Kids are not susceptible for cold
Life as an earthnomad

Learning about solar power. Rookie mistakes?

For about ten days now, we have had the luxury of borrowing a generator.  We prefer to run our life solely on solar power (and some food), so adding a gas guzzling machine to the setup is certainly not a perfect solution. But what peace of mind has it been for me. To be able to reliably have electricity when I need to charge my laptop has changed my world. We went so far as to add the expense of a generator purchase to next month’s budget. If the solar panels are not cutting it, we have to find a solution. Being completely powerless last week did not feel very good.

But here we are in Anchor Point, spending a couple nights away from our usual spot. It has been raining for several days, and at our park we have gratefully been using the generator for power. Although it has been raining and very cloudy here as well, the generator has not been running. With just light, since the sun is behind clouds, our solar system has been charging like there’s no tomorrow. We know that we have some shade at our summer spot for part of the day, and it looks like this has much more impact than we expected. Where we are right now, the trees are much smaller and therefore create less shade.

A decision has to be to made. We certainly need to upgrade our inverter. This cheap piece of sh#t that we currently have has been giving us a headache since we first plugged it in. And if we want to use 110 volts for certain appliances, like a laptop, we need an inverter that works.

The source of power is now up for discussion. Are we going to add a solar panel, maybe mobile, so we can charge really well when we do have sun? Not inexpensive and not completely reliable. Plus a separate panel takes space. Not something we have a lot of. Should we invest in a generator, which is kind of noisy and also quite expensive, plus we will have to keep throwing money at it in the form of gasoline and oil. However, this is the most reliable source of power. Another option is to leave it as it is. Use electricity when we have enough, and when we don’t we are truly off grid. We would just have to forego the luxury of fresh milk and cold brew coffee. Let alone extreme moose tracks chocolate ice cream. Noisy ice cream or quiet without the ability to turn on my computer and work. Can you imagine the debate?

Talking utilities

It looks like Antoine figured out why the hot water heater of our vintage Avion trailer keeps failing. We are already used to boiling water to do dishes at this point, and pretending that washing up with cold water by the sink is just another way to save money. The kids think it’s hilarious when I scrub their feet with soap and cold water in the tub and laugh so hard that I almost need earplugs.  Don’t forget we are experiencing a true Alaskan summer, which is colder than our winter was in Europe last year. If we can get to the rv store in time tomorrow, I will happily return to hot showers.

The final piece of concern has been the leaking windows. We have figured out a long term lasting solution as well as a short term and temporary one. While we are debating and doing math to figure out both the financial and time investment to upgrade this piece of the vintage trailer pie, we manage to keep the damage to a minimum by strategically placing and replacing a variety of also vintage rags (old diapers, anyone?) So far the damage is limited to one temporary lost and then moldy shirt.

The adventures of full time RVers  go way beyond awesome wildlife viewing and sunsets on the beach. Let’s say it builds character. An influx of coffee and chocolate at certain intervals certainly does not hurt the attitude. Let’s add more of that to next month’s budget.  

Please follow and like us:


  • Catarinna

    Have to admire the way you live in Alaska. Not least because of how cold it is. When it comes to solar power it’s very popular in Scandinavia and a lot of people have switched to it. Maybe it would be a good idea to find out how they do it? There must be people in the polar areas of Scandinavia that use solar power. The question is how they make it work.

  • Jeannette Paladino

    Lovely photo of you and your family. I’ve always heard that Alaskans have grit and determination. I admire you for your inventiveness to have ongoing power. Maybe a combination of solar, generator and electricity is the way to go!

  • Debra Yearwood

    You’ve got grit. I’ll admit the city slicker in me cringed through much of the above and my Carribean blood shuddered in dismay at the cold water wash-ups. Despite that, I think you and your family will drive away from that experience so much richer.

    BTW: I’m addicted to my laptop, so the idea of not being able to charge it puts me in panic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial