Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Solar Power!

With all the boondocking I've been doing, I have been using my Honda 2000 generator daily, which did the job for me. But, I had to take it out of the truck box, haul it to the back of the 5th wheel, gas it up and yank on the cord a few times to get it to start. I had to have smelly gas cans in the back of the truck. When I was done, had to get it back up on the truck tailgate and back to the truck box to get it in there. Not much fun. Plus, I had to listen to the noise for an hour or so every day.

I met a solo female Rver in Yuma last month. She had just bought a solar panel kit in Quartzsite, Arizona - 160 watts, 2 panels on a hinge with brackets to stand it up. It came in a nylon zipper bag, complete with controller. She was happy with it. I saw her again near Thermal, California a few weeks ago and we discussed solar again, among other things. 

When I got here in Quartzsite, I visited the two solar panel shops. I decided on a similar unit, but only 120 watts, with a digital controller that tells me battery level, how much is being input and how much my rig is drawing. It's a little smaller than the one my friend had, and mine came with a molded case, which gives it a little more protection than the fabric bag. 

I've been using it almost a week now. I leave it where it will get the most sun, usually full sun by 11 AM. By about 3 or 4 o'clock, my controller is telling me that the battery is full. I bought a little inverter so I can charge my camera batteries, computer and phone. I could even watch TV if I wanted to.  I don't worry about lights being on and I can listen to the stereo as much as I want now.    As a bonus, I don't have to listen to a generator making noise!

There's only one thing I have not gotten used to with boondocking. When I fix a meal and I need to warm something up, sometimes I forget I'm not connected. I have it all on a plate, ready to go in the microwave and raise my hand to open the door and notice the screen is blank – no power. Oh, yeah. I didn't get an inverter large enough for that, which is fine with me. I lived on a boat for 10 years with no microwave, and I got along fine without it all that time, but I've been spoiled living on land again.

Meanwhile, I've been enjoying boondocking and the quiet since I don't have the generator on anymore.


  1. Your set-up sounds great. The panels with a molded case also sounds good. I have some panels my DH brought home but they are bigger and less powerful than yours. Haven't tried them yet. Also have a 350 Watt Inverter and another very small one. Would love to see some more info on yours.

    1. Colleen, I didn't want any holes in my roof, so didn't want to mount them. The website that explains them is http://www.zampsolar.com/rv-solar-kits/rv-portable-solar/ I got the 120 watt one - it's enough and smaller than the other ones. The controller I have is the one they call "deluxe PWM" which gives more info than the smaller ones. I got a 400 watt inverter, which is enough for most everything I have. I'm really liking it!