Okay, now I’m starting to understand you, and your position better. We are both minimalists when it comes to power. Unfortunately (for others…) we represent a pretty small minority on this subject. BTW, I totally agree with swamp coolers, and heat that doesn’t require electrical power too. Hopefully our information will help others who will read this…
My first experience with solar was when the promoters conned me into converting a cargo van. (VERY BAD CHOICE) Following their directions, I had 600 watts of solar professionally installed where they recommended. Price tag $3k. Then I added 3x 100ah batteries @ $350 each, again, their recommendation. I think my 3kw PSW inverter was close to another $1k. So ~$5k for my power system that I was led to believe would supply more power than I would ever need.
I had been living in campers for many years before that, so I wasn’t a newbie. All of my previous campers had their house batteries charged by driving, generator, or shore power. Always mainly just by driving, and power had never been much of a problem.
After the cargo van build, my next stop was Seattle. My new heater needed power, my new fridge needed power, my new roof vents needed power. Suddenly I NEEDED much more power than previously. With my other campers I never needed to run any lights during the day because I always had lots of windows, but in that cargo van I needed to run lights during the day too. Even with a ton of insulation, I swear that thing was hotter in the summer & colder in the winter than anything else I’ve ever had.
Seattle was dark and gloomy, and the solar alone couldn’t keep up, but I had no meters or gauges to tell me anything, and nobody even suggested that I might need them. So I thought I was happy with my power system, even though I hated the cargo van. I was urged to leave feedback about the power system, so I left a glowing review. Two months later all 3 batteries were flat dead and not salvageable.
So those 2 months of power cost me $1k in batteries. I replaced them with $100 batteries with the same specs. Two months later, same scenario. Another $300 down the drain, but I replaced them yet again. By then I was angry & miserable, but it was spring and I attended a rally. They told me I needed additional charging sources, and the equipment to monitor exactly what was going on. So I bought a generator for almost $1k, a battery charger, and misc. monitoring stuff for hundreds more so I could babysit the system.
With the right equipment, it became obvious that 600w of solar wasn’t enough to keep up in Seattle. By now I’m in Oregon, and started taking classes on alternative energy systems, including solar. I was determined to figure out how to make solar work. 3 rigs, and 3 solar systems later, I came to the conclusion that my previous pre-solar methods were far superior, cheaper, and more reliable. Since ditching solar, 12v power hog compressor fridges, inverters etc. and going back to my minimalistic power consumption, I’ve never had another problem with power. For the record, it should be noted that I did not downgrade my lifestyle, comfort, or convenience. I still have every amenity I want or need, they just require no power, or far less power.
"Looking back, solar was a huge & costly mistake." ~ SimplySally