I’m about to start yet another electrical upgrade to my RV’s 12V system. The main reason for this is that my office setup is using more power than I would have expected (mainly because the work I do keeps evolving) and I will need to start printing a lot while off shore power.
My current setup has:
-two 6V batteries offering me about 120 amp hours
-one 400W inverter
-one 150W solar panel
-one 15W solar panel
When I did the math to get my solar panel, I estimated that I use about 40A per day and that I’d ideally need 60A available to me. Those numbers still hold up; I have average 50A per day if I’m working and need to heat a little.
My unscientific experiment with the solar panel this spring told me that on a sunny day, my batteries are charged by noon regardless of how low they were in the evening. So that tells me that I have some wasted potential capacity and that I don’t need another solar panel right now. What I could use are more amp hours in the form of more batteries.
Because of weight and space considerations, I have decided to go from 2x6V batteries to 2x12V batteries. Assuming that my 12V batteries have a capacity of 180 amp hours and that I have access to 60% of that capacity (108 amp hours), I will have 216 amp hours available to me, for an increase of 96 amp hours.
I am also going to be adding a Xantrex LinkPRO Battery Monitor. There are monitors that are easier to install, but this one is available on Amazon and the entire cost was covered with two months’ worth of affiliate gift certificates. I should be getting it by August. Long time readers will know that I have been talking about a battery monitor for years and it’s finally going to happen! Thank you so much to everyone who buys products on Amazon through my links!
Next, I need a bigger capacity inverter to charge a laptop, run several external hard drives, and print. Oh, heck, and run the crock pot, too! I’ll check for sales and will be getting something in the 600W to 1000W range.
In terms of office equipment, my current Brother laser printer is woefully inadequate for my lifestyle. The power consumption of a laser printer is incompatible with life on an inverter unless you have a massive battery bank, a zillion watts in solar panels, and a generator as a backup. I am eying a multifunction HP inkjet printer with low power requirements and the cheapest operating cost in its class, but I won’t say anything more about the printer selection process until I buy one.
My mother and I are going to start doing some work on the rig this weekend and one of the projects will be to get 120V power on the passenger side of the rig in the front, right above the battery bank. What I am envisioning is a charging station there based on a power strip that I can plug into either my new 120V outlet or my new inverter. I will also be installing the battery monitor in that location. It will be much easier to get it there through the same hole used to run the inverter wiring than to run the monitor cabling to the location of the solar panel monitor.
What I like best about this plan is that it isn’t going to cost me a fortune. The most expensive component will be the batteries since I don’t have to put the monitor in the budget. I haven’t decided yet if I will be getting them here, in Canada, or in the US, but the latter is more likely. So I will probably hit the road with my monitor and new inverter installed, but won’t get to reap the benefits of my upgrades for a bit.Share on Facebook