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Old 08-14-2022, 03:32 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 16
Cool Solar for Dummy (me)

Hi -
My darling husband David told me to 'figure this solar stuff out' and I have NO CLUE what we have and what we need. We've had this bus for over 6 years and just pretty much ignored its solar set up. We really only boondock at IMSA races for 4-5 days at a time, or overnite at Cracker Barrels, and just run the generator as needed.

BUT - now our Norcold 1210 is starting to be stupid, and we think we'd like to get a residential fridge. (We've talked about it and we'd prefer a residential instead of the Amish mod or conversion.) So, I'm not sure what we can do with what we've got.

Mostly just want to know what we need to run a fridge (Samsung RF18, for example) and if we can use any of the stuff we have... or if we can add on to it without needing a whole new system. I'm sure stuff is way more efficient than it was in 2011 when original owners added solar.

If someone could take a look at this list, I would really appreciate it. But - responses gotta be simple, ok? I still think of electricity as little ants running back and forth on a wire, like Mrs. Johnson drew on the blackboard in 1st grade.

Thanks for any help you can offer!
(I'm David's researcher. - He does all the work, I just tell him what I've found out and he kinda goes from there.)

2008 Winnebago Aventurer 37B OEM stuff:

Inverter: Dimensions WIN-12W6RT3T Series
600 Watts output
quasi-sine wave, with waveform stabilizer
inverter only model
automatic transfer
output voltage 120RMS
output frequency 60 Hz

Converter Charger: Parallax Power Supply LLC
Series 7400 Model 7455T
Input 105-130VAC 60HZ. 975 Watts
Output 13.66 VDC, 55 AMPS

4 Batteries new March 2019
Interstate Deep Cycle Extreme GC2-XHD-UTL
122mins@75Amps 232 Ah

SOLAR INSTALL March 2011 - former owner

2 Solar Panels: Kyocera KD135SX-UPU
rated power 135 watts, so we have 270 watt system?
Voc 22.1 V
Isc 8.37 A
Vpm 17.7 V
Ipm 7.63 A
max system voltage 600

PV Charge Controller: Blue Sky Solar Boost 3024iL
30 AMP 24VDC
David & Cathy
Winnebago 2008 W24 Adventurer 37B ~ Wisconsin
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:42 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 342
Keeping it as simple as possible.... You will not be able to boondock with your current system and adding a residential fridge. They eat up a TON of battery amps! That is why RVs for most casual RVers come with dual AC/propane refrigerators. If you use your RV less than 30 days per year, I would highly recommend just putting in a replacement fridge similar to what you have and be done with it.

Happy Camping!
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:49 PM   #3
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Posts: 11,922
I have 325 watt of solar.
I installed a Samsung RF18 refrigerator and found that if I conserve power, limit usage, I can boondock with only some generator use, maybe 1.5 hours. Prior to installing the Samsung we had to run the generator some anyway, maybe an hour, so not much of a difference. Plus if it's hot out you have to run the generator anyway for AC's.

If you want more independence you could add a couple more solar panels, if possible add the same size (amp, volt) as you have so they are balanced. This will be over 600 watt but I don't that would be a problem as unless you in full sun, at noon with the coach positioned just right you'll never see the max output.
Jim J
2002 Monaco Windsor 38 PKD Cummins ISC 350 8.3L
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee w/5.7 Hemi
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Old 08-18-2022, 03:01 PM   #4
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Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 1,082
Hi Cathy,
Think of your batteries as a bucket. Now think of all your electrical demand (loads) as a spigot at the bottom of the bucket. Every time you use electricity, whether it is 12vdc directly from the bucket, or 120vac from your inverter, you open the spigot and empty water from the bucket. A residential (120vac) fridge will have you opening the spigot fully, as it consumes more power than anything except your air conditioner (which can’t sustainably run off the battery in your setup). There are also 12v compressor fridges that draw much less power, and it comes directly from the batteries. You have just 220ah of battery life, which is really just 150ah useable. This is not a big enough bucket to supply a residential fridge for long without a source to replace the amperage lost through the spigot. Now, Think of the devices that recharge your batteries as hoses that put water into the top of the bucket. You converter/charger supplies enough power to run everything and still pour water into the bucket. But if you’re not connected to shore power, or a generator, solar is one way to put water into the bucket. The solar hose is much smaller than your converter, but it operates silently, all day long, and for free. It can provide about 30-35 amphrs per day per 100w panel, or about 120 amphrs total for the array.

We boondock a lot, and we have a 12v compressor fridge. It drains 50ah per day from our 170ah lithium bucket. Our solar currently can produce 35ah per day. So, we can go for 3 days without shore power or generator. More solar means more days without shore power or generator (if the sun shines). If you want a residential fridge and want to camp without a source to power your converter to charge, you’ll need a much bigger bucket (about 300 useable ah) for just 3 days without 120v charging, and about 400w of solar array. If you choose a 12v compressor fridge you won’t need as big of a bucket, and not as much solar either. If you can learn to live with about 10.5 cubic feet of fridge space (most people can), you might want to consider a 12v fridge. If you’re not planning on boondocking, then by all means get a residential fridge.
Jim. 2021 Canyon Denali 4x4 3.6L, Husky C-Line
2021b Micro Mini 2108DS, 170AH LiFePo4, Xantrex XC2000, 110w Solar Suitcase, Champion 2500w df
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Old 08-18-2022, 06:17 PM   #5
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Location: Meshoppen, PA
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It not real hard to figure loads etc but it gets confusing

The RV when running on battery power uses the 12V power for the batterys..

But your stuff can use 12v or 120V thru inverter,, The inverter will draw approx 10 times the 12V power..

My system has 300Ah storage, and I can pull 170 amps easily, 190ish stats to get dicey.. I have 400 to be 500 soon, solar,, at 400 I can get 20-23 Ahr in good sun .. Parked right from 10am til 6pm I just about get that 170 I need.. as days get short or overcast 90-110 Ahr is a norm..

Ok lots of numbers.

I tried for a test to Run my RV absorption fridge, it pull 245-270 watts at 120V.. Once cold, it cycles.. I can get 9-12 hours out of my batteries..
Actual use with other small loads From 8Am til 8pm on a 77avg degree day was approx 117 Ah,, now my solar easily kept my batteries at 92-95%.. At 8am next morning with temps 55-60 outside,, I used 128 AH but had TV on for 4 hours and made coffe, small 4 cup pot.

SO for me adding that 100 w solar to hit 500 total would gibe me 26-28 Ahr charge n good sun ..

This is my set up.. it is typical use for a few Rv.s

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Old 08-19-2022, 06:44 AM   #6
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Then it clouds up and blows all this critically calculated and carefully crafted solution away. Solar works great, until it doesn't. If you put all your eggs into this basket, expect that some days the basket will have a hole in it. Solar can be a great contributor to sourcing power but it can't be counted on as a solution. If you go into it knowing this then full steam ahead, but have a plan B.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
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Old 08-19-2022, 10:03 AM   #7
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Location: Florida Keys
Posts: 756
You didn't mention money but it sounds like you want to keep it simple.

You have 4 6v 230AH batteries or 460AH of 12v supply. That is 230AH of useful capacity for regular cycling more for occasional deep cycles. This is plenty to run a residential fridge over night maybe all day as long as there aren't any other big loads. I have a full size residential fridge with ice. My average 24 hour measured 12v AH is 198AH. My minimum was 108AH. Outside temp, making ice, loading with warm stuff, having a door not quite closed and other actual things results in swings up to 300AH measured.

Replacing the fridge:
Replacing an RV fridge with a residential fridge can be a lot of work if the space doesn't accommodate it. For example if there is a lot of wiring under the existing fridge that will need to be moved to let the residential fridge sit on the floor for it to fit. Before you even start considering replacing it figure out what will fit with the level of effort you are willing to make.

Your inverter is only 600W continuous. A residential fridge with defrost will probably pull more than 600W while it is in defrost, mine runs close to 900W. Defrost runs a electric heater as does the ice maker and they pull a more current than the compressor. Having a fridge that is capable of using all of your inverter wattage is also a bad idea. You might want to look at a 12V residential style fridge but that will require pulling heavy wire to the fridge from the batteries, a fuse, and a preferably a switch.

If you go with a normal AC residential fridge with defrost you are likely going to need more inverter power. You probably can not put anything in parallel with your inverter. Inverters must be designed to work in parallels and typically only with another inverter of the same manufacture. A dedicated inverter for just the fridge may be the most economical option and easy to implement if you have space. Be sure it has an internal transfer switch unless you want to manually transfer from grid to battery. Alternatively you will look at a bigger inverter maybe 2000W. I'd go with pure sine wave if I went this route. A magnum 2000W inverter runs over $1000. Check out the DIY solar youtube channel for reviews of inverters.

Your use case of infrequent need, ability and willingness to run the generator indicates to me that you should not spend any money on solar.
2013 Winnebago Journey 36M DP. Full time since 2015. 1987 FJ60 Flat Towed, FAILING 2000W of GRAPE Solar, 800AH LifeBlue LiFePO4 batteries (excellent), SMI Toad Brakes.
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