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Kit vs. Build Your Own Solar System For a Pop-up Camper

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post

    Sadly, AGM batteries are capable (and have done so) of venting the same stuff as flooded batteries do, and so they need the install requirements. And maybe it's good to be able to smell when somethings rotten....
    From IBC/ICC codes POV treat FLA and SLA batteries exactly the same with respect to ventilation requirements. Makes no difference. The only difference is Spill Containment measures. FLA batteries require Spill Containment, SLA does not.

    As for using AGM in an RV or Camper has little if anything to do with ventilation. Just like an aircraft, spills cannot be tolerated. AGM;s were designed for aerospace and military. AGm's have a place in Solar applications, but you had better justify the expense because end of life cost is 400% higher than FLA. You had better have a good reason to do that.

    MSEE, PE


    • #32
      I don't get why this job is so complicated, requiring professional help? Install your batteries (vented of course), your panels, a charge controller, and an inverter. Then plug that plug that you connect to shore power to your inverter. That way all your interior plugs will be fed by the inverter. When you want to connect to shore power again, unplug from your inverter and plug into shore power.

      Since you don't have a battery charger in your trailer (it's important to confirm that), there shouldn't be anything else to it. And if there is a battery charger that you don't know about, your inverter will just flash the overload error and shut down, since the battery charger will be sucking more power from your inverter than the inverter can supply. But it's safer to not rely on that overload protection and to confirm that you don't have a battery charger, see below for my suggestion there.

      See my post in the thread "newbie advice" for my gear recommendations. Add a Xantrex 600 watt inverter to that list.

      You can certainly make the installation more elaborate, for example by installing a transfer switch that will automatically feed your wall plugs with shore power when that's plugged in, but it's not at all necessary, especially for an old trailer.

      And I'm not sure I understand what type of trailer this is, but if it's a pop up and weight on the roof is an issue you might consider frameless panels.

      And personally I'd add some wiring for 12 volt loads like camper lights, but that's not totally necessary and you can add it in the future as needed. Make sure you add a fusebox when you do it, let me know if you need a recommendation. And of course for efficiency you want to make sure all your lights are led or at least fluorescent (not incandescent).

      And it bears repeating that you should confirm that there's no existing battery charger in the camper, or anything else that's constantly getting powered by shore power when you plug in. An easy test would be to buy a kill-a-watt meter (Amazon or most hardware stores have it for about $20) and plug your shore power into it. When you turn everything off you should see 0 watts on the kill-a-watt.
      Last edited by Wrybread; 05-11-2017, 06:20 AM.