Venturing into the World of Solar Power

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Hubby and I are constantly looking for ways we can become more off grid.  The main thing that holds us onto the grid right now is electricity.  We can have water and heat in the camper without being connected to anything.  We compost our waste, therefore eliminating any sewer hookups.  But, we have not found a way to go completely off electric.  We have been wanting to get into solar energy but have been unable to afford it.  Since we live in a camper, we don’t need too much power.  The camper has a battery, just the same as a car or boat.  This battery can be used to run the electricity but only lasts a couple of days.  My goal is to figure out how much power we need to run solely off the battery.  If our budget was not an issue, I would run out and buy a full size solar set up this very minute.  But we are on a very tight budget so that is not possible.  We decided to start small and build/save up for a full system.  Harbor Freight is running a sale on their solar panels.  What usually costs $300 is on sale for $130.  We think this is a good place to start and bought one set.  The system is only a 45watt set up so it wont be powering any big power tools anytime soon.  I am hoping its enough to charge the battery for the camper.  Once the solar panels are set up, you are supposed to leave them charging for 3 days.  I set them up yesterday, thus making today day two of waiting.  I am very impatient and I couldnt wait until tomorrow to test it out.  I plugged a light into the box and what do you know? we have light!  granted it flickers and isnt terribly bright, but still!  Once I was done celebrating and showing hubby, I promptly unplugged the light so the system could continue charging.  I am sure most people would not be as animated as I am, but I am so tickled that we can have a light turn on without electricity in the common sense.  With only the help of the sun, and these solar panels, we now have a light that turns on!  Thats big news in my world!! This week we will try and connect the system to the battery and see how long it takes to charge the battery.  The next step is to unplug the camper from the electrical hook up and see how long we last on battery power only.   I am soo very excited about this next step towards living off grid!

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Updating the Flooring in a Camper

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(carpet torn out)
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(flooring laid)

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(before- when we first bought the camper)

 

I have NO idea who thought that it was a good idea to put carpet in a camper. Why? Campers are used for camping…where there is dirt and mud and no one wants to vacuum on vacation. Our camper just had carpet on our slide out, thankfully. The rest of the flooring is nondescript vinyl tiles. At Lowes, I found some vinyl “wood”. The flooring looks like hardwood floors but is just peel n stick strips. I was able to do the majority of the camper in Texas before we moved, but stopped near the carpet. Now that Hubby is gone during the week for training, and I am stuck at home with no car, I finally have time for this project. I ripped out the carpeting and was disgusted with the amount of dirt and dust under it. One corner of the slide out will need to be replaced as its still damp from a leak. After pulling the carpet and all the millions of carpet staples, I put down the new flooring. Its not done, but already it looks so much better.

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(look at ALL THAT DUST)

 

House On Wheels

A couple months ago Hubby and I, sick of watching our money go down the drain while renting, bought a used camper and have been living in it ever since.  We paid cash of course and it definitely needs some work.  The first rainstorm we had we discovered a huge leak in the bedroom roof.  We had to wait for a sunny day so that Hubby could reseal the whole roof.  In the meantime we had tarps and bungee cords on the camper to keep it from leaking further.  Now that we have the major issues fixed, we are working on making the interior more “homey”.

Our plan is to live in the camper for at least 2 years.  That is our break even point with what we would have spent on rent vs paying cash for the rig.  We have stayed at a couple different rv parks and never  realized how common the lifestyle is.  It seems that everyone I meet has a story about how they lived in an rv for a spell.

One thing we love about living in a house on wheels is the freedom it allows.  If we dont like an area, park or even neighbor it is super easy to move to a new spot.  Utilities and “rent” are super cheap compared to a house or apartment.  We average about $50 on our electric bill (we do try and use as little energy as possible no matter where we live).

One of the downsides to living in an rv park is the rules.  If you stay in a nicer park like we try to, there are a lot of rules!  Our first week at our current park got us a lot of notes on our front door.  I got scolded for drying my laundry on drying racks.  My garden planters are not what they allow… say what?  Etc.  We try to roll with the punches but are getting more and more fed up.  The freedom we thought we had is not exactly what we thought.

When we bought the camper, my aunt casually mentioned that they have an rv hook up on my grandparents property.  My grandparents have acreage in Arkansas and put in an rv hook up site a few years back so that relatives with rvs could come visit.  My aunt mentioned that we were welcome to move there any time. Recently Hubby and I decided that if we could get a job up there, we would go ahead and move.  I am so excited to announce that last week Hubby was offered a job in the very same town as my aunt and uncle.  At the first of the year we will be packing up our house on wheels and moving to my grandparents land.

This move will allow us to save money by not paying for a rental site AND have more freedom than we have now.  Not to mention that we will be near family again!  Living in Texas, we are hours away from Hubbys family and a plane flight away from mine.  When we lived in Maryland before moving to Texas, we had absolutely no family there.

Stay tuned as we gear up to hit the road!

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