Questions regarding going full time in our FR3!!!
Going FULL TIME SOON!!!
So, we have LOTS of questions!!!! 8-)
We have a 2014 Forest River FR30DS 30' Motorhome.
We love it and have traveled for a few months at a time in it but we are looking to go fulltime and Dry Camp (Boondock) as much as possible for financial reasons.
We have one solar panel on the roof that came with the rig as we bought it used.
Questions for you experienced full timers:
Will the one solar panel keep the batteries charged here in the southwestern United States where the sun is out often?
Do the outlets in the rig work when on battery power of only on hookup or generator?
Is it possible to add solar panels to up the charging of the batteries? Is it something we can do ourselves or should we have it done professionally and pay?
Is it possible to add batteries in order to up our electrical storage and capacity? If so, where can the additional house batteries be placed and do they need to be wired in parallel or serial??? We are thinking of taking the 2 existing house batteries and adding 2 or 4 additional ones.
What kind of benefit will that give us seeing we don't use the A/C or Microwave much???
How do we maintain the roof seal on the top of our rig as we will be spending 6 months on the beach and don't want the salt air or blowing sand to ruin anything?
What are your biggest tips for folks in our fifties like us who are going to try full-time? We would love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly that you guys have seen or experienced personally.
THANK YOU in advance for ALL YOUR HELP!!!
Dylan Mattina and Lavinia Busch
- one panel of solar is simply a 'feel good' purchase and will not take anyone close to 'off grid' capability - it's no where near 'enough' power - it's akin to saying that your whole home can work off of only 10amps of incoming power from the utility company - most homes today are 200amps, and that's at 240volts, so 400 amps at 120v...you get the idea.
- you can certainly add lots more solar panels, and you will certainly need to double or triple your current battery capacity, as having 'more' solar means nothing if you have no where to 'store' it. Most 6v batteries are run in Series(to make two a 12v battery bank), and then in Parallel(to double the amp hour capacity of two 'banks', etc). Yes, the more batteries you have, the better, but also the more solar you need to charge them.
- while you are contemplating going full time, I'm not sure how you would say that you are not going to be making much use of your air conditioning... what then will be keeping you cool in 100degree heat? YOu say you are spending 6 months 'on the beach'??? and, while you might not say that you would be using your microwave, and you certainly can try to live without one, I think it would be short sighted to think that you won't... or you can just choose to use a lot of propane, I suppose... but that's another cost, and aggravation, as well.
- Outlets - most of these mid-level/entry-level class A coaches don't have 'whole house' Inverters, which means that you must run the generator, or be plugged into 120v Shore Power to have power from all of the outlets... maybe one will be run thru the inverter, for the residential fridge, if you have one, but probably few, if any, others.
Many owners, though, can devise ways to power other outlets, or run extension cords from a powered outlet to other areas, etc., but how your unit is built will determine whether all that, or some of that, is feasible.
...whether you are off-gridding a lot, or not, using the generator is a fantastic way to offset the shortcomings of solar, and it will also fully charge your battery bank while it's running. I understand that many think that off-gridding should proclude the use of a generator, but that's usually not a capability that most any rig has - at least not the way we all want to live comfortably.
Thank you so much for your input and I look forward to learning more from you here.
Dylan and Lavinia :trink39:
Options for off grid camping...
Thinking this may do the trick over having to add house batteries and tie solar into the actual coach...
There is a company here in oregon that has a lot of good info and supplies for rv solar systems. Watch there videos and get the real info.
The company is am solar amsolar.com
Good luck and happy travels.
See My coach batteries stopped charging from the alternator. (Bad SDC-107A)
Solar is only one leg of a three legged stool. I had to purchase lithium LiFePO4 batteries to store the power and an Inverter to produce 120 AC power. My setup is:
Because I have a ten panels, I do not need point them at the sun. Side benefit is solar panels protect part of the roof from direct sunlight. The center of the roof is open for maintenance access.
Also the batteries can be recharged from the engine alternator as you drive down the road. I have seen 90 amps coming from the alternator.
If your serious about being off grid for more than a few days, then you will need to increase your battery banks size. Solar is an awesome option to recharge when there is Sun but even those that live minimalistic on power, generally have a genny as backup in case you get 2-3 days of cloudy rainy weather.
My suggestion is to search YouTube for "RV Solar" and you will find plenty of videos of people that have done a nice job of laying out the needs and proper way to size your solar panels and battery storage to perform what you want it to do. It can be very confusing and takes some time and many hours of watching and getting a solid understanding for most people to comprehend.
As mentioned, Solar is a partial solution and not without significant costs. Panels are coming down in price but the battery technology for most that are serious about building an "OFF GRID" system includes Lithium Batteries which run between $800 and $1000 for top performers like Battle Born or LifePO.
The PRO of having solar is you don't have to listen to a genny as often and you save on gas costs replenishing your batteries. The CON side is it is a significant investment to get a system that can bring your batteries back up to near 100% recharged during the course of a sunny day when your taking about a battery bank of hundreds of hours.
I'm headed where you are in a few years and will be making the decision how much solar I want to invest in. Costs at that point will play a role in my decision. Hopefully they continue to fall, especially the battery part which is the most expensive element. What I see many doing on the youtube FTer's channels that I watch is balancing between some solar, some genny run time when required and some times just staying in a place with electric hookups for a few days to get fully recharged when conditions have been bad for the solar process.
Good Luck with your education and decision.
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