I Tested Keystone’s Off Grid RV in Freezing Temps, Here’s What Happened
Keystone is releasing the first truly capable, factory-manufactured, off grid RV. Their Montana brand, notable for luxury 5th wheels, has introduced a brand new “Super Solar Flex” package.
Not only does it come with over 1000 watts of solar panels, the 5th wheel RV also has 510ah of lithium batteries. Additionally, a 3000w inverter and AC soft start are included for full functionality when camping off grid.
I flew to the Keystone headquarters in February to put this Montana to the test.
Testing The Montana 5th Wheel RV
We have first hand experience with camping off-grid, using only solar and lithium batteries. Our 1979 Airstream Argosy has 500ah of lithium batteries and 640 watts of solar power.
However, that Airstream is tiny compared to the Montana 5th wheel line of RVs and we’ve never camped in temps that were consistently below freezing.
Camping off grid in a 5th wheel requires a lot of power.
AC Power Outlets
Keystone’s vision is to have this 5th wheel operate the seamlessly wether you’re plugged in or not. All the residential outlets are connected to the 3000w inverter. This means you can use any of them no matter if you’re connected or not.
The “brains” of the system will shut down certain appliances before a breaker is flipped. We tested this and it worked flawlessly.
Also, we simultaneously ran many devices (fridge, tv, laptop, etc…) and when we turned on the microwave, it stopped before a breaker flipped. Then by adjusting our electric usage and the microwave started up again.
Cooking with High Draws
I used an Instant Pot, microwave and blender. All of the devices operated easily with on battery power and inverter.
Instant Pot usage of 30+ minutes barley made a dent in the battery percentage.
The furnace uses propane to heat but also draws battery power with its fan usage. Even though the fan doesn’t draw extreme energy, we used it for 20 hours straight. Remember, the outside temps never rose above freezing.
My biggest fear was that the constant fan usage (on top of all the cooking & entertaining) would drain the battery bank.
When I woke up warm at 6am I was thrilled. The entire system still had 30% battery power remaining.
Speaking of battery power, you can run these lithium batteries down to 0% without harming them. That means 510ah of lithium battery power is equivalent to 1020ah of lead acid battery power.
The batteries are made by Dragonfly Energy, the parent company to Battle Born Lithium Batteries.
The batteries are beautifully wired, safe behind a plexiglass window. You can remove the window, but I doubt it would be necessary.
The window is great for showing off your system or just putting a set of eyes on them to make sure all looks good.
Keystone uses Jaboni solar panels with their system. The 1060 watts on the roof can keep you operating indefinitely in sunny, mild conditions.
For instance, our Airstream can recharge from 0 to 35 percent on a sunny day. Although conditions weren’t ideal for me to test this with the Montana, the unit should be able to charge from 0 to 50 percent on a sunny day.
Victron Smart Charge Controllers
One of the best parts of this system is its user interface. You can use an app on your phone to check, in real time, the system stats.
I used it throughout my trial run of his Keystone RV.
Not only does it show your current stats, it keeps a history of usage. This allows you to track your energy output and address any possible anomalies when camping.
The truth is…camping overnight in this Keystone Montana gave me serious RV envy. The Montana has all of the off-grid capabilities as our Airstream, but also has a lot more space and luxury.
It was great living that 5th-wheel-life for a day!
The Best FREE Camping in the USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.