Getting ready for the road - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-04-2012, 08:38 AM   #1
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Getting ready for the road

As we near the end of our 1973 Love Bug redo there is a quandary. At this time the plan is to mostly boon-dock. Our big dilemma is power options. Weight is a consideration.

Some of my well meaning beloved friends and family members think I need a generator. (The thought of the noise make me cringe). I'm not sure what that will accomplish. I think that if we do power the cabin, we will do DC marine battery, and either charge with the car or solar. Preferably solar, but not sure we can count on the sun without risking damage to the battery. I recently read a post that talked about doing damage to a battery if you run it more than halfway down.

Thinking I can put an electric-in port for the times when plugin in is an option... (can't I just use a power strip for the inside)? to power computer and maybe an AC light.

Maybe we should just go with the tent provisions and decide as we go. It sure would be simpler to figure this out before we put up our insulation as we may need to run wires.

Most of my camping has been in a tent for a couple of weeks at a time. Power has not been an issue, - battery powered LED lights and gas (small tanks) or fire cooking have worked fine. Water from the mountain river, (boiled for consumption) no perishable food, no phone service so I drive in to a semi-local town, once or twice a week for free wi-fi (at Wendy's) and to make check-in (I'm still alive) calls back home. If I want to take something perishable back for supper, I get it while in town, do laundry if needed then head back to the forest.

Hopefully I will be able to stay out for more than a couple of weeks at a time with the camper. Maybe even a (full service) campground sometime.

Please offer any opinions. I realize that some of these things will be resolved as we learn what best works for us, this will be a new adventure and we want to be as prepared as possible from the start.

Thanks much,

Cathy
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:43 AM   #2
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Cathy, as a former tenter you already have a lot of the knowledge you need to go off-grid and you've done it successfully.

I can't help with the power needs, but will make a suggestion that you run all the wire you THINK you may need in the future, now.. before the insulation goes in. I would run wire with the idea that I MAY be hooked up. So, I'd have outlets everywhere and wires for lights everywhere. Better to do it now and not need it, that have regrets... "gosh, I wish I had a light... there."
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:55 AM   #3
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Donna,

Thanks for that post, that is what I am thinking might be the best solution I just really don't want to add another thing to the list for completion. May have to just bite the bullet (so to say) and run those wires. Sure don't want to have to slice open my new insulation to add a wire later.

Where do you have lighting in your camper?
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:09 AM   #4
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Where do you have lighting in your camper?
Everyplace I sit (plus the standard overhead lights), the kitchen area and the bathroom. I wish I had a couple of exterior outlets (tacky patio lights!) and an porch light (one on each side of the trailer with the ability to turn on the light from inside the trailer!).

I can't remember, are you going to run a power vent?
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:12 AM   #5
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Cat,

Consensus seems to be that if you are reasonable about your power usage, battery and solar work fine even in situations where you don't get a lot of sun.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of batteries. You will commonly run across 3 different types that all look like car batteries: they are intended for starting cars, for marine use, and "deep cycle" batteries. Car starter batteries need to provide a huge amount of power for a very short amount of time. They are the ones that you can damage by running them down too far. I'm not an expert, and I'm not certain what characteristics distinguish marine batteries. But for RVs, you want a "deep cycle" battery. As the name implies, they are distinguished from car batteries by the fact that you can run them way down without damage. There is a limit, but you've got a lot more flexibility with a deep cycle battery.

Regarding wires: Donna is correct. If you ever want to consider wiring in lights, now is the time.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:27 AM   #6
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Doug, good info..That clears up things for me. Donna, what kind of lights do you use? I think the outside light is a great idea.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:30 AM   #7
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If you are already wired for 12 volts, all you really need to "plug in" is a small converter / charger and a cord to plug it in.

I'd just add a small converter close to the battery and put in an external door to accept an extension cord. Little extra wiring and it allows you to charge the battery and run off 110 volt power when camping.

Progressive Dynamics PD9245CV Inteli-Power 9200 Series 45 Amp Converter/Charger with Built-in Charge Wizard : Amazon.com : Automotive

Outdoor Receptacle for 110 Volt - PPL Motor Homes
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:44 AM   #8
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Cathy, I also do a far bit of boon docking both here in the Pacific Northwest and down south. Here in BC most of our Provincial parks dont have power hook ups. Using propane to run the fridge and using only LED lights inside the trailer I can get by for a few days without power - providing I dont run my power hungry heater much. When in the south I can get by with just a small solar panel without any problems - only 60 watts - even in winter months - even if I am having to run the heater in the morning or evening a bit to warm the trailer up. The solar also has no problem keeping up with the power used by the Fantastic Fan in the warmer months. A small converter/charger that Tom mentioned along with a solar system should be all you need and at the end of the day cheaper than the purchase of a generator and the operating costs of it.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:47 AM   #9
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........and at the end of the day cheaper than the purchase of a generator and the operating costs of it.
Plus with no generator, your camping neighbors won't hate you.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:47 AM   #10
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Tom,

This is all so confusing to me. I can figure out lots of things and am a pretty fast learner but I can't for the life of me understand electronics. Thanks for the link. Are you saying that by using the device in the link that I could charge the battery with a 110 hook up or a solar panel and only run LEDs?
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:50 AM   #11
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Carol,

What is your lighting situation? Sounds like you use LEDs when off grid and other when plugged in? How do you find the light production of the LEDs?
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:53 AM   #12
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For most, love isn't neverending, and (Hard to think now) someday you will look at your Love Bug and decide it's time to part, meaning you will want to sell and get top dollar from the next owner.

For that reason, IMHO anyway, for your present enjoyment, it's best to restore our oldies to full original and a lot better. This means to install regular coach wiring, with breakers and GFI's as well as some sort of a DC distribution system a and battery charger and lots of 120 VAC and 12VDC outlets and light wiring all over the place.

And for this I always recommend and use the PD-4045 from Progressive Dynamics as a starting point in all restorations.

PD4045 45 Amp Inteli-Power Mighty Mini Power Center

The thought of an extension cord and a plug strip is downright scary & dangerous, not to mention illegal in most juristrictions.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:56 AM   #13
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Tom,

This is all so confusing to me. I can figure out lots of things and am a pretty fast learner but I can't for the life of me understand electronics. Thanks for the link. Are you saying that by using the device in the link that I could charge the battery with a 110 hook up or a solar panel and only run LEDs?

Yes, basically this converter device provides 12 volt power to run everything you would otherwise run off your battery, plus it recharges your battery. You need to plug it into a 110 volts, though. That's why I linked the external door fixture. You wire the converter device to the fixture and plug an extension cord into the fixture when you are in a campsite with electricity.

It works in parallel with the solar so either, none or both can be charging your battery.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:57 AM   #14
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Tom,

With this converter/charger will fuses/circuit breakers be necessary? Are those controls built in or is it safest to put circuit breakers regardless?
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