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Old 12-12-2013, 03:36 AM   #1
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Solars Charging Reliability

Looking to make reservations for a return trip home after picking up an Escape late next summer. Pondering the need for electric sites if I will have solar installed with the twin 6V batteries. Here's the scenario.

After a few nights local to the plant we have 5 nights at Canyon Campground in Yellowstone followed by 3 at Grant, both are no hookups. I'm then looking to make reservations in the Tetons for 5 nights. In the Tetons, I can make reservations for electric at one of the campground that has hookups but the no hookup campgrounds look to be less packed in, cheaper, and do not require (actually don't accept) reservations, all of which would be to our liking.
Based on our current rig, I'm thinking a little over 20A usage a day in the Escape.
Pictures of sites on the reservation web site show them with tree cover but with broken sun coming through. What do you folks that have experience think, is the solar is sufficient to count on or should I reserve an electric site in the Tetons? Another option is to bring along the generator, but I'd prefer not to. We are following up the Tetons with a week in Custer SP where the sites have hookups if it matters.
I guess it boils down to can the solar keep me going for 2 weeks without an alternative charge source on tree'd sites? There will be a couple short days of travel between sites.

Thanks
Bob
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:46 AM   #2
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Hi Bob,
The answer is simply yes. I think the techno members on this site would agree. Get the factory solar system and twin 6vt. batteries and then your setup for "anywhere" camping or traveling. There is a vast amount of great discussion and information about solar systems in the archives. Even partially shaded panels will charge your batteries somewhat. US national parks are known for lack of enough powered sites. Make reservations soon!
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:03 AM   #3
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I have done the trip you are proposing and it is entirely possible without electricity. In Yellowstone I believe Fishing Bridge is the only location with electricity, it is not the nicest campground in Yellowstone. I would plan to stay where you wanted and not worry about needing electric. This would still apply if you encountered cooler temperatures (common in Yellowstone) and needed to use the furnace.

In the Tetons, the electric sites at Coulter Bay are OK but you are right, they are crowded and filled with a lot of big units. The non electric sites are more isolated and will not have the traffic. That said, this is a huge campground and there will be lots of people present.

Probably more important will be campsite selection. The forest cover in both parks is not thick and there are many areas that receive plenty of sun. You will probably need to do a drive by before selecting a site. By chance, the check in staff may know better solar sites.

Yellowstone does not have showers in may locations, you can always use the one in your Escape. However if you want a nice hot shower consider using the pay showers at the lodges. We have used the ones at Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful Lodge. I believe Roosevelt also has them. They are pricy at around $8 but a nice break. It gives you a chance to see what renting a $190/night cabin will get you, as the showers are the same ones used by guests in the cabins.

Coulter Bay showers, laundry and grocery store are excellent. If you need food items this is a pretty good store and avoids the hour long drive to Jackson. A highlight at the store was the beef products. They were fresh from a butcher shop in nearby Dubois. We were impressed with the flavor.
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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It really boils down to how much shade you have on the panel. I've gone 2 weeks with the same set up, averaging about the same usage (20 - 25 amp/hrs) in full sun without a problem. In heavy shade (Apgar in Glacier National Park) I was only able to put back about 10 amp/hrs per day, for a net loss of 10 amp/hrs per day. Even at that rate, if you start with full batteries you should be able to go for 10 days before the batteries are at 1/2.
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:23 PM   #5
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Thanks folks, the generator stays home and no hookups for us.

Bob
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
...What do you folks that have experience think, is the solar is sufficient to count on or should I reserve an electric site in the Tetons?
Thanks
Bob
Bob,

We made this trip last summer. Quick dash from Rhode Island to Chilliwack, then a slow roll home. About a week in each of these Natl. Parks: N. Cascades, Glacier, Yellowstone, Tetons, and Badlands. Never plugged in and relied on our twin 6 volt batteries and 95 watt solar panel the whole time. Never had to worry about power.

The grey tank filled a couple of times before we had a chance to dump, and I now have a small (6 gallon?) portable tote for future long trips. We also had to haul water in a five gallon jug to keep the freshwater tank filled for showering. Had to jury-rig a funnel from a soda bottle until we found a better one at a truckstop.

Wish I could do it again this summer.
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Old 12-12-2013, 05:33 PM   #7
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Thanks Tim, good to know.

I've thought about a blue tote before but have yet to buy one, 5G may be a bit small for us, maybe a 10 or 12G if I can lift it. Seems we fill both our 25G waste tanks about evenly and need to drag the trailer to the dump station after 5 or 6 days. But this is a topic for another thread down the road.
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Old 12-14-2013, 08:04 PM   #8
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Portable solar

Has anyone skipped the optional fixed solar
Panels and used portable systems. If so what brand had you used and did they do the job
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Old 12-14-2013, 08:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAB4 View Post
Has anyone skipped the optional fixed solar
Panels and used portable systems. If so what brand had you used and did they do the job
See this for some good information:

Solar - Roof Mounted or Portable
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Old 12-14-2013, 11:27 PM   #10
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I have only used portable solar. Many of the reasons are in the discussion referenced by KarenH. There is a description of the solar panel I used, along with a bill of materials and instructions in the files section. It is called "Solar Made Easy" and is in the system folder.
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