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Old 03-20-2014, 05:00 PM   #1
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Question Solar power question

i am looking into using solar panels as my main and only source of power for my 5th wheel. what size solar panels should i be looking at to buy and what else do i need to convert the power from dc to ac. i am new to the idea of solar power.
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Old 03-20-2014, 05:18 PM   #2
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Any good threads here regarding RV solar. I like the educational section of AMSOLAR's web site.
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Old 03-20-2014, 05:41 PM   #3
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i am looking into using solar panels as my main and only source of power for my 5th wheel. what size solar panels should i be looking at to buy and what else do i need to convert the power from dc to ac. i am new to the idea of solar power.
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Old 03-21-2014, 03:35 PM   #4
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Wayne: Some of the users on the forum like VSHEETS have designed some install packages for Solar. I used the VSHEET example to create my system and if you spec and plan a system properly as I have learned. You can grow it per your needs and per your developing expectations. I think after you walk down the solar path you can get caught up in trying to make your solar system meet your current life's behavior. But we all find that we have to change our behavior and become most conscious of energy use and demands.
I am a weekender and took a boondocking approach. First it was 2 batteries and 2 panels. I had consulted with VSHEETS and his direction and philosophy was very solid. I built for expansion. Now I have 4 batteries and 5 panels. Built it little by little and experimented with my needs. Am now working the more expensive portion ... inverters ... you want big...and efficient... you can pay a bit. We will see where I take this for my install but as for you... DEFINE your expectations and build for growth!
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:58 PM   #5
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Wayne

If you are going to go solar/battery only, you will have to fully define your power requirements. We use between 800 and 4000 amp-hours a day when we are being profligate and a lot less when there is likely to be little sun. We have not hooked into line power or generator since system was fabricated last June except for one instance during the floods in Colorado last year.

vsheets seems to know what he is talking about.

One should go with sufficiently powerful controllers and inverter at the start so that system can grow if requirements increase. You do not want to be continually upgrading the controller/inverter since they are quite expensive items. A 2.5 kW PSW inverter should be sufficient for almost all purposes. Our son put in a 4.0 kW Magnum as overkill. We ran the air condition and microwave simultaneously as a test and that drew 3.0 kW from the battery suite (the solar was delivering about 1100W to the controller at the time).

Also, make sure wiring from roof to controller is sufficient at the start for any increases in solar power. Rewiring is just a lot of work. Our system has the voltage at about 90V coming from the panels to controller.

We went with LFP for a number of reasons; primarily weight and volume.

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Old 04-14-2014, 08:01 PM   #6
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Good advice from all above. The general road map is determine realistic needs then get enough batteries to provide this then enough solar to properly charge them. You will probably need a small generator for those "times" so getting one up front is not a bad idea for assisting you in determining needs.

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Old 04-14-2014, 08:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne8788 View Post
i am looking into using solar panels as my main and only source of power for my 5th wheel. what size solar panels should i be looking at to buy and what else do i need to convert the power from dc to ac. i am new to the idea of solar power.

one big thing to keep in mind most well not say

LB

i am full solar as well

my battery bank is large to stay going all day
my inverter is a SW 260LB
11 panels that are made for RVs at 60 to 80 LB each

i had to install a new roof on the RV just to hold the load


what framing do you have in the RV is it wood . still
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:25 PM   #8
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That should have been 4000 W-hrs not amp-hrs
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:27 AM   #9
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Wayne... I have noticed that your needs and expectations change after you experience the effective part of a decent solar install. Get ready for that... I started small...despite the VSHEETS "build big" suggestion. The moment it was apparent that solar was working...more...more and more. I agree with Vince whole heartedly....it is easier to place the infrastructure in place at the once in a life time pull wire install then regularly repeat the wiring and hardware later.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gocoffeer View Post
Wayne... I have noticed that your needs and expectations change after you experience the effective part of a decent solar install. Get ready for that... I started small...despite the VSHEETS "build big" suggestion. The moment it was apparent that solar was working...more...more and more. I agree with Vince whole heartedly....it is easier to place the infrastructure in place at the once in a life time pull wire install then regularly repeat the wiring and hardware later.
Here is my system write up, hope it helps.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 64 views)
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:52 AM   #11
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Vince... your work sheet should be like a printed RVer upgrade manual in every user guide. I refer to it often (still) and go back to the drawings multiple times as my project advances and even have found places where I wanted to go back for enhancements (the isolation switches for the charge controller in front and back of the controller is brilliant). I went back and added a switch to get my system in line with your drawing. The use of macho double kill cabling was at first a nightmare... it caused me to rethink my install.....I move my controller and found a most convenient place to make the wiring work. After reading and reading about inherent voltage loss....I decided that it was important enough an issue to have big fat wires too.
The multiple inverters is another brilliant area.... took me most of my install effort to get this portion of the system installed to my customized satisfaction. the Tripplite 375w inverters are really great. I am still making an effort to modify them to have a remote toggle system so I can hide these in my install compartment.
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