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Old 08-25-2013, 10:13 AM   #1
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First time owner in OKC

We are a family of 4 that just inherited a 2003 26' Jayco Eagle. We live in Newcastle OK (just south of OKC). And... I have no idea where to start with using and maintaining our camper. Luckily my wife's grandparents were excellent record keepers so I have a lot of manuals to read through. If you have any suggestions of good forum posts or websites to read I'd be glad to hear them. I need to prioritize the systems and figure out what needs the most attention first.

My goals are to "solarize" and maybe a small wind turbine, convert the lights to LEDs, and figure out a way to supplement the water heating with some sort of solar heating. We have camped in the woods on a dear lease for several year before owning so getting the rig as "off grid" as we can will save generator time and other resources.

Thanks in advance and if you're ever at lake Eufaula or the Lawton Wildlife Refuge let us know!

Happy Camping.
Bert / Vicki and the kids.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:44 AM   #2
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First time owner in OKC

Bert / Vicki, welcome to JOF from Northeast Ohio. Any questions ask away, we were all newbies once.

As for reading, take a look in the forums, lots of great information.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:14 AM   #3
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Welcome to the JOF Bert/Vicki and kids! Congrats on the 'new' tt. Have fun making new memories
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:13 PM   #4
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I would start out with smart mode converter/charger mods and beefed up batteries first to gain all the knowledge of how to take care care of the beefed up batteries and how to keep them charged and ready to go. There are deep cycle battery science you need to learn...

Then adding alternate sources of energy will come next.

Windmills in the wind path that comes up from Texas thru OKLA is a pretty good wind path. It does take a steady 5mph of sustained wind to do any good with those. I'm not much of fan with the large blades you find on those but the turret type that resemble heat removal fans on roof tops really make sense to me...

Solar panels is also something you have keep playing with to get what you need. As you will learn from living off the batteries you will need something will produce a lot of DC current if you want to recharge batteries in a hurry. Each 120WATT solar panel only give you around 5-6AMPS of usable DC current so you can see from this you will need to add several of those to recharge your battery banks in short time frame.

This is why I suggest to learn all you can about batteries first. Solar Panels produce energy from the sun and it has to be stored into battery banks for you to be able to use it. It all goes hand-in-hand...

The 26-foot size trailer IMO is almost the perfect size to have. You will love that...

I was going to suggest going down to the Medicine park OKLA but I see after reading more of your post you area already aware of that nice camping spot... We have lived in Wichita Falls and learned of this areas back in the 60s. Go there every chance we we get...

I have drug my VIRGINIA TAGS to Camp Doris on many of occasions...


We are just now thinking about adding solar panels to this off-road POPUP. I can get three 120WATT Panels on the roof - two on either side of the roof mounted fantastic fan and one additional one between the air conditioner and the rear edge of the roof. Even with these three 120WATT panels only producing around 15AMPS of usable DC current during the day will not be enough to keep my 255AH battery bank capacity re-charged during the day to make it thru the next day/night running all of the things we want to run off the power grid. It will take some planning to get to where you want to be using all of these things... Right now we are able to run all of our 120VAC Toys from a 600WATT PSW Inverter and other 12VDC item direct connected to our battery bank but requires us to run our 2KW Honda Generator each morning for three hours to get re-charged back up to at least 90% charge state so we can do all of this all over again the next day/night run off the batteries. You can be frugal and make it happen with less but first you need to plan for what you really want to run and it will work with planning. My days of flashlights and candles all went away back in the 60s and 70s... Now we want to run all the 120VAC appliance we can with what we got...

We got very successful with the batteries first now we want to start adding alternate sources of power to help out and not have to run the generator as much. Seems like everywhere we go we have generator run time restrictions and can't run them when you want to. Even Camp Doris has generator run time restrictions in place. This is where using solar panels to refill the batteries during the day will help big time.

Don't think you can just jump into it and go... It will get dark on you around 10PM at night - Then what are going to do hehe... The cougars will eat you at Camp Doris hehe...

Roy Ken
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Old 08-25-2013, 02:12 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses everyone and thanks RoyBraddy, all good suggestions.

You're right, I'm going to have to do some math and that doesn't come easy for me! I have a buddy here in town that is generating ~40% of his home off 8 stationary PV panels and 1 wind gen. He started with the WG and found it didn't do much- added the panels and between the sun in the day and the wind keeping his bat bank topped off at night he's getting some significant return on his investment. I want to do this on a smaller scale. There was a show on BBC called "Planet Mechanics" a while back. They traveled in a converted box truck and used both sun and wind to keep the batteries for their tools going (quite possibly with some TV magic thrown in). Like you said, we are used to living of the batteries during the day and charging up (and using) the generator in the evening when everyone is back in camp. It would be nice to make use of the sun in those situations and depend less on dead dinosaurs. Maybe I'll throw up a thread as I begin the project. I was dreaming over the PVs at Camping World just today.

The family deer lease was between Ada and Atoka OK so I have heard and seen the damage done by the coyotes!

First we have to get the camper in shape and I have to learn about all the systems. I plan on perusing the forums and trying to see what I can find at the Jayco site.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:56 AM   #6
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A slight change in tactics regarding the use of the generator... Most public campgrounds do not allow you to use your generator after 8PM... I have never run into any place that let you run one all night. It is usually from 8AM to 10AM and then again from 4:30PM to 7:30PM. Some Natl Parks will let you run them from 8AM to 8PM but not always the case. Private campgounds is a different story and out west they have dispersed camping. We don't have any of those places here on the east side of the US.

With this in mind I had to start my mods... First was to setup with smart mode technology converter/charger, then added larger battery cables and more batteries. Then changed over to LED lights and thought about all the places I can save Battery energy. We decided what 120VAC items we wanted to have with us when camping off the power grid places. Then purchased a PURE SINE WAVE Inverter to run those items. Likewise all of the 12VDC items we wanted to run that will be connected to the battery bank.. My battery bank is currently three GP24 12VDC Interstates that came with the POPUP producing 155AHs of capacity.

With everything listed above our camping off the the power is much of routine now. My best mod was to add a nice BATTERY MONITOR PANEL with a separate DC VOLTMETER to monitor both battery banks and a DC CURRENT METER to monitor what goes into and being drawn from the selected batteries. We watch this like a hawk to make sure we are hitting our planned discharge marks so that out battery will only be down to around 12.0VDC the next morning. Now we can run our generator to re-charge the batteries during breakfast when we are allowed to run the generator.

My keep alive drain from my batteries is around 1-2AMPS for all of the parasitic drains all the time. The biggest drain we have is from 8PM to 11PM which is around 20AMPS (250-300WATTS) running all the home entertainment items and other useful appliances like lights, fans, cell phone chargers, computer charger, etc. We do just about everything we normally do at a regular campground with electric except air conditioning and high wattage microwave etc.

In the mornings when we are running the generator will make up our coffee for the day and do other high wattage things while we have good 120VAC coming from the generator. The main reason for the generator however is to re-charge the battery banks...

Now that we can do this quite well and are very successful making it thru the nights etc we can start thinking about adding some solar panels or perhaps in your case add some wind power since you are in a good 5MPH wind zone living on the East side of the mountains in TX/OKLA areas.

My big game plan would be to be able to completely re-charge my battery back up to its 90% charge state during the day time hours using the solar panels. This is a big challenge since you only get around 5-6AMPS coming from each panel and if you don't get enough power to make it to the 90%SOC then you will not be able to make it through the night running off the batteries doing the same routine described above. Since you are not allowed to run your generator after 8PM then this is not going to be a recourse for you to use. You will be out of luck...

Having never done this yet with the solar panels I have other issues with my setup I haven't played with yet. I am not sure how my solar panel idea will work with my PD9260C Converter/Charger idea. If I partially re-charge my battery banks to lets say 70%-80% SOC during the day and at 4PM I can see this with my BATTERY MONITOR PANEL perhaps I can fire up my generator and get my batteries back to their 90% SOC so we can make it thru the night. If my generator has to run the full three hours run time to make this happen you have to ask yourself if the solar panels were worth the cost. i.e. will my converter/charger recognize the batteries only need an hour or so of re-charging or will it run its full normal re-charge cycle that will take a full three hours.

I am only talking doing my full routine we are used to doing each night. I realize you can do alot of smaller runs off the battery to keep what you have stored in the batteries so they won't drop below the 50% SOC before 8Am the next morning. This would be going backwards for us. We have already paid our dues of running off flashlights and candles etc...

In others words I most definitely need my batteries to be at their 90% Charge state at the beginning of the high battery use period each night to be able to do what we normal do when camping off the power grid. Just passing all of this along to show how the planning stage will have to come into play.

Some campers will say I am putting too much into this and making it harder then it should be as they can last several days before running their generator again or may not even bring one along for the trip. That would not work in my case - maybe their routine but not mine.

You mentioned wanting to do this on a smaller scale. There is no smaller scale. You have to re-charge your batteries the same way whether you are using a generator for source power or Solar Panels/Wind generator. You have to have around 15-20AMPS of power available per battery and hit them with at least 14.4VDC for around three hours time to get to a 90% charge state. i.e. If I only trickle charge my batteries during the day and not attain the 90% charge state my batteries will not perform according to their listed specs when I start pulling a full 20AMPs of juice from them for four to five hours continuous. Mine will drop below the 50% charge state too soon and i will have to shut down the batteries until I can get some juice back into them at 8AM the next morning running the generator. If I skimp by and not recharge again using the generator and let the solar panels try to bring them back up again then the next night run run of 20AMPS (if I even get that far) will not last like they did the night before. The time they drop to their 50% charge state will be even shorter than the night before... eventually they will be worthless for me and will of course start their internal self destruction. This is why it is so important for me to always start out each nightly heavy battery run with a good 90% charge state each time I do it...

This is my take on it at any rate... I look at it this way... Whatever you take out of the batteries you have to put back right away or the batteries will start their self destruction mode.

Roy Ken
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I claim Horse Creek Country in Southern Ill - Momabear is from North Texas
We live in King George VA
RETIRED DOD DOAF DON CONTRACTOR Electronics Tech 42YRS

"We're burning daylight" - John Wayne
2008 STARCRAFT 14RT OFF-ROAD POPUP with PD9260C and three 85AH 12VDC batteries
2010 F150 FX4 5.4 GAS with 3.73 gears - Super Cab - Towing Package - 2KW Honda EU2000i Gen
K9PHT (since 1957) 146.52Mhz
"We always have a PLAN B"
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