In preparation for our now cancelled Leadville trip, we disconnected our Micro Minnie FLX to conduct an off grid experiment. One of the key features of the FLX package, touted by Winnebago, is the ability to spend up to five days off grid. On a recent Saturday afternoon, at approximately 1:00 p.m., I disconnected the FLX from the shore power. I will outline the next 28 hours and provide my thoughts.
To put some color behind the weather, Saturday was a partly cloudy day with the temps reaching the mid 70’s before the sunset that evening. It was a pretty mellow afternoon since we had recently returned from our Wyoming Labor Day Weekend trip and we just wanted to relax. Short of the refrigerator running, there was no added draw on the battery besides the inverter being on.
For a good majority of the night we made a conscious effort to only have one light on a time. The awning light was on for about two hours, which we did not realize until we went to bed. We both showered, but did not use the water pump since we were still connected to city water. We ran the fan in the bathroom, and the Truma AquaGo temp control was set to “Comfort,” and it stayed that way through the night (this was by accident, as I had intended to switch it to Eco mode). Stella used her hair dryer for less than a minute and we ran the heat for a short period of time prior to bed.
That night, the lows were slightly below freezing with the sunsetting about 7:20 p.m. The heat was set to 55 overnight and ran two or three times in the early morning. The tank heaters were on and ran from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. With the temps falling below freezing, I was not concerned at all with the tanks freezing but I was more doing this in anticipation for our trip to Leadville. I use a CPAP and that mirrored the same hours as the tank heaters. Our laptops and phones charged overnight as well.
Moving onto Sunday morning, we awoke to a remaining battery charge of 56%. We turned the heat on and ran it at 58 degrees. We made three cups of coffee using single a serve device and used the microwave for a total of three minutes. After breakfast, our battery was down to 50%. The weather Sunday was a picture perfect Colorado bluebird day, not a cloud in the sky. The solar panels were exposed to full sun for a solid four hours and were receiving sun from daybreak through late Sunday afternoon. At that point, we reconnected to shore power about 4:00 p.m. before heading back home. We were only able to recharge the battery to 60%, from 50% that morning.
FINAL THOUGHTS: What’s most concerning is the lack of battery recovery from Sunday morning until we reconnected to shore power at 4:00 p.m., considering only the refrigerator and the inverter were the devices drawing power. (I cannot remember if I changed the Truma AquaGo to Eco mode or if I left it on Comfort mode).
Without a significant reduction in power consumption overnight would mostly likely put us below 20% on Lithionics battery, which is not advised (from what I have read), even though the battery will shut off to protect itself at 10% remaining charge. With that being said, I am a bit disappointed in the level of recharge on the battery. An obvious solution would be to supplement with a generator or add an additional solar panel (or two). But should I really have to do this? Another option would be to move the CPAP onto its own power source such as the Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station. And, I could completely shut off the Truma AquaGo when the temperatures will be above freezing.
Our off grid experiment left me wondering. In perfect conditions, where you are not running the air conditioning/heat and the inverter plus the AquaGO is turned off, I would like to think you could expect to get at least three full days if you had full sun to recharge the battery each day. Is a full 5 days plausible? Let me know your thoughts.
NOTE: I found a helpful website, Footprint Hero, I linked it back to their solar charge time calculator and find many other helpful links on the site as well.