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What's most important? Batteries, controllers, solar?


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The answer, is probably "yes".

Recently, we upgraded 200 watts of solar on our 2008 Elite to 400 watts of solar. We doubled our portable panel(s), also, from 100 watts to two 100 watt panels.

We combined  the old controller as a slave  mppt controller to the mix  in addition to the new mppt (blue Sky). Ran the wiring from the furrion port to the slave  controller,  instead of directly to the battery, via the original onboard panel controller,  which we removed.

We live on 2 105 ah agm batteries  in our 2008. That's not a lot of power, considering we have a 12v dc danfoss/second fridge. I will caution others that we use very little power for other things. We have no inverter. We use a generator for any rare 110 applications, like power tools.  

Our test so far :

Fine at home, with not much running. No need to plug in.

Last camping trip on NC, partial day shade, 12 days, only had to run the generator once on 12 days, after two crappy rainy days, as blue sky meter showed less than 75% power in batteries .

This trip, crummy weather. Overcast most of the day, full leaf cover. Still, only down by 5 hours at sunset. Ran the furnace fan a few times in the day (in the 50s in the morning here), but picked up enough sun that we felt no need to plug in the generator,  though we used it to run some power tools.

At night we set our analog thermostat to low, which is around 55  . We're fine with that. Others are not. We sleep well at that temp, and the furnace doesn't kick on.

This is an experiment.  When our current agms die, we'll likely move up to lithium.  In the meantime,  we're perfectly happy with over-panelling, and our current battery power .

I'll update as we go.

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I actually prefer nuclear, Of the lone wolf design. Lacking that - you are spot on, 

MMMM, Free shake Shack for a vaccine - never mind - look a squirrel.

Ok I am done.

Good question. George Westinghouse's namesake has  helped here - thank you Ocean pup.

RB

 

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

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The answer to your question is Batteries!  Unless you only travel from hookup to hookup, you'll always need a battery.  Whereas if you've got a generator you don't need solar at all.  I suppose with a generator you could do without batteries, too; but that would be a true pain.  

I have to admit that when you added your 12 volt fridge, I was trying to figure out how you were going to make it work with 300W of solar and 200Ah of batteries.  I kept quiet though - you know how polite I am.  😂 

600W of solar is about right 😁, and 300Ah of LFP storage is, I prophesize, where you'll end up.  (I'd say 400 for anyone else, but you guys watch your usage and batteries like hawks.) Where you'll put that battery, I'm eager to see.  My suggestion is to build up one of Will Prowse's kits, since they're pretty compact and you could sort of shape it to whatever space you have available.  I'd bet that's what you're thinking already.  I'd really love to do that myself, actually.  It would be a lot of fun.  

 

°°°

Side note for everyone to ignore - LFP batteries are really super nice, but for most they are a luxury indulgence.  It seems like a lot of people right now just have to have them, which is fine, but man that's two to four grand that I'd want to find some other use for unless I really needed it.  Until you get into DC fridge territory, the value isn't there.  But if you have limited space and need a lot of power storage, then LFP becomes the only answer, at least until Russel figures out his nuclear mod.  I heard the Nimitz is being decommissioned so there's a possible parts source.  I'd get in touch with your local surplus store.  

I wish people would look at LFP batteries like they do Andersen hitches; i.e., a reluctant purchase that you want to make only when you have to.  No one is looking for an excuse to buy an Andersen - at least I hope not.  And yes I'm being hypocritical since I can rationalize a shiny purchase like no one else on earth, but still.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Overland said:

I wish people would look at LFP batteries like they do Andersen hitches

+1

We would be out camping & testing our single BattleBorn 100 AH Lithium battery right now, but delayed with the fuel shortage. We don't have factory solar on our LE2.

Can't wait to get the new Lithium battery out for a real world test on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Testing at home has proved this battery requires less than 1/2 the time needed for recharging compared to the previous two type 27 AGM 12V 100AH batteries with our 100W Renogy solar suitcase. Confident on poor solar days recharging with the gen-set should yield shorter recharge times, will see.

Thought our 100W Renogy Solar Suitcase was marginal and needed more panels until buying a single BattleBorn 100AH battery. We use LP gas to run the refrigerator when away from shore power and do not have an inverter. We have all we need with solar, 2000W gen-set, and LP gas when away from shore power.

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17 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

The answer, is probably "yes".

Recently, we upgraded 200 watts of solar on our 2008 Elite to 400 watts of solar. We doubled our portable panel(s), also, from 100 watts to two 100 watt panels.

We combined  the old controller as a slave  mppt controller to the mix  in addition to the new mppt (blue Sky). Ran the wiring from the furrion port to the slave  controller,  instead of directly to the battery, via the original onboard panel controller,  which we removed.

We live on 2 105 ah agm batteries  in our 2008. That's not a lot of power, considering we have a 12v dc danfoss/second fridge. I will caution others that we use very little power for other things. We have no inverter. We use a generator for any rare 110 applications, like power tools.  

Our test so far :

Fine at home, with not much running. No need to plug in.

Last camping trip on NC, partial day shade, 12 days, only had to run the generator once on 12 days, after two crappy rainy days, as blue sky meter showed less than 75% power in batteries .

This trip, crummy weather. Overcast most of the day, full leaf cover. Still, only down by 5 hours at sunset. Ran the furnace fan a few times in the day (in the 50s in the morning here), but picked up enough sun that we felt no need to plug in the generator,  though we used it to run some power tools.

At night we set our analog thermostat to low, which is around 55  . We're fine with that. Others are not. We sleep well at that temp, and the furnace doesn't kick on.

This is an experiment.  When our current agms die, we'll likely move up to lithium.  In the meantime,  we're perfectly happy with over-panelling, and our current battery power .

I'll update as we go.

We successfully ran our SOB trailer with three 100W panels (way over-paneled), a mppt controller and two 80Ah AGMs and had lots of power to run the compressor fridge/freezer, lighting, device charging and 120v television. Granted, we don’t  use much power and only have a 100w inverter. The 340w of solar, 2000w inverter and four 6v AGMs in the new Oliver should be overkill for us, but looking forward to it. We will get microwave delete and don’t plan to use a lot of amp-heavy appliances, save for the occasional toaster oven and coffee maker when plugged-in. 

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Well, it's true that I once heard of a guy who could run his AC all day off a broken 50W portable panel, and another who's trailer glowed with the light of god after just looking at some lithium batteries online.  But despite that, I'll stand by my four years of experience with both that neither are magical.  Math and science and the law of averages apply, and so I would strongly advise anyone who's thinking about spending thousands of dollars on electrical goodies to place a higher stock in the more pessimistic estimates of what you'll get for your investment.  

 

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10 hours ago, Overland said:

My suggestion is to build up one of Will Prowse's kits, since they're pretty compact and you could sort of shape it to whatever space you have available.  I'd bet that's what you're thinking already.  I'd really love to do that myself, actually.  It would be a lot of fun.  

That is an option we are considering. Paul really wants to build his own batteries from cells.

But, we truly don't think we  "need" 300 amp hours of lithium  battery. We'll  base that need on what it takes during fall shoulder season, with the 400 watts of solar, and 200 portable,  when we have to run the furnace every night. I'm guessing 200 ah might even be overkill for us, based on the years of camping with the compressor fridge, and power monitoring. Oth, we might just "want" more ah, if we can fit them in the battery tray, or elsewhere. (ELSEWHERE space being pretty darn limited in an Elite I.)

I would love a totally generator free life, but I  don't really foresee leaving home without at least the little Honda as a backup. Or, the Ford F150 hybrid, though a new truck isn'tin the plans right now.

Spring in wnc ahas been cool, but the nights rarely dip into the low 40s, or high 30s, so the furnace fan hasn't run much at all. The shorter solar days, and colder nights and mornings, of November,  will give us the information we need to make a better decision. 

10 hours ago, Overland said:

I wish people would look at LFP batteries like they do Andersen hitches; i.e., a reluctant purchase that you want to make only when you have to

I agree with that, too. It's really an expensive option. I wouldn't consider it, but for the 60 to 70 ah the fridge consumes each day.

Everyone has a different camping style. We treat the Ollie more like a very dry and warm tent on wheels, I guess. The fridge and furnace fan are the big power consumers.

Other people prefer more comfort and convenience. And camp in heat, or winter.  And that's ok, too. It's up to the individuals to decide what they want and need. And how deeply they want to reach into the pocketbook, imo.

 

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2 hours ago, Overland said:

and so I would strongly advise anyone who's thinking about spending thousands of dollars on electrical goodies to place a higher stock in the more pessimistic estimates of what you'll get for your investment.  

This is quite true. The more you add, the more you need.

When we built our house, we based our needs on the previous home (smaller), and then discounted a decent per centage for added insulation and energy star appliances. Added up watts for what we could forsee.

We rarely run heat in the Florida winter. We wound up with a surplus, with a 14 kw solar panel system. 

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1 hour ago, SeaDawg said:

we truly don't think we  "need" 300 amp hours of lithium  battery.

I doubt you do.  We essentially lived on 200 during our trip last November and it would have been fine had my battery monitor been in on the secret.  Just with that little and a DC fridge, you have to be extra judicious with inverter use, and Mojave sun is certainly helpful.  Not news to you guys.

But I still bet 300 is where you end up! I say go for it on building your own battery - I'm serious when I say I want to do the same.  

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12 hours ago, Overland said:

Just with that little and a DC fridge, you have to be extra judicious with inverter use, and Mojave sun is certainly helpful.  Not news to you guys.

Yes, I totally get that, with 210 ah totak agms, only 105 useable, and I  like to stay within 30 to 50  ah  deficit. It is a balancing act, for sure.

Tonight, after sundown, I'm minus 3 ah. By morning, ill be down 25 to 30. Fridge doesn't run as much in cool weather. Probably won't hear the furnace kick in at all. Low is probably in the 40s.

Edit to add: we don't have an inverter.

We've tried to be totally honest, but explain our stringent power parameters.  Most people,  I think, wouldn't want a dc fridge, and our setup. Honestly. 

I think lithium is probably more important in the shorties, like ours, for 95 per cent boondockers,  with the limited space for batteries. 

Total waste for those who plug in frequently, in either model. Imo 

 

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Our trip this past month was the first real test of our two new Battle Born lithium’s, 100aH each.  We did a mix of no hookups (Harvest Hosts) and W/E.  When we would wake up I would check my Blue Sky read out and normally we were down to 82 - 86%.  That’s charging phones and iPads, Maxxfan running and when dry camping the furnace running all night.  Our solar got us back to 100% pretty quick.  I used the charger once when we had 30a on a cloudy rainy day.  I’ve been debating about going to a third BB, not sure I need it.  Mike

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35 minutes ago, Mike and Carol said:

When we would wake up I would check my Blue Sky read out and normally we were down to 82 - 86%.  That’s charging phones and iPads, Maxxfan running and when dry camping the furnace running all night.  Our solar got us back to 100% pretty quick.  I used the charger once when we had 30a on a cloudy rainy day.  I’ve been debating about going to a third BB, not sure I need it.  Mike

I doubt you will feel the need for a third battery.  Just my opinion. 

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Seadawg said :  "Everyone has a different camping style. We treat the Ollie more like a very dry and warm tent on wheels, I guess."

That is such a great statement.

We bought the Oliver, as a step up from the van, which was a step up from the tents and on. We have looked at the more upscale and feature laden RV's with big engines, big gen set's and - well more.  Stars in our Eye's - so to speak.  Each time we pulled back to the simple basics - well,  the Oliver excepted...... I have endeavored to keep Ollie simple and true - resist adding this, changing that, replacing the other- making it more than I needed. If I wanted all the features of home - I should stay home - was my mantra.  The Oliver comes close - and with the addition of a stuffed GMC- it is almost - home. 

I must admit - I have grown really weary of the competition for space in the wilds of RV'ing in the Covid era. Escaping - is now staying home.

Our upcoming yearly migration through the western US may be the last in Ollie - we have some other irons in the smoldering fire's of what's next.  It never gets easier - now the damn bridge has to be considered - go south, turn right after a bit - head up, and take the other bridge. - Simple , yet - not. 

Not to mention the  aftermath of the last wave of Covid campers who seemingly turned "Leave no trace" on it's head. To which the authorities reply in turn, posting  closed and stay out notices where none went before.

A stain hard to be removed, not to be forgotten.

We shall see.  I too often lift my gaze -  - to the upper reaches of the industrial sized storage rack, where - resigned to their fate - the camping  gear of the past - the tents, the packs, the  miscellaneous stuff, lie in wait, longing for a return to action. 

A simper time - it was.   Yet I know - the landscape has changed - perhaps forever.  Could it be  - that smaller, comfortable  proverbial - place on the lake - is the answer - to the question.

Warm - dry - and most of the stuff one needs - that Is Ollie.  Simple. We will see how it goes - Come August - it might get much simpler. 

 

RB

 

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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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Ya know, you can haul a tent and an Ollie at the same time. The Ollie makes for a marvelous base camp if you don’t mind leaving it behind for a few nights.

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20 hours ago, Overland said:

Ya know, you can haul a tent and an Ollie at the same time. The Ollie makes for a marvelous base camp if you don’t mind leaving it behind for a few nights.

453254DD-6109-45DD-8378-F53C444C655C.thumb.jpeg.7cc9bbf0047e2ac341c98a963a5dea6f.jpeg

For some reason we took a tent, and a few other remnants of the "time before Ollie" and finally made the break and left them home the last few trips. The interesting thing is with the GMC and the Leer top - it is not much to have most of the comforts without Ollie in tow. Now having said that - you may have prompted me to throw in the tent and a few pads - really open up the possibilities. I have a new tent - well it is years old - but it needs a good shakedown.       OK then 

It is the Journey - so 72 it will be - across northern AL/Miss and on across the mighty Mississippi. I-40 is now just so - yesterday......  Still 4AM seems the best time to tackle the scrum of the I -55 bridge. 

RB

Remembering TBO 

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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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20 hours ago, Overland said:

The Ollie makes for a marvelous base camp if you don’t mind leaving it behind for a few nights.

I do this virtually every year.

Some of the best trout streams and lakes require a backpack.  The way I figure it - if I'm going to hike four or more miles into a spot, fish all day and then hike another five or so miles back out, why not just take the tent and sleeping bag with me?  I can be a bit more relaxed as to the time I get to the trailhead, hike in, set up camp all in a relaxed manner.  Fish a bit in the afternoon and/or evening and get a good night's sleep.  The next day I can fish in the morning, pack up camp and take a relaxing stroll back out - or, decide to stay another night or two if it suits me.  No crowds, no hurry, fish that rarely (if ever) see an artificial fly and nature.  For me, it doesn't get much better than that.

Bill

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So now I gotta start bringing my fishing stuff..... oh heck - I don't have a fly rod - yet. 

RB

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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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3 minutes ago, BackofBeyond said:

So now I gotta start bringing my fishing stuff..... oh heck - I don't have a fly rod - yet. 

Maybe at the next non-non rally (aka real rally or Oliver rally or ....) we can arrange a intro to fly fishing?  Its really not that hard - ask ShallowGal!

Remember - trout don't live in ugly places (for the most part).

Bill

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As an update, I  am now entering day six of this trip. Several cloudy days, one with rain. My rooftop panels face east, but they're bifacial, so I  get a little boost off the gleaming white roof, I think, in the afternoon sun. 

No generator,  so far. Full (100 per cent charge) somewhere between 11 am and 1 pm, weather dependant. 

Cool nights, not cold, means the fridge doesn't run as much, and no furnace. Just the vent fan when it warms up in the sun, or I'm cooking inside.

I'll take it. And, I'll update as we go along. So far, 18 days, one day needed genset. Remember those torrential rains, two days in a row, a few weeks back? Me, too. Needed the gen.

We'll be camping a lot this summer and fall, so I'll figure it out. Extra solar is  pretty cheap these days . Lithium isn't 

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