Monday, January 17, 2011

Sparking the Age of Edison

The desert is abuzz tonite. It has been for about a week now. Not with desert bugs and critters...

The endless and increasing decibel levels of generators are driving me mad. When I first came here, the early birds (Myself included) had already settled into the routine, and the spaces between camps were vast. Fulltimers have learned how to adapt to no hook ups, and almost all the "serious" ones have alternative methods for staying lit and warm.

With it being "Show Time"here in Quartzsite, the desert has filled with rv'ing groups and clubs, and hundreds of individuals in big giant buildings on wheels. Temporary vagabonds with huge toys. All of them, it seems, running their own fossil fuel power plants almost 24-7. I have slept near freeways that were quieter. The din is .. deafening.

One of the reasons I sold my big motorhome was that it was almost impossible to control environmentally. Everything in it consumed electrical power beyond my wildest dreams. Despite my conversions to low electrical draw items such as LED and Cold cathode lighting, catalytic heater and other tweaks.. it still wanted more power. The fridge, even when operated on propane, would consume 12v power to control the circuits that regulated the temps. The water heater had to have a ton of current for the ignitor to fire, and forget about using the forced air furnace.. the fan would kill my batteries in just a few hours of use along with all the other junk. Big rigs have big power hungry appliances and needs. I hated it.. I couldn't keep warm, I couldn't cool off and my food was always going foul because the fridge could not kick in when needed. I was living in, for all intents and purposes, a one bedroom apartment on wheels. It was no different than if it was on a foundation when it came to power. My generator too, ran daily and for long periods. I hated it.

My small rig does not consume more than I can produce. In fact, its the other way around. I learned early in life (Because at that time, there was no other choice) how to make coffee on a stove top, bake in a real oven and that you did not have to have a room as bright as a runway to function adequately.

My TV runs on 12v dc, as does my antenna. My computers are also charged via 12v dc, thru an inverter.  All of my lighting is provided by large LED fixtures that are as bright and usable as any incandescent lamps I have seen.

I am not living in the dark or cold. I have placed my lighting so that with just 2 of these fixtures on, my entire trailer is lit for all tasks and reading. It is very bright and "normal" in here.

My heat source was discussed earlier, it is 100% propane with no electrical consumption at all. My cooling source is via a 12v dc fan designed for RVs. Its large and works wonderfully up to about 100 degrees.. at less than 1 amp per hour.

I power all this junk with a single 12v group 29 deep cycle battery that is charged daily via 100 watts of solar. My usage, because of the fixtures I have chosen, and habits I have developed, does not even put a minor dent in the batteries storage capacity. I simply do not consume enough electricity to worry about it. Even in Oregon, under a canopy of tall trees, frequent cloud cover and other solar unfriendly conditions, this set up has served me well.

My type of panels and the rest of my system was selected for my living/camping style and works well in a multitude of conditions.

I do own a small generator. I do use it when I require 120v power for things like tools, or for battery charging when my panels are not hooked up.. such as when I am traveling. If I run out of propane and have none easliy available, I will use it to run fans or a small electric space heater. But, for the most part, under human comfort related items, I put on a sweater of take it off.. depending.

Remember, we did not always have a microwave (I don't even own one) or an air conditioner in every home.  Its a wonder we all survived. Its a wonder I survive.. eating my own lousy cooking.. but this has nothing to do with the method used to provide heat to the ingredients.

An added bonus to not being Alternating current dependent is.. I have a larger selection of jobs. Most camp hosts own one of these giant bulging rigs and absolutely refuse to take a gig without an electrical outlet.I have been hired on the spot TWICE because I told potential employers I do not need hook ups. I get the best living spots, and more money for living off grid. What's to lose?

I look forward to this month being over so I don't feel like there is a Paul Bunyon sized purring panther living in my yard. And so is my cat.

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