How these wandering technology nomads could change your concepts of electricity
By Bob Difley
Things change, in fact they have changed a lot–especially in the technological products available for RVers–since I first started RVing more than 40 years ago. I struggled in my early days of RVing with keeping my batteries charged, the annoying drone of what at the time seemed to be the endless running of my generator trying to re-charge those batteries, and still find electricity to be somewhat mystical.
So I was interested when I discovered Chris Dunphy & Cherie Ve Ard, a couple wandering America in their 1961 bus conversion. On their website, titled Technomads: Technology Enabled Nomads, they describe their current state as “exploring the confluence of full-time travel, technology, career, and community; all while embracing nomadic serendipity”.
It could be said that all of us boondockers and fulltimers are seeking “nomadic serendipity” but Chris and Cherie are putting together their version in large part with the help of combining standard technology with cutting edge technology developments to create and operate the best, most efficient, resource and environment friendly electrical system possible for their bus. And they write with clarity and knowledge about their efforts along with real time examples of their efforts.
I was especially fascinated with what they had to say about “boosting inverters”:
Boosting Inverter = Smaller Generator
RV generators have traditionally been sized so that they can handle the absolute peak load that they might ever need to power – in particular, the surge current of multiple roof air conditioners turning on at once. You thus end up with 7,000W – 15,000W generators typically running at a fraction of their capacity, only rarely ever even approaching full power.
If you instead use a boosting inverter to handle spikes in demand, you can get by with a much smaller, cheaper, and more fuel efficient generator. It is a win all around, and the money you save by going with a smaller generator will likely more than cover the cost of a more capable inverter.
Cummins Onan has even embraced this design philosophy in their new flagship hybrid generators, bundling a matched inverter / charger right with the generator itself. (Photo at left – Onan HQD810 Hybrid Genrator, a 7,500 watt generator that uses a paired inverter to boost it to 10,000 watts.
You wonder why you don’t see more about boosting inverters or hybrid generators, and Chris offers a reason–and some examples–for that also:
The reason that so few companies have offered “boosting” is because so few people have really understood the benefits of it. So let me give a few examples from our past few months in Florida where being able to boost literally improved our views.
#1 – We spent the month of January staying on a friend’s absolutely beautiful patch of land in Kissimmee, with the only available source of power being a single outdoor outlet 50 yards away. By dialing our shore current limit down to 15 amps we were able to keep from blowing fuses, and thanks to boosting we were even able to run our electric heater on the coldest nights. In the morning the batteries would get charged, making up for the drain in the evening. Without our boosting inverter, we would have had to go without heat, or stay in a drab commercial RV park.
For more RV tips and articles, check out my Healthy RV Lifestyle website where you will find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle).