How did YOU Celebrate Earth Day?

We got solar panels on our RV! (As our friend Juan said, "That sounds like an NPR feature story...!")

Spent today and yesterday in and around Springfield/Eugene, OR, with our base being a lovely county park recommended by a complete stranger (but friend, since he's on our View/Navion Yahoo! Group). We have been enjoying off-season camping again, here in the Pacific Northwest, where spring is just springing. Blooming trees, colorful tulips, wildflowers everywhere. We were even in a blossom snowstorm yesterday ;-)

Our campsite is backed up to a lake over which the sun rises. To wit:

On our way up here yesterday: I give you Mount Shasta. The behemoth that towers over miles and miles of I-5. Reminded us of how our first RV trip started last summer: with the volcanoes of the Cascades. Such beauty.

But, back to the point of the post. Here's what our RV looks like when stored at home. I cleared quite the brush on the side of our property next to the road--an area we had long ignored--so that she could park off the road, close enough to have the attractive orange power cord running across the width of our garage (of course the outlet was on the far side) and up the bloody hill to the rig. Pretty, eh? (Photo taken from in front of garage door, at bottom of too-steep hill to drive Navion down.)

Well, that orange cord is HISTORY now. We just had quite the day in the customer waiting area--Lisa, Julie, AND Nick (yikes)--spending about 8 hours waiting for the installation to be complete. But boy, did they ever do a nice job. Gorgeous installation--everything is labeled, perfectly installed to match, and works great.

No more having to measure the electrolyte in the old batteries (and add distilled water). No more monitoring the batteries by taking off the panel and attaching a multimeter to measure the voltage (and seeing that we had very little juice!). No more worrying about calculating all the #*$& math involved in conventional batteries: amp hours, volts, watts, draw, float, #*$&% terminology that we have spent hours wrapping our brains around. We just look at this attractive little panel and make sure that if we hit 12.5, we turn off lights and get recharged soon. That's it.

And no more feeling as if we have to take the RV out at home to drive around and waste diesel to charge the engine battery. Now, the solar panels do that, too.

Warning: Geek alert. Technical photos follow.

The controller box, installed behind an easy-to-access panel below the closet (by the freshwater tank). Everything is nicely and thoroughly labeled:

The new AGM Lifeline batteries, which should last at least 7 years (probably longer than we'll have this RV, but who knows?)

The wiring going through the closet. Isn't it nice how the wiring cover matches our clothes pole? Amazing.

On the roof, installing the solar collector panels (and having a bit of fun):

Off tomorrow to see an old friend and former colleague in Eugene before heading north through the scenic Willamette Valley to overnight one more time inland. We'll be spending the next 3 or 4 days winding our way down the Oregon coast--Roadfood finds, fresh seafood, CHEESE, lighthouses, beaches and dunes. We may or may not have internet, but it's supposed to be a bit cloudy--good for photos--so we'll post when we can.

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