If you have your RZR in the back of the trailer then Sand Hollow State park is where I would recommend camping. Rock crawling, blasting through the dunes or just exploring backcountry roads are all great options from here, not to mention only half hour or so from Zion and about the same from Saint George. Pink Coral sand dunes is another option but a little farther away
Unfortunately, for the OP, or others looking at installing solar, I haven't seen any excellent sources of information, much is opinion, because the reality is, there isn't necessarily a best approach, and what works best, or the results you can expect can vary considerably due to external factors.
How you intend to use your setup, conditions they'll be operated in, and your abilities in maintaining your system all come into play. Areas you intend to camp and time of year, temperature you expect to camp in, what your realistic needs are etc. All these come in to play in determining "best" battery, type of controller, parallel/series etc. Put three engineers together on how to build the perfect system and you'll probably get three different answers.
I haven't used my traditional smokers since I got my pellet grill, although I did use an electric smoker, if smoker is what you want to call it for some "wrapped" ribs when I was trying to get 36 full racks of ribs done at pretty much the same time for a memorial day BBQ. The pellet grill has great temperature control without having to tend it, you never have to worry about cutting the air down to much when trying to lower the temp, and getting the nasty taste that come about because of that, and it's easier to control for either a light, or heavier smoke flavor. You do have to do a little experimenting to find the right pellets, as some are "flavored" rather than obtaining their flavor profile naturally. Other than the traditional pulled pork cuts, ribs, briskets etc. I do several prime ribs a year on the pellet grill, use it at a higher temp for thanksgiving turkey, and in the summer find pizza comes out great when you use it as just a wood fired oven. They tend to be quite flexible.
I'm hoping I don't have to send my Trimetric and SC2030 in for programing. I purchased them last spring, so they're less than a year old, and had instructions for hooking up two charge controllers. Right now the 5er is buried with snow, more expected in a couple days so I haven't even ordered the new charge controller and bigger inverter which I'm also planning to install. I have wire, connectors and crimpers so I'll just make up a harness to the length I need when I get to doing the work.
51 amps this time of year sounds really good to me. Are your panels flat mount?
The Costco and Sams Club GC2s are Interstate branded and made by US battery. They require a 15.3 volt absorption charge which is no easy task. Your stock converter or stock solar charger controller will mean a short life. If your are going to go the GC2 route you have to study up on the getting them properly charged and buy a good solar charge controller and probably something to properly charge them when it's cloudy or in the winter.
Interstate GC2 charging specs
Setting your charging system up correctly makes more of a difference in battery life in my experience than does the brand you purchase. Unfortunately, that isn't always easy as they put garbage converter/chargers in from the factory. My current rig came with a PD 9280, which is pretty much garbage, no adjustability, and of course poorly installed by the trailer manufacture which makes it even worse. On the plus side, I do have my solar charge controller set up right for my Interstate batteries. You also have to keep in mind that things like the electronics of my Norcold Refrigerator have max voltage limit of 15.4 volts, so you have to make sure your set up to not go above that when it gets cold if you're using temperature compensation. While I only used solar maintainers on my two previous rigs, they were big enough to fully charge my batts once the battery switch was turned off, which went a long ways towards giving me good battery life since I couldn't plug my trailer in to fully charge in the storage lot.
Keep um wet, fully charge as often as possible and you can generally get good performance for a lot of years.
I'd suggest to mount one on the roof and carry one as a portable. You'll have the best solution possible. The portable one can be smallish to ease setup and tear down or use multiples. Remember, you'll be driving on the road and harvesting, along with the excellent battery maintenance solar does while in storage.
that is certainly a good option, and the two panels can still be connected to one charge controller.
And, if you do much driving vs. camping, the days drive can pick up lots of AH, combined with what you can get from the TV charge current can be a big boost.
I have thought of the two different options of solar for my needs.(fixed and portable). Doing both seems the best. Is there an easy way to have things wired so the portable panel can be quickly hooked up using both panels or not used at all leaving the roof panel on its own working?
You could tie in both sets of panels in a parallel configuration using a junction box prior to the solar controller, assuming the controller is large enough to handle the current and the panels are similar enough to be paralleled efficiently. You could also use two separate solar controllers, one for the rooftop panels, one for the portable. If configured right charge controllers tend to play well together. Either way, I'd use a disconnect switch in the wiring between the portable panels and controller so I didn't have to make my connections with the wiring hot. The arching that can occur when hooking up live connections can create connection issues over time.
If mechanical stuff couldn't, and didn't fail, I'd have never made the money to buy the toys. That said, I don't see any way the hitch could fail in such a way as to have locked jaws and the pin installed after trailer separation. With the B&W, a visual inspection should easily identify any miss hitched issues as I find it very easy to visually confirm the jaws are properly locked around the pin in the correct manner. Those who have done a high hitch are indicating it comes loose right away, and would be very unlikely to happen hundreds of miles down the road.
Hopefully, if this really happened as described, the OP will post a follow up when he gets the chance. As much as possible I try and learn from the misfortune of others when possible rather than learning it the hard way.
So Mont G&J, have you actually "high hitched" a B&W Companion hitch, or are you referring to a different brand? I have a B&W and can't imagine not being able to notice immediately that the pin was not in the jaws.
I would think under the right conditions you could do it, but I haven't ever tried. I know I once got sidetracked, failed to lock the hitch on my bumper pull trailer and drove over 300 miles prior to discovering I hadn't locked or pinned the hitch while doing my walk around at the gas station. Being an aircraft maintenance sort of guy, and having been involved in quite a few mishap/accident investigations over the years things like the OP's issue have me really wanting to dig into the issue until all aspects of "how it happened" are determined. Hopefully the OP will get back with us regarding the determination of what went wrong. Sounds like a little luck, and most likely some good instinctive driving kept things from being a whole lot worse than they could have been.
I'm going a very similar route to your setup, albeit using 100 watt panels. Started out with the trimetric, SC2030 and 4 flat mount panels, quickly added a fifth, then come fall added number 6 prior to a trip to the Washington state coast in October. I have 4 additional panels out in the garage, and will install them this spring splitting them into two separate banks of 500 watts, each controlled by a separate controller. Would have installed them prior to the snow starting to fly, but just ran out of good weather days when other things didn't take priority.
Let us know how things work out when you get the new panels and controller installed.
Looks good. I currently use a Camp Chef pellet grill at the house, used pretty much weekly for the last couple years since I switched to pellets. The ease of use results in much more use for me. I've been debating getting one like yours for when I retire next year, and start using the 5er a whole lot more often.
As for what's in the pellets, providing you get the ones made for cooking rather than the ones made for heating, all you get is compressed sawdust from hardwood trees. You can get them made from blends of different wood, or single woods like hickory, apple etc. You want to make sure you don't use the ones made for heating as they can be made from softwoods, or sawdust made from treated lumber which can contain chemicals you wouldn't want getting into your food. Pellet grills provide good temperature management, and very nice smoke ring, and will run for hours without needing to be attended to. Perfect for the long smoke time low temperature cooking which results in the best BBQ.
The article touched on my experiences so far with solar pretty well. My personal experience is real world camping solar harvest is considerably lower than one would expect based on what you read on the internet (Shocking isn't it) I'm lucky in that thanks to my job, I interface daily with a lot of folks, into tech, and into RVing. As a result, I've been able to borrow half a dozen very expensive controllers to slave into my solar system this year. So far, my preference for parked out in the open would be all my panels hooked in series, mppt controller. For the realities of the camping I do, the better choice for getting the max charge back into the batteries is all panels in parallel, a PWM controller that doesn't tend to get confused with wildly varying shading issues throughout the day. I also found my power usage is the highest when solar harvesting tends to be the worst due to shading, clouds, time of year etc. As a result, I'm going to expand my system 400 more watts, and always assume the generator will be needed from time to time.
The above said, in the interest of science, I'm going to volunteer myself to retire early next year, and get out in my 5er a lot more often in the interests of gathering more data, and provide the definitive data to put this issue to rest for good.
I try and carry and use real gas in my snow blower because of the intermittent use, and sensitive nature of the carb on it. It clogs easily and quickly when left idle, despite the type of stabilizer used with blended fuel. I hate it when it starts doing the low power surge meaning I'm going to have to pull the carb. It's hard to get to on that engine.
On my two little inverter generators I use real gas when I can, again because of the intermittent nature of use, often sitting for months, with wide temp swings, which break down e-10 quicker as well. I've seen it start gelling etc in only a couple months in some conditions. The other reason for the real gas is the small, but noticeable power difference. Much of my camping is at altitude, with only longer road trips getting me below 4000 foot. I see 8k plus often in the summer and it's somewhere around 8k when I might have to parallel the gens to run the microwave, which draws 1500 watts. Real gas gives me a power difference equivalent to approximately 1500 feet or so which sometimes is enough to make the difference. Not much, but you can definitely see it, especially with two generators where you can do comparisons.
My cars, atv's and lawn mower aren't fussy so they get what's cheap, and easiest to procure, and E-10 would completely destroy the truck so of course I don't use it there;)
I've always run LT tires so the tires aren't an issue. That said, I've set speed based on engine performance taking it up to where real time gas mileage started it's rapid decline, then back off a bit. Depending on conditions that was generally somewhere between 60-68. Of course in the states with lower speed limits Of course if the speed limit is lower, that dictates your speed.
If the questions regarding AC power usage are for my rig, generally quite a bit less than 200 watts. We normally run whole house on a 600 watt pure sine inverter, which is wired so that the DC converter is switched off when the inverter is turned on. Loads with DC converter on varies by state of charge of the batteries of course, but my Progressive Dynamics Intellipower 80 amp unit can easily run my load up over 1000 watts. We of course wouldn't use the microwave, hair dryer etc with the AC running, and I haven't really done an accurate enough check to be certain of what my ac units run, and I just looked through my paperwork and I don't know what model those full height Dometics are. Both the inlet and outlet is completely ducted so there is no grill to remove from inside the 5er to look at so I will have to climb up on roof and pull the cover to see if there is a data plate up there.
As for burning up generator motors, the protection circuits seem to trip from inverter section issues prior to the motor lugging down too bad. The electronics in the generator would probably die prior to the motor.
Check their blog Off Grid Solar Powered RV Air Conditioning. This blog post has a links to what the various manufactures reported back to them with. Probably one of the big things is a "soft start" AC kit.
Their video is where I learned of the Micro-air Easystart, I can attest it works as advertised and should allow an A/C to start off 2kw generator or inverter.
Here is an install video from Micro-air which the Wynn's prompted them to do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soP0uZFd0nQ&feature=youtu.be
I looked at that soft start kit, and it looks promising, but probably wouldn't work with my Champion generator. The little Champions are really a 1600 watt continuous generator at best, and I'm not sure they would have enough umph (Technical term) to keep my AC running even after I got it started.
As for running AC off solar, I have no illusions of ever doing that. No where near enough space on the top of the roof for the solar panels to start with, and I can't imagine they will improve efficiency to the point you could make it work in my lifetime. That said, I wouldn't rule out them coming up with AC units that could do the job efficiently enough to cool my rig with the power that is available. I can only hope. Of course by then, boondocking probably won't be allowed on public land anymore.
Again, thanks for the inputs guys, seems to be an issue that can invoke a little passion. Again, I was simply looking into the feasibility of load support for a generator that is somewhat too small for the task at hand. The more I think about it, the more the simple answer seems to be use a bigger generator. There isn't really any noise difference penalty, and fuel usage in a hard pushed 2000k gen vs a moderately pushed 3500 is probably close to the same. From what I've learned so far, when it comes to Hybrid Inverters, you can't get away with going cheap, or to small. As little as I think I would use it, I can't see any reason to go that route.
When it comes to batteries, I've actually received a lot of training on batteries, and battery maintenance over the years, having been through my first lead acid and wet cell NiCad schooling back in 1978, and my first Lithium battery schooling back in 1980, when they were basically experimental, and you had to really know what you were doing with them to prevent catastrophic failure. I still get involved in testing of "New and Improved" products, or new applications from time to time, and set up and monitor the testing for contract compliance. As a result, I tend to pretty much disregard much of what I see elsewhere as often the claims for some of the new technology gets pretty wild when compared to what I see through highly instrumented and detailed testing.
I would go with the Grape solar charge controller. I'd move to a 24 volt battery bank. I'd add a 24 volt inverter.
That would simplify the solar system albeit I would now have 5 pair of panels in parallel. I've found I almost always have at least 1 or 2 panels partially shaded at different times of the day so I prefer keeping each one paralleled if possible. While a 24vdc inverter makes sense, most of my battery use would be 12vdc so I'd end up with a constant conversion loss there that might be more of a downside than would be offset by the higher voltage system for the solar and inverter.
As for the Grape controller, It would be simple, and desireable for the 12vdc conversion capability, I'm not sure 40amps would be sufficient for the auto level/slide hydraulic pump. It tends to draw quite a bit of current, especially in colder weather and is voltage sensitive, shutting down easily if the voltage is to low. I'm also not sure I'd like giving up some of the charging adjustment capability the SC2030 gives me. Of course I wouldn't need to add another SC2030 to my setup if I stepped up to 24vdc, and I could add a 24vdc to 12vdc converter, but I'm not sure it would be worth it since 98 percent of the time I'm using my inverter I'm using it to output quite a bit less than 200 watts, and thus not putting much of a demand on my battery system. A 12 volt system seems to handle that well.
Thanks for all the input guys. While I deal with, and earn the money to buy the toys playing with cutting edge tech, for my RV I prefer keeping it simple. Campfire with the creek keeping the beer cold is an optimal evening if you ask me.
I think I'll wait till spring to decide for sure, but now I'm leaning more to just going simple, 4x6 golf cart batts, 10 x 100 watt flat mount solar panels on the roof in two banks with all panels effectively in parallel, twin bogart SC2030 controllers. I'll also probably sell my little champion inverter gens that have done me well the last 7 years and pick up one of the new 3500 electric start inverter units. With the solar I don't have to use the generator very often for anything but high load requirements. With the old TT the generator was used mostly just for battery charging, with the occasional parallel operation for AC, or microwave at high altitude when the single Champion wouldn't quite power the microwave. For short duration Microwave, or hair dryer use in my current 5er, the 4, 6vdc batts and a cheaper 2000 watt pure sine inverter will probably take care of my needs. I don't need an inverter with battery charger capability because I already have solar, and a PD Intellipower 80 amp converter to take care of battery charging.
Since you're also looking for how people like the Andersen hitch, I'm one of those who was really dissatisfied and replaced it, admittedly with a hitch costing twice as much, and weighing several times more. You have to be careful discussing likes, or dislikes though because for some reason folks get emotional both in liking, and not liking the hitch. It's kind of comical really in that a hitch is simply a very basic piece of equipment. You can look up my post regarding the issue from a few weeks back.
What I didn't like about the hitch is that it damaged my pin box, and I had concerns that continued use without further intervention would lead to damage to my truck bed. I had made and tried inserting some shims into the truck bed for a short time, but removed them because the increased the occasional pop I would get out of the hitch in some conditions (Not every time I towed). I was also disappointed in the response, or I should say lack of response by Andersen to the damage done to my 5er. At first they didn't respond to my e-mails, and initially never got back to me after phone calls, even though it was an issue they were familiar with, and had shims to remedy.
The above said, most of the folks on the internet seem to love the Andersen Ultimate. Surprisingly, since I started having issues with mine, and looking at the hitches in use by others I've found several folks that are quite unhappy with the hitch, and even learned I work with, or should say interface through work two folks that have quit using the Andersen because of issues they were having with it. Personally I find it surprising, as generally you see lots of negatives on things when you look them up on the internet, but don't encounter many folks in person having issues. Good luck with whatever you end up with, and more importantly, get out there and have fun with it.
To add to your confusion on lead acid battery "Capacity", you also have to remember that temperature, and the Peukert effect are only applicable if the current conditions remain the same, ie temperature or discharge rate. If you warm up a battery that has only been able to deliver a small amount of current, it's ability to deliver more current at a higher voltage will rise. Peukert effect only applies if you maintain the current discharge rate. If you discharge a small battery bank at a high current rate for say running a microwave off an inverter, you will quickly encounter a low voltage cutoff on your inverter after having only pulled a few amp hours. The battery voltage will quickly recover however after you remove the load, and if you then apply a load at say the 20 hour rate, you will still get close to the same amp hour total when you add the amp hours you pulled at the lower rate to the amp hours pulled at the high discharge rate.