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Busy at the Hideout

At the Hideout

It is not called the “Secret” Hideout just to be cute.  Some projects and happenings here are  kept close intentionally. Then there is My Bro’s stuff and goings on which is his business.  Posts to the blog here are going to be less frequent simply because of these factors.

After the Big Hails,  the No Princess Palace was purchased quickly out of dire necessity.  At the time of purchase,  I knew it was an entry or at best mid level RV that in no fashion approached the construction quality of the Old Girl.  Add in 4 years of continuous and ultra rigorous duty in the South Texas Puckerbrush and end result is an RV that is deteriorating rapidly.  Don’t get  me wrong;  it is not falling down around my ears but the handwriting is on the  wall.  So in the back of my mind I knew a replacement for the Palace would need to be found and it sorta pissed me off that the probable replacement would be a similar RV with the same same failings. Pretty dismal outlook seein’ as how I will be  gettin’ by on a paltry SS check.

Construction supplies arrive

The plan here at the Hideout was for me to piddle along and look after things as  the  defacto caretaker.  In return,  I would get a FHU site and get to move the Palace out  of the driveway.  My Bro is more  than gracious.

Along with hogs and bees and smoker cooking, we moved ahead with outfitting an absolutely gorgeous site across the lake and under the oak trees to park my RV.  The frenetic work pace is another reason for the paucity of blog posts.  When  you are building a driveway, parking pad and running electricity, water etc and doing it all yourself the hours in a day just get eat up.  Don’t forget we are all senior  citizens or near to it.

Taken from the RV site – building the driveway

We got down to the point of actually running the driveway in and preparing the RV pad when the plan changed –  radically.  My Bro is not one to do anything half-assed and he always has an eye on long term goals.

 

So this………….

 

 

 

 

 

Compacted gravel pad completed

 

Derksen 12X32 unfinished cabin

 

In place on the pad

 

All done, You can see the Palace and the shop across the lake

Didn’t expect that, huh?  I have been full timing in an RV for 10 long years and that chapter is going to close sometime this Spring.  My ‘sweat equity’ is going to finish out the cabin. Build out, plumbing, electrical — the whole ball of wax is on me.  Since I am starting with a blank piece of paper,  the goal is as much self sufficiency as possible and I have been buying stuff for years with this in mind.  Things like a Kw of solar panels for example.  Rough plans are to put in an RV type AC/DC distribution panel and utilize 12v in the cabin as much as possible.  I am hoping I can live months on end  with little to no grid power.

I am looking forward to a discussion in the comments for any info regarding incorporating a generator, inverter, solar panels, an AC/DC distribution panel and converter/charger, Tri-Metric monitors, manual transfer switch and who knows what else.

 

Edited to add this rough electrical schematic. Sure would appreciate some input from somebody that knows more than me.  This is for my cabin, not an RV!

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26 comments to Busy at the Hideout

  • Don

    Wow, you have a multitude of options to consider. My brother-in-law is in a rural area where the grid is unreliable during any type of storm, particularly in winter, and installed this transfer switch in order to run his water well, lights and selected outlets (via generator) until the grid is back up.

    If it were me, I think I would have two circuit breaker panels, one dedicated strictly for Solar DC voltage, and one connected to the grid with the above transfer switch, which could be fed by an engine generator or inverter output from your solar system, using an exterior connector from either source but not both at the same time, of course.

    Don

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    • Andy

      It works Don and this switch is exactly what I am looking at. In addition to the generator, I would also have the inverter feeding it.

      Maybe somebody can help me with this. I am planning on using a 50amp RV AC/DC distribution center with a Progressive Dynamics converter/charger. If I remember right the shore power runs first to the converter and then to the distribution center. I would put 120 wall outlets on 2 transfer switches, kitchen circuit on one,microwave on one and the converter on one in order to charge batteries via generator BUT it does not run through a distribution center breaker AND on top of that, if I power up the converter then it feeds the whole distribution center. So I am stumped as to how to charge the batteries via generator.

      Any help from some electrician folks?

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  • Don

    Not sure what happened with that html tag, but the verbiage in the second paragraph is the link to the transfer switch Doh!

    Don

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  • Judie Gray

    I am happy for you! Life just gets better after you retire!

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  • Steve Weeks

    The first question that came to mind is why would you not run grid power in directly to the AC Panel and the Solar directly to the DC panel, then use the transfer switch + Genset as a go between? It has been my experience that an RV type battery charge unit is much less efficient that just using a stand alone AC battery charger. It might save you some extra wiring and parts.

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    • Steve Weeks

      Please disregard my comment as it dawned on me that you wanted a more integrated power supply. I was thinking a more segregated system with a transfer option when needed. Sorry.

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      • Andy

        I welcome the input Steve. It is rare to start with a blank sheet of paper and I want to get it RIGHT!

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    • Andy

      Hi Steve

      I think I will be using the Progressive Dynamics PD4590 50 Amp Power Center with 90 Amp Converter/Charger which incorporates a 90amp 4 stage smart charger. I have used their 60 amp converter/charger for years with good results.

      If I am offgrid -which I hope to be for 6mos at least during the cooler weather, I will pull the main breaker at the pole. The way the transfer switch work is it takes any six circuits you wish and gives you the option of selecting any or all of the six to power up with the AUX power source -either inverter or genset. Normal operation will see my lights and fans powered by 12v DC. The inverter will be powering at least the fridge, freezer, coffee pot and microwave via the selective transfer switch. On successive cloudy days the inverter will be replaced by the generator to[power those circuits. I am still trying to figure out how to charge the batteries with the generator and converter.

      Somebody tell me if I am thinking wrong.

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      • Steve Weeks

        Hi Andy,

        I did a net search using “cabin wiring diagram using grid, generator backup and solar power’ and came up with many options for design done by people that know more than me. You seem to be on the right track and some of the diagrams may validate your thinking. A lot of them use 120v for lighting and fans, but I am with you on using 12v. One thing I thought of is we have seen 12v ceiling fans in some trailers and that might be a good way to move some air around on this somewhat warm days without using AC.

        Honda makes a handy wiring setup that charges batteries directly from the 2000 unit unless you got the companion model with the 30 amp plug. gene needs to be close to the batteries, pull the rope and batteries are charging.

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  • Nancy1340

    Congratulations on your new abode.
    I like it!
    Looking forward to seeing how you fit it out.
    If you need some frilly curtains for the wondow I’ll sew ’em fer ya. LOL

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    • Andy

      Oh God Nancy! Are you one of them that has a hunnert pillows on the bed that serve no purpose? Ever’ time you pull down the covers you gotta move ’em off and then when you make the bed up every blesset pillow has a certain certain spot to be.

      Makes a man drink is what it does.

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      • Nancy1340

        Bawhahahahaha

        Okay then how about a doily for your gun safe(s)?

        Have fun and take lot’s of photos.

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        • Andy

          I love pics; you know this.

          I am going to have a wood laminate floor and my SIL says throw rugs are a must unless I am a barbarian. The barbarian in me can’t visualize buyin’ any stinkin’ throw rugs so you can go there if you must.

          Better you than me. 🙂

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  • Janice L Evans

    I love it all. . .love the plan, but especially love the building. . .hope you continue to share what you do as you move forward. . .would love to do something similar, but have ZERO knowledge in how to make it all work! Have done tons of research. . .still all greek to me!

    Perhaps your knowledge could be a bit of a roadmap for a complete novice!

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  • Larry S. Worsham

    I feel your pain regarding the pillows (LOL!). I installed solar panels on my travel trailer. I decided to keep it simple and not use a automatic transfer switch. I have a Progressive Dynamics converter/charger that feeds a 30 amp. service for wall plugs and 12v for lights and rv accessories. I have a switch on the 120v. power supply to the converter charger that I use to switch between inverter power and shore/generator power. I plug the power cord into the inverter which is powered by the batteries and solar panels with the converter off (to avoid feedback to the converter which will burn the inverter out) and when I want to use shore power/generator power I plug the plug into the grid or generator power and turn on the converter 120volt which charges the batteries from either source. It is not a automatic solution but I feel that “local” control is better that a transfer switch failure and more complicated wiring solutions.

    Have a great day….like your new abode!

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  • TJ

    Andy, that is awesome! I think it is the right plan at the right time for you. On to the electrical-
    I would continue on your route of thinking, keep as much of the electrical system like an rv as you can.
    Stay off grid and not hooked up to the electrical grid as you can. I would get a 5kw or smaller generator that sips fuel and use it exclusively to run a split A/C unit utilizing a dedicated fuel storage tank. They are becoming more common in the States and are very, very economical. The rest would be solar, solar, solar…

    DC for lighting and anything else you can think of, I believe is the answer.

    For heat- A wood burning stove will keep the hacienda toasty on the couple months you will need it. Insulate the heck out of the place and spend some money on replacement windows (thermoplane).

    100 gallon, or as big as you want, propane tank for a gas cooktop/oven and you my friend are set.

    Congrats Andy this is an awesome set up for you and Vela Von. P.S. your bro is stand up as heck, family first!

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  • Janice L Evans

    I’m specifically speaking to the electrical and solar grid.. .all the rest, no problem. . .thanks!

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  • Don

    For the generator charging the batteries, you could connect the AC input for the converter to one of the breakers on the transfer switch.

    The only problem with that however, is you would have to ensure that breaker is not in the “inverter” position when you are connected to the inverter. The solar panels should be charging the batteries anyway in that configuration.

    I also don’t see a connection between “grid power” and the “AC panel” which I think would be needed for the other breakers in the AC panel that don’t go through the transfer switch.

    Hope I explained all that correctly. Looks like a fun project!

    Don

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    • Andy

      Hi Don!
      The converter/charger provides AC OUT to the AC panel. The transfer switch works by taking the desired circuits OFF the AC panel and they connect to the transfer switch breaker and then they go back to the AC panel. The transfer panel breakers are 3 position. ON, Off and AUX.

      If I am correct the GRID power goes directly to the converter and then to the AC panel. I guess I could turn off the main breaker at the meter

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      • Andy

        Don
        The manual transfer switch has 6 breakers that can work independently.
        Google Protran 2 manual transfer switch

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  • Don

    I re-read your reply to my comment and see you mentioned two transfer switches and I see your converter also has an AC out, operating as an inverter?

    Only one transfer switch shown in your diagram and the converter AC out is the only source to the AC panel. Is the second transfer switch between the converter AC output and the AC panel?

    More thought needed on this dual transfer switch setup…interesting.

    Don

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  • Libby

    OMG! That is awesome! I know you are going to be super busy, but when you get a break I would love to hear how you set it up. I also enjoy your opinions on things going on in the World. I am sure a lot of your other followers would love to hear about this adventure. Of course, not the “secret” stuff. Just want to hear how you set up the cabin and what you ran into and how you solved it. (I am not asking much, huh?) LOL

    See! Your blog could turn into your “New Tiny House”. People love following those blogs, too. I bet the dog will love the cabin.

    -Libby

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    • Andy

      Libby
      Should be a good opportunity for you to learn all about it since I got a cabin of nothing but bare wall studs right now.

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  • Don

    Andy
    Got it. I understand what the Protran2 does, just didn’t know what the Converter/12 Volt charger is doing, I have zero RV experience (so far) and assume the Converter/charger is for an RV application?

    So yeah, if you Y connect the grid and the transfer switch to the AC input to the Converter, you will need to kill the main power from the grid when the generator is charging the batteries. That also means the generator/Inverter will have to supply all power to the AC panel unless you turn individual breakers off that may overload it, unless the loads on the AC panel are less than what the generator/Inverter can handle.

    Seems a little convoluted, but I’m still thinking…

    Don

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    • Andy

      Don
      The converter supplies clean AC to the AC panel but its’ main function is as a smart 4 stage charger for the house batteries.
      And understand this — if I switch to AUX power(genset OR inverter) the breakers on the AC panel are DEAD unless I energize them via the transfer switch. If I have the fridge and freezer on transfer switch breaker 1 and the microwave on 2 and the kitchen(coffee pot) on 3 and the workdesk on 4 and the kitchen wall outlets on 5, I could perhaps flip on transfer switch breaker 1,3 and 4. Those would be the only AC circuits hot in the entire house. If I choose the inverter as the AUX power source, I think I can run indefinitely off a Kw of solar panels and 4 Trojan batteries.

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