Off Grid-ish

We’ve been to the North Cornwall coast for a couple of nights in Klaus the Knaus, our motorhome. It was Hot Stuff’s suggestion. He pretended that it was to give me a couple of days of rest and relaxation but I know the real reason. He’s installed a new dual battery solar controller and wanted to test it out. So we went to a campsite without hook up, and trialled off grid-ish motorhoming. To mark our time away I didn’t take a picture of the new gubbins. Here’s a much prettier photo of a view from the field instead. vvIt wasn’t too shabby was it? But I did think that I’d describe all the technical bits and pieces that we have at our disposal. These keep us comfy and make our house on wheels a home from home.

The reason that we need to be self sufficient is that  we visit some wonderful places in France and Spain and use the free or cheap aires.  These are designated motorhome stops, usually in car parks but sometimes on what appears to be downgraded campsites.   Many people use them.  In the time that I been travelling in Europe as a single mum with kid in tow I’ve never felt unsafe.

Aires with hook ups are in the minority. Sometimes there’s no water or disposal points to hand either. So we have to be self reliant. Here’s what we’ve got that means with can go off grid-ish. By this I mean that we can survive without services for three or four days.

One hundred litre water tank: – You’d probably use that amount in the morning before work at home. By conserving water carefully this lasts us about five days.
Grey water tank: – holds dirty water from washing selves, dishes and clothes.  It is not in any way connected to the toilet so can be emptied down drain holes in the street.
Porta Potti:   Blue liquid is added to a bit of water when the tank is empty to eat up you know what!  We’re supposed to use  special toilet paper that degrades more quickly. But we’ve found the cheapest value stuff from a supermarket works just as well..  There’s a separate compartment that holds flush water which also has a bit of the blue stuff added. To be honest the need for toilet emptying is the main thing that limits the time that we spend away from civilisation.
Two solar panels on the roof:  Supplies the main and leisure batteries. The second of these powers lighting and allows us to charge phones, laptops and bike batteries
Two LPG gas bottles:   In the old days I used to buy 11kg gas cylinders but now I don’t have too. Hot Stuff has installed a system that we refill at LPG pump. It’s much cheaper. Our gas provides hot water and heating. It also powers a three way fridge when we don’t have an electrical hook up.   The fridge uses electricity from the main battery when we’re moving along as well.
Charger points around the van: Again a recent addition. In singleton days I fought Louis to use the cigarette socket at the front of the van. The French word for ‘jump lead’ came in handy at more than one campsite.
That New Dual Battery Solar Charger:  In the olden days I used to have a long bit of red wire with croc clips.  It was homemade and allowed me to charge the main battery from the leisure battery. Hot Stuff shudders when he thinks about it. He said that it’s a wonder the van didn’t burn down. Now we have a fancy pants mechanism that diverts power from the solar panels between the two batteries. The one that Hot Stuff has just fitted is Mk 2. Having enough power has become more important now we have electric bike batteries to charge.

And there you have it. I’ve never feel deprived living in my motorhome even during those off grid-ish moments.  Having access to perfectly adequate heating, lighting, cooking facilities and technology makes this possible. And with the price of hook up electricity increasing we’ll be doing without and be more self sufficient in the future.

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