We don’t always bask in the sun when we are south, in fact it gets quite cool as soon as the sun goes down. Off goes the shorts, t-shirt’s and flip flops and on goes the long pants, bunny hugs, socks and shoes.
We have even been known to put on our winter jackets and a toque to watch the Super Bowl outside while we were in California a few years back.
This morning our phones were buzzing away, we have a weather freeze warning here in Yuma.
Guess today would be a good day for a pot of stew and fresh biscuits!
Even with these temps we can’t complain. Holy heck Batman, at least it’s not as cold as back home in Saskatchewan.
When we purchased our trailer, our intentions where to purchase a 5th wheel that we could head south where we could bask in the sun for the winter months. Staying in campgrounds or rv parks every-night was not on our priority list. We love to travel and see new places, some would say we get itchy feet! So dry camping only made sense to us. In order to drycamp/boondock for extended period of time, we would need to invest in Solar. We wanted to be self-sufficient and not rely on rv parks, campgrounds or a generator, so we invested in ourselves.
We did a lot of research and called everyone we knew with any knowledge on the subject, and Myron and I came up with our present system of: 690 watts of solar and 440 amp hours of battery.
This allows us to use our Instant Pot, Induction cook top, bread maker, coffee pot, basically everything with the exception of our A/C and Microwave (we do not use the microwave, it’s become our bread storage compartment)
12v 38.14 Amps 690 Watts wired in parallel.
2- 12v 9.37 Amp 170 Watts each
2- 12v 9.7 Amps 175 Watts each
Each panel is wired in parallel with #8 PV- Solar Wire (Sunlight and weather resistant), ran to a junction box.
(Prices have dropped lots since we purchased our first set of panels. You can now purchase high quality 200 watt panels, made in the USA, for $185.00 USD/ $240.00 CAD. So if you open your local weekly flyer and see solar panels from Canadian Tire or Harbour Freight don’t waste your money, they are a ripoff, more than 3x the price per watt and they do not compare.)
Installing roof junction box and drilling hole in our roof for the wire drop. This required precise measuring as we needed to make the drop directly into the wall between the kitchen and bathroom.
Myron had perfect alignment from the roof, directly in the wall, straight down to the electrical panel compartment.
# 4 Pv-Solar Wire was used to run from Junction box to Charge Controller. (Over kill? Maybe, but we didn’t want any voltage loss, and room for expansion)
This required team work, as this #4 PV (Solar) wire was heavy and very tricky to pull. Thanks for the help Tom!
Front storage compartment houses our 40 Amp Blue Sky MPPT charge controller with a 500 Amp Shunt that send a signal back to our Blue Sky IPN Pro-Remote.
Our battery bank is 440 AH, wired in series & parallel with 1/0 cable
4- 6v Golf Cart Batteries
2- Costco Interstate- 210 AH ea
2 – NAPA -230 AH ea
We installed a 1000 Watt pure Sine inverter with a remote and dedicated solar plugs.
I must say, I have one talented husband! Having solar has worked out great for us, as we invested in ourselves instead of the Rv parks and campgrounds!
We will have an update coming this winter, as we will are making a few changes to our system to make it more efficient.
This past summer we had an unexpected visitor move into our Rv! We got the surprise one morning when we open up our cutlery drawer and surprise, something left us a turd!!
Yes, you guessed it, a fricken mouse!!
Grrr, now everything has to be completely cleaned and sanitized. These things creep me right out! Ok truth be told, I am scared shitless of them. Yes I know they are smaller than me, but nope not happening. I will scream like a little school girl, and I am not afraid to admit it.
Any plans Myron had that day were now put on the hold, as he now was on a search and destroy mission!
Aha, a section of our underbelly had come lose and allowed for a perfect entry point for the mouse to get in.
With traps set, it didn’t take long and snap…….. we caught the bugger!!!
We always knew it wasn’t a matter of if we would get a mouse, but a matter of when! We thought we had mouse proof our rig, but sometimes they just get in!
Not wanting them to ever get near our cutlery again. Myron came up with these sweet drawer covers.
He already had this clear heavy plastic material similiar to Lexan in his mobile shop, so he figured it would work perfect for the job.
Strong enough to hold my glass of wine!!
He used Velcro to temporarily hold them securely in place until we find the right fasteners.
The Charge Wizard constantly monitors battery voltage and battery usage then selects one of the following four operating modes to properly charge and maintain the batteries. Since we mostly boondock (Dry Camping), we are able to charge our batteries up faster with the generator on those cloudy days.
to access the converter we had to removed the electrical panel,
then remove the kitchen drawers on the other side of the cabinet.
Not the easiest spot to get to in the Cougar 337FLS, this took team work.
Out with the old, and in with the new!
It also comes with a remote pendant that we can manually control the charger.
We have been pretty low key this last month and half, as we haven’t been doing a lot of traveling or site seeing since Bella’s surgery before Christmas. Myron has been busy helping friends with their solar, and doing updates to ours.
Our solar updates are now complete (for now). Myron has equipped our 5th wheel with 690 watts of solar, Blue Sky MPPT Charge Controller, 440AH battery bank and a 1000 watt pure sine inverter to run all our electrical devices. We can’t run our roof AC or microwave (bread storage compartment), but I can run my Instant Pot!!!! Since we have solar we have not been at an RV Park since Bakersfield, CA, which was at the end of November. We have been casino camping or boondocking. Boondocking is basically camping without service in a completely undeveloped area. For us we enjoy boondocking in the desert as we both enjoy being outdoors, the peace and quiet and seeing things in its natural beauty. Boondocking is perfect for us, and for the cost-free or cheap, even better! The best part is, we do not have to pay to stay at RV parks unless we want to!
We spent 4 1/2 weeks down by Yuma, AZ enjoying the warm sun, the breathtaking sunrises, sunsets and the beautiful views.
Cost break down for that time:
Camping fees $ 35.00 (Cocopah Casino) Fresh Drinking water $ 6.00 Dump fees $ 35.00 Propane fill $ 16.80 Gas – generator $ 7.80 Diesel for Dodge $ 62.00 Total cost: $162.60 US/ $202.51 CDN
I did not include costs for food and booze because we all have to eat and drink 😉. But let me say this, the booze is cheap down here and the food is also much cheaper for the most part. Cheap for 4-1/2 weeks, in the sun.We are at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge until tomorrow. We are staying on BLM Land directly across from the visitors centre and the cost is free for 14 days.
Tomorrow we pack up and will head west to Indio, California for a busy week of visiting, site seeing and who knows what’s else!