Today I have some maintenance chores to attend to, to keep the trailer off grid ready. Some of these basic maintenance items would apply to a stick built house as well.
Batteries – I currently don’t have solar panels or a generator for the trailer. That means that my batteries need to be plugged in to charge. They are supposed to charge off the truck alternator while we’re driving, but they are not. There is a wire missing in the relay, which I plan to install. The batteries really need a good top off once a week, so that means plugging in somewhere overnight. When we are hooked up for a few weeks, at one of the grandpas homes, or at the Homestead, the batteries need to be checked once a month. Just like your car battery, look for corrosion at the connections, make sure the connections are secure, check the battery boxes for water, dirt and other foreign matter. Check the fluid levels in the batteries and add distilled water if needed. I make sure the “house” battery has a full charge, then check my secondary battery. If necessary, I plug it into the trickle charger to keep it charged and ready to go.
Holding tanks – When we’re stationary, we hook up to city water. But I also want to have a full fresh water tank in case of emergency and also to keep us ready to roll any time. If the power goes out and the water doesn’t flow, at least we have enough on board to last us a week or so, along with the on board water pump. I also fill up a few drinking water jugs. When we are off grid, this water will last us about 1 week for 2 of us, if we each take a quick “navy” shower twice a week. This includes toilet flushing and dishwashing. When we are off grid we use a dish pan and a pitcher in the bathroom sink to catch gray water which we can also flush the toilet with. When I get my portable washer, it may not go quite as far.
The gray and black water tanks are likewise usually hooked to sewer when we are stationary. Sometimes I will only dump them once a week, others I just keep them hooked up and dumping. It depends on the situation. When we are off grid, the sewer tanks last about as long as the fresh water tank and get dumped when we go to refill our fresh water. There are many places to do this, some for free, some for $10-$15.
Propane tanks – If we are using the heater daily, I check them daily. I keep 3 20# tanks on the trailer. We go through about 2 a week when it’s cold. One will last a month or two in the summer. Depending on whether we’re running the fridge on propane or electric. The third tank rides in the back of the truck, so I have to make sure it is standing up and hasn’t leaked. We can usually get propane when we fill up with gas or when we dump and refill the water.
There it is. Basic off grid maintenance for full time rvers. Once I get my solar panels and generator I will not need to find a plug in once a week. If the solar panels don’t keep us charged I will be able to plug in to the generator for a few hours.
Another project down the line will be to install a water catchment system to divert rainwater into the freshwater tank. This will have to involve a filter somewhere along the line, but I haven’t started on that one, yet. I also plan to mount my secondary battery and wire it in parallel with my house battery so we can go longer before needing to plug in. This will also entail connecting to the inverter inside the trailer. All down the line, as money and time permit.
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