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Old 08-01-2012, 08:14 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by jauguston View Post
I would certainly not base my choice of panel on whether it had two little plug in connectors or not. There are a lot of good panels out there. I have Kyocera brand and they are well made and put out what they say they will. My first two are now 7 years old and put out the same as new ones.There are several good controllers. I like Blue Sky brand. I started out 7 years ago with two 130w Kyocera panels and a Blue Sky Solar Boost SB2000e MPPT controller and it worked very well. New coach two more panels and upgraded to a Blue Sky Solar Boost 3024iL MPPT controller. Newer coach again.two more panels same controller. I see 40a on the rare occasion when we get bright sun here in NW Washington (-:.

The price of solar panels is kind of a moving target. The price keeps falling. I paid $625.00 each for my first two Kyocera's. The last two were $350.00 each.

Jim
Quite correct,not the sole indicator. Kyocera panels are available both with and without MC connectors. Panels without are normally used in hardwire installations.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:18 PM   #44
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Another thing to look out for are panels that aren't UL approved. There are a lot of panels and other solar equipment on ebay that come from China and are not UL approved. Beware if you shop on ebay and don't rush into buying something just because it looks like a great deal or because the auction is ending soon. Most of the sellers on ebay sell the same thing over and over and relist their stuff automatically so take your time and shop around for the right deal. Also decide beforehand if you want 12V panels(which are actually about 18 -22 volts) or if you want high voltage panels which would require an MPPT controller. Figure out your whole system design before you start shopping and do alot of research first.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:18 AM   #45
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Heres another tidbit of information that those looking to build their own system or add anothar panel may be interested in. Most all manufacturers have what are called "B" or blemished Panels available at well below retail. These have minor imperfections that do not impeed functionality, mearly cosmetic.
It may take a some searching to find them but most come with a full factory warranty.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:05 PM   #46
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Retmotor; Saw you were viewing the thread earlier. Wanted to let you know that We also have a garbage disposal.
Um... Thank you?
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Old 08-03-2012, 08:54 AM   #47
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You need professor Epps (TV show: Num3ers)

IT is a math game,,, Personally my gut feeling is you need more solar and more batteries, Those two Maine batteries are not enough for a 3KW inverter (it needs at least 6) and Marine batteires are not the best choice either (True Deep Cycle is better

My battery recommendation at the minimum for that size inverter would bet THREE PAIR of Six Volt Golf Car batteries, like the Trojan T-105. or equivlent. That would be like 670 amp hours more or less depending on brand (660 to 6750

Of course 3 12 votl size 8D... The equivalent (if deep cycle). But I"m guessing your batteries are smaller, Group 29 or 27 (right around 100 amp hours more or less respectivally each) .

But the final decision depends on how much power you use... IE: televisions and radio do not take much, Microwave a whole lot more and Air Conditioner... WHOLE BUNCH. Fridge, when cooling, is 450-400 watts if on electric, On Propane it sips just a few 12 volt watts.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:05 AM   #48
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You need professor Epps (TV show: Num3ers)

IT is a math game,,, Personally my gut feeling is you need more solar and more batteries, Those two Maine batteries are not enough for a 3KW inverter (it needs at least 6) and Marine batteires are not the best choice either (True Deep Cycle is better

My battery recommendation at the minimum for that size inverter would bet THREE PAIR of Six Volt Golf Car batteries, like the Trojan T-105. or equivlent. That would be like 670 amp hours more or less depending on brand (660 to 6750

Of course 3 12 votl size 8D... The equivalent (if deep cycle). But I"m guessing your batteries are smaller, Group 29 or 27 (right around 100 amp hours more or less respectivally each) .

But the final decision depends on how much power you use... IE: televisions and radio do not take much, Microwave a whole lot more and Air Conditioner... WHOLE BUNCH. Fridge, when cooling, is 450-400 watts if on electric, On Propane it sips just a few 12 volt watts.

+1 Just what I suggested earlier in the thread. Do the math first, buy the stuff second.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:24 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm
You need professor Epps (TV show: Num3ers)

But the final decision depends on how much power you use... IE: televisions and radio do not take much, Microwave a whole lot more and Air Conditioner... WHOLE BUNCH. Fridge, when cooling, is 450-400 watts if on electric, On Propane it sips just a few 12 volt watts.
You won't be able to run an air conditioner on solar. It's just not realistic. Electronics, tv, radio are all fine. Propane fridges are fine (Electric fridges will need their own batteries and inverter). Microwave you can run in short spurts, but it's not realistic to run longer. Our biggest draw boondocking is the furnace.

We have a propane fridge and make it through the night fine with our 440 amp hours of batteries in our class A coach, even running a furnace.

As i mentioned above i see no need for a 3000 watt inverter. We have a 2000 watt and the only time we ever use something that big is when we run the microwave. If we never use the microwave we could get by with much smaller.
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Old 08-03-2012, 07:55 PM   #50
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A While back I wrote a 6(!) part article about designing, buying and installing a solar charging system for my small (23'8" low profile Class A. I had very little usable roof space and even less for batteries and charging gear.

I agree with everyone here! RESEARCH everything, figure out (to the best of your ability) how much power you might use, then make informed decisions.

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Productions.

I Live by it!

If you'd like to read the articles, the first one is at:

http://www.thewanderman.com/2011/11/...ap-part-1.html

I am a firm believer is solar power, especially for boondocking. I really only run my generator if I HAVE to turn on the A/C.

It's great!

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Old 08-06-2012, 02:57 PM   #51
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First forget about "UL" approved. I worked in the electronics industry for 30 years and the approval is next to worthless unless it is to please a local building inspector. With solar the output is at most 34 volts DC so not the same worry or risk as with a home electrical system.

Most of the solar equipment manufacturers and dealers are selling for commercial and home use which is 99.9% of the market for solar. That applies to the panels and the controllers and the wiring and fittings. One company that is selling to the RV owner is AMsolar.com which is a family run business in Oregon. They sell complete kits with the controller, panels, wires, connector, fasteners, etc. which is a huge time saver compared to going to a half dozen or more places to find it all and often having to buy a bulk amount that is 2-4 times what you need. They also sell the smallest RV type panels I have found anywhere.

The Kyocera 140 Watt panels provide the most bang for the buck IF you have room for them on the roof of your RV. These are designed for land based installation and have the usual 30" x 60" dimensions, give or take a few inches, of 99% of the panels sold. The AMsolar panels are 21" x 41" in size and will fit in many spaces where the Kyocera and similar panels will not. The larger the panel the lower the cost in Watts per dollar. A 100 Watt panels costs $250 while a 200 Watt panel costs around $300.

AMsolar has a complete kit for $820 that includes everything but the panels and handles up to 800 Watts. Add in panels at $250 to $300 per panel. A 400 Watt system would cost $1500 plus labor plus batteries.

Two limitations with solar are the amp hours of capacity of your RV's battery bank and the available space on the roof. If you can only hold 400 amp hours of battery capacity there is little reason to have more than 400 Watts of solar charging capability on the roof.

You can buy a current usage meter like the Tri-Metric but often the solar charge controllers have the option of a companion remote meter that both changes controller functions and provides the same information as the Tri-metric. No need to pay for the same thing twice.

Rule of thumb is 1 Watt per amp hour of charging needed. This allows for a 50% daily discharge of the battery and for 5 hours of sunlight for charging with the panels. If you draw the batteries down 80% each night or are out in the winter or at higher latitudes then the demand and charge requirements change radically but the 1 Watt per Amp Hour of battery is good enough for a start.

If you have space and funds for eight 30" x 60" panels on the roof of your RV that is the simplest approach and little need to think about tilting them. Otherwise tilting the panels should be seriously considered. A tilted panel can produce 50% more current than a flat one which is like getting 50% more panels at little extra cost and if you have limited roof space it is an easy way to make better use of the available locations.

Optimum tilt is roughly one degree per degree of latitude so in San Francisco 38 degrees of tilt will provide 50% more output than a flat panel. Not a concern if you are in Costa Rica but a very big deal if you travel in the northern states or in Canada and want to maximize the output or are out traveling during the winter months.

99% of the RV solar installations are custom as the RV manufacturers still don't view solar as a viable power source and so do a terrible job with their designs. TT owner have the most options and greatest amount of open and easily accessible space for installing both more batteries and the controller and wiring and other bits and pieces. From my own talks with installers at three RV dealers I would definitely not trust them to do the installation properly. There are places like AMsolar in Oregon and some places out in Arizona where the installers have the technical knowledge and installation experience to trust with an installation so if these are on your itinerary this is worth considering.

An excellent book on RV energy systems and energy budgeting and related matters is the book "The Complete Book of Boondock RVing" by Bill and Jan Moeller. Anyone thinking about adding solar or even a generator should read this book as the very first step. While there are excellent websites covering various aspects none of them provide the comprehensive look at camping off the grid of this book. Also the websites and blogs are based on one person's thought process and often the information was relevant when it was first posted but has not been updated in years.

I hate the noise of generators and so I decided to put the money that would go into a generator into a solar system. The costs are roughly the same and the solar panels never need fuel and they will go on for decades. There are installations on homes that were done in the 1970's and the panels are still producing 100% of their rated output.

Considering all the benefits of solar power it is sad that our government instead subsidizes the nuclear and coal and natural gas and oil industries with billions of taxpayer dollars each year. As an RV owner you can take a more sane approach.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:21 PM   #52
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Elkhorn,

I agree with most of what you say. The one thing I strongly disagree with is your statement that solar does not need fuel. I have a 800w system on my motorhome and live and camp in NW Washington. Solar panels need sun light energy to produce electricity. Unless you have a massive battery bank the energy supply from solar is not at all reliable and you can find yourself with no power when you need it in many parts of the country. Cloudy/rainy means very little power. For off grid living and enjoying RV'ing a generator is a first must have-then solar. Generators will always supply the power you want solar will not.

Its a matter of do you want to be limited to your available power to what your solar system will provide that day or do you want power when you want power no matter what the weather is. You need both generator and solar.

Jim
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