Cost of installing propane/solar - Fiberglass RV
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Old 10-25-2017, 08:38 AM   #1
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Name: Mark
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Cost of installing propane/solar

When I do make my purchase, I want to be able to go boondocking with some/minimal power source. I see very few used trailers for sale that are all set to go with generator/propane/solar power all in one units. As always, I must stipulate that my options are limited with my 6'5" frame, and I want to be able to stand upright in the trailer. (Yes, I have heard all the arguments of getting use to stooping over, no thanks!)

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably have to pay for modifications to install propane and solar. Can anyone give me a ballpark amount of what it will cost? Living not far from St. Louis, I am guessing I will find someone to do it. I may find one of my handy retired buddies to do it, but have no idea what to expect on cost of modifications for installing propane and solar.

Any estimates will be appreciated. I wouldn't know where to begin on determining what is a fair price for the job, or the amount/cost of equipment for the job.
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Old 10-25-2017, 08:51 AM   #2
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Name: bob
Trailer: Was A-Liner now 13f Scamp
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propane

mark do you have propane now? It really is not a hard job to put propane in if you want it?

Here is what I have in our 13f Scamper I disconnected the furnace, put in a flexible quick disconnect to that line I can hook up either a little buddy heater or our 2 burner propane stove or we can cook outside on our coleman much preferred!

Where do you live near st Louis we are outside of Columbia to the east. You can drive here to look at our set-up if you like! we are outside Kingdom City!!

bob

I am not trying to tell you what to do but a good battery you will use very little 12v! I consider solar sort of a waste of money in my opinion to each his own!!
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:10 AM   #3
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Live in Ste. Genevieve. I don't own a trailer yet but it is in my near future plans. I've been researching for about 3 years now, hooked on idea of a fiberglass. I am retiring in the not too distant future and I have plans to do a lot of travelling, and as cheaply as possible, meaning lots of boondocking. I know I will have to make some sacrifices, but I know I will want a couple hours of electricity at night for AC/Heat and reading and TV watching. I don't plan on spending much money in pay campgrounds, maybe occasionally when it is most convenient or I need some civilized time. Mostly plan on moving from BLM land, Forest Service, and free or nearly free primitive campsite.
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:36 AM   #4
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If you want to run AC, you will have to get a generator. I have a very efficient 6000 BTU air conditioner at home that uses 520 Watts of power. That means to run it one hour on 12 volt would require at least 43 1/3 amps, probably closer to 50 if you account for loss converting 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC. There are kits to convert some gas fired generators to propane fired or you could buy a duel fuel.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:00 AM   #5
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North Carolina
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Speaking only of equipment costs (since DIY is not that hard), solar can be anywhere from about $50 to as much as you want to spend. It mostly depends on your needs and expectations (and your posts does not include that information).

I set my brother up with 100 watts of solar for about $150. He connects the controller to the house battery with alligator clips and sets the panel in the sun - done. It is not a permanent installation. My solar setup is a mix of portable panels and installed high quality controller and battery monitor. Cost was about $550 (150 watts) and would be more if I added more battery. For panels, a ballpark is $1 - $1.50 a watt, $2 if you want a smaller flex panel. Controllers start at $20 and up, figure $50 - $100 at least however. Maybe $50 for wiring, fuse and connectors.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Mark View Post
When I do make my purchase, I want to be able to go boondocking with some/minimal power source. I see very few used trailers for sale that are all set to go with generator/propane/solar power all in one units. As always, I must stipulate that my options are limited with my 6'5" frame, and I want to be able to stand upright in the trailer. (Yes, I have heard all the arguments of getting use to stooping over, no thanks!)

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably have to pay for modifications to install propane and solar. Can anyone give me a ballpark amount of what it will cost? Living not far from St. Louis, I am guessing I will find someone to do it. I may find one of my handy retired buddies to do it, but have no idea what to expect on cost of modifications for installing propane and solar.

Any estimates will be appreciated. I wouldn't know where to begin on determining what is a fair price for the job, or the amount/cost of equipment for the job.
Most manufacturers install propane in their trailers with the notable exception of Lil Snoozy and Egg Camper.
Solar is great if you plan to boondock, especially if you have dual 6v batteries to increase capacity.
And, as stated, many generators can be converted to run on both gasoline and propane. It was about a 15 minute job to convert my Honda EU2000i to run on propane.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:15 AM   #7
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Florida
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Hey Mark,

I can't help with propane as ours came with propane connects, but we did just do 180W of solar. We boondock almost exclusively as well and it's not enough for complete sustainability, but it will cut down our generator use to an hour or two every couple of days.

In total, it cost us about a grand to do, but we did a unique install where we put a swinging truck box on the rear hitch of our Escape, then installed the solar panel on the truck box lid. The panel and wiring ran us around $200, the charge controller and battery monitor ran around $400, and the rest paid for the truck box, swinging hitch, and tilting brackets that attached the panel to the truck box.

Solar panels themselves are cheap these days, it's the charge controller and battery monitor that remains the most expensive. Worth buying good ones though, as the better the charge controller is, the more efficient the panel will be.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:32 AM   #8
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Mark, I did exactly what you are asking, with our Lil Snoozy, not because of my 5’9” frame, but solely because the floor plan best suited our needs/desires. I did all the work myself, and it is not difficult. You can “Google” the cost of all items you would desire, such as propane tank, regulator, solar panels, copper tubing & fittings, and generator.
Wouldn’t a Big Foot travel trailer fit your frame and needs?
Best of luck.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:44 AM   #9
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I'm leaning towards a Lil Snoozy. Ads say 6'5" interior height.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:58 AM   #10
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Mark, it does start out at 6’5” and slopes downward toward the front. We had a couple of 13’ Scamps, and I was slightly taller then, and I had to take my shoes off upon entering it, and would splay my legs out while standing by the sink etc.so my head was not pressed against the roof. Most of the time I was sitting, so it wasn’t a big deal, but it is nice to not have to be mindful of it now. Attend a rally or go to the factory to go inside one to see if it fits. Ask on this site if there is someone with a Bigfoot trailer that would show you their’s.
Best of luck
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Old 10-25-2017, 11:12 AM   #11
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Propane - depends on if you want it for. Cooking, heating and/or hot water? You can price the various appliances, as far as installation, the furnace is probably the most difficult because of the additional venting, etc. Haven't had to deal with this since the Casita comes with propane for all these, as well as for the 3-way fridge. I have heard that it's pretty expensive to add the furnace to the Casita if it didn't come with it from the factory.

Solar - a lot of variation in price, depending on the complexity. Nice thing is you can start simple and add additional panels/battery capacity as needed. We boondocked last month in N. Arizona. We have a 100w panel (free standing,) 20A MPPT controller (can easily handle another panel if/when the time comes) and 115AH battery (Trojan group 27.) We were easily able to run lights, furnace, water pump and miscellaneous small loads overnight. Spent less than $500 for everything, not including the upgraded battery, but I installed it myself. Wasn't very difficult, but there are plug-and-play systems that are even easier.

A lot of people get by fine without a generator, unless you really need a/c, in which case it may be best to camp with hookups. We live in Florida but have yet to camp here without hookups. I have a generator but haven't taken it camping yet.

I agree that the Bigfoot trailers may be a good option, rather than getting something and having to do major mods to get it where you want it.
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Old 10-25-2017, 11:42 AM   #12
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Most propane systems are factory installed and are on most trailers. As for solar it's only needed for longer than long week end trips, then only if you stay in one place. Usually the tow vehicle will charge while towing.
I went for about 3 years without a solar panel, mostly staying in one place about 3 nights, in the summer. Now that retirement has happened we're out for minimum of 5 nights and up to 30 night in one place. The solar is really handy now.
The thing I did that made the most difference was to replace all incandescent lights with LED lights.
I'm kind of a safety nut, and therefore I wouldn't buy a trailer that has had either or both the propane system or the electrical system messed with. Both if not done correctly and spell disaster.
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Old 10-25-2017, 11:53 AM   #13
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I saw a video of a blogger who bought a 13 Scamp for his wife, him, and his young daughter to live in while traveling full-time. He was too tall for the Scamp, so he built a small, one legged stool to "sit" on while cooking or doing other tasks that normally would require standing. Said that since it was one legged, it would sway and turn enough for him to reach most anything he needed. Saved him from having to slouch all the time.

Seemed like an ingenious solution for him.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:32 PM   #14
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It sounds like you are wondering what modifications you need to make to a trailer you purchase in order for your friend to be able to do the work of installing solar or propane. It is not possible to create a list of all the possible scenarios because it is not known what trailer you are going to purchase.

You could start to form your estimate by asking your friend what a week's worth of his time will cost That would at least give you a very loose baseline labor cost. Then you can look at the cost of things such as a furnace, stove and solar panel system. Maybe you want a water heater too? That will give you a baseline of the highest priced ticket items. Then add several hundred dollars for incidentals such all the small gas and electrical hardware fittings, tubing, wires, caulking, paint. Possibly an additional budge amount will be needed for a few special small tools, drill bits, hole saws, crimpers, flaring tool for the gas lines, etc. Things your friend might not have on hand for the work.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Mark View Post
Live in Ste. Genevieve. I don't own a trailer yet but it is in my near future plans. I've been researching for about 3 years now, hooked on idea of a fiberglass. I am retiring in the not too distant future and I have plans to do a lot of travelling, and as cheaply as possible, meaning lots of boondocking. I know I will have to make some sacrifices, but I know I will want a couple hours of electricity at night for AC/Heat and reading and TV watching. I don't plan on spending much money in pay campgrounds, maybe occasionally when it is most convenient or I need some civilized time. Mostly plan on moving from BLM land, Forest Service, and free or nearly free primitive campsite.
: I would think a good 17' Bigfoot would be the right trailer if you need that inside space for your length. Also a 50W solar panel would work just fine, talk to the pros about solar, I have 300W on our MH works for us but we also have 4000W onan Gen set as we do try to not plug in and boondock as much as we can the money saved goes into the fuel tank. You would need a 2800W Gen set to turn a 13000 BTU AC unit on but you will not be able to plug in the toaster at same time, maybe 3000 W would would be enough for it and toaster.
We run everything else on propane or as much as we can, having a micro wave is not really needed but it depends on your choices, we rarely use ours. But owning a Toaster with small oven we can do pizza, and all kinds of stuff in it. Our MH did no come with a oven so we installed one so my wife could bake her non Gluten Bread as most store bought tastes like sawdust.
These other little molded trailers especially the older ones your not going to be able to get past the 6' in height.
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Old 10-28-2017, 06:29 PM   #16
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Lots of Bigfoot recommendations, man, they're pricey.
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Old 10-29-2017, 07:54 AM   #17
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Name: bob
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Hard to believe

Mark I have looked at some of those high-dollar rigs they are not for me but they sure have the bling. First of all I cannot imagine the insurance costs for those!

I like the 500k bus rigs to but I will never be able to afford one so I am in my 13f scamper. it sort of looks ridiculous going down the highway or parked by the 40f monster campers but I am happy with just the way things are here!

After 40 years tenting we are content!

bob
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:10 AM   #18
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Name: Mark
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I watched a couple Youtube videos on the Honda EU3000is generator. I'm thinking now that for the "bang for the buck" that I might skip the propane and solar. The Honda seems to be able to handle a small air conditioner/small electric heater with some power left over for a few things. Apparently it will run 7-8 hrs on 1.5 gallon of fuel - well long enough to stay warm or cool at night for only a couple dollars. I could live with that. Believe I came across some discussion here about the Honda 3000. Pricey at $2,300 but a good reliable generator and no hassle hook up.

I could still use my propane Coleman stove with a 5 gal propane tank.
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:20 AM   #19
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generator

mark do a read up on the harbor freight small generators. small price good ratings!

bob
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:34 AM   #20
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Name: Mark
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Quick glance - wow much cheaper - although I big advantage pointed out on one of the videos is that there is a Honda dealer in about every decent size town for repairs and maintenance. But I will give the harbor freight it do consideration and research.
Something I just read as well....the carburetor needs to be adjusted for using above 5,000 ft. I love the mountains and plan to spend considerable time camping at high altitudes. I have zero mechanical skills, and will need the carburetor adjusted from time to time. Hopefully, Honda will show me how to do it myself.
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