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 > Please help with solar and electrical questions...

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D.E.Bishop

Eagle Rock, CA

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Posted: 10/28/21 07:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Okay I will admit I am damm near fearless when it comes to installing stuff and when I did my solar system, I had my DGS's help. Installing a system is as easy a it can be if you do it one step at a time. Juat read up on what to do. Lots of help here in the forums. We have a small system it cost about $250 all total and was a pain in the butt to get some of the wires in place but we can go ten days without electric. Moderate sunshine and no big draw items. I would spend more and buy better next time.


"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson

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RollandB

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Posted: 10/28/21 08:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have a new trailer we picked up last spring, has a 12v fridge which compared to the gas/electric absorption ones I’ve had in the past is a nice change I really am pleased with. The trailer came with a 100w poly solar panel, 10 amp PMW charge controller, then I set it up with 2 6v GC2 lead acid batteries.

In a 4 night dry camping trip last June it did well, the campsite was in full sun after 10am. I didn’t need to pull out the generator during the trip to recharge but would have had we planned to stay longer.

It showed me for a shaded site or overcast days it needs more of its array on the roof and/or a portable unit. I’ll also be changing the charge controller to a MPPT.

One recommendation I’d have is to install a good battery monitor to keep an eye on your batteries. I went with a Victron BMV712 which provides some good info on what’s going in and out as well as a quick look at the SOC


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CavemanCharlie

Storden,MN

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Posted: 10/29/21 07:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gjac wrote:

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. .


I am just a weekend camper but, with my 2 6V GC batteries and Propane fridge I can go 4 days, easy! And have power left over. I changed all my lighting to LED's and I use the television for about 1 hour a day in the morning to watch the local news and weather. The furnace is the big power hog ! I just rarely use it. Sometimes I turn it on in the morning to take the chill off.

Gjac

Milford, CT

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Posted: 11/01/21 08:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

CavemanCharlie wrote:

Gjac wrote:

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. .


I am just a weekend camper but, with my 2 6V GC batteries and Propane fridge I can go 4 days, easy! And have power left over. I changed all my lighting to LED's and I use the television for about 1 hour a day in the morning to watch the local news and weather. The furnace is the big power hog ! I just rarely use it. Sometimes I turn it on in the morning to take the chill off.
Since 2004 I only used the furnace maybe 6 times. In the fall I use a Buddy Heater and it uses no 12v power. I camp in the woods so solar would do little good, I have never needed to recharge with my genset in 7 days of dry camping and have never understood any of the solar or Li battery recommendations for week end campers. I understand many on here full time and others have much more electrical requirements than I do, but for people that just like to dry camp for a week without electronic devices 2 6VGC batteries are fine. I always run out of water before battery power.

StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 11/01/21 09:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gjac wrote:

CavemanCharlie wrote:

Gjac wrote:

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. .


I am just a weekend camper but, with my 2 6V GC batteries and Propane fridge I can go 4 days, easy! And have power left over. I changed all my lighting to LED's and I use the television for about 1 hour a day in the morning to watch the local news and weather. The furnace is the big power hog ! I just rarely use it. Sometimes I turn it on in the morning to take the chill off.
Since 2004 I only used the furnace maybe 6 times. In the fall I use a Buddy Heater and it uses no 12v power. I camp in the woods so solar would do little good, I have never needed to recharge with my genset in 7 days of dry camping and have never understood any of the solar or Li battery recommendations for week end campers. I understand many on here full time and others have much more electrical requirements than I do, but for people that just like to dry camp for a week without electronic devices 2 6VGC batteries are fine. I always run out of water before battery power.


most of us would never use a buddy heater in an enclosed space, not the safest thing to do. when they are working properly and you have a window cracked there ok, but as soon as somthing changes in them as they age they can throw a lot of co2.

so ya I camp a lot in the spring and fall when you need the heater, I also camp a lot in the forest and I still get enough light for the solar panels. I used to weekend camp ost of the time, and ya I still do.. in my old trailer I didnt have solar and I could go over night with the batteries that came from the rv place. as in one car type battery. so I went out and bought four 6V batteries and found in the summer I could go for over a week if I was carfull and winter I could do a long weekend, so when I got the 5th wheel I kept the same batteries and added a substantial amount of solar. now there is no limit in the summer and the same in the winter if it is sunny and depending on how cold and how much the furnace is running but generaly if its real coold I can go for a long weekend anyways. I find the older I get I do fewer but longer trips.

Steve


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mobeewan

Hampton, Va

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Posted: 11/01/21 11:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Not a very practical test but thisVideo shows the refrigerator running on 1 battery for 40 hours. The test is conducted by putting a 24 bottle case of water in the refrigerator with nothing in the freezer. The door is never opened or closed during the entire test. I haven't been able to find any information regarding the power consumption in Watts or amps. There will probably need to be at least two batteries and probably more solar in order to keep the batteries up and run the refrigerator with other 12 volt demands.

Gjac

Milford, CT

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Posted: 11/01/21 01:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

StirCrazy wrote:

Gjac wrote:

CavemanCharlie wrote:

Gjac wrote:

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. .


I am just a weekend camper but, with my 2 6V GC batteries and Propane fridge I can go 4 days, easy! And have power left over. I changed all my lighting to LED's and I use the television for about 1 hour a day in the morning to watch the local news and weather. The furnace is the big power hog ! I just rarely use it. Sometimes I turn it on in the morning to take the chill off.
Since 2004 I only used the furnace maybe 6 times. In the fall I use a Buddy Heater and it uses no 12v power. I camp in the woods so solar would do little good, I have never needed to recharge with my genset in 7 days of dry camping and have never understood any of the solar or Li battery recommendations for week end campers. I understand many on here full time and others have much more electrical requirements than I do, but for people that just like to dry camp for a week without electronic devices 2 6VGC batteries are fine. I always run out of water before battery power.


most of us would never use a buddy heater in an enclosed space, not the safest thing to do. when they are working properly and you have a window cracked there ok, but as soon as somthing changes in them as they age they can throw a lot of co2.

so ya I camp a lot in the spring and fall when you need the heater, I also camp a lot in the forest and I still get enough light for the solar panels. I used to weekend camp ost of the time, and ya I still do.. in my old trailer I didnt have solar and I could go over night with the batteries that came from the rv place. as in one car type battery. so I went out and bought four 6V batteries and found in the summer I could go for over a week if I was carfull and winter I could do a long weekend, so when I got the 5th wheel I kept the same batteries and added a substantial amount of solar. now there is no limit in the summer and the same in the winter if it is sunny and depending on how cold and how much the furnace is running but generaly if its real coold I can go for a long weekend anyways. I find the older I get I do fewer but longer trips.

Steve
If you use the buddy heater correctly you won't have a problem. I use it to warm up the bathroom so wife can take a shower at night, and use it to take the chill of the MH in the morning I don't run it at night when we sleep even though it has a CO safety shut off. My 2 6vGC batteries last easily for a week and are at 50% SOC but generally out of water. What do you do for water after a week or more? My limiting factor has always been water never battery power?

JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 11/05/21 10:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Max-4 wrote:



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


Hi, on the boondocking part, we camp a lot under tree cover so I have not yet went solar. We use a Honda EU200I genny connected to a Progressive Dynamics PD9620C 60 amp power converter with 3 stage charging and disulfate mode. You need a good power converter that will kick into boost mode to get your lead acid battery bank from 50% up to 90% SOC in the limited time. Some camps limit genny run time. In our case, we have 5 to 6 hours only split up into 2 time periods per day. One in the morning and one in later afternoon.

I have 2 group 27 deep cycle lead acid batteries, (would go 6 volt golf cart next time) all LED lighting, LP on the fridge, water heater and furnace. We can go days, weeks or months if ever wanted. This all starts with being a power miser. We have done this for 12 years now and it just works. I agree on getting a good battery power meter. You can start with doing voltage checks, but counting coulombs with a Victron meter takes you to the next level. I'm still on voltage as I have learned to be enough of a power miser, that voltage gets me all I need. I rarely run down to 50% SOC on the battery and some days I do not run the genny. We charge laptops and phone during the genny run period. But can do it off the battery bank if needed.

Our inverter genny is quiet, has the forest spark arrester muffler system and the wife can run the hair dryer in the morning and use the microwave for dinner. Granted the hair dryer and the microwave make the genny kick into high, but it is low idle while charging the battery.

The above gets you into boondocking without a lot of technical issues to learn and work through. If after doing boondocking enough, and you want to take the jump to solar, then do it.

I agree not getting the factory install. And the comment about RV and lack of quality at the factory is dead on. There is a lot of info on solar out there if the day comes you want to do it.

Think it through, if you start with the genny setup, you lost nothing the day you jump to solar. Having a good inverter genny is a good bail out when solar does not work well enough pending conditions.

Now to the 10 year roof, a friendly heads up, then only thing that is 10 year warranted on your roof is the actual membrane against manufacturing defects on ether a TPO, PVC or EPDM roof. It is not a leak free warranty.

Look at all the holes the factory put in the membrane? The sealants around all those holes have is where 99% of the leaks come from short of a branch poking a hole in the roof etc. If the camper lives outside all the time and you are not up there 4 times a year looking at sealant cracks and recaulking them, or hiring someone to do it for you, come year 3, odds are favorable a leak can start. Sooner if the factory botched the caulking job which happens they way the rush through these units. Ask your dealer or better call the factory and ask what is exactly warranted for 10 years on the roof. And ask if you do not do the sealants inspection and recaulking from the day you take possession, is there any "leak" warranty.

Don't fear adding solar wires, learn how to maintain your roof without the solar, then add the solar when the time comes. I restore older campers, every one of them with roof leaks never came from the membranes leaking, it was always the sealants and the owners never knew enough how to deal with or even knew that had to deal with the roof sealants.

Good luck on on your new camper.

Hope this helps

John


John & Cindy

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StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 11/06/21 09:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gjac wrote:

StirCrazy wrote:

Gjac wrote:

CavemanCharlie wrote:

Gjac wrote:

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. .


I am just a weekend camper but, with my 2 6V GC batteries and Propane fridge I can go 4 days, easy! And have power left over. I changed all my lighting to LED's and I use the television for about 1 hour a day in the morning to watch the local news and weather. The furnace is the big power hog ! I just rarely use it. Sometimes I turn it on in the morning to take the chill off.
Since 2004 I only used the furnace maybe 6 times. In the fall I use a Buddy Heater and it uses no 12v power. I camp in the woods so solar would do little good, I have never needed to recharge with my genset in 7 days of dry camping and have never understood any of the solar or Li battery recommendations for week end campers. I understand many on here full time and others have much more electrical requirements than I do, but for people that just like to dry camp for a week without electronic devices 2 6VGC batteries are fine. I always run out of water before battery power.


most of us would never use a buddy heater in an enclosed space, not the safest thing to do. when they are working properly and you have a window cracked there ok, but as soon as somthing changes in them as they age they can throw a lot of co2.

so ya I camp a lot in the spring and fall when you need the heater, I also camp a lot in the forest and I still get enough light for the solar panels. I used to weekend camp ost of the time, and ya I still do.. in my old trailer I didnt have solar and I could go over night with the batteries that came from the rv place. as in one car type battery. so I went out and bought four 6V batteries and found in the summer I could go for over a week if I was carfull and winter I could do a long weekend, so when I got the 5th wheel I kept the same batteries and added a substantial amount of solar. now there is no limit in the summer and the same in the winter if it is sunny and depending on how cold and how much the furnace is running but generaly if its real coold I can go for a long weekend anyways. I find the older I get I do fewer but longer trips.

Steve
If you use the buddy heater correctly you won't have a problem. I use it to warm up the bathroom so wife can take a shower at night, and use it to take the chill of the MH in the morning I don't run it at night when we sleep even though it has a CO safety shut off. My 2 6vGC batteries last easily for a week and are at 50% SOC but generally out of water. What do you do for water after a week or more? My limiting factor has always been water never battery power?


ya water used to be an issue, and when I had 4 to 6 of us (kids are moved out now) water was a limiting factor. I had a old rv water tank that I built a bracket to sit in the back of the truck and a 12V transfer pump. so my trailer only had 32 gal of water and I could do a trip and almost fill it. other times we wouldent be in one spot for 2 weeks but we would move to a different site every 3 to 5 days and fill up and dump doring the moves. then I bought the 5th wheel which doubled my water and the two kids moved out or went to school, so the wife and I can easily go a week with out worring about water and two weeks if we conserve. I also take 5 gal jugs and bottled water for drinking on extended trips to conserve the tank water for dishes, cooking and bathroom stuff.

Steve

Max-4

Ontario

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Posted: 11/09/21 02:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ok, so when you guys are talking about a pair of 6v golf cart batteries you are not talking about having them charged by solar power? These 6v golfcart batteries are charged using a generator or something and can power this 12v fridge and led lights for a few days?

I am looking at adding a $1000 option for the factory 190w solar panel and upgrading to two group 27 batteries.

If I am going to stick with the larger 12v fridge and not go with the smaller 3 way propane. What is my options for running this while boondocking and NOT using solar? Is this what you were talking about with the 6v golfcart batteries, how are these charged?

Am I better off to not spend $1000 extra and not have Forest River drill holes in my roof from the factory? I am all about maintaining and keeping this trailer leak free for as long as possible.

Are the portable solar panels a better option than a roof mounted one?

I am also a little confused at the responses that say buy a few 6v golf cart batteries from what I'm seeing they are $300 a piece and with the money left over buy a generator with an invertor to top them off??? A generator is anywhere from $1000 to $2000 here no problem. So I'm $1500 to $2000 into that option vs a $850 solar package from the factory? Thanks

* This post was edited 11/09/21 02:55pm by Max-4 *

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