Well, it's been another few days and we're still here beside the lake.
Friday was a little bit warmer, but we still had almost no sun. Bob & Kat came over and we introduced them to the board game Qwirkle. We played several games passing the time. They decided to leave on Saturday morning, but we're going to hang out for at least a couple more days.
On Saturday, we said our "see ya laters" to Bob & Kat with the usual hugs and handshakes. We considered moving to their spot since they had more sun exposure and were closer to the lake. But we decided to just stay put.
The day was a little warmer and a tad bit sunnier, but we're still not getting in nearly the solar we'd like. However, we're doing just fine running the generator for about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and we've had the inverter on a lot. We are power hogs more than most boondockers (I would guess). There is no way we could have been here this long without the generator to keep our batteries charged.
Some folks claim you don't need a generator for boondocking if you have a good set of solar panels and batteries. Well, if you want to stay out for several days at a time, and you don't want to kill your batteries during the times the sun isn't shining or when you are parked in that gorgeous spot that happens to be in the shade, a generator is pretty important.
We were surprised no one else came in to camp this weekend. There were more fishermen launching boats, and we did see a truck camper with a boat come in, but they either camped on the other end of Limestone Lake Park, or they went somewhere else.
Sunday was more of the same weatherwise. It was fairly warm, but the sun was in and out of the clouds, and we had a few sprinkles a couple of times. But at least we had a better sunset out our back window.
We had originally planned to leave on Monday and head down to the New Braunfels/Canyon Lake area. But our friends that we are planning to see won't be there for another week, so we are in no rush. We had only planned on staying here a week (leaving Monday), so we haven't been conserving as much as we would have. We decided we'd play it by ear on how many more days we'll stay. It's nice and quiet, we have a great view sitting here on the lake, and it's free, so I didn't see any reason to leave just yet.
We haven't been using the public restrooms here at all, but we probably would have if we had known we were going to extend our stay. Still, we can go at least a couple more days on our black tank.
Now, we have been conserving with regard to our gray tank. We've been taking infrequent, short showers, and we have a low-flow water pump, so we haven't been using much water there.
Actually, all that goes into that gray tank is shower water. We have a separate gray tank for the kitchen sink, a "galley tank", and our bathroom sink drains into the black tank. So, we can make our tanks last quite a while. I think we've done nine days before without having to dump or be pumped out, and we'll make nine or ten days here. We've done a couple of sixteen-day boondocking stints in Quartzsite, Arizona over the years with a truck coming to pump out our tanks in the middle.
All three of our wastewater holding tanks are 45 gallons.
We're still doing quite well on our fresh water. We brought gallon jugs of drinking water, so we're just using water from our fresh water tank for showers, washing dishes, and flushing. We have a 100-gallon fresh water tank and we arrived with it full. We still have over a third of that, so we won't be running out of water anytime soon. But if we do, we have one of these 45-gallon portable water bladders that we can use to put more water in our tank if necessary.
And I can go get more propane if necessary. Fortunately, it has warmed up, so we haven't needed to run our furnace the last few days. But we are running our propane generator two hours a day, so we're probably getting low again. We love the convenience of the on-board, Onan 5500-watt propane generator, but it does go through the propane rather quickly.
For those that are just joining us here on the RV-Dreams Journal, we have 400 watts of solar panels on the roof. We have four 6-volt Lifeline AGM batteries giving us 600 amp hours of battery capacity. And we have a Xantrex 3000-watt inverter. I'd like to have another 200 watts of solar, but we do okay with what we have.
For more details, you can check out Our Electrical/Solar System - A Phased-In Approach.
Generally when we are boondocking in late Spring, Summer, and early Fall when the sun is high in the sky (and we get several decent hours of sun), our solar panels keep our batteries charged and we can go days without using our generator. In the winter, when the sun is at a lower angle (but we still get a few hours of good sun), we usually have to run our generator for about an hour each morning and we're good. If we don't get good sun, like where we are now, we'll have to run the generator twice a day.
One thing we talk about in our Boondocking/Solar seminar is that a good solar/battery system has a three-stage battery charger. So the device that is charging the batteries (i.e. a converter or inverter/charger or solar controller) does so in three stages so that the batteries aren't over-charged. Over-charging as well as under-charging kills batteries.
The three-stage charging allows for a "bulk" charge into the batteries when the batteries are low - the highest level charge goes into the batteries. However, when the batteries are charged to around 80 - 85%, the charger slows the charge down to an "absorption" or "normal" mode. And when the batteries are 90 - 95% charged, the charger slows the charge down to a "float" of "trickle" mode to prevent battery over-charging.
That's why we only run our generator for about an hour at a time. Once the bulk charging is complete, we're using the same amount of generator fuel, but not getting the same rate of charge into the batteries. So, once we get to absorption mode, our generator use is less efficient for battery charging, and once we get to "float" mode, we're basically just wasting generator fuel.
That's where solar panels come in really handy. They are much more efficient in "topping off" the batteries even if you use a generator for the bulk of the charging. Of course, the more watts of solar you have (in conjunction with a good solar controller and proper cabling), the less you'll have to use a generator.
We'll leave it at that for now. The discussion could go on and on talking about different types of batteries, proper battery maintenance, understanding of proper battery charging, inverters, wiring, calculating your battery and solar needs, etc. It can get quite technical.
But if you are really interested in having a solar system installed, our friend Greg Young with RV Solar Solutions can help you out. That's who we are going to visit next week, and Greg is taking on another installer since he is booked up. That installer, Bill, is also someone we know and trust and he will be at all three of our 2018 Rallies - Boondocking, Reunion (registration to open this week), and Spring Educational. Contact Greg if you want more information on pricing and an install.
On Monday, we just went about our day as we have been. It was warm enough that Linda spent time in back of our rig reading in her LaFuma lounger.
We still didn't get much sun, but we had a beautiful sunset as the sun peeked out between the clouds and the water.
Thus ended another quiet day here on Limestone Lake.
How long we'll remain is yet to be determined. :)