SOLAR – Running a coffee and washing machine off our free camping set up!
We have two kids so both those appliances are essential in our eyes. A washing machine, as our kids play outside a lot and get very dirty.. often! And coffee for sanity!! But regular trips to a caravan park or laundromat means we have less money for ‘fun’ and ‘educational’ things with our kids!
Don’t get us wrong, we especially loved those Jumping Pillow caravan parks for the kids, but unless we strike it rich when fossicking this week; we have had to set ourselves up to free camps as much as possible on our big trip.
Our last budget
Our last budget calculated that we are spending on average $29 per week on accommodation, and at that stage we hadn’t even gone to a caravan park. Shock horror! But we have been to one now, but gratefully it was for its location not for the need of POWER!
The low down on our solar
So what is our system that keeps our $$ in our pocket and to not need to plug into power every week or fortnight? First of all, you should know that by trade I am a qualified mechanic, but most importantly have also had to make purchases that stick tightly to our one income budget. There are some pearler of solar systems out there, but us personally just couldn’t justify the costs.
We have two set ups
The primary system is a permanent fixture on the Goldstream.
– 2 x 185w household panels from a seconds sale (due to a cosmetic defect, thats my bargain!) $50
– Powertech 30amp solar controller $260
– 2 x 120amp AGM eclipse batteries $458
– 2500w pure sine wave inverter from Ebay $260
– Ctek 10amp 240v battery charger (recommended for a recharge) $200
Back up and gone whoop, whoop!
We also have a secondary system for when we are really off the beaten track, completely away from the Goldstream, and just using the Landcruisers awning tent as our base. This solar can keep our 80L Waeco fridge/freezer cold, and also be our back up to the main system for if and when bad solar weather attacks! This has:
– 160w folding panel $160
– Powertech 15amp solar controller $150
– Isolator $80
All up we have spent $1,288 (plus wiring etc) on our main solar system over a 4 year period. Plus, an additional $390 in the past 6 months for the back up system.
Absolutely hands down, it has paid for itself time and time again with solely just the amount of free camping we have done. But the system also is able to power our other appliances which ultimately saving us a small fortune on food and takeaways aswell.
These are the additional appliances our system can run:
– Kitchen Whiz electric cooker
– Popcorn maker
– Ryobi and laptop charges
– A quick blitz in the microwave (but only if desperate)
– Electronic keyboard for kids piano lessons
– And of course the washing machine and Nespresso coffee machine.
So that is our awesome solar set up (personal opinion there lol)! We respect our system a lot and know it’s capabilities. We would never imagine punishing it with all these electricity draining appliances at once and we (including the kids) are always mindful of using the force wisely. Like all solar, you are only as good as the sun provides you.
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So, what is your solar system made up of? Any other solar and 12v enthusiast around? We hope we can help out fellow travellers and get more nomadic soles happily on the road!
We are Lost and Loving it – with coffee!