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 > Calling on Solar Techies

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Dusty R

Charlotte Michigan 48813

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Posted: 01/17/21 08:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I suggest that everyone who is planning to build a solar system to first check and find how much available sunshine in the area you plan using it in.
For example, Michigan ranks 47th out of the 48 continual states in available sunshine.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 01/17/21 08:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

1L243 wrote:



The heater has 3 settings with the lowest setting being under 600 watts.


With the existing usable battery capacity, one MIGHT get 2 to 3 hours from a 600 watt heater. Then the battery bank would need a full recharge.

My system harvests about 17 amp-hours @13 volts on December 21. That is a scant 221 watt-hours. It would cover some of the parasitic loads.

While the rv is in storage harvest is enough to keep the battery bank happy and fully charged. My original capacity was 437 usable amp-hours or about 5000 watt-hours. For a weekend I ran what ever I wanted with the exception of the roof air conditioner. For a 5 day trip, I had to eliminate running the water heater on electric. Boondocking was limited by fresh water, not power.

I wish, that instead of getting a generator when I went full time, that I had redone the solar with a massive upgrade. As it is, the system is 15 years old and still provides it's oem rated capacity.


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp hours of AGM in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

mr_andyj

Georgia

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Posted: 01/17/21 09:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, pure SIN wave inverter. No reason to not get this, and some items will be ruined from a modified sin wave inv.
1500/3000 at minimum.
Keep in mind that smaller inverters draw less phantom power than big ones, so getting a huge one and having a lot of extra capacity is not ideal. Size it for what you need, or get a 300 watt inv and a 4,000 watt inv and use the one u need. For me a 300 pure s w i is all I need or running laptop charger or other small things.

You are in a camper. Yes, electric appliances and devices are clean and easy to use. Campers run off of propane. Do as much propane as you can. Propane furnace heater (the blower motor will still draw a lot of watts, but not as much as an all-electric heater), or a Buddy heater (which puts a lot of moisture into the room), stove-top coffee maker (see espresso pot) or pour hot water over a filter attachment.
an electric TV is fine as it will not draw a huge amt of power, as long as you dont binge watch tv.

Keep in mind, with solar you want to do electric things (charging phones/devices, tv etc) during the early sunny part of the day so you can use the sun and not the battery, and so your battery has time to recharge before sunset.

A small electric coffee maker in the morning prob not a big power draw, but only if there is enough charge left in the batteries after running TV at night, furnace fan at night, charging phones at night... because you have all day to re-charge the batteries
Get the picture? Night is not solar's friend.

An electric stover-top (those new induction ones) might be fine if you use it not-very-often as you say, and if rarely used does make more sense if you have the power to run it.

Marine batts can be run down about 200 times, real deep cycle about 1,500-2,000 times, a car starting battery about 2 times. Even so, every time you have an electric draw you are running down your batteries, so running it down 1% 100 times is similar to running it 100% once. (thats not the exact math but gives u an idea that you dont have to run it down to shorten the life of a batt, you just need to run is down any amount, and those amts add up).

Get a good charge controller. MPPT or PWM. I prefer MPPT.
You dont need a $500 one, you should be able to ebay it for $50-$80.

Solar is great. Get real glass panels, never the "flexible ones" as they are only good for when you absolutly have to have a bended one.

Run the solar in as higher voltage and let the controller drop the voltage. Higher voltage 36 volts or more is more efficient over the copper wire than lower 18 volts. You can use less wire, and smaller wire this way. controller goes as close to battery as possible.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 01/17/21 10:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

1L243 wrote:

Of course I want the best system for the least amount of money.

The big issue with going solar/battery is how fast do you use the energy stored in the batteries

It is very similar to driving with your RV. 80 MPH will use a lot more gas than 55 MPH ! . Also, if you really want to drive 80 MPH, you are going to need a bigger, MORE EXPENSIVE engine ! "You get what you pay for" is true in this case ! (More below.)

1L243 wrote:

I was thinking of going with a 3000 watt pure sine inverter they tend to be on the expensive side.

Unless you want to run your coffee pot, toaster and microwave all at the same time, 2000 watts should be adequate.

1L243 wrote:

That said We do not do a lot of winter camping but I wanted to build the solar system with that option open and reduce the consumption of propane and the need to frequently refill the tanks.

But it is easier to refill a propane tank (or maybe gasoline for a generator) than to increase the amount of sunshine on a cloudy day !

1L243 wrote:

Typically when we do use a heater it's during the day at night we switch to furnace which keep a things from freezing.

Again, but like driving at 80 MPH. You might run out of fuel (energy in the batteries) before you get to your destination (energy in the batteries to run the furnace fan).

1L243 wrote:

It it best to look for a kit? or buy individual components? I plan on installing the system myself.

Depending on how much of a DIY person you are and how much you want to "assemble" parts you can save a lot of money !

The simplest, but most expensive, solution is to buy a combination inverter/charger/automatic transfer switch, like a Samlex EVO-2212. Remove your existing converter and connect the DC distribution panel (fuse panel) directly to your batteries and disconnect the AC Shore power (outside plug). Installing the inverter/charger/transfer switch requires only 3 electrical connections. Connect the AC power that used to go into the converter, connect the AC output to the AC breaker panel, connect the DC output to your battery bank. YOU ARE DONE !

If you buy all of the components separately, directly from some Chinese manufacturers, you will save a lot of money ! Hooking them together properly is up to you.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 01/17/21 10:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dusty R wrote:

For example, Michigan ranks 47th out of the 48 continual states in available sunshine.

You don't have to remind me ! (Looking out the window at another cloudy day !)

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 01/17/21 10:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

pianotuna wrote:

I wish, that instead of getting a generator when I went full time, that I had redone the solar with a massive upgrade.

The OP would have to at least DOUBLE his solar charging and battery storage in order to run that heater. Even then, he may not have enough power left at the end of a cloudy day to run his furnace.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 01/17/21 11:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

1L243 wrote:

I have been thinking of going solar for some time and decided to pull the plug.
.
.
.
I wanted to build the solar system with that option open and reduce the consumption of propane and the need to frequently refill the tanks.

Stepping back and looking at the "big picture".

What 1L243 needs to understand is that any solar power system needs to have a backup !

Propane is NOT a good backup for electric power unless you have a propane powered generator.

A good backup would be a generator OR a DC-DC battery charger so you can recharge your battery bank from your tow vehicle. Either should charge a depleted battery bank !

1L243 wrote:

I would like a blue tooth controller and a automatic transfer switch and a auto smart charger.

With automatic transfer switch and smart charger, the only other thing you need is a Bluetooth battery monitor like Victron SmartShunt Battery Monitor

* This post was edited 01/17/21 11:18am by theoldwizard1 *

1L243

Oregon

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Posted: 01/17/21 12:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Slapped back to reality not only buy the thoughtful comments here but found the price of a 3000 watt pure sine inverter with smart charger and built in transfer switch ridiculous.

I will forget the idea of electric heat but would like to be able to power Tv's, Satellite, USB charger, Furnace if needed and a coffee maker once a day plus a small microwave for 10 minutes a day.

I will research a 1500 to 2000 watt pure sine inverter with smart charger and built in transfer switch. Is a all in one inverter the way to go or would going with separate units be more practical for purpose of replacement and cost?


2017 Coleman 300tq by Dutchman Toy Hauler. 34.5 feet long and under 10k Gross. 1999 Ford F250 2WD 7.3 4R100 DP Tuner, S&B Cold Air Intake, Gauges, 6.0 Trans Cooler, Air Bags.


theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 01/17/21 12:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

1L243 wrote:

I will forget the idea of electric heat but would like to be able to power Tv's, Satellite, USB charger, Furnace if needed and a coffee maker once a day plus a small microwave for 10 minutes a day.

I will research a 1500 to 2000 watt pure sine inverter with smart charger and built in transfer switch.

This one is a bit small (1200 watts), but it still does everything you want, without the generator start function. Samlex EVO-1212F-HW Pure Sine Inverter/Charger - $744 Amazon

1L243 wrote:

Is a all in one inverter the way to go or would going with separate units be more practical for purpose of replacement and cost?

For ease of installation and operation an "all in one" is the way to go. I would not be concerned about replacement if you buy a good quality unit.

Standalone units from less common companies (Chinese) are much cheaper Reliable 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter - $309 Amazon. (Yes, this is direct from China, but is gotten a lot of good reviews on YouTube.)

No automatic transfer switch and you have to rely on your solar and converter to charge the batteries. An automatic transfer switch could be added but the wiring is non-trivial.

1L243

Oregon

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Posted: 01/17/21 12:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We do all most all our dry camping in Wyoming in the summer

I would like to switch the conversation to best product for the least cost. Research on inverters shows a wide price variation $200 to $800 on 1500/2000 watt inverters with comparable reviews?

I would like the total cost of my system to be under $1500

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