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Old 08-17-2016, 07:27 AM   #1
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Questions about the value of solar

I am sure that this topic has been discussed someplace here but here goes.
We are looking forward to going full timers within the next 2 years. The plan is to be workamping. My question is, would it be good to invest in equipping my fiver with solar? I know that some places charge for electricity for extended stays. So would the investment be worth it in the long run?
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Old 08-17-2016, 07:44 AM   #2
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You don't indicate the type of workamping you will look for. Volunteering in parks usually comes with some type of furnished power. Personally we do not accept any position that does not come with FHU. Solar is usefull if you plan to spend long period of time boondocking in the southwest. The amount of money saved with solar in a normal FHU park would not come even close to covering the cost of the solar system. MHO
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Old 08-17-2016, 07:50 AM   #3
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If you have to pay to have someone install your solar (perhaps incorrectly) I don't think it ever is a great value.
If you're going to be work camping you'll have hook-ups and won't need solar. I personally love being able to boondock/drycamp and use everything except the AC and microwave anytime I want. I spent about 1500 and did the install myself.
You could start by becoming more of an expert on solar.

Bob has quite a bit on the subject....
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:01 AM   #4
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As commented, workcamping usually includes power connection so solar not needed for this scenario. Solar is good for dry camping usage to eliminate or minimize generator usage. Usually difficult to only justify RV solar on a cost basis.
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:02 AM   #5
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Battery capacity is the first thing you need address. Solar is merely the means to recharge battery's . A generator can also recharge batteries generally quicker and at a lower cost in the short term. Solar can take 5-8-10 years to "pay" out as a better deal. That said, solar is silent and relatively maint free.
Workcamping you are generally given a fhu site. Unless you are using ac and paying for your electric your electric bill will be minimal and air conditioning and solar don't come together well it would take way too much solar to run the ac
Now if your boondocking a lot and value quiet and aren't using your air you can consider it a comfort addition! After all RV's aren't a good dollar payback thing , they are a life$tyle choice.
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:14 AM   #6
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Thanks for the input everyone.
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:28 AM   #7
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Minimum??? Our work is in South Texas/Louisiana. My power bills are 250.00 during hottest months. Solar can be bought for under 1.00 per watt. Batteries are most of cost. And a side note you can install a mini split ac system and run it off of solar power. This is proven. We are full time and I'm going to do this
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:40 AM   #8
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Minimum??? Our work is in South Texas/Louisiana. My power bills are 250.00 during hottest months. Solar can be bought for under 1.00 per watt. Batteries are most of cost. And a side note you can install a mini split ac system and run it off of solar power. This is proven. We are full time and I'm going to do this
You can run almost anything from solar power, if you have enough watts of solar and enough amp hours of batteries. I can only imagine how much of both it would take to run an air conditioner for very long in hot weather.

I just quickly looked at the specs for 11,200 BTU unit. It takes 8.4 amps @120 volts so at ~12 volts it would take 84 amps. Even if you ran it only 10 hours a day, that would require 840 amp hours of battery storage, and going by the rule of not running your batteries below 50% SOC, that would mean that you would need 1680 amp hours of batteries. Also, a 11,200 BTU air conditioner will not cool a very big RV in hot weather.
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:48 AM   #9
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You can 2 mini split systems off 1 15 amp 110 breaker. We not talking about the very inefficient units on top of campers.
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Old 08-17-2016, 11:06 AM   #10
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You can 2 mini split systems off 1 15 amp 110 breaker. We not talking about the very inefficient units on top of campers.
15 amps @ 120 volts is 150 amps at 12 volts. As I said before, In order to run only one mini-split only 10 hours a day, would require a battery bank of 1680 amp hours. If you were to use two mini-splits, then you would need 3360 amp hours of batteries. Not practical at all.
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Old 08-17-2016, 11:59 AM   #11
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Minimum??? Our work is in South Texas/Louisiana. My power bills are 250.00 during hottest months. Solar can be bought for under 1.00 per watt. Batteries are most of cost. And a side note you can install a mini split ac system and run it off of solar power. This is proven. We are full time and I'm going to do this

Correction;

You may be able to get "solar panels" for under $1 per/watt. It's extremely unlikely you can get the whole system for that.
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Old 08-17-2016, 12:25 PM   #12
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....... My power bills are 250.00 during hottest months. .......
I triple dog dare you to try and replace $250 worth of electricity with solar.

At .12 per/Kwh that's about 64Kwh per day. Not gonna happen.

It's not the AC inefficiency you need to worry about it's the tin can.
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Old 08-17-2016, 04:21 PM   #13
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Perhaps you might find raw solar panels for $1 per watt? As others have pointed out " I= V/R' " the cost of a say 4KW solar setup that might operate A/C's (controller(s, inverter(s, battery array(s, monitor, shunts, combiners, fusing, disconnects, racks, cabling) $$$$. Pipedreams perhaps. The harder your battery array is worked the shorter it's service life so it may, or not pay for itself.

OP: You should first do a comprehensive energy audit of a couple things.
First, your current energy use. Second, the amount of energy you think that you can "realistically" live on and afford. You'll still need an additional amount of supplemental assistance (generator, SP) for those over-runs, cloudy days, rainy season, shade. Then spec. a system based on these figures. Everyone has a different tolerance for being frugal, or for their self- sufficient bragging rights.

Remember "Moore's law", in the 2yrs. before you jump in most things will change.

Someone earlier posted an excellent reading source on the topic that helps separate facts from folklore.

Best of luck
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Old 08-17-2016, 05:08 PM   #14
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15 amps @ 120 volts is 150 amps at 12 volts. As I said before, In order to run only one mini-split only 10 hours a day, would require a battery bank of 1680 amp hours. If you were to use two mini-splits, then you would need 3360 amp hours of batteries. Not practical at all.
this is being done. Using lithium batteries and mini splits. The mini splits use an inverter compressor. Very low power. Research them before writing them off. Your math is off also. Both run on 1 15 amp breaker.
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