Solar and induction cooktop - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-08-2016, 10:44 AM   #1
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Name: Lisa
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Solar and induction cooktop

Hi, I am wondering if anyone has experience with using an electric induction cooktop run off of batteries charged by solar panels. I am looking for options besides propane to camp off grid. Does anyone have experience with these cooktop, how much power they draw and how efficient they are to cook with? Can I cook with cast iron with these cooktop?

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Old 03-08-2016, 12:12 PM   #2
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I don't believe you will find any induction stove that will work off of a battery and solar. You will need a generator or shore power for it to work . You could use a butane stove but make sure your butane tanks are not part of recalled foreign built tanks .
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Old 03-08-2016, 02:35 PM   #3
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heating elements flatten batteries, discharge is extreme, they draw an awful lot of power in a very short time and that is hard for an RV battery to keep up with.

Even if one had the battery capacity to in theory run an electric pan or burner for long enough to cook, there is a fairly high risk that you would shoot right past the 50% charge level you want to stay above. Discharge speed is fast enough it makes an extra few minutes much more significant than say leaving a light on for 15 minutes at the margins of usable power.

A small 4 cup 12 volt coffee pot in the morning probably no harm, cooking dinner on an electric stove? Not so good. You will either come to hate your generator or the people around you trying to enjoy a peaceful camp will hate it for you.

Why avoid propane? I live in a house with natural gas seems to work fine. Neighbors have propane they seem ok too.
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Old 03-08-2016, 03:27 PM   #4
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I think Lisa asked if anyone had done it rather than just have theories about it. Remember, an induction cooktop is not an "electric stove." It does not create heat; it inducts energy to the pan which becomes hot.

I am capable of running an induction cooktop off my solar system. I chose one that has adjustable settings so i can keep it below the 1000 watt rating of my converter. The converter is powered by two 100 watt solar panels which feed two AGM batteries rated about 180 amp hours. With judicious use, I have never been able to discharge my batteries below 12 volts. That includes running a 120 volt coffee maker and microwave, recharging all my electronics and power tools, lighting and entertainment, etc. While I prefer to use my propane stove for most cooking, it's nice to have a backup "just in case," or run an extension cord to cook outside. And, yes, you can use a cast iron pan if it's bottom is flat enough ... anything magnetic will work.
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Old 03-08-2016, 06:38 PM   #5
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Thanks Casita Banana for speaking from your experience. I am looking for inclement weather options as I design my off grid trailer. Why no propane? Simply a preference after a pressurized combustible fuel stove blew up in my face. Some scars never heal, so I will stick to solid fuel outside and others options inside. My home, my choice, my life. If you don't agree please do not comment. As Casita Banana said, I am looking for those with experience to address this question. Thank you for your input and respect.

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Old 03-09-2016, 10:22 AM   #6
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Induction

We camp off grid a lot and successfully use our NuWave induction burner. We have a 2000 WATT inverter for this and it does just fine as long as we don't try to run the microwave at the same time as the NuWave.

I am not sure about the cast iron question. Check with your induction cooker supplier.

We have 4 Trojan T105 6V batteries coup[led with a 2000 WATT inverter. The solar panels more than keep up with electric draw from the cooker.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:44 AM   #7
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Read ohms law or use online calculator for same and convert proposed stove energy consumption at 110 volts into consumption as amp hours at 12 volts.

All 12 volt based "can I do...." questions are based on how much battery you have with how much solar cell you have to replace stored energy used while keeping battery at or above 50% state of charge. International Space station to my little camper all face same situation. Draw vs. Storage vs. Replacement.

Does not matter what technology is being discussed all assessment starts at what is the consumption. Converting the power consumption to amps used per hour. Since battery storage is in amp hours this tells you how long (in hours or fraction of) you can run appliance off of a given battery storage capacity. 4 really large 6 volt will give you a really large reserve, a bank of 50 or 100 watt panels will give you a lot of recharge. Camper with an average 1 or 2 120 amp hour batteries and a single panel has much less to work with.

LED light uses very little can run for many hours, water pump uses more but runs for short periods. Now a BTU of heat from electricity is going to use a lot of power. Induction cooktop, my 12 volt coffee percolator, a blow dryer all have rated wattage. Using ohms law you can convert the watts at 110 volts to amps at 12 volts. Your inverter will draw that amount, plus a bit due to energy loss in conversion.

Once you know your draw from battery storage you can estimate the panel capacity required to replace it. And know how long you can support your own personal current draw.

Asking why not propane is not to challenge your right to not use it if you want but to further clarify your situation or needs and desires. Lot of folks have found a lot of ways to solve pretty much every camping challenge. Knowing your specifics more broadly can prove useful. Some people are simply scared of the unknown. Living in rural area we have folks all the time that seem skeptical of wells and propane tanks in terms of safety and functionality. While those that grew up with them see nothing noteworthy.

For what it is worth starting a campfire once a paper towel was used as part of the tinder. The towel had awhile before been used to wipe up some spilled liquid fuel. The only repeatable comment from the resulting explosion that knocked me on my keester was all three kids yelling "do it again that was cool". Me I sort of missed my eyebrows and the one side of my mustache so I declined.


PS - my experience comes from many years of working with this stuff. 12 volt and propane. I passed on an induction cooktop for another use since it would not reduce the draw on the already taxed circuit.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:53 AM   #8
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Best read safety instructions for batteries.
They can also explode if mishandled.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CASITA BANANA View Post
I think Lisa asked if anyone had done it rather than just have theories about it. Remember, an induction cooktop is not an "electric stove." It does not create heat; it inducts energy to the pan which becomes hot. ..... .
Not to belabor a point but if the food gets hot from application of an electric current then the technology in question does in fact "create heat" more accurate might be to say it converts one form of energy into heat. Since energy is not created or destroyed per se.

You are drawing down your battery a lot to "create heat" Inverter changes form from 12 volt to 110 volt and DC to AC but it don't matter what size inverter you have if your battery gets low it cuts out. More you draw the faster battery gets low.

Going to need to do the math to determine use overall to design system.

I'm done here but remember TANSTAFL !
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:46 AM   #10
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When the OP states that he / she does not want any posts from anyone that does not agree with their position then the discussion ends at that point. I have several friends who do not want any natural gas or propane in their residence and who am I to guestion
their decision. I think trying to run normal 120 VAC household
appliances from a 12 VDC supply is not a practical solution when boondocking. At some point the sun will not shine and no matter how much solar you install eventually you will end up with a dead battery / batteries. We have camped off grid for weeks at a time and have never felt the urge nor need to employ a 120 VAC appliance but to each their own.
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Old 03-09-2016, 05:14 PM   #11
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So much for my attempt to avoid quibbling arguments and focus on the facts. Sigh....

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Old 03-09-2016, 06:47 PM   #12
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I don't think quibbling arguments are what you are getting, thoughtful considered opinion. It would be nice if you took the information in the helpful spirit it was offered.

Lisa you have a 13 ft. Boler listed in your profile The Oliver is at minimum an 18.5 camper - the 4 t-105 golf cart batteries mentioned in prior post weigh in at around 240 lbs. and cost around $700 but with sufficient solar input this set up could easily run a fairly robust amount of electric appliances. Even for a period of time in inclement weather when solar might not be providing much recharge.

Not exactly sure where you would put that much battery or how the weight would effect towing balance of a 13 ft. You would also need enough solar panels to recharge the amount of battery needed to meet your overall needs. Fla. provides good sun but I can't imagine less than a 100 watt panel being of much use. That might put back 15 minutes of cook time a day +/- depending on heat setting of cooker and sun, orientation of panel etc. But you can see two bad weather days might be a problem if you cooked a couple of meals a day.

I think if you are talking minimal heat some soup, or make a heated sandwich type cooking (which can be a great thing on an nasty day) you might get away with 2 batteries but as Brian explained at full power for 15 minutes you draw approx. 30 amp hours, typical battery holds 100 Ah +/- you can only use 1/2 or 50 Ah. That would be approx. 23 minutes or so until a dead and possibly permanently degraded battery.

Two batteries won't exactly double that but close enough. Now this assume your not drawing a lot of power for other things during this inclement weather when outside cooking is unpleasant or impractical. And that the battery is fully charged to start with to get you the 23 or 45 minutes of cook time on high.

Not a lot of people do cooking using AC appliances running off of batteries, mostly because it tends to be sort of impractical in a small camper to have the power to meet that need for any real length of time. Not impossible, or evil, or anything like that but there are factual reasons it is not all that common.

Those are not argumentative observations or quibbling they are just factual things to consider that might lead you to ask questions about overall power consumption, specifications of batteries, How much solar, or how much cooking etc. Questions that will allow you to plan accordingly to meet your needs comfortably. This stuff is always a trade off.

You might use one of those watt meters and the cook top, heat a can of soup, make tea or water for a freeze dried meal, heat an MRE or whatever you would want to do in the boondocks and see how much power it really uses. After that it is just basic math.

You might also want to look at alcohol stoves, not for inside but since the fuel is much less volatile you might find it a safer alternative for cooking under a tarp or awning in bad weather Like this one The Solo Stove Alcohol Burner You still don't want to spill burning alcohol but it won't flash up or explode and is not even super flammable if spilled. Just a possible alternative.
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Old 03-09-2016, 07:25 PM   #13
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I've got my eye on this unit: https://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/POWERWALL

This might be a practical solution for some hoping to manage off-grid in a small trailer.

$$ is an issue for us, but this product line may eventually expand into portable batteries. Worth watching, and if I had cash to burn, I'd be fiddling about trying to make it work in our 14 foot SurfSide.
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Old 03-09-2016, 07:41 PM   #14
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Should be noted that the forum is for all members and not just the person posing the question. There will be others asking the same question and searching for answers. They deserve a full discussion.
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Old 03-09-2016, 08:41 PM   #15
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OK Roger, your points are noted, thank you. I have considered an alcohol stove as an alternative. After looking at the one offered by Solo, this will more than likely be my solution. I had hesitated to go with alcohol stoves because there seemed to be no control of the flame. However the Solo stove says that is possible. I usually cook outside on a Sierra backpackers wood burning stove. I can cook dinner with twigs or a couple charcoal briquettes. I am simply looking for a way to make my coffee on a rainy day.

I plan to place the batteries and solar panels on my TV so that I can park my camper in the shade, if there is any.
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:00 PM   #16
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Lisa, I am not surprised that you are looking for alternatives to LP after your experience, but as RogerDat pointed out, it is an uphill battle. Your quest is similar to those who ask, for example, about running the refrigerators in the 12V mode from solar, or running the air conditioner. It was said here many times how difficult that would be.

The conveniences of modern life are largely based on the fact that fossil fuels, like LP, have high energy content per pound, and the systems that use them are able to deliver high power. Can't get away from that. Cooking a dinner takes a lot of energy in a short time. Electric only systems have their failure modes and some could also be pretty dramatic, so all need to be used deliberately and with care. I hope when you are done with your search and carefully consider the trade-offs, you find one that will work for you. I doubt it is possible to go off-grid without LP gas, but I might be wrong.
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:01 PM   #17
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Expensive solar setup, huge heavy batteries... Nothing could beat simple propane tank and stove when staying off grid... Period.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:58 PM   #18
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If you plan to camp off-grid a lot it might be one solution to look into something like a Cobb stove or a volcano. That induction stove seems to be the sticking point
Having cooked on an alcohol stove, I'm here to tell you it's not much of an option. It takes forever to boil water and almost as long to heat soup. Alcohol has much less energy than LP or butane.
We mostly camp off grid with solar, LED lights , small fans and a propane stove. We use ice for refridgeration, sometimes a lot of it. And a lot of home canned meals
Propane is dangerous, but it also makes a very simple system and there are ways to reduce the risks. We often use a camp stove outside.
YMMV but in the end you choose what works best for you. The simpler you keep it, the more time you have for things you enjoy


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Old 03-10-2016, 12:06 AM   #19
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...just to give you some real world numbers to think about....
12vdc to 120vac is a10 fold increase in amperage to maintain the wattage...in other words, an induction cook top will draw 10+ amps from 120vac(around 1000-1200watts)...to get this wattage from 12vdc, your battery will havvta output 100-120 amps...dual Trojan 1275 batteries(weighing around 90#s each) will give you 300amps for 1 hour...after which they would be completely dead, never to be used again...30 min will use 50% of available power which is the max you should discharge a battery....wire sizes to supply that power will be around a #2 wire size and those two specific batts will cost around 500bucks(or more)...not to mention the cost of a 1500watt inverter...OR, you can put aside your fears and get a $40 propane stove along with the appropriate hoses and/or tankage and be making coffee, worry free for a comparably looooong time, the choice is completely yours.............
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Old 03-10-2016, 12:23 AM   #20
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OK, thank you everyone for your input, interest and opinions. I will indeed decide what is best for me.

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