Do RV parks buy power?

Sorry if this has been covered. I did a search, but didn't come up with anything.

My home burned to the ground just before New Year's and I'm currently "boon docking" in my RV on the property.

I am going to take this odd period in my life to go explore the country for a bit (as opposed to rebuilding the house, or moving to another one).

I have never stayed at an RV park, but my understanding is such that on a monthly rate, it is rate+electricity.

Being as I'm setting up a solar system on my RV which has grid-tie capability, I am wondering if an RV park would reduce/refund your rates if you were selling your solar power back through their meter and ended up with a negative kwh number at billing time?

Many Thanks
Sean

Comments

  • AudiomakerAudiomaker Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    I'm new to this, but don't most grid-tie inverters have some sort of safety functionality not to backfeed?

    You're probably right though since I don't think most RV inverter systems are grid-tie and the option probably doesn't get presented to the park owners often, if at all.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,811 admin
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    Grid Tied AC inverters by definition back-feed the grid--Safely.

    My guess--You are being billed/paying the local RV park.

    Grid Tie power agreements are with the utility itself--And I would guess, would not included random RV's pulling in for the day/week/month.

    Yes--The properly designed GT Inverter will detect the line voltage and line frequency, and if either of those are out of specifications, it will turn off (or never sync up, wait ~5 minutes, then turn on).

    Would the RV park notice you have done this--Who knows. Older power meters would turn backwards and if you generate more power than you use, they park may get really confused.

    More modern power meters may not turn backwards, or even turn forwards if you back-feed power (i.e., charge you for the privildge of providing power back to the utility).


    And, in any case, most GT inverters are not really practical for RV use---I.e., when you are off grid, they will not operate.

    But, of course there are a long line of exemptions--Many of the modern Off Grid Inverter-Chargers are actually capable of GT operation (Hybrid Inverter-chargers). And it is possible to connect pure GT inverters to an off grid inverter and back-feed the inverter to charge the battery bank.

    So--The short answer--I cannot see any RV park setup to allow GT operation from any of there short term tenants. And it would be something that neither they, the utility, or the local building inspector are going to "approve" every random RV with Hybrid inverters setup for GT operation.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • tabbycattabbycat Solar Expert Posts: 51 ✭✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    Usually it is against the law for RV parks to charge their customers any more than the utility charges the park. The park cannot resell the electricity with a markup.
    Thanks.
  • Mustang65Mustang65 Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    The RV parks I have stayed at that have the monthly plan (billed for electric usage), have a power company electric meter on those sites and the camp ground reads the meter once a month and charges you the current electric company rate/kW. I have my RV wired so the only thing that hooks to Shore Power is the AC unit, which lowers what the monthly bill would normally be. I have the RV's battery charge controller wired to a breaker just in case there are a lot of cloudy/rainy days, but have yet to turn it on.

    I thought about wiring in Enphase micro inverters with a switch in the RV, to either hook up to the Morningstar 60 MPPT or the Enphase micro inverter in the RV, but just about all the monthly site electric company meters are the new smart meters, which would probably charge me double of what I actually used. Being that is would be illegal, and would get caught, I figured it would be better to just forget the micro inverter idea.

    I also take the meter reading when I hook up and when I leave. I calculate what the bill would be and verify what they are charging me. So far never had any issue with their usage/bills.

    Don
  • AudiomakerAudiomaker Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    Mustang,

    Can you confirm that the meters are power company supplied and not customer owned (as in the RV park installed and owns them as tenant meters)?

    Hypothetically (only hypothetically), would a grid-tie inverter run either of those types of meters backwards?

    I understand the requirement to get permission, but I'm trying to understand it from a simply mechanical aspect. What are the dangers the POCO or park manager is trying to avoid by granting you permission?

    Would they even know? Does an alarm go off if the meter goes backwards...etc.

    Obviously a negative khw reading is a tip off, but what if there was a really hot week when you used the A/C 24-7, followed by a week when you made an excess of power from your PV's and you just wanted to "roll back" that high usage week...etc?

    Another application might be where you aren't using the RV (you're in Sweden) and you could offset the space rental (with permission).

    I understand that not many RV's are using grid-sell (hybrid) systems, but mine is, and I know that eventually I'm going to come to the point where I'm going to ask permission to try it. It would be nice to have some idea that park's electrical system wouldn't be harmed, or that there might be other issues prior to asking since the person I will ask will likely have a lot less experience than the board members here.

    Oh, and while I'm here... let me ask the math wiz guys an approximation of how much $ could be offset with a 2400w array?

    Sean
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,811 admin
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    Math guy here (always check my math--I ain't perfect):

    2,400 Watt array * 4 hours average sun per day (yearly average) * 0.77 average system eff = 7,392 WH = 7.4 kWH per day
    7.4 kWH per day *$0.16 kWH per day = $1.18 per day
    $1.18 per day * 365 days per year = $431 per year in power charge "retail value".

    For my utility, they charge a $4.50 per month meter fee:

    $4.50 per month fee * 12 months = $54 per year fixed minimum charges...

    Of course, cost of power can vary between $0.10 to $0.50 per kWH (my region). And fixed monthly fees can range from $4.xx to as much as $48 to $96 per month. Actual costs are highly regional and affected by politics/power company lobbying.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • AudiomakerAudiomaker Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?
    BB. wrote: »
    Math guy here (always check my math--I ain't perfect):

    2,400 Watt array * 4 hours average sun per day (yearly average) * 0.77 average system eff = 7,392 WH = 7.4 kWH per day
    7.4 kWH per day *$0.16 kWH per day = $1.18 per day
    $1.18 per day * 365 days per year = $431 per year in power charge "retail value".

    <snip>
    -Bill

    Gawd!

    If that math is correct, one could sell $43/mo to the park if they allowed it. Most parks run in the $300-400 range monthly + electricity so it's hardly worth bothering them for 40ish dollars.

    So sad because *my* utility bill (i.e....diesel) amounts to $200-$400/mo for appx' 10kwh/day.
  • Mustang65Mustang65 Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    Sean,
    At the campground that we stay at for 4 months each summer in the mountains of North GA, they have 3 levels of meters. One is on the main pole that brings the service into that section of the camp ground, then that feeds a 2nd level of electric meters that supplies power to 5 or 6 sites, and finally there is an electric meter at each of the monthly sites. When we were up there, I looked up each of the meter types and every one of them was classified as a smart meter that had the capabilities to monitor the line for foreign voltages.
    I talked to the tech one day when they were replacing a transformer and he said you would not believe how many local people install solar panels and try to get their usage reduced by producing their own power and not telling the electric company. He said it takes them about 2 to 3 days after the computer issues the report before they go out and investigate. Jokingly he said if the computer reported someone in the campground was pushing power back, all I really would have to do is go to the top of the hill and see who had panels on their RV.
    All the meters at that campground are installed and maintained by the power company, same as the ones we stayed at in Colorado. The agreement would have to be through you an the electric company, not the campsite owner, as they can not sell electric power.
    Don
  • AudiomakerAudiomaker Solar Expert Posts: 100 ✭✭
    Re: Do RV parks buy power?

    Thank Don,

    At this point...all considered, it doesn't look like an idea that will pan out. :(

    Bright side is that I didn't have to find out the hard way :)
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