This last week I hit a bump in the road when my inverter to my solar system went out. See I travel in my van and I wanted to find a way to make it so I could virtually live off grid. The only way I could think to do this was to install solar panels on the top of my van that would power things like my fridge, fan, and electrical appliances. I ordered the solar panel kit which came with 4 – 100 watt panels, the solar wiring, and the charge controller. I then ordered a 12V deep cycle battery and the inverter separately. I researched how to install and got it all installed using 3M tape instead of drilling any holes. I did want to test it out so I traveled across Iowa for a few weeks to see what I needed to do. These are the things that I found while in Iowa.
- I wanted my solar panels to be hooked up in parallel in order to charge the battery faster and more efficiently.
- I needed another battery in order to be able to keep power to everything all of the time.
After I got all of that done then I thought I was good to go and went on my way at the end of May on my adventure. Little did I know that I was going to hit a bump in the road during my trip. I was using my electric skillet during the trip no problem during the first week. The when I get TWO HOURS from Yellowstone, I’m cooking a hamburger helper meal with my skillet, and all of the sudden I lose all power and I smell something burning.
All that went through my mind was OH NO and there was nothing I could do after that. Little did I know at the time that I needed to look at what wattage things run at. After research I found out that the electric skillet that I had at the time ran on 1500 watts of electricity when it was giving full heat. Unfortunately the inverter that I first got only did 1000 watts of continuous power and 2000 of peak power. Let me tell you that peak power can not be maintained for very long and I found that out the hard way.
So my lesson learned in all of this is to pay attention to wattage that an appliance uses when using a solar system and inverter. I ended up buying new appliances that only use up to 700 watts of electricity at a time. Also, crockpots only use 70 watts of power on low which is less then a lightbulb so I will be doing more of those meals.
As you might now have guessed I had to buy a new inverter which caused me to drive all of the way home. The one I first ordered was a modified sine wave inverter with 5000 watts continuous and 10000 watts peak. I got it all hooked up and it did not power my fridge. Did more research and found that I needed a pure sine wave inverter and ordered a 2200 watts continuous and 4400 watts peak. It seems to be working just find so far. I’m sure if stuff goes wrong though it will be back to the drawing board but I do recommend a pure sine inverter if you are investing in a system.
After four days of being home and in my own bed sleeping I was back on the road again and in my happy place!!