I'm finally going to get around to installing the solar panel I bought in Quartzsite. I put the mounting feet on it and wired it up in the living room so now all I have to do is set it in some Dicore caulking up on the roof and hook up the wiring. I could have done this earlier but it's been very very windy here at Ben Avery's gun range and it would've been impossible to get up on the roof especially carrying a solar panel. But things have calmed down considerably and if it stays that way I should be able to put it up there tomorrow. I'm going to have to run into town and get some new caulking, I was just looking at mine and it appears to be dried out.
For anyone interested in trying to do what I'm doing, which is have enough solar electricity with the panels flat on the roof and not have to slant them towards the sun in the winter, I've been using somewhere between 70 amps and 100 amps per night. And since it's been kind of chilly that included running the furnace at night. If I remember correctly my four Trojan T145 batteries hold 260 amps and my goal is to never use more than 50% of those amps. So hopefully this sixth 140 W solar panel and my new radiant propane heater will put me closer to my goal.
I'm going back to Phoenix tomorrow and staying at Ben Avery's gun range. I'm looking forward to having full hookups again, I've been Boondocking for 16 straight days and it will be great to have utilities again.
I spent the morning changing the florescent light over my kitchen sink into an LED light. It was a bit more complicated than I thought it was going to be and I have three more to do so I hope it will get easier now that I have some basic knowledge on how to do it. I was concerned that maybe it wouldn't be bright enough because I had two florescent tubes in the light and I only put in one LED light but this one LED tube is at least as bright as before and may be a little bit brighter. But the main reason I put it in there is to save electricity. This light is used a lot even in the daytime so it was worth putting the time and money into making it into an LED. The old florescent light used 2.6 amps and the new LED uses .4 amps that's a big savings and will make life easier on the cloudy days when the solar panels aren't putting out very much power.
I spent most of the day finishing up the installation of my heater, since I was making a video at the same time I believe it took twice as long to put in the propane lines as it should have. But it's working in fact it's heating up the Arctic Fox as I write this. And so far I'm a happy camper. The heater is absolutely silent, uses no electricity at all, and according to the advertising is 99.9% efficient, which means that you get all of the heat out of the propane that it can produce. A trailer furnace is nowhere near that and one way you can tell is to go outside your RV while the furnace is running and feel what's coming out of the heater vent. There are some downsides to this type of heater but they seem pretty manageable. One thing is you have to make sure that you slightly open a window or a vent just a tiny amount to make sure that oxygen is coming into the room, the other thing is that burning propane puts humidity into the air, but in the places I've been staying I consider that a benefit. There is also a rumor that these heaters don't work very well at high altitude. I've read some people that used it in the mountains and said it was fine. I guess I'll find out this summer because I plan on staying in Colorado in the mountains. The heater is called a HearthRite, and mine is a 10,000 BTU radiant heater.
I went by the solar panel store today and they were closed up maybe they close on the weekends or maybe they're closed for the holidays. I'll try again next week and if they're still closed I'll have to put off my solar panel project for another time.
In the meantime I started on another project, I'm going to start installing my radiant heater, I bought it about a year ago with the intention of installing it when I had nothing better to do but since the weather's been kind of chilly I thought that this might be a good time to get started on the project. This heater is supposed to help me in two different ways, it is supposed to hardly use any electricity at all and it's supposed to use less propane than my furnace does. So if that actually works I will have less trouble keeping my batteries charged up and I'll be spending less money on propane and that's a win-win that I can use right now. I'm making a video of the installation and I hope it turns out a lot better than the video I tried to make of my digital thermostat installation, that one stunk so bad the whole thing had to be thrown in the trash and never spoken of again.
I moved this morning, I went back to Quartzsite and I'm camped at the high jolly Boondocking area. I figure I'll be here three or four days before I go to Phoenix for the holidays.
I've been giving some thought to getting another solar panel, I've got a good spot on the roof for one more and I think that will be all that will fit up there at least in the 140 Watt size that's up there now. The panels have worked well but when it's cloudy they start to fall behind in keeping the battery charged up with my normal usage. But I have learned that they do better if the trailer is parked pointing north and south, the roof is sloped from the front to the back and parking North and South gives the panels a little better angle on the sun that's a little low in the sky and not directly overhead. Parking that way is not a problem while boondocking, I can park anyway I want but dry camping in a parking lot like I just did in Laughlin Limited me to an east west orientation. And that cut back on my power production somewhat.
If I'm going to add a panel Quartzsite is an excellent place to do it, there are bunches of vendors here selling everything imaginable for RVs and since solar panels are very popular in the desert everything I need to do the job is readily available. Bear in mind I'm being overly picky about the solar panels, not once have I run out of power I've never even come close to running out of power, but I can see that that's a possibility if I had maybe three days of clouds and not much sunshine. And the more panels you have the quicker you can catch up when the sun comes out. Another thing I'm considering is making a couple of the panels tilt so I can aim them at the sun, doing that radically increases their output. I was hoping I could avoid that so I don't have to crawl around on the roof putting panels up and down but that's actually what most people do. I guess if I had to get up there and point two panels it wouldn't be too bad, but moving six panels up and down is not something I'm willing to do.
I'm still in Laughlin Nevada, and it's been kind of chilly the last couple of days but worse it's been really cloudy so my solar panels have not been keeping my batteries fully charged. But today was sunny and clear so the batteries got up to 95% of a full charge. I made the decision early on not to get a generator hoping that my solar panels could handle the load, but in the winter with the sun low on the horizon they don't put out as many amps as they do in the summer. Most people get around this problem by tilting their solar panels to face the sun but that's a pain to get on the roof and move your panels up and down so I decided I would try to put enough panels on the roof that I could still get all the power I needed even though they were laying flat. This worked pretty good until I had two straight days of cloudy weather and then the panels couldn't keep up with my usage. The solution may be to add another panel or two I know I've got room for one more but it will take some measuring to see if I have room for two more.
The Riverside casino here in town has a car collection inside and since it's free I spent a couple of hours this morning looking at the old cars. It makes me feel really old to look at antique cars and be reminded of my childhood but that's what these cars did. Just as you walk in the door there are two motorcycles a Yamaha 360 enduro and a Triumph 650 Bonneville, I owned bikes just like those when I was younger and it really brought back some good memories.
I finally made it to Laughlin Nevada, it took a long time but I wasn't in a hurry. This is as far north as I intend to go this winter from here I will head back south. Laughlin is a neat town, it's kind of a Las Vegas for geezers. It's not as big as Las Vegas so it's easier to get around in, it's not as crowded as Las Vegas so you don't have to stand in lines, and there's a lot of places to park an RV, what more do we geezers need ?
I'm staying at the Pioneer casino, RVs can dry camp in the parking lot for free. Most of them allow you to stay for free or for a very very small price which will include a place to dump your tanks, which becomes a problem if you stay here for several weeks because dumping can cost $10 or more if you're not staying at a RV park.
I think I'll stay here for at least three days, it will take about that long to do the things I want to do. I haven't been here for a long time so I need to relearn where things are and check out all the new things in town. I just missed a desert race they had this weekend, if I had known that was going on I would've made an attempt to get here earlier. The race cars are still in town sitting on their trailers in bad need of repair after the race and by the looks of them desert racing is a very expensive hobby.
I made it to Lake Havasu today, and I'm boondocked in a place called Craggy wash it's about 8 miles north of Lake Havasu but there's a Walmart and a Home Depot only a couple of miles away. I think I'll stay here a couple of days and make some videos of the boondocking areas.