Saturday, September 14, 2013

Can the Little RV go Off the Grid?

This week visited AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon.  Wonderful people!  We wanted to get an idea of what is required to get us off the grid with a solar set-up.  The big power sucker we have to deal with is Rob's oxygen concentrator.  It uses a lot of power and puts out a ton of heat.  It lives in the closet of our bedroom.   They asked us how long Rob uses it daily but that varies greatly depending on how he is feeling.  Some days he needs to sleep for much longer.  

We are complete solar rookies.  I'm pretty sure my eyes crossed a few times when the guy at AM Solar was talking to us because I had no idea what he was talking about.  I did find this very basic diagram on the interwebs that gives a simple version of how a solar system works.  

When we purchased the Little RV we had a generator and a bank of four batteries installed.  AM Solar suggested we might want to double our battery bank so we can store more energy.  We also need an inverter a battery monitoring system, solar panels and a lot of wiring.  

In order to get started so that we can support the oxygen machine and our basic needs they suggested a 600 watt system that can be expanded over time.  The oxygen machine draws about 300 to 350 watts so 600 is really the minimum we can get by with.  The cost of this starter set-up is about $5,800 including installation.  This does not include doubling the battery bank.

If we wanted to just take the bull by the horns and get it all done at once they suggested a 1000 watt system.  This would require a whole house inverter that runs over $3000.  The whole 1000 watt system runs about $12,000 including the additional batteries and installation.

We're mulling over our options.  

I drove up to Portland yesterday to see Christina and Camden and pick up a package I had sent there.  I presented Camden with his shark hat and completely forgot to take a picture.  We visited for a while and I headed back.  Clearly there is an Oregon Ducks football game today as I seemed to be traveling in a flock surrounded by yellow and green all the way back to Harrisburg. 


  1. I put solar panels on my house this spring and should recoup my $12,200 investment in about 8 years due to lowered electric bills. I don't know how long it would take you, it would depend on how much you use them instead of $$RV park hook ups. But the long term savings and freedom is sure something to think about. Oh, the places you could go!

    I think RVSue had a good idea when she put her panel on her van. That way she can park her trailer in the shade and the van out in the sun. You wouldn't have room for all your panels on your truck with that big a system, but you might put as many as you could there for better sun exposure.

    Be sure to comparison shop. All solar companies are NOT the same and you may find a cheaper option with someone else. Could you lease panels for an RV? I know you can for a house, but not sure if they do that for RVs. Leasing is more economical for a house.

    1. Great suggestions Donna! Those are things I really hadn't thought about. Whatever we decide to do I'm sure it will end up right here on the blog.