Boondocking with my Instant Pot? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-23-2019, 09:38 AM   #1
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Boondocking with my Instant Pot?

Yes, I know there are lots of threads about solar power and battery banks, but they make my head spin, and I have a very specific question.

I want to run my 3 qt (700W) Instant Pot off-grid using solar panels and batteries. I do not have an inverter inside my 13' Scamp -- I usually set up an outdoor kitchen and would likely have a portable solar panel with batteries and inverter set up outside.

I'd like a recommendation. Would a 100W solar panel set up with 2 12V deep cycle batteries and a 1500w inverter do it? If not, what do you recommend. Thanks much!
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:11 AM   #2
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Hi Tracy and welcome,


It will be very difficult run a 700 watt item for any length of time from that limited amount of solar. Shop the internet and order a new 47lb Honda EU2200i generator for $1,009 from Camping World or Amazon. That will cost you less money than an expensive solar system capable of running high wattage appliances. It will charge your batteries plus you can run an air conditioner or a space heater or even a microwave if you want to.
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Old 08-23-2019, 11:16 AM   #3
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Hi Tracy.

Not trying to be difficult here, but you would have to know how long the pot would be running, per day, in order to know the answer to your question. And what size batteries do you have, such as group 24, or group 27, or 200 amp hour rated, or......? Yes, the system you describe will run it, but how long do you need to run it, is the question.

Would you consider cooking with propane instead? That might be more practical than building a whole electrical system with solar for that one purpose. And, I suppose, you'll want some capacity to run other things too, such as lights, or charge your computer and phone, run a water pump, etc.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:19 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses so far. I would likely just be running it to pressure cook some stuff maybe 20 minutes once or twice per day -- it would have to use the most power getting up to temp and pressure, but I normally cook stuff that would take only 1-2 minutes of pressure cooking and then it either goes to low/warm or I turn it off. So not too long at full power. Worst case, I might pressure cook a cheaper cut of meat for 30 mins and maybe slow cook it another 30-60. I already have a solar/battery set up on the camper for lights and charging small electronics. Sure, I could cook with propane, but it is a whole different thing and I want to be able to cook with the Instant Pot, because it is about 1000 times more convenient and makes fabulous/perfect rice dishes in like 15 minutes without being watched/tended.

I currently have 2 type 24 batteries (I admit I don't know their amp ratings). But I'm open to suggestions if you think other batteries would be necessary or better. I could also double up and get 200 watts of solar panels if I need them. I can already run my lights and charge my electronics and I've got propane heat and stove/fridge, so I am really just investing for the purpose of this luxury. I realize it might not make sense to some, but we like to cook and if you have an Instant Pot, you understand the love. :-)
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:21 PM   #5
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Wouldn’t a Small Conventional pressure cooker Do most of what her Insta pot can do and also be useful for other things?

You already have your propane set up for your stove I assume?

On a sidenote I bought a small 12 Volt Crockpot (EBay) and used it two three times on a recent Roundabout trip From Indiana to California and back

and were able to just plug it in and set it in the sink while in route and had no problem with it

This is just running it on my two deep cycle 12 V batteries. I charged the batteries every two or three days Using shore power, Or my little generator for just A little refresher did not seem to have any problem keeping a full charge.

Future plans are to hook up a hot wire running from my car battery to the camper batteries so that the batteries are charged by our car motor while traveling.

A little generator was also useful for in frequent use of our little microwave oven .
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:27 PM   #6
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Hmm. I like the idea of a 12v slow cooker. The thing that's great about the Instant Pot is that it is EVERYTHING and can be left on its own like a slow cooker. It is, in fact, a slow cooker too, so perhaps I could simply plug it into a 12v socket when slow cooking. I wonder if I need to have TWO batteries hooked together to do that?

The other great thing about the Instant Pot is that, unlike a stove top pressure cooker, I do not have to watch it -- I can walk away and go hiking or whatever while it cooks and not worry about burning down anything. But I do like both suggestions and will definitely consider them as options.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:46 PM   #7
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Just found this: https://moreysintransit.com/van-cook...n-instant-pot/

This person is able to use a 3 qt with 400 amphour battery bank, 270 watt solar panels, and 2000 watt inverter.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TracyG View Post
Just found this: https://moreysintransit.com/van-cook...n-instant-pot/

This person is able to use a 3 qt with 400 amphour battery bank, 270 watt solar panels, and 2000 watt inverter.

That's a lot of inconvenience for convenience.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:33 PM   #9
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Yes, the stove-top pressure cooker is starting to look really good.
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Old 08-23-2019, 09:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TracyG View Post
I'd like a recommendation. Would a 100W solar panel set up with 2 12V deep cycle batteries and a 1500w inverter do it? If not, what do you recommend. Thanks much!
Tracy,

The system you listed will run your pot. Only you can determine if it will run it enough for your needs. Set up your system and go for it!

Then, you can determine if you need more and how much more. A percentage game. Twice as much? Then double the batteries and solar, etc.

I don't think you need to be talked out of, or justify, what you want to do. You are the master of your world and now you have some opinions. You've made it clear you're not looking for alternatives, but want to use your favorite appliance. Again, go for it!
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Old 08-23-2019, 09:21 PM   #11
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Tracy,

Set up your system and go for it!
Again, go for it!

Notice Raspy is pulling out his wallet?
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:09 AM   #12
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Go for it, but a small generator would be cheaper and lighter.
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Old 08-24-2019, 08:22 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by TracyG View Post
Yes, I know there are lots of threads about solar power and battery banks, but they make my head spin, and I have a very specific question.

I want to run my 3 qt (700W) Instant Pot off-grid using solar panels and batteries. I do not have an inverter inside my 13' Scamp -- I usually set up an outdoor kitchen and would likely have a portable solar panel with batteries and inverter set up outside.

I'd like a recommendation. Would a 100W solar panel set up with 2 12V deep cycle batteries and a 1500w inverter do it? If not, what do you recommend. Thanks much!
While running a 700 watt instant pot for 20 minutes will work with the system you are describing (although I doubt you will be able to fully recharge the batteries with only 100 watts of solar unless you have optimum sun), making this portable will be a challenge. The minimal wire size for a 1500 watt inverter would be #2, and preferred size, at least recommended by Xantrex is #2/0. This makes for fairly stiff & heavy wiring on the battery side. Hauling around a pair of 12V batteries will get old fast.

How are you going to connect the batteries to the inverter? Everything in one case is going to be heavy, and placing the inverter in the same case as the batteries is not a good idea - battery fumes & electronics don't mix well. A set of connectors that can handle the 125 amps the inverter would draw at full load would be expensive.

I'd consider mounting the inverter & batteries permanently in the trailer & add an exterior 120V receptacle tied to the inverter for the instant pot.
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Old 08-24-2019, 08:32 AM   #14
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Maybe an inverter mounted under the hood of the TV and running the engine while Instapotting?
An extension cord for the 120 VAC from the TV would be easy.
20 minutes no problem.
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Old 08-24-2019, 08:41 AM   #15
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I would seriously consider upgrading from your current 2@12V group 24 batteries to 2@6V golf cart batteries wired in series to act as a single large 12V. You donít have to do it now but when the ones you have give out.

Youíll gain some capacity (from about 150 Ah now to about 225 Ah), but more important youíll gain much better durability. The 6V batteries are built to handle many more charge/discharge cycles.

Make sure you include a battery monitor to avoid over-discharging your batteries, which greatly hastens their demise. Conventional batteries should not go below 50%.
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:28 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TracyG View Post
Yes, I know there are lots of threads about solar power and battery banks, but they make my head spin, and I have a very specific question.

I want to run my 3 qt (700W) Instant Pot off-grid using solar panels and batteries. I do not have an inverter inside my 13' Scamp -- I usually set up an outdoor kitchen and would likely have a portable solar panel with batteries and inverter set up outside.

I'd like a recommendation. Would a 100W solar panel set up with 2 12V deep cycle batteries and a 1500w inverter do it? If not, what do you recommend. Thanks much!
From reading some of the other comments, it sounds like you'd need to set up your Instant Pot rather close to the batteries (which I assume are on your trailer tongue). You'd need an inverter and a short length of very stout wiring between the batteries and inverter. The wiring may cost nearly as much as the inverter; that stuff isn't cheap.

As far as power usage, 700 watts for one hour divided by 12 volts equals 58.3 amp hours used. Figure a little more due to parasitic losses, say 60-65 amp hours. If your two batteries start out full, after 1 hour I think they'd be down to about 50% which is about as low as you'd want to take them. (Discharging lead acid batts much below 50% begins a damaging sulfation and shortens battery life.) But that's for one hour at full 700W draw. I suggest that you get a Kill-A-Watt meter and plug your Instant Pot into it at home, and do a couple of batches of food that way to monitor exactly how much power it uses through one of these predicted 20-minute cook cycles. Then you'll have a much better idea how many watts you need.

Now, the other side is the recharge. A 100W panel might give you about 50W or so if they get full sun all day. Figure that as your optimistic high side estimate, though. If you assume 25W is more realistic (some clouds, some shade shadows, non-optimal angling of the panel), this will suggest to you how much more solar you'd want to have with you, keeping in mind that some days will be better for solar than others (you might have several heavy-overcast days in a row, and then what?). Here again, an in-line meter that measures the power gain from your panel could be useful; several days' data would tell you much.

For cost comparison purposes, look at a $500 Predator inverter generator from Harbor Freight versus whatever you decide to spend on improving your solar setup. The downsides to the generator are the noise (even from a quiet genny), fumes, the need to transport a can of gas, and regular maintenance on the genny (they should be started and run every couple of months).
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:10 AM   #17
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Thermal Cooker

Tracy,
A thermal cooker might meet most of your needs. It's not a pressure cooker, but a slow cooker with other functions. The best thing is: no electricity required. Check it out:
https://delishably.com/cooking-equipment/Thermal-Cooker


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Old 08-24-2019, 10:55 AM   #18
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Another option would be to cook via your favorite way at home then vacuum seal it for re-heating by boiling in the bag while camping. We would do a meal or so this way for when we knew we would not have much time for cooking & cleaning while camping. Good luck, Bert
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:34 PM   #19
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We mainly do dry camping (no hookups). Generally, we look to replace our 120V appliances with propane cooktop choices.

Keurig coffee maker? Forget it, we use a stove top percolator. Toaster oven? Forget it, we pull out a stove top toaster. And so on.

Not worth it to me to drag around a generator just to have a few appliances. The one exception is AC. If we need AC, then the generator comes out! But we don't run the generator at night!
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Old 08-24-2019, 03:32 PM   #20
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All good thoughts people, thank you!
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