Feb 112020

Episode 3

The trailer (a Backpacker 2 ), as I purchased it as an older model, had a couple of issues, not with its structure or operation, only in my needs and wants for a longer road trip.

If you go to that link, remember that I have an older model without the WC area, a toilet, spare tire, or heater. So let’s address those one at a time.
Without the WC, I do have more kitchen and storage space, but what to do about a toilet? Well, I ended up purchasing a cassette toilet (link if you care). It sits inside near my bunk for emergencies.

I’ve never understood a vehicle without a spare. I’ve had it happen once to me in my life. Early in my life I took the spare out to make room for other things and found myself stranded in the middle of nowhere. One of my more embarrassing moments. So, I found a spare tire mount for the trailer tongue. Bought a tire and wheel from a reputable tire company and voila. I’m set if I end up with a flat on the trailer.

Heating posed a different problem. Electrical heating is just too power hungry (as I will be boondocking most nights). So I ended up with a propane heater. Unfortunately you either have propane heaters that are too small or are too big. As my average nightly low for all of the spots on this trip will be 32 degrees, I went slightly too big. It means I’m VERY warm even with all the windows open wide and the heater at its low setting.

I have sleep apnea (yuck) which means I need to have power to run my oh-so-sexy CPAP machine. My first thought was to put solar on the roof. Unfortunately it isn’t enough “oomph” (highly technical electrical engineering term) to run my system, but it would help with all of the other features of the camper so I installed a panel on my roof (more on this later). So I found a CPAP battery pack that will run it at least two nights on a single charge, but how to recharge this and all of the other items?

It’s amazing how much we take power from wall outlets for granted. Let’s take me as typical. On this trip I’m carrying a laptop (150Watts), a cell phone (6W), lights (say 30W LEDs), CPAP (150W), and I have a DC fan to help the heating issue I mentioned before at about 60W or say 400W nominal to charge all of my toys… or what have become required bits of our daily lives. I also carry batteries for my LED show lights that need to be charged and a few other items. Your car cigarette lighter outlet is going to produce about 60-150W (while the car is running), and maybe another 15W if you have a USB charger. I already mentioned that I got a solar panel that on a good day will produce 100W (zero at night). So where do you come up with the rest?

Oh, and are all of your recharging voltages available? Laptop takes 110 volts AC. Cellphone 5 volt DC, CPAP battery recharges on 110V AC or 24V DC. What a nightmare. This is why I chose to purchase a 110 volt AC generator that produces 1200W. I can run it for about an hour each day and charge up everything and then use the car/trailer to keep things topped off. As a backup, I purchased an inverter (aka DC-AC converter) that plugs into my car’s cigarette lighter. It can produce (as I mentioned above) about 150W.

Other than the itinerary the power issue was the most serious issue I had to solve for logistics.

Next time: Even more preparations.

 February 11, 2020  Uncategorized  Add comments