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Mar 17, 2013 -

Photos From My Last Day At the Beach

What a busy day it’s been on the beach as it’s the last day of March break. It’s been overcast (I didn’t get a full charge today) but very muggy, so all the windows and roof hatches have been open.

Late afternoon, I decided to walk the two miles (four miles round trip) to the saloon for a beer and a burger, forgetting that today is St Patrick’s Day. The saloon was full to bursting so I instead got my burger to go and ate it on a windy bench on the beach, about halfway to home so the food was still at an acceptable temperature. I just wish I could have had one last ice cold Dos Equis, ‘dressed’ with salt and lime (damn you L for introducing them to me, LOL).

It was a really nice walk except for the fact that there is no way to get to the Saloon but along the main road and it was very busy tonight with folks heading back to civilization.

I won’t miss the wind, but I will otherwise miss everything about this truly magical place. I am so blessed to have been able to spend time here. I have about 14 hours left before I pull out.

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Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, Cats, Countries, Electricity, Personal, Solar Panels, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA, Weather    6 Comments
Mar 17, 2013 -

54 Days of Boondocking

I am just under a week shy of completing one solid month of boondocking! I’m doing one night on FHU and then it’s back off the grid I go.

Boondocking for so long didn’t seem realistic when I first started as I had so many troubles with my electrical setup. But I persevered in my troubleshooting and have been rewarded with a 12V system I now only need to monitor as it is adequate and functioning well for my needs.

That said, I’m not sure I would still be here on the beach had I not been able to borrow that generator at the beginning of February or if L and B hadn’t installed a new continuous duty solenoid in the motorhome engine compartment. It really does take the proverbial village…

I’ve got my power usage down to a routine now. I charge my computer in the morning and leave it plugged in for the entire afternoon. It still consumes a few amps at full charge, but it’s a fraction of what it needs to charge, so I’m able to charge the house batteries fully by dinner time, and I have a fully charged computer for the evening.

I don’t leave the computer plugged in in the evening because of the enormous voltage drop due to undersized wiring that I still need to correct. If I leave it plugged in, I don’t have enough voltage to even run an LED light without it flickering.

Now that I know that the wiring is undersized, I can manage my 12V use so that the system doesn’t get over loaded and the DC charger doesn’t get hot, so there are no fire concerns. I am eager to beef up the wiring, but it’s going to be a costly job and there are other upgrades in line first.

If it’s sunny out, I can use 120V items, like the printer and vacuum cleaner without a second thought. If like yesterday, it is overcast, then I need to shut some things down (usually unplugging the computer is enough) or run the engine to get the added voltage boost.

As for plumbing, the holding tanks haven’t been a problem. I could likely go a couple more weeks.

I am sorely missing having water in my on board tank, but have conceded that my 10-gallon water heater means that having instant hot water while boondocking is a wasteful luxury. Having a navy shower is no better than bathing in a basin. So, really, hauling and heating water is always going to be in my boondocking future when I am not somewhere that I can fill up regularly.

I do so desperately miss my long hot evening showers as they were my transition time to bedtime. I need to find access to showers the next time I’m off the grid this long. When I had my house and the plumbing was off in the dead of winter, I’d just go to the gym. I need to find an equally suitable setup on the road. The RV park where I am going does have showers, but I’d have to pay an extra $5 per day to access them. Much as I love my showers, they are not worth that much!

When I started reading about RVing back in 2008, I thought of all the things I would have to give up, and the first that came to mind was my daily shower. I can’t even remember the rest, but the showers hold true. That’s really the only concession I make when off the grid. Otherwise, I am living a more electrically-mindful version of my normal routine and I don’t feel deprived in the least.

Finally, boondocking is infinitely superior to staying in an RV park with all its restrictions!

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Black Tank, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Fresh Water Tank, Generator, Grey Tank, Indoor Shower, Inverter, Plumbing, Solar Panels, Technical, Toilet, Travel    6 Comments
Mar 11, 2013 -

Solar Charging WOW

I was down about 15AH when I woke up this morning at 7:00. We had full sun promised for the next week and I needed to charge my laptop. I was doubtful I’d get anywhere near a full charge today, but figured that with the forecast ahead, there was no need to run the engine this morning to give the solar panels a boost.

With the time change, I didn’t start to get much of a charge until well past 8AM. By 11AM, I was down more than 20AH and still wasn’t seeing a positive charge coming in, not even when I turned off the inverter.

I stopped for lunch at 1:00 and was amazing to see that I was now 16.4AH down! In the 20 minutes I took to eat, I saw myself gain a full AH. But that still left me right where I was in the morning.

When I next checked the monitor at 3:00… I got a FULL message! My batteries were charged to maximum capacity!

So it looks like my theory about how the battery monitor works is correct. The amps coming in are only the amps at that moment and every so often, the monitor adds up those amps and adjusts the AH metre up or down as appropriate rather than adjusting the readings in real time.

So the only reading that is truly relevant at any moment is the AH status, and then I can check the amps screen to see if the AH are going to trend up or downwards.

At any rate, full batteries, YAY! Not that I’ve been lacking for power, not by a long shot, but it’s good for the batteries to get a full charge regularly.

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Solar Panels, Technical    4 Comments