When I started writing this post, I didn’t have a picture of Toto’s solar panel, or of the solar power controller gadgets that adorn Toto’s interior. It was pouring outside, my back was killing me and Tyler was very, very comfortable on the chair beside me, so we refused to move.
I thought I’d better include something visual, so… here’s a recent photo of where we are now. Not specifically, but here in the same town, Gig Harbor, Washington, where we hang out when we’re not out traveling with Toto.
When I take Tyler for a walk, we usually see this stuff — I captured the image while standing on the inland part of Gig Harbor’s Jerisich Dock. I think this dock is named after an early European-type settler of the area, not to be confused with the native Americans who preceded that crowd by many decades or perhaps centuries.Tyler and I walk out to the end of the dock, and watch the yachts and canoes and kayaks and stand-up paddle boards and cormorants and harbor seals and jelly fish and other things float by. It’s a very good way to take a break from work.
Okay, that’s the visual bit. And by now I’ve grabbed some images, so… about the solar. For a large sum of money, our friends at Escape Trailer Industries will install, on your new trailer (you are buying one, right?) a solar panel (on the roof) and a solar controller (inside). I think they have to do a bit of wiring, too. The whole point of this contraption is to keep the batteries Toto hides under a seat in the TotoLounge up to snuff.
The panel collects energy and turns it into electrons, or possibly voltrons, I don’t know. Whatever they are, these things make their way to the Solar Controller which measures how the battery is doing and doles out doses of energy to keep it (the battery) full of voltrons, or, as we call it in the RV avocation, juice. The controller knows when the battery is already tip-top-full of juice and in that case it lets only a trickle of voltrons through to the battery. But if, say, we stay up late, leave all the lights on, recharge our smartphones and Bluetooth speaker, and run the furnace fan, and maybe use some water so the electric water pump has to kick on for a few moments, why then the batteries get depleted.
When it’s dark outside, there’s not much the solar panel can do to help. There’s no sunlight it can use to turn into voltrons. So when it’s nighttime and we’re doing all those things I just listed, the battery gets Depleted. Not over-depleted, or at least we hope not, because, we’re told, that will shorten the battery’s life, which in turn shortens the lives of our IRA investments and hastens us along the path toward living in a double-wide in Winnemucca instead of the grand Gig Harbor estate we now call home.
After we do all that depleting, however, if the world hadn’t ended then the sun rises the next day. After it gets a bit above the horizon, the solar panel, who has been standing by, goes straight to work collecting and converting voltrons, and in this case the solar controller KNOWS that the battery is depleted so it doses the battery generously with regulated, cleaned voltrons. And the battery becomes juiced.
The trick with living on solar power is to not use much, and to make sure the battery is getting appropriately re-juiced. And, of course, to collect as much power from the sun — I believe these are called Soltrons, or they certainly ought to be — as possible. There are different ways to do this, but it’s safe to say, the more panels you got, the more Soltrons you can collect. You’re limited, of course, by what you’re willing and able to carry along with you on your trailer roof or other surface.
Right about now you are probably ready to learn all about our experience with solar, and what tips we can pass along to you about acquring and using it. We’re ready for that too! But we haven’t been out using it yet; we’ve only had Toto for a few months and it’s been winter and when we’ve camped there has been a current bush for us to plug into.
This will all change soon. We’re going to head out in to the boonies, as soon as my back stops aching. We promise to report back.
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