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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > Please help with solar and electrical questions...

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Max-4

Ontario

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Posted: 10/27/21 08:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello, first of all let me say a big thank you for reading my questions, I am new to RV'ing and im trying to pick things up quickly. My wife and I just put a downpayment on a brand new 2022 Forest River Salem FSX 177bh, we should take delivery of it in February or March of 2022. If I had to guess I could see my family using this trailer to do 70% plug in camping with full services and 30% off the grid boondocking. I do want the ability to use the trailer at National and Provincial parks (oh yeah im Canadian) where there likely wont be any water or electricity.

My dilemma is in regards to the fridge choices and solar packages that are available for this trailer. This Salem FSX comes with a new large ever-chill 11 cu ft 12v refrigerator standard. There is an option to go with a smaller 8 cu ft 3-way electric/propane fridge. With this option I would only have one group 24 battery that the trailer came with. I could also add another group 24 battery for a total of two but I would have no way of charging them once at campground. I do know the differences between these two fridges, I have been doing a bit of research.

My other option is to add the $850 solar package from the factory which includes a "Roof mounted 190 watt solar panel, 30 amp controller and battery". So am assuming this adds a second group 24 battery for a total of two after the one the trailer comes with. So I would have two group 24 batteries in my bank and the solar system to charge them. The dealer also recommended upgrading the two batteries to group 27 batteries at a cost of $280.

After reading a little bit it sounds like these new 12v refrigerators are pretty efficient and dont draw too much. I want the ability to go off grid for 48-72 hours and run the fridge as well as lights, stereo and charge devices. I understand this is dependant on sunshine and our usage but do you think its possible? the ad on ever-chills website said the fridge is sustainable with a 200 watt solar pannel and two batteries.

What would you guys recommend for my needs? I am kind of hoping that we can get by with the larger 12v fridge, solar package and two batteries in my bank. Thanks in advance for your time!!!

Sandia Man

Rio Rancho, NM

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Posted: 10/27/21 09:56am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would go for the larger fridge as well, whether to have them install the over-priced solar and battery setup is your choice. Might be wise to have it done aftermarket using better components, a pair of 6 volt golfcart batteries, and more than likely end up with additional wattage for what they are charging.

Most factory installed systems tend to utilize less than ideal equipment and wiring. For best results when RVing off the power grid is to have a quiet inverter genny along with a fast charging smart converter for times when solar can't keep up. Congrats on your new rig, welcome to the RV lifestyle.

jdc1

Rescue, Ca

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Posted: 10/27/21 11:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Buy your batteries (2-6 volt golf cart) at Costco or Sams Club. Buy and install the solar yourself (it's very easy to do). Get a QUIET 3,000w+ inverter generator. Now you can stick to the 12v fridge.....and run your AC.

wanderingaimlessly

Buggs Island lake

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Posted: 10/27/21 11:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Remember, solar doesn't do well when under shade trees. Unless your off grid locations will have a lot of sun exposure, you may come up short.
You can do a lot better than $800 for 190 watts and the controller.
I'd suggest an after market approach on the solar, 200-300 watts and use the extra money for a small generator for the time that clouds and rain stall your charging.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 10/27/21 12:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Max-4 wrote:


This Salem FSX comes with a new large ever-chill 11 cu ft 12v refrigerator standard.

My other option is to add the $850 solar package from the factory which includes a "Roof mounted 190 watt solar panel, 30 amp controller and battery". So am assuming this adds a second group 24 battery for a total of two after the one the trailer comes with. So I would have two group 24 batteries in my bank and the solar system to charge them. The dealer also recommended upgrading the two batteries to group 27 batteries at a cost of $280.

After reading a little bit it sounds like these new 12v refrigerators are pretty efficient and dont draw too much. I want the ability to go off grid for 48-72 hours and run the fridge as well as lights, stereo and charge devices. I understand this is dependant on sunshine and our usage but do you think its possible? the ad on ever-chills website said the fridge is sustainable with a 200 watt solar pannel and two batteries.

What would you guys recommend for my needs? I am kind of hoping that we can get by with the larger 12v fridge, solar package and two batteries in my bank. Thanks in advance for your time!!!


Welcome to the forums!

Definitely go with the 12 volt fridge.

I would add a dc to DC charger for use when towing. One with a 20 amp output will serve you well and make sure you arrive with a full battery bank. https://www.amazon.ca/Renogy-Battery-Bat........=9001253&hvtargid=pla-728968810259&psc=1

$950 is a rip off price.

If you are "handy" with tools you can do MUCH better.

This series of articles may help you "size" the solar system:

https://freecampsites.net/adding-solar/

They have a pretty good trip planner, too (and yes there are lots of Canadian sites listed).

Most Federal Parks do have power. Many of the Provincial ones do too. Ontario is famous for needing LONG extension cords. The exception is BC where few of the Provincial parks have power.


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, soon to have SiO2 batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

Vintage465

Prunedale CA.

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Posted: 10/27/21 02:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For as little as you're going to boon dock, there is prolly not much reason to go with a propane fridge. I would absolutely NOT waste you money on a factory solar package. Just throwing money out the window. Get a couple 6 volt golf cart batteries, and a portable solar will possibly get you thru 3 days of off grid. We boon dock almost exclusively and rely entirely on 12v and propane, with 450w of solar charging four 6v golf cart batteries. We have a generator for emergencies, but never have used it. I think the DC to DC chargers are a real good thing to have too.


V-465
2013 GMC 2500HD Duramax Denali. 2015 CreekSide 20fq w/450 watts solar and 465 amp/hour of batteries. Retired and living the dream!

Gjac

Milford, CT

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Posted: 10/27/21 03:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you boondock 30% of the time I would stick to the el/propane refer forget the solar for now and get 2 6v GC batteries. You will have more than enough power for 3-5 days dry camping if you just camp in the NP's. If you have don't have to watch TV our play video games or use electric devices while dry camping. As a data point I dry camp only and in 7 days my 2 Sams club batteries are down to 50% SOC without solar or genset usage. The limiting factor is water in 7 days my 60 gal tank is almost empty and it is time to do laundry. How much water is in your trailer? With kids you will probably run out of water before battery power. The other thing to consider is the size of your gray tank, even if you can carry water from a GC faucet, US NP's don't allow you to drain gray water at your camp site I doubt Canadian NP's do either.

Max-4

Ontario

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Posted: 10/27/21 04:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I want to thank you all for the replies, it really is a big help! Unfortunately I am not extremely handy with tools and I'm not about to go and drill holes through the roof of my $28,000 trailer. Well I do understand that it is probably a subpar system I get relief in knowing that it was installed at the factory.

How does my 10-year factory warranty on the rubber roof look after I start drilling holes through it?

Like somebody else said I am also sure that water will be an issue because I think it's a 40 gallon freshwater tank. I just want the ability to be able to spend a few nights off the grid if needed. Like I said I am new to this Hobby and well $800 is a lot of money it's not a lot for the peace of mind that this system was installed from the factory.

After my bumper to bumper warranty is up and if I find that this system is not sufficient I can always upgrade later.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 10/27/21 05:32pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi,

You will still save money with a 3rd party installer. In order to get a good system you need to know what you want before you darken their door.

I can already tell you that 190 watts is unlikely to be enough. Why? Because I have 256 watts of panels that may be the best ever made for low light conditions--and it is not enough.

Why is my system too small? Because in 2005 the cost was $5 per watt for the panels so it cost me $1700 when all was said and done. Now costs for panels are often lower than $1 per watt. The best price I've seen was $0.36 cents per watt.

I would suggest bumping up to between 400 and 800 watts.

If you must do just 190, then make sure the charge controller and wiring can handle a lot more watts. Otherwise you may find yourself having to start over as though there were no system at all.

The factory, you may find, gets a LOT of things wrong. The words quality control and RV should not be used in the same sentence.

Feel free to message me directly or to reply on the thread. I've had solar since 1992. Just to show how prices have dropped, the 1992 system cost $1700 for 30 watts.

StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Joined: 07/16/2003

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Posted: 10/28/21 06:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I will also say go with the propane fridge, but add the solar package also, but go bigger. I have 480 watts on my 5th wheel with four 6V GC batteries, and it is just enough. yes the 12v fridges are pretty good efficiency wise but they still draw a good chunk of power over a day and boondocking your power can be spent better doing other things like a furnace if you go in the spring and fall.

Steve


2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
2016 Cougar 330RBK

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