Friday, July 13, 2012

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Grid

Well, we did it. We have managed to equip the motorhome with solar panels, a generator, and functioning propane so we don't need to hook up to the grid.
I finally got the solar panels mounted on the roof of the RV. After watching several youtube videos on the subject and reading up on it, I was ready to tackle the project. I had access to a scissor lift, which made the whole project so much easier. Thanks so much for the use of the equipment. After a bit of consultation, it was decided that I make no holes in the roof of the RV at all. I used angle iron and set up a basic roof rack style mounting system and drilled holes in the sides of the RV, going into the top wooden frame. After drilling the holes I filled them with silicone, then mounted the brackets. I drilled another, larger hole in the side of the RV to receive the wiring from the panels and ran that through the cupboards inside, straight to the regulator. From there I ran wires down the channel housing the fridge wiring, and out the back of the RV straight to the battery box that we mounted on the bumper. Another set of wires came back into the RV to the inverter. And now we have electricity. So far it's only 45 watts per hour, during maximum sun strength, but it's enough to power the lights, TV, DVD, and recharge the batteries on the phones and laptop.
While I had access to the scissor lift I took the opportunity to redo the seals on the roof vents and seal the side trims. I finished off the partial container of sealant goo I was given, then went out in search of more. I ended up getting another brand of rubber sealant from GNR on Dugald RD in Winnipeg. It took only one coat and went on fairly easily. The hardest part of the whole job was scraping off all the old sealant that had peeled, cracked, and curled.
Lastly, we took the RV in to GNR for them to have a look at our fridge. We could get it working on regular electricity and DC power, but were not able to get the pilot light lit on it. They were able to accomodate us on short notice and took the RV in. They cleaned the mechanism on the fridge and lit it. Then we were given a quick lesson on how to light the fridge. Apparently it worked all along, we just could not see the pilot light. And actually, we still cannot see the pilot. We were told that it was really hard to see, near impossible is more like it. Now we know to just push the buttons a few times and  decide it is lit, then wait a few hours to see if the fridge is still cold. What a difference it makes, being able to have the fridge on all the time while travelling. We have had no problems with our fridge since turning it on with the propane power, and we found the perfect temperature setting so it does not freeze our food.
My wonderful husband mounted our generator on the back bumper of the motorhome so we have access to the extra power when we need it.
That was enough for us to go on our next adventure. We borrowed a utility trailer, hooked it up behind the motorhome, and headed south.

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