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Old 03-02-2010, 09:26 PM   #1
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Solar Panels

Has any one installed solar panels on the roof of their RV for other then keeping the batteries topped off? I am trying to justify the cost of a 10 amp system that should keep my unit electrical neutral during daytime (without a/c). At present, we can go about 8 hours without the genset starting.

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Old 03-02-2010, 09:47 PM   #2
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I have four 80-watt solar panels on my 2005 Dutch Star and we have gone many days without hookups or running the generator. I hate it when its cloudy and we have to run the generator every other day.

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Old 03-02-2010, 11:07 PM   #3
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I put 4-125 watt panels on top of our coach they will keep up with most elect. needs for days without useing gen.
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Old 03-03-2010, 08:09 AM   #4
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OK Norm4015 & Autofish, do you feel that the cost of solar is worth the investment? Is the actual panels connected to the coach's inverter and house batteries, or it needs its own inverter and batteries? Looking at the cost of 4-125 system, I can buy a lot of diesel for the generator. Also, would I recover the cost when selling my 2004 to up size to a 45 footer in two years??

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Old 03-03-2010, 11:51 AM   #5
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I've had four 120 watt panels on this coach and the last. Before that I had two panels on my Suncruiser. Really, if you want any kind of power output you need to go with four panels. When I had two it was of minimal value.

Also, solar panels are not the most cost effective thing out there. You do pay a lot for what you get. If yoiu try to justify the cost you'll have to do lots of boondoking. However, if you just want to have them for the convenience, that's okay too. Be sure to back them up with some decent battery bank sizing.
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:09 PM   #6
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Do a search on this site for "Solar Panels". Popular subject with lots of comments - you need to be a member -No cost - great forum. However, don't expect to cost justify this decision. Having said that I won't give mine up for anything.
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:33 AM   #7
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I have six 100 watt panels on my coach. I would not have it any other way.

I can go several days, depending on how much sun actually shines, before I have to run generator.

Also, when connected to shore power, the solar still works and provides power. The inverter/battery charger checks to see if it needs to top off batteries, if not, it does not. So the solar is doing most of the work at the time.

I have AM Solar panels and system installed.

My Dynasty is integrated with the system so I can monitor it along with all the other coach functions.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by d.polka View Post
I am trying to justify the cost of a 10 amp system that should keep my unit electrical neutral during daytime
If a 10 amp system keeps you neutral during the daytime...you need more battery capacity. You say that you have to start the genny at 8 hour increments. At a 10 amp constant load that's only 80 Amp hours in your batteries.

I do quite a bit of boondocking, and I'd like to have solar panels on my coach, but I just can't justify the cost. I've got as much battery power as will fit in the battery tray. If I move the chassis battery, I can double the amount of energy I have stored in the batteries. That will cost me a bit over $200. To equal that in solar panels? I'm going to guess >$1000.

I've gone the other route, instead of increasing my ability to keep energy in the batteries, I've tried to reduce what I take out of them. I am in the process of switching over to LED lighting. I strongly resist the urge to watch TV, I run the as many appliances on gas as I can, I set the furnace at a lower temperature (to reduce the amount of time the blower is on), I haven't pulled the trigger on it yet, but a catalytic heater is in my future. I only turn on the lights I need, then I turn them off when I don't need them. Many of the things I do to save the energy I have stored are free and cost me nothing. Others are expensive (the LED lighting comes to mind) but are portable to my next coach, and are long term costs.

An finally, I'll pby end up installing a couple hundred watts of Solar Panels too...right now, the cost is just to high for me to justify having them.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:51 AM   #9
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I agree that, for most (almost all) RV applications, solar panels cannot be justified on purely economic grounds. It is on convenience and freedom grounds that you should consider them.

BTW, I have used a simple idea to get the most benefit from the panels in the situation where you're generally connected to shore power. I got one of those plug-in appliance timers, and used it on the power cord of the converter/charger. The timer is set so that the charger comes on at dusk and runs for a few hours in the evening. That way the solar panels get 1st crack at charging the batteries each day, and the charger only finishes the job if the day's sun was inadequate. You want a digital timer, i.e., one with a battery backup clock that keeps time without shore power.

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