massive electric bucket

RV Electricity the Hard Way, without solar or lithium

RV Electricity the Hard Way without solar– For the first year, we camped the hard way – with lead-acid batteries and without solar panels.  We only recharged our batteries when running our generator or plugged into shore power.

For the second year

In the second year, we added solar to our lead-acid batteries. During the first two years, we really accomplished a lot and learned how to RV without extensive power needs. Without solar power to augment our energy use, we were making electricity the hard way. We were also storing electricity the hard way in our lead-acid batteries.

Tiffin RV 34TGA Solar Panels 700 watt
Tiffin RV 34TGA Solar Panels 700 watt

In the third year

In the third year, we changed RVs and started over again.  This year we got an even bigger RV with much higher power demands and even before solar, we first upgraded our battery system to lithium. Our batteries store more power than we would use — for at least two days. It was an estimate that if we made the electricity with the generator, our battery bank would carry our RV over the two days without recharging. I am glad that my estimate worked out. Really most of the estimate was based on the question of whether we could operate our air conditioner using only the electricity in our batteries.

The small parts to make electricity the Hard Way
The small parts to make electricity the Hard Way… notice the solar charge controllers we are not going to continue making electricity the hard way forever it is not that we won’t ever run our generator but rather we won’t have to use it nearly as much.

A huge battery system

So we have installed a huge battery system. You can read about it in these posts.

Massive Electric Bucket

Hybrid Mongrel Battery

So what is electricity the hard way when considering living in an RV? The first takeaway is that in anything you do with lead acid batteries — you are doing electricity the hard way. Second, it is even harder if you are trying to charge your lead-acid batteries with only solar. Lead-acid batteries resist charging and the closer they are to full the more they resist. This is RV electricity the hard way. Even if you have a huge solar array if you are trying to charge lead-acid batteries you will be wasting most of the energy that hits the panels. This is RV electricity the hard way.

How we made electricity the hard way

If you have questions about RV solar, batteries, or RV electrical system this is the place to look. I have more than 22 articles on RV solar found in the RV Solar Series. Nearly every aspect of RV solar is covered in the series, if you have any questions about any of the articles, let me know and I will be glad to answer them personally or add them to the series.

So what is RV electricity the easy way? Combine a great battery system with an ample solar array and you will be making the electricity as easy as you can make it. If (it proved true) we could camp for more than 24 hours only using the electricity in our batteries that we sized the battery bank correctly for this sizing intent. If we could also use our air conditioner operating from our batteries for an extended period then this would prove our battery bank was sized for full-time RVing.

How do we know that we were making electricity the hard way?

The answer is simple we measured power in and power out, every day, several times every day. Here is a link to our measuring tool. Battery Monitor

Components list

This is what we used. We do not get commissions on the links and are provided only to help our friends.

Lion Energy UT1300 Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

Battle Born BB10012 Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

Magnum 2812 Inverter Converter (charger measured at 125 amps per hour)

Victron 712 Battery Monitor

4 thoughts on “RV Electricity the Hard Way, without solar or lithium”

  1. Excellent article! ln “RV Electricity the Hard Way, without solar or lithium” you mentioned that before having solar or lithium you charged with a charger when on generator or shore power. Did you use a special charger or just a smart converter normally on RV’s?

    1. Just the inverter/converter built into the RV. On my previous RV, it was painfully slow. I was very happy with the charge rate of our Magnum inverter/converter which occasionally hit 110 amps per hour.

      The biggest problem that most people face and then fail is they don’t complete the float cycle on lead acid batteries. Most believe that float indicates that they are full. Nothing could be further from the truth. When they finish the float cycle then they are full. The float cycle starts at about 90% and then takes as much time as the bulk and absorb cycles combined.

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