Mar 3 | Case Studies

How Thin Air Web Powers Their Business Completely Off the Grid for Months at a Time

Finding the right inverter/charger to power their business and fulfill their dreams of spending months at a time off-grid

Marc and Alowetta Terrien have been running Thin Air Web, a full-service web and software development agency, remotely since 2007. They employ a virtual team of six and serve nearly 250 clients spread across the United States. For the last six years, they’ve been living out of their 40-foot motorhome full-time, traveling around the United States. “It’s been wonderful,” Marc says. “We travel and work and play, we chase our kids and grandkids around. Most of all, we don’t shovel snow anymore.”

Wanted the flexibility to stay off the grid longer, without any interruptions to their business

But Marc and Alowetta wanted more flexibility than their current setup affords them. They travel in a 2003 Travel Supreme RV that they’ve owned since 2016, and they wanted to spend more time off-grid, without having to worry about interruptions to their business. “We wanted to spend more time in our favorite places, like Utah and Arizona. And being able to do that would require an upgrade.” The RV’s original 2,000 watt modified sine wave inverter/charger made their modern electronics “grumpy,” Marc says. The system could handle a long weekend, but not much more. “We couldn’t run the electronics that we need to run our business full-time. We got by, but it just wasn’t adequate. The batteries wouldn’t last.”

Marc and Alowetta needed a clean, pure sine wave inverter/charger compatible with lithium-ion batteries. Marc also wanted something compatible with their current rig, so he didn’t have to rewire their entire motorhome. With these criteria in mind, he began his research.

 

“The heart of any system is a solid inverter/charger and pure sine wave, which our old model was not. To keep our computers and everything else happy, we knew that the inverter/charger was going to be critical.”

 

Solution: A clean, pure sine wave inverter/charger compatible with lithium-ion batteries

Samlex inverter charger install in RV allows off the grid camping

 

Marc spent several months researching his options, working on different budgets and scenarios while factoring in as many different variables as he could predict. When he found the Samlex EVO-2212 inverter/charger, he realized it checked all of his boxes and more. “Samlex has a great reputation,” Marc explains. “And the deeper I dug, the clearer the EVO-2212 became the front-runner.”

All-in-one EVO inverter/charger streamlined the installation

Marc read through the user manuals and saw that the EVO-2212 would do everything he needed, without requiring extensive rewiring of his current setup. It could also handle the integrated 50 amp input from their RV’s solar charge controller directly. The ability to share the battery charging and maintenance was another advantage, and Marc found Samlex’s pricing very competitive. Plus, he loved the customizability with the EVO-RC-PLUS remote. “The customization of the charge curves and other parameters was a plus. I ultimately designed and built my own lithium-ion batteries, so I might be a little more hands-on than some. But I recommend it to people who are less technical than I am too because, for newer RVs, the EVO-2212 is simply plug-and-play.”

Marc spent time rewiring the RV while he and Alowetta continued to use it to live and travel full-time. “We went all in architecting the new system over about six months, and turned it on Labor Day of 2020,” Marc recalls. Once their system was up and running, he appreciated the contact he had with Samlex’s customer support, which always sent him prompt and detailed responses to his queries. “Their customer service is always very approachable,” he says. “We get very detailed emails back regarding any kind of question we have.” When he needed to update the firmware a few months later, the process was fast and easy. “It was a very smooth process. You can pull the update over to an SD card and drop it in. Then you just run through a couple of menus, and your firmware update is done.” Since turning on the setup, Marc and Alowetta have had zero interruptions to work whatsoever.

 

RV dispersed off the grid camping near Moab Utah

 

“It’s been absolutely bulletproof, with zero downtime. Having that stable electricity is the foundation that allows us to live the way we do. It’s critical to our day-to-day living and our day-to-day business success.”

 

Result: Over 4 months off-grid in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico while working full-time

In the last year and a half, Marc and Alowetta have been able to spend four months completely off-grid, with zero interruptions and zero downtime. Their electrical set-up powers Two iMacs, iPhones, iPads, a coffee maker, microwave, lights, and several other systems, both 110V AC and 12V DC. They’ve been able to attend their grandkids’ baseball games in different cities, attend NASCAR races and go mountain biking, all while running their agency full-time.

Over $3000 saved while boondocking in Moab

The Moab desert is one of Marc and Alowetta’s favorite places in the world: they love to jeep and mountain bike through the area’s beautiful red rock formations. But RV parks in the area cost as much as $80-100/night. Instead of paying for a park, Marc and Alowetta were able to use their new electrical setup to boondock 15 miles north of the Moab Desert for an entire month. In the past, they would only have been able to stay for a few days at a time before needing to find a park with hookups.

 

“We were able to spend a month in one of our favorite places without spending $3,000 on fees…and we only broke down camp once, to dump our tanks and refill. It had nothing to do with power. It was other limited resources…That kind of flexibility is really important.”

 

Jeep in Moab Utah exploring off the grid

Thin Air Web jeep and bike in Moab desert while dispersed camping

They’ve continued to serve nearly 250 clients with their fully-remote setup. Being able to work from anywhere and get off the grid has also made it easier to adjust to the changes COVID-19 brought to the workplace. “Our day-to-day business operations didn’t change at all, because we were already a hundred percent virtual. A lot of our clients had to adapt, but we were already very comfortable, and we were able to help them with those transitions and make them feel comfortable as well.” Marc and Alowetta love their full-time traveling lifestyle, and the Samlex EVO-2212 inverter/charger at the heart of the setup makes that possible. They have no plans to settle down.

 

“It’s just such a fun lifestyle. And the fact that we can run our business virtually without worrying about electricity makes it all possible.”

 


 

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