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Old 06-30-2015, 09:19 PM   #1
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Electricity

I just went to Harbor Freight and checked out their solar panels etc.

Based on lowest cost...

It seems to me that starting off, just a generator would work. I was looking at the $120 Harbor Freight 800w generator. I figure that'd work for running my microwave (700w), kettle etc (individually).

Later I could add the battery, charge controller and inverter.

Later still, solar panels could be added.

As an alternative, I suppose I could put a ceramic tile on my kitchen counter and use a small gas cooker for cooking but a small solar panel for charging electronics.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:02 AM   #2
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harbor freight gen sets do not last long.

The minimum size gen set should be about 2000 watts. Soar panels are not a great idea.Starting a gen set for an hour charges most batteries and microwave use. Solar panels require lots of care. Any clouds or dust result in a small charge. Frank
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:44 AM   #3
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If you plan to go solar, you will need to practice minimal electrical use to make the battery charges last. Plan on cooking with gas.

Remember, the output of a solar array needs to be divided by the total hours of "standard" sunlight irradiation, which on a day with no clouds in the North is about 5 hours except in Summer.

The tiny two-stroke HF genset will put out more watt-hours per day than most mobile solar set-ups. If you set up your battery system for solar efficiency, the genset should recharge them in a few hours per day.

But you need to look for a HF coupon sheet. The gensets are $99 (up from $79 over the years) with a coupon that is available almost anywhere.
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:19 AM   #4
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skip the solar and go bigger on the generator.....

many times...the cheapest way of doing it...is the most expensive way in the end.
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:21 AM   #5
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I'm not a big fan of solar, but it does work if you have the right set up, which will cost you some good $$. I'm sitting on the side lines before I do anything solar. Right now I have a 3000 watt generator\inverter built in my bus with remote start, works just fine when my house battery gets low,or I want to run the micro wave, or a\c . I have a small 2 stroke generator like the one your looking at(don't like it,smells, hard starting POS), to be honest I wouldn't waste your money on it. If your short on cash try getting a small 1000-2000watt Chinese generator to get you by, it will not be as loud and might last longer then the $80.00 2 stroke.(try for a inverter type)
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:47 AM   #6
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I'm not a fan of the HF generator. Lots of bad reviews. I found that Honda and Yamaha suitcase/quite generators are the best but very expensive. I settled on a Hyundai suitcase/quite generator I bought on ebay and have been extremely happy with it.
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:00 AM   #7
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Oddly enough, my gf has the cheap hf generator and it seems to work well enough. Personally I'd prefer it to be diesel. The remote start and stop sound good too.

I'm weighing up options right now. Solar just struck me as horrendously expensive when voltage converters and charge controllers were thrown into the equation. It just looks better costwise to run a generator at the times I actually need electricity.
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:46 AM   #8
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At this time, solar is still best as a supplemental/replenishing system for RV's. And you can buy a lot of generator for what any decent solar system costs. Any long term stay in an RV requires very serious energy management and conservative use. I love solar, but without spending some really serious money, and taking up the entire roof on a 40-footer...it won't provide much juice.

You might take a look at the newer Yamaha & Honda gen sets in the 3KW range. They are amazingly quiet and have built in inverters that let you run sensitive electronics (TV, computer, etc.) directly off their output without investing additional bucks in a separate system to smooth out the power.

I found a Honda EU3000iS Inverter Generator with less than an hour on it for $1300 bucks (they go new for about $2 grand). It will run my 8000 BTU A/C in it's "economy mode" without even coming up off idle.

You can get by with fewer Kw's...but I can just about guarantee you...you will want/need more than 800.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:06 AM   #9
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The whole point is a low cost start from where I can add things.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:40 AM   #10
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The whole point is a low cost start from where I can add things.
Seems like you're on a good path, to me. If I were going the generator route, I'd be looking about along the same lines. Just make sure your generator spot has enough room in it for a larger/quieter unit later on (or that your roof has lots of space for panels?).

My vaporware plan at this point is to forgo a generator. We live in the land of solar energy here, and should be able to cook up a system for a reasonable cost. But there's the matter of no bus and not enough money that we need to fix, first.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:40 AM   #11
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The whole point is a low cost start from where I can add things.
I feel your pain,and I understand what you are saying, but a lot us here, have been there done that, been around the block a few times, beat up and put away wet, and finding out low cost ends up costing 3 times more in the end.
Whats important is do it the way you can, that's what matters in the end, this site is loaded with so much information and great people with advise and understanding that its just blows me away on what I have learned.
keep up your good work, and keep sharing.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:42 AM   #12
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My thinking is just to run a generator when power is needed then slowly building a battery system before finally adding solar.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:47 AM   #13
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My thinking is just to run a generator when power is needed then slowly building a battery system before finally adding solar.
Plan and build very carefully, and you should be able to minimize wasted parts and effort that way. I'd try to be very aware of future expansion goals, and make sure you have space for the necessary equipment and do as much wiring as you can now, so you don't end up tearing walls out to do it later!

(Kind of like wiring your house or garage or something, y'know?)
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:19 PM   #14
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I love solar.

For the 7 months a year I get sun.

Nat
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:07 PM   #15
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Plan and build very carefully, and you should be able to minimize wasted parts and effort that way. I'd try to be very aware of future expansion goals, and make sure you have space for the necessary equipment and do as much wiring as you can now, so you don't end up tearing walls out to do it later!

(Kind of like wiring your house or garage or something, y'know?)
My wiring plan is simple... 110v only to three sockets in the kitchenette. 12v to two sockets in the dinette. Possibly a 12v socket in the bedroom. There will be several USB sockets in the bedroom and dinette. All the power cables will come up through the floor with the bulk of the wiring color coded and run along the chassis members. I'm going for simplicity!

I'll probably put a 110v input socket out of sight under the bus so I can plug in as required.

Hot water will be supplied from a 5 gallon hot tank mounted under the bathroom. I'll build the hot tank myself.
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:34 PM   #16
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Had to double check with Hubby, but one of the first things we bought was a generator I found on Craigslist. We got the genny, all the wires for connecting to house and I think it was 3 five gal cans full of gas & 1 empty.
We had it stored where Hubby was working for awhile and when he brought it home he put it in the cabin down back so I forgot to even include it on our build site.

It's a Honda either 8K (I think) or 8.5k (he thinks) generator...we paid $800.00 for it. Looks brand new...will submit pictures once I get down to the cabin to take a pic of it.

From what I'm reading we should be able to power up a few of our neighbors wherever we stop.

Wonder if we can raise enough renting out electricity for gas money

Hubby said to ask if there's a way we can sell the excess to the electric company
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:43 PM   #17
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Hubby said to ask if there's a way we can sell the excess to the electric company
not worth it in Oklahoma
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A disturbing story out of the Sooner State this week, noted by Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Under the terms of a recently passed bill, expected to be signed by Governor Mary Fallin, homeowners who install their own private solar or wind turbine energy resources and sell some of the juice back to energy companies will be paying a fee for the privilege.
Oklahoma will charge homeowners who generate their own power « Hot Air
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:47 PM   #18
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I hear Florida made it illegal not to buy electricity from a utility company!
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:54 PM   #19
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I hear Florida made it illegal not to buy electricity from a utility company!

not at all trying to be sarcastic, but I'm looking at that post like a dog when he hears a strange noise...

you're saying it's illegal to buy electricity from anyone, unless it's a utility company?

forgive me, I'm tired
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:59 PM   #20
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not at all trying to be sarcastic, but I'm looking at that post like a dog when he hears a strange noise...

you're saying it's illegal to buy electricity from anyone, unless it's a utility company?

forgive me, I'm tired
It's illegal here not to be hooked up to the grid if it's available, if you install solar you have to sell it to PG&E
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