Going Boondocking

The last few months have been a very busy time for me. I’m out of my funk, I’ve fallen in love, and we’ve decided what we want to do together. We’re going “boondocking” which is full time living in an RV. Boondockers normally live off the grid, and normally try to push the limits of camping for free on public land. Since I already have a Chevy Suburban and a 27 foot travel trailer, it sounds like a grand adventure: 2 people with 5 little dogs living in an RV, usually off the grid.

This blog has always been one of my favorite things. But it doesn’t really make any money, so I’ve had to change my focus for now. At one time I had 7 blogs and a Facebook page with almost half a million followers. But now I’m just down to this one, and I think my future plans are going to fit in nicely with this blog.

I’ve never been a “prepper” like my sister, but as an electronics / computer nerd, I like the idea of pushing the limits of being able to run my computers and other electronics while I’m sitting in front of a remote lake with a little dog in my lap, and that seems to fit in well with the philosophy I’ve always had about what this blog should be.

Engineering is always driven by requirements, and one of the requirements for my mobile office has always been the ability to run my desktop computer, with 2 monitors, a sound system, router, external drives, etc. Believe it or not, most desktop computers that run Windows 10 can be set into power saving mode. Watching a movie on the 2nd monitor while playing on Facebook with the big monitor, the entire network takes about 150 watts continuous when I put the CPU into power saving mode–not bad!

So, we want to travel the country with our little dogs and not have to worry about having to keep plugging in somewhere. To do that is going to end up with a system of 4 batteries, 2 solar panels, an inverter, charger, and charge controller. That’s pretty much it except for a few connectors and some wire.

I live in Oregon, and Oregon in the winter doesn’t get much sun. If you are frugal with your power, and you spend a couple thousand dollars running an array of at least 6 solar panels, then you could probably run strictly off solar. But I’m looking to spend a few hundred dollars and maybe run 2 200 watt solar panels.

Here’s a secret about solar panels. They are rated for optimal conditions. What is optimal? Think of the desert on a hot summer day. If you’re a thousand miles north of the desert on a sunny, winter day, then you’re lucky to see half the rated capacity. I’m expecting to see a little under 100 watts continuous on an an overcast winter day in Oregon with 400 rated watts of solar panels.

So … if I’m running my lights, computer network, and a couple other appliances, then I am going to be having lots of winter days in the northwest where I am running off the grid at a power deficit. To cover the difference, I plan on buying a cheap generator to charge the batteries if the solar panels aren’t covering my electricity usage. Firing up the generator a few times a week sounds reasonable during the winter.

I have the inverter, solar charge controller, and the coach has 2 batteries. Really I just need a couple panels and a couple more batteries.

Right now I am remodeling my travel trailer in preparation of the new girlfriend and her little dog joining me. The first part of the remodel is done, and that was ripping out all the ugly, nasty, built-in furniture out of the slide. Most of this huge slide was wasted space. What used to be a large table with a large couch that folded into a bed, is now an office and a dog kennel! What used to feel like a dank trailer now feels like a studio apartment! Next is the flooring. I’m going to put wood grain vinyl flooring in the whole rig.





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