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Old 12-01-2008, 07:40 PM   #1
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My solar power feature of my RV is pretty much useless . . . . I have one large and one small solar panel on my rig. I have two new golf cart batteries to go with the solar system. I had a RV repair guy come out today and he isn't a solar expert, but he said that I need two more batteries in order to get any use out of my solar system and I need to get rid of the small panel and get another larger panel . . . I've been told that there is a solar expert somewhere around Quartzite and I'm on the way there in a few weeks. I don't know what the stats are on my large panel . . . I have no paperwork on the solar system in the rig . . . .or if adding two more batteries would help . . . if that panel can feed enough power to keep four batteries charged or what. This is greek to me. And I'm not techno-savy when it comes to anything like this. I've seen people with six huge panels on top of their rig but I don't have that kind of room, nor can I climb up on top of the rig to set those things at an angle to collect the most sunlight . . . . so I don't get burned when I go to get this problem fixed, what do I need as far as solar panels go - size, power, etc. - and how many batteries are necessary for a good power supply from solar? Thanks!!
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:40 PM   #2
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My solar power feature of my RV is pretty much useless . . . . I have one large and one small solar panel on my rig. I have two new golf cart batteries to go with the solar system. I had a RV repair guy come out today and he isn't a solar expert, but he said that I need two more batteries in order to get any use out of my solar system and I need to get rid of the small panel and get another larger panel . . . I've been told that there is a solar expert somewhere around Quartzite and I'm on the way there in a few weeks. I don't know what the stats are on my large panel . . . I have no paperwork on the solar system in the rig . . . .or if adding two more batteries would help . . . if that panel can feed enough power to keep four batteries charged or what. This is greek to me. And I'm not techno-savy when it comes to anything like this. I've seen people with six huge panels on top of their rig but I don't have that kind of room, nor can I climb up on top of the rig to set those things at an angle to collect the most sunlight . . . . so I don't get burned when I go to get this problem fixed, what do I need as far as solar panels go - size, power, etc. - and how many batteries are necessary for a good power supply from solar? Thanks!!
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:10 AM   #3
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The first place to start is determining how much electricity you need when you aren't using shorepower or genset. So look at your wattage for each appliance/equipment that you want to use and add it all up.

Once you do that, you can determine if the 2 6v batteries that you have can deliver the power you need.

After you determine if your batteries can support your power needs, then you can decide on how big your solar panel needs are to recharge your batteries.

Here's an excellent article explaining it all.

http://www.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/12volt/12volt.htm

http://www.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/12volt/12volta.htm

There are more than a couple places out west that can design and deliver a solar/battery arrangement. Most are not inexpensive. The more you know, the better prepared you'll be to tailor an installation to your specific need.

Good luck. Let us know what happens.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:54 AM   #4
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For whatever it's worth, we have 6 ea. 6v batteries in our coach. Presently I have 1 ea. 110w solar panel and a Blue Sky 2000E Solar Boost 25 amp controller. In the future I plan to add another 100w panel.

Our system was installed by: AJL SOLAR
2129 MCCULLOCH BOULEVARD N, LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ 86403 Phone: (928) 453-9288

Alan who owns AJL Solar did a professional installation job on our coach.

If you will be doing a lot of boondocking perhaps two additional batteries would be beneficial.

With solar panels, it's very important to have a good controller installed along with the panels and I highly recommend the Blue Sky 2000E unit.

If you plan on having another panel or any solar equipment installed on your coach while in Quartzsite, make sure you get a reputable installer that knows what their doing.

We'll be making the Quartzsite scene Jan 22, 09 for a week or so.

Happy Holidays and have a safe trip
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:13 AM   #5
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GraciesMom,
Just going from your post, the small panel is probably a 3 watt that was originally used as a trickle charger to the chassis battery. Basically they were worthless, but the manufacturers used them as an additional selling feature to us dummies who knew no better.
A 20 watt unit is usually about 18"x20" and they go up in size and wattage from there. They are also priced accordingly higher as you go up in size.
If you want to boondock and not use your generator, you will probably need around 400 watts, new wiring large enough to carry the load and a new controller that will handle it. You would also need to add batteries and an inverter large enough to handle the entire coach. Very expensive proposal. We just got used to using our generator for 2 hours in the AM and 2 hours in the PM when we had two batts. Seemed to do well enough to keep all charged up.
Surprisingly enough, we now have four 6 Volt batts, a 2000 watt inverter, a 120 watt solar panel with controller, and we still run the gennie 2 hrs in the AM and PM in order to keep all systems at max. Solar is over-rated unless you want to never run a generator. JMHO
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:36 PM   #6
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We had 2 large solar panels & 4 6V golf cart house batteries in our Beaver Patriot. The combo worked great. We could dry camp for a week, running the coffee pot & microwave off the inverter & still have decent battery voltage. And we were only as far south as Oregon.

We ordered our Arctic Fox with a 100W panel as that was the largest the factory offered. TT's only carry 2 batteries so that's what we're stuck with. Time will tell for certain, but I think we're looking at adding a second panel to try to make up for the lack of battery capacity. We did upgrade from the basic controller to a fancy aftermarket controller that I like a lot better. FYI, we bought controller from AM Solar. They are extremely knowledgeable & very nice folks, too.
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:33 AM   #7
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The key thing to remember is that solar power doesn't "run" anything. It's merely an auxiliary battery charging system. I had two 110 watt panels with 4 batteries on my Suncruiser and it really was useless. I went to four 110 watt panels and 4 batteries on my '04 Bus and it began to have some value. I now have four 120 watt panels and 12 batteries on my '07 Bus and it's great. But I have a residential fridge and 8 batteries probably would be fine. I just like a "cushion".

The batteries are what are going to power your 12 volt gear and the inverter. The more batteries you have, the longer you can run before you need to recharge them. Solar panels will never keep your batteries charged unless you have a huge solar panel array and are a real miser on power consumption. However, it will help by adding some amp-hrs to those batteries. That will extend the time between recharge cycles so that you can either be back on the road (using the engine's alternator) or power up your generator set.

For details on my solar panel installation check out http://www.rvcruzer.com/solar.htm. Also be sure to check out the topics pertaining to solar power in the RV Tech Library at http://www.rvtechlibrary.com/electrical/solar.htm for more information.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:26 PM   #8
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I guess I have had better luck with my setup than Cruzer did.
I have two 120 Solar panels, Four 6 volt Golf cart batteries that total 440 watts.
on a sunny day I can watch TV via my Dishnet work setup or be online via my Datastorm internet dish & have my laptop pluged in and still have some power going into my batteries via the Solar Panels. If I don't use any of thepower from the solar panels during the day & it is sunny my batteries are almost fully charged by dark.
I watch TV starting around 6pm & get online after dinner around 8pm & I stay up until 1am or alittle latter most night. If the next day is sunny my panels will bring my batteries back to full charge most of the time & if they don't I only have to run my GenSet for an hour to bring the batteries to full charge. I boondock for 1 to 2 weeks at a time alot. My system works great for me.
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Cruzer:
The key thing to remember is that solar power doesn't "run" anything. It's merely an auxiliary battery charging system. I had two 110 watt panels with 4 batteries on my Suncruiser and it really was useless.

The batteries are what are going to power your 12 volt gear and the inverter. The more batteries you have, the longer you can run before you need to recharge them. Solar panels will never keep your batteries charged unless you have a huge solar panel array and are a real miser on power consumption. However, it will help by adding some amp-hrs to those batteries. That will extend the time between recharge cycles so that you can either be back on the road (using the engine's alternator) or power up your generator set.
QUOTE]
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:33 AM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">what do I need as far as solar panels go - size, power, etc. - and how many batteries are necessary for a good power supply from solar? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

GraciesMom,

I have 2-100 watt solar panels with a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controller furnished by AM Solar, 4-6V batteries with a 2000 Watt inverter.

This past summer we spent 2 weeks in the North Cascades boondocking, the system keep our batteries at 12.3 to 12.5 volts the entire time. Solar panels were flat on roof, exposed to unfiltered direct sunlight about 70% of the daylight hours. Wife used curling iron, blow drier and etc., used toaster in the morning, ran home entertainment system during the day, night light every night when sleeping, vacuumed several times, fantastic fans were set on auto to keep the motorhome cool during the day and furnace in the AM to take the chill off. We attempted to run micro-wave, it worked but not at 100% due to the inverter type, modified sine wave vs full sine wave so decided if we needed the microwave would just touch off the generator for a couple of minutes.

Also boondocked for 7 days fishing with a friend, he ran a sleep apnea machine each night, never ran the generator during the the entire stay.

I am very happy with AM Solar system, of the 3 systems I have had installed on motorhomes this is by far the best performing system. Do have tilt bars for panels if we decide to do some real serious extended boondocking.

Spike
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:37 AM   #10
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