Our plan to take on the RV lifestyle has taken another turn with the whole notion of Solar Power.
I am not entirely sure why the idea of Solar Power makes me think of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. or the nasty red death ray about to slice James Bond in two. But it does. I think it may be because I really have only the foggiest idea of a) what it's about and b) why it's going to cost me upwards of three grand and c) why the techs who put it in get charged out at $130 an hour.
What do I THINK solar power panels will do for me? I have a vision (have you ever noticed how often RV thoughts inspire fluffy edged flights of fancy?) of Sheree and me frolicking in the woods (you just shush), while our RV -- our home on wheels -- hums along, running its own power.
Or maybe we're a zombie apocalypse and the ONE thing we don't have to worry about is powering the laptops...
Either way -- the whole notion of solar power makes me think of being self-sufficient. But the more I look into it, the more I realize that this is only KIND of true.
There are some very basic explanations of what a solar panel set-up looks like. But there are other videos as well that provide much more information.
It still sounds to me as though these guys are speaking a language only distantly related to English. But I'm getting a slightly less foggy picture now.
Here are some of the things I am Pretty Sure About:
1) Solar panels will make it possible to 'boondock' for significantly greater periods of time. (Boondock only sounds like a bad drug trip in a boat.) It really means 'to park and not need outside help like power and water.'One of the people I was talking with at the RV show told me he can boondock for five days on one battery. He took pains to tell me that he only uses lights etc sparingly and doesn't use the battery to power anything major.
It's still a great idea to install battery powered LED lights (ones that go up by removing the sticky thingie from the back and pressing it into the wall and/or ceiling) to minimize the draws you make on your solar battery.
2) Solar panels will enable you to do small things: like recharge computers and cell phones. They will, however, only very briefly help you do things like run hair driers. (Rule of thumb: if it generates heat, it's going to suck your batteries dry very quickly.)
3) You don't want your batteries to fall below 50%. I know this to be true, because this information came to me directly from a mechanical looking guy with dirt under his fingernails and his name embossed on his coveralls.(This is the sure sign to me that he is a Guy Who Knows Stuff.) He told me that if the battery gets below 50% it will take MUCH longer to recharge...and will decrease the life of the battery. (We don't want that, because failing batteries would be a serious bummer in case of a zombie apocalypse.) More information here.
I am one of those consumers who really wants to make an informed decision before putting a crowbar into my wallet and paying for something. I'm reasonably satisfied that I have enough to go on to authorize the installation of our solar panels.
So here we go. I'll keep you posted.