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Old 06-12-2019, 03:07 PM   #21
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Generator keeps unwanted dinner guests away too.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:15 PM   #22
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This approach is rapidly becoming the popular one. One I very much prefer. The last thing I would want to do is bring along a generator and annoy other campers. I would bet we see more and more restrictions in campgrounds. Boondocking in a spot where A/C is wanted is about the only big need for one now that solar has improved so much.

When at Valley of Fire near Las Vegas in January, gensets could be used but most didn't. One night a fellow was running one while parked near a wall of rock, and not even a nice quiet one. It was a real bother as it was night and we were sitting out around the fire. He finally stopped it, and you would have thought we were in a sports stadium, as the whole campground let out a loud cheer.
I find the generators to be very annoying too. A week ago at Yellowstone, one guy ran his for hour after hour and for no apparent reason. It ran terrible too and I just kept listening to it. Another issue I've had is the loss of power at altitude. Sometimes it will barely pull the load and is roaring away trying.

We were at Valley of Fire last month on our way toward the Oliver Rally. I cut our stay short so we could get some more east under our belt. Beautiful place. If you get over to Nevada occasionally, check out the wonderful Nevada Northern train museum at Ely, NV. I slipped into the past and soaked up a huge amount of knowledge about locomotive design, rebuilding and operation there. Seeing how those old mechanical engineers figured out how to hot rod them was very interesting as I studied the inner workings with one partially torn down. I walked around in the garage as one cooled for a few days so they could get into the fire box and find a problem, while another was belching smoke, warming up gradually to take it's place. Gigantic lathes and other machines are all there to walk amongst and see how it was all done.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:18 PM   #23
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Usage

I think in your case calculating usage is a waste of time. First, your usage will vary significantly. In cool weather, your furnace if you use it will consume a good amount of power. But what I think is the biggest variable is cloud cover . At home I have a 5040 watt array. There are days when I see 265 watts of output at solar noon with no shading. What if you are parked in the open and it’s a sunny day and 75 deg f at night. Compare that to a very cloudy day and its raining and 45 deg f during the day? Your usage and your solar production will vary wildly. I suggest a big panel on the roof and a big portable. Otherwise, Camp where you can plug in or boondock with a small quiet generator.
I have 160 watts on the roof and a 160 watt portable. I have a generator that I’ve used once 5 years ago.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:23 PM   #24
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I find the generators to be very annoying too. A week ago at Yellowstone, one guy ran his for hour after hour and for no apparent reason. It ran terrible too and I just kept listening to it. Another issue I've had is the loss of power at altitude. Sometimes it will barely pull the load and is roaring away trying.

We were at Valley of Fire last month on our way toward the Oliver Rally. I cut our stay short so we could get some more east under our belt. Beautiful place. If you get over to Nevada occasionally, check out the wonderful Nevada Northern train museum at Ely, NV. I slipped into the past and soaked up a huge amount of knowledge about locomotive design, rebuilding and operation there. Seeing how those old mechanical engineers figured out how to hot rod them was very interesting as I studied the inner workings with one partially torn down. I walked around in the garage as one cooled for a few days so they could get into the fire box and find a problem, while another was belching smoke, warming up gradually to take it's place. Gigantic lathes and other machines are all there to walk amongst and see how it was all done.
Thanks for the suggestion as we are always looking at more stuff to do, and I love museums of all kinds. This place sounds great. I-15 sees us a lot as it is the quick way south for us from Alberta when travelling in winter.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:29 PM   #25
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LOL.

Before I added that second battery, I did fire up the generator daily. I made it a point to run the generator as I prepared dinner. I usually used the microwave for vegetables, microwaveable rice, and frozen entrees. Lets face it my microwave saved me from starvation and recharged the batteries.

Microwaves save lives!

But we digress...
That sounds like normal apartment living and not camping. I enjoy actually cooking much more when out camping. Or throwing a fine sandwich together with no appliances necessary. Then there are the breakfasts at small Southern diners, the Texas Barbecue and the Mexican restaurants for lunch. Every morning the coffee pot gets fired up as I survey the situation. A big bowl of morning cereal often hits the spot, for ease, and for a contemplative moment at the dinette window. Interrupted only by a penetrating stare from Gogo to either get a cookie or be let out. The generator would be an appalling intrusion.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:44 PM   #26
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My favorite generator story was a guy across the way from my site at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He hauled a heavy construction generator out of the back of his truck. I thought "Oh Boy".

He proceeded to fire it up & it was as loud as expected. He then dug out a 120V 1/2" drill & a long extension cord & went around the trailer running down his stabilizers. When done, he shut the generator off. Didn't fire it up until he was ready to leave 2 days later, doing the same procedure. I guess he never heard of battery powered drills...
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:00 PM   #27
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We too love cooking fresh most of our meals, which the majority rather easy and fairly fast. There are times my wife goes crazy and makes lasagne or other meal taking more work.

Breakfasts vary. If it is going to be busy a bowl of granola or even a food bar will do. We do porridge, various eggs, different meats, pancakes, french toast, fruit, etc. One thing I will not forego is the fresh black coffee made with my AeroPress and always freshly ground...........Mmmmmmmm
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:04 PM   #28
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My favorite generator story was a guy across the way from my site at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He hauled a heavy construction generator out of the back of his truck. I thought "Oh Boy".

He proceeded to fire it up & it was as loud as expected. He then dug out a 120V 1/2" drill & a long extension cord & went around the trailer running down his stabilizers. When done, he shut the generator off. Didn't fire it up until he was ready to leave 2 days later, doing the same procedure. I guess he never heard of battery powered drills...
Or a hand crank! Sheesh, bring a huge genny and big drill just to run the stabilizers.

At Yosemite, I had a neighbor run his generator all day. It was on my side of his rig and they all sat over on the other side away from the racket. And of course, were not using any power from it. He finally did stop by my camp though. It turned out he wanted to remind me of the correct parking rules. One of my tires was in the dirt and he could not let that go. Mr. do gooder on a mission and completely oblivious.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:34 PM   #29
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100 watts may not be enough, so go with something between 160 w and 200 w. If mounting on the roof, make sure it will fit before buying the panel(s). Flexible panels are more expensive but much easier to mount.

I just replaced the 100 w flexible panel on my roof, and a Renogy panel wouldn't fit, so I had to go with a different vendor. I have mine wired so I always have the 100 w roof panel, but can add a 2nd 100 w portable panel that can be up to 10' from trailer.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:56 PM   #30
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I put four semi-flexible 60W panels on my roof and only in poor conditions (rain, shade, etc) have they never fully charged my batteries in good time every day. I love that they are not even noticeable unless you look from above. Over two years of use and still working fantastic.

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Old 06-12-2019, 07:46 PM   #31
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That sounds like normal apartment living and not camping. I enjoy actually cooking much more when out camping. Or throwing a fine sandwich together with no appliances necessary. Then there are the breakfasts at small Southern diners, the Texas Barbecue and the Mexican restaurants for lunch. Every morning the coffee pot gets fired up as I survey the situation. A big bowl of morning cereal often hits the spot, for ease, and for a contemplative moment at the dinette window. Interrupted only by a penetrating stare from Gogo to either get a cookie or be let out. The generator would be an appalling intrusion.
Ummm ... between noisy generator and cooking stories, this thread is heading off the grid.

Last year, I bought a stovetop pressure cooker, which has replaced the microwave for most dishes. Unfortunately, cleaning all the pots affects fresh water usage.

Not everyone goes camping for pleasure. I camp on private training grounds, where I work my dogs rain or shine. Particularly during the winter, I return after dark and before I begin preparing food, I first must towel off, air & feed my dogs. So, if running the generator will allow me to eat a hot meal and retire at a decent hour, that works for me.

Having said that I am usually camping with people who face the same situation. So there will be a lot of generators going. I purposely park as far away as possible to mitigate noise pollution. But once again, these are private grounds.

The reason for my ceiling fan is that I want to cool off the cabin on warm days in lieu of an AC (which, BTW, I never use outside of my driveway) I suppose that if we’re caught in a major heat wave, we’d probably pic up sticks and either move to a hotel or return home.

I suppose I use more power in the Winter. But until now, I haven’t needed to think about it.

At this point, I’d like to install a robust solar system which will meet my present and future needs.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:48 PM   #32
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I believe that I initially need to determine my energy requirements. And i’d appreciate some suggestions on how I can go about this.
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Jane, You already, sort of, know what your consumption is. If your batteries are discharged in a couple of days, with careful use, for instance, that is your consumption.
Jane,

I'll try to sketch this with some basic arithmetic. If someone sees a significant error here, I trust they will chime in to help us out.

If you have two 100 amp batteries, then you have about 2 batteries x 100 amp-hours x 0.5 (50% rule) = 100 amp-hours of usable storage capacity in your batteries. This is based on using the 50% rule for usable storage capacity in flooded batteries.

One of the older Fantastic Fans I looked into a few years ago drew about 15.5 / 23.3 / 33.8 watts at low / medium / high speed. If you ran this fan for ten hours at low speed it would be a fairly substantial draw on your storage as follows.
15.5 watts / 12 volts = 1.3 amps.

1.3 amps x 10 hours = 13 amp-hours.

100 amp-hours capacity / 13 amp-hours usage per day = about 7.7 days of potential usage based on your available storage capacity.
This the energy that you would need to replace, based on using just the fan.

As this is quite a bit of energy, you might look into a "Caframo Bora" or a "Hella" marine fans which respectively only draw about 4.0 and 6.5 watts. Newer roof fans with more speeds do offer lower speeds with lower current draws, so now you can evaluate your fan's energy usage if you have the manufacturer's data. The CPAP would be done the same way. Convert between amps and watts, and then multiply times the hours it's used.

We boondocked at Kalaloch for a week in mixed cloudy/ sunny/ rainy Pacific Northwest coastal weather around Memorial Day. We have a 160-watt rooftop panel on our Escape.

As we have long hours of daylight locally this time of year, one might expect to get as much as 160 watts / 12 volts x 0.5 (50% efficiency factor) x 16 hours daylight = about 107 amp-hours.

In reality we saw our batteries display as low as 12.1 volts and 52% due to cloudy weather, and as high as 12.8 volts and 88%. I wasn't rigorous on watching the maximums, but those are the lowest and highest figures I jotted down.

I think our usage was fairly moderate; it included LED lighting, some ceiling fan use, some furnace fan use, the refrigerator controls, charging a computer and phones, and pumping about 10 gallons of water each day.

I always figured I could resort to charging the battery through the 7-pin connector, but looking at Raspy's post about his Yellowstone experience makes me second guess that. Maybe I need "stealth" battery cables - ?
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:09 AM   #33
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Wired in parallel They’re 12 volt batteries.
in that case they're connecting in parallel. the only issue that i'm aware of is that this wiring really works best with 2 "identical" (age, capacity, etc) batteries. if they are different the older battery will draw down the newer to make a match of those electrons. since you really don't have a choice of how to wire them to produce the needed 12v when installing the batteries just be aware that you might not be doubling the capacity of your system in this case. i'd use what you have until time takes over and both batteries need replacing be sure to buy twins.

my system has two 6v agm golf cart batteries (225 amp hours) and solar charging is provided by one 100w panel on the roof which charges all the time. another panel mounted on the truck's topper roof and can be relocated to find some sun if the trailer's in the shade. i recently made a four month road trip west and made no real effort to conserve those precious electrons. my victron meter never showed less than 90% charged even during a month of boondocking in the arizona desert. my loads on the 12v system are moderate, led lights, minimal television, nearly constant radio and charging all my electronic devices (computer, cameras, phone, etc). i do not have a furnace (i use a wave3 heater which is propane powered) nor any medical devices that require power. for a failsafe backup i have a honda 2000i mounted permanently over the propane tanks and wired directly to the trailer's converter. all this may be considered excessive by some but, i tend to take long trips and would rather not be fretting about power to make me comfortable.

p@
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:11 PM   #34
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Jim, I never tire of seeing this picture.

For me, this is a process. My initial goal is to figure out my needs. Then I can think about the system hardware.
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:17 PM   #35
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Jim, I never tire of seeing this picture.

For me, this is a process. My initial goal is to figure out my needs. Then I can think about the system hardware.
Thanks.

That is a good approach. I figured out my wants and then struggled to make my needs near fit.

We do use:
-hairdryer for wife
-hair trimmer for me
-occasional tools
-tv, computer
-small vacuum
-a few other things at times
-and best of all, a two slice toaster. Man, having good toast as opposed to the dried stuff the stovetop maker does is great.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:01 PM   #36
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-and best of all, a two slice toaster. Man, having good toast as opposed to the dried stuff the stovetop maker does is great.
Okay Jim. I can handle the awesome cargo box. I can handle the custom cabinetry.

Okay, I'm happy for you. Really. I am.

But, toast from an electric toaster ! ? !

That's enough; now you are just being completely obnoxious!
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:32 PM   #37
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I put four semi-flexible 60W panels on my roof and only in poor conditions (rain, shade, etc) have they never fully charged my batteries in good time every day. I love that they are not even noticeable unless you look from above. Over two years of use and still working fantastic.
Jim – have you noticed any heat related issues with the panels stuck to the roof? I really like your installation. It's about the only fixed mount method I can use with the pop-top on our rig. Just curious if after two years of observation there's anything you'd do differently...
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:37 PM   #38
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Okay Jim. I can handle the awesome cargo box. I can handle the custom cabinetry.

Okay, I'm happy for you. Really. I am.

But, toast from an electric toaster ! ? !

That's enough; now you are just being completely obnoxious!
Hey, give me a break, I can be tactful just as much as obnoxious.
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Jim – have you noticed any heat related issues with the panels stuck to the roof? I really like your installation. It's about the only fixed mount method I can use with the pop-top on our rig. Just curious if after two years of observation there's anything you'd do differently...
Nope, no problems at all. I watched them quite closely down in Mexico earlier this year and there has been no affect in the heat. The panels are only slightly warmer than the fibreglass beside them. Lensun told me they would be just fine and in just over 2 years they have been. Still watching though.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:09 PM   #39
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Thanks. Do you know of any significant differences between Lensun and Richsolar? The dimensions of their 80w panels are a little better suited to my application.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:56 PM   #40
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But, toast from an electric toaster ! ? !

That's enough; now you are just being completely obnoxious!
Exactly!

Jim, you really know how to "camp".
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