Still Living on Hurricane Ridge at Senator Wash
Tag Archive: hook-ups
We have a solar set-up for our RV. In August of 2010, when we picked up our new Lazy Daze RV from the factory in Montclair, Ca., we loaded our stuff on board and soon headed to Springfield, Oregon to the AM Solar company. They have a good reputation for selling quality products and doing a good job with the installation and we wanted our system to work without hassle. Since we knew we would be living in the RV full time, we decided to “bite the bullet” and get enough energy to meet most of our needs.
What We Have to Meet Most of Our Energy Needs
The RV came with two, 220 amp hour, 6 volt AGM batteries and a 4000 watt Onan Generator. We did not order solar panels, etc. from the RV manufacturer as we heard it was better to get the whole package at once and choose AM Solar to supply the components and to do the installation. After two days of work, AM solar had installed three, 150 watt tiltable solar panels, a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter/charger, two additional AGM batteries (300 watt, 6 volt), two controllers, a sub-panel box, #2, #4 and #6 wiring and various other components. We’re glad we had this done professionally even though it was very pricey as we did not want to take on this job ourselves (and likely could not have done it as well). This all came to $7500 ($2000 of that was labor) so it will take quite awhile to call the energy we get from the sun…free. Since we are full timers and almost always boon dock (so no or reduced camping fees in addition to no need for ”hook-ups”) we should make up the cost of our solar package in less than two years. We “plugged into the grid” only twice last year, one of those times was because we had a few inches of snow on the solar panels. With this system and lots of sunlight, we can use our toaster, microwave (just to reheat something), the hair dryer, etc. These energy hogs are short-time use items and we watch our battery voltage carefully so we don’t deplete the batteries.
Of course, we cannot run the Air Conditioner off the Solar. For energy hog appliances that require a large initial surge of power such as the compressor for the air conditioner or sustained, substantial use such as an electric heater, we have the option to use the generator. Use of a generator comes with complications. Going to a quiet area and turning on a noisy generator is one of the easiest ways to aggravate nearby people subjected to the noise and air pollution of the generator. But if that occasion comes along and we are where we can use the generator, won’t be bothering others, and need the energy we use it.
Another energy source for us is the motor home engine. It is inefficient but it helps charge the batteries.
Our motor home came with two AGM batteries. They are easy care and we were able to buy a different amp hour AGMs and not have to match amp hours to amp hours. They are in series and in parallel and do the job for us. What’s more, the AGMs can be inside the motor home (they don’t “gas”) so we have them in an inside cabinet. Also, most inside cabinet were not configured for batteries but these AGMs can be in any position, we have them in an inside cabinet upright but if we had to we could have positioned them on their side. The easy care comes in that we don’t have to check water level and add water to the batteries.
If our motor home came with something other than AGMs would we have replaced them? Not sure but not likely would we have incurred the additional expense. We probably would have figured out an outside cabinet to hold additional batteries.
EDIT–SOLAR… Now that we have had our Solar set-up for about 1 1/2 years, we realize that going with AGM batteries and starting out with the best solar set-up available that we could afford was an excellent choice for us. If we bought a new rig today, we would definately go with the latest, best solar set-up we could afford immediately after purchase of the rig.
Of course, as we did when we had snow on our solar panels, we can always find somewhere to plug into the grid when there is not enough solar power available. We’re lucky to live in a time when all these options are available. With time, solar panels and accessories will become more efficient and come down in price in the same way as computers, phones, tvs, etc. For now, this works for us. We mostly try to stay where and move our rig to places with lots of sunshine, preferring a lovely outside temperature of about 70 to 80 degrees, at least that is our goal.