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Old 08-17-2015, 07:19 PM   #43
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I love the lower cost of solar now! When ours was built they charged $5,600 for 400 watts of panels, the controller, wiring and installation as a factory option. Looks like I need to add a few panels!
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:07 PM   #44
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It was not that long ago that panels were $10/watt. Now it is less than $1/watt. Peripherals are now the main expense
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:44 AM   #45
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I do a lot of boondocking and here are a few tips

I work out of my TT 30 - 40 days a year selling Health and Life Insurance. I have a generator for the hot days when the heat is unbearable but I hate the noise so I use it as little as possible. In order for me to go out and be cord free and also take the grand kids and all their stuff as well as my electronic gear I have two deep cycle batteries mounted to the coach. I have another one with a 450 watt inverter inside the bedroom and another one with another 450 watt inverter in the main cabin. I also have a 100 watt Renology foldable solar panel, 6 garden style solar lights and two 16000 mah Rav power packs. Of course before I leave on a trip I make sure all are powered up.
As soon as I get to my site which I try to do in the mornings I hook up the Solar panel to the coach for the rest of the day.
I put out the garden solar lights (from harbor freight two for $14.00) so they start collecting sun.
After our power in our laptop batteries runs dry I plug in my computer to the battery in the bed room (used as my office) and go to work. My wife who works with me plugs in hers in the main cabin (this is her office) and goes to work. These batteries normally get us about 7 hours of computer time and about 5 hours of TV time. My wife does not use as much power as I do.
Once its dark, we pull in the solar lights and use them in the coach for most of our lighting needs but still use our coaches LED's pretty liberal. Our phones get charged off of the Rav power packs. They will charge four phones per battery but can be recharged when plugged into the USB on the computer. The next morning I plug in the two deep cycle batteries we used the day before into the solar panel and in about six hours day they are fully recharged and ready for the following day. While they are charging I use a 2500 watt inverter from (harbor freight) and plug it in to the main coach. Batteries, inverters, solar panel's and solar lights all cost $700. It works well for me and our needs as I just don't like hearing the generator even though I have a quite gen with a quite box around it. This system allows us to have power indefinitely as long as the sun is out. On cloudy days we have to leave the solar panels on the batteries longer. Hope this helped.
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:15 AM   #46
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Hi guys,

Background: I have what I consider to be a decent non-solar boondocking setup on my TT. I have two Crown 6v batteries, a trimetric meter, and an Iota 15.4v 55 amp charger. All lights are LED and we have a 12v LED tv. When the batteries are resting at 12.8v I can go up to 4 days between charges and a charge is usually 2-3 hours on the Honda 2000 generator at idle. We generally boondock for a week or less so this isn't too bad. This small generator will also power our 13,500 BTU air conditioning without issues on really hot days.

I love the setup but have always wanted to go solar for extra independence and just because I'm really into gadgets and DIY improvements. Two things are holding me back: Cost, and I live in Washington state where we have lots of trees blocking sun much of the time when it isn't cloudy. Since we boondock a few times a year it would be nice to never have to start the generator unless we really needed the AC which is rare.

Whenever I get excited about giving solar a go again I get discouraged by all the conflicting info and complexity of different setups. I also am concerned that we don't live in some place AZ where it is a no-brainer. What would you guys recommend for someone like me who doesn't really need the solar but would like to reduce his dependency on the generator as inexpensively as possible but not compromising too terribly much on the components needed or limiting the ability to expand if desired? Can I get a setup that would keep things fairly well charged for under $600? Is $1,000 the sweet spot for this sort of thing with portable panels? I don't want to end up with partial charges reducing battery life.

Sorry for the long winded question. I've been pondering for a while Maybe I'm not a good candidate, maybe I'm overthinking.
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:48 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by dagmandt View Post
Whenever I get excited about giving solar a go again I get discouraged by all the conflicting info and complexity of different setups. I also am concerned that we don't live in some place AZ where it is a no-brainer. What would you guys recommend for someone like me who doesn't really need the solar but would like to reduce his dependency on the generator as inexpensively as possible but not compromising too terribly much on the components needed or limiting the ability to expand if desired?
I'm not sure, from reading what you said, that you are confident in using solar in WA (where I am now) not due to lack of sun, but because there is so much shade. I get it.

Maybe just consider expanding storage. Avoids the questions and doubts you have about solar panel costs and setups, reduces generator frequency, increases capacity, not expensive. You sound like you already know quite a bit about taking care of the batteries, so adding more might not be a big deal.
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:19 AM   #48
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If cost is what is holding you back, look at the Renogy 200w kit for about $360. They make good quality panels. I started with their 100w suitcase portable a couple of years ago and quickly realized that I really wanted something I didn't have to fool with. I still use that as a supplement when camped in the shade, but 200w on the roof do what I want. I also have dual 2GC Trojan batteries.
I ended up running the cable down the forward gray tank vent pipe and into the basement so I didn't have to drill holes in the roof.
Amazon.com: Renogy 200W Mono Starter Kit, 2 Piece 100W Solar Panels Plus 20' Adapter Kit: Patio, Lawn & Garden
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:13 PM   #49
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Could also go down the rear cap w/o drilling holes in roof.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:26 AM   #50
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Could also go down the rear cap w/o drilling holes in roof.
Yes, but usually a longer cable run unless you just run to the house converter/charger. I was able to do mine with 20' of cable on a 34' fifth wheel. I also had open basement instead of closed up spaces in which to run the cable.
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