Off Grid Solar Renovation- Goal Zero Yeti 3000 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-31-2018, 06:46 PM   #1
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Off Grid Solar Renovation- Goal Zero Yeti 3000

Hi!
New to the forum. We just bought a 30 foot '78 argosy and it was in such a state that it had to be gutted, so we are looking to do a complete off the grid setup. (Will bring a generator for backup when solar won't do the trick)

Has anyone used the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 in their setup? It is new - so some similar experience would be appreciated too.

I would like to be able to use a couple solar panels and this to power our new little home.

We are looking at including the following:
low draw LED puck lights,
Carbonic Heat floors,
on demand H2O heater,
small water pump,
2 unit induction cooktop
composting toilet
2 computers, phones, and a few other "littles"
*and if I am lucky a all in one compact washer/dryer

We are open to any and all recommendations, warnings and thoughts

*we are also exploring water catchment options for longer stays if anyone has ideas there!

We are taking pics along the way - so we will be sure to give back to the community when we are getting sorted. Thanks again in advance for your support.
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Old 06-01-2018, 06:35 AM   #2
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lost...

you lost me at the 3000 dollars for a battery bank!
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:14 AM   #3
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That would have lost me too. I didn’t say I was paying $3000 for it I’m actually getting I got the whole set up: battery inverter 2 panels for about 1500.

If I thought I could do better or I trusted myself to build the circuits and wire it myself for less I certainly would!
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:24 AM   #4
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If you want a minimal system that is completely prepackaged, and are willing to pay for the fancy packaging, it might do what you want, with the exceptions I noted below. This is really a system designed for home backup power on a very limited scale.

I'm alway wary of a company that doesn't list the battery capacity using the industry standard of a 20 amp hour rate, but I suspect you will find it underwhelming. Their listed amp hours (Pack capacity: 3075Wh (10.95V, 280.8Ah) Single Cell Equivalent Capacity: 842Ah @ 3.65V) is pretty meaningless since it doesn't list a rate.

The 12.5 amp @ 120v may be a problem running both induction plates, and I suspect you will be limited to short runs. Likewise if the on demand water heater is electric. Not sure what the draw of the "Carbonic Heat floors" is, but if they are electric heaters, again they may be too much for this system.

Note the charge times with the available solar panels - 18 - 36 hours with a 200 watt solar panel. That means 2-3 days of not using any output. Also not it cannot be charged at 12V, so charging from your tow vehicle while driving between locations is out.

You could put together a normal RV battery (150 amp hour or so), 160 watt solar panel & controller for less than half the price of this device.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:51 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Franswa View Post
you lost me at the 3000 dollars for a battery bank!
I think what you are paying for in the Yeti set up is that it is an extremely compact, highly portable, totally packaged, high plug & play power system. And while a person has their checkbook out, they might as well add another $575 to add the suitcase solar panels too. https://www.goalzero.com/shop/kits/g...ase-solar-kit/

Can you buy more watts for less? Probably yes if you are a willing and able do it yourselfer. But if you add the cost of having it professionally installed, it will add cost over the catalog price which the Yeti does not. And the other system might not be as tightly packaged and portable as the Yeti. Unless you want to have the portability that would enable carting your system down to the beach to power a rock roll band or whatever one wishes, it might be a good idea to consult a solar installer to compare prices of having a similar wattage system installed into your RV. You might be able to save enough $$ to add more watts to your system.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:57 AM   #6
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something to consider....

you seem intent on building an all electric trailer...right down to heated floors (!!!)....that's an interesting project/goal....but from the get go you should know that it is an uphill battle. Electric heating elements (space heaters, hair dryers, toasters) are energy hogs and that is the main reason propane appliances are / have been traditionally used in RVs...along with some electric devices. It's all about the relative efficiencies of different energy sources. One could pack a thousand pounds of batteries in a trailer I suppose but it would not be too practical. A 20 pound propane tank can cool your food, cook it, heat the water for dishes/shower and warm up the trailer before you get out of bed in the morning...



Anythings is possible of course...but for "how long" and at what cost (???). Good luck...let us know how it all works out.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:01 AM   #7
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Be sure to do a few simple calcs to add up what a "couple solar panels" will actually deliver. Factor in bad weather and imperfect orientation.

Then add up what the load you intend to have will actually be in the real world. How many BTU's of heat from the electric floor system, instant water heater running on electric, how much cooking on the electric induction stove, etc.

Then factor in the inherant losses during battery charging and the type of battery you plan to use.

I think you'll find that you either must go about 10 times bigger than you're planning, or run the generator most of the time. Either of those may make the project unreasonable.

You could easily make the radiant floor, the fridge, the water heater and the cook stove run on propane, which is cheap to set up and well proven. Then use a reasonable solar system to run the rest. Or you might have a small electric coffee maker, occasional microwave use and cook outside on propane.

Will you require air conditioning?

Just be sure to add up how much energy from the panels, the storage and the realistic use before committing. A 100 watt panel only delivers that amount when perfectly aligned with the sun in clear weather and in the middle of the day. Batteries only deliver their rated output if the power is drawn slowly, and only then down to 50%, if you are using lead/acid. Bad weather is when you have the highest load and the least solar. Carrying a lot of gasoline for the generator might be worse than setting up a propane system. Starting the generator in the middle of the night might be more of a nuisance than turning up the propane heater's thermostat.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:04 AM   #8
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I'm going to echo Francwa here and say going all-electric just isn't practical for most people. With all-electric heating, cooking, and refrigeration you need a heck of a lot of power, more power than a handful of solar panels can provide and a lot of heavy batteries to keep you warm at night when the sun goes down, which begs this question: What do you do when you park in a shady RV spot and what do you do if you winter camp when the sun doesn't stay up long and it's solar rays only provide half your panel's full output for a few hours a day?

I have talked with people who have high-efficiency marine refrigerators that run compressors powered by solar & wind. Their idea of a recreational vehicle has sails instead of wheels and are rigged to handle weeks at a time of off-the-grid cruising. They love LED lightinging and their electric 'fridges and don't have to worry about how heavy their solar panels, wind turbine, or batteries are or how hard it is to pull the added weight up a hill, but use diesel/kerosene or propane for cooking and winter clothing and sleeping bags to stay warm on chilly nights. And these are people who take climate change very seriously, hate burning fossil fuel, and would happily spend many tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade to an electric cooktop if one were available.

And that should tell you a lot about how impractical electric cooking and heating in an RV is.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:59 AM   #9
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people in boats....

yeah it seems that with refrigeration in boats it's always an icebox first and on larger vessels 12V electric, especially with motor vessels. I have a friend who has 4 GC batteries to keep his smallish fridge working for him (his biggest draw)....


boats seem to skip propane fridges....probably because of the side vent required....that's a deal breaker on a boat with a galley down low...plus propane and bilges are not a good combination risk wise...so it's no surprise



propane fridges do cost quite a bit....but, man, once it's in there I can't think of more efficiency than that real small (pilot light size) flame keeping my big two door fridge/freezer working perfectly....for pennies...
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Old 06-01-2018, 11:19 AM   #10
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There's always tidal power.
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Old 06-01-2018, 11:32 AM   #11
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Propane fridges are not used on boats for two reasons. 1. The fear of accumulating propane in the bilge and having an explosion. 2. The fact that sailboats spend a lot of time out of level while on a given tack. Propane/absorption fridges must be nearly level to work. They are also an awkward shape for boats that should have a top loader box.

Compressor frdges work well on boats, but the best ones are holding plate systems where the compresor only runs once or twice a day to freeze the plate and the heat is given off to the fuel tank or the water. Mine ran for about 20 minutes every twelve hours or so. This meant I could manage the power use and time it to when the engine was running or tied to shore power, if needed. Often, on cruising boats, the engine gets run a bit everyday to make water and charge batteries anyway.

Office type fridges, or ones with a Norcold compressor and air cooling, tend to run about 30% of the time. It's a small load, but it is almost always drawing power, so the power use cannot be managed. This leads to more of a hassle with battery charging
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Old 06-01-2018, 11:45 AM   #12
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I feel there's a disconnect between anchored house living and living is towable box off the grid. When going off the grid there's things you probably need to do differently than you would at your anchored home. To lean more about being off the grid I suggest a good backpacking book.

You too can learn how to do without refrigeration, hot water heater, AC, etc. Your grandfathers learned how to live without cell phones, internet, television and radio. You can too.
The experience of living off the grid minimally and enjoying what nature has to give is a very rewarding experience. I can't even come close to listing the experiences I've had that most people have never seen or done.
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Old 06-01-2018, 12:22 PM   #13
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if you want off grid heat, hot water, cooking, you really should be looking into propane.,

a 200 watt solar system might make 1000 watt*hours/day on a bright sunny day, if the panels face the sun most of the day and there's no clouds or shade. a pair of 6V GC2 golf cart batteries stores 220AH at 12V or 2640 watt*hours but you really shouldn't use more than half of that or you'll kill the batteries, so 1300 watt hours.

a standard 20 lb bottle of propane has 430,000 BTU's in it, thats the equivalent of 125000 watt*hours, or 10,000 amp*hours at 12 volts. That propane bottle has 100X more energy in it than those two golf cart batteries, and most of our trailers have two of them. around $20 to refill or exchange the bottle at most any outlet.
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Old 06-01-2018, 12:45 PM   #14
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Hi, Blair. That sounds like a fun and exciting project! As others have intimated, what you’d like to accomplish electrically may not be feasible or practical with a Yeti system though, as cool as they are. I would strongly encourage you do two things. First, review the excellent article “The 12 volt side of life”, which does a good job of boiling down a lot of issues related to electrical generation and consumption in an RV http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm

Second, whip out a notepad and actually calculate your projected electric consumption, based on wattage of every device you will use and how long you expect to use each one daily. It can be a pain to research power draw for every stinking thing, but it’s really simple math once you look it all up. Then use one of the handy formulae to backwards engineer how much solar and battery capacity you need to accomplish what you want to do. There’s more info on this on the “part 2” of the website linked above.

Here’s one other consideration to think on: all batteries wear out. How hard and how expensive is it to replace the guts of a Yeti?

I wish you the best in your project and would love to hear about it as it comes along!

Cheers,
Scott
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Old 06-02-2018, 12:55 PM   #15
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Thank you

Loving all the thoughtful information and responses. I suppose I can clarify...

We already have a cab over on our 3/4 ton truck. No bathroom, propane stove, no temp control. Its great for up to a week. Did it for 10 days last year in the hot hot desert and it was just too much. That said - a solar shower and any sort of airflow would be a complete luxury for us.

We don't need a lot - we actually prefer to be outdoors. I have personally lived in off the grid systems (homes) for months at a time and am quite comfortable in that setup - weather permitting. On a few ocassions we are going to experience some heat - hopefully not so much a few windows can't do the trick. The winters on the other hand. We are Idaho mountain folks - we like our snow - so maybe theres a little wood burner in our future! I also don't suspect that we will be super keen on hauling the beast around too frequently. More longer term stays.

I am going to do a power use workbook to figure out all the details before we commit to anything. Truly interested in the smallest footprint possible. Thus the electric interest with solar. Have yet to calculate the "cradle to cradle "footprint of the battery to propane for this little beastie - that will come when I out together the workbook. Happy to share it.

Again - all great suggestions. We are really grateful - I am going to look into some marine setups and explore the whys. Taking all you have shared into account I will keep you posted. Thanks so much. Blair & Yancy
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