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Travel trailer power inverter setup for boondocking and dispersed RV camping

All over the internet you will find articles, and reviews about RV’s and power inverters. If you are searching for an inverter it can become quite confusing, and very expensive depending on your setup. To determine what size inverter you will need in watts is a simple multiplication formula, amps times volts. Our Keystone is a 30 amp, so 30 amps x 120 volts = 3,600 watts. Plugged into a 30 amp power outlet we can run all normal AC appliances such as the TV, refrigerator, hot water heater, dehumidifier, lap top, and a few plug in air fresheners. If the air conditioner is running we have to turn off the hot water to run the microwave, toaster oven, or coffee pot otherwise if the hot water kicks on it may, and has tripped the main breaker.

We chose a 3000 watt inverter manufactured by SUNGOLDPOWER. We excluded the air conditioner, obviously we don’t have enough batteries, or solar to run it. We also excluded the electric hot water, and refrigerator, anytime we are running off our inverter these are switched over to run on propane. We sized our inverter based on a normal small appliance load, plus being able to run the microwave and coffee pot (sometimes you forget your not in a house and try to run multiple appliances with no second though). We settled on a 3000 watt inverter, playing with the amps times volts formula to figure that’s a 25 amp output on the 120 volt side of the inverter, slightly under what our Passports AC electrical system is designed for. We could have gotten a smaller inverter but many installations with smaller inverters also require, separate transfer switches, battery chargers, MPPT solar controllers, multiple wiring connections, switches, and circuit protectors. We went with a fully self contained grid tie inverter capable of 25 amps AC output, 90 amps of DC battery charging, 60 amps of MPPT solar charging, and switching from grid to invert mode automatically with no disruption to the power supply. This thing is a beast, it weighs 79 pounds and pulls 12 amps DC with no load other than the internal electronics. If it was loaded to the 3000 watt rating it would pull roughly 250 DC amps, and that’s what we fused it for on the battery terminal, although we may step up to a 300 amp terminal fuse to give a little wiggle room and not blow the fuse now that we have replace the deep cycle lead acid batteries with battle born LiFePO4 lithium deep cycle batteries.

This is not a boondocking friendly inverter if you are just looking at the amp draw without a load, to reduce our DC power usage when large AC appliances are not in use we installed a Wagan 400 watt pure sine wave power inverter, and a (DPDT) double pole double throw relay. This inverter powers the small appliances like the TV, dehumidifier, and plug in air fresheners with no problem and only uses about 7 DC amps to do it.

The circuitry goes like this, 120 volts is supplied to the factory 30 amp shore plug, either by an electrical grid power source, or our 3100 watt champion generator. This wire was disconnected from the factory WFCO converter main breaker, it was ran up to the underbay where our inverter is mounted and terminated to the input breaker of the inverter. The 120 volts then comes through the inverters transfer switch either as line voltage or inverter voltage, goes out the output breaker to the DPDT relay, activates the 120 volt coil closing the normally open contacts and sending the 120 volts back to the WFCO converter panels main breaker and powers all outlets in our travel trailer. If we are boondocking then the big inverter stays in standby mode, the DPDT relay is in the normally closed position and the smaller 400 watt inverter supplies 120 volts to the WFCO main breaker. From the factory the WFCO power converter charger was sharing a breaker with the TV, we installed it on a separate breaker and keep it turned off. You do not want the converter powered from the batteries, this causes a loop loss and will drain your batteries for no reason.

We purchased the Renogy 200 watt solar kit with the standard wanderer controller. The panels were great but the controller not so much so we knew we would probably want to upgrade it in the future. The MPPT charge controller built into our inverter allows us to expand up to 1200 watts worth of solar panels, we have added a plug so we can hook our 100 watt Renogy suitcase panel up to provide a total of 300 watts of solar power. In full sun conditions we will get 15 amps charge from our three panels, during the day when we are out and about not using much power this will recharge our batteries no problem. With the 90 amp charger that is built into our inverter we can fully recharge dead batteries in about two hours, that greatly reduces generator usage in the event we use a lot of power due to cloudy days or just using more power for things. With the WFCO converter from the factory we had to run the generator for about eight hours and still did not get a full recharge on our lead acid batteries.

We wired our inverter with 0000 gauge welding cable, the reason we used such a large wire was voltage drop. 12 volt DC is prone to voltage loss, with our wiring being so large and under five feet we have less than one volt of voltage drop. This is important with recharging the batteries quickly and the inverter getting the power output from the batteries it needs running large loads like the microwave.

Our set up does have one minor quirk, and we have not yet decided on an action plan yet. if we are plugged in, such as when we stay in a campground with hook ups with the air conditioner running, if the pedestal looses power the inverter will swap over to invert mode and the 250 amp DC fuse will blow. This is good otherwise the air conditioner would drain our batteries dead in minutes. Right now when using full hook ups we keep the 3000 watt inverter on standby, line voltage priority, it shuts down when shore power is not available and our camper loses the 120 volts. We keep the 400 watt inverter manually turned off when hooked up. We have considered installing another breaker panel just for items like the air conditioner, and hot water to only have power when shore power is available. We feel this would be going overboard, it would be fairly simple to do but the need considering it’s a rarity does not justify the time or the cost. We keep the refrigerator on auto so if 120 volts is lost it will swap to propane, everything else loosing power for awhile if we are away is not a big deal, we can always reset the microwave clock when the power is back on.

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The Lightner Museum, St Augustine, FL

There are certain things in St Augustine that a free to residents. The Lightner is one of those, it’s free to explore on Sundays. You may have seen our photos of it from the outside during the Nights of Lights at Christmas time.

It’s one of my favorite displays during the Nights of Lights. When you see the Lightner from the outside, with it’s towers and red tiled roof, you may get the impression it’s as elegant on the inside as the Ponce de Leon (now Flagler College). The truth is, the inside is quite different. It’s made of concrete and has gray walls rather than colorful tiles. It’s Spanish architecture and Italian design is more functional than attractive.

Built in 1888 by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, it was called the Alcazar Hotel. there’s a skylight for natural lighting, and it has 3 floors. Going from the outside in, the courtyard had tennis and croquet. Today, it has a lovely fountain with coy in it.

The three floors consisted of the hotel, Russian style baths (steam) and Turkish dry heat (saunas), a casino complete with an archery range and bowling alley, as well as a massage room and gym, a ballroom (top floor), and the world’s largest (at the time) cold indoor pool fed by an artisan well. It was 120 feet long and 50 feet wide. Today, the pool is a restaurant/dining room. The advertisements for the pool and saunas claimed to have health benefits for everything from gout to arthritis.

After the Great Depression, the Hotel Alcazar closed in 1931. It sat vacant until 1947, when Otto Lightner turned it into a museum. Lightner was known as the “King of Hobbies” and a wealthy newspaper editor. His entombment and marker is on the grounds outside the museum.

Lightner’s museum is known as the “Collection of Collections”. There’s everything from exquisite art and uncomfortable furniture to taxidermy and a dinosaur egg!

There’s lots of glass, crystal, artifacts and statues on all three floors, including things from Native American to Chinese and from Russian to African.

There was even a statue that could be a symbol of 2020, with a little girl holding up (what looks like) a toilet paper roll to look through it.

Please enjoy the many photos of these unique antiques. There were so many, I’m not sure we even got pictures of them all, but here are the highlights from outside and in. Feel free to click on each one to see it in detail:

One might think with such priceless items, the gift shop might reflect this in their prices, but no! The prices in the gift shop were quite reasonable. Some of my favorite items were the loose leaf teas and the dish towels. In closing, I leave you with one of the best ones I saw and I hope it will put a smile on your face.

Thank you for coming along with us on this stroll through the Lighner Museum. Hopefully, it wasn’t too much to take in on a single trip. We appreciate all our readers! Thank you for following along with us on our journey.

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