
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Old 11-22-2015, 06:13 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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Originally Posted by The Dirtbags Guide View Post
Hi All,

My girlfriend and I recently bought a 1973 Play Pac that we think is the coolest thing ever! We are planning a six month excursion around the United States and plan on mostly camping at "dispersed camp sites" as we have a tight budget. We are planning on towing our Play Pac with a 2011 Subaru Forester. We will also be bring our two dogs!!

We are very new to this and have been trolling tons of websites to gather as much information about the Play Pac and ways to travel on a tight budget, but we know we can do it. Anyway to my questions, has anyone converted either their Play Pac or another comparable size fiberglass trailer to off grid?

Can the roof support a load for at least a 200 watt array?

We have the model that has a shower and the trailer can be hooked to AC power, but because most dispersed camp sites do not have much amenities this is our main reasons for why we want to convert it to off grid.

So in regards to hot water we have removed our electric on demand hot water tank and will be selling it and most likely be getting a propane hot water heater. Is this the right kind of thinking for off grid? Any recommendation for a propane heater that comes with a pump? Here are a few that I have found so far:

Zodi Instant Water Heater and Hot Shower - Walmart.com

Hot Water On Demand Portable Water Heater - Coleman 2000007107 - Water Heaters - Camping World

Battery Operated Shower System

I would love to here how others have successfully converted their small trailers off grid!!

We will be posting some images of our Play Pac soon!!!

Thank you!!!

Welcome to the group,


Me thinks you need to be doing a lot of reading and question asking before you start spending $$$ on changes.

First I suggest that you concentrate on making your trailer safe for towing. That includes checking the dates codes on the tires. Anything more than 7 years old needs to be replaced before you hit the road. A blowout at 55MPH will not only ruin your day, it can do a lot of damage to your trailer as well as possible collateral damage to those around you on the road. And don't save an outdated tire for a spare, be sure all three are safe.

Next is wheel bearings and brakes (if equipped) As a new owner you will want to get the wheel bearings inspected, cleaned and repacked with new seals. Brakes, if equipped, should also be checked for condition and operation.

Then comes your questions:
200 watts isn't a weight value., but even a roof full of panels seems doable if the weight is distributed. A bigger problem is the weight you will no doubt gain with extra battery's. more on that later.

RV's use RV specific water heaters and they do not include pumps. It's customary to install a pressure demand pump to pressurize the entire hot and cold water system. But again, weight and space is a consideration. A 4 gallon water heater will run about $400 plus installation. I have used a ZODI, they work great and it is a good option for a hot shower.

Your two dogs will impact your touring more than anything else about your trailer. You will find that there are lot of places you can't go and that the primary concern will be, as it should be, their well being. Think that decision very carefully.

And now about weight: The towing capacity for your Subaru appears to be 2400 lbs. with trailer brakes, but only 1000 lbs. without, meaning you must have trailer brakes and a controller. And some of the states you will be travelling in may have 1000-1500 lb.requirements for trailer brakes. Also, some Subaru's have a somewhat lower than expected maximum tongue weight, usually about 185 lbs. which may less that the suggested 10% towing weight of your trailer. Check your vehicles manual and get your exact numbers and also plan on getting your trailer weighed when ready to go, it will get heavier than you think.

Again, ask lots of questions before you start changing things.
Good Luck
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:33 PM   #3
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One thing to remember you're limited on the amount of water can carry. So it might be wise to consider water consumption and ways to reduce that consumption. Use a Product call "Fresh Bath" instead of showers. Cook with minimum pots and pans. Use paper plates and plastic flat ware if you can, this reduces the amount of dish washing needed.
Read backpacking hand books on food, cooking, etc. to better reduce water and fuel consumption.

We camp for 3 to 4 months every winter in National Parks without any hookups. The 12 gallons of water we carry will last at least a week, sometimes longer. Hot water can be had from a tea kettle on the stove.

I've actually found it fun to work out ways to save water and go without electricity.

All the lights are LED, no electric water pump. The only the battery runs is the LED lights and if it's cold enough to use the furnace the furnace fan.

I do have a 65 Watt solar panel that if I have to use the furnace I recharge the battery about every 3 or 4 days, without the furnace running I can go a week or two.
It all can be done, you just need to think about what's important to you.
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:33 PM   #4
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I'm curious why you have settled on a 200 Watt array. What do you see as your major draws?

We lived on a sailboat with a fridge and water maker and lots of electronics and only ran a 180 watt array most of the time. 200 is massive!

We have 40 watts on the CompactII. We decided to decrease draws rather than increase capacity.

Most solar sites have a calculator to help you size your system. Refrigeration is usually the biggest draw. If you go to LED lights that draw is minimal. Recharging phones and other electronics can take quite a bit. One thing to consider is that there is no cell service at most dispersed camping. That saves a ton of juice!


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Old 11-22-2015, 11:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Denece View Post
I'm curious why you have settled on a 200 Watt array. What do you see as your major draws?

We lived on a sailboat with a fridge and water maker and lots of electronics and only ran a 180 watt array most of the time. 200 is massive!

We have 40 watts on the CompactII. We decided to decrease draws rather than increase capacity.

Most solar sites have a calculator to help you size your system. Refrigeration is usually the biggest draw. If you go to LED lights that draw is minimal. Recharging phones and other electronics can take quite a bit. One thing to consider is that there is no cell service at most dispersed camping. That saves a ton of juice!


Sent from my iPad using Fiberglass RV

Electronic devices can easily be recharged from the tow while going from place to place. No drain on the trailer battery. I keep two computers three cameras, two cell phones, a GPS receiver, two Kindles all from the tow.
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Old 11-23-2015, 01:38 AM   #6
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Exactly, Byron, but assuming they plan to stay in a place until they need water, tug charge may not be enough. We have extra 4 gallon containers if we plan to be out longer. No electric water pump. ( I like a marine foot pump) Catalytic heat ( no fan) 12v muffin fans for cooling. We went for the ice chest in place of refrigeration since a good chest will hold ice a week and most RV fridges have pitiful insulation.

Thinking through how you want to camp is the most important step


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Old 11-24-2015, 03:32 PM   #7
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Name: Irish
Trailer: In the Market
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Hi Adam, Did you buy the PlayPac from Tuftonboro NH?
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