Let’s talk power! I have owned this class B RV for 16 months. It’s a sprinter Van. I’ve spent 288 nights living in it and 55,000 miles.
My biggest struggle is the electricity. Of all the nights I’ve stayed in the RV, I’ve been plugged in maybe a dozen. If I stay in the same spot for more then three days at a time, my Blue Top Optima 55 amp hr battery will be Dead! Dead! Dead! I’m surprised it still works. Honestly it shouldn’t. I highly recommend it.
My favorite way of living is to find a great place to park the van and commute to work, the gym, groceries and so on with my Motorcycle.
I found that it was almost impossible though. After three days I had to drive the van around just to get some battery juice. I didn’t have enough miles mid work cycle to get a good charge on the system. So it became a real hassle.
I do have an onboard 2000w Onan generator. For some odd reason it would take hours to get just enough charge to last through the night. I was using all the propane and again I was driving anyway to fill my propane tanks.
I decided I wanted solar. I had heard great things. So I started rummaging through the still uncertain info all over the World Wide Web. It was a lot of math and a lot of reading in another language, electrical. Best I could come up with was add everything you have together and then divide it. That equaled a lot. Never would everything run all at once, Nor would it ever be the same combination. By the math, I would need 10,000 watts of solar. It was never going to happen.
I put on my common sense cap, turned it backwards and got to thinking. If my battery has always lasted 24hrs then I just need enough solar to recharge that battery in a few hours. That way if the sky feels moody or if I’m using some power during the day my system would have plenty of time to charge my battery by night.
Suddenly I only needed 100w. My mind drifted back to an old man living on the banks of the Columbia River Gorge in a little camp site called Sand Station. He said to me. “All these young kids are always getting so many panels. They don’t need that much. It’s a waste. All a person needs is 100 watts. It’s plenty.”
I found the Renogy 100 watt plug and play system. The price was on point, the 700+ reviews with 4.5 stars was definitely on point. The fact that, if the old man was incorrect, I could add another 300 watts to it was on point.
So I gambled. Knowing nothing but, I know not what I’m doing. I closed my eyes and click. I sent it to my dad for his opinion. Yes I’m almost 40 but he is my dad. He will always have good advise for me.
He text me back. “To late. You will have to spend your birthday money on something else.” With a picture of the order screen and shipping info. He bought it for me. YA! Now I really had nothing to lose.
It arrived three days later. I was so excited I opened it then and there. It was very well packaged. I was shocked at the quality as well.
I figured I would put the brackets on real quick. Next thing I knew the ladder was out I was standing on my van panel in hand trying to figure out where I was going to mount it. I had a bunch of ideas before I had received it. In hand they weren’t making sense. So right in the middle it went. Holes were drilled, wires were fed, screws got screwed. Silicon got messy. It really was so simple. All that worry and fear not knowing if I could do it my self just lifted away. It was a cake walk.
Bam! 2 hours later with the help of my other Dad, I had power. Ya I’m lucky, God gave me two great fathers and many Grandfathers to look up too. I didn’t know how much power though. I drove around for 6 days working. It was a different situation and I really had to drive every day. So I couldn’t tell what my panel was doing.
Finally I got my scheduled days off so I left the van in my driveway unplugged, the fridge on, the furnace thermostat normal. Just like a regular day. Three days later the battery was fully charged. Ya it is working.
I needed to know how well though. So first light the next day I turned the Fantastic Fan on high. It would usually kill the battery in three hours. It was rainy and overcast. Three hours later all four LED lights for battery condition are still lit. 6 hours still lit. It took ten hours to drain the battery down to the last LED. Fan and fridge running. Now I was impressed.
I kept the fridge going that night and the furnace on just so I could make sure the battery was drained by the morning. Yes I know this is bad for my battery. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times it had died already though. That is why I was going down the whole solar path in the first place.
That next morning I went out 2 hours after first light. Again it had been raining all morning and there was a lot of cloud cover. But all four LEDs were lit. It charged in two hours. Again I was impressed!
The website said it would charge a 50 amp hr battery in three hours with optimal sun light. My light was poor and it charged them In two.
I can’t wait to take my bike and new solar equipped van back to Sand Station again next week. I can’t wait to use it for real and see if my tests were correct in telling me I have more power then I need. Maybe that old man will be there again too. I would like to tell him he was right.