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Dual purpose "portable" solar setup for home and RV

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Sunking View Post

    Well said and very true. Just in battery cost alone you are paying 5 to 10 times more than just buying power. Used in an RV, camp site or other part time use like a hybrid system can be 100 times more expensive. So if anyone is considering going off grid to save more or lessen their CO2 foot-print is only fooling themselves as that is impossible with off-grid.
    While installing solar in an RV may be fun I don't think the main reason is to go Green, It seems most off grid people want nothing to do with their mean and nasty POCO so they decide to cut the cord and generate power their way. Although in most cases it will be a lot more expensive they may at least feel that they are free to make their own choices.

    I wish I could do that with medical insurance but alas I don't have enough relatives that work in the medical field so I pay through the nose for basic coverage hoping I don't get a serious illness.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

      While installing solar in an RV may be fun I don't think the main reason is to go Green, It seems most off grid people want nothing to do with their mean and nasty POCO so they decide to cut the cord and generate power their way. Although in most cases it will be a lot more expensive they may at least feel that they are free to make their own choices.
      RV is an exception.

      MSEE, PE

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Tap2112 View Post


        Mrch...I'm not sure where you are getting 300-600w. I intend to use 6-9 panels, 165w each so I am looking at a system larger than 1000w. We don't camp in the winter so that is not an issue for us. We camp April-October and in California those months are all primarily sunny. Despite that we will still need to get more conservative with our energy use due to our poor habits at home. We have a 6K grid tie system so we are accustomed to using as much electricity as we need without much impact to our bill due to NEM. I used approx 13,000Kw last year and still had a zero electrical bill for the year. This is why I am sold on the technology. However, battery setups are far different and I am finding that out to my dismay the more I research it. Solar is significantly more costly in the off-grid world.
        Sorry Tap my mistake. I was just agreeing with this.

        '' Additionally, many of the places we camp are 95+ degrees in the summer (last weekend it was 106 at our campsite but fortunately we were staying at an RV park) so it would have to be big enough to run our portable 10,000 BTU air conditioner. I'm not sure 300-600w of power would be sufficient to keep the batteries charged for a long weekend in that environment.''

        You could get a few hours of AC at the peak sun time during the day with 9 panels with enough batteries. My friend has 2000 + watts on his with 12 trojan 6 v batteries he runs 2 ac's for a short time during peak sun. With the area being so hot (106) I'd assume you're camping in low elevations in CA? Nice to have that solar on your house I'm sure you save a bundle. Electric in CA is not cheap.

        We're in the sun too for a couple more years at the most. We head up to the mountains in Williams az and forest lakes area to beat the heat this time a year when we can. Head up to Sequoia NP you won't need the ac up there. ( My favorite park) I fully expect to be able to use an AC for a few hours a day if I had too, after I put the other two panels up and lithium batteries. The cost won't be cheap. Right now we only camp here out west so a evap cooler would work pretty well on most days when it hits 90 in the mountains.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

          While installing solar in an RV may be fun I don't think the main reason is to go Green, It seems most off grid people want nothing to do with their mean and nasty POCO so they decide to cut the cord and generate power their way. Although in most cases it will be a lot more expensive they may at least feel that they are free to make their own choices.

          I wish I could do that with medical insurance but alas I don't have enough relatives that work in the medical field so I pay through the nose for basic coverage hoping I don't get a serious illness.
          I do agree it's a lot of fun but you're right going green was not our main reason. We want to camp away from rv parks and the crowds and not use a darn generator. There are so many nice places to camp here out west on BLM land for free. Solar just makes it that much more enjoyable without the noise or using a dime on gas or diesel to run that generator. We were up in Williams two weeks ago camping there were 3 other campers within 300 ft away all had their generators on for much of the day and up to 10 pm sometimes . One class A had 300 watts of Solar which really isn't enough because there are parasitic drains so he used his gen too. The others were 5th wheels with no solar so they had to drive to town to fill their cans every couple of days. By 10 am I had 40 amps coming in, by 11 over 50 @ 14.4 volts. By 11:30 the batteries were filled. Once I got it set up right there really is almost no maintenance, that's why I put it on. It also keeps my starting batteries filled.

          Lol with the medical I feel your pain.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Mrchinup View Post

            I do agree it's a lot of fun but you're right going green was not our main reason. We want to camp away from rv parks and the crowds and not use a darn generator. There are so many nice places to camp here out west on BLM land for free. Solar just makes it that much more enjoyable without the noise or using a dime on gas or diesel to run that generator. We were up in Williams two weeks ago camping there were 3 other campers within 300 ft away all had their generators on for much of the day and up to 10 pm sometimes . One class A had 300 watts of Solar which really isn't enough because there are parasitic drains so he used his gen too. The others were 5th wheels with no solar so they had to drive to town to fill their cans every couple of days. By 10 am I had 40 amps coming in, by 11 over 50 @ 14.4 volts. By 11:30 the batteries were filled. Once I got it set up right there really is almost no maintenance, that's why I put it on. It also keeps my starting batteries filled.

            Lol with the medical I feel your pain.
            I have about 400 watts of panels that I plan on using with my Class A if my wife decides she wants to rough it someday where there isn't any place to plug in. Still it will be hard if it is hot because she wants the AC unit on which requires at least a 30Amp connection or running the gen set.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Mrchinup View Post
              It doesn't have to be that big for the RV but in order for the system to be reasonably functional at home I would need a large inverter and charge controller(s) so I guess the RV system size was merely a function of sunk cost in all the rest of the equipment, especially since I can get the panels for $40 each. One added note, the original owners of our 5th wheel replaced the refrigerator with a household unit - all electric, no propane - so I have 290 continuous watts and 690 peak that would always be on the system when we are in transit or boondocking.
              Be careful here because there are some limits you do not want to fall outside of. Panel Wattage, Controller, Battery Capacity, and Inverter sizes need to be matched up. Batteries are the bottle neck.

              Batteries have both minimum and maximum charge and discharge limits. Minimum is C/12 and max is C/8 and some can go as high as C/6. So say you have a typical 12 volt 225 AH Golf Cart battery setup. Wel it means you are going to need at least a 240 watt panel, and no larger than 500 watts. That also means the Inverter should not be larger than 500 watts. You can get away with a larger Inverter, but it will bite you in the but when you need it most.

              If you run say a 1000 watts at high noon, you have the panels producing half of the power required. If you have a Battery Isolator and the engine running, the alternator will provide all the power. However say after sunset or early morning when you need that 1000 watts, even though the battery maybe fully charged, when you hit it with 100 Amps of current (C/2), the voltage sags below 11 volts, and your Inverter trips off line from under voltage. That will leave you wondering what is wrong when in reality there is nothing wrong except the design.

              So be careful.
              Last edited by Sunking; 07-14-2017, 08:01 PM.
              MSEE, PE

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