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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Solar Not Working in the Desert

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RJsfishin

Winston Or.

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Posted: 01/26/13 06:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just about the time (3 days ago) I was getting all pumped up about a solar panel, we ain't hardly seen the sun since. The generators are just a hummin in the rain..... all over here in the Quartzsite desert. My neighbor bought a portable suitcase panel the same day we lost the sun, never even got to really try it out. But another neighbor was getting 2.4 amps out of 240 watts yesterday before the rain, so it helped a little. All kinda interesting,...but I'm not exactly sold on solar.....for the price.


Rich

'01 31' Rexall Vision, Generac 5.5k, 1000 watt Honda, PD 9245 conv, 300 watts Solar, 400 watt inv, 2 12v batts, ammeters, led voltmeters all over the place, KingDome/sat, 2 Oly Cat heaters, and towing a Dodge GCV, or a Lowe bass boat, or a Kawi Mule.


pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 01/26/13 07:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Rich,

I get 7 amps in leafy shade at "solar noon", and 3 amps in full rain. It does depend on what type of panel is chosen.


Regards, Don
Full Time in a Kustom Koach Class C 28'5", 256 watts Unisolar, 875 amp hours in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, Magnum 3000 watt PSW inverter.

HiTech

Texas

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Posted: 01/26/13 07:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The output you get when not in direct sunlight varies a lot among panel models and types (e.g. Amorphous).

Jim

Golden_HVAC

Fulltime, CA, USA

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Posted: 01/26/13 07:35am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was sold on solar panels back in 1996, and expanded my small 90 watt system (that cost $750 back in 1994) to add another 75 watt panel. In 1999, I installed two 120 watt panels at $429 each (they where on sale).

So including the 1,500 watt inverter, extra pair of batteries, and other things, I figure I have about $3,000 into my solar system. Yes it is larger than average, and I can get about 120 amp hours per day when it is sunny, a bit less when in someplace like Yosemite with a lot of trees, but still can dry camp for a couple of weeks until my water runs out, not when I need to run the generator.

And I figure that the 300 or so days that I dry camped between 1994 and 2005 pretty much saved me $10 a night, and paid for the solar system by allowing me to dry camp instead of picking a crowded campground. No not camping at a Wal Mart parking lot, but finding a free National Forest site, or BLM camping, or someplace out near a river or lake.

Then in 2006, I dry camped for about 300 more days, and 07 about as many, paying for the system twice more. 2008 I was spending most of my time in a campground, and still living in the RV, the solar system only running the lights. Still it has saved enough to pay for itself 3 times over.

Now that one can buy a pair of 150 watt panels for about $180, not on sale, and a $65 PWM controller rated at 15 amps, why not invest $500 in a 300 watt solar system? If it allows you to camp in some of the most pristine lakes and overlooks, while the solar panels silently recharge the batteries, who would not want it?

SunElec.com has solar panels for close to $1 per rated watt.

I would recommend the 12 volt "Nominal" panels, because they can use the lowest cost PWM controllers. THe more expensive MPPT controllers can take in 24 - 60 volts and recharge a 12 volt battery bank, and can do this with smaller wire size, but the claims that they actually make 10 - 15% more charge are a bit overrated. It is closer to about 5% to 7% more amperage and only really gets larger if the battery is severely depleted and you have more ideal camping conditions, such as camping at a higher altitude or bright sunny and cold day.

Solar will pay for itself, and if you enjoy not listening to the generator, it will pay off in one trip!

People buy a Jag or Mercedes just because it is a comfortable and quiet car, and enjoy it no matter the cost. I enjoyed my "Expensive" solar system the same way someone else might have spent $1,000 on a home theater sound system to listen to the best sound possible. In my case, silence of the solar system is Golden!

Fred.

naturist

Lynchburg, VA

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Posted: 01/26/13 08:17am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Right there in a nutshell, you have the limitation of solar panels: ya gotta have sunshine. There is also a limitation in wind turbines: ya gotta have wind. Gas/diesel generators have one, too: ya gotta have gas/diesel fuel.

Fact: every power source there is has that very limitation: ya gotta have the energy source, whatever it is.





harold1946

Surprise Arizona

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Posted: 01/26/13 07:10am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The larger the solar array the more power it will put out, even in low light conditions.
When the sun returns his batteries will be charging, the rest will still be running their gennys.
The price of installing solar has droped considerably wilh some panels available as low as $.98 per watt.


Harold and Linda
2009 CT Coachworks siena 35V
W-22 Workhorse 8.1L
Explorer toad

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The Western States

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Posted: 01/26/13 08:45am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

RJsfishin wrote:

But another neighbor was getting 2.4 amps out of 240 watts yesterday before the rain, so it helped a little.
In what environment? Yesterday 150 miles east of you we had very heavy overcast clouds all day. And this morning heavy rain.

240/14 = 17A which would be ideal conditions. So flat panels in full sun should give him 8A and about 40AH/day and more in the summer.

Some larger panels requiring the more expensive MPPT controller are available for 75 cents per watt. Smaller 12V panels are more expensive but can use a PWM controller.

But no or limited sun and no or limited solar power. Look at solar charts and you'll find that the summer sun reaches a much higher elevation for many more hours. However you have to pick your location. Under no circumstances would I boon dock in Q during the summer.


2009 Holiday Rambler 42 Scepter with ISL 400 Cummins
2004 Honda CR-V

Bob


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The Western States

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Posted: 01/26/13 08:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

RJsfishin wrote:

My neighbor bought a portable suitcase panel the same day we lost the sun, never even got to really try it out.
I hope it works OK for him.

Since I suspect this is a low wattage system it would not be my choice. But he can aim it at the sun and maximize the output. But perhaps today he would not want to do that in the rain.

RoyB

King George, VA

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Posted: 01/26/13 08:49am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Its all about PLAN-Bs....

ksg5000

Oregon

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Posted: 01/26/13 09:08am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Solar has it's benefits but it does take sun to make it work - don't' see many solar rigs in the State Parks in Oregon - no way would it pencil out for me.


Kevin

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