Re: Global warming wipeout
Yes, we're in an RV. We have panels adding up to 450 nominal watts on the roof, a 2,500 watt inverter and four deep cell batteries.
Yes, we can run our microwave easily. It does pull a lot of power quickly out of the batteries, but since you usually use a microwave for only a few minutes at a time, that is not a problem.
For ordinary baking, etc., we usually use our Sun Oven, and cook in it probably 300 days per year. We use the microwave mostly just to heat up stuff that is already cooked, or to defrost something for dinner when I forget.
Our refrigerator runs on propane when we are somewhere completely off grid. When we are where electrical hookups are available, we run the refrigerator on the shore power, and just break the circuit to the inverter, so that all other loads are on our solar system. We prefer using the solar system for everything but the fridge, even when shore power is available as the power is cleaner and more stable, and just to use as little grid power as possible.
If we need heat, we have a small catalytic propane heater, but need for either heat or air conditioning is very minimal due to our ability to use the ignition key to position ourselves in perfect weather much of the time. Of course, it is not possible to operate the air conditioner with the amount of solar power we have, and to use that, we would have to have hookups available.
I like the self sufficiency of the solar panels, and appreciate the silence while still being able to use power. We have a 6,500 watt generator that came built in the motorhome, but we use it only often enough to keep it in good working condition, about an hour per month to keep the seals lubricated and for its' general well being in case of need.
At this point in time, also, as we have probably paid for the system in saved electrical charges, there is also the very nice feeling of "a free lunch". And I like the feeling that we are not dependent on the grid system for our comfort.
It does require a mindful attitude about power use. The panels only create so much power in a day, and you have to learn to conserve. Our batteries are usually fully charged by noon, so the afternoon hours "on the float" allow us to use lots of power that would otherwise be wasted that the panels are producing, so we usually do a lot of the hours of our internet surfing in the afternoon, for example.
To be able to be in wilderness areas many miles from an electrical outlet and still have all modern comforts without the noise and expense of running a generator is priceless.
modified to add.....the comments about using the waste heat from the engine are very interesting. We have friends whose hot water system in their RV uses that principle. Our only contribution to that sort of idea is that on travel days, we sit the crock pot in the sink, and use the inverter to tap the power from the alternator when the engine is running to cook our supper while we roll down the road. Has saved us a lot of yucky truck stop meals at the end of a day when we're really tired, because supper is all ready in the crock pot, ready to eat.
Clearly, just traveling in an RV is wasteful of energy.....so we do what we can to minimize our use of energy and our energy footprint in all other ways, use of solar photovoltaic power, line drying clothes, heating hot water with the sun, cooking in a Sun Oven, minimal water use, etc. We think our total energy footprint is a small fraction of what the average person in a fixed base house uses. Even when we need to use heat or air conditioning, we are heating or cooling only a few hundred square feet of space. And living in such a small space means that we do not accumulate much in the way of consumer goods, which helps as well.