Waiting for the Sun

February 18th, 2011

Our solar panel

Our solar panel… installed

After three years on the road and using a generator, we’ve finally managed to get a solar panel on the roof. The problem with getting the ‘best’ price on solar panels is that we never managed to be in the right place at the right time until this winter. We had to do a local pickup from the warehouse in Phoenix in order to get a single panel in the size / price range we wanted. On the plus side, during the three years we spent trying to figure out how to get a panel, prices dropped significantly. For what we would have paid to get a panel three years ago, we could have easily afforded two today.

On our way to RTR, we picked up the panel. The trouble was the size of the panel! We had to put it on the bed as that was the only safe spot large enough to hold it… which meant Jenn and I, plus the dog and a cat or two slept on the couch our first night in Quartzsite. Comfy.

The next morning, we hit Solar Bill’s shop to pick up some wiring to make a connector for the camper and headed over to RTR. Our first afternoon was spent installing the panel and controller, which probably seemed anti-social to some folks, but I wasn’t going to spend another night on the couch.

Our solar panel is slightly tilted

Our solar panel is tilted…slightly

It’s over a month later and we’ve only run the generator for power tools and a quick charge up right after the installation. I’m sure that’ll change once we leave the desert, but I think we’ll have a lot less generator hassles in the future.

It’s too bad we abused the batteries for three years with constant deep discharges. I think we’ll still get a few years out of them, but they and the inverter are probably the next ‘big ticket’ upgrades. There are also a few smaller tweaks we may do in the future, but even as it stands, I’m loving the ‘free’ electricity that requires so little work from me.