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Old 07-31-2021, 09:21 PM   #1
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Offsetting on grid electric bill with solar???

Let me preface this post with my confession of ignorance as far as electric and solar terminology. Please forgive me.
Totally new to this new lifestyle (all work so far). Bought a 2002 Monaco Signature 45’ commander w/3 slides from another member of this community and it has the all electric option. So far I feel like the solar portion is nothing but a battery tender. I sold my home in Orange County California and staying full time in the coach. It’s plugged into 50amp service and I’m getting electric bills that are more than all utilities combined in my house and then some. I’m also getting conflicting information on what would be needed or if it’s possible to set myself up where The grid is only used to run the biggies - AC, microwave, etc…and/or float charge both battery banks as needed when solar isn’t generating enough to keep up with power usage demands. Supposedly the unit is set up for electric so what do I need to add to existing system or is a complete swap out required to ultimately get the most from my sunny location and eliminate the majority of my on grid bill? I know this has to have been discussed thoroughly already but I’m having issues finding what I’m after. If there’s information needed to give the best feedback please let me know. Many thanks, namaste ��.
If you’re not aware of specs, the option includes the following:

1) five 255 ah AGM house batteries, 2) two large solar panels(15 amps), 3) two 3000 watt inverters, 4) 270 amp alternator, 5) 300 amp battery isolator, 6) auto gen start, 7) 22 c.f. residential refrig,, 8) two burner electric cooktop.

Also has 3 15,000 btu AC units, Aqua hot ..the normal stuff I guess.
I don’t want to run generator, trying to use solar/battery system as MUCH as possible and grid to only be for high demand and backup system.
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Old 07-31-2021, 10:04 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliDropOut View Post
Let me preface this post with my confession of ignorance as far as electric and solar terminology. Please forgive me.
Totally new to this new lifestyle (all work so far). Bought a 2002 Monaco Signature 45í commander w/3 slides from another member of this community and it has the all electric option. So far I feel like the solar portion is nothing but a battery tender. I sold my home in Orange County California and staying full time in the coach. Itís plugged into 50amp service and Iím getting electric bills that are more than all utilities combined in my house and then some. Iím also getting conflicting information on what would be needed or if itís possible to set myself up where The grid is only used to run the biggies - AC, microwave, etcÖand/or float charge both battery banks as needed when solar isnít generating enough to keep up with power usage demands. Supposedly the unit is set up for electric so what do I need to add to existing system or is a complete swap out required to ultimately get the most from my sunny location and eliminate the majority of my on grid bill? I know this has to have been discussed thoroughly already but Iím having issues finding what Iím after. If thereís information needed to give the best feedback please let me know. Many thanks, namaste ��.
If youíre not aware of specs, the option includes the following:

1) five 255 ah AGM house batteries, 2) two large solar panels(15 amps), 3) two 3000 watt inverters, 4) 270 amp alternator, 5) 300 amp battery isolator, 6) auto gen start, 7) 22 c.f. residential refrig,, 8) two burner electric cooktop.

Also has 3 15,000 btu AC units, Aqua hot ..the normal stuff I guess.
I donít want to run generator, trying to use solar/battery system as MUCH as possible and grid to only be for high demand and backup system.
Iím not sure you understand the solar/amps/watts. Do you mean your solar is 15 amps at 12 volts. Thatís only 180 watts. Wonít even run a toaster. If they are putting out 15 amps at letís say 48 volts and your charge controller converts to 12v thatís only 780 watts. Still not much

Second, understand. There are two types of inverters. Those that are override by shore power and those that pass through. Even the pass through will only supply 120v when plugged into shore power IF the watts you draw are greater than what your shore power. If you have pass through, plugged into 50 amp service, there is no way you are going to draw enough power from the inverter to kick in and add watts. No matter what you think you are doing all of your power is coming from the 50 amp service.

RV solar does not work the same as residential solar that wii use available solar first and only pull from the grid if demand exceeds solar.

The only way to make your inverters run more is to plug into 30 or 20 amps, the your inverters will come on and use battery power to supplement. Problem with this theory is even if you run off the inverters, the batteries then get discharged and when you drop below 20 amps in draw, the converter will kick on and charge the batteries.

In theory you could put lots more solar on the roof, make sure you have charge controllers that can handle it, and only plug into 15/20 amp service. But right now with 3 acís and an Aqua Hot $100 a month is what you can expect.
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Old 07-31-2021, 10:19 PM   #3
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So your main issue is the way coaches are set up. Once your in the grid all your power comes from the grid, excluding 12v, but the 12 volt does come from the grid by way of the inverter/charger. Also inverter/chargers are not 100% efficient so your paying to convert the AC to DC. Unless you turn the charger off more on that later.

I have a questions are you paying the electric company directly or the place you are plugged into/staying at?

Also I think your info on the solar needs some explanation if your panels are making 15amps that 15 amps dc 12v or 1.5 amps ac 120v. Thatís not a lot. Maybe enough to run a lcd tv and thatís it. To give you an idea a buddy of mine has solar producing 70amp dc thatís 7 amps ac just enough to run everything but major power appliances like hot water and microwave for those he has to make sure the solar has charged the batteryís to the point the inverter can supply the needed power.

You would need to up the solar a lot.

Your other issue is the air conditioning thatís probably 80 to 90% of the electric your using. Coaches are not well insulated and it takes a lot of power to keep them cool. With the record temps this year thatís hard to do.

I assume your full time and working so moving to a cooler area is not an option. If it is that the best way to lower the bills.

Most people know they will take a hit on the utility but also know they offset that with the saving on rent or home mortgage payments.

Once the heat is gone the bills should drop drastically.

Your can turn the charger off and run all but the AC off the batteryís in high peak times and then charge the batteryís during off peak times. Thatís about the best option without moving to a cooler climate. More solar will give you more time off the batteryís till charging is needed but you will need to charge from genny or shore at some point. Your current solar will not power all your AC need (-Air conditioning )with the current number of panels and their output.
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Old 07-31-2021, 10:50 PM   #4
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Three 15K A/C Units
1600W per A/C Unit (120VAC-14A draw)
4800w....times kw/h rate
15.34 cents per kw/h X 4.8kw = 74 cents per hour run time
12 hrs run time = $8.84
$8.84 x 30 DAYS =$265 Just for the A/C Units
**Increase hours run===higher bill just for A/C

Add energy cost of residential fridge etc

50A service is 12,000W per hour available
12K x 12 hrs= 144K X .1534 = $22 X 30 days = $663

Your S&B House A/C Unit probably drew less amps then those Three 15K RV Units
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Old 08-01-2021, 12:43 PM   #5
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Yes, I pay sce directly. The space has its own meter. The solar panels are original and charge only about 7-8 watts mid-day. assuming I will be replacing those for something more efficient and adding to them to get more energy, I don’t know how many more panels and batteries I need to add. I’ve been advised on getting a control switch and set it up for solar as primary and switch to grid as backup, rehire coach to separate ACs and water heater to only grid and use solar for remaining useage. Here, a response was to add panels and go to lower amp service, that’s interesting if practical and safe. I have inverter off but batteries are still float charging. I believe sce is .19-.20 cents per kWh and rising. Would a mobile or window ac be more efficient? Any other electric coaches here added on to existing system? How many watts can be applied to existing without effecting other components? Can’t leave California due to work but wanted to take advantage of a ridiculous market and see what happens. But until I can get this electrical managed, I won’t be able to enjoy the new lifestyle.
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Old 08-01-2021, 12:55 PM   #6
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A window unit is not more efficient but using one can save you a lot of money by just cooling the sleeping area instead of the entire RV.

Regarding solar, even if you purchase 5x 100watt panels (just for easier math) the best you would get is 500w output during the sunniest period of the day. So if you got that amount for say 8 hours and you could utilize it fully, then you would have 8x500 or 4000watts, and multiple that by your cost of .20 per Kwh, then each day you would save (4kwx.20) .80 cents. Solar isn't as big a help as many people believe it to be, better for boondockers as a replacement for running the generator so much.

In any case, (imo) the best answer for you is to cut back on usage any way you can. ~CA
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Old 08-01-2021, 01:48 PM   #7
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Solar power is not the answer. We have an off-grid solar backup system at our home that has 18 270 watt panels taking up almost 400 square feet of space to produce only 41amps of a/c power per hour during the peak hours of the day. We have had our system for 10 years and we are just now at a break-even point on initial cost versus lower grid power consumption and that was with me installing the entire system. Long term solar is great since a system can last 30 years but the initial cost and investment recovery time make it a harder decision from a short term perspective.
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Old 08-01-2021, 05:03 PM   #8
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Put as much solar panels on the roof as you have space. You'll generate more power and provide shade to the roof, which is one of the reasons your cooling is so high.

Most RV's do not have adequate insulation, roof, walls, slides, floors. Not the most efficient design and not much you can do about it.



Probably best you can do is follow the mild weather, where ever that may be now.



Just finished a trip out west, it was +100F in Wyo, couldn't put the awnings out due to wind. I could feel the heat radiating off the walls. Ran both AC's coach still was ~90F inside.
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:11 PM   #9
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I tell people CA charges five times the national average for electric power! All this green energy and shutting down nuclear plants is expensive.

First address the simple things. Shut off the Aqua Hot electric heating element and only use the diesel heating when you need hot water or coach heat.

Call SoCal Edison and see if you can negotiate a lower rate. They have options for you to purchase power at a lower level. Be prepared to be on hold for over an hour!

Do not use any electrical appliance that produces heat! Heat producing electrical appliances are energy hogs. Turn off the electric baseboard heaters, hair dryers, and toaster ovens. Use the convection oven sparingly.

Get a roll of Reflectix insulation from Lowes and cut it to fit the windshield and western facing windows.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Reflectix-R...5-ft-L/3011904

Make sure your house batteries are in good condition. If they are over four years old or have been neglected, your inverter-charger will constantly try to charge them.

What refrigerator do you have? New residential refrigerators only use 1.5 amps to cool and most have energy saving modes. Shut off the ice maker and select the E Saver option.

Learn to understand what energy you are using. Your lights are 12v powered from the coach batteries which are recharged from the inverter.

Your biggest power users are the three air conditioners. Some of the newer Dometic RV air conditioners are more efficient. Think about replacing older units with newer more efficient units.
https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/...ditioner-parts

Now we can talk solar. Your two original equipment solar panels and Heliotrope charge controller are only a novelty designed to trickle charge your batteries.
First, don't make the classic mistake of confusing amps with watts. A 100 watt solar panel only produces about 5 amps at 12V during solar noon. If your coach was all electric from the factory you will have two of these.
To really invest in solar power you will need to cover your roof entirely with the most efficient panels available. This is because you have limited roof space compared to a large home. Then you will need solar charge controllers to handle all those solar panels.
You will also need a large battery bank (preferably LiFePO4) to store the energy. Then you will need newer inverters to invert the stored 12v DC energy back to 120v AC as well as rewiring your coach to power at least one A/C from the new inverter.
Some folks are spending $40,000 plus on large solar systems like described above.
Lots of good reading:
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f56/

Is this what you really want?
Best of luck!
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:18 PM   #10
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You can put up every bit of solar you want you won't drop you electric bill. See rffowler55 above. My All electric coach a little newer than yours with all 3 ac's running pulls 46 amps. You may back 10 off with the fridge and parasitic draw but at .19 in So Cal right now you are going to have a large electric bill.
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:55 PM   #11
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You have your inverter incorrect turn off the charger and turn on the inverter during peak cost times then switch the the other way around at off peak. With the inverter off and charger on your are powering everything from shore and not using the batteries at all.

Does the power company have peak and off peak rates? If not then the above option will not mater and may raise your bill.

You will find out that some items usually the hot water heater and air conditioning units are powered before the inverter ie. only by shore or genset power.

The idea is to store power at the lower rate and use the stored power during the high rate time. Of course air conditioning will use shore power all the time. Also if the loss during charge and inverting is greater than the difference in power cost itís better to use the shore.
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Old 08-03-2021, 07:26 AM   #12
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If you want to save money and not change your location you're going to have to think outside the box.

If your staying in one place they sell portable mini split systems. These would be your best bet to maximize energy usage.
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