Smart preppers plan ahead for worst-case scenarios before they happen. Many people coordinate bug-out plans with family members and friends, just in case the need arises to escape an emergency situation, be it natural (hurricane or electromagnetic solar flare) or not (armed conflict or disease).
While we’re all waiting for the End of the World, why not enjoy some rest and relaxation, survivalist-style? Touring and camping in a recreational vehicle (RV) is a great way to travel without breaking the bank.
RVs are famous for being gas-guzzlers. Did you know that a standard, large recreational vehicle gets only about 10 miles per gallon (mpg)? Smaller models are more fuel-efficient with some van-style RVs getting 18-22 mpg.
If a disaster closed down all the gas pumps, having an alternative fuel source would certainly come in handy. Even without a SHTF scenario, many eco-conscious people are turning toward vehicles powered with solar energy.
The Iveco Daily Electric RV made by Dethleffs comes equipped with solar panels mounted on just about every surface possible: sides and roof. The onboard system can produce so much energy – up to 3,000 watts of energy – that it is self-sufficient and can take you off the grid as you travel and camp.
The powertrain on this mobile e-home produces no emissions, has ample solar charging capacity, and integrates smart (computer-networked) features from stem to stern and top to bottom.
The Iveco comes with 334 square feet of thin-film solar panels that can generate up to 3,000 watts of electricity to keep the 228-Ah sodium-nickel-chloride battery array charged. Supercapacitors charge and discharge the battery faster, yielding better performance and more efficient power usage.
The battery can drive the rig a bit over 100 miles before it needs a recharge and is rated good for about 1,500 charges or 155,000 miles. The charging pad is wireless and built into the vehicle so no charging cables are required.
This solar-powered RV also features driver assistance technology (a Mobileye-based front vehicle monitoring system), smart windows, and efficient heating system which uses phase change materials that absorb heat when temperatures rise above 79° F and release it when the temperature falls at night. Infrared heating panels in the floor, walls, and furniture heat objects rapidly, without warming the air around them, providing economic heat inside the vehicle.
A CampConnect app integrates control of various functions onto a single touchscreen so occupants can adjust equipment such as the lights and heat from the app instead of using hard controls.
Alexander Leopold, Managing Director at Dethleffs, thinks the all-electric motorhome lets manufacturers streamline in-cabin power by connecting all equipment to the battery instead of having combined battery and fuel power. There is even a ceramic range for electric cooking.
Two foil-based technologies also come with the Iveco. One is built into the window panes and darkens the windows for sleep and privacy. The other one is installed in the lighting and creates a mirrored surface when the light is turned off. There is even a starlight system that projects points of light onto the ceiling to imitate a starry sky above the alcove bed.
The Iveco is otherwise a typical RV that sports a comfy sofa lounge/dining area with a flat-panel TV, kitchen area, and toilet closet.
Electric campers are up and coming with other manufacturers rolling out their product offerings. Keep in mind that solar is usually only one of several possible energy sources installed in a typical RV. To supplement solar power on cloudy days, there might be a generator, shore power, and/or a vehicle alternator. All of these devices put electrical energy onto the miniaturized electrical grid in the RV.
All of the vehicle’s localized grid power sources can either be on or off. Solar power is off at night and the alternator is off when the vehicle is not driving. Therefore, the battery is key to delivering electrical juice overnight, while the engine is switched off, and when the generator isn’t running.
With many solar-powered houses, excess current can be sold back to the power utility. But this isn’t an option with an RV fueled by the sun’s rays. There is no advantage to continue charging after the battery has reached full capacity.
If you are shopping for a solar-powered RV, there are other makes and models available today for your consideration, including the Dutchmen Aerolite, Northwood Snow River, Pleasure-Way Plateau, Airstream Basecamp, and Forest River Sonoma Explorer.
Eco-friendly road warriors will undoubtedly have more good solar-powered vehicle options as manufacturers step up their games to compete for consumer dollars. And that’s a good thing for all of us and our Mother Earth.