Disappointing energy efficiency

After drawing up plans for my portable solar power system to power phase I of the new house, I was dealt a setback this week when I started tracking our power usage and was shocked to find out our 5th wheel is drawing as much power as a full size house and that's without running a washer/dryer.

Actually, it's more than our 1,750 sq foot house, with an electric stove, electric washer and dryer, and 1,600 watts worth of sodium arc lights in the garage.

Went back and did some baseline measurements. Running just the electric water heater, inverter, the vampire loads from the TV/VCR and refrigerator we draw 10 Kw hours per day. So 300 Kw hours a month as baseline, running nothing else. Yikes! That was my entire estimated power budget. That's with a gas stove and no clothes washing. Ouch.

Going back and reviewing our power bills we're running 900 Kw hours a month and higher in the summer. That makes this 325 some odd square feet of living space the most energy inefficient I've ever lived in. And that's pretty competitive with the neighbors, so it's not just us.

I was shocked to find out what power hogs RV's really are. That means I'm going to need to rethink Phase I of the solar house construction. The plan was to build the pad, Phase I portable power system, septic tank, water well and water treatment system, then live in the 5th wheel during construction. But building the power system for 900 Kw/hours a month is going to almost double the price. Twice as many panels, more batteries.

There are a lot of good reasons to live in a camper, but I guess going green isn't one of them. That was my own fault for not doing more research ahead of time. I can find a solution, but it won't be living in this beast. Dang.

Triple E

Senior Member
Re: Disappointing energy efficiency

If going green was cheap we would have gone green a long time ago.

When I built my home I had dreams of solar panels and a wind mill. The wind mill was the cheapest of the whole dang thing. But when you add up the cost of a battery bank, inverter, this and that and that and this, WOW. Solar Panel,,,, way out of reach.

So I just hooked up to natural gas, installed radiant in-floor heat and that is as green as I got.

Good Luck and let us know how it all turns out.


Senior Member
Re: Disappointing energy efficiency

Well, you can either have a well insulated, energy efficient RV that you need a Kennilworth semi to move, or you can have a light weight RV that is not so energy efficient.

Remember, RV's are generally considered to be "Toys," not permanent living quarters. They can be, but, as you have found out, at a cost. :eek: :eek: :) :)

Clay L

Senior Member
Re: Disappointing energy efficiency

According to this DOE site http://www.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity_faqs.asp

"In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 15,624 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh."

In our coach we use about 250 to 300 kwh per month - in temperate climates with little AC use.

It sounds like your 5er is out of line for some some reason.
Re: Disappointing energy efficiency

Our baseline, the water heater, refrigerator, phantom load from the TV and DVD player, and the inverter is 300 Kw hours per month. 10 Kw hours per day empty, no A/C, no computers. Just the frig.

The other units are pulling nearly as much, so we're not too far out of line. Clay, you guys must be really power frugal.

Yeah, put a lot of insulation and wall supports, home size appliances and suddenly your fiver weighs 20,000 lbs.