Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Rest of the Story . . .

Oh I wish I were a little ‘o’ solar panel,
Cuz in the sun is where I want to be;
And if I were a sun absorbing solar panel,
Everyone would be in love with me.

And now, The Rest of the Story . . .
Upon returning from Quartzsite, all my time and energy was focused on completing my Solar Array of Power!  For the next several days my friends and I worked from morning till well into the night to finish up the solar system and office / work space in the minivan.  Well, after fighting against 2 months of cold windy weather, limited daylight and several uncooperative components we finally completed everything.  

I give you the Solar Array of Power and Minivan Office Conversion!

Grania with her "Sun Hat" on!
You can barely tell there are solar panels up there and I can't even tell the panels are on the roof when I drive.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have lights again and power to charge my computer.  I can be a night owl again and actually accomplish things AFTER the sun goes down!  (If you pay attention to the times at which I typically post, you will see I am definitely a night owl).  With my 200 Watts of solar panels and 100 amp hour battery I will have plenty of power for my needs, even with a couple of cloudy days. The panels even tilt for maximum sun exposure when needed.  My brilliant friend also designed and built the system to be easily upgraded should my power needs change - all I have to do is add an additional 100 amp hour battery.  As you can see in the photos, she has built not only a very impressive, high quality solar array but also a beautifully organized one too (even though it does have red components – I don’t like red - but she added the purple for me). 

"Mother Ship Command Center" is in the van so I can be charging my battery even while shopping!
All that's missing is the Flux Capacitor!

We also upgraded the tearbaby to a 12 volt system with new outlets and an umbilical to the Mother Ship’s Command Center to bring the power to the trailer.  The umbilical will reach to the back of the trailer where the plug is, so I don't even have to unhitch if just stopping overnight.  We still have it set so I can plug into 110 shore power should I need to.  

Teardrop Command Center

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I chose a minivan so that I could use it as an office / workspace.  Since I have to have a way to earn a living on the road, I needed space where I could work and store supplies.  My original set-up wasn’t working, so after much thought about how I needed that space to function, I decided some sort of platform would be best.  My friend and I tried several different layouts, but this one fit my needs best.  I had just planned to make something quick, simple and inexpensive, but she designed and built this gorgeous “work of art” instead, with a control center which houses three 12 volt outlets, 2 USB outlets, switches to turn the outlets on and off as well as switches for lights under the platform and on the van ceiling.  I also wanted the platform to double as a bed for long trips when I don’t want to take the time to set up the trailer (yep, another short bed!).  Plus we turned the front passenger seat around to face backwards for my office chair.  I can set up my folding table to work on or use the seat as a “reclining theater chair” for movie night – which I have already tested and it was great!  No popcorn or Rasinets though – Bummer.  The whole van make-over is amazing!  I am still trying to get it organized, but am loving it.  

Office Workstation / Bed platform with "Control Center" of outlets and switches.

The kindness and generosity of my friends overwhelms me.  I don’t know if they will ever grasp the impact they have made on my life.  I have worked to become a full-time road warrior for the past 2 ½ years and have had dreams for my own businesses for just as long.  But once I got out here, I realized that I wouldn’t be successful with my business plans without power for lights and charging my computer.  They have made it possible for me to make my dreams reality.  What a tremendous gift.    



  1. you got a great set up there.............
    what kind of minivan do you have? I have a 2005 that has 242,000 miles on it
    and it still running good....altho I dont boondock in it....
    as they always say.......NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION....

    1. Hi Chuck,

      I have a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan that I bought used this past fall just before I left. It had a little over 73,000 miles on it when I got it and I have probably put about 10,000 on it already - though that does include my 2 cross-country trips, one going out west back in November, and my current trip back east to help my sister prepare for her new baby. Sounds like you have yourself a good car there! Wow! 242,000 miles! That is amazing. Glad it is doing well by you. When I was at the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) I met several people living at least part-time out of minivans. I was quite impressed with what they had done with theirs, so it can be done. Several people also had the 100 watt Renogy Solar Suitcase and really liked it. Pretty compact and easy to set-up, but a little pricey.

      Yes, necessity is the mother of invention. Makes life so much more interesting too. :O)


  2. We met you at one of the TearJerkers gathering shortly after you had started with your trailer. It is good to see you are prospering. We have a 185W high voltage panel on Compass Rose
    Shadow Catcher

    1. Hi Shadow Catcher,

      I remember you and your awesome trailer at the CRA! I was very impressed with all that you had managed to fit in it. Compass Rose is beautiful. Thank you for your well wishes. I hope to get to the next CRA, I had such a great time at the one in 2013. Hope you have gotten lots of camping in since then.

      Thanks for dropping in and saying "HI". It was good to hear from you. Best to you and happy camping!