Sunday, July 12, 2015

Camper Update

Camper update…I sold my tiny home and upgraded to a 33’ fifth-wheel.  My tiny home was maybe 120sf being very generous with my measurements.  My new home has about 306 sf with two storage compartment that equal approximately 80 cubic feet of storage (4’x2’x7’ and 4’x1’x6’). 



To compare the two camper my granddaughter Hannah clarified it for me.   We had been swimming and when we returned she used my bedroom to change clothes…she came out and informed me that my bedroom was larger than the other camper, and I believe she was pretty accurate in her evaluation.


I arrived in the Detroit area late March and made the camper change out.  I knew winter was not over here because the small lakes at the campground was frozen over and it was cold.  But I figured it will warm up soon.  And it did finally warm up somewhere around late May.  Here it is mid July and I don’t think we have gotten past 85 and the nights are around 60 it is great now.  But in March I saw nights down to 8 degrees.  Thankfully my new camper has a good insulation package and tank heater to keep the water and waste tanks from freezing.


I am now looking at my next move probably late August early September headed south.  In planning my next trip I realized that I needed to look at my backup systems.  In my truck camper I had two batteries and small solar panel to assist with battery charging and a built in propane generator.  This setup made it easy to stop just about anywhere and not worry about by batteries and if needed I could run the AC with the generator.

My new camper has no generator or solar panels and only one battery.  I looked at my options and the first was just get a generator…that sounded easy but to have it retrofitted into the camper with propane fuel (propane to eliminate storing gasoline) was going to be crazy pricing.  I then looked at the small portable generator and it just would not be very practical.  The generator would have to be stored in the truck and when I need to run it I would have to run a power line from generator to the camper.  So then I started looking at solar as a power source.  Running the air conditioner on solar is not practical in the RV the amount of panels and battery bank that would be required was just too much. Other than the AC it looks pretty doable to install a system that would allow me to camp unlimited days (without AC).  If I were to get rain for several straight days I may start draining the batteries excessively but that should not be an issue.

My initial solar setup is going to have 4 100 watt panels and 2 6 volt golf cart batteries.  This setup will not have an inverter to supply 110VAC to camper.  It will allow operation of all critical systems and keep the batteries charged.  Once I have this system setup and running I will add two additional batteries and an inverter.  I may also need to add 1 or 2 more panels the system is designed for this option without any wiring or controller upgrades.  With the inverter in place other than the AC all appliances will be operational on solar/battery power including the microwave and coffee maker.