Originally Posted by okcnewbie
My suggestion is that this is the perfect time to install your meter. Install something like the Trimetric 2030 now and it will help you determine what you will need.
I live (solo) on 650 watts of solar and 440 ah battery bank. I keep track of the system with a Trimetric 2030 and a remote meter on my Morningstar TS-MPPT-45 charge controller.
I very rarely run the generator (occasionally to splash some oil around - twice this summer for a couple hours of air conditioning).
I am still working so I keep a computer running all day. I have a phone and several gadgets (tablet, quadcopter, etc...) that require frequent battery charging. I have the TV/satellite receiver running a lot in the winter months, a few hours a day in the summer months. The microwave is used as needed (2000 watt inverter) but the convection over is a problem. I like to bake occasionally and that takes some power - sure wish I had a gas oven again.
I generally spend two weeks at a time in one place (BLM, forest service, etc...) as this is typically the limit. My tanks are sufficient to get me thru one month with a slight bit of conservation (navy showers and such).
I generally use very little heat - I stay far south in the cold months, bundle up at night, and use it to take the chill off in the morning. I know a lot of people would not tolerate this.
I have a clothes washer/dryer but I don't use it when boondocking. Every once in a while (once or twice a month) I'll grab a spot with hookups for a night and dump, fill, bake, and wash clothes. I probably stink part of the time, at least... That's ok by me, it probably helps keep the dangerous beasts away.
There is a misconception that solar does not produce power when cloudy. That is not my experience with my system. Output is certainly lower than when sunny but it still pumps out pretty good power.
From discussions here, I have gathered that there seem to be two prevailing thoughts as to the best way to install the array. I'd call the two - the easy approach and the complex approach. The former is just mounting the panels flat on the roof, the latter is mounting them with a tilt mechanism so they can be pointed at the sun. I'm sure there is some amount of increased efficiency to be gained from the latter but I can't imagine that it is enough for all the extra effort, cost, and weight. Maybe if one had VERY limited space.
It's regularly suggested and I'll repeat - build your system with some expansion capability built in if you can afford it. A somewhat over-sized charge controller and/or cables, for example.
What would I do different? Nothing. I may add another 350 watt panel at some point as I would kind of like to run my refrigerator from solar instead of LP. A larger battery bank is always nice but finding the space is usually a challenge.