reset, March According to Google, all-electric cooking experiment


I have been laying low a while, taking stock of where I am (personally, not geographically) and where I want to go.

New1 priorities:

  1. be more aggressive about getting cardio when my back allows it. Been pretty good lately, actually. :-)
  2. do a better job of tracking license renewal and other obligations in Google Calendar, to avoid costly backtracking
  3. stay the fsck out of California, for real this time
  4. attempt to find snowbirding loops that require less travel. Trying it out this year centering on Alamogordo, NM.
  5. eventually try out the NM state pass
  6. more preventative maint on the van. I have a CEL from the rodent infestation and am starting to replace parts related to it.
  7. time my mail and Amazon shipments better
  8. develop the /r/actualvandwellers subreddit

camping in a scenic overview


I am camped in a spot with White Sands NM visible in the distance. Surrounded by mountains on all sides it’s rather picturesque (though my pano doesn’t capture it). Then I realized there is a scenic overlook pulloff about a half-mile above where I’m camping. The pulloff is hidden by the berm, but if you draw a line upward from Muffin’s head it’s just behind the red berm. I can see it from my campsite about 1/4 mile away. And they can see me, so my cat holes are dug strategically behind the scrubby pinyon.

It’s weird to pick up pinyon up off the ground when I’ve seen it go for $20/bundle at convenience stores.

Been windy a few days, with today being the windiest. 30mph sustained with gusts to something stupid. I had to reorient the van into the wind to keep the commotion to a minimum.

Next week I’ll come down off the mountain, pick up an Amazon package at a counter and mail at general delivery, and head upward in elevation a bit.

March, according to Google


close enough

Experiment: cooking on electricity all day

I think of myself as cooking on propane primarily, cooking some things with electricity only when excess power is clearly available. This approach is somewhat driven by my past experience with lead-chemistry batteries and their need to be/stay at 100% state of charge.

As a result cooking with electricity is a bit stressful for me, especially “borrowing” from the bank betting I can fill it later in the day. Yes, I know up here (points to head) that LFP doesn’t have to reach 100% and can sit at PSoC. But down here (points to gut) my lead-battery muscle memories eat at me.

The forecast for yesterday said CLOUDY but the hourly showed the morning clear. So I worked up my courage and used electrical appliances for everything.

starting line

When I woke up the bank was at 73% state of charge, meaning I’d consumed ~40.5Ah overnight.


Coffee was made on the 290w mini hotplate, using ~106Wh. I used the percolator since it’s an excellent fit for the 4” surface.

breakfast - grits

I boiled 2c of water on the hotplate and cooked grits in it. Another ~106Wh.


State of Charge dropped to 64% by 0855 when the solar brought the net current to zero (solar in balancing my loads). From here on out we’ll be charging.

dinner - meat loaf

At about 945 I started the biggest and longest-running load. I cooked a meat loaf in the 190w, 4qt crock. ~814Wh.

leftovers for lunch

I was hungry so around 1100 I started lunch.

I had half a pot of Knorr Rice Pilaf so I reheated it in the 271w rice cooker. I added a dab of water and it was piping hot ~74Wh later.

This period of running both the rice cooker and crock at once (~461w) was the biggest overall draw the system would see all day. The solar was making ~41A and the net charging was about +50w.


The system hit Absorption voltage (13.8v in this case) at 1215, maybe 1.5 hours later than usual.


Absorption was complete by 1245 and we would remain at ~100% SoC until sundown.

finish line

The meat loaf was done at 1345 so the system could coast…

There was about an hour of wispy high clouds in the afternoon but dodged the “cloudy” forecast.


My daily average harvest since installing the new controller 67 days ago has been 1.94kWh.
Yesterday’s harvest of 2.67kWh was larger than average but not monstrously outsized. Four days ago it was 2.77kWh and I don’t remember why.

The cooking consumption was right at 1.1kWh for the day but the total was less than the 3.04kWh one might think. I suspect this is because I’ve been cooking with electricity already in that average, just not using it for everything. Specifically, I haven’t been cooking breakfast and making coffee off the battery, outside a few experiments. Adding 212Wh of morning cooking to the 1.94kWh average would be 2.14kWh. The 5-hr meatloaf was an anomaly.

PVwatts modeling suggests ~4.2kWh is available here this time of year so there appears to be plenty of headroom on average. I think 100% electrical cooking will work for me when:

  1. models show ≥3kWh available on average
  2. and the local weather cooperates

That would be year-‘round here in Alamagordo where the average for my setup would be 3.3kWh in December (5.72kWh average). Of course December at 5800ft would be frozen solid and I wouldn’t be here for that…


Editing to add. Today I did coffee, reheated meatloaf for lunch, and cooked dinner in rice cooker off solar. It was 30F last night so I ran the electric mattress pad. Still chilly today so I ran the micro spaceheater when nothing else was running. By late afternoon we were up to 3.60kWh.

but maybe not today

Today the sun is shining but there’s so much wind blowing over White Sands that gypsum dust makes it look like there is fog obscuring the mountains in the distance:

gypsum fog

Update: I ran the numbers based on solar angle and maxxed out the solar. The yield numbers were only a couple percentage points lower than what I observe under clear blue skies. Interesting. Added cooling from the wind? Greater diffusion/reflection from the suspended gypsum dust?


mastodon comment thread for this post

  1. OK, some aren’t new. But I am recommitting to them.