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Old 11-30-2012, 07:58 AM   #29
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After Hurricane Sandy, and the frequency of these monster storms increasing, the ability to generate one's own (albeit limited) power is increasingly appealing.

Being able to run minimal lighting, keep the water pump going, etc., for an unlimited time period even without electricity would be very handy.

I recall a news clip a week or so after Sandy about a man and his family on the east coast who were functioning quite comfortably in their Airstream trailer while neighbors for miles around were without electricity for weeks. They were running a generator, though, which we prefer not to use.

We don't boondock when we know it is going to be hot enough that we have to have AC or cold enough that we have to run the furnace.

Running the generator seems to defeat the purpose, for us, and to disturb the serenity of a beautiful spot. However, it has come in very handy on a number of occasions.

We are seriously pondering a set of portable panels, which seem they would do the trick at a fraction of the cost of installing them on our roof.


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Old 11-30-2012, 08:19 AM   #30
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Some very good points are brought up, the intangables seem to be key items in the 'to solar or not to solar' decision. The hard cold facts tend to get muddled with passion, while in the background the folks who use solar don't seem to even worry about those facts!

I'm on the fence deciding if 'Mounting' solar is worth it. Seriously considerng putting it on the trucks camper shell so I can park the trailer in the shade...
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:15 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
3M makes several different industrial strength outdoor tapes that are being used more and more by manufactures and contractors. They are available at Amazon and Lowes that I know of.
3M VHB tape is used to tape down solar panels (3M VHB tape):
3M
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:39 AM   #32
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I had not thought about tape, I may need to look into this. By the way what do you define as "freezing cold". It is -25 F here right now and we sometimes get -50 F.
I'm in coastal California, so "freezing cold" is driving through a light dusting of snow. You'll have to find other sources to tell how the tape fares in real cold.
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:09 PM   #33
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I also used 3M VHB tape to mount a solar panel on our Casita (and shelves etc. inside our Airstream), and it held fast through blistering heat, freezing cold, rough gravel roads, and the intense UV at 7400 ft in Durango, CO. Great stuff. My Airstream dealer insisted on using what he was familiar with when he installed my solar panels, however - rivets.
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:57 PM   #34
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Both my son and I have excellent solar set ups for our intended purposes. He has about 100 watts, 2 group 24 acid batteries & a 600 watt inverter, all controlled by a system provided by the great folks from AM Solar. The system is just perfect for his 67 Globetrotter. My system was provided by CAN AM and consists of 3 95 watt panels, 4group 24AGM batteries, a 1500 watt pure sign wave inverter, and a really great controller with remote switching. The systems allow us to keep every thing charged up whether we are boon docking or leaving the units in the storage yard for a few days or a few months. There have been zero issues with performance. Just hook up and go. It's just how we roll.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:10 PM   #35
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Hi, I would like to have solar panels, but cost wise versus usage doesn't make sense to me at this time. I have a nice generator and haven't really used it that much either. Not running a generator for a carbon foot print point of view makes no sense to me since most all of us burn tons of fuel in our tow vehicles getting to these places that we want to go to. As for freezing, it's 32 degrees F, the point where water freezes.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:28 PM   #36
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In Canada we freeze at 0. Does that make us blessed or cursed.

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As for freezing, it's 32 degrees F, the point where water freezes.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:31 PM   #37
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makes us cold, that's for sure!
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:39 AM   #38
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...Not running a generator for a carbon foot print point of view makes no sense to me since most all of us burn tons of fuel in our tow vehicles getting to these places that we want to go to. ...
My thoughts exactly as I read through this thread. Unfortunately, the fuel I would burn in camp with a generator would probably be miniscule compared to what my truck consumed on the trip. This is an interesting and informative discussion though. I haven't invested in either type of supplemental power yet, so this will help me make a more informed decision.

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Old 12-01-2012, 07:20 AM   #39
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Horses for courses ...

This is a perpetual topic of discussion, probably because there is no "right" answer. It is clearly a case where "one size does not fit all." I've got a reasonable amount of experience, having both a generator (Yamaha 2400) and solar panels (2- 140 watt roof-mounted panels from AM Solar) and 3 Lifeline batteries. (I've also got a bigger home generator, but that doesn't count for purposes of this discussion.) Some observations based solely on MY experience:

If you're not going to boondock, it probably doesn't matter; you don't NEED a generator or solar panels. Just plug into shore power and you're good to go. But if you want to boondock (that's about 95% of what I do) or you're thinking that the grid won't always be there to serve you every day, you need other power sources after just a few days ... like maybe two days if it's down below freezing and you're running the furnace a lot. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of genset vs. solar? Here's MY take on it.

I bought the gennie first. On the plus side, it is reasonably quiet (be careful: many generators are quite noisy!), powerful enough to run my 11k BTU A/C, runs all day or night on one fueling on either gasoline or propane, starts always on the second pull of the starter cord (on the first pull if I've run it in the last day or so), is light enough (barely) for me to lug around. It runs on propane if I want, so I don't have to carry around extra fuel (I tow with a diesel pickup). [If you tow with e.g. a Suburban or SUV, where do you store the gasoline or extra propane tank(s)?] One of the good things it does do for me is provide power at the storage shed for high power needs, e.g. a mid-sized air compressor I use to maintain farm equipment and the steam cleaner I use on carpet and furniture. When you need LOTS of juice, a generator can provide it. Downsides: it was relatively expensive, takes up a lot of room, requires maintenance, and in many of the places I stay (especially music festivals), generators are allowed only during very limited hours or not at all. And it seems as if the older I get, the heavier it becomes! But it works well. BTW, mine is WAY too big if its only use were battery charging - a 1000 watt or even 750 would have been plenty.

Solar panels have lots of upsides: they're silent and need no attention other than an occasional rinse-off, and always keep my battery bank fully charged so long as I'm not in deep forest and/or they're not covered with deep snow. I suppose that several dark, gloomy days in a row might produce so little juice that the batteries would run down, but it hasn't happened in several years of use. I can and do use them anywhere I am and they're plenty to power everything in my trailer including TV and computer and printer, etc. except not the microwave or A/C. Only two downsides I'm aware of: they were relatively expensive, and they change the appearance of the coach a bit.

Recent practical experience ... This past summer I drove up to Alaska and back (see, Goin'UpNorth ). From several previous Alaska trips, I KNEW I'd get a lot of cloudy days of rain and would be mostly boondocking. So I loaded the generator into the truck for backup. I think that over the course of the trip there was shore power available only twice. But I never used the genset during the entire trip; the solar panels just did their thing and kept me going the whole time. For MY uses, the limiting factor now clearly is water. When I'm solo, I can go a little more than ten careful days before my fresh water tank is depleted, and in decent weather a propane tank runs the fridge and gives me hot water and cooking heat for weeks. Solar panels just keep the batteries up all the time with no thought or work required by me.

Bottom line: it all depends upon what YOU do with YOUR coach and how much YOU elect to spend. I can live fine with Fantastic Vent and fan up to about 95F outside. YOU might need A/C when it's 80 out. I make drip coffee. YOU might need a high powered espresso machine. I junked my microwave. YOURS might be essential to life as you know it. So in the end, only YOU can decide what is best for YOUR particular style of travel and camping. Just get out there and do it!
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Old 12-01-2012, 07:31 AM   #40
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We remember camping on the beach at Padre Island national seashore, where there is a dump station and water fill.

If we'd had solar panels to keep our batteries charged, we could have stayed there indefinitely.


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Old 12-01-2012, 07:33 AM   #41
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Thumbs up

"The hard cold facts tend to get muddled with passion, while in the background the folks who use WHATEVER don't seem to even worry about those facts!"

“If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.”
― Albert Einstein

Airstreaming has much more to do with rationalizing facts than whether the facts being rationalized are themselves are factual.

The most important Airstream fact...owning one makes you feel good, but unlike sex is completely unnecessary.

Bob
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:46 AM   #42
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My thoughts exactly as I read through this thread. Unfortunately, the fuel I would burn in camp with a generator would probably be miniscule compared to what my truck consumed on the trip.
Keep in mind that it's additive: Any fuel used by the generator is in addition to the fuel your truck used to get to the destination.
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