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AUSTRIA

“Luck is the ability to adapt instantly to the unexpected.”

Alfred Capus

In Italy, we experienced our van for the first time in winter conditions and could see that it was not perfect. Indeed, our electrical installation is not well enough designed to allow us to be self-sufficient in electricity in winter. We had to go, several times, to campsites to recharge our battery.

 

After some research on the internet, we find in Innsbruck a product that should be able to help us and that we cannot find in northern Italy. We had not planned to go to Austria, but it will be an opportunity to discover an additional country.

Electrical Installation

Before Austria, our electrical installation consisted of a Bluetti AC 200p (electrical box which manages the inputs, storage and electrical supply for the van) and two Victron solar panels (2x175 W) mounted in series and thus supposed to provide a current of 36V. However, we have found that with the low light intensities of winter this voltage can drop to 33V. Unfortunately, the Bluetti is designed in such a way that as soon as the voltage drops below 35V, the battery charging stops.

 

Roman Schmidt helps us enormously with regard to electrical reflections and it is he who drew our attention to this characteristic of the Bluetti. 

 

For  improve the situation, so we decided to install a third solar panel, of the same type and brand as those already mounted on the van (with a series installation it is advantageous to have solar panels with the same characteristics) , and connect it also in series to bring the voltage to about 56V. 

 

With this upgrade of the installation, in winter, we were able to more than double the solar gains. The other months of the year, the increase in solar gains will probably be proportional to the increase in the surface area of the installation.

BIKE

We take advantage of mountain biking while we find our solar panel and install it. Mixing pleasures and obligations is a perfect program. 

 

Biking is famous in Austria and there are countless trails of all kinds and levels. Our first day of mountain biking takes us to Hungerburg where we discover typical bikepark trails. We meet two locals there who advise us on a great outing for the next day. On the program 1200 m of positive altitude difference and much more natural and technical trails.

Generosity

We only stayed in Austria for a short time, but it didn't take long for the Austrians to surprise us with their kindness and generosity.

 

Already, when buying the aluminum profiles for the installation of the solar panel, the seller not only cuts them for us free of charge to the desired lengths, although this is not a service offered by the brand, but he also offers us a mastic gun and a cartridge that goes with it.

 

Time to mount the third solar panel, we park in a parking lot in the center of Innsbruck. It is therefore quite natural that the inhabitants of the district are intrigued by these two Swiss, their solar panel and their white bus. Among them, there are Ernst and Brigitte who invite us to come and warm up at their place with a cup of tea. This invitation quickly turns into a meal and a tasting of the best liqueurs prepared by the hostess. We spend an extremely pleasant evening and meet these two big-hearted characters who also like to travel with their van. As we bid them farewell, we have our arms full of homemade jams. These will turn out to be the best jams we have ever tasted.

COVID is catching up with us

By making the various purchases necessary for the installation of a new solar panel, we learn to our great surprise that the country will enter, as of Monday, in complete lockdown to counter the surge in the number of COVID cases. So we only have three days to do the work on the van and get an impression of Innsbruck and its surroundings.

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