|Morning sun and solar panels at Wildcat Den State Park|
This campground provided the beginning of a loop ten-day trip of a few more campgrounds and scenic nature-scapes to explore and enjoy. Spending two nights there was my first real experience of being off the grid and reliant on my solar panels. I had experimented before in my driveway and in a campground with a 30 amp plug-in available. My Zamp 230-watt solar suitcase worked well, keeping the refrigerator cold and allowing me to use my 12-volt system--although I admit I was frugal in its use.
The last time I camped off the grid without shore power was four years ago when I tent camped with my wife. Since then, it has been three years of camping with our tiny trailer, the RTTC Polar Bear, aka the Green Goddess, which had no battery system. Then this season has been with our new Airstream Basecamp, which has two AGM batteries and is solar ready. Using the solar suitcase means I just plug it in and then make sure it's pointing toward the sun. My experience was that the solar panels charged the battery to a full 12.5 volts and then in the morning the battery voltage was 12.2 or 12.3.
I'd forgotten the off-the-grid routine of camping, not having done it for a few years. My main experience lately has been cooking with accessories, since I've become accustomed to having an Instant Pot or toaster oven handy when cooking. It was back to the propane stove, which was not a big adjustment. The 12-volt refrigerator, though, was still working fine with solar panels. There's really not much to say about the change from shore power to solar power, from modern campgrounds to "boondocking" in Iowa, where pretty much all camping is in a campground. The Basecamp made it easy. Maybe that's the Airstream or solar-ready point to be made: being off the grid can be easy, even if it requires a few minor adjustments.
|Pine Creek Grist Mill Dam, built 1848 by Benjamin Nye|
|Sandstone bluffs 300 million years old|
|Shadow and light at play|
I have to say it was an easy first experience with off-the-grid solar camping. I believe I'll be doing this again sometime!