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Old 05-05-2012, 10:34 PM   #1
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Let's talk solar panels! Anyone?

I Have this idea. My chassis battery thinks it is really fun to go dead about every few days so I want to buy a solar panel . We need to live out on 6 acres for the summer because our house has not sold in another state. I can't have my chassis battery going dead on me and my 8 kids soooo I think maybe a solar panel will keep it charged. I have heard some people will plug it into the cigarrette lighter and leave it on their dash when not driving and it charges the chassis battery. A smart solar panel will keep it charged without doing any overload damage. Some people will even screw the panel to a tree and hook it to the battery. Sounds kind of cool . Anyone have some info on watt size, brand, anyting????
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:07 PM   #2
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It sounds like you are talking about the little trickle solar panel chargers that plug into the cig lighter. They are usually 5-10 watt panels. They are designed to maintain a battery that has no drain or draw on it.

If you are dry camping (no hook ups) in your MH and are using the house batteries, you may be running down the chassis battery also. Most MH's have a B.I.R.D. (Battery Isolator Relay Delay) or similar device that disconnects the house batteries from the chassis battery when it reaches a pre-determined voltage.

Regardless if you do or do not have the above mentioned feature, you should be able to turn off your chassis battery when dry camping to avoid an accidental discharge. You should have a chassis and house battery remote disconnect switch near the entry of the coach.

If you are plugged into a power pole all of your batteries should be maintained by the voltage converter.

If you are dry camping without hook ups you should be running your generator as needed to charge the batteries. If your house and chassis batteries are in good condition and you have a decent voltage converter you should be able to charge your batteries up to 80% charge with the genset by running it about 2 hours.

The batteries should be charged before they get to appx 12.0 volts (50% discharge), 12.7 would be fully charged.

I hope this answers your question about the solar trickle charger, they are not really meant to be used to charge a battery that is being discharged.
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:08 AM   #3
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Once you have proper solar power you will love it. This is the only way to go.
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:59 AM   #4
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The first thing to do is to figure out why your chassis batteries "go dead about every few days". The batteries are either past their useful life or you have something like a light or a gadget pulling power from them.

Chassis batteries should be able start an engine even after a month of sitting idle.

As for solar - don't expect miracles. You can get a variety of 'battery maintainers' from the 5w plug in the lighter outlet to the Harbor Freight 50 watt systems that might help but solar is not a good choice for battery maintenance. Their charge rates are very low and the inexpensive systems don't do anything to inhibit battery sulfation (premature aging).

The fact is that an RV solar and battery energy system is a severely constrained energy budget. With 8 kids and a summer survival, you need to arrange for grid power somehow. Then you can use a decent battery storage maintenance device (like the Battery MINDer(tm) ) on the chassis battery and a decent converter for the RV house batteries as well as run the AC, microwave, toaster, or whatnot.
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:11 AM   #5
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It is not clear to me if the problem is your STARTING battery or your single coach/house battery.

Can you advise further?
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:41 PM   #6
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It is not clear to me if the problem is your STARTING battery or your single coach/house battery.

Can you advise further?
Good question. I think it is my chassis/start battery but my stairs now will not come in so I think the house ones are dead too. hmmmm.
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:06 PM   #7
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Your steps work off the chassis(engine) battery, all 12v lights in coach and refrigerator control module gets power from the house(coach) batteries. To keep both battery banks charged you'll need at least a 100-120W panel with at least a 25amp MMPT charge controller. We have one on our coach and it works great. You also need to check the water level in your batteries periodically keeping them full using distilled water.

Here's a link to Blue Sky Energy for more information:

Blue Sky Energy Inc. | Our Products

Good luck and save travels
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:28 PM   #8
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To keep both battery banks charged you'll need at least a 100-120W panel with at least a 25amp MMPT charge controller.
This may be a somewhat costly way to solve your battery charging problem.

On another one of your posts it looks like you have determined the chassis battery is not charged by your converter. If you are planning on dry camping for any period of time, it could prove to be difficult to keep the chassis battery charged by the alternator alone.

You could purchase a small 10-15 amp fully automatic battery charger and leave it connected to your chassis battery when camping (about $30-$40). It would charge the chassis battery when you run the genset to charge your house batteries.
You would need to removed it when driving the RV.

This is the cheapest way I can think of to solve your battery charging problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newrvlady View Post
Good question. I think it is my chassis/start battery but my stairs now will not come in so I think the house ones are dead too. hmmmm.
It sounds like you may need a good battery charger anyway.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:39 PM   #9
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The old fella that sold me my RV instructed me to turn the switch after the steps were down, so every time we opened the door it didn't go in and out... I am assuming to save battery life and wear and tear.... just a small thing, but with that many kids( and I had 4 so I know the doors open and close a lot!) it might wear a battery down faster.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:51 PM   #10
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The RV Battery Charging Puzzle HandyBob's Blog

Handy Bob is the guy that helped me get my solar system working properly.
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Old 05-08-2012, 04:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
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I can't have my chassis battery going dead on me and my 8 kids


8 kids in an RV ?? You're much braver then I.........
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Old 05-08-2012, 02:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanabee FTer View Post
This may be a somewhat costly way to solve your battery charging problem.

On another one of your posts it looks like you have determined the chassis battery is not charged by your converter. If you are planning on dry camping for any period of time, it could prove to be difficult to keep the chassis battery charged by the alternator alone.

You could purchase a small 10-15 amp fully automatic battery charger and leave it connected to your chassis battery when camping (about $30-$40). It would charge the chassis battery when you run the genset to charge your house batteries.
You would need to removed it when driving the RV.

This is the cheapest way I can think of to solve your battery charging problem.



It sounds like you may need a good battery charger anyway.
But i will not have power to plug in the battery charger. and what is a genset?
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:06 PM   #13
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Its a generator, commonly referred to as a genset or genny.
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:11 PM   #14
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Hi newrvlady,

I think I remember you stating you are going to be camping without electrical hook ups, is this correct?

If so you will need to run the generator (hopefully you have one and it works) to keep the house batteries charged up. If you plug in an automotive type battery charger to a 120 volt outlet on the RV and run the generator it should charge up your chassis battery.

Oh, a genset is the gas powered generator on your MH.
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