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Old 11-11-2015, 01:04 PM   #15
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Write earlier posts that we have tossed 50 amp and the 30 amp cords and now just have a 15 amp extension cord to use as required
Reed and Elaine
Is this because you depend completely on the batteries for power, and on shore power *only* for additional charging along with solar? If so, that sounds like a great set up.

I only have Harbor Freight panels. I got them as a "dip my toe in the water" means of getting started. When the time comes, I will consider the higher voltage panels and system. It makes more sense to me to use smaller wiring for higher voltage instead of huge wires for low voltage but large amperage. This is the reason I have not wired the trailer for big amp wiring for my ham radio gear back to the table in my trailer and instead run my genny and use 110V outlet in the trailer and a 12V power supply at the radio.
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Old 11-11-2015, 01:54 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=1bigmess;2821234]Is this because you depend completely on the batteries for power, and on shore power *only* for additional charging along with solar? If so, that sounds like a great set up.

We do only use batteries for power: 4 kW PSWI and 48 to 12 V Meanwell power converter. We have only used shore power one day in last two years.

We have lithium iron phosphate batteries and , unlike lead acid, they need to be cycled daily and not kept at high status of charge. So we let it go down to 80% SOC (down by 2 to 3 kW-hrs each night)

So son isolated original 50 amp charging system so that it will only operate the AC and not charge the batteries and thus the LFP battery suite does not remain at full SOC. We have trialed this and it works well but have never used it on travels. But then we tossed power cables
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:51 AM   #17
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Parkerbill and SkiSmuggs - Kits are great for getting lots of goodies in a bundle, but not many kits include the most popular solar charge controllers from Morningstar and Outback. We've had great luck with both of those brands...
Agreed, but kits are great for us folks just getting into solar and need to just make it happen instead of agonizing over all the info swirling through our minds.
I originally started with the Renogy 100w suitcase portable. It got me over my start up fears and helped me to learn more about controller settings and the limitations of that kind of set up. While I scoffed at those who said they were too much trouble, I learned there is something to that and yearned for something that was just there and working but didn't want to put holes in the roof or use the refrig vent that couldn't have been further from the battery bank.
Then I found a posting with pictures on using a gray tank vent and all systems were go except for the expense part. I accumulated parts over a few months, including a $30 Solar30 PWM controller. It didn't take long to realize that a single stage controller isn't just there, but requires tinkering.
Now I have a ViewStar 30A that is very capable. I thought I would be adding two more panels but the 200w is working pretty well for us.
My ultimate charge controller would be the new Trimetic SC-2030 smart controller that works in conjunction with Bogart's monitor.
SC-2030 Solar Charger — 30 Amps Max- 12 or 24V PWM type | Bogart Engineering
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Old 11-12-2015, 08:48 AM   #18
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Reed - that is an enviable setup and an enviable destination. You are lucky to have a solar expert in the family. We usually stick to our solar power even when hookups are available too, since the signal coming out of our inverter is ultra clean (we have an Exeltech which is the brand use on the international space station, lol!!).

1BigMess - Everyone starts somewhere. We had a single 130 watt panel we moved around on the ground for a few months before we did our first permanent rooftop installation. Like SkiSmuggs says, the kits are a great way to get started.

SkiSmuggs - We had a single stage controller from Morningstar at first too, and I wish the portable suitcase kits had been around because we would have used that on our popup before we went full-time and we would have learned a heckuva lot. We've done several installations now, and we learn more with each one. Our boat installation (our 3rd) was better than our 2nd trailer installation, but we sold the boat, and are back in our trailer and now live with that 2nd installation. It's fine, but we would do it differently if we did it over!!

The Bogart solar charge controller looks interesting. Thanks for the link!
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Old 11-12-2015, 09:14 AM   #19
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Great article thanks for sharing your knowledge.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:04 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=Groovy;2822215]Reed - that is an enviable setup and an enviable destination. You are lucky to have a solar expert in the family

Daughter has 7 kW on Las Cruces NM brother in law about 4 kW in Albuquerque NM. El Paso electric has been very supportive of solar. Daughter gets money back every month from El Paso Electric. NM and Arizona are ideal for solar.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:38 PM   #21
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Daughter has 7 kW on Las Cruces NM brother in law about 4 kW in Albuquerque NM. El Paso electric has been very supportive of solar. Daughter gets money back every month from El Paso Electric. NM and Arizona are ideal for solar.
Reed and Elaine
I have a co-worker here in Vermont that has panels at home on a tracker and he gets money back from the electric company too.
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:10 PM   #22
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A pop up ad has shown up on this thread that is selling a 100 W panel and a small glass mat battery that states it is "worth $6000" and can produce 1800 W of power. The sales spokesman at be suspect.
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Old 11-13-2015, 08:58 AM   #23
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I love it when folks get money back from the electric company -- kudos to the utilities that are willing to do that. We just visited a friend in Austin TX that has a fabulous solar setup on his house.

We see more and more solar all over the country on homes, businesses and out in the fields. Just fantastic!!
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Old 11-13-2015, 07:59 PM   #24
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This pop up for solar is showing up on every thread I have looked upon in IR-V2. For the special friends of the huckster you can get a 100 W panel, a 100 amp hour glass mat (maybe less) and some insipid peripherals for only $2,900 "worth $9k. , they apparently added two more plugs so it must have a $50 inverter. You can drain the battery at 1800 W rate l, say 14 minutes to 50% SOC
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Old 11-14-2015, 09:27 AM   #25
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I'm not seeing that ad, Reed, but as always, Buyer Beware!!
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Old 11-14-2015, 10:06 AM   #26
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:29 AM   #27
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Overall RV Design for Boondocking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reed Cundiff View Post
Groovy
Excellent article. Strongly suggest running at higher voltages. We have 1400 W of solar on 5th wheel. This is two sets of 3 x 235 W (30 V) panels in series which are then set in parallel to provide 1400 W (in high summer) at 90 V. This is only 15.5 amps which leads to lower power loss, smaller cabling, and a much smaller and less expensive MPPT controller. This is only 15.5 amps at 90 V but would be 116 amps at 12 V. Our battery suite is a nominal 48 V so amperage from MPPT is 29 amps. Our TriStar MPPT-45 handles this nicely. Solar autonomy makes for an enjoyable lifestyle. We have tied into line power one day in last two and a half years and have not had to use generator at all.
Reed and Elaine

Reed, I've read a few of your postings over the past year and have to say that so far it sounds like you've got the closest thing to what I think should be the new paradigm for RV solar design, i.e. 48V system with LiFe batteries, etc.. Fortunately, there are a few new technological developments that are encouraging for this type of system, specifically Sharp announcing that they will be marketing a DC mini-split AC unit in late 2015, and some of the new hydronic heating systems that use far less energy (especially electricity) than their traditional forced-air counterparts. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of design factors that work against an effective system, especially on smaller RV's and truck campers.

As it is, the old-fashioned RV air conditioners ("tree snaggers") eat up too much roof space, create shading issues for PV modules, and use too much energy. Roof vents and skylights scattered about also add to the same problem. The lack of viable module mounting points on some rigs makes it a headache to come up with racking systems that can support the modules and keep things attached to the roof under high wind loads. Also, the lack of an industry standard form factor(s) for solar modules makes every installation a one-off design to an extent.

While a few manufacturers are starting to design some of their RVs with true boondocking capabilities in mind, most of them still rely on 50 year-old technology for just about everything.

Giving this a bit of thought, here are some of the things I'd like to see in an RV relative to real four-season boondocking capabilities:

1) 48 VDC MPPT solar power system with advanced battery technology and full monitoring. 2) 48VDC mini-split air conditioning system with no roof mounted components. 3) Thermopane, awning type windows. 4) Maximized roof space with provisions for and documentation for the installation of solar modules. 5) Better yet, fairly priced, factory designed tiltable solar panels/mounts with remote control. 6) 1.5-2 inches of closed cell foam insulation throughout. 7) Hydronic heating system (48V). 8) Heated black and gray tanks via the hydronic system. 9) Diesel fueled hydronic system and cooking appliances. 10) Auxilliary solar input port for portable solar panels. 11) Dimmable LED lighting. 12) 48-12VDC converters throughout with Anderson Powepole connectors for 12V appliances. 13) USB sockets throughout. 14) Outdoor propane connection for outdoor stove/grill. 15) Insulating window treatments.

Well that's the beginning of the list. I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of some other folks as to anything they'd add.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:59 AM   #28
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That's the *beginning* of your list?
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