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Old 12-06-2010, 03:09 PM   #1
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Off the Grid modifications

Can those of you who have made off-the-grid modifications to your RV's share those details?

I am putting a weekend trailer on a tract of land without any utilities, so I am considering solar and rainwater collection.

For Solar I am pondering the pros and cons of the various kinds of panels. Some are suited for cooler climes and direct sun. Some are better for warmer temps and are more shade tolerant. Some are solid panels and some are thin enough to roll up. I was thinking about getting both.

Some newer batteries (AGM) charge faster, need less maintenance, and can handle heavy loads like a microwave. To begin with I was aiming for 100-200 amp/hours.

For Rainwater collection I thinking about gutters, downspout, filter, Solar powered UV sterilizer, and creating some storage for overflow.

Thanks for any advice and guidance.

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Old 12-06-2010, 06:29 PM   #2
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Best to go with 6 volt golf cart batteries. They handle discharge recharge much better... and with care will last up to 12 years.

2004 Chev Silverado Duramax optioned past the max. 2009 Jayco Eagle 308 RLS 765 watts of solar, 6-6 volt batteries (696 amp hour), 2000 watt (4000 surge) whole house inverter.
140 days boondocking in 2016
211/2015, 196/14, 247/13, 193/12

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Old 05-23-2011, 06:17 PM   #3
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Location: Milton Ontario
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I have my fiver setup for boondocking. What I use now is a Kipor diesel 5000 watt generator for my heavy power, ie washer dryer, or air condioning, dinner time with the microwave. I have 4 Crown 6 volt batteries and one 1000 watt inverter which supplies power only to my bedroom tv and dvd player and one receptacle which I use to charge my laptop or cell phone.

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink there is the Kipor mounted inside the sleeper to keep it dry and also to quiet it down abit.
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink as you can see here it is vented to the outside, all the hot air and exhaust vents here. The truck is still undergoing some changes and not quite finished yet. I have a 65 gallon plastic water tank in the sleeper as well to supply water to the fiver, I simply run a water hose to the pump inside the fiver, works well. Having the water supply on the truck allows me to go and get water without having to drag the trailer with me.

for the winter months I mount a same size tank in my basement storage. I transfer from one 65 gallon tank to the other via a 12 volt pump.

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink theres a pic of the truck mounted water tank, with the pipe and faucet going through the wall which you cant see here. https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink is the pump and tank, the business side of things, mounted the pump out in the open so that i can service it.

I also mounted inside the trailer and remote start stop switch for the generator, no more goin out to start the genny in the morning so i can make a cup of coffee.

After many years of fulltiming and alot of boondocking, sometimes in very bitter cold weather for weeks at a time with no water or power. This system is simple and works well.

Now some things I have done in the past

1500 gallon water tank, for extended boondocking, if a water truck is available to refill it, cost about 55.00 last time i had it filled.
I still have the tank.


rear deck on my truck before i changed things around, problem was too much weight, when i built the truck i used 1/8 all steel tubing and 1/8 steel for the panels. Dump the trailer onto the hitch, she a little heavy. Dual honda s running parrallel, killer power system, now have diesel, got a great deal on the Kipor, 1000.00 brand new in the crate, they were clearing them out here in Canada. Water tank is a 65 gallon tank and generally lasts a bit more than a day, if 3 people are camping.

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink honda mounted on the pin box with a aluminum box i made, handy here genny is up and out of the way, need more power so i bought another honda, don't think i want to mount two of them up there. 300 plus pounds.

I had a big inverter power system awhile back. 3000 watt and 5500 surge or something like that. Would automatically switch over to inverted power if the land power failed. Big fancy remote control panels and what not. But the inverter charger failed, too expensive to repair, never mind shipping costs as they are heavy units and also having it gone for up too two months while being repaired.

With the remote stop and start, if one needs to use the microwave it s no big deal to fire up the genny. The batteries supply enough power even in the dead of winter where the furnace is pretty much running non stop, to run the trailer for over 24 hours. i have two Iota converter chargers and they recharge the batteries in about 4 hours. I don't rely anymore on gauges and what not but I do have a schedule that i adhere too, which is every night fire up the genny for four hours.

I run a 1000 watt inverter for my bedroom tv, and find that is all I need. Fridge has been running on propane for a coupla years now. Hot water heater too. If a inverter fries, its cheap to replace, 100 bucks versus 2000 for the big units. I also carry a spare inverter too. Also a battery charger, industrial type outta my shop, as the converter chargers fail too, already replaced both of mine.

As for batteries, had the agm orbitals, spent a big buck for them and they all failed within 18 months, replaced them under warranty and gave them to my buddy and i went and bought Crown 6 volt deep cycle, very similiar to the trojans but have thicker plates. Had them now for three years and they are still running strong. I suggest them to anyone that is needing that kind of power and reliability without the big cost, think i paid 565 for four of them with tax in.
I have thought of solar and looked into it, the main drawback for me is that I always want to park the fiver in the shade to help out with the air conditioning, plus i am not a sun worshipper. prefer the shade. could have remote solar panels and set them in the sun, but for the cost of fuel to run my genny when needed versus cost of a good solar system, just not cost effective for me. Solar in the winter here in ontario would be crap as well.

plus what is solar going to do for me, cant run my washer dryer or air conditioning and those are the big draws for power. Another thing that i dont like is drawing 100 to 150 amps out of a set of batteries for long term usage like a washing cycle, think if you are using that much power your better to be using either land power or a genny.
My goal one day is to be off gird in northern ontario on a piece of land. I might then design build a permanent solar system not mounted to the trailer, but out in the open with directional panels to gain maximum benefit from the sun. I would still run the genny power for the heavy loads of course as i would not likely change must else in the way of inverters and battery systems.

Collecting rain water is a good idea, I would still use my 1500 gallon water tank and have it filled when needed. 1500 gallons with 3 people lasts well over a month, less if doing laundry.

I used to carry alot of stuff, and complicated power systems and what not and after all that experience, what i have now is so simple and works very well, kinda idiot proof. Cost me alot of dough to get to a system where the total cost was under 2500, and a system that i have to count on in the middle of winter here in Canada
There's a method to the madness, disturb the method and the madness begins.
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:21 PM   #4
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CoalRig - awesum post!:hihi:
F250 HD 7.3 Diesel :)
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:32 AM   #5
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Off-the-grid considerations can very depending on your anticipated daily "amp/hr usage" and for "how long". Some folks are very frugal on their daily amp/hr usage, others tend to require more. Also, a weekend boondocker's amp/hr needs may differ from those that spend weeks, even months off-the-grid.

A (2) 6V deep cycle battery bank will give you around 230 amp/hrs capacity, but you will get the best battery cost/lifespan return with a DoD (depth-of-discharge) not exceeding 50%..., thus 115 usable amps. Most deep cycle batteries will take up to a 80% DoD,... but the battery life is shortened considerably. With a solar system the panel sizing (watts) IMO would have to be sized to replenish the daily depleted battery bank amps (without dropping deeper than 50% DoD) based on about 5-6 hours/day of direct sun light. The days without sun light also have to be considered.

I've incorporated (2) 6V deep cycle batteries http://www.jaycoowners.com/showthread.php?t=2752, LED lights, a low amp box fan, and a TriMetric battery system monitor thus far, building toward a 300W solar panel system sometime in the near future. I consider myself a frugal boondocker so my daily amp/hr requirements are on the conservative side (don't use micro or A/C), and since I don't see my battery bank getting any larger I'm also considering the merits of a 2,000W generator (in lieu of, or with my solar). Most of the "extended stay" RV'rs that I see out there with solar systems tend to have on average 4-6 batteries in their battery bank.

If you plan to use the TT just on weekends, you may find investing in a generator/charger (w/(2) 6V's) a better way to start out in lieu of an expensive solar system. If you plan to leave the batteries in the TT between visits, possibly a low wattage solar panel will address maintaining the batteries between trips. I remove my batteries between trips and keep them charged at home with one of these: http://batteryminders.com/batterycha...o-p-16134.html

Hope this helps.


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Old 05-24-2011, 09:48 AM   #6
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Might add, that with a HOnda 3000 watt genny, your fuel consumption is around .7 litres per hour on average.

Run the genny four hours per day, and your at 3.2 litres per day, close to a american gallon, which sounds cheap, fulltime use, that gets expensive around 120.00 per month, I budget 200.00 per month for fuel in genny as I do laundry couple times a week and that requires running the genny for the whole day usually.

In a campground setting where I am plugged into shore power fulltime, my hydro bills average out to 120.00 per month, generally thats with the ac running most days and liberal use of power. It's the same in the winter months as I will run a electric heater to maintain even heat in the fiver.

Generally in a boondock situation though your not paying camping fees, my thought then is who cares how much the fuel costs.

A buddy of mine put a solar system on his large fifth wheel, multiple roof panels, charge controllers and the rest of it. His cost was over 10000.00 for the complete outfit including a big inverter charger. He stlll had a genny for backup. Now that kind of money for the solar system, one can buy a ton of fuel. The system does work well for him, he camps the winters away in Arizona where there is lots of winter time sunshine. His goal was to be off grid and therefore able to park where he pleases. But man thats a big cost.

Off grid situations or remote boondocking, imho, there is more concern with fresh water procurement. That I think is a bigger challenge.

Then, trying to get all your family onto to the idea of conservation, with respect to power and water. Turn the lights off when not needed and don't let the tap run while your doing dishes. I finally gave up and let them continue as they always do, just a extra trip to the gas station and refill the water tank while I am there lol.

There's a method to the madness, disturb the method and the madness begins.
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