RV Power Center: Performance

This is the tenth and last post describing our RV power system. Our previous post described the final design and some of its characteristics. This post summarizes the system’s performance on our first overnight outing. First, for convenience, we briefly describe the final system. Next, we describe our outing and associated conditions and finally explain the system’s performance.

Final System

Our power system fits within the left pass-through storage area, illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1 illustrates our complete power center providing 800 W of solar, 360 Ah of Lithium-ion batteries, and a 3kVA invert/charger.

Figure 1 illustrates the major components of our system. There are seven major components illustrated from upper left to lower right:

  • Solar PV disconnect switch
  • Victron SmartSolar 150/45 solar charger
  • Victron MultiPlus-II 2x 120V inverter/charger
  • Victron Cerbo GX monitoring system
  • Victron SmartShunt
  • Blue Sea battery switch
  • Victron Lynx Distributor

Our 360 Ah battery bank is behind and to the right of this location. The solar charger and the SmartShunt attach to the Cerbo GX via VE.Direct cables. The battery voltage monitor (mounted on the battery bank) and the MultiPlus-II connect to the Cerbo GX via two VE.Bus cables.

Our Outing – Red Canyon, Utah

We spent two nights in Red Canyon Campground in southern Utah in late April. This outing is described in more detail in another post. The daytime temperatures were in the mid-60s, and the lows were in the low-20s. The sun was bright the first day. We had a couple of hours of good sunlight on the second day and then overcast with rain.

Performance

With the nighttime temperatures in the 20s, our furnace periodically ran to keep the trailer at approximately 65 degrees. In addition, we watched television for several hours at night, used lights, and charged a couple of phones, watches, and an iPad. With all of these devices running and charging, we consumed nearly 80 Ah of our 360 Ah battery bank. Our batteries were replenished after just a few hours of good sunlight.

Early in the day, the solar charging system produced about 360 W. I decided to check the cleanliness of the solar panels and was shocked to find them coated in mud. It was thick enough that I could not remove it without a significant amount of water. After cleaning the panels, the system produced just over 500 W. A little water and elbow grease pay off.

Figure 2, our electric fireplace.

After a 5 mile hike, we returned to find our RV an uncomfortable 81 degrees. We flipped on the AC and set the thermostat to 75. The AC drew a constant 1100 W and ran for approximately 30 minutes. Later that evening, the temperature in the RV dipped down to about 68 while we were still up and around, so we turned on the electric fireplace. That unit drew nearly 1400 W but warmed us right up. We tried a few other electric devices to see the practicality. The refrigerator on electric power drew about 22 A, my wife’s curling iron was no big deal at 200 W, and I’ve tried the microwave before at just over 1000 W.

It is a pleasure to use all of our systems without generating noise. We can use the AC, microwave, and TV after campground quiet hours without worrying about bothering others. However, it is funny watching us adapt to this new world. Are we content toasting our bread in the broiler? Of course not; we need a toaster because we can have one! I am sure we’ll add a hairdryer and who knows what else. Nevertheless, I am pleased with the outcome and the comfort it has added to our lives.

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