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Old 02-06-2009, 01:47 AM   #1
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Can I ask - Do any of you use roof mounted/stand alone solar panels to keep the batteries charged as an alternative to a genny when not on electric hook up and if so what size do you use.
Maggie
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:18 AM   #2
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We use a rather old panel that is (I think) a 45W. When we were dry camping when we went south, the gen. would never get the batteries fully charged but with the panel they would get a full charge. I only run the gen. about an hour in the morning. I finally realized that the converter had a 3 or 4 stage charger with the last stage being a trickle charge. It would take forever running the gen. to get a full charge with out using a regular charger.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:29 AM   #3
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Yes!
I currently have 250 watts of solar panels sitting on the roof of my RV. Along with 4 batteries. If my money was unlimited, I would have at least 500 watts and more batteries. Remember that for every 100 watts of solar you need enough batteries to store that electricity, so it is not simply loading the roof with panels, it is proper planning and enough storage capacity.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:36 AM   #4
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Of course!

We have 4 100-watt panels (from AM Solar) on our roof and 4 AGM batteries (not on the roof ).
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:08 AM   #5
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Yes, we have three 80 watt panels with the standard two 6 volt batteries. We do not have tilt mounts so the batteries do not usually top off all the way in the winter while we are in Arizona [the sun is too low]. In the summer with the sun directly overhead the batteries stay charged pretty well. We don't watch much TV and I have installed flourescent lights in the places we use the most. I have just bought a couple of LED lights to use for reading lights, they use even less power than the flourescent lights do, though they produce less light.
I believe the solar panels keeping the batteries charged, even when the rig is not being used, are the reason that the cheap Exide batteries have lasted so long; they were installed in January of 1999 and are still going strong.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:50 AM   #6
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Thanks hadnt thought of using 6v batteries rather than a 12vleisure.Its something im looking into even though we dont have a great deal of sunshine in the uk but i believe there are a couple of different types of panels as having probs with battery going flat in storage due to security device which has to be on for insurance purposes.My vans a 1999 and about to go onto our fourth new battery
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Old 02-08-2009, 01:35 PM   #7
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Chatterdog,

You'll find that two 6-volt golf cart style batteries will give you more amps for more years than 12-volt batteries that are mislabled as "Deep Cycle."

Golf cart batteries are favored by ham radio operators as well. The batteries are generally built stronger than "deep cycle" batteries and are designed to be deeply dishcharged and recharged many, many times. And they work great with solar panels and/or wind chargers (I used them on sailboats for many years).

More bang for your buck.

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Old 02-08-2009, 03:23 PM   #8
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Chatterbox have you ever thought of charging up your rv batteries by using your tow vehicle. just an idea from (Shiloh)-Rick
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:39 PM   #9
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hi Shiloh yes the battery gets charged from the tow vehicle when connected and if the drive was wide enough i could park the van at home and there would be no battery problem as i could hook it to my house electrics but the van is in storage some miles away with no electric supply,hence thinking of the solar route to keep the charge as the battery discharges whilst in storage. I go down with a genny every few weeks to give it a bit of a top up
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:07 PM   #10
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chatterdog, for your intended purpose, a solar panel type charger should work fine. Located in England however, you should opt for the largest size available so that your battery will still get some charge even on those overcast and gloomy days.

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Old 02-12-2009, 09:29 AM   #11
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Solar is on the list of things I would like to add to my 5th wheel.

From what I've been reading, the way to get the best bang for your buck is to strike a good balance between reducing use (led or floresent lights and so on), battery storage capacity, and solar cells/charge controller.

For me, since I'm out in cold weather and often surrounded by trees, I think a quiet and efficient generator and an intellegent and fast converter/charger will still be in the mix.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:45 PM   #12
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Jeff,
Sounds like you have a good understanding of the situation. When we are at hunting camp in northen CA in October, even when parked in a clearing for more sun, we use a 1kw honda to maintain batteries in both our motorhome and my BIL's trailer. The solar doesn't work real good when it is overcast, raining, or snowing
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:12 AM   #13
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We have a single 100W panel for our 2-12V batteries. We haven't had much of a chance to see how well this combo works yet, but we will this summer. I've been thinking about adding a second panel, though.

Our motor home had about 160W and 4 - 6v golf cart batteries, and that worked great. We could go about a week before we ran the generator.
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