A night in my off grid camper during a snow storm
January 23rd, 2012
A friend and I spent a couple days in my off grid camper during a heavy snow storm this weekend. Saturday night was also one of the coldest nights we have had so far this winter. It was a true test of the off grid camper’s abilities.
We had originally planned to get some work done on the property. But after about 8 inches of snow had fallen, that plan was scrapped. We ended up working inside the camper and set up some wiring for a fan to bring the heat down from the ceiling to the floor level. And I rewired some of the lights that had been removed for water damage repairs.
But first, the snow had to be removed from the solar panels and passive solar heaters outside. The under floor passive solar heaters were completely covered in a few inches of snow.
After clearing off the solar heaters, the temperature started to rise inside the camper. It was 29 degrees outside, but about 65 inside with just the solar heating. The sun was shining brightly. It was also charging up my batteries nicely. My old homemade solar panels were putting out a good amount of energy.
These solar panels were originally putting out about 65 watts of energy. But due to a stupid mistake one day, breaking a couple of the cells, now they only produce about 45 watts. But it is still a fair amount of energy. Anyone who says that solar panels are useless in winter have obviously never had them. 45 watts is not much energy, but if you live sparingly, you can make it work. I use only 1.7 watt LED lamps in my camper. The original light bulbs were 15 watts, so I can run about 8 LED bulbs for the cost of a single one of the original incandescent bulbs.
After a full, sunny winter day, the batteries have enough power to charge my cell phone, laptop, run some lights and a fan. I do not yet have the fridge hooked up, so it is enough energy for my needs. Later when I finish my new homemade solar panels, I will have enough energy for running water and the fridge.
About mid day, we tossed some vegetables and chicken into my cast iron dutch oven to slow cook on the wood stove all day. In the evening we had an awesome meal! My friend smiling while waiting for his plate.
During the night it got very cold. We had the stove fired up and burning hard to keep it warm. It was about 65 degrees throughout the camper with the fan circulating the heat. But the windows radiate cold. You cannot sit next to those huge bay windows at night. It just feels too cold. Later I will put up some foam bubble insulation with the silver foil on one side during the nights. I want to set up some way to place it over the windows at night and remove it during the day.
In the early morning hours, the wood stove went out and it got down to 45 degrees by the time we got out of bed. My friend had insisted on manning the fireplace and forgot his duties. But considering that it was 9 degrees outside, that is not too bad.
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