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Old 05-03-2016, 08:31 AM   #1
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Solar or portable generator

noob here. i'm looking for a trailer in the 3500 pound-350 pound hitch weight max class. i'd like to go solar but
a. i'm not all that great with diy projects.drilling the roof--aaarrgghh
b. there are few trailers in those specs to handle the hitch weight of 2 6v golf batteries 200-220 amp hours and stay below 350 pounds. i'd like to do 200 watts solar. palomini 142ck and rpod 171 are two.
could i place the batteries in the center dinette seat storage areas or closet over the wheels in trailers so equipped?
or should i just buy a portable gen and a trailer i like because i'm not thrilled with the trailers i mentioned? maybe try to go solar on it later if having batteries in the trailer is ok. i full timed and boondocked 15 years ago for about 2 years in a old class c with a honda 1000 watt gen. i think i could still do it today if i had a trailer with a 5-8k wall mount a/c and maybe have to swap the microwave for lower watts if it won't run as the only thing on.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:05 AM   #2
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If you go with AGM and possibly a little emergency venting you could move the batteries under the bench if you wanted.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:28 AM   #3
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I'm all for solar, the more the better. When I bought our 98 cl A new, I deleted the gen set, awning, jacks and stickers. Haven't regretted it once. I installed an 8D where the gen set went and kept the 2 12v's. I added a 55 watt solar panel my self. At that time they were $800. 5 years ago I added another 120 watts for $130. I've never had a power problem. Once in a great while I do miss not using the AC, but I figure the $10k I saved on servicing the gen set and such I can afford to stay in an rv park when the heat is real bad. So my suggestion is to go solar, big time!!! Have you considered just adding batts by installing them into the bed of your truck in a box? I've seen that before, when time to do laundry just just unplug trailer and drive to town charging batts. Gotta think outside the box.... the battery box that is...
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Old 05-03-2016, 10:14 AM   #4
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How are you coming up with the 3500 - 350 weight numbers? Manufacturer marketing materials? Real world might inflate the tongue weight.

Where are you from? Where will you be camping? In the Pacific North Wet, where I am from, 200 watts of solar panels might not be enough to collect any light if there is a lot of tree cover.
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Old 05-03-2016, 02:43 PM   #5
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So my suggestion is to go solar, big time!!!
Well said!!

To the OP, not an expert but I would think the keys to placing the batteries in a living area are seal the box (from the living area), provide venting to the outside, and make sure the box is built of something that won't be damaged by the batteries (or acid). Maybe none of this would matter with the sealed AGM type batteries.
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Old 05-03-2016, 03:00 PM   #6
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FWIW I see solar as a fine secondary source for power. I would never see it as a viable only source. A generator first because it does not matter what the sun is doing then add solar later if you can justify the cost with use. That is a lot cheaper and more reliable approach.
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Old 05-03-2016, 04:37 PM   #7
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Thankfully the OP didn't give us any facts so we can't play a game of moving goal posts (for the solar vs generator debate). I can report from first hand experience that conditions do exist that allow solar to be the primary and/or only power source. The resulting lifestyle being quiet comfortable/normal. I can also imagine that condition exist where that is not the case.
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Old 05-03-2016, 07:19 PM   #8
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The places I like to camp the best near where I call home are heavily shaded by a canopy of trees, and would require massive amounts of panels to collect even the smallest useful current.

I've also been camping in the desert SW this winter, and for the house batteries all I needed was one good 100 watt panel tilted at the peak solar collection angle and direction to keep up with my light and fan usage. Another 200 watts properly tilted and directed kept up with my computer and light radio use. But under tree canopy, I gotta go with the gennie, especially for running the 100 watt radio.

There is no argument: solar *is* better hands down for recharging batteries, when it's able to collect enough energy to do the required charging..
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:14 AM   #9
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Full timed all over north america in all enviroments for 7 years. Never needed a gen set. But, I didn't park under trees, I guess you could look at this as a drawback. But I don't like having to clean the pitch off my roof either.
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Old 05-05-2016, 07:06 AM   #10
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I am with 1 Big Mess on this. Maybe this is because we both hail from the soggy Pacific Northwest. I don't like to park in the full sun where solar works really well. On hot summer days I like to park in the cool shade but then solar would not work very well. One option if you don't need a lot of juice is a portable solar panel. They make some that come with their own controllers and you can park in the shade and put the panel in the sun. If you have a small trailer with LED lights and don't use a lot of high energy items like running the furnace all night, it might work for you. For me I like having a small gennie and then my portable panel. When the solar can't keep up I can run the gennie for a few hours. The small gennies are also handy to have around the house when the power goes out.
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:04 AM   #11
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I am with 1 Big Mess on this. Maybe this is because we both hail from the soggy Pacific Northwest. I don't like to park in the full sun where solar works really well. On hot summer days I like to park in the cool shade but then solar would not work very well. One option if you don't need a lot of juice is a portable solar panel. They make some that come with their own controllers and you can park in the shade and put the panel in the sun. If you have a small trailer with LED lights and don't use a lot of high energy items like running the furnace all night, it might work for you. For me I like having a small gennie and then my portable panel. When the solar can't keep up I can run the gennie for a few hours. The small gennies are also handy to have around the house when the power goes out.
I must have stayed in that camp ground by the lake with you. In the afternoon 35 rigs started up their gennies and my windows started rattling, floor rumbling and my teeth vibrating. (the last is an old age thing) I finally had to go to the Harbor Freight next to the freeway for some peace and quiet!
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:18 AM   #12
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It's called air conditioning time... ;-)
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:21 AM   #13
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Small inverter generator. Will always do what it is rated to do. Solar depends on Sun on your panels and batteries. Batteries are expensive and heavy. Don't get me wrong, we love our solar, but if choosing one or the other.... generator.
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