Power Woes in the Desert

Yes, that is a reading of 103.3 Volts!

For the last two years, we have been able to travel to Alaska during the summer and avoid really hot temperatures. This year, COVID-19 has kept us stationary in New Mexico and has introduced us to a new challenge – low power.

Our campground only has 30amp power, which limits us to running a single AC unit. Despite our elevation, the daytime temperatures have recently been in the 90s. It does get a little warm inside, particularly for Hobbes, but temperatures in the mid-80s are manageable. The problem is that when it is consistently hot, the cumulative load on the local power grid causes the voltage to drop perilously low. We learned of the voltage drops from our friends that have a fancy, hard-wired Progressive Dynamics EMS. We had considered one of these when we launch but had opted for a basic surge protector. That said while assessing the power situation I remembered having the Kill-a-Watt meter. Although intended to measure the power consumption of a device, it has doubled as our low tech, voltage meter. As low voltage can damage electrical equipment as well as high voltage, the situation definitely caused concern. We reported the issue to the campground but given the current situation, we’re not expecting changes anytime soon.

For now, we’re doing everything we can to keep the interior cool, minimize our shore power usage and reduce the risk of damaging any of our equipment. We have placed our Alaska Reflectix in most of the windows and deploy the awnings whenever the winds permit. We over cool at night to give us a head start on daytime temperatures. As for power, we have disconnected our chargers and run all our DC systems from battery and solar. Our water heater and fridge are now run on propane. And using the Kill-a-Watt as a guide, we ration when we run our larger electrical appliances e.g. washer and dryer. As soon as we complete some leftover wiring work from our battery upgrades, we can run the washer and dryer from our inverter whenever convenient.

To the Bat Cave!


“It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy... Let's go exploring!” - Calvin