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Hi we are planning our winter escape to the south west starting in late January.  We are planning to stay out west through April.  We have a 2019 Elite II with solar and agm batteries.  We plan on doing a fair amount of boondocking this trip. I did try to look this up unsuccessfully, do we need additional plug in solar or is that not really necessary?  If it is needed what do folks suggest for plug-in to the Ollie?  I would be looking for good value.  I think our electric use would be fairly low.  However I do have a small coffee pot that is an electricity hog, and we might eat to use the microwave for popcorn.  Yes I am aware of other ways to make both using propane.  We won't be watching tv but charging phones and computers is on the list.  All advice appreciated!!! Thanks 

 

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1 minute ago, Mattnan said:

Hi we are planning our winter escape to the south west starting in late January.  We are planning to stay out west through April.  We have a 2019 Elite II with solar and agm batteries.  We plan on doing a fair amount of boondocking this trip. I did try to look this up unsuccessfully, do we need additional plug in solar or is that not really necessary?  If it is needed what do folks suggest for plug-in to the Ollie?  I would be looking for good value.  I think our electric use would be fairly low.  However I do have a small coffee pot that is an electricity hog, and we might eat to use the microwave for popcorn.  Yes I am aware of other ways to make both using propane.  We won't be watching tv but charging phones and computers is on the list.  All advice appreciated!!! Thanks 

 

The performance of the solar option will depend on which battery setup you choose.  We plan to use a small portable generator for cases when extra power is required, but with the lithium option installed, I'm not sure how much it will be needed; probably just for A/C.  Our previous RV had 200w of less-than-efficient flexible solar panels (Go Power) attached directly to the roof.  This setup, with two 12v flooded batteries, did little, except keep the batteries topped off even with no inverted power usage. In our case, a majority of our camping was in shaded forest campgrounds.  I expect the rigid panels on the Oliver to be more efficient with nearly twice the capacity; and lithium batteries will charge much quicker.

The trade-offs are:

  • setting up and taking down the solar panel vs deploying a small portable generator
  • fuel dependency; gas vs solar - pros and cons to each
  • noise - solar, no; generator, yes.  Many campgrounds have quiet times - but usually these coincide with periods of little to no sun.  Boon docking - few noise restrictions unless you're in Walmart/Cracker Barrel and other such parking lots; rest areas/truck stops probably ok.

I think a portable generator is more versatile as it can also be used at home for emergency power outages.

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Ray and Susan Huff

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48 minutes ago, Mattnan said:

Hi we are planning our winter escape to the south west starting in late January.  We are planning to stay out west through April.  We have a 2019 Elite II with solar and agm batteries.  We plan on doing a fair amount of boondocking this trip. I did try to look this up unsuccessfully, do we need additional plug in solar or is that not really necessary?  If it is needed what do folks suggest for plug-in to the Ollie?  I would be looking for good value.  I think our electric use would be fairly low.  However I do have a small coffee pot that is an electricity hog, and we might eat to use the microwave for popcorn.  Yes I am aware of other ways to make both using propane.  We won't be watching tv but charging phones and computers is on the list.  All advice appreciated!!! Thanks 

 

We have traveled extensively through out the southwest.  Our 2016 has the 320W solar and 4 AGMs and has proven to be enough to keep up with our needs.  When boondocking we do heat water for coffee on the cooktop but we do occasionally use the microwave.  Also, Carol will use her blow dryer every few days.  Our south west camping includes west TX, NM, AZ (north and south) southern CA (Joshua Tree) and southern UT.

The only time I had to pull out the generator (2K Champion) recently was last fall (Oct ‘19) when we were camping at Grand Teton NP.  We had a 3 or 4 day stretch of  cold nights and very cloudy rainy days.  Furnace ran all night and the solar never fully charged our batteries.  I don’t think that is something you will encounter in the southwest.  Plenty of sun in AZ!  We’ll be there the month of January into February.  We spent last January in NM and AZ and had no issues with our solar keeping up.  Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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In my experience - with adequate sun, I ran a coffee pot in the morn, a dc portable fridge, and the other minor stuff - for  few weeks. Included a few days - here and there - move to new spot. The coffee pot really takes a toll. The MW would push it,  With a 100w or so suitcase addition it may make the difference,  One or two days of no sun would have put me in trouble. 

I have decided - a small generator is the perfect insurance for my tastes. But I haven't purchased one  yet.... 

RB

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Cindy,  Russell and  "Harley dog" . Home is our little farm near Winchester TN

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MattNan, we've lived on 200 watts solar, and 2 group 27 batteries for years.

Furnace is the big hog for us. We had an inverter for awhile. It died, probably from lack of use, and we took it out of the mix.

With 4 agms, watch your power consumption running microwave, etc.

Otherwise , you should be golden.

We carry a small (1000 watt) Honda to charge our batteries on series of days with no sun. It will not run ac, nor a microwave. It's just a gas-powered charger.

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On 11/3/2020 at 3:52 PM, Mike and Carol said:

Our 2016 has the 320W solar and 4 AGMs and has proven to be enough to keep up with our needs

My wife and I are spec'ing out our Ollie now and are now interested in all the technical details of the power options.

I know virtually nothing about the options to choose from.

 

We want to be able to boondock and use our AC/Heater when necessary, preferably without the use of a generator. Would the new Lithium Pro package cover this?

Lithium Pro Package $8,999

  • (2) Lifeblue Lithium Batteries (400 AH total)
  • 340W Solar Panels
  • Micro Air Easy Start
  • 3000 W Xantrex Inverter

Is this overkill?

 

Would we be better off with the Solar Pro?

Solar Pro Package $4,999

  • (4) 6V AGM Batteries
  • 340 W Solar Panels
  • 2000 W Xantrex Inverter

 

This is the only option choice that is a bit concerning to me as this costs is high, and I am not knowledgeable on the subject.

 

Edited by jordanv
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If you want to use the inverter to power your AC while boondocking, you will not be happy with either choice. You have to consider the batteries as a reserve. Take out a MASSIVE amount of electrons to run your AC for a few hours, then you have to ration your use and wait possibly days for the panels to recharge the battery bank. There is no such thing as a free lunch, it is pay me now or pay me later. Lithium power is great, but you have to stay within the limits and have enough power available to restore the system to nearly full charge, or you will end up with a very expensive depleted system. Unless you want to add additional panels to the roof - that has been done but it introduces other problems, like how do you get onto the roof.

It does make a lot off sense to buy the lithiums to boondock, for sure. It is the latest and best technology (like disc brakes vs drum brakes). It makes no sense to run the AC off them unless you know for sure you will be plugged into shore power in the evening. Just bring a generator and run it when you need to be cool. The gennie handles all the load directly, without involving the batteries at all, and it is there as a backup for those times you are stuck in the shade, or the dreary days when your solar panels go to sleep.

My personal preference is 200 to 300 amp hrs of lithium batteries and no inverter at all, but my wife likes her electric tea kettle and microwave too much. I have asked for a solar suitcase panel for Christmas, maybe she will get the hint....😀

John Davies

Spokane WA

Edited by John E Davies
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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

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What JD said - I actually believe that saying the new solar package is good for running the AC is borderline sketchy marketing. Yeah it will run it - but at what end result.  But -  I get the Solar Lithium cool factor angle.

23 minutes ago, John E Davies said:

There is no such thing as a free lunch, it is pay me now or pay me later. 

 

John Davies

Spokane WA

FYI - There is free lunch at all the  public TN schools now a days, breakfast too.... man would I have loved that 50 + plus years back.  

Buy a small gen set - better off in the end.

RB

Edited by BackofBeyond

Cindy,  Russell and  "Harley dog" . Home is our little farm near Winchester TN

2018 Oliver Legacy Elite II - 2018 GMC 2500 Duramax 

"Die young - As late as possible"

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In order to run the A/C from the inverter, you will need to opt for the Lithium Pro package with 3000 W Xantrex. The 2000W version included with the Solar Pro Package only powers the GFCI protected duplex outlets. 

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RE the marketing around solar powered a/c use - when I asked my rep a few questions about  this use scenario the  best he was able to come up with  was using it to cool the trailer while  taking an an hour  or so break along a hot highway. Which of course still  threatens to leave you in a significant charge deficit by nightfall if I'm doing the math right.

Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II December 2020 delivery

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We have experience with solar (200w) on our camper van, but not with upgraded batteries (AGM or Lithium).  In our experience, the 200w of solar, with moderate sun exposure, did nothing more than keep the batteries (two 12v flooded) topped off - with conservative power usage.  Having solar power extended our boondocking window maybe 2-3 days; you have to consider that power is not the only constraint when boon docking.  Depending on available facilities, you will most likely fill up the waste water tanks before power is depleted; conservation is crucial in this respect.

As @John E Davies said, with either Oliver option (Lithium Pro or Solar Pro), you won't be running the A/C without a generator or a lot more solar panels.  If you choose the Solar Pro pkg and want the ability to run the A/C with a less than 3000w generator, be sure to add the "Easy Start"; it is included in the Lithium Pro pkg.

While configuring our 2021 Elite II, we pondered the same as you - lithium or solar.  In the end, we chose lithium for several reasons:

In the long run, I believe lithium batteries are a better value, especially if you factor in resale.

AGM batteries will require more attention to state of charge as you can only use 50% of the available charge vs 85% for Lithium

Lithium batteries cost more, but last longer than AGM

Lithium batteries recharge quicker than AGM

Inverted power capability: Solar Pro - 2000w vs Lithium Pro - 3000w; evaluate your anticipated power needs

Price differential: some of this will be recovered by not having to replace Lithium batteries as often, even though they cost more; are you willing to pay up front, knowing there are other advantages to LIthium vs AGM?

Battery power options are one of the most costly considerations.  If the additional cost is unattractive to you, look at your other optional choices and see if you can do without any to make up the price difference; make a list of wants vs needs.  Are there options you can add later, if you find you need them?  We opted for no TV antenna, since we don't watch TV: $300 saved.  If upgraded mattresses are on your list, go with the cushions; you can add memory foam toppers for less than the cost of the mattresses: $1,500 saved.  The upgraded decor is purely cosmetic.  You can always add colorful pillows, rugs, and bed coverings.  Choose the standard decor with fabric upholstery: $1,800 savings.  Standard water heater instead of Truma (do you really need instant hot water?: potential savings - $1,300.  And all of the "Other Optional Upgrades and Add-ons", though they don't seem like much, add up to over $6,000.  By making selective option choices, you can easily save more than the $4,000 extra cost of the Lithium Pro Package.  Remember, too, that choosing one battery package over the other is not a final decision; batteries can always be upgraded later.  

I know you will get a lot of advice from forum members.  I suggest you also call your Oliver rep and ask to speak with a tech who can answer your questions and concerns regarding the battery packages as well as other options you are considering.  Explain your expectations given your anticipated Oliver use and you will get valuable feedback.  Oliver's goal is to build a trailer that best fits your needs, not to "sell" options, the way RV dealers do to increase profits.

My final thought before we settled on our power choice: If you opt for the additional power the lithium package gives you, you won't need it; if you choose the AGM package, you'll need more power -  Murphy's Law

 

 

 

Edited by Susan Huff
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Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; taking delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

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2 hours ago, BackofBeyond said:

Buy a small gen set - better off in the end.

This is the best advice if you plan on AC use while boondocking.  You can get a nice 2K Watt inverter generator for under $500 that will run the AC.  

We tend not to camp where the weather is hot/humid.  We can take low humidity warm/hot weather by sitting outside with a breeze, but if there’s lots of humidity we move on.  Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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I guess all of these options and descriptions confused me even more 🤣

So boondock running the AC from the lithium batteries with solar doesnt seem to be an option. Looks like we would need a generator if we really want to do that, the same with the Solar Pro Package as well?

What package should I get then, if when boondocking, we will need a generator to controll the temp anyway? What would be the benefit of going with the $4K more expensive option of the Lithium Pro Package?

 

Our Use

We plan on taking multiple trips a year, and working from our camper from different campgrounds, while sometimes boondocking. Our trips will be for 1-2 weeks at a time, and we plan on doing this probably 6-8 times a year or more.  During these trips, we will practically be living out of the camper, so we need power to cook, run AC, power our computers to work remotely, etc.

With that being said, can anyone recommend a battery / power package that would suit us?

I currently own a portable Cummins Generator w/ 3700 running watts and a digital inverter, although it is a bit heavy.

 

 

Edited by jordanv
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JordanV ... You have neither told us where you live nor where you plan to camp.... if in the sunny West, in late spring, summer, or early fall then the lithium solar package will perform admirably. As long as you don’t cool with it. It’s all about solar exposure - getting the batteries FULLY recharged daily or at least every two or three days. if you don’t have it (you live on the Wet Side of OR or WA, for example) then solar doesn’t make nearly as much sense. How many sunny days per year do you expect when camping? My sister bought a teardrop trailer with solar, she lives in Portland OR and mostly camps under trees or where it is cloudy. I more or less told her that was a very dumb choice.... so she plugs her trailer in during storage.
 

If you live where the sun doesn’t shine that often, just get the AGMs, realizing that they are not nearly as good in terms of how much juice you can get out of them. You will need to run your generator more often to keep them charged. You can always upgrade later to lithiums when those inevitably fail in two or three years. AGMs are not cheap however. It makes zero sense to buy new ones when they fail.

 

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71EEEC6A-A976-472B-95D9-575B625F9E84.gif.829f5729074428d1ec88f405bfd959c6.gif
 

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As you can see, if you live in that upper left corner like me, your system is going to be pretty much dead in winter, and pretty OK in summer. Give us some more details about your location please.....

John Davies

Spokane WA

Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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I live in central Louisiana. So all of our camping will be starting here at least. We really want to stay in the Utah, Colorado, Idaho area for awhile in 2021 as well. Other than that, we will be traveling all over.

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3 hours ago, jordanv said:

Our Use

We plan on taking multiple trips a year, and working from our camper from different campgrounds, while sometimes boondocking. Our trips will be for 1-2 weeks at a time, and we plan on doing this probably 6-8 times a year or more.  During these trips, we will practically be living out of the camper, so we need power to cook, run AC, power our computers to work remotely, etc.

With that being said, can anyone recommend a battery / power package that would suit us?

You are correct that you will not be running your AC off of any of the battery options.  The AGMs would meet your need for boondocking with the solar.  The Lithium would be better, if it is in your budget.  We camp for 4 to 8 weeks at a time and our solar and AGMs do fine.  Occasionally we run our generator to recharge, but that is the exception. As JD mentions, you have not told us anything about location.

3 hours ago, jordanv said:

I currently own a portable Cummins Generator w/ 3700 running watts and a digital inverter, although it is a bit heavy.

Is your Cummins an inverter generator or just a generator (contractor type)?  If it is just a generator please consider not using it for camping.  Folks that use those very loud contractor generators are the most annoying people, whether it’s in a campground or boondocking at a dispersed area.  Those generators are loud and obnoxious.  Invest in a quiet inverter generator, your camping neighbors will thank you for it.

If you are going to camp in hot, humid weather I would go with the AGMs and use the savings to get a quiet inverter generator.  Mike

Edited by Mike and Carol
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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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7 minutes ago, Mike and Carol said:

We camp for 4 to 8 weeks at a time and our solar and AGMs do fine.  Occasionally we run our generator to recharge, but that is the exception.

So while camping, you do not run the AC I suppose?

Would you mind letting me know your day to day activities related to power consumption while on these trips?

Ps thanks for the help 😃

Edited by jordanv
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54 minutes ago, jordanv said:

Yeah... tell me about it. Works great for a hurricane, but it is heavy!

I feel the same about our big Yamaha. Thank goodness for wheels, and thank goodness for power during the hurricanes.

I just don't ever envision hauling it around. 

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I will say, if your main objective for power is ac, just get the solar package. Maybe a smaller genset that runs the ac, or, if you can handle the weight, or have a ramp, use what you have.

I think (personally), the lithium package needs another panel or two, to make it worthwhile.  My opinion,  and I don't  (yet) have lithium.

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1 hour ago, jordanv said:

Yeah... tell me about it. Works great for a hurricane, but it is heavy!

I have a 37 lb generator, 2000 watts, very quiet.  Champion.  $399 at Tractor Supply or online.  I got mine for $349 on sale at Tractor Supply.

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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1 hour ago, jordanv said:

So while camping, you do not run the AC I suppose?

Would you mind letting me know your day to day activities related to power consumption while on these trips?

Ps thanks for the help 😃

When we are escaping the south Texas heat we will stop at a campground with electrical hookups so we can run the AC.  It is loud, so generally when the temps drop in to the 70s after midnight I turn the AC off and open the windows with the fan.

We don’t boondock in hot humid weather, it’s just not enjoyable.  Summer in Arizona or Colorado at elevation is pleasant.  Fall/spring can be very nice at other locations.  Winter in the southwest (NM, AZ, southern UT, southern CA) is nice.

Our power consumption with no shore power... occasional use of the inverter for the espresso machine, microwave and blow dryer.  Maxxfan, lights, water pump and, when it is cold, the furnace (fan).  USB chargers for our phones and iPads.  The fridge and hot water run off propane.  We make coffee by boiling water on the cooktop (propane) and pour over.  We grill outside either with the Weber Q or with charcoal.

The times I’ve had to use the generator for the batteries was after running the furnace at night followed by a very cloudy day - just a few times over the last few years.

I think that’s about it.  Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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