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Open Roads Forum  >  Do It Yourself Modifications and Upgrades (DIY)

 > You installed a Solar System, How is it now?

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Wanderman

New York

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Posted: 02/25/12 02:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How did I miss this posting??? I should just follow Pianotuna around!

A while back I researched, designed and installed a complete solar charging system that would allow me to be more self sufficient for boondocking and the like. I wrote it all up in a 6(!) part series of articles for the RV newsletter. You can read it here:

http://www.thewanderman.com/2011/11/better-solar-charging-mouse-trap-part-1.html

Hopefully it has some useful info.

As for running your A/C for any length of time. Not really practical. You need a very large battery bank and sufficient panels to charge them properly. You CAN use a microwave fed from an inverter, but not for really long periods. I stay under 10 minutes to be safe. YMMV.

All things considered, I LOVE my solar instal. It all works and I haven't had the need to run the generator (except to exercise it) since I installed it.

Rich "The Wanderman"


1991 Aero Cruiser 23RBa

Read All about my Disasters and Triumphs at:

http://www.thewanderman.com/

BBdawg

Apopka, Fl

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Posted: 02/25/12 03:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Folks, I would really like you to know that this type of "solar" discussion is very helpful to those who are considering this path. Even the weight could be an issue but the system I currently have only weighs less that 100 lbs w/o batteries. Adding 2 more batteries, on my TT, does add an additional 100 lbs (apox 50 lbs each) As I said, my home system has 3 each panels, 195 Watts each but each panel only weighs apppox 18lbs.

I hope others find the discussion useful as I find your comments about your actual usage to be very helpful.. Thank You

BBdawg

Apopka, Fl

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Posted: 02/25/12 03:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wanderman wrote:

How did I miss this posting??? I should just follow Pianotuna around!

A while back I researched, designed and installed a complete solar charging system that would allow me to be more self sufficient for boondocking and the like. I wrote it all up in a 6(!) part series of articles for the RV newsletter. You can read it here:

http://www.thewanderman.com/2011/11/better-solar-charging-mouse-trap-part-1.html

Hopefully it has some useful info.

As for running your A/C for any length of time. Not really practical. You need a very large battery bank and sufficient panels to charge them properly. You CAN use a microwave fed from an inverter, but not for really long periods. I stay under 10 minutes to be safe. YMMV.

All things considered, I LOVE my solar instal. It all works and I haven't had the need to run the generator (except to exercise it) since I installed it.

Rich "The Wanderman"


Rich,
I read your article and you did a GREAT job. I have read a lot of other articles, as well, but I was looking for input from people who, like you have installed the system and have or are using it on a regular basis. A history of Real user experience..

Wanderman

New York

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Posted: 02/25/12 04:01pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BBdawg,
Thanks for the compliment! I have been using the system for just under a year, it fits my needs quite well. I cannot stress enough that you MUST calculate your loads (wants and needs) before you put the system together. Pretty much everything relies on everything else. Battery bank capacity against Solar panel output against amps used per day, etc. etc. etc!

If I can help, let me know.

Rich "The Wanderman"

KD4UPL

Swoope, VA

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Posted: 02/25/12 04:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

On my first RV, a 24' TT, I had 1 75 watt panel, 2 group 29 batteries, and a 1200 watt inverter. I ran lights, pump, furnace, TV, and toaster. I always had plenty of power.
My current camper only has room for 1 group 24 battery. I have a 55 watt solar panel connected to it. I can get by for a long weekend if I don't run the furnace. If it's cold, it's not enough power. I would like to add more batteries buy my truck camper's design makes it difficult. I've added a group 31 in the truck connected to the camper but haven't had a chance to do much off grid camping with it yet.

KJINTF

Western Montana

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Posted: 02/26/12 09:01am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Everyone has different expectations of their individual PV systems.
Before you purchase equipment know exactly what you desire from the system.
Plan for changes after the initial install, get a controller than will handle array expansion. What happens when in a few years you decide to change battery types will the controller properly charge them?

For us parking in the direct sunlight on a summer day is NOT my kind of camping, we prefer the cool shade. PV systems do not work well in the shade. Yes some do better than others (believe me there are huge differences in how systems react to partial fixed and moving shade) but do not expect much. Started with 270watts 3 years ago added another 270watts for 540watts of PV array. We consume about 75>100amp/hr/day and run the generator only for air con which is not often needed in the cool shade.

For us it remains the best of the dozens of DIY modifications to date


Retired & Loving Life

sonicsix

Jerry n' Cynthia

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Posted: 02/25/12 04:57pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My RV Solar Installation

Worth every penny, would do it again in a heartbeat. It paid for itself by allowing extended boondocking the first year.





Tumbleweeds

Southeast AL

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Posted: 02/25/12 05:19pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BBDawg,
While I'm not the author Wanderman is, I can give you real world results.
3-85 watt poly-crystaline B panels 18.3 Vmp in parallel 255 total watts ($535 del)
20 amp SCC3 PWM controller from kit ($45)
2 Interstate GC batteries 232 AH (seconds $85 for both)
10 gauge landscape UV resistant wire on roof, 4 gauge jumper cable wires from roof to controller to batteries, normal weatherproof electrical boxes, bussbars,
and fuse box/ disconnects (about $60)
Remote ammeter and voltmeter from E_Bay ($35)
$760 +/- Total
Real world results:
2 months camping in UT, NV, CA, OR, WA, ID without hookups in BLM and NFS campgrounds or boondocking. Mostly tree shaded spots at least part of the day,
watched TV 4-5 hours, ran Laptop for 1-2 hrs. daily, still never ran the generator to charge batteries, just the micro and hairdryer (converter off). Batteries never got below 60% SOC.
One big caveat, get LED bulbs, they save 50% of your use.
I have never talked to anyone with solar who did not love it, and it really isn't rocket science. I have upgraded a few components since last summer, but just for my own desires to over engineer everything and OCD about anything technical.
Good luck.

Wanderman

New York

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Posted: 02/25/12 05:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I cannot agree with Tumbleweeds more!

In fact....oddly enough, this weeks article is all about LEDs for power saving!

I am completely sold on replacing incandescents and fluorescents with them.

Here's a link to the article:

http://www.thewanderman.com/2012/02/and-lord-saidlet-there-be-low-power.html

Rich "The Wanderman"

Revo-Ray

Tampa, Florida

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Posted: 02/25/12 06:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For the ones who didn't get my humor.




2007 Chevy Silverado 5.3 Crew Z85 Suspension Z82 Tow Package
Plus all the Hitch, Sway and Brake Goodies
2005 GMC Sierra
2010 Dutchmen Aerolite 29RL-SL
1986 Coleman Newport Pop Up
1 Very Beautiful Wife
1 Boy 18
1 Girl 14
1 Travel Ready Spoiled Boston Terrier


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