Something rather amazing happened to us when we borrowed the Lance 855-S in 2012. No, we didn’t fall in love with slide-outs or discover a matter-to-energy transport system under the dinette. Evidently Lance couldn’t deliver on that last request.
What happened took a few weeks on the road to discover; our camper batteries remained strong even when we were not plugged into shore power for extended periods of time. As long as we didn’t need to run the air conditioner or microwave, there was seemingly no need to plug the camper into shore power, ever.
Conspiracy theorists would say we were charging with our alternator or using a generator, but we were not driving all the time, and we didn’t have a generator. So what changed? Three things.
First, the camper had a 95-watt solar panel system. Second, the camper lighting was 100% LED. And third, the camper had two batteries. With two batteries, relatively sunny days, and our usual on-the-road power conserving lifestyle, we had all the power we needed.
In our previous campers, we never quite got the mix right; large solar panel, all-LED lighting, and two batteries. For us, the Lance 855-S was the first to nail this formula.
What made this feat even more impressive is the fact that we were charging our computers, phone, camera, and other 110 Volt AC devices with a portable 12 Volt DC to 110 Volt AC inverter. Being able to charge our computers, phone, and camera is critical to our ability to publish the magazine, and had previously necessitated our need to plug-in regularly at campgrounds and other places we visited.
If we could keep our computers, phone, and camera charged using a portable inverter, and the camper could remain charged using the solar panel system, our off-the-grid freedom had just ticked-up a notch, or two. Needless to say, we were very excited about this discovery.
The formula of two batteries, 95 watts of solar (or more), and all LED lighting is becoming common-place throughout the truck camper industry. Most campers can also be adapted to have these elements. For example, our new-to-us truck camper will have such a system installed.
The importance of a portable inverter to our truck camping lifestyle cannot be overstated. We use one constantly. In fact, we have two, just in case one quits. Honestly, I don’t think we could do what we do on-the-road without a 12 Volt DC to 110 Volt AC inverter. We would have to change our name to, “Wish We Could Go Truck Camping Magazine”. Not only would that be a ridiculously long URL, but it be no fun.
This week’s Question of the Week is all about these small wonders. The question is, “Do you have an inverter in your truck camper?” If you do, tell us the brand, if it’s portable or installed, and share your experience with the product.