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Old 11-10-2013, 02:31 PM   #1
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Smile Boondocker

got a 2006 Fourwinds Five Thousand class C does anyone have any ideas don how to keep battery charged. I am thinking about buying a 100 watt solar panel. I have one 12 volt battery. I should only need to power lights in motorhome after dark for about 3 to 4 hours. Has anyone any experiece with solar panels? advice welcome

Thanks

Gary
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Old 11-10-2013, 02:38 PM   #2
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Welcome to the group Gary!
So you will never need the 12 volts for the furnace or refrigerator or radio? If only a few lights then a 100 watt panel should be fine.
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Old 11-10-2013, 02:41 PM   #3
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Switching the lights to LEDs will save you a lot to power.

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Old 11-10-2013, 02:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary st View Post
got a 2006 Fourwinds Five Thousand class C does anyone have any ideas don how to keep battery charged. I am thinking about buying a 100 watt solar panel. I have one 12 volt battery. I should only need to power lights in motorhome after dark for about 3 to 4 hours. Has anyone any experiece with solar panels? advice welcome

Thanks

Gary
I believe more than the lights depend on the battery. That would include the hot water tank even on Propane. The heat and fridge also as they use electricity to ignite. At least that's how it works on our RVs.
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Old 11-10-2013, 05:09 PM   #5
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Gary,*

There's another forum here that goes into solar in great depth.*

Going Green - iRV2 Forums

I bought my solar panels online

Amazon.com: 272 Watts Solar Battery Charger Kit for 12V batteries. Flexible Solar Panels PV Laminate, Charge Controller & MC Cables: Patio, Lawn & Garden

But shop around, they are cheaper.*

Handy Bob has helped me get mine tuned up and working right. Here's his blog

The RV Battery Charging Puzzle HandyBob's Blog

If you are in the Pacific NW AM solar is a good company.*

Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987

Good luck! *It should be easier, but it's not*
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Old 11-10-2013, 05:21 PM   #6
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Since you only have one battery...why not put a clamp meter on the red cable next time you boondock. Do it during the daytime a few times to know how many amps you use during the day....then do it at nite a few times to know how many amps you use at nite. From there you should be able to figure out how many amps per hour you need on average during the day and also what the increase is in AMPHOURS during the few hours you need more at night.
(Example...lets say you measure 4,5 and 6 amps in use during evening hours...that averages 5 amps. One hour of AVERAGE use will then consume 5 amp hours from your battery. If you keep the lights etc. on for four hours a nite...then you'll be using 20 amp hours. Lets say you average 2 amps for the non nite hours... since there will be 20 of those, you'll need 40 amp hours for daylight and 20 amp hours for nite or 60 amp hours on average per day. )
Once you know how many amp hours you need for a full 24 hour period... then just multiply by 4 to see how many watts your solar panel(s) should probably be to give you full recharging capability ON AVERAGE in a reasonably sunny, mid latitude climate. So for our example...you need a 240 watt panel.
Suggest a 2nd battery too...especially if those amphours add up to more than about 50 per day with one 12V battery. Since that is 1/2 the large 12V RV battery typical capacity... you never want to go below that or you kill your battery more quickly.
So...measure your needs and get the right panel size for YOU.
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Old 11-11-2013, 01:46 AM   #7
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Since you only have one battery...why not put a clamp meter on the red cable next time you boondock. Do it during the daytime a few times to know how many amps you use during the day....then do it at nite a few times to know how many amps you use at nite. From there you should be able to figure out how many amps per hour you need on average during the day and also what the increase is in AMPHOURS during the few hours you need more at night.
(Example...lets say you measure 4,5 and 6 amps in use during evening hours...that averages 5 amps. One hour of AVERAGE use will then consume 5 amp hours from your battery. If you keep the lights etc. on for four hours a nite...then you'll be using 20 amp hours. Lets say you average 2 amps for the non nite hours... since there will be 20 of those, you'll need 40 amp hours for daylight and 20 amp hours for nite or 60 amp hours on average per day. )
Once you know how many amp hours you need for a full 24 hour period... then just multiply by 4 to see how many watts your solar panel(s) should probably be to give you full recharging capability ON AVERAGE in a reasonably sunny, mid latitude climate. So for our example...you need a 240 watt panel.
Suggest a 2nd battery too...especially if those amphours add up to more than about 50 per day with one 12V battery. Since that is 1/2 the large 12V RV battery typical capacity... you never want to go below that or you kill your battery more quickly.
So...measure your needs and get the right panel size for YOU.
On most clamp on amp meters, the clamp is essentially the secondary of a transformer with the wire they are clamped around being a one turn primary. As such, they only work on AC. There are some Hall effect clamp on probes that work on DC, but they are rather expensive.

Joel
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:42 PM   #8
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On most clamp on amp meters, the clamp is essentially the secondary of a transformer with the wire they are clamped around being a one turn primary. As such, they only work on AC. There are some Hall effect clamp on probes that work on DC, but they are rather expensive.

Joel
Joel....why wouldn't something like this work?
Tenma Compact Clamp Meter w/Frequency | 72-7224 (727224) | Tenma
or
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001VGND88/...productDetails
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:59 PM   #9
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Or build this in . I did and it works great

Volt Meter/DC Digital LED Amp Volt Meter + Shunt /200V 200A /Blue - Amazon.com
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Old 11-12-2013, 05:48 AM   #10
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Having a single house battery can be a major pain. I like to attend the Fl. Ga. game in RV City every year and my son likes to rent spaces in the RV for his friends. So we have up to 10 people crashing (passing out) in the coach. For years I had them complain that the house battery dies too quick. The good news is that I have a battery swap button. The bad news is that it is on the dash board and the generator start is in the control panel. So I took steps to prevent this.

1) Installed a battery meter for the house battery

2) removed all interior lights and replaced with LEDs. LEDs have several advantages in that one halogen bulb uses around the same energy as 10 LED bulbs and they put out the same light if not more. LED bulbs don't draw bugs.

3) Make sure you know what is drawing on the house battery and shut down things that aren't needed when driving.

Remember in most class C motor homes the alternator only charges the chassis battery completely ignoring the house battery. The house generator only charges the house battery completely ignoring the chassis battery. If you have an inverter don't use it unless you only need it for a short time.

You can however install more batteries at the expense of some of your storage bins. You can get several batteries and link them together and that will give you more time.

Some common things that will bring your house battery down are but not limited to,

Refrigerator
Gas detector
In dash radio (yes in many coaches it is your DVD player and runs off the house battery as well as your chassis battery)
House lights
House attic and bathroom vent fans
Any 12V connections aside from those in the dash and sometimes even the ones in the dash. So if you are charging your phone you may well be pulling off your battery.

Being hooked to shore power AKA 30 Amp service generally will recharge your battery as well as give you power. If you park your RV at home and your house battery isn't feeling well you can just run an extension cord to the unit via an adapter and that will recharge the battery. Solar chargers are nice but at times they don't put enough of a charge on the battery and they aren't in most cases a substitute source of power.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:56 PM   #11
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Can't argue with that price! Nice find!
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:55 PM   #12
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Amsolar's site above is a great source of info, as are the other links.

Here is a write up of my RV solar system.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 30 views)
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