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Open Roads Forum  >  Class A Motorhomes

 > Solar for RV's and home Solar systems.

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Goombay

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Posted: 04/08/12 07:25am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have been looking into solar for my RV recently. I ran into a friend that wants to put solar at her remote 2nd home. She has electric but would like to go green. Is there much of a difference between a home solar set-up and an RV set-up? Also, could you recomend some sites with good educational info for both types of set-ups. I seem to remember someone that has been highly recommended for info on RV solar but I can't find the site.


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pianotuna

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Posted: 04/08/12 07:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi,

The biggest difference is that home systems are often "grid tied". Home systems can be optimized as to tilt and tend to be much larger, because there is lots of room on the roof.

More recently panels on roofs are sometimes using small "stackable" inverters right at the panel. This saves on wire costs.

The first thing your friend should do is look up the insolation map information for her location.

A place to check out panel pricing is:

low cost solar panels

* This post was edited 04/08/12 07:52am by pianotuna *


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TechWriter

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Posted: 04/08/12 08:34am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Goombay wrote:

. . . could you recomend some sites with good educational info for both types of set-ups.

These two sites give consistently good advice which is not true of many other forums:

Household: www.midnitesolar.com
RV: www.jackdanmayer.com

Also, the Escapees Technical Tips section is very good.

But, like Texan said, there's not much difference between residential and RV solar.


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CA Traveler

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Posted: 04/08/12 08:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The typical home system is much larger for power, panels and equipment. Panel orientation on a home system is optimized. A home system might use the same panels but the controllers would likely be different. The panels may be fixed on the roof or in the yard and may even be tracking (very rare on a RV). RV panel tilting considerations aren't a home consideration. If it's battery based then a higher voltage like 24V (rare on a RV) is common. If grid tied then there is additional equipment, permits, etc. and setup to feed power to the utility.


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Posted: 04/08/12 08:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The systems are pretty much the same, except for size. Typically, an RV will have much lower requirements than a stick-built home.

The Captain on my boat, just set up his house with a battery back-up system, which he plans to install solar to eventually. He ran a separate outlet into his livingroom, from an inverter that was tied to his 4 6-V batteries. The purpose is for his wife to have power in that room, for TV and lights, if thee is a storm or power outage while he's away on the boat....and she can't start the generator.

It's a relatively simple set up, and that may be an option of your friend....something to put a few lights and such without going on the grid.

A true solar system that will be generating enough power for a house, and even generating power to go back to the power company, will be very expensive, the pay-back will take a decade or more, so many folks don't want to do it.

* This post was edited 09/19/12 06:00am by an administrator/moderator *


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The Texan

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Posted: 04/08/12 07:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No, there is not really any big difference between RV solar and off the grid residential solar, other than size of the system. They both require the same equipment and setup. Here is a link to RV Solar Electric and IMO, Doug has about the most informative website for a novice to look at and learn from. He also has about the best prices for solar in the west and his installer D & R Family RV Service in Glendale, is the best I have ever seen work.


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Goombay

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Posted: 04/08/12 08:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for all the great info. My friends power needs will me minimal. This is not a full size house but a round, 1 room Yurt maybe a little bigger than a 2 car garage. A few lights, a fan, maybe a small fridge and stereo. A few outdoor lights. She will not be plugging into the grid.

Golden_HVAC

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Posted: 04/08/12 09:14am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I started reading HomePower.com Magazine back in the 90's and gained a lot of solar knowledge from them.

It is easy enough to install a separate 12 volt system in any house, and use that to power whatever is desired, including the TV set via a small inverter. I would recommend starting out with a budget number and then consider what can be done with that amount of funds, and then consider what wattage system to install, how many batteries, if AGM is required (for areas that will be below 25F during the winter) or lead acid batteries in a vented shed outside is acceptable (OK down to about 20F, then battery performance is going to go pretty low).

Sunelec.com

Lets say they want to install a $275 200 watt solar panel and pair of golf cart batteries. This will cost about $500 when completed, and will provide an average of around 1,000 watts per day, plenty to run a bunch of 12 volt lights, especially if some are new LED lights.

Further expansion is a $30 500 watt inverter, and this will run a small TV set, recharge the laptop, camera, or other such tasks.

Many cabins are "Last on the list" of houses to restore power to, especially if most are not occupied year round, so once converted to 12 VDC LED lighting, they might never know there was a power outage until they go into town to shop for something, or listen in on the radio.

I think that a small solar system - self installed is a great idea for any home, and even have been installed on apartment balcony or other places by tenants. There are even roof mounting systems with no holes, they can use brick ballasts on flat roofs, or other mounting systems on rental property, or the owners might agree to having a system installed.

Fred.

Sailbad

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Posted: 04/08/12 10:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Texan wrote:

No, there is not really any big difference between RV solar and off the grid residential solar, other than size of the system. They both require the same equipment and setup. Here is a link to RV Solar Electric and IMO, Doug has about the most informative website for a novice to look at and learn from. He also has about the best prices for solar in the west and his installer D & R Family RV Service in Glendale, is the best I have ever seen work.


I agree. I've had one of their systems for over 2 years. I could not be more pleased. D&Rs Service and installation were completely satisfactory.


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pianotuna

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Posted: 04/08/12 10:14am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi,

The best way to acquire solar is DIY. The next best is to learn all you can before walking into a solar shop. Know what you want and know what you need. A professional installer needs to make a living. Parts will be marked up 100%, i.e. a 100 dollar panel will cost 200.

DIY costs currently run about $2.50 per watt installed.

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