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Old 07-07-2014, 12:28 PM   #1
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Solar Panels

After 1 year of limited road time I am now wondering if solar panels would be worth the investment if the following is still true: Our 30' Newmar is stored under cover and we are getting out just several weeks a year. Worth it or not?
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:15 PM   #2
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There are a few variables that affect the answer. Will be staying offline (boondocking) much or will you mostly be at campgrounds? If you RV is covered does that mean you have access to electricity?

If you do a lot of offline RVing then solar can help with keeping your batteries up with out having to run the generator as much. But if you go to CGs the elec. there will meet your needs. If you store covered and have elect then a small staged charger will keep you batteries in top shape.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:23 PM   #3
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As far as return of investment, no way! Very few RV'ers, even full timers, get the return of their money, unless they count camp ground fees. If you are going to boondock 3-4 weeks a year, run your generator.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:13 PM   #4
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From what I've read here and other places it looks like solar costs at least $3000 😜 Man that's a lot of diesel or gas! Yep, it would be cool to have but it sure doesn't look like a smart one based on costs...
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:17 PM   #5
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I run my generator two hours a day and keeps all my toys operating.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:06 PM   #6
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Generator 2 hours a day - say $6 a day for fuel. for 250 days per year = ???

Opportunity and service costs of generator Capital costs @6% plus service costs = ????

Full-timing say 250 days a year NOT in campgrounds. Say campground costs $25 per night. savings per year = ????

Seems to me that amount will pay for a pretty amazing solar system and you get to camp in places with some pretty nice views.. such as https://picasaweb.google.com/1146117...nParkNotLikely

and that isn't including the value of the 'sounds of silence' - priceless.

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Very few RV'ers, even full timers, get the return of their money,
On that basis, none of us would own RVs
or a house, or car or ...
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:28 PM   #7
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Several weeks a year you will never get the investment back. Even if you did nothing but boondock.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:44 PM   #8
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It wasn't an economic decision for us. We wanted the ability to be spontaneous and flexible -- to not be tied to an electric pedestal or having to find a campground with a certain kind of hookup. If you like to make schedules and can plan where you will be able to camp overnight, every night, <or> if you like to make reservations ahead of time, you will prolly not reap as much from your solar investment. Just sayin'... There's lots of great places to explore out there that don't have FHUs. Keeping my options open, \ken
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:52 PM   #9
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Tony,
The OP said he was getting out several weeks a year. That is far from 250 days. I have a solar system, but I did it tbecause we fulltime and I wanted to avoid campgrounds. If I figure in the campground cost, it has paid for itself, but that is 365 days a year we are on the road, not several weeks.
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:23 PM   #10
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The choice is up to, do you wish to run the gen set or run off solar! It's true a couple hours a day of the gen set should keep your batteries up. I spend the winter were we are close together so people tend to be genny sensitive. So I have 2 135 Watt panels and 4 batteries, works for me. When not there I run the genny! Long and short it's a personal choice!
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:30 PM   #11
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Others have well answered the topic. Attached is a write-up on how and why I implemented our solar system which may provide some insight.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 95 views)
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:33 PM   #12
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I put 2 250 watt high voltage panels on our coach with a MPPT charge controller for just under $1000.00, installed myself, couldn't be happier! We hate CG's and boondock all the time and have only run the genny twice in 6 months, once when the DW was using the convection oven and once again when we were out with our grand baby and it was raining steady so we watched 3 movies, DW was using the micro wave and hair dryer so it was running down the 4 6V batteries. Ran the genny for a couple hours and all was good. Doesn't take long to pay off the solar system when you don't have to pay CG fees. We only use the RV a few times during the summer but plan on half timing in a couple years when we retire. I feel it was well worth the investment.
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:27 AM   #13
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5 weeks x 5 years x 7 days x $25 per day RV park fees is $4375

So you could get a fairly respectable solar system and have a payback of 5 years. That is probably similar to payback periods for adding extra insulation and weather sealing to a house. Guess there are other examples. Also plenty of examples of things we buy because we want them that never pay back and in fact cost us money forever.

A decent solar system has no advantages for an RVer who wouldn't be caught dead outside a RV park so they wouldn't bother anyway, but for the many who do get out in the deserts and forests, not having to run a generator for two hours a day ($1000++ over 5 years) does have financial and other benefits that might justify a moderate upgrade to the electrical system.
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:15 AM   #14
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If your able to keep coach plugged in during storage your Bird System will keep all your batteries, coach & house, charged.
The small solar panel is only for your chassis battery and for parasitic discharges from items connected to it.
A MH under cover will not charge your batteries any more than having coach plugged in.
Below in my signature are links that will apply to your coach.
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