Well, here we go…

It feels a bit like our first two months living full-time on the road has only been a trial run.  Which makes sense since we kind of did that on purpose.  We knew we wanted to start out with trips close to family, friends, and familiar places in case anything went seriously wrong.  Luckily nothing did, but we’ve sure had our share of learning opportunities over these first two months.

The first month was spent mostly on the Oregon Coast and learning a lot about how the 5th wheel functioned.  We discovered our black tank issue right away and had to adapt to not having a fully-functioning bathroom.  But mostly that month was just a lot of learning the basics and getting familiar with our new home.

We spent the second month between Central Oregon and being back in the Portland area.  The time in Central Oregon was all about activities with family (wake boarding and kayaking and board game nights and a concert), making some upgrades (installing our washer and dryer), and testing out our boondocking capabilities (best week of the trip so far).

Death Cab for Cutie in Bend

And the time in Portland over the last couple weeks was spent saying goodbye to things we’ll miss (family, friends, and one last Timbers game at Providence Park) and completing the last of the projects needed before we hit the road for real (fixing the black tank issue and installing the last of the solar panels on the roof).

One last home Timbers game

We left Portland this morning and are back in the same boondocking spot east of Bend where we spent some time earlier in June.  We’ll be here through the July 4th holiday and then make a quick stop at Crater Lake before we head south and leave the state. After that we’ll spend a few days at Lake Tahoe and then we’ll head east through Nevada and Utah on our way to Colorado.  We’ll probably spend the rest of the summer out there before heading south to Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas for the fall and winter.

If we stick to those plans we probably won’t be back in the Pacific NW until next spring or summer, at the earliest.  Which is making me feel a little sad already.  Other than the 6 years I was living in Boston MA, and Austin TX, during my late 20s, I have spent 41 of my 47 years living in Oregon.  It’s been my home for so much of my life and it’s going to take a little time to adjust to that not being the case anymore.  But this is something I’m very much looking forward to and I’m sure it won’t take long to feel at “home” no matter where we happen to be.

So, here we are, just one step (and a few days) away from leaving Oregon and starting this new life for real.  I have to say we feel much more comfortable with the ins and outs of full-time living than we did during that first week on the road.  I’m sure there will be plenty more challenges to overcome in the weeks and months ahead but I think mostly we’re just excited to see what adventures are in store for us on the open road.


5 thoughts on “Well, here we go…

  1. Terry (aka Dad)

    Nice to get an update- once a month to wait is nail biting! As expected however sounds like you’re continuously learning the ins and out of your system and most of all having fun at the pace you want.
    For me I’d like to hear some of the technical aspects – ie how many kwH input to kwH used on a daily basis. As for storage , I understand you added some capacity – how is that cycling each day – is it 90+ percent when the sun goes down in the wake up hour down to 20-30%? In other words how close to net zero are you – minus LP and diesel of course. Get ready for some hot days ahead – are you able to run the AC while you’re in motion? Be sure to check the solar tie down bolts – the will loosen with wind load and travel days – unless they’re tighter with lock tight!
    Anyway forge ahead safety and enjoy every minute!

    1. The Duck Post author

      I think Lauren might already be working on a post just about the power, and I’m sure you’ll get even more of your questions answered when you see it in person, but here are some of the basics:

      We have 3 LiFePo 200AH 24V batteries that each have about 5,000Wh of storage, giving us about 15,000Wh of power when the batteries are fully charged.

      On the roof we have 12 220Wh solar panels giving us, essentially, 2,640Wh of power coming in during peak sun hours under ideal conditions – and, from what we’ve seen, more like 2,100Wh during peak sun hours in real-life conditions on a clear sunny day.

      When we have the fridge set on electric we are averaging about 800Wh of draw every hour of the day with the majority of that being the fridge (~600Wh) and then everything else (Starlink dish, computers, lights, etc.) are only drawing about 2-300Wh on average.

      If we run the AC or microwave or electric tea kettle the draw goes up considerably during those “spike” use moments, but we haven’t really needed to run the AC much and the other spike use is fairly limited and quick.

      When we have the fridge set to run on propane, the average draw is only that 2-300Wh for all the miscellaneous things.

      The first couple nights we were dry-camping we left the fridge on electric the whole time and our state of charge went from being 100% full at around 6pm after a full day of charging in the sun, down to about 80% when we went to bed and was at about 40% when we woke up.

      We were able to get it back up to 100% by the next evening (on a clear sunny day) but we didn’t like the thought of always waking up with only 40% if the following day was going to be a cloudy day with bad sunlight making it hard to get it charged back up to 100% before the overnight drain started. So, we’re planning to get in the habit of having the fridge on electric during the day, when the power coming in through the panels exceeds the draw from the fridge, and then putting it on propane at night.

      We did that yesterday and around dusk when I saw the power coming in from the panels had dropped below the ~800Wh we were drawing with the fridge on electric, I switched the fridge to propane and our state of charge only dropped to about 97% by the time we went to bed and it was at 92% this morning.

      When we get a better idea of how much power we’re able to bring in under less than ideal conditions (almost every day dry-camping so far has been perfect clear skies with lots of good sunlight) we’ll be more comfortable letting the batteries drop down more at night knowing we can still replenish them during the day, even if it’s a bad sunlight day.

      We just don’t want to be in a position where we wake up with 40% and can only get it back up to 60% before the next overnight drain starts and run the risk of being near 0% the next morning, so the habit of switching the fridge to propane when the solar power coming in drops below 800Wh seems like it will avoid the risk of ever letting the batteries get down that low.

      1. Terry (aka Dad)

        Nice! It’s all about load management- with the unknown of how much direct solar you’ll be getting. Sounds like you’re doing well and learning the tricks. And I forgot to ask but I think you have a backup generator?

  2. T

    PS- when I tried to save the above I got a message back that said ;
    “It looks like you’ve already said that”
    And would not save the message. I changed email names and it saved the post.
    You might want to check that out….

    1. The Duck Post author

      Thanks for the heads up on that. I think it is because we still have the site set so we have to approve each comment before it will show on the page, so if you resubmit the same comment because you aren’t seeing it on the page yet it thinks you’re accidentally posting twice. We’re going to try to figure out how to allow comments to post right away from people we’ve already approved (but still keep out the scam comments).


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