Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1950s Traveleze camper trailer - ideas about the electrical system

Sigh.  How do I say to someone that I'm not actually some impractical dreamer.  I've already taken all that into considerations (and more) and all the 'You-Can't-Cha do this and Youcantcha do that' that they are telling me is based on outdated information.


Right now I'm feeling really frustrated because I have a wonderful vision of what the camper trailer is going to become.  When I share that vision and ask for advice, most of the time I get a bunch of non-related Youcantchas that are basically unrelated to the subject at hand.  People like to tell you how much they know about what you cannot do that they can't hear over their own negativity, what my question actually was.


What I'm working on right now is planning the electrical system.  For health reasons, propane is not an option.  And you know what, I don't want to be dependent on buying fuel and tethering myself to an electrical outlet every single night.  I want this to be a low impact, eco-thoughtful, (mostly) self sufficient system.

It's going to be an almost exclusively electric system.  Although finding a way to cook with 12 volts might not be possible, I'm going to try darn it!  Well, experiment with different options then probably give in and try something more traditional.

But everything but the cooker can easily be done.  Systems are so efficient now that the main limiting factor is expense.

The biggest expense I see are getting good batteries.  Batteries are also pretty heavy, so any way I can find that means fewer batteries, is something to consider.  What I'm thinking is to generate electrical current from things around me. That way, if I am generating some electricity as well as using it, then the batteries will last longer between charges.

Solar power is lighter weight and more affordable every year.  The flexible solar panel film they have now could easily go on the roof of the camper and provided a good potion of my electrical needs.

I have some other great ideas that I am working on, but I'm tired of being shot down and bullied so I'm not going to tell you about them just yet.  Needless to say (or at least I use to think so) I am keeping a close eye on weight and fuel efficiently and all that stuff.

The other thing I need to think about when it comes to the electrical system is how much power do I really need?

  • The goal is to be able to go 3 days between charging on moderate to high electrical use.
    • I sure would love to go a week, but we'll see.
  • A fridge/freezer is a must for me.  The one I found works on 2.8 amps at 12 volts which is quite reasonable, although, the price isn't reasonable at just under a grand.
  • Lights.  I very seldom have more than one small light on at a time, even at home, except when I'm cooking or cleaning dishes.
  • Water pump
  • Charging my laptop, ereader, and mp3 player
  • Electric rice cooker (but that's only for 40 min a day at about 450 to 500 watts) - really is a luxury that I'm not willing to go without!
  • Water filter (which may not be electric)
  • Optional small heater.
  • Possibly a fan but more likely I will use something that is self powered.
  • Possible stove ventilation fan, but see above fan for reasons why not.
  • Toying with the idea of adding an on demand water heater for washing the dishes as I feel this might be more efficient than boiling water on the stove or kettle.  Needs research.
  • (just between you and me I'm very tempted to have the bed heated like a Chinese sleeping platform (kang).  That's the only time I feel cold, like really bone shatteringly cold, is when I lye down.  Even in the hottest day in the summer, I'm smothered in blankets at night.  There is nothing worse than getting chilled while travelling.  It might be better to heat the bed than to surround myself with hot water bottles - but Shhhh.... don't tell anyone)
Notice, there is no air-conditioner. No secondary air conditioning system.   No microwave.  No TV.  No game station.  No tertiary air-conditioning system (honestly people, have you heard of insulation?) No huge tank for heating water.  No vacuum.  Non of the usual camper kind of things that the Youcantcha people tell me are absolutely necessary.  

Sadly, there is no room for a toilet, shower or the like in my camper.  But good news is that means I have less to lug around.  No huge water storage tank.  No huge grey water storage tank.  No huge black water storage tank.  That saves a lot of weight and gives me a lot more room to work with than your usual camper.

So relatively low electrical usage couple with efficient electrical equipment and a few ways of generating power from natural sources and capturing waste energy seems possible.  When I lay it out like this, I beginning to feel that maybe the Youcantcha people might have a very different mindset than I do.  Maybe I can accomplish something close to my dream of the perfect home away from home.

A solar panel may only be able to generate 60% of my daily power needs (less than 10% of a Youcantcha's power needs).  But that means that I can go that much longer between charging the batteries at a power station.  And imagine coupling that with other ways of generating power, that would mean even longer independence from the power grid.  Sure, some of these may only create a tiny amount of power, but think of it like walking, every step seems insignificant on it's own, but it all adds up to a destination in the end.  Even trickle charges add up over time.


Josiane said...

Isn't it weird how people tend to be so focused on the reasons why something can't work, and so bent on telling you about them? Even, as you've noticed, to the extent that they can't hear your question or take into account your specific needs and desires, which can be quite different from their own... That's really frustrating! I'm sorry you have to deal with so much of that as you're moving forward with your project. I hope you'll soon find a person who is supportive, has great listening abilities, and the needed knowledge to help you!

Adam Kaplan said...

Love this!

I work with AllFreeKnitting and have been trying to contact you. Please email me if there is a good way to reach you. Thanks!

Adam Kaplan