Prepping the Casita for Natural Disasters

It’s scary to read about the storms that wiped out electricity for millions, leaving them to deal with extreme temperatures without so much as a fan.

I’ve changed my priorities a little about which Casita projects come first.

I’ve ordered a portable 90 watt solar system that folds up small enough to ride inside the cab of our truck.  I’ve also ordered a Maxx window vent so I can leave a window open for ventilation and run the fan even in rain and stormy weather when there is no shore power. 

With the portable solar panel, I can park the Casita in the shade and put the panels in the sun, guaranteeing that my battery will stay charged enough to keep the fan and lights running.  That wouldn’t keep us cool in this heat, but it would at be better than nothing.  Also it will hopefully keep the batteries topped off in cold weather so the furnace won’t drain them.

This photo from CEA Solar’s website shows two panels used together to boost power production. I’m posting it to show the built-in stand which should make it very easy to set up.

All this is assuming I get enough sun for the panels.  A couple of cloudy days shouldn’t be a problem.  A week without sun would be a problem.

The upside is the trailer will be boondock ready earlier than expected.

I have read so many great things about CEA Solar both on the Casita forums and on other RV boards.  They have a reputation for quality products and superb customer service.

I’m including pictures from their website so you can see what the new system looks like.  I doubt they would mind, since I’m promoting business for them!  🙂

Here are the specs from their website:

  • Built in 3 stage PWM charge controller with bulk, absorption, and float modes.
  • Produces 30-40 amp/hours per day in full sun*.
  • 5.2 amp operating current* (approx)
  • 17.2V max operating voltage
  • 14.4V peak charge voltage (temp compensated)
  • 13.8V float mode
  • Compatible with Lead-acid, Gel, or AGM type batteries
  • Indicator lights confirm proper operation
  • Adjustable, telescoping tilt legs
  • 16′ connection cord standard, 25′ extensions available
  • 4 different battery adapters included with every unit
  • Padded aluminum storage case
  • Panels fold for easy storage inside case
  • Dimensions panels folded: 27″x22″x3.5″, 25 lbs.
  • Dimensions panels open:  43″x27″x1.5″
  • Dimensions of metal case:  28″x24.5″x5.3″ 12lbs.
  • Total weight (panels inside case): 37 lbs
  • Shipping weight:  41lbs.

Since the Casita battery compartment is so hard to access, CEA Solar also offers a Casita special, which consists of a DC connector that you can just plug in instead of having to attach the cables to the battery each time.  They also include a security lock.  I will have to cut a small hole in the battery compartment door and seal a waterproof fitting to it so I can pull the connector out through the hole instead of leaving the battery compartment open while I’m using the panel.

I like this option so much better than permanently mounting a solar panel to the roof.  This way it won’t be subject to hail damage like a rooftop mounted panel would be.  And since we can fold it up and keep it in its padded case in the truck, it will be a lot less likely to get beat up or stolen than carrying a regular solar panel in the pickup bed.

And if the electricity goes off, we can still run a fan, use our refrigerator and freezer, cook, take hot or cold showers, have light at night, and charge our laptops and cell phones.

That feels like a lot of security to me!

Stephen Foster Festival of Lights & Craft Village

I don't have words for the stunning beauty and elegance of the intricately lit trees. The dark areas are where hanging Spanish moss obscures the light.

We went to the Festival of Lights at Stephen Foster Memorial State Park in White Springs, Florida this evening.

I’ve seen a lot of Christmas light displays, but the emphasis on the stunning forms of the huge old Live Oak trees with countless intricately woven lights is beyond my ability to describe.

Craft Village is a series of small buildings where live demonstrations of different crafts are presented.  During the Festival, these buildings are decorated to the hilt for Christmas.  We wandered through the shops, watching the demonstrations and admiring the quality, hand crafted merchandise offered for sale.

Palm tree

Free popcorn, hot chocolate, and marshmallows with skewers for toasting were available to everyone.  Amazing, since admission was only $2.00 per person!

There was also a music program which we missed because we weren’t sure where it was supposed to be.  But we greatly enjoyed the sound of Christmas carols pealing from the bells in the carillon tower.

I was told that the Festival will run every night through January 1, except December 25 and 26.  So if you are in the area, don’t miss this wonderful, unique presentation!

Weaving

Quilting

The blacksmith shop was the only one that was not staffed.

Tree and bell tower

The free popcorn station

The aromatherapy shop

A craft village shop

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