Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Today being Wednesday means that we have been sitting here VERY comfortably at our friends place in Nampa for almost one week. 

A LOT has been going on!

So much has been going on that today has been the first day since Saturday that Cassia and I saw Derek for longer then a few minutes during the day and at dinner time - which has been around 7:00 each night. 

Where has he been and what has he been doing you ask.......

He has been set up in our friends HUGE and nicely outfitted shop and he has been doing - well - all sorts of things.

Good things! Alterations to our camper van. Yaaaaaaaaaaaa!

The list has gotten quite large so I'll just tell you about our solar panel and leave the rest for the next post. Your head would be spinning if I posted all of the renos at once. I know ours are.

It's been cool outside but our van has been comfortably hanging out in the shop. 

A major plan of attack being discussed here. 

Guess I should tell you a bit about our solar situation. In 2008 Derek and I, realizing that we should get on the solar panel bandwagon, purchased a UniSolar 64 watt solar panel from a solar place in Quartzsite. Over the years it has served us VERY well - we have been happy with it. Of course, our energy needs are very small - as long as we can charge our lights, computers, camera and dvd player we are good to go. And well, our furnace on very cold nights is always a plus. 

For the last few winters we have just been traveling around with it in the trailer. When we set up for a while we would haul it out and lean it against the trailer. Certainly not ideal, but we weren't committed to our trailer and so didn't want to attach it permanently. We almost did though, several times. 

Of course with the camper van, carrying the almost 3'x4' panel around inside is not an option. We realized pretty quickly that it had to go up on the roof and fast. Thankfully, one of our campers at the park this summer told us about using tape to connect the panel to the roof rather than drilling holes. 

WoW! Now THAT sounds like a GREAT idea. 

Through a google search we found a company in Oregon that sells special feet that stick to the roof and attach to the panel - with very special NASA designed tape. Yup - that's what we need. We contacted them and they were more then happy to install a solar panel onto our roof - problem was they didn't want to install OUR solar panel onto our roof.

It was time for Plan B. 

Since our friends here in Nampa, in addition to all around handy people, are also electricians and mechanics. Well, you can't get much better than that. Except of course that they were more then happy to help us with our solar panel. 

We quickly ordered some 'sticky feet' online from the RV Solar Store in Colorado. They arrived in Idaho even before we did.

**** Ok - first let's get this straight. If you are here for the technical info on the solar panel, you aren't going to get it from me. Sure - I'm happy about it and it's all pretty neat but the what and why about this stuff isn't my area of interest. If you have any questions send them through and I'll send them on - to those in the know.

Our 12 volt marine battery on the right and the charge controller on the left. (Yes, I did just lean over and ask Derek what all this is.)

The solar panel very secure on the roof with Sticky Feet and industrial strength silicone for added measure . One of the nifty things Derek found out about doing on the internet was to use this marine plug. It is generally used for boat connections but we have seen them used for solar panels. The location chosen was an old patched cable hole in our fiberglass roof that Derek thought we should re-use. Once the connector was in place the cable went down the side of the canopy, down through the bunk bed, just over the driver side window, to the floor board and then finally to the battery.

Sorry for the fuzzy pic but it's all I had. We installed our inverter near the kitchen just behind the driver side seat. It is also connected to the battery. It converts DC into AC. We are good to go with anything 560  watts consistently or 700 watts for five minutes. 
Thats all of our tech gear plus items like the blender and coffee grinder.


What a relief to have that done. Derek and I are pretty excited about it all. And SO THANKFUL for our friends help in getting it done. It took the better part of Saturday and then a bit more time Tuesday evening to be completed.

Cassia and I were happy to go into the shop every fews hours to check how it was all going and then head back to the house. We enjoyed spending our Saturday with all the women in the household including three little girls. Saturday was spent picking out pumpkins and then watching the girls paint them out on the deck in the warm sun.

Since we are only here for a few more days before heading out I'll have to move quickly to post the rest of our van renos. Three more big changes to talk about! 

Edge of your seat - right?!


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: So here's another blog for the 'so many blogs so little time' pile. I would so love to spend a whole bunch of time on the site Road Junky World Travel. I bet there is a lot to learn here - even if WE aren't quite traveling the world - yet. But - maybe YOU are....


  1. Right now it is sunny outside but I don't have an howsome solar panel instalation like yours. LOL


  2. My 280 watts of solar is pretty awesome as well...throw in my 550 watt wind turbine, and I have power to spare!

    Safe Travels...............

    1. MAN BlackSheep you DO have power to spare! What are you using over there in your trailer - power tools!!!!

      We'll come over and plug in!

  3. Hey, thank you so much for posting this. Hubby hasn't wanted to make the commitment and drill holes in the roof. This is another option vs carrying the panel in the storage area. Safe travels!

    1. You're welcome Ingrid. I hear ya - just remember those sticky feet are not going ANYWHERE after you stick them on. You can take the panel off but not those feet! BUT better than filling holes.


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