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Old 11-19-2010, 08:57 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by RocketDork View Post
I'm confused by this post...am I alone?

Why come here, join, put in the first paragraph that you don't have time for this, take the time to speak your mind and leave?

Here's the thing that I see. I'm trying to understand why what Bob does changes things so much...he insists that it does.

He tells me over and over to distrust the dealer, and trust him. Why should I do that? His claims aren't verifiable by me, nor does he take the time to explain the science behind them.

Sure, what he says makes sense, and I have no reason to doubt the things he says, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't make any effort to understand them. Nor does it mean that I shouldn't make an effort to explain them when I believe I have arrived at an understanding.

The "magic happens here" box has always intrigued me. Don't just tell me, explain!
This is the reason I am here, to understand the why and how, my suspicion is that there is a tremendous amount of the end product of hay through a male bovine in the solar industry as Bob indicates in his blog, there is also I suspect a great deal of myth not backed up by science. What Bob imputes to greed and I am sure there is a great deal of that, I would suspect more is out of stupidity and perhaps willful ignorance.
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Old 11-22-2010, 04:02 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by SpursMVP View Post
Did not use the kill-a watt; however the Trimetric is really easy to use. With everything turned off (including the inverter) it measures 0 amps being used. Goes down to tenths.

When I turn on the inverter the meter jumps up to about 3.5 amps. This provides power to the receptacles, microwave, etc. When I turn on the Directv receiver its a minimal jump however when the TV comes on it about a 9 amp draw.
Just FYI, if your DirecTV receiver works like mine, the reason you see a "minimal jump" when you turn it on is because it never really turns off, as soon as you power up the inverter, it's doing everything but turning on the lights in the front and outputting video. That 3.5 amps you're drawing as soon as you turn it on is mostly the DirecTV receiver, and a little bit of the control circuit for the microwave.

You can find out for sure by repeating the test with the DirecTV receiver unplugged.

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Old 11-22-2010, 08:55 PM   #129
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That's a great idea....thanks. I also had my refrigerator on LP; however forgot that this draws a bit of energy as well as the internal fans the Norcold uses.

We spent the weekend boondocking and had several inquiries from the campers around us that were using generators.

Question for the pros....what type of coffee maker do you use to help reduce the draw on the batteries? We have an old Mr. Coffee that I suspect is using quite a few amps when brewing a pot of coffee. My wife loves to leave it on so that continues the draw for the hot plate.

Overall our boondocking with fully charged batteries was really cool. Ran the TV, Directv, computer, toaster and the fantastic fans to name a few items. We did run a box fan one night to help us stay cool (we're in Texas) and that baby really pulled quite a bit of juice. Of course it was on for 8-9 hours straight.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:00 PM   #130
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I like the Malita coffee pots. You can get them for a single cup all the way up to a 10 cup pot.

We have the 10 cup, and a vacuum pot. We make a couple pots of coffee one after the other and put them in the vacuum pot. It stays hot all day long.

Boil the water on the stove, pour through the coffee grounds and a filter, you have coffee...no electricity used at all.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:50 PM   #131
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Or a French Press.. Same thing; Pour in coffee and water, push the plunger. It pushes all the coffee to the bottom and strains it. Best coffee I've had. Then pour it into a thermal carafe as above.. costs $20 for the Press at amazon, and $5 for the carafe, unless you like fancy.

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Old 11-22-2010, 11:29 PM   #132
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To start with, we don't have any solar... this is for the person who is keeping coffee hot on a hot plate... We use thermal airpots for our food cart. We use a commercial pourover brewer that will brew directly into the airpots. These things will keep coffee hot for several hours without loss of taste and no burning the coffee from sitting on a hot plate. Pick up a little 2 liter airpot at the store. You can often find them in thrift stores for a couple of dollars.
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:26 PM   #133
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OK, I am on information overload. I thought I was going to do some research and put together a solar system. After reading through this thread and all the associated websites I feel I don't even want to attempt this.
OK, but I am not giving up yet.
This is what I have:
Magnum Energy ME 2000 watt inverter, 4 Trojan 6v batteries, xantrex echocharge, Onan 6k genset
This is what I want to do:
2 x 200 watt panels (or thereabouts) But what is all this about 17v and 21v? And what about the connectors? I'd like to be able to use tilt mounts if they can be had for <$100.
#4 wire
Charge controller - Not sure which one. But want it to be able to handle another 200 watt panel if I want to later.
What about fuses and where will they go?
Panels in series or parallel?
How does the genset get isolated from the solar panels?
Suggestions on charge controllers?
I don't need the best. Something midrange (and cost) is fine with me.
I know this may be a can of worms and there are probably a hundred different ways to do this. I am just looking for something reliable to charge the batteries. I don't need to be 100% off grid. The genset still works and I'm not afraid to use it if necessary (I need it for AC anyway, I need it cool to sleep right )
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:00 PM   #134
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Computerguy

I have a 2000 watt inverter, 2 - 6 volt 300 amp Lifeline batteries, 1 - 130 watt solar panel, and a Morningstar Duo charge controller. This setup keeps my batteries charged while in storage without activating the battery disconnects. I have so far been able to run my CPAP machine off the inverter all night with no problem when necessary.

I had this system installed to keep my batteries charged and also to run my CPAP machine if necessary.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-28-2010, 04:10 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by computerguy View Post
OK, I am on information overload. I thought I was going to do some research and put together a solar system. After reading through this thread and all the associated websites I feel I don't even want to attempt this.
OK, but I am not giving up yet.
This is what I have:
Magnum Energy ME 2000 watt inverter, 4 Trojan 6v batteries, xantrex echocharge, Onan 6k genset
This is what I want to do:
2 x 200 watt panels (or thereabouts) But what is all this about 17v and 21v? And what about the connectors? I'd like to be able to use tilt mounts if they can be had for <$100.
#4 wire
Charge controller - Not sure which one. But want it to be able to handle another 200 watt panel if I want to later.
What about fuses and where will they go?

Panels in series or parallel?
How does the genset get isolated from the solar panels?
Suggestions on charge controllers?
I don't need the best. Something midrange (and cost) is fine with me.
I know this may be a can of worms and there are probably a hundred different ways to do this. I am just looking for something reliable to charge the batteries. I don't need to be 100% off grid. The genset still works and I'm not afraid to use it if necessary (I need it for AC anyway, I need it cool to sleep right )
You may wish to look at the Morninstar TS-45 for your charge controller. That's what I put in our system which has 2-200 watt panels. Be sure to include a breaker between your panels and charge controller to allow you to disconnect them when needed. This can be an air conditioner quick disconnect that's fused for 60 amps. Look for a previous post of mine and it has a photo of the type we installed. It was about $15 at Lowes. The charge controller was less than $200 at Bogart Engineering (Google search). As for the panels...wire them in parallel. This can be done with junction box and connectors from Lowes (again at less than $20).
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:19 PM   #136
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HandyBob here, blog updated

Hey there Spurs,

Well, I broke my own rule & came back to look.

I really hate to have to correct you, but your Trimetric meter came from Bogart Engineering, not your Morningstar controller.

The reason I am here is that I just sent an update to my blog. November 2010 Update - Better Installations? I am so tired of people who can't read saying things that are not true about me that I decided to address it. Because of this, I will not be seen over on that other forum. When I get attacked here, the same thing will happen. I may soon go back in my archives, delete a bunch of old things and try to clarify some things that people keep misunderstanding, but the main thing I want to convey is that I do know MPPT can work. I have installed several and I own one (for the shop, not the RV.) However, you have to get VOLTS to the controller in order for it to work. That and the fact that on small RV systems, it just does not make monetary sense. There are panels available today for $2 a watt, so an extra $350 will buy you a good MPPT controller, or another big solar panel. Which one of those is the best buy???? People who claim to get boost on cloudy days when the voltage is not high enough are fools.

The people that sell MPPT like to talk about "harvesting" all of the power your panels can produce, but they still refuse to understand that the extra power is in the excess volts that the panels can produce and that those volts must get to the controller for it to work. Then, you have to set the controller voltage high enough so it will charge a battery and any controller that is shut off due to being set too low is not boosting at all. There is nothing magic about this. Why can't people understand it, when I have repeated it over & over again? See why I repeat myself?

I will continue to be available one on one to help people who are serious about getting off grid. I have no interest in getting into extended discussions on here with people who want to argue. Been there, done that. Some think I am a newbie, but they have it backwards. I have retained the name HandyBob on three different discussion forums over the years. I'm still the same frustated old ogre who doesn't own a generator.

Can anybody explain just why solar panels are are higher in Quartzsite than anywhere else in the country? It used to be the other way around.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:58 AM   #137
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I think Bob's arrogance is getting in the way of his ignorance. I fail to see how one guy in the corner of Montana is smarter than some of the worlds best solar engineering teams. The 1st time I read his rants he made no mention of MPPT (probably because he doesn't understand them), now he's smarter than anyone else and calling those who use MPPT "fools". Is it just me? Are there credentials of any kind attached to these rants?
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:53 AM   #138
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I think Bob's arrogance is getting in the way of his ignorance. I fail to see how one guy in the corner of Montana is smarter than some of the worlds best solar engineering teams. The 1st time I read his rants he made no mention of MPPT (probably because he doesn't understand them), now he's smarter than anyone else and calling those who use MPPT "fools". Is it just me? Are there credentials of any kind attached to these rants?
Jeff,

What has Bob said that contradicts anything said by any 'engineering team' ?

Also, I'm not sure how but you seem to have completely misrepresented what he just said. He did not call people who use MPPT fools. That would be rather silly, considering that he just finished saying that HE uses MPPT. It was just a few sentences above where he made his 'fools' reference (referring, by the way, to those who make claims about MPPT and cloudy days)

What credentials would you prefer to see here? Ownership of a solar installation company? Electrical engineering?
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:14 AM   #139
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Hey gang...here's the website that I bought both the charge controller and trimetric 2020 battery monitor. I found their prices to be pretty fair although you might want to search around more. Took about 1 week to receive the items.

Infinigi - Infinite Energy Solutions
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Old 11-30-2010, 07:59 AM   #140
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I honor HandyBob for what he has done and for calling into question shoddy workmanship and poor practices. I do not feel there is reason to flame him and I feel he is owed an apology. Yes he is a bit of a curmudgeon as he admits, but it tends to come with age and exposure to stupidity exhibited by others.
There have been a number of occasions I have lectured NASA engineers (among others) on the need for radiused corners or you have cracks in metals.
That he is revisiting and revising says a great deal to me, and you can not necessarily trust an engineer (electrical or other) to get it right, how many examples do you want? Practical experience counts, I am however frustrated because I want to understand why somthing works.
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