Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Prepping the Bug-Out Vehicle

Nothing like a death from Ebola and another potential patient being reported in the general area to give you a kick in the butt to get the Revcon ready to live off the grid and to get out of the Dallas area.

Over the last 2 months I've been doing some pretty substantial upgrades to some of the systems.  Primarily upgrading to an Air conditioner that can run on Solar power, Batteries, and/or 110 v of AC power.
The only one I could find after extensive searching was made by Kingtec.  After exchanging emails with the company, it seemed the best solution to my dilemmas. The dilemmas you ask?  Well: a) staying cool anywhere in the RV without the generator burning diesel or requiring an electrical hookup, and b) to keep the dogs alive and cool when we leave them in the Beast for extended periods of time.
So within a week after ordering, my Kingtec Solar K25DZ arrived.

After getting the local RV place to install it, we discovered it wasn't cooling and was showing an error on the thermostat.  A week later a replacement unit arrived, which worked like a charm.  So maybe the first got damaged in shipping or something, who knows.  But Kingtec quickly resolved the issue by sending a replacement.

Though I did take the precaution of hooking this one up and testing it before installing it just to be sure.

Next on the list of must haves was to have a battery bank large enough to run the a/c all night long if necessary.  So after hunting around a bit I found these batteries that seemed to be up to the task:
VMAX 6V AGM Battery, 225ah.  Which was conveniently sold in an 8 pack on Amazon.  Exactly what I needed.
Another few days later after ordering them, I had 8 batteries that I needed to find a home for in the Beast. After a bit of thought, I cleaned out the 2 cabinets that are under the seats of the dinette and discovered that the batteries fit almost perfectly in them. Plus all the weight of them on that side of the Beast would probably balance out the 100 gallon tank of water that's always on the other.  Maybe I won't be as lopsided going down the highway as in the past.

2 on the right, I thought I had more space here
until I realized that the gas tank fill-up goes
through this area

6 on the left, even a little space left
over for some pantry supplies

The final placement before I started creating wires and putting it all together

After I did the wiring, I had that moment of doubt wondering if the batteries would power the Air Conditioner.  I was feeling like Clark Griswold in that moment when he was trying to get his Christmas lights to come on after checking all 10,000 bulbs.  But it powered on just fine.  The thermostat itself pulls about 0.1 amp.  With just the fan running it pulls about 2 amps, and when the compressor kicks in, it takes about 16 amps.  With 225 amp hours of battery power, could theoretically get 15 hours or so continuous cooling without any other sources of electricity.

Step 3, the Solar.  I'm told the a/c will run off 1000 watts of power.  After a bit of research I ordered from Renogy.    They are 100 watt each, flexible and only weigh about 3 lbs each. The issue now is finding space for all 10 on top of the roof.  I am pretty sure I will have to yank the huge satellite for room.  I'm going to consult with my cousins and uncle and see if we can use some backwood's engineering and create some space for them.  I have a few ideas on the matter, but I lack the welding or metalworking skills to accomplish them.  One of the casualties of the install so far is the carpeting on the ceiling.  It was stained and in already drooping in many places(Thank you Texas heat):  So I made the decision to just start ripping it down and to later replace it. With the added wiring of the A/C and solar panels, the destruction was necessary in order to access the nooks and crannies where the wires can be run.

The current solar that keeps my 12v battery
charged, I believe it's around 80 watts

This is the area above the King size bed that I hope I can fit 4-6 of the panels

A partial picture of the satellite dish that I will
most likely have to take down, room
for 2-4 panels

Manufacturer's picture of the panel


  1. Have you checked down to what level can you take your batteries safely? From what i've read, most RV baterries can only be taken down to 50% of their capacity before having to recharge. That would mean that those 15hours of AC service are more like 7.5. Still a lot though since you can move to someplace cooler and have the sun to counteract the drain on the batteries.

  2. RV batteries(deep cycle) can be taken all the way to pretty much 0%, but most people seem to agree that taking it below 50% will hasten the demise of a battery's ability to be recharged. Batteries are usually rated in a number of cycles; how many times it can be drained and recharged completely. Keeping it above that 50% mark I guess means that it isn't using up one of it's lives(cycles). Thats my understanding anyhow :)