Solar panels play a big part in our full-time RVing independence. Here's Bob's story -- written as a fairytale, but very true -- of how we became full-timers and how we started with a solar system.
Long ago and far away, 1991, in Deadwood, S.D., there was a loving couple. She had a job working for a state institution of higher learning and he was working for a local government entity.
One night they were having dinner in a local eating establishment when a local law enforcement officer saw their vehicle and went inside. He told the man there was an emergency at work, and he was needed immediately. The man explained, "Another man is on call," and the officer went to call him.
Ten minutes later the officer reappeared. The other man had not responded. The man explained, "Wait 30 minutes. Then go down the call list in order." The officer again left.
The man and his wife got their food to go. They snuck out of town and holed up in a motel in a distant town.
At this point, they devised a plan. It was a fabulous, wonderful plan. They would sell their house. They would buy a travel trailer. They would travel the country selling their wares at flea markets. They would leave their demanding, high stress jobs behind.
And they did.
They bought an old Forester travel trailer. They redid the interior, the plumbing, the electrical, the heating system, and the running gear.
They knew they would park at the markets they would sell at, but there was a problem. Where could they get electricity out in the middle of a flea market field?
Maybe a generator? That would be heavy, expensive, noisy, and spew out noxious fumes. It didn't sound like a good idea.
The woman was reading a magazine that was only popular with really odd, weird people, and came across an article on photovoltaics. "Could this be the answer?" she asked. The woman diligently researched the subject.
"Is this for real, or is this some sort of voodoo?" the man asked.
They called RV Solar Electric in Arizona. The man talked to the owner, Noel Kirkby. Noel helped the man decide exactly what was practical. The woman talked to Noel's wife, Barb. Barb and the woman then decided what the man and woman would buy on the man's credit card.
The boxes arrived in South Dakota on a cold winter day. The man hooked up the solar panels, the switches, the fuses, the controller, the wires, and the inverter. The man was out in the middle of an otherwise empty lot when he connected the final wires.
It was magic!
The meters jumped to life. There were five and one-half amps of electricity charging the batteries. He was amazed.
Then the man plugged in his electric drill. He pulled the trigger. It hesitated, then started running. He did this several times. "This is magic," he thought.
The man and woman traveled all over the United States in their RV. They used their lights, drills, computers, crockpot, die grinder, circular saw, microwave oven, toaster, and numerous other electrical appliances. But, not their air conditioner. This is magic remember, not a miracle.
The man and woman still travel happily together. Their original solar panels work like the day they were first installed. The magic continues.
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Coleen (the woman) comments: This article is a true story. Bob (the man) shares some of the background that led up to our decision to hit the road as full-time RVers. Back then, photovoltaic systems with solar panels charging batteries to provide electricity to RVers were not very common. Our solar system really did seem like magic. The fact that we could power our RV from the sun, without being plugged into shore power, amazed not only us, but many that we met on our RV travels.
Go to the page indexing all of Bob's articles.
Go to the Getting Started section.
Go to the Tools and Equipment page from this page on Bob's reaction to solar panels.
Go to the RV Life and Travel blog from this article Bob wrote about what lead up to our lives as full-time RVers.