Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Power to the RV People

Dear R.V. Shrink:
We dry camp or boon-dock all the time. My husband bought a cheap generator from some mail order catalog that makes more noise than a pack of Harley hogs. I suggested we order a solar panel and get rid of the generator. He bought a small 15 watt solar panel and said we would try it. I told him that seemed too small. I talked to a couple that had a larger 80 watt and they said it kept their battery charged if they were very careful with their usage. I hate the noise our generator makes, it annoys other campers and doesn't even seem to charge very efficiently. Should I just buy one and prove it too him or wait for both of us to go deaf listening to this stupid gas guzzling generator?
--Say What in Wasilla

Dear Say What:
I'm hearin' ya. 15 watts is like spitting into the ocean. I wouldn't wait. If you have a internet connection, there are some very informative articles on how to figure your power usage and what size solar panel you would need. If you are just using that noise maker to charge the battery, you can't get much more inefficient. You can work from both sides of the equation. Whittle your power usage and suck enough sunshine to store what you need. I think 80 watts of quiet, free solar power would be a good start. If that doesn't work you can add on. In the meantime, you may want to add a gas light, small Wave catalytic heater and efficient 12 volt bulbs to your existing lights. If you can limit your coach heater fan from coming on with a small catalytic heater you will save a lot of battery power. A gas light will give you heat and light. Your husband will eventually see the light, but it may be dimming if he continues to experiment with that small panel. I don't know what he paid for that generator, but solar costs are dropping all the time. You can buy a nice 80 watt on Amazon for less than five hundred bucks. They are so easy to install even a Shrink can do it.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


Anonymous said...

$500.00 for an 80 watt? You can get 135 watt panels for less than that.. AMERICAN MADE... also you should have told her to get a charge controller that is lager than needed for future expansion.

Ron Lane said...

I absolutely detest those people in public campgrounds who use these noisy little "cheap" generators without any concern for their fellow campers. Talk about rude and inconsiderate! If he really wants a generator, he needs to get one of the Honda or other quite generators. Yes, they are expensive, but at least he won't have everyone in the campground angry at him. Solar panels are nice, but since most campgrounds have lots of trees, the panels may not receive sufficient sunshine to keep the batteries charged. Now if he is at Quartzsite, panels would be perfect. I would start with 80 watts and then add additional panels if necessary.