My solar, 420 Watts, and 484 AH of battery is almost enough for the winter in Mexico (without AC) and the same up here in the summer if we're not under the trees.
Yep. Minimum 500W for winter in Mexico or summer in BC-WA. Make it 700-1000W to be able to camp in partial shade too.
Winter in WA, on solar, jeez... I can survive on zero watts when it's warm and dry in daytime. When it's 40F in the night AND in the day and rains non-stop for a week - I wouldn't even try living without 110V grid, or a wood burning stove, or a generator.
To live the same way for microwave etc, exact same standard of living, with our rig (a barn to heat) it takes 200AH/day at 35F in February. But it takes maybe 70AH day to do the same in summer at 80F out in the open (long warm days means few lights and little furnace)
We have 230W of solar in a tracking contraption and get by with very few generator runs (only due to poor weather at times) from May to September. 230w tracking there, then, would be like 370w flat.
Realistically, how much more solar does one need for a flat install, vs. tracking? 5X, 10X, ??
You have to say when and where. The higher the sun (daily and seasonally), the less difference between flat and tilted. You can't average it in any useful way either. You get what you get.
Repeat- at 49.3N in May, for 130w it was 56AH flat vs 70AH tilted, vs 90AH tracking. For 280W at 49.3N in May just do 280/130 times those, it is all proportionate.
So you can do the math to answer the burning question. In my case there, at that time and place, how much flat would do that 90AH same as tracking with the one 130w panel?
90/56 x 130 = 209w flat
It won't come out the same in Arizona in February
We live in BC, not the PNW, but have similar conditions on the Island to what they get in the PNW.
For camping in the provincial parks here (sites are in the woods)solar is totally useless. We only use the solar when camping off grid out in the open in summer.
To get by off grid in the woods, no solar, it is all about generator and charger and batteries. We do not go without comforts either. Have a 2000w inverter to run the microwave, kettle, toaster, etc.
In 35F temps in February short days, lots of furnace time, daily AH can be near 200AH, half that being furnace, so that is a recharge every day with a 460AH bank.
I can recharge the battery bank from 50% to 90% in the two hour window the parks give from 9-11am in the morning (we don't run the gen for the 6-8pm window) because we have a Honda 3000 that can run 130 amps of charging.
So if you want your comforts, you have to be prepared. If you don't have enough charger or generator or battery, you have to cut back on the comforts.
IMO, unless you are camping out in the open in winter there is no point having any solar at all. Even if you do have "some" the weather is against you and the days are too short to get anything done anyway.
Solar is for summer out in the open or winter down South in the open.
When I run my 35a Vector 1092A (14.6v) with my 40a (14.8v) VEC1093DBD I have to start the 35a first and get it running, then turn on the VEC and it ramps up so now I get 75a. If I start the VEC first, and then start the 35a, it won't run, says "full" or gives a fault number.
Some have found that you have to start the VEC first when charging with a converter at the same time, even though the converter is a touch lower in voltage than the VEC. Each situation seems to require a bit of trial and error till you find the trick for that combo.
So if one won't run, start it first and then start the other one and you could be in business.
AFAIK, solar and converter don't care about all that. Maybe it is a portable charger thing.
If their voltages are similar, then each charger will contribute to the total amps going to the battery. However, the total amps cannot exceed the battery acceptance rate. You can have more chargers contributing than is needed, when fewer chargers could do it all anyway.
You could easily find that the alternator could do it all whether the solar is "on" or not. If it could and the solar is "on" and they are at the same charger voltage, then the solar would now contribute some of the total and the alternator would contribute less than it could.
You can get your theoretical AH daily haul for any solar wattage amount for a location and time of year, but that is normally way more of an AH haul than you will use, mostly due to the way battery charging works.
The batteries get high in SOC later in the day and then the only way to get at the solar "going to waste" is to run other loads besides battery charging.
When I did my AH haul testing, I ran loads the whole daylight time so the batteries could not reduce the recorded haul. With MPPT, that also keeps battery voltage low all day further enhancing the amps and so the AH haul. In real life you would not do that since you do want to charge those batteries up before dark and solar shuts off.
In theory or during such a test, the afternoon AH haul is a mirror image of the morning haul. So you can actually just run the test from solar wake-up till high noon and double the haul. But then you have different horizons at dawn and dusk such as mountains or trees that can spoil the perfect mirror image too.
With 130w at 49.3N in May testing, I got 56AH flat, 70AH tilted, and 90AH tracking. It is all proportionate so with 230w now, I would get
99AH flat, 124AH tilted, and 159AH tracking.
All those numbers are good for is comparing set-ups. Then you could say, whatever the actual cloud amount vs sunshine in any day, which set-up would get you more AH, but not be able to say how many.
60 years ago, when my dad came back from Hong Kong from cruises, he brought us kids "Chinese Puzzles" which were wood or metal things that fit together in clever ways. You spent hours trying to put them back together.
IMO solar controllers with MPPT/fake MPPT is a new form of Chinese Puzzle! :)
Mr Wiz, very confusing. It says under the image that the inductor is for the Tracer 2210 which is a different true MPPT controller usually going for about $140 last time I looked. The note in red writing says the inductor is not required for the ordinary user.
No idea what is meant to be what. Niner should take his apart and let us know for sure. Maybe there are different versions of this thing?
For smaller area access if you know where the thing is you are trying to get at, you can just cut a flap in the underbelly and fold it back to do the job, then tape the flap back in place.
I have used black Gorilla tape on one flap I made that is still holding after six months, and red vapour barrier tape on another that is still good after five years so far.
The Parallax 7355 often has one circuit breaker the converter and receptacles share. In ours that includes GFCI ones. Also the 120v lights.
Also includes the receptacle the fridge 120v plugs into outside, so the procedure to turn off the converter to run the air conditioner might make the fridge switch to propane. (It probably is anyway in this scenario to save generator load)
With no converter on, 12v must come from battery to run the controls for the thermostat, fridge, etc.
I found my notes on testing my 230w panel with MPPT and how amps go up when Vbat goes down. Just to put some numbers on what Salvo was saying.
This was in April at 49.3N sunny, mid-day. Ambient 16C, back of panel 44C. Panel ratings: Voc 36.8, Isc 8.3, Vmp 30, Imp 7.7
At test time, panel disconnected Voc 35.4, Isc 8.77
Panel connected, voltage at panel junction box 29.3/controller input 29.0 (drop of 0.3v at 8.8ish amps)
Controller display No load- 13.4v, 15.32a, 205w
With load to drop Vbat----- 12.9v, 15.73a,201w
With load some more-------- 12.7v, 16.48a, 210w
Later some more-------------12.3v, 16.67a, 205w (was a change up in insolation by then- panel disconnected Voc 35.0, Isc 8.92!
I never saw such high amps again after April and it got warmer out in the summer so at 25C with back of panel now 51C, Voc was down to 34.0 That made a typical mid-day reading 13.5v, 13.5a, 182w
Naturally, I got annoyed at the MPPT only giving me 13.5a instead of the 15.5a I saw earlier.
Also in reply to those who say you lose panel wattage with PWM not using all of it, but MPPT uses it all, can figure out whatever happened to the 230-180 = 50w gone missing with the MPPT here! (hint-panel temperature 51C instead of 44C)
Agree with Salvo except "12v" panel Isc will taper a little from about Vbat 13.5 to 14.5 before dropping off the cliff at 15v. So IMO observe the amps at say 14v then drop Vbat to 12.3 or what you can in a hurry and note the amps then, or else with PWM you will see a small change in the amps and get confused if it is MPPT or not..
Also nit-pic on Psolar/Vbat. I think Salvo means Psolar to be the power that's left from panel power at the controller's output. My controller displays watts as the product of Vbat (as seen at the controller end of the wires) and controller amps output.
You will see a jump in amps with the lower Vbat for sure. I have seen that doing tests with my "true MPPT" controller.
AFAIK the least expensive "true MPPT" is the 20a Eco-Worthy MPPT for $102.
It has only a 42Voc limit so it can't take two 12v panels in series but it can do them in parallel
There are many cheaper "MPPT" marked controllers that are actually just PWM so beware of those "fake MPPT" ones.
hydrometer says all are 1300+
Still no answer to the question why fully charged house batteries lose 10-15% of there charge while driving for 5-6 hours.
Not sure, but it seems like maybe you think if the voltage drops that means you have lost capacity, but all that is really happening is when charging the voltage is up and when you stop charging the voltage drops.
After the 6 hr drive take another hydrometer reading. That will tell the truth about the actual SOC.
New batteries are 2 weeks old. I used my Vector 40amp charger to slow charge them. Took 12 hours. When I installed them and they sat in the MH without the shoreline to charge them, they were still 12.9 volts 2 days later. It's not the batteries.
I just went out to the MH. The Battery monitor reads 12.6 volts. I started the engine and it read 14.2 volts and is charging the house batteries at 8.2amps. this is after a 6 hour drive today.
I did a test. With everything off, no shoreline power or engine running. I turned on the interior lights. I started the engine, no difference. I turned off the engine and hooked up the shoreline power. No difference in the light. They would always get much brighter when either the engine was on or the shoreline connected.
I'm thinking it's the converter/charger or the Charge Wizard.
And yes, I do have a good knowledge base for electrical.
First disconnect the batts and with shore power or gen on , does anything 12v work? If not, there is no 120v going to the converter or else the converter is not getting its "12v" to the DC fuse panel to run the rig and charge the batts
The converter at its 13.x volts makes the lights brighter than the batts at their 12.x volts
New batts is the time to do a reverse polarity and blow the converter RP fuses. the rig still works on 12v battery but the fans run backwards.
We can go off grid for two weeks in a row max with no solar. However, our religion allows the use of a generator to run a battery charger every second day for two hours at a time. That is not much gen time in a week.
With no solar, "progressive capacity loss" from doing 50-90s every second day gets so bad we can't get through the night by then, and we need shore power for a couple days to do a "recovery" on the batts to get them back to baseline SG.
Solar (230w for us) now lets us go for five summer months in a row off grid no sweat, including the odd gen time if the weather is bad.
So based on that I still say the OP can get by with no solar for a week and with a little solar he could do very well for that week. Assumes he has at least a 1000w gen and a 45amp charger or similar. More gen and charger is better.