Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Solar Installed & Trial Run at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument


We spent Feb 25th thru the 27th at D and R Family in Glendale Arizona getting our solar equipment installed. Ron came highly recommended, and all I can say is that he did a fantastic job. During the install Ron answered all of my questions as they came up and his work was outstanding. All the wiring was run neatly and expertly. I will give him a very positive review on RV Service Reviews.

Here is the breakdown of our system and what we had done.

4-155 watt Carmanah solar panels

4 Lifeline 6-volt, 300 amp hour deep cycle AGM batteries

1 Magnum  Pure Sine Wave 2000watt inverter/charger

1 Bluesky Solar Controller

1  50 amp Progressive Industries hardwired surge protector

By having (4) 300 amp hour batteries, that should give us about 1200 amp hours of storage. Now since we are using 6 volts wired in parallel that means we have 600 amp hours 12 volt available in our battery bank. To help extend the life of the batteries we do not want to run them down past 50 percent charge. This means we have 300 amp hours of usable amps.

We think with our power habits we will run around 150 amps per day as an average. Of course we may use more if needed but we want to extend the life of these AGM batteries as much as possible.

Panels on the roof



Now with the batteries weighing 93 pounds each, I knew I would have to get rid of some weight. Luckily Maxine’s mother lives here in the Phoenix area. I was able to unload my hobby tools to make some room, and Max unloaded a bunch of books to help purge some weight. We still need to purge more and it will be on on going process.  I wonder if I added helium to the tires and air suspension if it would helpOpen-mouthed smile

I will miss not having my tools but I will enjoy boondocking more.  The cost of all of this is expensive. Our total bill is right around $8,000 which included the labor. Could we have done it cheaper? Probably, but I wanted AGM batteries and we really needed to add the surge protector.That is a lot of money that we will never recoup but it is a lifestyle choice, and it is our home. Being able to go to BLM land and boondock off the grid is so much fun and the National Parks, State Parks that have great camping but no hookups are now within our capabilities. One nice benefit is that we do get a 30 percent tax credit for installing solar. So now was a good time for us

We spent one day on the lot after the install to familiarize ourselves with everything. We then packed up and then headed south  to catch up with some people from the boondocking rally at Quartzsite that went to Organ Pipe National Monument.

The drive from Glendale to Organ Pipe was very nice. It was only around 140 miles and the weather was perfect (No Wind) sunny and about 70 degrees. We have a national parks pass that was good until the end of February. It was February 28th so it was the last day that we could use it. The camp fees were $12 dollars a night and there are no hook ups. There is a dump station and water available in the campground.

We stopped and filled our water tanks and then got set up in our site.



This beats the crowded RV parks any day

There were several people from the boondocking rally that came here right after the rally. Since they were here we figured that we would come down.  It would be a good test for the solar system.

The girls from the Solo Café were here and fixed breakfast every morning, Gina, Kyra and DJ spoiled everyone for the last 3 weeks. Howard and Linda, Steve and Ester, Dave and Diane and Jim  were here several days before we arrived.

We took a 4 mile hike to the Victory Mine site with Gina, Jim and Dave and Diane. It was a very nice hike with desert views all around.


Max resting in the shade of an old cabin



It has been awhile since Max or I have done any hiking. We were tired when we got back but some how managed to not take a nap. We then  went to a an interpretive talk on the Sonoran Prong Horn. It was held in an amphitheater here in the campground and was interesting.

We also drove the 21 mile Ajo Mountain guided loop which was really nice. We could follow along with the guide book from the visitor center that explained the various cacti and wildlife that we would see. Here are a few pictures from the drive.


The Arch



By Sunday morning every one in our group except Dave and Diane had left. We did not do much but relax and watched the Nascar race. On Monday we got up to hike the Estes Canyon and Bull Pasture trails. Dave and Diane were leaving that morning so we had to say our see ya’s. Everyone from the rally was so much fun and we know we will meet up with them eventually.

We heard from others that had hiked the Bull Pasture trail  that it was pretty strenuous. The last 1/2 mile is an 800 foot elevation change with lots of rock climbing. The Estes Canyon trail is more moderate and has great view from  the canyon floor. We decided that we would do Estes Canyon then decide on the harder Bull Pasture trail when we got there.

We geared up with our walking sticks, water, snacks and sunscreen and headed out. Within the first 200 yards we came across this guy warming himself in the sun. It was a Gopher snake. He finally decided that we were too noisy and headed off the trail.


As we walked the trail we decided that we would also hike the Bull Pasture trail. We were here and we had all day to do it. We would just take our time. We are so glad we did. Here are some pictures from both trails.




We came from the wash area below




What a great hike it was. We were so tired when we got back but was really glad we decided to climb up to the top. It was so worth it.

In the 5 days we were here at Organ Pipe, we did not have to run the generator at all. We had plenty of amp hours still available each day. I think we are going to love this solar.

Tuesday morning we packed up and headed to Yuma. We are at the Colorado River Adventures, Yuma Lakes campground. We need the full hook ups to get our laundry, taxes and bills done. Then Friday we plan on heading to a boondocking spot just north of Yuma to spend a week or so. Eventually we will head up to Borrego Springs California, slowly working our way to Palm Desert by the end of the month.

We have to report to our camp host position by April 15th. We have lots of desert exploring to do before then.

Enjoy Your Day! 


Mike & Christine Shields said...

Looks like you guys are set with the solar system. We're looking at installing a system on our next rig. Since our RV is older we don't want to invest in a system right now. Enjoy the desert and you camp host gig!!

IL Camper said...

Great to hear that the solar is working the way it was intended. Thank you for posting photos of your system and listing the components. We will definitely have to get out to that part of the USA when we finally go fulltime. I really enjoy reading about your experiences. Have fun as you travel to your camp host position. I look forward to hearing more about that when you get there.

Dan and Tricia said...

Beautiful pics! Glad you guys are doing well!

Steve and Joan said...

There really are a lot of State and National Parks that will be easier for you to visit now that you have solar.

We are in Zion for a couple of days. Hiked a few miles and wore us out. One beer and a shower later and we're ready to go eat maybe!

Laurie and George said...

Very nice setup! That will make life so much easier, and less crowded too :) Anxious to find out how your camphost job goes!