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Old 07-01-2022, 09:00 PM   #1
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Solar Generator + RV AC, for overnight use.

I am getting ready to switch to full time RV living for a while and would like the ability to park places without hookups and run an AC* off of battery power at night. I don't have the money/time to invest in a roof solar array and I don't want lithium house batteries.

I know there's a lot of down sides to solar generators but there are seemingly plenty of upsides. They can be found from reputable companies for under $1/watt. I plan on carrying 200 watts of suit case panels and a champion dual fuel 2500 watt generator as well. (Along with an extra LP tank and 7 gallon gas tank).

At any rate I'd plan on only going places where I could run the generator during the day to power the AC and recharge the solar generator (200 watt would be to top up 200ah house battery.)

I don't want to do a dedicated lithium system because I don't feel like doing the DIY and mainly im not sure if I'm going to like RVing and I can find plenty of other non RV uses for a power bank.

*Is there a way to isolate/switch back and forth from shore power to the solar generator for the 13000 BTU AC?
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Old 07-01-2022, 10:26 PM   #2
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Your not going to run an air conditioner overnight on 200AH of battery or whatever a solar generator is.
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Old 07-02-2022, 02:01 AM   #3
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Your not going to run an air conditioner overnight on 200AH of battery or whatever a solar generator is.
200AH is the house battery.

Solar generators are portable battery bank and inverters all in one. You can get anywhere from a few hundred watts to thousands of watts in a self contained portable package.

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Old 07-02-2022, 06:24 AM   #4
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Your 200 ah house battery will run an A/C unit for maybe 1hr. To run an A/C unit overnight , at 50% duty cycle will require close to 800 amp hours of battery. So even if you discharged your bank to over 80% , you would need a 1000ah bank.

Your 200 watt solar generator will give you maybe 85 amp hrs on a good sunny day. That would be good for running an A/C unit for a few minutes.
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Old 07-02-2022, 06:33 AM   #5
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You need a lot more solar and battery than you may think to run AC.
In your case maybe a big enough generator is your best option.
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Old 07-02-2022, 08:10 AM   #6
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you have some mighty high expectations for not wanting to invest time or money.
Not only will you need to spend a lot of money on battery capacity, you need the other things to finish the circuit

so to run your ac you're probably looking at 5k easily

just off the head rough estimates
5 200ah lifepo4's x $800 = 4k probably 1k watts of solar = another grandish
inverter= 270 for a cheap 2k watt renogy brand
wiring, properly rated fuses etc most definitely north of 5k.
I'm not even saying this would be properly sized to run an ac but it's a starting point..
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Old 07-02-2022, 03:01 PM   #7
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Your RV air conditioner will draw about 1500 watts while running. Duty cycle at night will depend on temp, humidity, etc but will likely be 50-75% if it's hot. So you'll need at least 10 kwh of solar generator capacity to get through quiet hours. Then during the day (assuming AC is running off generator), you'll probably have just about enough excess generator capacity to recharge the batteries before quiet hours begin. Besides the 10kwh solar generator, you'll probably also need a soft start on the air conditioner, the commitment to running your generator continuously during the day, and LOTS of generator fuel. Possibly feasible but it won't be cheap.
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Old 07-02-2022, 03:49 PM   #8
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I know they are called solar generators, but that is a very unfitting name.

Your A/C will draw about 120 amps while running. So with 200 AH, you will get about 1.5 hours of run time. If you want to run your A/C for 8 hours, you would need roughly 1000 useable AH.

You have 200 watts of solar. Under peak conditions you will "generate" about 5 amps/100 watts at peak conditions.

So to recharger 200AH of battery at 10 amp would take 20 hours at peak conditions.

Of course your generator would charge your batteries way faster than 200 watts of solar. I do not know how much, it will depend on the size of your charger which is most commonly somewhere between 30 and 60 amps.
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Old 07-02-2022, 04:15 PM   #9
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I know they are called solar generators, but that is a very unfitting name.
offtopic but I am so glad I'm not the only one who thinks that. They don't generate anything. It's like calling a dog a cat. But than again maybe it identifies as a generator lol
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Old 07-02-2022, 04:52 PM   #10
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I have 1200 watts of solar ( but that really makes no difference when running the AC at night. I have just over 1000 AH of lithium and have my bedroom air conditioner wired to run off of inverter (battery) On a full charge, I can get between 4 to 6 or 7 hours of Running time depending on outside temp and indoor temperature setting. It great, but not inexpensive. I also use it if parking for few hours at Walmart and I do not want to run my generator.. I hope this helps, but your setup is a no go in my opinion.
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Old 07-02-2022, 05:11 PM   #11
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Already been basically said, but you're going to need a forklift to move a large-enough solar generator. They're really nothing more than a packaged pile of lithium batteries with controls and inverters built in.
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:34 PM   #12
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Already been basically said, but you're going to need a forklift to move a large-enough solar generator. They're really nothing more than a packaged pile of lithium batteries with controls and inverters built in.
I would say that's very apt description. I'm surprised that people didn't know that. But big ole portable battery bank doesn't have the same ring to it.

Evidently leaving out a VERY crucial detail (sorry) leads to a lot of confusion. I will be running a mini-split en lieu of my roof unit. High efficiency mini splits run mid 300 watts at maintaining temps (unless it's incredibly hot out) and around 500 when you're really pushing them. Also the nicer inverter models essentially have "soft start" built in so they don't have the big kick like roof units do.

Further clarification I am planning on running the AC on a gen set during the day. Rhe gen set will also be used to charge the "solar generator" to the extent the panels won't. I imagine such a small array 200 watt suitcase will be enough in many cases to top up the house batteries if I'm not running them hard.

On days where I don't need to run the solar generator or have used it for smaller loads: lap top, projector, coffee maker, etc. I will try and recharge it exclusively with the panels.

Eventually if I decide I really enjoy "RVing" I may put in roof top solar and lithium on board but at this point I very much like the idea of being able to pull the solar generator and go car camping, to a cookout, he'll take the projector into the woods and have a nature movie night. If I move back to a sticks and bricks, which is highly likely, it could be used as a UPS for my saltwater reef tank or possibly a fridge provided the black out isn't too long.
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:38 PM   #13
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offtopic but I am so glad I'm not the only one who thinks that. They don't generate anything. It's like calling a dog a cat. But than again maybe it identifies as a generator lol

It's easier to say than: "big external inverter battery pack in a portable case that can be recharged with solar panels if you have a large enough array".

Roughly the term comes from the concept that you've generated power via solar.
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:45 PM   #14
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Your RV air conditioner will draw about 1500 watts while running. Duty cycle at night will depend on temp, humidity, etc but will likely be 50-75% if it's hot. So you'll need at least 10 kwh of solar generator capacity to get through quiet hours. Then during the day (assuming AC is running off generator), you'll probably have just about enough excess generator capacity to recharge the batteries before quiet hours begin. Besides the 10kwh solar generator, you'll probably also need a soft start on the air conditioner, the commitment to running your generator continuously during the day, and LOTS of generator fuel. Possibly feasible but it won't be cheap.
I left out a really important detail. I'm taking about a 12-13k mini split not a roof monster. They draw about 300 in maintenance mode at 500 when you're pushing them. Outside temp dependant. They also don't have the surge wattage that a roof unit has, even vs one with a soft start.

An 1800 watt "solar generator" isn't going to be enough to run at mini in 110 deg heat all night but I'm thinking it may be enough to run it for long enough to get some decent shut eye during quiet hours when I can't run the gen. Id want to figure out if there's a way to have the AC be soley powered off the solar gen and have everything else handled by the house battery.
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