Thursday 24 July 2014

Wanda Is Out of Power

I tried to use my 20 watt solar panel and charge controller to charge up Wanda’s batteries, but that didn’t work. My guess is that whatever systems that are within Wanda that are constantly operating are consuming more power than that tiny panel can give, thus a steady drain instead of a charge. I confirmed this as the panel was disconnected overnight but still more power tricked away from her.

As of this morning I had to disconnect the batteries to ensure that they weren’t drained to dangerous levels.  As it is, they were effectively dead at just under 9 volts. Sure I have two 6 VDC Deep Cycle batteries in her, which in theory can handle being drained so completely, but nobody likes to push it.

With the batteries dead it means more than simply the lights won’t work, it means the water pump won’t work; so no fresh water. This morning I took two juice jugs and filled them up at work, took them back and poured them into my emergency water jug. I will have enough water to get through tonight and into tomorrow. I will be camping this weekend with full hookups, so I will charge up Wanda then. 

Also a further complication is that with no power the control systems for the fridge/freezer won’t work. Sure it will run on propane, but the fridge needs 12 VDC to control the system. So right now I have two coolers with one blue gel ice pack in each keeping things somewhat cool. On a happy note so the stove will always work, as it just uses a mechanical valve to release the propane and the igniter generates its own power (like a BBQ igniter). 

I should have seen this situation coming. My first clue that the 12 VDC power tap from the truck never made it to Wanda’s batteries came when I went to pick her up one time from the field storage. I had a habit of disconnecting her batteries to prevent her from being drained while sitting idle. I had the truck running and Wanda plugged in as I was hitching up so in theory 12 VDC was getting to Wanda. 

The motor which lifts the foot that supports the hitch when it is not connected to your truck wouldn’t work. In theory, as long as power was coming from the truck I should have been able to run all of Wanda’s systems from my truck battery. It wasn’t until I connected Wanda’s batteries that the motor would run and the hitch leg lifted. 

This is the longest that I have continuously used her and the other times I was plugged in at a campsite, so naturally there are some things that I won’t/ haven’t been able to foresee. In hindsight we can kick ourselves for not seeing then what we see now, I must resist the urge to run myself down. Heck if I was all that good at planning, I would have never run up those damn cards in the first place. 

I know now that I need to get a 100 Watt solar panel to charge up Wanda on a regular basis. I can put it out on the back of the truck and connect it up the batteries in the evenings, all day on weekends. That should do, until I can get a more permanent solution installed.  So, while I can’t really afford it, I will pick one up tomorrow after work and before heading out to the campsite. 

The other thing I need to do tomorrow is empty my storage unit. Since next Friday is the first of August, tomorrow is the last day that I will have available to get the last of what I want to keep out of storage. I hope that the auction when through okay and that I actually have a bit of money coming my way. Otherwise I will actually have to pay for another month of storage on the stuff I want to get rid of. 

Remember this: one thing at a time; one problem at a time; one day at a time. All you have to do is do what you can, right now. Look after the things that you can actually make a difference with today. Plan for tomorrow, sure, but work for and focus on, today.

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