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Old 02-13-2013, 08:23 PM   #1
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New to Solar

I've looked through all the solar threads and most involve already started projects. I'm new to solar and will be boon docking and looking for help to get started in the right direction. Thanks.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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TLI too little information
What is your goal, to eliminate generator use (except for AC) [this was mine] what have you done for conservation i.e. LED lights. What do you want to be able to run (we do not use and resistance heat i.e. coffee pot, we use a french press. We do use a TV and sat receiver...
There are a number of factors but it boils down to current load, storage battery, current generation solar panels.
The first thing you need to do is figure out anticipated load and there are various calculators, but still the best method is to actually measure load using an ammeter.
There is a thread Solar that Really Works in the boondocking forum with lots of information.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:09 AM   #3
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Financial picture. ...long term investment? DIY or farm it out? The question s one asks oneself csn be daunting. Google helps or contact AMSolar.com , they pretty much got it all covered. The best part is the answers are good and free :-)
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:45 AM   #4
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I strongly recommend that you start out with a good battery / power monitor like the Trimetric 2025.

That way there is no guessing as to what you need for solar equipment. Most dealers would only be to happy to sell you way more than you need. AM Solar Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 is not one of those dealers, they know what they are doing, but you still need to know how much power you will require. The meter will help you determine that. Also mentioned is to check out Handy Bob's Blog The RV Battery Charging Puzzle HandyBob's Blog. It's a lot of reading but there is no other way to educate yourself on this topic, or you will spend a lot of money foolishly.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:19 PM   #5
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Hi,

Solar is for battery charging. Here is a flow chart to help you.

budget-->energy audit-->battery bank size-->solar system sizing

You may find the handybob site wordy and it has some information that is dated at best.

Try these sites instead:


RV 12v Information - Everything You Need to Know

RV Solar Panel Installation Guide - RV Solar Power
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vimusic View Post
I've looked through all the solar threads and most involve already started projects. I'm new to solar and will be boon docking and looking for help to get started in the right direction. Thanks.
I suggest you purchase the booklet, RVers' Guide To Solar Battery Charging, from www.rvsolarelectric.com
Its $15. and loaded with information in laymans terms.
They also sell an installation manual for the DIY person.
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:07 PM   #7
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There's tons of great info out there online. When we installed our first system we walked into Wind & Sun in Flagstaff AZ, sat down with the salesman, and outlined our needs... he gave us all the stuff we needed, from panels to cable to connectors... there's nothing like a little face-to-face one-on-one instruction from someone who knows... the salesmen want your project to succeed, so they will do their best to give you everything you need.

I have written a lot about our experiences with solar on our website because I found it very hard to understand how solar worked until I was actually living with it. I would have loved to have read a layman's description of what we needed way back when -- so I've tried to explain it in the kind of way I would have appreciated back when I was first learning... maybe this will help:

RV Solar Panel Installation - Understanding RV / Sailboat Solar Power
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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Thank you for all the helpful information. It's greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by vimusic View Post
Thank you for all the helpful information. It's greatly appreciated.
I have everything on paper with photos from my most recent 3 panel install on an Itasca Suncruiser 2012 .
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:33 PM   #10
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Be sure to get the best type of panels. I think they are mono crystalline. They are much more efficient at drawing the sun's energy and well worth the extra money.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:43 PM   #11
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Hey,
Everyone that posted gave you awesome advice! We just putting in 750W of panels, 60amp Morningstar Controller, Magnum 2000w Inverter / Charger and Trimetric 2025 monitor. Check out Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 ( you already have that recommendation ) also contact Marv Braun at www. precisionrv.com. The comments regarding knowing your consumption are very accurate. I think it is also important to know where you plan to travel, this may impact the amount of solar you put on your roof. I also think, buy the best equipment you can afford to buy. Solar is not cheap but to us it was very worth the money. I was not prepared technically to do the work myself, Marv is awesome!
There you go and all the best,
Jeff
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:23 PM   #12
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Start with these two books:

$13.49 Solar Electricity Handbook - 2012 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy - Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems by Michael Boxwell


$11.32 The Complete Book of Boondock RVing: Camping Off the Beaten Path

by Bill Moeller


Both will provide a solid foundation and are very well written and easy to follow and absorb.

What is difficult is to have an accurate picture of your true RV demand when off the grid and how much battery capacity you need and how much power from a generator or solar array is needed to recharge and replenish each day's use. A Trimetric charge state monitor is a good place to start and develop a profile that is specific to your RV and your use of it.

There are usage aspects that have a very big impact on the size of the system needed to store and to recharge. If you are off the grid for two weeks and parked at one spot you are at one end of the spectrum. If you spend 3-4 days at a location and then drive (and recharge with the RV's alternator) and then stay overnight at a place with electrical hookups, it is at the other end. Most RV's will handle several days of use off the grid and the lead acid flooded type batteries most commonly used tolerate this type of situation very well.

Deep cycle batteries are designed for slow deep discharges and the flip side is that they need to be recharged more slowly than a starter type battery as well. Solar works very well in this situation whereas a generator is probably putting out more current per hour than the batteries can safely absorb.

With our use we can go for 4 days with 220 AH of house battery capacity and have the batteries discharged by less than 25%. I installed 200 Watts and roughly 10 amps of charge capability with two solar panels and a MPPT controller and on most days the batteries are back at 100% by 10 AM. But each RV and each person's usage pattern is different so you need to determine yours and the books mentioned along with a Trimetric are a good way to get started doing just that.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:38 PM   #13
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Google " Handy Bob" and " Jack Meyer". Educate yourself, first.
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:32 PM   #14
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Hi,

Here is a link to the rather special spreadsheet that N8GS has created to help size solar battery charging systems!
Solar Spread Sheet N8GS
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