RVing with Pets: to park in the sun or not to park in the sun

70000salmon

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Jun 3, 2020
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Hi Everybody,
A lady and her cat here. I am new to this page and also to electronics but have been religiously educating myself via YouTube lately and am feeling much more informed. However, I still have some maybe nobrainer questions that are just so obvious that no one mentions them explicitly...
1. My work schedule is 4am-1pm-ish. It does not reach peak heat of day before I'm home but I care about my cat and have a little insulated box bed/tray that i insert ice packs into so she can chill in there; I leave the windows open with screens (I have a 23ft 1982chevy vandura); and I also want to keep a 120vac fan on for her. So, I am planning my solar around this fan more or less, plus charging phone and laptop in evening. I am hoping my gas lines are ok to run my built in camper fridge on propane, booked a safety check for next Monday. It is dual but I have only run it on shore power so far. I have the option to park beside a creek in the shade, which is ideal for everything except solar obviously...What do I do? It's a secure private campground as far as they go. I would feel okay leaving my solar in the sun on a pallet for instance. But this is less than ideal... To not mount them on my road unit. There also won't be much room for finickiting around once I claim a spot so I really need to make it count and am at a loss.

2. I'm looking to get the least expensive but most cost effective 200W solar set up. I'm already thinking of the 20a rich solar mppt charge controller from the will prowse review...My van is old as balls so weight really matters for driving/when I'm driving, which is not too often yet. But I can barely go 100km/hr on a flat straightaway...which doesn't happen in BC. Driving with an empty camper is more like crawling up a hill with signals on doing 60. So any weight must be carefully added. That being said, currently, I have no idea how long I plan to continue living this lifestyle out of a van. Could be five years or I could sell it next year. I'm at a career crossroads but having solar will make this living arrangement very independent and stable for this transition period regardless. Should I get a lithium battery or not? I'm leaning toward noooot...but the Capricorn in me hates the long term economic reality of that choice.
Haha please Judge me, please help me, any and all input is welcome. Thank you for reading.

I forgot a third thing: I have an old-ish deep cycle battery for the camper that came with it, from the previous owner not from the 80s. It's hard to access and has almost no info on it. Like I mentioned, I have been only plugged into shore power all year on a farm. How can I tell in a budget way the amp hours of this? And how do I know if it's good to keep using say if I get a second battery? Which would be soo heavy but I will be stationary for three months after moving across town on Monday. Chances are, I know I will probably need another new battery. (I just bought a new starter battery bc the last one I let freeze stupidly this winter). The question is tho, how to tell if the old one is worth hauling around later?

Edit: the campground I am moving to is an orchard/family farm with no rv electrical hook up options. So solar would really enhance quality of life and privacy. There are outdoor common areas with plugs for charging personal electronics etc. But given the state of things, I want to not rely on common areas so much.
 
Last edited:

Supervstech

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To test your battery, connect a specific wattage load, and start a timer. If you have an inverter, plug in a watthour meter. If not, connect a 12V load, 10A for 1hour is 10Ah... 10Hours, is 100Ah...

I couldn’t find chevy vandura, but GMC calls their van the vandura. (Think A-Team van)
 

Pizzocchero

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Hi 70000salmon.
Try to help you.
Me and my family + dog use RV for holidays.
I'm writing from Italy, so please
Don't care my writing mistakes
1) I think Is Better, for your and your Cat, to park tour RV on Shadow.
2) I think cheap 200W solar system will not give you an effective power indipendence, but if you want to run small appliance only, It works.
3) If you are not sure of the health of battery
ask for a check and replace It if it's gone.
hope to be useful for you.
 

Supervstech

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BC weather shouldn’t drop below 5C year round, so lithium bank is safe there... it will be lighter, and have more power storage than AGM. smaller footprint as well. Full sun parking in a van will get very hot for pets... with windows blocked with reflective shades, side windows open with screens, and pop up roof cap open, it can still reach 140 during the day... that is unsafe for the pet...
I agree, shade parking is best. You would need 2000Wpanels and a LOT of batteries to effectively cool the van, with AC... that is a lot of weight to haul around, and far larger than could fit on the roof...
 

Supervstech

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Here is a reply from another thread about AC...


We have allot of those little Toshiba 6000 BTU A/C's that you can get from Home Depot ... and we have allot of Trojan-31 AGM Batteries on communication gear that we are switching out for LiFePO4 ... so to try to help out the mechanics and tool guys working out of cconex offices -- we get these cheap SCC's -- hook up (4) 100aH 6V batteries - run it to a 1000W inverter ... and this literally powers the A/C all day long for the guys ... We also have a BMS that cuts off the drain when it gets too low and in the morning fires up the A/C automatically when the V/A is high enough ... The A/C draws a max of about 520 watts on startup and settles down nicely once it gets going .... https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toshiba...nditioner-with-Remote-RAC-WK0611CRU/303408315
 

70000salmon

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Jun 3, 2020
Messages
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To test your battery, connect a specific wattage load, and start a timer. If you have an inverter, plug in a watthour meter. If not, connect a 12V load, 10A for 1hour is 10Ah... 10Hours, is 100Ah...

I couldn’t find chevy vandura, but GMC calls their van the vandura. (Think A-Team van)
Actually, you know what, it is GMC. My bad. Here it is...and I know no one asked for a cat photo but I can't not.66026F84-6823-41DF-969F-6F0FBBC94975.jpegF3A18625-E2D4-4752-B335-347954D60B5C.jpeg
 

70000salmon

New Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2020
Messages
23
Hi 70000salmon.
Try to help you.
Me and my family + dog use RV for holidays.
I'm writing from Italy, so please
Don't care my writing mistakes
1) I think Is Better, for your and your Cat, to park tour RV on Shadow.
2) I think cheap 200W solar system will not give you an effective power indipendence, but if you want to run small appliance only, It works.
3) If you are not sure of the health of battery
ask for a check and replace It if it's gone.
hope to be useful for you.
Thank you! I agree about the shade. 200w will be very minimalistic yes but as long as it gives me some independence while stationary that will be okay. Like I said, i just want something for the basics of electronic charging. I can do without a toaster, that is my big compromise. I need just a small fan and power for charging laptop and phone, maybe play the 120v radio sometimes. It is not so much for traveling as it is to have simply more than I would without any power, which will be the case very soon next week until I can order something fast.
 

70000salmon

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Joined
Jun 3, 2020
Messages
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BC weather shouldn’t drop below 5C year round, so lithium bank is safe there... it will be lighter, and have more power storage than AGM. smaller footprint as well. Full sun parking in a van will get very hot for pets... with windows blocked with reflective shades, side windows open with screens, and pop up roof cap open, it can still reach 140 during the day... that is unsafe for the pet...
I agree, shade parking is best. You would need 2000Wpanels and a LOT of batteries to effectively cool the van, with AC... that is a lot of weight to haul around, and far larger than could fit on the roof...
Hahaha thanks for the response but...Let me tell you it gets to minus 20 good and well where I am. For short stints maybe. But I would never count on it even staying above minus 10 all winter. You're likely thinking of just around Victoria, BC.
And yes I agree about the full sun being unsafe for pets. I know most others who will be living here and would feel safe with some kind of removable panel setup that I can bring into the sun... but unsure of how to go about that. Ultimately I need to keep my pet cool. Maybe I should give up on solar and just look for a battery run indoor fan.
 

eskermel

Solar Enthusiast
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Apr 25, 2020
Messages
34
BC = British Columbia; BC = Baja California. Can cause problems. At least your cat will not be exposed 115 degrees F.
 

Freddmc

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We have 2 dogs that are similar to your cat situation. Personally, I wouldn't leave them alone in my motrohome realying on electric devices to keep them safe(i.e. cool) At home its different.The house insn't going to get to 150 deg. if the air conditioner quits(actually we don't have a/c in the house).BUT, in your motorhome ,if the electricity (battery or shore power) quits it will heat up very quickly -even at noon on hot days. I would be looking into a wooden dog(cat) house to leave outside.
 

ghostwriter66

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From LA -work in South Texas/New Mexico region
So right now it’s 96 here with 71% humidity… I asked one of the guys to take some pictures at another site he’s at so I can show you the Toshiba set up that we use for some of these guys… Keep in mind this Toshiba is being totally ran by Solar… At nights out here he says it probably gets down to 707At nights out here he says it probably gets down to 75 So he doesn’t run it… But at 8 o’clock in the morning till about eight at night it’s on full… I think he’s hooked up to 300 amp hours of AGM batteries and 500 watts of solar .. don’t quote me… I do know when it’s cranking up he says it runs right at 550 watts and right at 5A ...And it will run that way until the compressor kicks off when it hits 68°…
 

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70000salmon

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BC = British Columbia; BC = Baja California. Can cause problems. At least your cat will not be exposed 115 degrees F.
Oh noo! have mercy on the Canadian. Hm that does change things tho. I hear lithium's are easier to store tho. Could I not store it in a temp regulated garage for the winter if I hook up to power? Or even...keep it in my camper if it stays above freezing inside?
 

70000salmon

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We have 2 dogs that are similar to your cat situation. Personally, I wouldn't leave them alone in my motrohome realying on electric devices to keep them safe(i.e. cool) At home its different.The house insn't going to get to 150 deg. if the air conditioner quits(actually we don't have a/c in the house).BUT, in your motorhome ,if the electricity (battery or shore power) quits it will heat up very quickly -even at noon on hot days. I would be looking into a wooden dog(cat) house to leave outside.
Good idea. I have been thinking about chicken wiring the underneath of the camper once I get it settled because she likes chilling under there. There are many predators here so safety outside and making that very secure for her is important too. Even though she's good to roam around, I don't let her outside when I am away.
 

Freep

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This seems...too good to be true. Must check this ac option out now. The camper already has a dinosaur air conditioner from the 80s. I should look into this.

I've been looking at this one. There's an AC on my Lance truck camper and I've used it maybe 3 times in 6 years. I would have used it more if it ran on DC and wasn't loud. The Turbo Kool is 12 V and has the following Amp draw: High: 4.6 amps Med: 3.2 amps Low: 2.2 amps

One downside is that it's not very useful in high humidity areas but I have found that my AC wasn't very helpful in a high humidity, high heat situation anyway.
 

70000salmon

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So right now it’s 96 here with 71% humidity… I asked one of the guys to take some pictures at another site he’s at so I can show you the Toshiba set up that we use for some of these guys… Keep in mind this Toshiba is being totally ran by Solar… At nights out here he says it probably gets down to 707At nights out here he says it probably gets down to 75 So he doesn’t run it… But at 8 o’clock in the morning till about eight at night it’s on full… I think he’s hooked up to 300 amp hours of AGM batteries and 500 watts of solar .. don’t quote me… I do know when it’s cranking up he says it runs right at 550 watts and right at 5A ...And it will run that way until the compressor kicks off when it hits 68°…
Wow thank you. This is very cool.
 

eskermel

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Rule of thumb is do not charge lithium iron phosphate batteries at below freezing temperatures. So storing at cold temperatures is ok, but in your heated camper might be better.

Enclosing the area under your camper sounds like a good solution for you. We had indoor/outdoor cats and they would have been fine with that setup.
 

70000salmon

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I've been looking at this one. There's an AC on my Lance truck camper and I've used it maybe 3 times in 6 years. I would have used it more if it ran on DC and wasn't loud. The Turbo Kool is 12 V and has the following Amp draw: High: 4.6 amps Med: 3.2 amps Low: 2.2 amps

One downside is that it's not very useful in high humidity areas but I have found that my AC wasn't very helpful in a high humidity, high heat situation anyway.
This is amazing. Good to know about, thanks.
 

Supervstech

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Actually, you know what, it is GMC. My bad. Here it is...and I know no one asked for a cat photo but I can't not.View attachment 14659View attachment 14661
My daughter is in love with your cat! How cute...
That vehicle is much larger than I was picturing. It should have room enough on the roof for 1000W solar... and it should be insulated well enough to install a nice inverter AC rooftop unit. It could work.
When you said van, I was picturing a church van, or a conversion... that is a camper conversion. Nice.
What engine is in it?
 
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