Psyched about Solar and Our December Campground

Yay, we’re back in the Airstream!

I actually slept for several gosh darn hours in a row last night in my own bed. This was after I cleaned the fridge (it had grown mold while in the heat of the shop), waited for it and the freezer to cool again, and moved our food back in from the cooler. Plus put clean sheets on the bed and stored all our clean clothes. Glory be!

Deets on the Solar

(If you’re not interested in the solar stuff but do want to hear about where we’re staying now, skip down to the next heading.)

When we picked up the trailer, we received a tour of exactly what was installed, how it was done, and how we use the system.

Mighty mighty impressive, and although Tracy did all the research, my keen observation skills tell me the hefty price tag of this solar-installing team of father and step-son will be well worthwhile.

Tracy had been reading the Airstream forums and reading the senior team member’s writings on installing solar for a good long time. This guy is special because:

a) he owns an Airstream, which has unique needs with its curved roof and lack of interior space for wiring and batteries, and

b) he is dedicated to not drilling holes in your roof. Holes = inevitable leaks, plus severe value loss. So he uses special adhesive to stick the panels on and sneaky wiring strategies to get the panel wires down into the interior (through the refrigerator access panel) and under the sofa where he installed lithium batteries and the inverter.

You’re going to have to ask Tracy about the full specs on exactly how much wattage we can now pull and how long the new batteries can give us power, but from the fast-paced explanation (Tracy already knew what he was getting so the junior member who gave us the tour didn’t dumb it down), I gathered we’re pretty much set to live off grid.

I do know from the parts list that we got:

  • five 90 watt panels added to the sixth panel we already had up there.
  • two 300 amp hours lithium batteries
  • a solar controller kit, a rooftop combiner box, an inverter kit, and a micro easy start (some of these things I’m not sure what or where they are, but Tracy will give me another tour).

We were extra impressed by this team’s attention to details (and organized shop!), with several non-essential extras they thought of. For example, they kept the old battery connections where they come out of the front of the trailer, and they installed an inverter out there so that Tracy can connect his air compressor to it like he used to (otherwise the wattage wouldn’t have matched what the compressor needed. FYI Tracy uses the air compressor to fill the truck and trailer tires.)

During our pick-up meeting, they gave us a tour under the sofa of the multiple on/off switches that isolate the power from the panels, the batteries, and the inverter. All we really need to know is how to switch on the power, but these details help us understand this complex system (okay, they help Tracy, and he’ll help me understand with lots of lessons). Plus, every five years we’re to get the roof resealed, so Tracy got a lesson on how to lift each panel up so the roof can be accessed, plus how to keep the service technician from getting electrocuted if he messes around with the system.

What Tracy is going to really dig is the data he can collect from the app that’s bluetoothed to the control panel inside. He can track current power that’s being pulled, stored, and/or used, plus he will have all past data, so he can create a spreadsheet to analyze best power environments. It’s a data-lover’s heaven.

Me, I know how to use the on-off switch and where you punch in the amperage of the power you’re plugged in to, like here at our December camping spot.

Bonita Springs, Home until 2021

If you’ve been following my previous posts about campgrounds, you know I feel the vibe of a place pretty strongly, and this place has a very good vibe!

It’s true that it’s an “RV Resort” like the last place in Naples, where some people live full time, some people come just for the summers, and people like us are “itinerant residents” just for a few days or weeks. And it has lots of rules. Note how we haven’t set up our screen tent.

But the lots here are larger, the lanes between lots wider, and look at the wooded river area right behind our campsite.

It’s always a crap shoot what kind of site we get, even when we use Google Maps satellite view and the website, Campground Photos, or whatever other online tools we have in our arsenal. You still don’t know for sure until you get there.

This is the entrance: can you see the Christmas lights wound around the palm tree trunks?

They seem to take having fun here seriously.

It’s 8:15 as I sit out behind the trailer looking at the tannin-darkened river, and a couple is already playing horseshoes across the street.

I just heard, “Are you Liz? You’re a living legend, here!”

I’ll tell you more about our neighbor Liz next time. Let’s leave it with the fact that we’re already friends. Just speak up when you chat together, because she has two hearing aids. But she lives by herself in her trailer (her husband whom she travelled the world with is deceased), and her idea of weathering a hurricane is to walk to her girlfriend’s campsite (that’s a bit uphill) with a deck of cards and a bottle of wine.

Oh, did I mention that the on-site laundromat is in a screened-in room? And we have our own mailbox and can receive packages delivered directly to our trailer? And we can actually grab campground wifi from our site?

And today we’re going to try to store the kayaks stealthily right behind the trailer so we can carry them over to an easy spot to launch in the river. And damnit, I’m going to beat Tracy in shuffleboard. Maybe bocce, too.

Look at us, we’re retired!

5 thoughts to “Psyched about Solar and Our December Campground”

    1. We used the WeBoost at Midway Campground in Big Cypress. Only connectivity was a trickle out near the highway and nothing at the campsite because the only tower in the area was 8 miles down the highway. With the booster Shelly was pulling something like 3mbps from AT&T. Verizon on my phone was odd. When I first set it up on site I was getting about 5mbps and an LTE connection. The next morning and for the remaining days I could not get any data to load if the connection was LTE. If it dropped down to 3G then I could get a spotty 0.5-2mbps. No changes to AT&T throughput. Very strange behavior. The nice thing about the FCC speed test app is that I can export the data (thanks!). Of course I had to write code t o read it (JSON files) and couldn’t find complete data definitions on SamKnows (400+ fields!), but I’m still ahead of the game. That took long enough that we had moved on before I could call the manufacturer and quiz them about what I was seeing. Could have just been VZW yanking my chain. Don’t need it here in Bonita Springs so follow-up will have to wait until I’m seeing the problem again. Love the app, it will be a great tool.

  1. I saw Tracy’s mask and thought, “Hey, he buys his small clothes from the same people as C?”, but then realized I’d turned you on to the early mask access. We have the exact same color combo. Funny to see. Long live the solar!

    1. Those were our first masks, and Tracy has kept his as his only ones. I always think of you two when he wears them!