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Old 07-16-2016, 10:09 AM   #1
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How much solar would be needed?

First off, we do very little dry camping now. We have spend up to 6 days on the ocean running the generator about 3 hours a day to keep batteries charged.

We have a 35' gas coach with a residential fridge. We are perfectly fine without TV if we were sitting in some beautiful location for a week or so. We have plenty of water and tank capacity to sit without hookups for a week or more. But it would be a real plus to not have to run the genset for hours each day. We have decent sized AGM batteries which are new.

I have seen solar panels which are portable fold out ones. Wondering if sufficient power could be captured by those rather than mounting large panels on the roof. Any guidance is appreciated.
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Old 07-16-2016, 10:24 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wbonsell View Post
First off, we do very little dry camping now. We have spend up to 6 days on the ocean running the generator about 3 hours a day to keep batteries charged.

We have a 35' gas coach with a residential fridge. We are perfectly fine without TV if we were sitting in some beautiful location for a week or so. We have plenty of water and tank capacity to sit without hookups for a week or more. But it would be a real plus to not have to run the genset for hours each day. We have decent sized AGM batteries which are new.

I have seen solar panels which are portable fold out ones. Wondering if sufficient power could be captured by those rather than mounting large panels on the roof. Any guidance is appreciated.
greetings, I do not have solar,so I can't answer your question. If you use the search feature I am sure you will find plenty to read about solar.. Safe travels

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Old 07-16-2016, 10:33 AM   #3
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When contemplating solar, the first thing to do is decide what all you want to run off of your batteries, and how many amp hours that will take. Then decide how much, if any, you want to use your generator. Once this is done, then you can conclude how much solar you need, and then decide on size and number of panels, and on which controller you want.

Anyone using solar should invest in a good battery monitor, such as the Bogart 2030, so you will have accurate knowledge of state of charge of your batteries, when they are fully charged, how many amp hours are needed to bring them up to fully charged, and other information that may be helpful.
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Old 07-16-2016, 03:49 PM   #4
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Second the recommendation for the Bogart Engineering Trimetric battery charge monitor. It lets you test every device on your RV and determine how much current it uses. Then you can determine your total current requirements. I found out that we can go about three days between battery charges if we don't turn on the inverter. So for the way we camp, no solar panels necessary.
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Old 07-16-2016, 08:40 PM   #5
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I have seen solar panels which are portable fold out ones. Wondering if sufficient power could be captured by those rather than mounting large panels on the roof. Any guidance is appreciated.
The highest capacity folding "suitcase" style were 200 watts. I think you're gonna need much more than that.
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Old 07-16-2016, 08:43 PM   #6
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A lot depends if you have full sunny weather, how much power you are using for 24 hours, how many batteries you have, you have to come up with your answers before anyone can give a competent answer.
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Old 07-16-2016, 09:05 PM   #7
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Go to the Boondocking forum here on IRV2
http://www.irv2.com/forums/f93/

Most of the threads have to do with power management.

I have 325 watt of solar and it is not nearly enough for us to not have to run the generator but we have found tricks to help.

We don't have a residential refrigerator so being able to use propane is a big help.

We seldom use the inverter to power appliances or other stuff and hardly ever let it run. The inverter itself is a power hog and will suck power whether you use any or not. If we need to run a coffee pot etc we start the generator.

I have a small inverter I can plug into a 12 volt outlet if I want to run the TV. We changed out the old analog TV to a LED which uses a lot less watts.

For your purposes you have to decide how much power you need in total watts for the day. Then figure out how much solar you need but solar panels are only ~50% efficient unless you can direct them perpendicular to the sun and continue to rotate as the sun moves. Even with my 325 watts I only get 16 amps of charge and on cloudy days it is a lot less.
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Old 07-17-2016, 06:00 AM   #8
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You say you seldom boondock. About 6 days, and run the generator 3 hours a day. 18 total hours a YEAR of generator use. If you WANT solar, go for it. However, you do not NEED solar at all! Your generator should be used some to keep it in good shape. This barely qualifies for that!
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Old 07-17-2016, 07:07 AM   #9
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To give you a rough idea, 100 watts of solar is only 7 amps of charging current (in the best ideal case....you will generally see less).

In an 8 hour day, assuming you are repositioning the panels every hour to point towards the sun and avoid any shading, you I'll only put back maximum 56 AH into your batteries. This is why generally 500 watts or more of solar is desired. In your case, 100- 200 watts of solar would not eliminate generator use, but could cut it back by a small amount.
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Old 07-17-2016, 07:10 AM   #10
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We have a 2106 Phaeton with residential fridge. I had 640 watts of solar installed so that i didnt have to run the generator as much. With 6 6v batteries i still have to run the generator every couple days and sometimes everyday but only about an hour. We also run a coffee maker and sometimes the microwave which is the big draw. I dont think you will get completely away from running the generator but a couple hundred watts will help. I agree with above post though if thats all you boondock and ran it i wouldnt bother. I will add this, i never shutoff the inverter and we have 4 tv's that are plugged in and drawing some power as well as all the associated equipment. We do watch tv sometimes a few hours.
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wbonsell View Post
First off, we do very little dry camping now. We have spend up to 6 days on the ocean running the generator about 3 hours a day to keep batteries charged.

We have a 35' gas coach with a residential fridge. We are perfectly fine without TV if we were sitting in some beautiful location for a week or so. We have plenty of water and tank capacity to sit without hookups for a week or more. But it would be a real plus to not have to run the genset for hours each day. We have decent sized AGM batteries which are new.

I have seen solar panels which are portable fold out ones. Wondering if sufficient power could be captured by those rather than mounting large panels on the roof. Any guidance is appreciated.
I do not agree 100% with some of the above comments. I have 320 watts and can go endlessly without running my generator and I am completely charged by mid day. We seldom watch tv (but we can) but have the lights and everything else going. My refrigerator even has a fan that runs quite often for cooling because mine is in the slide and needs the air movement to make my propane fridge work properly, and it does. I agree with the Trimetric monitor, great piece of equipment. Using the proper size wires and run distances can play a big part of the solar charging and mine is spot on. Some learning can be done here - https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/?s=bob
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:33 PM   #12
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You say you seldom boondock. About 6 days, and run the generator 3 hours a day. 18 total hours a YEAR of generator use. If you WANT solar, go for it. However, you do not NEED solar at all! Your generator should be used some to keep it in good shape. This barely qualifies for that!
Because I boondock infrequently doesn't mean I don't exercise the generator to keep it maintained. I would just prefer not to have to run it 3 or 4 hours a day when sitting in some remote and quiet place. Just saying....
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Old 07-18-2016, 05:56 PM   #13
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I do not agree 100% with some of the above comments. I have 320 watts and can go endlessly without running my generator and I am completely charged by mid day.
This was us, also. We had 300w and we boondocked for weeks at a time. Of course it depends where you are...the West has sun. Even in partial shade we did just fine. Then, too, we're not energy hogs. We don't need electric for our stovetop coffee pot and we don't need t.v., hair dryers, toasters, etc.

We exercised our generator once a month just because we felt it was good for it. We chose a warmer than usual day to do it and ran the AC under load at that time.
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Old 07-18-2016, 06:06 PM   #14
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Bill, I am with you. My reason for not boonedocking as much as I would like may be different than yours, since I am still employed. A good portion of my boonedocking is in a warm climate and the need for AC negates the value of solar. However, when we do visit the mountains or high desert and dry camp, it would be nice not to have to run the generator. There's no way I can justify installing solar from a financial standpoint, but the fiddle factor in me make me want to jump all in.
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