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Old 08-29-2011, 10:53 PM   #1
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Power Questions

I am always looking for ways to economize and I noticed that there are solar panels made for 5th wheel use. I am new to 5th wheels in general so I am trying to build my knowledge to make informed decisions.

Is a 5th wheel solar system robust enough to handle all the power needs to be off the grid? I know this a bit ambiguous since I haven't given the output of the panel/panels but that is where I am hoping for some fill in the blanks on what is needed from those of you with experience.

I understand that the panels are used to charge the batteries in the unit. How long will the batteries last typically without charging? Is it worth the money to buy the extra batteries to fill the slots provided if you only have 2 for example but have room for 4?

I plan to be in a park most of the time but it would be nice to be able to generate my own power when needed. I will be getting a 32'-36' unit used and having an alternate source of power would be nice. Would a generator be a better investment of money? Let me know what you think, thanks.

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Old 08-30-2011, 01:05 AM   #2
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There are no '5th wheel solar panels'.. they are just solar panels.

Heres a good place to start: HandyBob's Blog

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Old 08-30-2011, 01:48 AM   #3
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Thank you so much that link was more informative than I could have imagined. It answered questions I did not even have the knowledge to formulate prior to reading this.
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Old 08-30-2011, 06:04 AM   #4
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I live off the grid in northern Canada (Yellowknife). I live off of eight 190 watt (24 volts each) solar panels for most of the summer.

If you were to purchase four 6 volt "golf cart" batteries and a couple of solar panels you could have more power than you will ever use (other than running the AC all day!)

The guys at Sun Electric are great to talk to and very helpful. Lowest Prices in Solar Panels, Systems & Inverters

You will notice that it is actually cheaper to purchase a 190 - 200 watt panel than the smaller 50 watt panels (especially when you consider $/watt)
2011 F350 Diesel, SRW, Lariat with all the bells and whistles

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Old 03-26-2012, 07:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Midniteoyl
There are no '5th wheel solar panels'.. they are just solar panels.

Heres a good place to start: HandyBobs Blog
That was great reading and we are just about to get a new 5th , And NO GEN needed, this is what I want
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by gmasters View Post
That was great reading and we are just about to get a new 5th , And NO GEN needed, this is what I want
There will be a time when you'll want and need a generator. If out boondocking and want A/C, the battery bank won't support the A/C for an extended time unless you have a large battery bank, efficient inverter, solar controller and an array of panels.

Or, if you run out of propane and want to keep the refrigerator cold/cool.

Or, if you want to watch TV on a cloudy day.

Or, if the wife decides she needs to vacuum the carpets.

Or, if you decide now is the time to use some power equipment.

A generator to back up the solar system will be needed or you may find yourself in the dark unless you take great pains monitoring the health of the battery bank.

Solar application is great, I know because I've lived in a solar house for 20 years, have a gas refrigerator, stove and demand water heater. However, 110 volt AC is still needed for lights, fans, TV, satellite receiver, satellite internet receiver and computers. Anything that can be converted from 110 volt AC to 12 volt DC has been converted but still, the need for the generator is still present.

Your battery bank will need to be equalized from time to time to bring all the batteries to the same charge level, this can't normally be accomplished with panels, you'll need a good inverter with an equalization mode in it. An inverter that has a sleep mode so it doesn't contunually produce 110 volts AC.

Solar sounds simple and it is once configured correctly for your needs. It's more than plug n play if you plan on spending any amount of time in your 5er.

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