Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Know your power requirements before boondocking

It seems like there isn't ever enough power to run everything electric in an RV. That is simply because we have become accustomed to having all the power at home that we need to run almost anything we desire. This has to change when you live a life in a RV with its limited power availability. Not only do you have limited power at any one time but you are limited in your total storage of power. Think of it as a bucket and a pipe. The pipe( amps) can deliver water only so fast and the bucket (battery) can store only so much water. Unless you have a wind turbine or solar power, you will need a generator

Peak watts and Continuous watts
When you select a generator it is about the size of the pipe. Generators provide only so many peak watts and continuous watts. So it takes some planning on power usage when you are boondocking . Let's look at some appliances that only use continuous watts versus those that need power to start but use less when they are running. The refrigerator and furnace fan will use a lot of starting watts but much less when running. The appliances like the microwave, lights and TV use only continuous watts.

If you look in the table you will see that 2900 continuous watts will be needed to run all 5 items together but you need 5300 watts peak. The peak would occur if the furnace starts when the refrigerator starts along with using the light, microwave, and TV at the same time. You would need a 5300 watt generator to keep from overloading the circuit.

If you are like me and run your refrigerator on propane, the wattage is much lower because it only uses a 12 volt fan. Another option is to turn off appliances temporarily when you use the ones that are power hungry. If you start up one thing at a time, you would 1600 occasional + 1400 continuous. This means a 3000 watt generator is okay. If you turn off everything when you start an appliance, you will need 1400 continuous or 1600 occasional. This would change the size of the generator from 5300 watts down to 1600 watts. So, you can buy a small generator for staying in those low costs BLM camping sites and save on fuel costs by simply managing which appliances are running.

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