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Old 10-25-2020, 05:25 PM   #1
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Location: Loserpeg, Manitoba
Trailer: 2010 Palomino y series
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Escape 19 build with solar/power/fridge questions

We put a deposit down for an Escape 19 build slot about a month ago.
The Escape seems to be the best built trailer in our price range. We have considered a VMI Offroad (can't afford) Bigfoot (too wide, didn't care for most layouts) and Trailmarker outdoors (too spartan for the $)

The goal is to have the trailer for at least 2 decades. Currently we are in our mid 30s with no children, though friends and nieces/nephews could be staying with us.

We try to camp as much as possible, which currently has been 2-4 long weekends per year with a 14-21 day road trip. This is typically sans hookups. We have been getting by with propane for the 1.9 CU FT fridge in the pop up, and a portable 90 watt Coleman solar panel and a group 27 battery. LED lights in the current pop up.

Current tow vehicles are a 2019 Grand Cherokee Altitude 4x4 3.6 w tow package, and a 2014 F150 4x4 3.7 V6 that I added a transmission cooler and brake control to. Next truck is very likely to be a 3.3 non turbo F150 or a 2.7 EcoBoost truck AKA light duty half tons. Possibility of a next Gen Ranger or Nissan Frontier is slim, but there, so want to keep weight down.

Options outside of standard features we are fairly certain are:

Toilet winterization valve: if i do it myself, it ends up on a six month "to do list"

1500 W inverter: at the base price, what's another 800$ to have that 120v supply when you forgot the appropriate DC charger cord for whatever device.

Removeable power cord: beats shoving the muddy wet one into the little hole on the side of the trailer.

LED awning light strip: my wife insisted. Ambient lighting is nice.

AC with digi thermostat: We never have hook ups, buy my wifes argument is lets just get it from the start and we have it if we ever use hook ups or buy a genny.

Body lift kit: get those dangly bits up higher. My truck is modified, and we like non power sites which are often less trailer friendly where we camp, and I'd like to boondock more. Plus ill probably add LT tires later.

Double step: yes, axle lift, plus we camp in spots that are fairly unlevel and the step up can be huge as it is.

Cot: yes, for nieces or nephews whilst young.

Storage box on tongue: required for batteries, see below **

Exterior 12v/USB: yes, why walk inside to charge phone/camera/light

Front/rear LED lights: yes, the forest is dark, also, backing up trailer into a black void is annoying.

Interior 12v/USB: yes, all of the devices need charging all the time

Captains reading lamps: we read books, often while other is sleeping.

** see next post for concerns/thoughts on battery selection and power management selection **
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Old 10-25-2020, 05:41 PM   #2
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Solar/battery/fridge

The standard 5 cu ft fridge is over double what we have in our current trailer. However, on 12VDC ammonia fridges are power hogs. When parked, we use propane, and that's been great so far, but with a larger fridge, the goal would be to drop one of our heavy rotomold coolers and not transfer things back and forth from coolers to fridge when traveling.
If we stick with basic fridge, then our solar and battery needs are greatly reduced.
*compressor fridge*
If we go this route, we have a more efficient & able to run while towing fridge. It also possibly means less holes in the body/roof of the trailer but i am not sure. (less holes is why no optional windows, hatches, or antennae chosen) As we like to boondock/dry camp, this could become the limiting factor compared to a propane fridge. As well:
*power*
I was leaning towards dual 6V lead acid batteries. #1, cheaper than lithium, #2, it gets below freezing over night when we camp sometimes. #3, stone wheel level technology, reliable, simple, well understood. #4 won't require a fancy grade solar charging controller compared to lithium from what i understand. This would be slightly more than double our current available power.
That brings us to solar power. Flat roof panels are inefficient. Also apparently they bend in half on the highway in some cases according to threads here. Besides, I try to park in the shade when possible, and some places we frequent are not all that sunny where the trailer fits.
Was leaning towards a higher quality portable panel and charge controller, so panel can be placed to maximize charging if trailer is shaded. Also, with the way solar and battery seems to be upgrading in tech faster these days, its easy to upgrade without touching the trailer it self. Maybe dual lithium batteries won't be a couple grand in five years.

This is where I need the people more versed in solar and battery tech, as well as dry camping.
Is the Escape solar tech and charging system worth the money? Or do we go our own route with portable?
Should we chose the compressor fridge? or does that just increase our costs for battery and solar tech?
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:17 PM   #3
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I'm not a "techie" by any standard, so take my comments for what they're worth!

But that's my point, I don't have to be. I have a 2018 19' with the standard propane fridge, solar panel, and dual 6-V batteries. After 2 summers of camping, thousands of miles of towing, and maybe 3 nights total in a campground with hookups, these options fall into the category of "no fuss, no muss" for a boondocker. The stuff just works with no effort or maintenance on my part. The fridge has been great, even in very hot temps, and I run it on propane when in transit, as many do. The fridge part stays well within the safe range, and the freezer part keeps stuff frozen and makes ice. It doesn't use much propane and almost no battery power. I'm not sure what else I would want it to do. Maybe I don't understand the advantages of a compressor fridge, but with the way I camp I don't see the need for it. My standard propane fridge has worked flawlessly, perhaps if it hadn't I would feel differently.

As for the solar panel and dual 6-V batteries, this my favorite option. I've towed in some pretty extreme wind on interstates, but as far as I can tell my panel has never shifted or been at risk of bending in half (??). But the best part is I never really even have to think about whether or not I have power. The panel is on top quietly doing its job all the time, requiring nothing from me. I don't have to remember to bring it, find a place to store it, figure out how to hook it up, where to aim it, or worry that someone might make off with it while I'm out fishing or hiking. It always gets the batteries fully charged by late morning (at the very latest), even in the shade or on cloudy days.

That said, I don't bring along stuff like a television, instant pot, electric coffee maker, toaster, etc. and I don't have a microwave. These types of items can draw hard on your batteries, and the single roof-mounted panel might not be enough if you want to use these things.

If I ever bought another Escape, I would probably add a second panel to the roof. With two of them on opposite ends of the trailer, I can't imagine a combination of short days and shady campsites that wouldn't fully charge the batteries, even with a moderate to heavy draw.

Anyway, just my thoughts!! I never worry about the fridge or running out of power. The limiting factors when boondocking are always the gray and black tank capacities, which require efficient use of water and a bit of planning if you're out for more than 10 -14 days. But with the standard propane fridge and solar panel, I just load my stuff up and go. It's one less thing to have to think about.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wunfiddy View Post
Solar/battery/fridge

The standard 5 cu ft fridge is over double what we have in our current trailer. However, on 12VDC ammonia fridges are power hogs. When parked, we use propane, and that's been great so far, but with a larger fridge, the goal would be to drop one of our heavy rotomold coolers and not transfer things back and forth from coolers to fridge when traveling.
If we stick with basic fridge, then our solar and battery needs are greatly reduced.
*compressor fridge*
If we go this route, we have a more efficient & able to run while towing fridge. It also possibly means less holes in the body/roof of the trailer but i am not sure. (less holes is why no optional windows, hatches, or antennae chosen) As we like to boondock/dry camp, this could become the limiting factor compared to a propane fridge. As well:
*power*
I was leaning towards dual 6V lead acid batteries. #1, cheaper than lithium, #2, it gets below freezing over night when we camp sometimes. #3, stone wheel level technology, reliable, simple, well understood. #4 won't require a fancy grade solar charging controller compared to lithium from what i understand. This would be slightly more than double our current available power.
That brings us to solar power. Flat roof panels are inefficient. Also apparently they bend in half on the highway in some cases according to threads here. Besides, I try to park in the shade when possible, and some places we frequent are not all that sunny where the trailer fits.
Was leaning towards a higher quality portable panel and charge controller, so panel can be placed to maximize charging if trailer is shaded. Also, with the way solar and battery seems to be upgrading in tech faster these days, its easy to upgrade without touching the trailer it self. Maybe dual lithium batteries won't be a couple grand in five years.

This is where I need the people more versed in solar and battery tech, as well as dry camping.
Is the Escape solar tech and charging system worth the money? Or do we go our own route with portable?
Should we chose the compressor fridge? or does that just increase our costs for battery and solar tech?
We now have 2 solar panels, 2-6v batteries and the inverter and we like it a lot. The nice part of having 2 panels is they do not have to be in full sun to have some charging of the batteries, you can be in partial shade and still get some charging. The fridge works very well on propane, no need for us to use it on 12 volt. It does not use much propane.
I have only heard of 1 panel that got bent and I am not sure they have an explanation for the cause yet.
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:36 PM   #5
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I don't see any downsides to the standard fridge option. Things that run on propane are much more convenient when boondocking than things that run on electricity.


Lithium is very costly. Some mitigating factors in my mind are potentially longetivity, and the rapidity of charging. If your site only gets a few hours of sun and is mostly shady, you can probably get Li-ion recharged, but not dual 6V.


As for temperature, Li-ion can be used down to around 0F, which is colder than most people will camp. They do need to be 32F to charge. So if you are really camping 4 seasons I'd go 6V, if you are just worried about overnight lows in late fall or early spring, I would not worry about it.
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:45 PM   #6
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I don't see any downsides to the standard fridge option. Things that run on propane are much more convenient when boondocking than things that run on electricity.
Me neither. We leave home with frozen stuff in the freezer and sometimes come home a month or more later with an uneaten item still frozen in the freezer. Also love for the first time ever we can travel with ice cream. What's not to love.

Ron
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:17 PM   #7
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We also camp in shade quite often. You're not going to get solar installed properly after the fact by any installer for the money Escape charges. Their solar is extremely well priced. Escape runs the wires and puts in bracing for the screws holding the panel where they belong. A fixed panel works all the time including going down the road. We purchased one panel and it works 95% of the time. I do want my single panel at the back of the camper though, out of the way.

For some reason the one panel that did bend in half had a hole drilled where it shouldn't have been. Discount that one panel and don't worry about that. How about those who have dropped portables, or had them blown away and ruined, etc. You have a much better chance of having your portable stolen than a fixed bent in half.

Unless you're a power hog I wouldn't get the second panel. Buy a portable for those times you're in the shade. We also have a 100 watt portable with three 15' cables to get our portable 45' away if needed. It stores perfectly out of the way in our 5.0. We've used it twice, but needed it two more times to realize we had to purchase the portable for those times. We do find a portable a PITA, but want it when we need it! You'll be surprised how seldom you'll get that portable out.

A single lithium is overpriced for what you get. For half the price we purchased two AGM batteries and have 10 more available ah's. We can add 100 ah's as fast as lithium and don't worry about that last 10 ah's. It's really a moot point. If you're going to install two or more batteries, don't want the weight of four AGM's, and have the discretionary income, go for lithiums. With our solar and not being power hogs, we don't need more than 110 ah's, and don't have the money.

My 2 cents.

Perry
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Old 11-03-2020, 09:42 PM   #8
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Are there any difficulties having the fixed solar panel from ETI and then trying to also use a portable?
I was under the impression differing voltages and currents from non identical panels causes issues or at the least inefficiencies when charging.

At this rate, outside of the increased use of fan and or furnace, I feel the AH of the dual SLA batteries would be enough. We currently have 45 AH of usable power with our 90 AH SLA in the current staple and caulking special, and the cheap junk portable has topped it up or near topped it up even in semi shaded areas, but that was with me moving it around and being angled.
We get 110 AH from the dual batteries in escape as far as I understand, so more than double.
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Old 11-03-2020, 10:54 PM   #9
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....
We get 110 AH from the dual batteries in escape as far as I understand, so more than double.
Actually probably a bit better than that. Per my recent direct inquiry to ETI (Linda Fedoruk), they are currently installing two of these batteries connected in series for the "Dual 6V Lead-Acid Batteries" option:

https://www.interstatebatteries.com/...ts/gc2-ecl-utl

This is the battery Linda identified as the current "Base Standard Equipment":

https://www.interstatebatteries.com/...7/rv-equipment

Then, again per Linda at ETI, if one exercises any of the lithium battery options, in addition to the stated number of Go Power GP-LiFePO4-100 batteries (connected in parallel if more than one), you also get the WFCO WF-8955LIS power center (upgraded from WF-8955PEC charger section for lithium battery support), and the Victron Orion-Tr Smart 12|12-30 (DC>DC Charger), all included in the listed option price for lithium batteries.

What ETI chooses to install is always subject to change of course, you should always verify such things when you are developing your final configuration sheet
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Old 11-04-2020, 12:04 PM   #10
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Me neither. We leave home with frozen stuff in the freezer and sometimes come home a month or more later with an uneaten item still frozen in the freezer. Also love for the first time ever we can travel with ice cream. What's not to love.

Ron
We had the equivalent of the small fridge in our last trailer that we toured across Canada.

Left BC with some “Balderson” brand cheese from Costco...stopped in at the Balderson cheese factory outlet in Ontario and did not buy any because it was still not opened...visited the Atlantic Ocean...returned home with the same unopened block of cheese.

This is when we knew that we did not need a bigger fridge in our a Escape.
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Old 11-15-2020, 11:51 AM   #11
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Sounds like propane fridge and dual 6V batteries it is for now.
Still on the fence for built in solar until I understand the different controller options, benefits and shortfalls.
Thanks everyone.
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Old 11-15-2020, 12:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Wunfiddy View Post
....
Still on the fence for built in solar until I understand the different controller options, benefits and shortfalls.
.....
Just FYI, the table of info attached at this post might be of interest:

2021 Solar Options Info from ETI

please note the post date, all always subject to change, etc, etc.

Have fun with your decision-making!
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Old 11-15-2020, 05:48 PM   #13
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We are boondockers, but like having some electrical appliances along; instant pot, vacuum cleaner, blender, but absolutely no microwave. We ordered the 5cf 3 way fridge as that is the size fridge we had on our 42 ft sailboat for 18 years. No problem with the volume. We have the dual 6-V batteries, the 1500 watt inverter, the transfer switch, and a single solar panel. We always run the fridge on propane and get right at 2 weeks out of a 20# bottle of propane. Our fridge has run flawlessly at 100°F and exactly as well at 18°F. The solar is just amazing, it always works, we always have plenty of power, we can run some electrical devices and by noon all the power is replaced.

On our boat we had a compressor fridge, by Isotherm, with a Danfloss compressor that was water cooled. We had no freezer and had a minimum of 4" of r8 per inch insulation on all sides of that custom built fridge. We used a maximum of 40 amp-hrs per day running the fridge. On our boat we had 160 watts of solar panels plus a wind generator. There was never a lot of shade where we anchored our boat. We had 4-6V batteries for the house bank, and struggled to keep up with the demand of the compressor fridge. Many days we would record only 5 amps going into the system per hour due to haze, marine layer, clouds. Multiply that by the 5-6 hours of decent sun angle, and you can see the problem. During our year in Mexico, in the desert sea of Cortez, we easily saw 10 amps per hour. Peak sun conditions that are rare to experience anywhere else in the world. The compressor fridge system on the Escape trailer is going to need at least 2 solar panels to meet the battery demand.
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