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Old 07-15-2020, 01:47 PM   #41
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We picked up our E19 in March and some of the things we have used and are glad to have... 1500W inverter. We made coffee and toast in the mornings when we did not have electricity. The batteries drained to 80% and within 2 hours had recharged to 100% on the solar panel. We also got a connector for a portable solar panel which we carry with us but have not used yet. We also got the high lift axle and have found in some national forest the roads make it worth having. We skipped the oven because much out our food is already cooked and just needs to be heated up. We do carry a small table top grill for outside use.

Determine how you think you are going to camp and choose the option that will best go with that style of camping. We got the electric awning and it was probably unnecessary.
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Old 07-15-2020, 02:03 PM   #42
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Seems like somewhere in the past I had read they found out Employees and insiders got those before it actually opened. If I recall it was the CA reservation system. Hope this isn’t still going on, but it sure makes you wonder especially when you see the reservations offered on Craigslist etc. later on.
Yes I did read about nightmares with the CA reservation system from posts dating back to 2018. Apparently bots are also in the mix. Very frustrating. No wonder more and more people seem to be rigging out their trailers for off-grid / boondocking capability.
https://www.adventure-journal.com/20...could-be-bots/
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Old 07-15-2020, 02:25 PM   #43
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Seems like somewhere in the past I had read they found out Employees and insiders got those before it actually opened. If I recall it was the CA reservation system. Hope this isn’t still going on, but it sure makes you wonder especially when you see the reservations offered on Craigslist etc. later on.
OMG!! I bet this is still going on cuz there's one 'popular' CA state park (Seacliff State Park) that is absolutely 100% impossible to get into! We have tried multiple times for a long time with multiple people hitting the the button right at 8AM, the day these sites are supposed to be released (6 months in advance) and EVERY site is ALWAYS immediately gone within nanoseconds! We are convinced someone (insider?) has rigged something up and is taking them from the general public. Argh. Have not thought to look at Craigslist for these sites, though! Will be shocked to find any. We've called the State Park reservation number and talked to them about this several times and they just say it is a 'popular' park and to keep trying....yada yada. Sorry to rant here...but you found a raw nerve. Ok, back to the op's topic. -Bea
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Old 07-15-2020, 03:04 PM   #44
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Boondocking I think you do need a Solar Panel and charge controller, but, without an large inverter there is no need for a second solar panel. A single 190 watt solar panel is more than enough to keep up with the 12 volt usage of your trailer. LED lights, Maxxair fan, bathroom fan, refrigerator and water heater controls when on propane, water pump, and even running the furnace.

Does the person recommending a $480 second solar panel have an inverter, does he run a microwave on an inverter, does he really need it when just using 12 volt systems? Without knowing the context, it may or may not apply to you.
I'm "the person recommending a $480 second solar panel." What I have is lots and lots of experience.

No we don't have "large inverter" nor do we need one. YMMV. This is our second camper with solar on the roof. The first had an 80 watt panel on the roof that was inadequate.

For the first 200 nights in our Escape we easily got by with our 170 watt ETI installed panel. Then we camped in three campgrounds without or with minimal sun. That $480 USD solar panel (It was $640 when we purchased our 5.0 in 2018) would have been a really good investment, since we camp without hookups, even though we are minimalists. Many times we're in the same campground for seven or more days. We had to massively reduce electric consumption to make those reservations though the last day.

We now have a Zamp port, 100 watt Renogy portable, 45' of cable to the camper, and a Victron 100/15 controller added to our 5.0 that cost nearly $400. We also now carry a catalytic heater to use that takes no electricity, but I'd rather run the furnace. The furnace is our biggest user of amps.

I'm guessing in the next year I'll be adding a 190 watt panel to the front of the camper. It's one thing to go without hookups for a couple of days. We want the ability to go a couple of weeks without perfect sun.

I don't know anywhere you can have a 190 watt solar panel correctly installed after-the-fact for $480. I do know of places that will install it incorrectly though. Price out AM Solar, they're not cheap.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 07-15-2020, 03:37 PM   #45
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I'm "the person recommending a $480 second solar panel." What I have is lots and lots of experience.

No we don't have "large inverter" nor do we need one. YMMV. This is our second camper with solar on the roof. The first had an 80 watt panel on the roof that was inadequate.

For the first 200 nights in our Escape we easily got by with our 170 watt ETI installed panel. Then we camped in three campgrounds without or with minimal sun. That $480 USD solar panel (It was $640 when we purchased our 5.0 in 2018) would have been a really good investment, since we camp without hookups, even though we are minimalists. Many times we're in the same campground for seven or more days. We had to massively reduce electric consumption to make those reservations though the last day.

We now have a Zamp port, 100 watt Renogy portable, 45' of cable to the camper, and a Victron 100/15 controller added to our 5.0 that cost nearly $400. We also now carry a catalytic heater to use that takes no electricity, but I'd rather run the furnace. The furnace is our biggest user of amps.

I'm guessing in the next year I'll be adding a 190 watt panel to the front of the camper. It's one thing to go without hookups for a couple of days. We want the ability to go a couple of weeks without perfect sun.

I don't know anywhere you can have a 190 watt solar panel correctly installed after-the-fact for $480. I do know of places that will install it incorrectly though. Price out AM Solar, they're not cheap.

Enjoy,

Perry
If the choice is $480 for a second solar panel or $600 for gas/propane inverter generator that can not only charge your batteries on those few times when you run into consecutive cloudy days, but can run an air conditioner and a microwave when ever you'd want, I'd say the money is better spent on the generator.

On my old Trail Lite Bantam 19 with a single Group 27 Walmart Deep Cycle Flooded Lead Acid Battery, running my generator, for about 45 minutes twice a day (once while cooking breakfast and once while cooking dinner) WITHOUT solar, for consecutive weeks was enough to keep the battery charged. That included running the furnace at night in a hybrid camper with canvas sides around the queen bed with night time temperatures in the low 30's.

The 55 amp (WF-8955PEC) converter charger that comes with current Escape trailers puts as much energy into the battery in one hour (55 amps x 12 volts = 660 watts) as a 190 watt solar panel in full sun with 100% efficiency does in 3 1/2 hours (660 / 190 = 3.47 (3 hours 28 minutes)) .

So if money is a consideration, which the OP said it was IMO it is better spent on a generator rather than a second solar panel.
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Old 07-15-2020, 05:17 PM   #46
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I thought we would cook outside also, but wife likes to cook inside and not having to bring another grill saves space.

My understanding of an inverter microwave (I don't have one to confirm) is that you can reduce the current draw to where it is reasonable for a battery to power it. You do still need the inverter to get your 120V. I happen to have an inverter from our old (home made) trailer that I can use, otherwise I wouldn't bother with it. Mostly we can get by without the microwave these days but in the past we used it a lot for heating up bottles of milk. My single 12V battery wouldn't power even a 700W microwave very well..almost would. It's really not a high priority item...but rather a reason to NOT get the Escape microwave as it eliminates that upgrade path.

The heat strip is only for hook ups and just saves you from using your propane. Not sure if there is a benefit to humidity levels. Not essential at all.

Bathroom door has gaps top to bottom so it will get some venting, and you can always keep the roof vent open as well. The manual awning isn't really a problem on our 21...you can't open the window fully but enough. I figure anything to help get moisture out is good. I would only consider the electric awning for looks. The power jack isn't necessary at all, I really wonder why that is so popular.

We did the exterior shower on the passenger side and I still feel that is the best. Once the kids are washed they can go right into the trailer. Rinsing out the sewer hose is something I do when there is water available but since it just drained the gray water (black first, gray second)...which is nothing but soapy water....I don't think there is much need really for another rinse, but I do it if it's there.
Correct. I have a Panasonic Genius Prestige NN-SD372S Inverter Microwave. It is rated at 950 watts and the inverter draws 160 amps when used at full power. Unlike a conventional microwave that reduces power by turning off & on at full power, the inverter microwave actually reduces power to the magnetron at lower settings. I have managed to get it down to as little as 200 watts.

Another advantage is it is much better at defrosting than a conventional microwave, causing less cooked edges of meats, etc.
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Old 07-15-2020, 05:26 PM   #47
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If the choice is $480 for a second solar panel or $600 for gas/propane inverter generator that can not only charge your batteries on those few times when you run into consecutive cloudy days, but can run an air conditioner and a microwave when ever you'd want, I'd say the money is better spent on the generator.

On my old Trail Lite Bantam 19 with a single Group 27 Walmart Deep Cycle Flooded Lead Acid Battery, running my generator, for about 45 minutes twice a day (once while cooking breakfast and once while cooking dinner) WITHOUT solar, for consecutive weeks was enough to keep the battery charged. That included running the furnace at night in a hybrid camper with canvas sides around the queen bed with night time temperatures in the low 30's.

The 55 amp (WF-8955PEC) converter charger that comes with current Escape trailers puts as much energy into the battery in one hour (55 amps x 12 volts = 660 watts) as a 190 watt solar panel in full sun with 100% efficiency does in 3 1/2 hours (660 / 190 = 3.47 (3 hours 28 minutes)) .

So if money is a consideration, which the OP said it was IMO it is better spent on a generator rather than a second solar panel.
I avoid campers with generators at all costs and especially avoid camping next to those with generators. Very few are really quiet. I've owned a couple of generators and can do without. The generator cost's don't end with the purchase. They're bulky, some heavy, take up space, need gas, oil and maintenance. Our rooftop solar never needs to be started or stopped, and no one has ever complained about the noise.

In 10 (?) campers with AC we've owned, I can count the number of times we've used the AC on one hand. I do understand those that camp in the southeastern states, etc., need AC though. We don't.

It costs no more to add a generator later on, than at the initial purchase. Adding a panel can easily double that $480 cost. Then again, our portable panel, at $400, may be all the additional solar we'll need. I do know that if the second panel had been $480 instead of the $640 when we purchased, we would have purchased the second panel.

YMMV.

Perry
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Old 07-15-2020, 05:32 PM   #48
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Thank you both for the reasoned thoughtful alternatives here. Very much appreciated and very useful.
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Old 07-15-2020, 05:55 PM   #49
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Yeah, it's been so long since I've used an RV furnace, it slipped my mind as to how big a power hog the furnace fan is. Sorry about that. More solar capacity is better!
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Old 07-15-2020, 10:14 PM   #50
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If the choice is $480 for a second solar panel or $600 for gas/propane inverter generator that can not only charge your batteries on those few times when you run into consecutive cloudy days, but can run an air conditioner and a microwave when ever you'd want, I'd say the money is better spent on the generator.

On my old Trail Lite Bantam 19 with a single Group 27 Walmart Deep Cycle Flooded Lead Acid Battery, running my generator, for about 45 minutes twice a day (once while cooking breakfast and once while cooking dinner) WITHOUT solar, for consecutive weeks was enough to keep the battery charged. That included running the furnace at night in a hybrid camper with canvas sides around the queen bed with night time temperatures in the low 30's.

The 55 amp (WF-8955PEC) converter charger that comes with current Escape trailers puts as much energy into the battery in one hour (55 amps x 12 volts = 660 watts) as a 190 watt solar panel in full sun with 100% efficiency does in 3 1/2 hours (660 / 190 = 3.47 (3 hours 28 minutes)) .

So if money is a consideration, which the OP said it was IMO it is better spent on a generator rather than a second solar panel.
What is the Generator you are suggesting?
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Old 07-16-2020, 07:31 AM   #51
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What is the Generator you are suggesting?
I was thinking of the Champion Power Equipment 100402 2000-Watt Dual Fuel Parallel Ready Inverter Portable Generator. when I was writing my posts.

I would suggest a WEN 56225i 2250-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator with Fuel Shut-Off, CARB Compliant and a Century Dual Fuel Conversion kit.
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Old 07-16-2020, 11:29 AM   #52
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Was camping without power at our closest provincial park this week. Walked by a camper which had a very quiet generator going. It was a Honda, never seen one that big, was on wheels, likely at least 4000 watts. If you want a quiet generator Honda's the way to go!
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Old 07-16-2020, 12:52 PM   #53
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I think it has to do with not needing to run at full load, big difference in noise level between 1/4 and full load.
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Old 07-16-2020, 01:20 PM   #54
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I am not a fan of generators for campers, however, a good generator can be relatively quiet and may not be noticed relative to the noise from the air conditioner running. While camping at Dead Horse State Park in Utah a few years ago, I took a walk around the campground while our A/C was running off the supplied electricity. We were probably the only trailer in the campground at that time, nearly everyone else was in tents. I was somewhat dismayed to find that I could hear the A/C on our Escape running quite loudly from all of the way across the campground. That night, I made sure to turn the A/C off before it got late so that we would not overly disturb our tenting neighbors.
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Old 07-16-2020, 03:08 PM   #55
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I am not a fan of generators for campers, however, a good generator can be relatively quiet and may not be noticed relative to the noise from the air conditioner running. While camping at Dead Horse State Park in Utah a few years ago, I took a walk around the campground while our A/C was running off the supplied electricity. We were probably the only trailer in the campground at that time, nearly everyone else was in tents. I was somewhat dismayed to find that I could hear the A/C on our Escape running quite loudly from all of the way across the campground. That night, I made sure to turn the A/C off before it got late so that we would not overly disturb our tenting neighbors.
Hooray for you, sir!
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:21 PM   #56
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Go here for a brief introduction to 12v and battery power, read both parts (1) and (2)
The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
THank you so much! I need this. opening and reading it right now!
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:25 PM   #57
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Welcome Lindsay! Great build sheet! and great questions! Here's my 2 cents. If you think you will cook a lot, especially for a family, then I recommend getting the oven. I love and use ours on almost every trip. You can cook in the oven whether you have shore power (hook ups) or not since it runs on propane. If you do get the oven, then I also recommend you get a (non glazed) pizza stone and place it right under the baking shelf for even heat displacement, such as:

https://www.amazon.com/Pizzacraft-Ro...780464&sr=8-14

Since I got the pizza stone, everything bakes nice and even. No hot/burnt spots.

You ask about the microwave. To run a microwave you'll need either electric hook-ups or a good inverter or a generator to run it while dry camping. If you go with Escape's microwave, it is a regular nice 700W microwave and Escape's inverter is a big 2000W unit so that could easily power your microwave and probably your rice cooker, too. (My rice cooker is 200W.) However, if you do get their inverter, then I would definitely get solar since your inverter will be depleting your battery power supply and you'll be thankful to have that solar panel recharging your batteries back up. A big inverter like the one ETI offers is also nice for the occasional times you may want to use a microwave for a quick lunch stop, while on the road. But if you decide you don't need the microwave or ETI's inverter, then you could purchase a smaller portable inverter that can power things like your lap top, etc while dry camping.

You ask about generators. Basically, you need to either have hook-ups to run your air conditioner or a generator to power it. We carry a generator for 3 reasons. 1. To run the AC if we're dry camping and it's HOT 2. To recharge the batteries in emergencies (if the solar doesn't keep up due to dense shade, or snow, etc). 3. To help others with battery distress. (One friend of ours seems humorously plagued.) If you plan to get a generator, then I recommend you look at duel fuel (gasoline & propane) generators. We just tested our new dual fuel Champion 2000 W generator and it performed and ran our AC on propane just fine. (We were at 1600 ft altitude.) No need to carry gasoline in a can! And if you get the propane quick connect, you can connect your generator up to that! (We discovered how to do that on the Air Stream forum.)

Again, congrats on your new Escape and welcome to the club! Lots of wonderful folks here who enjoy helping others! -Bea

PS On edit, I see you did not check the 'surge protector'. The 'surge protector' is very important and does so much more than protect against surges. It protects all your electronics on board (solar, refrigerator, etc) from all types of damaging/bad power outlets. It has saved us twice already and I highly recommend it.
Thank you Bea, you put me over the edge and now I want an oven! And such a brilliant idea about the pizza stone!!

Thanks for all the other info too, I appreciate your patience with my obvious ignorance. You are good at explaining it all so clearly.
We will be sure to get a surge protector. For some reason my husband thought the Escape one seemed overpriced and he would get one elsewhere?

Lovely to "meet" you my cooking guru friend!
Lindsay
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:29 PM   #58
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Welcome!!

I will second Bea's comments about the oven. We had a microwave in our prior Escape but opted for the oven with the three burner cooktop in our 5.0. We use that combination much more than we ever did the microwave. Also the cabinet where the microwave normally goes is now valuable pantry space. My wife loves InstaPot cooking even at home. We got the full solar option with inverter and twin 6v batteries primarily for the InstaPot. The beauty of this setup is the InstaPot draws most of its power in the first couple of minutes while coming up to temp. Then the power draw in minimal during the cooking phase. Our solar system has generally fully charged the batteries by mid-day following an InstaPot supper.

Regarding outside showers on both sides. We use the passenger side with a little gooseneck spigot for our outdoor kitchen. The driver side with ETI's provided coiled hose and sprayer to clean dirty feet, dogs, and rinse out the sewer hose on those occasions when a dump station does not have rinse water. (It happens) You can see the dishwash station on the attached picture while we were boon docking last week.

A generator is not a decision you need to make now. Solar is. We bought a generator 4 years ago, hauled it with us for the first year and only used it once. The solar kept up the rest of the time. Since then the generator stays home and is only fired up twice a year to keep it working.

Cheers!
Great info! I'm sold on the oven. Like you, I'm thinking oven over microwave. Maybe make it "microwave-ready" just in case.

The two showers seems brilliant. Here I am talking about cutting costs as much as possible but as soon as I heard about the two showers idea from Uncle Tim I was sold! LOL it just adds so much important quality of life, right?! haha
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:41 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by TTMartin View Post
I'm sure you're even more overwhelmed now than when you started.

First you have to realize that everyone's camping style is different. Some may always camp with electrical hookups others may never camp with electrical hookups.

Does it make a difference for something like a getting the oven or not? YES!
Your trailer is small, an oven gets hot. Summers are hot. So, if you camp during the summer and don't have electricity to use your air conditioning you might not want to use an oven. Someone who always camps with electrical hookups and is able to run their air conditioning is very truthful in saying they always use their oven. But, if you boondock especially without a generator that probably won't apply to you.

Which is a good segue to talk about generators. You said money was tight. A generator is by far you most cost effective means of getting 120 volt power for your trailer while boondocking.

Let's look at having Escape install an inverter.

Solar panel with charge controller - $680
1500 watt Go Power Inverter - $632
So you've spent over $1200 and it can't run your air conditioner.
What can it run? Well, it can charge your laptop! So can a $35 300 watt inverter that plugs into the cigarette plug that comes with your trailer.

Boondocking I think you do need a Solar Panel and charge controller, but, without an large inverter there is no need for a second solar panel. A single 190 watt solar panel is more than enough to keep up with the 12 volt usage of your trailer. LED lights, Maxxair fan, bathroom fan, refrigerator and water heater controls when on propane, water pump, and even running the furnace.

Does the person recommending a $480 second solar panel have an inverter, does he run a microwave on an inverter, does he really need it when just using 12 volt systems? Without knowing the context, it may or may not apply to you.

For the same ~$600 you spent on adding an inverter you can buy a dual fuel 2000 watt inverter generator that can run your air conditioner. And you don't have to buy it today.

The inverter was the one option that I felt, I could install a better system than what Escape offers for less money. That and spray foam and heating pads were the two options that I didn't get, but, plan on adding myself at a later date. I did get a heat pad ready option where ETI runs the wiring for the the heat pads, for later installation.

If you decide not to get an oven, inverter, or microwave. You can opt for a $100 microwave ready option. Escape will move the drawers left, and leave an opening for a microwave under the stove top, and most importantly add an outlet to that cabinet so you can add a microwave at a later date.

If you decide to get an oven, I can see no reason to get an inverter. We have an instapot and love it too. But, before we got the instapot we bought a Presto Pressure Cooker, that works on the propane stove top, and while it requires more attention can do many of the things an instapot can do.

We typically run our generator for a half hour in the morning, while fixing breakfast, and a half hour in the evening when fixing dinner. Typically, those times coincide with campground 'generator' hours too.

Here's what my build sheet ended up being.
Attachment 48680
Attachment 48682
I wasn't on a budget, so I got a lot of options, that you don't need. But, I'm posting it more to show what I didn't get.
I love all your logic, I'm a math teacher so I think this way too. It makes perfect sense. Thanks for spelling it all out like this.
And thanks for posting the build sheet! I like what you got too. Some extras that i dont need, but also a lot of essentials.
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:47 PM   #60
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A freestanding solar system can be added at any time in the future (although I'm not taking away from the convenience of factory installation). I have a 70W panel that I can set on the ground, wired via a hacked extension cord to a waterproof Morningstar controller (about $30), and that attaches to the 7-pin wiring harness to charge the battery. Not fancy, but it works. Inverters are available aftermarket, too. 70W was enough to keep the battery charged for my lights, water pump, and fan (back when I had an actual travel trailer). I would've only needed more solar and battery capacity if I'd wanted to run a DC compressor fridge, microwave, or other power-hungry electric stuff.

That said, if and when I can buy a new Escape, I might let them install solar anyway because I can see myself using that microwave while boondocking, and perhaps an Instant Pot too.

I hope that helps.
This is good to hear because I had this idea of alligator clipping the portable solar to the battery as a back up plan, in addition to the 1 panel on top. Nice to hear someone is doing it! Its also good to know about the varying size options of inverters added aftermarket.
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