How solar pays fast in RV use

bluewickedburnerbluewickedburner Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭✭✭
One of the first thing you read about solar is the return on investment or ROI. Usually for many installs it comes down to the cost of the solar installation vs the cost of other power sources over how much time to break even or even have a surplus from that point on.

For RVs the equation is often times much different. I'm bringning this up because the motivies for RV installs can usually be very different from other types and that affects the why and more importantly the how. Let me explain:

If you travel often and stay at Rv "resorts" or parks, the costs directly associated to that are huge. Consider that one travels only during the summer and might stay at a paid for site at typical rates for only two weeks. In California, even at a State Park that is going to cost around $700 alone. I'm using a $50 per night price because that is about average and probably a little low even. Be an avid RVer and you can easily burn through 3 times that or more. We're talking about over $2000 a year. Those costs don't impact other types of installations save maybe Marine environments.

At some places you can get a non-hookup site for less but often it is only slightly less.

If you gain the freedom of being able to stay away from those types of places and we've found that the best spots are ones that have perhaps a 5-7 dollar daily fee or free, it doesn't take long before even a moderately sized Rv solar system more than pays for itself. That doesn't include the much greater number of choices you now have in places to stay. I am talking about more than the 1-2 day quick stays because for those short times a decent battery bank is going to take care of things without solar or even a generator.

The other thing is that even without enough solar to keep up with use demands, if you only agument the solar with an hour of good quality genset, engine alternator or portable generator charging the ability to stay away from resorts or parks is still very attractive pricewise. Given many gensets, firing it up during breakfast prep puts charge back into the battery bank as a boost and allows for unrestricted use of microwaves or other high draw items such as electric hot water and so on. After that let the solar keep contributing and continuing to provide charge.

My point is that the motivations of many RVers is much different from solar installs for residences or other permanent fixtures where grid power might not be available or the choice is to just get off the grid for that sake alone.

I'll be spending upwards of $5000 for solar on my motor coach when all is said and done and it would take longer than I have left to live to recoup that if my primary concern is cost reductions in grid power use. Factor in all the money I'm going to save from have better choices in my travel locations and within 2 short years I'll be ahead of the game and from then on, that is money in my pocket that otherwise would be in someone elses.

Just some thoughts.

Comments

  • bmetbmet Solar Expert Posts: 630 ✭✭
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use

    I am sorry that you've found the most expensive RV parks to stay at. The one my sister operates charges $10 a day, and if you stay longer she often will discount even from that. She also provides a free dump station, and the electric is 50 Amp. It's a small place, off the US HWY about one mile, in a small town. The site is clean, not a trash heap. You won't find swimming pools or movie stars, just a rural community for your pull-through, with the connections you need.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,656 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use

    "...$10 a day"

    That is really dirt cheap. I work for a camping community 1500 owner owned lots but 17 we rent out, 50 amp service, full hook ups. At $26 a night we are among the cheapest in the books for Coast to Coast, Passport America, Escapee's. Of course we're not much of a destination other than for some Bow hunters.

    If you just want to travel cheap, you can often "camp" at WalMarts and Petro? for free, with vistas of parking lots. Some states have a tradition of free or near free camping at county parks, Iowa?

    Or travel by bicycle and gorrilla camp, still legal in most states to spend the night on unimproved, nonposted land. 8-9 months of travel, 7000 miles and @$2000 or @ $10 a day in food, bike maintenance, a few stormy nights in hotels. BTW - exceptions to the posting rules are National Parks and National forests during hunting season.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • bluewickedburnerbluewickedburner Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use
    bmet wrote: »
    I am sorry that you've found the most expensive RV parks to stay at. The one my sister operates charges $10 a day, and if you stay longer she often will discount even from that. She also provides a free dump station, and the electric is 50 Amp. It's a small place, off the US HWY about one mile, in a small town. The site is clean, not a trash heap. You won't find swimming pools or movie stars, just a rural community for your pull-through, with the connections you need.


    Once in a while real jewels in RV parks are found but mostly that is a rare thing. We aren't much into RV parks, we live in one so when traveling the idea of to get away from it all. A connection to a pedestal once in a while is a good thing to have but I have yet to find less than $30 a night all along the California coast. The Half Moon Bay state park is $50 a night for a nice spot.

    Sometimes you can get a break on advanced reservations but that takes away from free spirit traveling. What solar can provide the RVer like us isn't available from any pedestal power connection especially at less than some motel rates.

    We've managed to conserve our water (carry 125 gallons) so the next big thing is power since our holding tanks exceed the fresh water capacity.

    In most parks with enough space between rigs where you aren't looking into someone else's windows, the price is pretty high. Even at $25 it would add up quickly.

    We've stayed at some nice state parks until the generators start. A hour or two is okay but these days so many people leave them running hours on end, not quiet diesels mind you but gas generators in the back of trucks pulling 5th wheels and things like that. Heard one guy last year bragging about how he could run his Harbor Freight gas generator all day on just a few gallons of gas. He did too. I needed that plug but pretty soon I won't.

    Nope, I'll gladly pay whatever it takes to enjoy peace and quiet and that is where I think solar on an RV pays for itself.
  • CrotalusCrotalus Solar Expert Posts: 26
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use

    Whenever possible we use the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. If you have a Golden Age Passport card you will find that it is the best value that you can find. When the weather is nice a dry site can be found for as little as $6.00 a night with dump stations, water near by, clean restrooms, and showers that you don't have to feed quarters to get the water to flow.

    The best that we have done is 6 days without running the generator and only one topping out on our 25 gallon fresh water tank. We wanted to throw a couple of yams in the microwave for about 12 minutes. The only time we need the generator is to run the microwave to cook something or we have more than three days of overcast and rain.With LED lights and the refrigerator and hot water heater on propane the amount of current draw we use from the battery is minimal.

    My little solar system keeps a group 31 flooded cell 130ah battery charged without any problems. My system consists of a MPPT controller with a 20 watt panel that was the first one installed. It was to keep the battery charged during winter storage. I then added a 50 watt portable panel that I could move around with the sun. My last and final panel was a 80 watt panel mounted on our travel trailer. All of the panels have only a .1 volt difference, 17.2 and 17.3 so they are well matched. I have less than $900.00 invested in the system that took three years to complete.

    Is it worth the money? The answer is yes because it gives us the freedom to go anywhere. Will I ever recoup the costs? Of course not!
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use
    bmet wrote: »
    I am sorry that you've found the most expensive RV parks to stay at. The one my sister operates charges $10 a day, and if you stay longer she often will discount even from that. She also provides a free dump station, and the electric is 50 Amp. It's a small place, off the US HWY about one mile, in a small town. The site is clean, not a trash heap. You won't find swimming pools or movie stars, just a rural community for your pull-through, with the connections you need.

    Sending you a PM, I need to get connected with you or whoever can provide me the subscription less than10$.
  • bmetbmet Solar Expert Posts: 630 ✭✭
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use

    My sister's park is rarely that full. She and her husband paid for an advertisement in one of the largest RV magazines at the time. They fouled it up, including normally invisible characters, ruining the name and making it illegible. Most readers probably skipped it. The magazine offered to fix it, for a fee, of course; however, this screwed up ad ran for a whole year.
    In most parks with enough space between rigs where you aren't looking into someone else's windows, the price is pretty high. Even at $25 it would add up quickly. .
  • Jim45DJim45D Solar Expert Posts: 102 ✭✭
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use

    Bmet: Where is your sisters RV park located? What highway is it on? I'm looking for a reliable place to park my RV. Fully solar, except for A/C.

    4x80 Watt Kyocera, tracking, [email protected] 105 Ah Concorde AGM batts. Sun Extender 1040T's. Extra 40Watts of Seimens panels, moveable,
  • bmetbmet Solar Expert Posts: 630 ✭✭
    Re: How solar pays fast in RV use

    sent you a pm, news isn't good.
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