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Old 03-08-2015, 09:11 AM   #1
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Question Living seasonally with no electrical hook up

Due to a problem with the way it was originally installed (long story but each site owner pays for their own installation if they want power), the seasonal campsite on a Canadian military installation we have, the power is being removed for this upcoming camping season. It already has no sewers, but there's a dump station close by and a weekly pump service, so the sewage hasn't been an issue much so far (knock on wood!)

The site is the largest, most beautiful, waterfront site (huge treed site with it's own private walkway to sandy beachfront) and we don't want to move, we rather want to get by without power for the summer.

We are a family of four, mom, dad and two young children. We have a Jayco BHS28' travel trailer.

My husband is a licenced electrical contractor/electrician so I assume this is why were given the site... on the hopes he would fix the electrical issues, but the cost of the wire and supplies even if he installs himself is not worth the chance we could get posted away at any time. So we would rather invest some money into solar power, generators, etc that we can take with us. We realize there will be additional costs with us needing more propane as well.

These are the things we are looking into so far:

1. We have a small portable generator that may be able to run the a/c at times, which will help, but the generators can be annoying after a while.

2. I've seen rv solar power kits sold online, I don't know much about them (hubby will be able to tell better if they are enough for us but he is away right now) that may help for the lower draw things, but I would be surprised if you can get a solar powered system that would run an a/c unit.

3. Propane tanks - since this is a seasonal site I'm wondering if we should buy really large tanks and have propane delivered. I'm assuming we will go through a lot more propane running the fridge etc off propane.

4. For cooling, we may invest in some battery powered fans and have them blow over bowls of ice and see if that helps cool things down during the really hot nights.

Does anyone here have experience staying longer lengths of time in a trailer or rv with no power? Do you have any tips for us?

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Old 03-08-2015, 09:30 AM   #2
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Can't imagine the specifics of the elec issues at your site but can't believe that the cost of running new wire etc would be more than installing a complete solar system with panels, wiring, controller, and battery bank and then an inverter to produce 110v for AC or other non 12v needs. If husband has the experience to do the deed, I would put my $$'s into getting power to the site. I ran power to my barn, distance of over 100 yds, with direct bury cable, ditching, breaker box etc for less than $300. That was a few years ago but even with higher cost for wiring, it would still seem to be the better way to spend your $$.

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Old 03-08-2015, 10:21 AM   #3
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I agree with Bassdogs, but if you have a generator that is not to noisy already I would use that during the peak heat hours to run the AC and run off the battery the rest of the time. But you will burn through some gas doing this.
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:48 AM   #4
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Correct. Don't want to run an A/C unit off an inverter. Will kill your batteries very quickly not to mention how big and costly the inverter would be

( A/C unis run on 110 V and draw 12- 20 amps )

Lots on this forum on solar, battery sizing and inverters.
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:31 PM   #5
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You may be surprised how much copper costs have gone up, the wire alone is over $600 (it's a long run, back to the main). And that's the wire at wholesale prices!

I would rather sink 1K or more into a system if we can reasonably provide ourselves enough power to run what we need to (a/c being the big dilemma of course, and may not be possible any way but with out being on the grid). At least this way we can take it with us, vs put out 1K (most likely more) for electrical supply to a site we may only use for a few months (military life - most of you either know it or can understand why this is a concern for us).

I'm thinking slabat has the right idea, running the generator but hopefully only when it's really necessary... gasoline prices are going back up I see

Really, other than the a/c I think we can manage - and even then I have heard of set ups with battery powered fans and running them so they blow over bowls of ice (which we will have to make using propane powered fridge!!).

The other option we have is to move to another electrical serviced site, but I really do like this particular site, I believe it truly is the most beautiful site in the campground.

EDIT: Sorry, how rude of me! Thank you to everyone who replied, I appreciate the feedback, even if it only confirms my fear that most likely the a/c won't be an option for us if we go the off the grid route.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:56 AM   #6
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What is wrong with the existing wiring? Couldn't it be salvaged and reused? Have you id'ed the issues with the existing set up?
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Old 03-09-2015, 10:06 AM   #7
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I'm with Bassdogs, if the previous electric was incorrectly run than there should be useable wiring for your husband to fix. That is your best bet. Even if he has to pay $1000 to fix the electric there, it is probably the cheapest option. Yes, it is money spent one time. How often do you plan on seasonally camping at a site with no electric in the future? It seems that campers fall into one of two groups; those that rough it and can get by with a minimal battery/solar setup that powers a light and fan at night and those that need the modern conveniences. I bought a camper because I want my AC in the summer, I want my bathroom, I want a comfy bed, etc etc.

The cost of solar is very high and takes a long time to recoup. You need to buy panels, batteries, wiring, invertor, etc. I would guess a 2000 watt solar system would run at least $10,000. That isn't enough power to run your AC though. That will let you use lights, charge phones, make coffee in the morning, and watch some tv. If you are on a shady site (I think you said the site has lots of trees) then that will reduce the amount of energy from the sun. I doubt you will have sufficient roof space to mount solar panels to run an AC.

The next option for me would be a very nice generator. A Honda or Yamaha with enough power to run your AC is likely going to be $2000. $2000 is expensive but WAY less than a solar setup and it will let you run AC if you want. They are relatively quiet if you only run it when you need power. You could even build a shelter for it to absorb some sound and reflect the rest of the sound away from you and your neighbors.

Gas is expensive, but so is everything else. If you want the energy you have to pay the price somehow unfortunately. "Free" solar is very, very expensive.
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Old 03-09-2015, 12:00 PM   #8
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I am with spoon059 on this one. Solar is very very expensive. You see a lot of small units for sale for a few hundred dollars, but you are getting what you pay for. They will keep your battery charged on good sunny days. Most of them do not have a good brains behind them so your battery may take a beating. If you have lots of trees, solar does not do good. Solar want full sun.

In general I hate generators, but in this case it sounds like your best investment as you can take it with you.
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Old 03-09-2015, 12:36 PM   #9
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We just reran power to 6 campsites in our campground. Went from 30 to 50 amps.
Instead of copper we used direct burial aluminum. We laid it inside conduit. Wire ,box & conduit was less than $300.00 for a 200ft. run. Is aluminum legal up north ?
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:56 PM   #10
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Also look into a generator that can be converted to propane. It is mich less than gas and is easier to transport. Many existing generators ca be converted with a kit and a competent mechanic. Some say they even run quieter.

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