SOLAR POWER AND DRY CAMPING*

Do you dry camp? Do your batteries hold up? Can you watch TV after 10 o’clock at night? Can you perk coffee early in the morning? Do your neighbors complain about generator noise? Does your generator rule your life? Would you like to be rid of the noise, fumes, curfew and maintenance that generators impose? The answer is solar power. If solar power can run a space station, it surely can run your RV.

Solar power is the easy, cost-effective way to live comfortably while seeing the world from your RV. Whether you are a full-timer, part-timer or weekend traveler, solar power will enhance your experience.

For about the cost of a medium-sized generator, you can install a basic solar system consisting of your house batteries, three amps of solar power for each battery and a solar controller to regulate the charge rate. Or to state it in 2003 dollar terms, with two house batteries and $700 or less you can have four to five hours of TV or computer time each night and a set of fully charged batteries by the middle of the next day.

From this basic beginning, you can add more components as your needs increase. Panels of any size wattage will blend together as long as the voltage rating stays within a one-volt range. Voltage rating under load should be about 16.9 volts DC to 17.8 volts DC. This enables your solar array to build to the 14.7 volt set point needed for 6 volt batteries ("golf cart" batteries). 12 volt (deep cycle) batteries work also, but 6 volt batteries have more storage capacity and a longer life cycle that translates to longer TV or computer time at a lower dollar cost.

A small inverter of 250 watts, priced from $50 up, will operate a 19-inch TV, dish, VCR or computer. As wattage demand increases, larger inverters become necessary.

With solar power, there is no gas, spark plugs, noise, odor or maintenance. As long as the sun shines you are generating power to your batteries. You have quiet clean power, and your generator becomes a back up for rainy days. Boondocking or dry camping is no longer a chore and the whole world becomes your personal campsite. This is truly freedom.

*Source: Personal living experiences of Pat McCarthy, SKP #33138

For additional information on Solar go to www.solarbill.com 

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This page was last updated on February 13, 2003