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Old 05-28-2016, 11:50 AM   #1
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Overthinking/expecting too much from solar?

I'm looking at a 2017 Tiffin Phaeton w/all electric and 6 battery options.

Talking to the Tiffin folks, it sounds like the inverter doesn't run the washer, dryer or AC units.

- The washer is ~1,300W, draws max 11A
- The dryer is ~1,300W, draws max 10.5A
- Each AC unit is ~2,200W draws max 16A

I'm going to be living in it full-time and working from it as well (computers to the tune of ~220W load during daylight hours)

I want to put solar panels on it (900 to 1200W) so that I can avoid burning diesel as much as possible.

It seems like if I upgraded the inverter to 2,800W or better, it should be able to run any one of the washer, dryer or AC at a time and still have sufficient capacity for normal lighting and small electrical loads.

Am I being stupid/impractical? Well I know I'm stupid/impractical, but this time I mean specifically with respect to a PV array on an RV

Any thoughts/recommendations/pointers would be appreciated. I did a thread search and didn't find anything that looked related.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dphaynes View Post
I'm looking at a 2017 Tiffin Phaeton w/all electric and 6 battery options.

Talking to the Tiffin folks, it sounds like the inverter doesn't run the washer, dryer or AC units.

- The washer is ~1,300W, draws max 11A
- The dryer is ~1,300W, draws max 10.5A
- Each AC unit is ~2,200W draws max 16A

I'm going to be living in it full-time and working from it as well (computers to the tune of ~220W load during daylight hours)

I want to put solar panels on it (900 to 1200W) so that I can avoid burning diesel as much as possible.

It seems like if I upgraded the inverter to 2,800W or better, it should be able to run any one of the washer, dryer or AC at a time and still have sufficient capacity for normal lighting and small electrical loads.

Am I being stupid/impractical? Well I know I'm stupid/impractical, but this time I mean specifically with respect to a PV array on an RV

Any thoughts/recommendations/pointers would be appreciated. I did a thread search and didn't find anything that looked related.

I applaud your wishes but practically you won't be able to run those big draw items from solar/battery. Roof top space is limited. Even if you can get 900-1200 watts of potential solar up there, the fact is that your angle to the sun will always be compromised somewhat, you will have some shadow from a/c units & other things. You can only use about 50% of your battery capacity or severely impact their life. LED lights, computer equipment, led tv are not a problem but the big items just won't work.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:08 PM   #3
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High draw items that operate for some extended period of time will quickly (minutes) deplete your battery bank. Laundry, air conditioning, etc. Microwave or coffee maker usage of a couple few minutes is doable. Low power items such as television, computer, etc. are no problem.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dphaynes View Post
I'm looking at a 2017 Tiffin Phaeton w/all electric and 6 battery options.

Talking to the Tiffin folks, it sounds like the inverter doesn't run the washer, dryer or AC units.

- The washer is ~1,300W, draws max 11A
- The dryer is ~1,300W, draws max 10.5A
- Each AC unit is ~2,200W draws max 16A

I'm going to be living in it full-time and working from it as well (computers to the tune of ~220W load during daylight hours)

I want to put solar panels on it (900 to 1200W) so that I can avoid burning diesel as much as possible.

It seems like if I upgraded the inverter to 2,800W or better, it should be able to run any one of the washer, dryer or AC at a time and still have sufficient capacity for normal lighting and small electrical loads.

Am I being stupid/impractical? Well I know I'm stupid/impractical, but this time I mean specifically with respect to a PV array on an RV

Any thoughts/recommendations/pointers would be appreciated. I did a thread search and didn't find anything that looked related.
Are you planning on boon docking? RV parks will have minimum 30 amp in most cases. Most will have 50 amp available.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:12 PM   #5
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These items require a really big power set-up..but how much will you actually be off-grid (no shore power)?

Here's an interesting overview of running an AirCon on a solar/battery/inverter...at the end they make some discoveries:
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:25 PM   #6
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IF you want a better understanding do a power budget in watt hours/day of usage. Figure that against your storage capacity and solar capacity allowing for losses. For instance 8 hours of A/C will take 2200 watt hours x number of A/C's running so maybe 35,200 watt hours. Divide that by 1200 watts of solar = 29.3 hours of solar at 100% efficiency that you will not get. That should put the problem in perspective.

You probably can get better or worse habits that will help like using the generator for the A/C and doing a load of laundry and maybe dinner at the same time. A significant amount of the generator engine fuel goes to just get the generator going so adding load is incrementally less fuel than starting and running just to do something.

FWIW the last thing I would want for boon docking is an all electric unit. YMMV.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:06 PM   #7
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Hi dphaynes. For background, I'm a fulltimer and also a full time employed software engineer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dphaynes View Post
- The washer is ~1,300W, draws max 11A
- The dryer is ~1,300W, draws max 10.5A
- Each AC unit is ~2,200W draws max 16A
Those values are at 110-120 volts. Covert to 12.5 volts DC and they become 104 amps, 104 amps, & 176 amps (approx). Any of those are a pretty heavy load for a 600 amp-hour battery bank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dphaynes View Post
I want to put solar panels on it (900 to 1200W) so that I can avoid burning diesel as much as possible.
Your limit will likely be roof space. I am lucky and have a lot of available space, some rigs don't allow that without an elevated platform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dphaynes View Post
It seems like if I upgraded the inverter to 2,800W or better, it should be able to run any one of the washer, dryer or AC at a time and still have sufficient capacity for normal lighting and small electrical loads.
This is correct. However, your battery bank will only run the inverter for a few minutes at that kind of load.

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Originally Posted by dphaynes View Post
Am I being stupid/impractical?
No, certainly not. We all want 4 kW of solar panels and a 10 kW-h battery bank. The sad reality is that neither is practical (cost, weight, space). Some people are running AC from battery but they have a large LiPo battery bank (costing $10k+).

One solution to the air conditioning is to follow the weather (and use altitude to your advantage). I am in the west so this is easy - my AC's are rarely used. If in the east, not so easy.

I agree with others, an all electric rig is not ideal for boondocking. At least not until we all have a personal nuclear reactor the size of a D cell battery that we just plug into the rig.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:10 PM   #8
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Maybe worth adding... if you are intent (and have the resources) on going this route, you might have Tiffin build your rig with the solar cables in place and eliminate the house batteries. You can then take it from there and install your own panels, charge controller, and battery bank.

Given the amount of solar power you are talking about, best to jump the voltage way up at the panels and transport it down to the MPPT charge controller over medium size cable.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post


These items require a really big power set-up..but how much will you actually be off-grid (no shore power)?

Here's an interesting overview of running an AirCon on a solar/battery/inverter...at the end they make some discoveries:
Best luck
Thanks! I've actually already watched that video a couple of times (and everything else I could find on YT from RVGeeks, Technomadia etc.) I wish the Wynns were more technical, they seem to have had access to a lot of products and it would have been interesting to see hard numbers/data not just what the panels said.

I have no clue how much boondocking I will actually do. First I gotta learn everything from the ground up, it will be my first experience with an RV of any sort. I've done a lot of dual-sport motorcycle touring but 99% of the time I stayed in hotels. I hates camping, but boondocking in a palace with license plates seems bearable

It's sounding like I have to just go with the 900W system and use it to handle normal electric loads and if any of my future bank robberi...er...investment plans work out upgrade to lots of lithium batteries, a massive inverter and a couple more panels.

Thanks for the info!
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:22 PM   #10
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- The washer is ~1,300W, draws max 11A
- The dryer is ~1,300W, draws max 10.5A
- Each AC unit is ~2,200W draws max 16A
You need to change your thinking a bit.

Washer/dryer - Buy more clothes - enough to last you until you can get to shore power.

A/C - use tarps/awnings to create shade on your coach, fans to move the air.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:29 PM   #11
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Maybe worth adding... if you are intent (and have the resources) on going this route, you might have Tiffin build your rig with the solar cables in place and eliminate the house batteries. You can then take it from there and install your own panels, charge controller, and battery bank.

Given the amount of solar power you are talking about, best to jump the voltage way up at the panels and transport it down to the MPPT charge controller over medium size cable.
I talked to one of the guys at Tiffin yesterday and he said that when I place the order I should order the solar prep kit (which is like $250) and be sure to request/specify they do it with #4 wire instead of the standard #8.

The dealer is offering a fair price on installed Samlex panels and an Outback controller. Since I know (submarine sailor vocabulary redacted) about RVs and only a minimal amount about solar systems in general, I'd rather have someone who knows what they're doing. Any screw up on my part is liable to exceed their labor charges. As a software engineer I can always blame the hardware, but if I start playing amateur hardware engineer I'm going to be down to blaming the gods and those (redacted) never pick up the (redacted) bill.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:33 PM   #12
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You need to change your thinking a bit.

Washer/dryer - Buy more clothes - enough to last you until you can get to shore power.

A/C - use tarps/awnings to create shade on your coach, fans to move the air.
This is good advice. I pull into a campground once every 2-3 weeks to dump/fill, do laundry (onboard), and take a REALLY long, hot shower.

Making your own window shades is not very hard (RV Windshield Sun Shade - JdFinley.com) and you can get pretty crazy with the shade material that is available. I purchased a big roll (6' x 100') 80% UV Resistant Fabric and have been toying with it - it definitely helps to keep the temps down.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:40 PM   #13
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You need to change your thinking a bit.

Washer/dryer - Buy more clothes - enough to last you until you can get to shore power.

A/C - use tarps/awnings to create shade on your coach, fans to move the air.
Yup, at least a half dozen more pairs of Buck Naked underwear are on the shopping list

Just wish when laundry day finally arrives I could wash 'em using something other than diesel.

I'm already counting on awnings and fans to do most of the job, but if I'm slouching around the Chile festival down Las Cruces way Hatch Valley Chile Festival - New Mexico Tourism - New Mexico Eventsfans and fresh undies just aren't going to cut it.

Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:41 PM   #14
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I talked to one of the guys at Tiffin yesterday and he said that when I place the order I should order the solar prep kit (which is like $250) and be sure to request/specify they do it with #4 wire instead of the standard #8.
Assuming 1200 watts of solar at 24 volts and running 50', #8 will work. If running lower voltage or more solar, maybe not ok...

I'm running #10, 60 volts and about 40'. If I were to add more panels, I'd likely up the voltage as my charge controller can handle up to 150 volts. I'm not a fan of letting people tell me what I should use as, in my experience, I tend to get what they have and not necessarily what is best. For example, you are likely to get 12 volt panels as that what the industry likes to sell.
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