Tag Archives: SUV Camping

I’ve Got The Power…

Even with the most casual scanning of the van living/camping groups on Facebook you’ll soon see someone gushing about how much they love their Jackery portable power station.

What are those, you might ask? Basically they’re just a Lithium battery with a built-in dc to ac inverter and some 12 volt USB outlets all wrapped up in a small, portable package. I hated them and the people who sang their praises to the sky almost instantly. The things are also outrageously expensive. About a buck a watt. In other words a 500-watt unit will set you back $500 and the 1000-watter a grand! I swore I’d never get one. Instead, I’d move the set up I’ve been using on the boat for the past three years to the van…

I already own a pair of deep-cycle batteries, a 2000 watt dc to ac inverter, and three Renogy solar panels. I started out with a 50-watt rigid panel.

That wasn’t quite enough. Then I added a 100-watt panel.

This setup kept my stuff running while I was anchored off of Anna Maria Island, FL, a bit south of Tampa Bay. It was a bit iffy when there were two or three days of heavy overcast skies. You still get some energy from the ambient light but by the end of the second day I had to keep a close eye on the battery power of my notebook computer, my iPad and phone which has a mobile hotspot to keep me connected to the internet.

In order to compensate for that I added a Renogy 160-watt flexible panel to the array. I chose this panel because there is limited deck space on a 22-foot boat and I needed to leave a clear passage from the cockpit to the bow so I could tend to my anchors. The rigid panels are quite heavy. The 50-watt panel weighs nearly 9 pounds. The 100-watt tips the scales at almost 20 pounds. The only place where I could possibly mount a panel would be on my flimsy Bimini top…

So I coughed up the dough to purchase a Renogy 160-watt flexible panel. It only weighs just a hair over 6 pounds.

With everything hooked up I haven’t had a bit of worry. And I’ve even added a 12-volt refrigerator/freezer to the mix.

I got to pondering how I’d transfer a system from the boat to the SUV. I’d need to lug at least one of the batteries off the boat and find a place to secure it in the SUV. Then remove at least the 160-watt panel, the solar charge controller, the attendant wiring, the inverter, et al and then build up a panel with electric wiring bus, blah, blah, blah. Ya know, I just didn’t feel like doing that.

So I began looking further into the portable power stations, especially alternatives to the ubiquitous Jackery. There are quite a few, and they’re all fairly expensive. One brand that caught my attention was the Bluetti. They make a 750-watt unit which is, obviously, 250 watts larger than the Jackery.

Amazon was offering a $100 off coupon so I could get one for the same price as the 500-watt Jackery. Gulp, only $495.

Here, look at what Bob Wells has to say about this unit. If you don’t know, Bob runs a website called “Cheap RV Living” and is the guru of mobile living and the inspiration of much of the recent Academy Award-winning film “Nomadland.”

I DO have two generators. One is a 2 stroke the other a 4 stroke that smokes pretty heavily. Both as quite loud, especially the two stroke which would make either one fairly irritating in a camp setting. They are only marginally more powerful than the Bluetti…1,000 watts vs 750. In addition they also need gasoline to work which cost money I’m not willing to spend.

I brought my unit back to the boat about an hour ago. It had an 80% battery charge in it and right now it’s set up on shore power to top it off. I plugged it into the 160-watt solar panel and even though it’s heavily overcast right now the digital display showed it was receiving limited power from the panel. Plugged a couple of things that need charging into the unit and it works just fine.

Though I’d like the red one and was delivered the puke green I’m happy having it never the less.

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No Build SUV Camper Build

Well, it’s amazing how much one can accomplish when one’s in Facebook Prison and free from that trap…

If you’re new to this blog then go back three of four days and you’ll get the back story of this post.

I made my way out to Home Depot and traded in the 3″ PVC pipes I’d gotten yesterday that weren’t the ticket for getting the bed level. As I’ve written, the legs of the bed frame I bought are too large to fit into a 2″ PVC pipe cut to even everything out as shown on a Bob Wells video. The legs are square steel channel. There was a rubber cap on the bottom end. It was easy to remove and I figured “If you can’t fit the leg into a decent PVC pipe then why not insert a PVC pipe inside the leg?” I took the refund in store credit. Have a nice orange card in my wallet I can use at any Home Depot in the country. Since there’s not going to be much weight on the pipe and it’s all downwards without any torque, I sprung for 3/4″ pipe in 2-foot sections at $1.19 each.

Simple as can be.

I got back to the swamp before it got too oppressively hot and humid and finished assembling the bed frame. It takes up almost the entire back of the SUV. It presses up against the back of the seats but the tailgate closes easily. At least I’m not going to have to worry about it moving around back there.

I’m going to have to remove the passenger seat so I’ll have room for the fridge. I’d hoped to be able to place the outboard side of the bed flush against the side of the vehicle by removing the middle leg on that side, (1) but I’d have to get some kind of metal strapping and drill holes in it to hold the side together since it’s made out in two sections. Then, as I’m looking at this, I realize that the curvature at the base of the tailgate opening (2) wouldn’t allow that to happen unless I cut at least that one leg down. I have the tools, but…..

I wanted the platform of the bed to be that high so I could store things beneath it. As you can see the Coleman Instant Tent and the folding table fit easily beneath the bed.

But I’m most likely going to keep the table in the storage box

That will live in the aluminum trailer hitch cargo carrier…
The carrier was delivered to my mail drop earlier today and the box is supposed to be delivered later today. So I should have those things by tomorrow. Saturday morning at the latest.

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