Browsing "Grey Tank"
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
Jan 25, 2013 -

I’m Charging My Laptop While Using It!

All right folks, I think we can say that Rae’s battery bank and whole house inverter set up is operating at full capacity!!! I’m sitting in partial sun with about 12.8V only on all the various monitors and I am not only charging my laptop, but also using it! The inverter does beep when the clouds get really heavy, but just for a second! I still think the DC charger I’m getting tomorrow is my best solution, but I feel soooooooo much better than I did yesterday!

I really want to thank everyone who has given me input on my battery upgrade woes. Every single comment I’ve gotten has given me just a little insight into why things weren’t working correctly, how to fix it, what to expect in terms of performance, etc. I really had all the knowledge I needed and the right tools. The problem was with the execution. Make good connections, folks!

Croft asked me how long I plan to stay here and what my plan is if the weather goes bad. I was able to go 13 days on my old batteries with fewer amp hours in mostly crappy cold super overcast conditions. Right now, I’ve got the rig plugged into the whole house inverter and am running the fridge and charging the computer, for a total of 2.8 amps going out. I have 0.9 amps coming in. My monitor is telling me I could run like this for another 43 hours before depleting my batteries. When I was just running a light last night, I could have kept going for 150 hours before depleting my batteries.

So I have a lot of reserve capacity for cloudy days, especially since I don’t have to run the furnace. I suspect I will run out of water and holding tank space before I run out of power. I can haul water from the icky public bathroom and dump grey water there and I can go about six weeks on my black tank. So unless the weather goes really, really bad, I should be able to last four weeks here as I had hoped to do.

This experiment is going to serve me well since I’ve decided I’d rather not put much money into my property next summer. So I’ll leave here knowing if I stand a chance of lasting the summer without plugging in.

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Black Tank, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Fresh Water Tank, Grey Tank, Personal, Plumbing, RV Pad, Solar Panels, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA    6 Comments
Jan 17, 2013 -

Oh, Right, I Have a Grey Tank!

I found a little bit of water in the bottom of the shower this afternoon and couldn’t understand it for a long second. Oh, right. Silly gal. Your grey tank is FULL!

I’ve been able to leave my grey valve open where I’ve been parked in the last long while, so I haven’t had to manage my grey tank at all. I haven’t emptied it since Hampton Roads and had a couple of long showers here.

Like most places, you cannot dump grey water on the ground here, so I did an old trick. I grabbed a big bucket and filled it from the grey tank, then emptied it in the black through the toilet. I did this four times and got my grey tank down to a third full. This barely nudged up the level in the black and will actually make it easier to empty when I go dump next week.

I’m really hoping the weather will cooperate and let me complete my solid four weeks of boondocking experiment when I get to Texas. If so, then I will need to find a better way to manage grey water dumping I will run out of space in the black tank after so many weeks. My writing partner Will has some seemingly more manageable alternatives to Blue Boys, described in our ebook, and I am going to explore them.

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Grey Tank, Plumbing, Technical, Travel    9 Comments