Off-grid, anyone do it?

24 posts in this topic

Posted

Our new caravan has an 80 watt solar panel, the previous one had a 20 watt panel which was fine for keeping the 90Ah battery topped up while at home, but would have struggled to keep it topped up for a week away.  We're considering trying a few off-grid CL's as a cheap 3 or 4 night break and also to eliminate the draw of the TV in the evenings.

Does anyone regularly ditch the 230V hook-up and rely on battery and gas only?  How do you get on with it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We do 6 days at the Sandringham Game & Country Fair in September, (as Tractor Stewards we arrive on the Wednesday).

We use an additional 120 Watt panel to supplement the one on the van and normally have a couple of extra batteries around which we use to jump-start the odd Tractor and to charge the IT Kit & phones from.

I will admit to occasional generator use, but only for the wife's hairdryer and to top up the electric toothbrush - probably no more than 4 hours total over the 6 days.

Haven't had a problem so far (last year was the first time with a 'van with on-board solar, but then it uses more power than the previous van!), around a 40 minute tow home and there is always enough power to put the van away on the mover.

Always take a couple of spare gas bottles but never yet emptied the Safefill.

 

Cheers

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I've been off grid for years using a 80 watt panel (now upgraded to 100w). 96% of my trips are off grid, up to a couple of weeks at a time. I don't carry a spare battery. All my lights are now led and I watch about 2 hours of tv a day. No hairdryer. Generators are the spawn of the devil and will not charge your battery unless run for many hours.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Thanks, not needed any hair-care tooling for years (just Brasso or Mr Sheen after a shower) but my wife has a variety of dryers, curlers, straighteners and various other hair burning implements so I need to consider that.  I remember a magazine article on 12 volt hairdryers a while ago which didn't really rate any of them so I'll do some research.

I do enjoy the convenience of a 230V supply but was always put off going off-grid because of all the various electrics inside a modern 'van draining the battery, but with a bigger solar panel I want to give it a try and make the most of CL's at the cheaper end of the scale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We do about 100nights a year rallying without EHU,must admit my 43w Solar panel feels Inadequate against the new breed and we do normally have a spare battery handy...will look for a 100 soon.

 

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Well just had a 120W panel fitted ad have the facility for 2 batteries for storage got 2 x 100 AH ready 

Fridge now mended and works on gas as does the water heater 

At present we don't have 240v to work any appliances but we have got quite a few stop overs to work out how we operate 

 

The van is fitted up so we can add another panel next year if we want and adding more storage is easy as we went for an expensive MPPT controller with expansion capabilities

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

:wine:

We've done a week on an 80w panel and gas - my advice is:

Use LED lights

Switch off when not in use

Limit TV use

DON'T use the fan on the heating system

Charge your battery off the van - van chargers usually only go up to 80%

Don't use a motor mover

Start with a weekend close to home and build up from there - you WILL get serious grief if you run out of power and the Boss gets cold !

 

:wine::wine::wine:

:England:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

:wine:

We've done a week on an 80w panel and gas - my advice is:

Use LED lights

Switch off when not in use

Limit TV use

DON'T use the fan on the heating system

Charge your battery off the van - van chargers usually only go up to 80%

Don't use a motor mover

Start with a weekend close to home and build up from there - you WILL get serious grief if you run out of power and the Boss gets cold !

Got LED lights all in the van except for the 240v spots which have a dimmer switch to operate so very difficult to find , Not taking the TV as we are going to South of France so not liable to need heater yet 

You didn't say how much storage you have off your Solar panel

 At present our charger is off,  but the Battery is full and we have used the motor mover twice today it took around 3 hours to refill the 100 AH battery so next week will be adding another SLA battery (110AH) so will then test how that works with another test outing (see tag line)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hi

Have been thinking of using CL`s have TV which I have only run from 240v looking at transformer box between plug and tv it says 12v.

Can I run wire from battery to tv or is it more complicated than that.

Happy Caravanning

Monty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

When we went to our fav CL site at Maxey, hubby had his black and white telly( before digi boxes ) connected to a battery with crocodile clips. Fridge ran happily on gas and cooking either on gas hob or BBQ. 

We practically lived there and it was just a field with waste disposal and a tap!!! Happy days. Sadly its been shut for years but can still fish there if you got a season ticket. 

I always think that is proper caravanning living off grid. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hi

Have been thinking of using CL`s have TV which I have only run from 240v looking at transformer box between plug and tv it says 12v.

Can I run wire from battery to tv or is it more complicated than that.

Happy Caravanning

Monty

With new TV's being more complex (possibly more sensitive?) I'd check that you are getting 12 volts at the wall socket (assuming that your caravan actually has a 12 volt socket) when your charger is on.  If it is more than that while charging I guess it MIGHT be an issue, but only the manufacturer would be able to confirm it.  Personally I'd give it a go, but I do take risks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We have a 120w solar panel on our caravan and whn off grid we use an extra 110ah battery that we carry inb the car to power the Sky Digibox.  If you are going off grid a lot it may be worth considering purchasing a 10kg Safeill gas bottle. Ours costs us about £10 to refill when empty.  The first fill up from totally empty was about £14 a considerable saving over Calorlite bottles.  It takes about 2 years to break even and then you are in the pound seats when refilling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Regularly go off grid with one battery and 100 watt panel, easily do a week in the summer but in wet winter conditions a weekend is about the limit, mover use and self levelling both use power.

Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

With new TV's being more complex (possibly more sensitive?) I'd check that you are getting 12 volts at the wall socket (assuming that your caravan actually has a 12 volt socket) when your charger is on.  If it is more than that while charging I guess it MIGHT be an issue, but only the manufacturer would be able to confirm it.  Personally I'd give it a go, but I do take risks!

Thanks Gary I will try it.

Happy Caravanning

Monty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

At present on site weather is dull but panel is performing well have got second battery in line too

Basically only using 240v for chargers and fridge but that's only because it's built in to the price 

Looking forward to going completely off grid 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

 

I always think that is proper caravanning living off grid. 

In my youth working as an appy surveyor we used to stay in the Rhodesian bush for a month or longer at a time in an old CL caravan.  The tow car was a diesel Peugeot 404 pickup. 

The caravan had gas lamps and a gas fridge with an ice box the size of a large brick.  We lived on tinned food and what we could shoot.  Solar panels were unheard of along with many other items. 

We used to get water from the river and put it in a bucket, hoist the bucket up a tree and then tip the contents into a another bucket with holes in the bottom that acted as a shower.  Due to crocodiles not safe to bathe in the river plus the fact that the the river at times was only pools of water and not flowing.  We had our drinking and cooking water in a large bowser.  One night I chased a cat out of the awning and the next morning looking at the foot prints realsied it had been a leopard!  Now that is wild camping!

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We have a 140 watt solar panel  led lamps and 2 leisure battery's so no real issues off grid, if Tracy needs to dry her hair I suggested she could put her head in the oven and I might even light it :sofa:

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

In my youth working as an appy surveyor we used to stay in the Rhodesian bush for a month or longer at a time in an old CL caravan.  The tow car was a diesel Peugeot 404 pickup. 

The caravan had gas lamps and a gas fridge with an ice box the size of a large brick.  We lived on tinned food and what we could shoot.  Solar panels were unheard of along with many other items. 

We used to get water from the river and put it in a bucket, hoist the bucket up a tree and then tip the contents into a another bucket with holes in the bottom that acted as a shower.  Due to crocodiles not safe to bathe in the river plus the fact that the the river at times was only pools of water and not flowing.  We had our drinking and cooking water in a large bowser.  One night I chased a cat out of the awning and the next morning looking at the foot prints realsied it had been a leopard!  Now that is wild camping!

Thanks Ian, you've conjured up some happy memories of the old days, especially the ambiance created by the old gas lamp mantels, and the canvas showers!

As a somewhat younger soul, in another life almost, I spent 2-3 months based virtually on the banks of the Zambezi River close to this spot https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place//@-17.4803319,24.249099,861m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d-17.480337!4d24.251293?hl=en and we used to often (about 50 times in total) bath IN the Zambezi River of an evening (late afternoon). Initially we had someone stand guard to shoot any crocodiles that might approach too close, but soon got so blase that the armed guard idea was dropped after about a week. I'm almost certain that there must have been crocs around, but somehow we were not selected to contribute statistically to Darwin's theory around the invincibility or stupidity of youth! Oh Happy Days (in Tents).

 

PS. Sorry Gary for squeezing this into your thread. Good luck with going off-grid!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I did one stint in the Zambezi valley in 1968 and that was enough to last me a lifetime.  :wow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Where has this expression 'off-grid' crept in from? Common in more that one forum recently..suppose we are taking it as non-EHU.....but never used in my last 35 years till recently.

 

geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Where has this expression 'off-grid' crept in from? Common in more that one forum recently..suppose we are taking it as non-EHU.....but never used in my last 35 years till recently.

 

geoff

Noticed it being used in relation to using pitch only (as when an electric pitch can be used but in't) instead of the more normal Wild camping where you are not on a site at all to differentiate between the two

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Yes, "off grid" as in not connected to the national grid.  It's used in other industries as well to describe not being connected to the mains but I've only noticed it being used in the caravan industry over the last few years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

The vast majority of our caravanning is off grid.  I rely solely on 12v and gas.  After 20 years of doing such things I actually don't see a need for EHU.  Our caravan happily lights up with LED's everywhere.  It has 2 Safefill 15L gas bottles to power the fridge and BBQ etc.  Our low voltage TV rarely comes out but when it does we don't see a problem.

It's a choice.  We rally where most venues have no electric hook up.  It suits us.  It wont suit everyone !

I've had solar panels before and am waiting on the flexible ones to come down in price a bit so I can fit a 150w on the roof.  That will prevernt the need for me to remove batteries to charge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Following tests of our system I can report

Using 2 batteries storing 200AH the 120W panel in dismal UK weather had them full by lunchtime

we now have a fridge that functions on Gas (£80 for new burner)

So the caravan is sat on our drive only using electric for the fridge to save gas whilst we fill it up for Friday 

We have removed the second battery to see just how long one battery lasts 

it is looking quite good for going off grid

 

BUT

still looking at options of how to charge my mobility scooter without paying out huge amounts of money 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now


Click this banner for a Motorhome and Touring Caravan insurance quote from Caravan Guard